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Mike Dwyer

Mike Dwyer is a former writer and contributor at Ordinary Times.

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  1. Avatar Will H.
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    says:

    I thought through this, and I came up with a number of issues that I would like to see government address at the state level; not so many at the federal level.
    The big thing I would like to see addressed at the federal level isReport

    • Avatar Will H. in reply to Will H.
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      says:

      Still learning how to use computers here.
      At any rate, the answer is:
      Carbon emissions.

      It gets a little particular from there though.
      But I support hard targets with gradually phased-out carbon credits.Report

  2. Avatar NewDealer
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    says:

    Universal Healthcare and no a slower roll-out is not necessary because the website SNAFUs would be non-existent if everything was Single Payer/Medicare for All instead of the exchanges and mandates.

    This is why it is quickly needed:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/03/health/as-hospital-costs-soar-single-stitch-tops-500.html

    And the Asthama article that our good Doctor posted about a month or two ago. Maybe three months ago.

    Our costs are insane, absurd, ridiculous and many are suffering without adequate medical care. Many with insurance also end up getting fucked.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to NewDealer
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      says:

      Don’t deceive yourself: the switch to Medicare-For-all would be messy as heck. It might not involve the same exact kind of website headaches, but it would be problem-plagued just like any other major economic reform necessarily is. I think it would have to be phased in by age, starting with the 55-and-older proposal that was floated and moving down from there.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        I’m seconding Mike Drew, single-payer/Medicare for All is a better system than the ACA but even assuming there would be no political or ideological opposition to it, turning our system into a single-payer system would be an even greater logistical nightmare than implementing the ACA.

        http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115772/single-payer-healthcare-supporters-complain-about-obamacare-problems

        The healthcare insurance industry employs millions of people. A lot of these people would loose their jobs if Medicaid for All was implemented because the simple billing structure of single-payer would make them redundant. The billing staff in hospitals and doctor’s offices would also be rendered useless by single-payer. So while single-payer would have brought down medical costs, it would have also created millions of unemployed people.

        Expanding medicare to cover everybody would also require billions in new funding and change the relationship between the states and the federal government in nontrivial ways. The people that administrate medicare would have to figure out the costs of drugs and procedures that were never covered before like anything relating to pregnancy.Report

      • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        @leeesq

        I agree. In all the talk in favor of single payer (which I tentatively support), something that gets lost in the discussion of “the bureaucrats” involved in our insurance and billing system is that they are real people, working perhaps a living wage, but not necessarily raking in the dough. Protecting people’s jobs is perhaps not a reason to avoid implementing a truly necessary policy, but it might check some of the stridency with which supporters of that policy designate who is and is not the “enemy.”Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        I had that link in mind when I wrote that as well, Lee. I opted not to include it partly out of laziness of course, but also partly because I wanted to emphasize that that’s what my intuition tells me regardless of who else would be saying it. In support of New Dealer’s point though, I think what is plausible is that relative to the size of the change in policy, expanding Medicare (though not a switch to some other new single payer structure) might have lower transition difficulties. For those interested in a change of that degree and nature, Medicare expansion likely would offer a bigger reform-bang for transition-pain buck than Obamacare buck. But you have to want that amount of change for it to be worth it, and the transition would still be difficult – more difficult overall than Obamacare, possibly.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        Lee&Pierre,
        Simple: put the people to work electronicizing health records. All of Them. And then integrating them across the country into a massive research worthy framework (note: not centralized database).

        Can’t keep ’em doing that forever, but it’s at least a decent buffer.Report

      • Avatar dhex in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        “The billing staff in hospitals and doctor’s offices would also be rendered useless by single-payer.”

        i don’t think that would actually be true – especially at first – but that’s because single payer is some kind of magic bullet in the minds of many rather than an approach to payment. upping the scale would also change how care is delivered, particularly if we assume there would be performance metrics tied to payment.Report

      • Avatar James K in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        I can’t say I’ve seen any evidence to suggest the US government is even half-way competent to run a nationwide health insurance system. This is the problem with the idea of the US government doing all manner of wonderful things – you need a government that’s up to the challenge.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        Surprisingly, perhaps, I have to disagree with James K. The running of a program depends to a large degree on the bureaucracy running it. Bureaucracies function best when they have a clear mission, so we would want to create a brand new single-purpose bureaucracy and a health care plan that does not try to achieve a multitude of poorly matched goals. If that were done, our “government” could run a national health care program well. We do have agencies that function well.

        What is really in doubt is our legislature’s ability to craft a good program and assign it to a new single-purpose agency.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        Jameses,

        Isn’t Medicare at least some evidence that the U.S. government can run a nationwide health insurance system? As I say, there will still be up-scaling challenges, but I would say the burden is on those who would say it’s highly unlikely Medicare could be expanded to be essentially universal, given the scale of the undertaking that it fairly successfully administers now. Or do you think, Hanley, that the structure that has the purpose of running a pretty much universal retirement-age health program won’t be suited for running an all-ages program? It seems to me that standing up a new agency likely wouldn’t be absolutely necessary, and unless there would be good reason to think it would be, it would be best to lean against doing so. But I could be persuaded otherwise.Report

  3. Avatar Murali
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    says:

    I wonder if democracy would work better if there were no parties. Suppose people could not run on a party ticket. Then, people would not say I support candidate X because I’m a D or an R. This means that coalitions would occur on an issue by issue basis. Hopefully, this should discourage people taking shortcuts when it comes to deciding what to believe about the issues.

    I’m inclined to think that American federal government has gotten too sclerotic. You guys just had your debt crisis which forced your president to cancel his overseas obligations. Its a bit too soon to say that American government has reached the sweet spot in terms of balancing conservative and progressive impulses. And given the numerous problems you guys have tackling rather basic governance issues, I doubt you can say government esp federal government reaches even a reasonable standard of efficacy. American post-war government cannot get its shit together except when it decides to invade another country or violate its own people’s civil rights.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Murali
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      says:

      Murali, the people who wrote the American constitution wanted a system with no parties and hoped that people interested in politics would simply run for office on their own volition and do all the fund-raising and campaigning themselves. They quickly abandoned this idea and formed political parties with a year or two of passing the Constitution.

      Political parties are simply too convenient of organizational method for democracies to avoid. They serve as a good way to fund raise for campaigns and give the voters a short-hand clue into what a politician believes. Without parties, the voters are going to have to pay a lot more attention to campaigns than they do in real life in all countries. Political parties are also useful for forming voting blocs in legislative parties and this makes getting laws passed easier.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        I believe the Democratic-Republicans under Jackson were the first modern political party in the US.
        Before then, the notion of parties was markedly different.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        Will

        The Whigs and Tories were already forming in England. The Federalists and Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans were already doing things with very high levels of partisanship long before Jackson was President.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        It just seems that a lot of shit politicians pull has entirely to do with whether they have a R or a D next to their name and not whether what they are doing will benefit their constituents or the nation as a whole.

        IIRC in China, politicians enter the party via low level elections at the village level. Once they enter the party, they rise through a series of examinations and performance based promotions. You don’t have to adopt their system, and there are ideological changes and opposition within the party. But because there they are all still officially one party, the factions remain informal and there is greater fluidity between factions.

        Suppose you found a way to give a massive incumbent advantage to political parties. And suppose further that the republican party just withers away. All politicians are democrats, but there are conservative democrats and progressive ones, libertarian ones and socialist ones. Because coalitions are fluid, no one wants to pull any shit on anyone else just in case it comes back to bite them in the ass.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Murali
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      says:

      No Parties is a constant dream that goes against human nature and this has been known since Artistotle.

      It should not be shocking that people with like or identical goals form groups to help each other and pool resources. Yet there is no shortage of people who decry the existence of political parties.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Murali
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      says:

      Yeah parties are like order. If there are no parties people will eventually create some. If there is no order people will eventually impose some.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Murali
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      says:

      Political scientists mostly think that democracy without parties is unthinkable. Parties help mobilize the public, as well as helping to create relatively clear policy positions and congruent sets of policies. In the absence of parties we get candidate-centered politics, based more on personality and charisma. As a general rule, I’d rather put my trust (what little of it I give) in a person who’s been selected by their peers who know them in-person and by working with them than by someone who’s appealed mostly superficially via the media to a mass public.

      And North is right that parties are like order. In fact I’d equate them to a natural form of spontaneous order. T. Jefferson had no grand vision of creating a permanent political party when he ran for the presidency in 1800–he just realized that organizing a slate of candidates would give them an advantage and could help him roust out some of the congressmembers he disliked. And it worked too well to discard.

      The problem in the U.S. nowadays is that the parties are too weak. Too many people refuse to identify with a party (yours truly included), and the parties have very few effective means of disciplining members. With stronger parties, the Tea Partiers would be more controllable.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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        says:

        I honestly disagree. The Teapartiers are an instance of a select group of people forcing a hostile takeover of the Right in this country.
        I don’t think stronger parties can fix “new backers with different priorities”.

        Does Huckabee count as a charismatic candidate? Arguably his value positions aren’t at all coherent with the current makeup of either party (he’s a Christian Democrat, but we don’t have those as a specific party in America).Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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        says:

        Strong parties can exclude candidates the party leaders don’t like; or at least put a lot more pressure on them to STFU and get in line.

        Huckabee is charismatic, and a populist. Fortunately he’s not charismatic enough, because charismatic populists are among the most dangerous of all candidates.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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        says:

        James, I think its fairer to say that both parties are stronger and weaker than they were in the best. Both parties are stronger in the sense that not only are they more ideologically unified than ever but that they act with more discipline as party. The GOP was able to shut down the government because of a parliamentary like discipline. In the looser and less unified parties of the past, more Republicans would have bolted from shut down earleir or failed to support it in the first place.

        Our parties are weaker in that party leadership has less control over who gets the nomination because of the primaries. This hurts the Republicans more than the Democratic Party usually because Republican primary voters seem less likely to focus on who could actually win in a district than Democratic primary voters.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to J@m3z Aitch
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        says:

        Lee,

        Political scientists would distinguish between strength and ideological coherency as two distinct variables. Run the two variables on two dimensions and you can distinguish 4 types of parties.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Murali
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      says:

      I have no problems with parties per se, but rather with how the two dominant parties have so rigged the system as to effectively exclude all other players.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Murali
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      says:

      Nebraska’s unicameral is technically non-partisan: party affiliation doesn’t appear on the ballot, and the usual partisan leadership positions like majority and minority leader and whips don’t exist. Many years ago I did a summer internship for the legislative fiscal analyst’s office. IIRC (it’s been a long time, and I had been assigned a real and difficult project to work on so wasn’t paying as much attention as I should), in the presentation the Senate President gave to the interns, he asserted that it was the combination of non-partisan and unicameral that made it work well. The one thing I remember was his claim that no one got to make symbolic votes; there was no second chamber or conference committee to cover your butt. If you voted ‘aye’, you had better be sure that you wanted the bill to go to the governor.

      Don’t know if it’s indicative, but back in the 2008 session after state budgets had fallen apart, Nebraska was one of the few states where the legislature passed a mix of program cuts and temporary tax increases to try to cope.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Michael Cain
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        says:

        I had no idea Nebraska’s legislature was formally non-partisan. Thanks for that info.

        I do think a lot of U.S. states could function well with a unicameral legislature. The concern for internal control that recommends our national bicameral legislature sems not so pressing at the state level, given there are greater external checks on state legislatures, not one but two vonstitutions and judiciaries, plus the U.S. Congress, which when it cannot command can always bribe (e.g., pushing desegregation by offering education funding contingent on integrating).Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Michael Cain
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        says:

        Actually, thanks to the ACA decision, the federal government can pull the carrot ‘n’ stick routine anymore. Thus, why a ton of states haven’t expanded Medicaid.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Michael Cain
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        says:

        …the federal government can pull the carrot ‘n’ stick routine anymore.

        Assuming that “can” is supposed to be “can’t”, it’s not clear exactly what the SCOTUS said. They appear to have said that sticks can’t be too big — if the threatened punishment is so severe that no state could reasonably be expected to risk it, then the feds have gone too far. OTOH, they didn’t toss the original Medicaid program, whose carrot is sufficiently generous that eventually all the states decided to join. A large gray area has potentially been created, and no one really knows what the rules for it are.

        When I put my state budget analyst hat back on, the next questionable program on the list would be unemployment insurance. That program is voluntary on the part of the states — the stick is that, if a state fails to operate a conforming program, the full federal UI tax is collected, which in most states would translate into an immediate sizable increase in UI taxes employers must pay. All states have decided to run conforming programs. TTBOMK, while the federal statute says that the feds will run a program in a state that declines to do so, the federal Dept. of Labor is not actually prepared to do so. The working assumption would seem to be that the stick is so big that no state would risk getting hit with it.

        There are other programs that appear to be questionable. In at least one case, the program threatens states who consistently miss the “maintenance of effort” requirements for continuing to spend state dollars with loss of all Medicaid reimbursements for each quarter in which the state is in violation. States go to large effort to ensure that they don’t stay inside the MOE requirements, as even a small shortfall has the potential to result in enormous penalties. Still, the SCOTUS decision was sufficiently ambiguous that no one is going to know if those carrots/sticks are too large until the programs are taken to court.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Michael Cain
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        says:

        To take this back somewhat in the direction Mike set in the original post, I see changes inside Nebraska as less left/right than urban/rural. 53% of the state’s population is now in three counties in the SE portion of the state (illustrative cartogram here; 50-some of the 99 counties have shrinking populations; by 2020, the big three will be pushing 60%. At that point, it becomes essentially impossible to draw unicameral districts using the criteria in the state constitution and not have a majority of the members come from those three counties.

        The same pattern holds across many of the western states. California is blue/liberal because so much of the population is urban and crowded suburbs. Nevada has become much more reliably blue because Las Vegas has outgrown the rest of the state. In the last decade, Colorado appears to have shifted blue/left as the urban and inner suburban areas outgrew the rest of the state. I’ve always enjoyed Dennis Saunders’ musings on “why does my party hate cities”. I’ve written before that it appears to me Colorado’s Republican Party is unofficially adopting a rural litmus test for candidates for statewide office, which will cost them.

        Not so much preference as prediction: I anticipate that policies that will advance more quickly as time goes on will be those that address urban issues, and policies that favor rural areas will decline: roads-only transportation policy; crop subsidies in general and corn-ethanol subsidies in particular; lax control of pollution from mining/drilling operations; multi-use policies with respect to federal land holdings in the West.Report

    • Avatar Lenoxus in reply to Murali
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      says:

      A more practical solution to this is to reform the election system into something that doesn’t effectively guarantee two-party rule, such as ranked-ballots, approval voting, or party-proportional representation. This gives people power to affect the system within different coalitions around “non-orthodox” combinations of positions, eg libertarianism.Report

  4. Avatar Aaron W
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    says:

    I used to care a lot more about climate change and instituting some kind of carbon tax, but lately I’ve shifted a bit. Perhaps it’s been from spending too much time doing atmospheric research related to climate change for my day job, but who knows?

    I’d like a lot more reform of the criminal justice system, personally, but I think this would benefit from a slower approach because most people here are fearful of changing anything. I’ve spent the last as a volunteer teaching college courses to inmates at San Quentin prison, and that’s certainly enough to radicalize you if you’re not careful, but I also recognize that not everyone is at that point. I’ve noticed some positive trends in this direction, but I feel like it’s going to have to come from the Republicans since any Democrat is too afraid to be labeled as “soft on crime”.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Aaron W
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      says:

      I agree. I’m pretty pessimistic about how this whole climate change thing will play out (I think it’s going to be pretty devastating, actually) but I’m also pessimistic about the ability (or even possibility) of governments to agree an any workable solutions to the problem. Conundrum.

      And I’m with you about the criminal justice system in the US. From any point of view – moral, pragmatic, practical, economic, whatever – it is an unjustifiable fucking trainwreck. I don’t think our current two-party system is capable of fixing it.Report

  5. Avatar Michael Drew
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    says:

    I think opposition to temper each side’s impulsiveness is good. I just don’t think empowering minorities beyond a very limited degree is good, because it turns a smooth path of reform into one of jerks and starts. The system becomes so used to stasis, it becomes bad at changing, either of its own volition or out of need to respond to change forced upon it. And reformers are forced to grab for all they can get at moments of maximum political strength, rather than having the confidence to move more cautiously and smoothly, because the likelihood that they’ll be able to continue modestly in the direction they want to go again is so uncertain that they have to proceed as if the safe assumption is that any given moment of reform will be the only one for their side for a generation (which it often is).Report

  6. Avatar Kazzy
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    For obvious reasons, education is my pet issue. However, I don’t think it breaks down neatly along left/right lines. Some components do, but others are trickier. I think the primary impediments to real education reform are two-fold: the politicization of education; and the delegitimizing of educational professionals. Regarding the former, it will take a minimum of a generation to see if a reform effort will rarely bear fruit. So no politician on a 2 or 4 or 6 year term can stake his campaign to one because voters will demand immediate results. Yet we leave the decision making up to political leaders with little background in education because we seem to reflexively distrust the experts.

    These two impediments do not seem unique to education, mind you.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      I’d say the problem with education reform is the near constant use of stalking horses.
      Oh, sure, the ideas SOUND good, but they’re not being offered in good faith.
      (Honestly, with some of the people involved in the conversation, I doubt they understand
      the existence of “good faith”).Report

    • Avatar Pinky in reply to Kazzy
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      Education reform was my first thought upon reading this question. (I have one other, but I’ll get to that on my own.) Democrats don’t want to talk about anything but eliminating standardized tests and decreasing class size – both very much driven by their white-collar union base. Republicans only talk about vouchers, or want reforms at the local level – not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it doesn’t make for a national discussion. Neither side has realized that (imo) this is the juiciest steak on the menu, and the party that gets serious about education reform would have more voters than it’d know what to do with.Report

  7. Avatar dhex
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    says:

    the war on some drugs. since both sides are obstructionist to varying degrees on the topic, no single group is holding things back – you’re all dead weight!

    anyway it would be nice to slow down the growth of prisons for a while. at least until someone makes tobacco illegal.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to dhex
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      says:

      This. There are a handful of issues for which I am varying passionate but which do not seem to capture the electorate en masse. Drug legalization/decriminalization is one. Lowering the drinking age is another. Legalizing the sex industry. Far more open borders. Basically, all my libertarian stuff is either resisted or ignored by both sides.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kazzy
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        I am not so sure that legalizing the sex industry has the effects its proponents think it will. Many European countries with legalized sex industries are reconsidering the idea.

        http://www.theatlanticcities.com/technology/2013/12/across-europe-growing-sense-legalized-prostitution-isnt-working/7777/Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        @leeesq

        I would say the outcome I seek is fewer people in jail for engaging in an act in which they do no harm to others. I struggle to see how legalization would fail to achieve that.Report

      • Avatar dhex in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        yeah, one thing to keep in mind is that “legalization != perfect world”. there would still be addicts, and bad decisions, and hurt lives – innocent and less so. there just wouldn’t be 20 and 30 year sentences or a very handy pretext for every possible police interaction into our lives, particularly those with less money and social power.

        it wouldn’t be heaven on earth, but the changes would be very significant. the actual implementation would be rough no matter what, but even a gradualist approach would be incredibly helpful – and i think we’re slowly seeing that with mj legalization and decrim schemas across the country.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kazzy
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        Thats probably the best expected outcome for the legalized sex industry but most countries with a legalized sex industry have some very big black markets for tastes that no government can morally or legally permit.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        When it comes to legalized prostitution, (which I favor), I got into a very heated, emotional debate with a German female friend – her concern is touched on in the Atlantic piece LeeEsq links, which is that legalized prostitution in Europe has reputedly increased drive in human trafficking.

        Without necessarily taking a position on that (because frankly, I’m not sure – supply/demand etc., plus it seems at least possible that the legal operations somehow provide cover or operational support/laundering for the illegal ones?) I will say that one issue that is always going to happen is that the bad stuff will be far more visible in a legalized scheme. This, from a libertarianish real-world perspective, is all to the good IMO – but from a political perspective, not so much.

        Right now in America, if a prostitute (or a john) is robbed, beaten up, etc. they have little recourse – because they themselves were engaged in a crime and can’t go to the police without risking further consequences for themselves. If they witness another crime while engaging in prostitution, they may keep quiet, for the same reasons.

        So in the US, I’d make the argument that we mostly have no idea, at all, what amount or type of ancilliary crime is taking place, associated with prostitution. It’s a hidden cost right now.

        Whereas once it’s legalized, and prostitutes and johns can report other crimes, it’s going to *look* like instances of those other crimes are exploding; when all that’s maybe happening is that they are now being *reported*. The cost will no longer be hidden.

        Again, the fact that other crimes are now being reported is to the good; but from a political standpoint, this is the uphill battle legalization advocates will face (“you said legalize it; we did, and NOW look at all the trafficking problems we have!”)Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        It’s pretty easy to envision a scenario where we legalize prostitution, then look at the crime stats a year later, and panic.

        Arrests for prostitution have dropped 100%!

        YAY, WE DID SOMETHING GOOD!

        Reports of rape, robbery and trafficking are up 100%!

        OH NOES, WE’VE DESTROYED SOCIETY!!Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        The one reason why I’m queasy about legalizing prostitution is that the sex industry, because of various criminal, ethical, and public health issue, is an industry that needs to be heavily regulated. You need to make sure that everybody is an adult, that STDs are kept under control, that protection is used, etc. I’m not sure that there is a political will for the amount of regulation necessary for a legalized health industry.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        @Lee,

        Legal markets are far easier to regulate for such issues than are illegal markets. Check out Nevada’s regulation of brothels, for example.

        Consider the crime effects of alcohol prohibition, for example. We had a perfect natural experiment there, and the clear result is that prohibition created worse crime and a more dangerous product.Report

      • NobAkimoto NobAkimoto in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        Legal markets are far easier to regulate for such issues than are illegal markets. Check out Nevada’s regulation of brothels, for example.

        This is true to a point, but it’s interesting to look at how prostitution laws have been changing in Europe. In particular the Nordic countries have basically done a 180 on legalized sex trade. Having legal brothels and prostitution was creating a serious problem with human trafficking, and so Sweden (then Norway) retracted their legalization regimes because simply enforcing existing laws on trafficking weren’t working. The trafficking/prostitution nexus is one that’s a little more complicated than “It’s easier to regulate a legal market”, and one worth doing more study on.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        @kazzy

        I suspect the harm issue is the crux of the matter when it comes to vices and whether they are legal or not.

        How do we define what harms others and not? Suppose someone is a heroin addict but they never commit a crime to get their fix and such. Could we say that they are harming their loved ones by their dependency on such a strong and dangerous narcotic?* Do people have a responsibility to think along the lines of “My friends and family will be very distraught if I become a heroin addict so I will not even try it.”?

        When it comes to sex work, I think the debate over legalization or not comes down to (at least partially) whether you think someone can choose to become a sex worker voluntarily or not or whether someone only makes that decision because there are no better options and negative circumstances/externalities and such are “coercing” them into sex work.

        I’ve heard women say that they have considered sex work to varying degrees of seriousness. Sometimes it is an off-hand remark of “Wish I was braver” when there is a story of someone living well in grad school (and loan-free!!!) because of being an escort. Other times it was when they were un or underemployed and considering something like foot fetish work (good money to wear kinky shoes and have a guy suck your toes or something like that.)

        I suppose a person can argue that in a better world women (and men) would not need to make these decisions because the negative externalities would not be present. We would have a more just and equal way of funding education. Or a more robust social safety net that would make people not consider sex work out of desperation.

        Or to put it another way since you are in education. What if you were a high school guidance counselor and a student came to you and said that they wanted to be a sex worker for a career? Would you consider this a need for intervention and social work? What reasons would a person have to give that made sex work seem like a voluntary option or desire as opposed to coercion and be along the same level of “I want to be a pastry cook/doctor/accountant/organic farmer/insert other non-taboo profession here.” What about if drugs were legal and a student said that they wanted to get into the narcotic business? Would you still think it was your job as an educator to convince them otherwise?Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        BTW my statement to Kazzy in no way reflects whether I think Prostitution or Narcotics should be legal or not.

        Whether we reform the drug war/laws and/or legalize prostitution, I think it will always exist because people have always taken narcotics and there has always been sex work.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        @Nob – per my question above, do you know if they have determined that legalized prostitution was *causing* an increase in human trafficking, or if it was instead just making human trafficking more visible?

        I think it’s at least possible that it did increase it somewhat – legalize it, demand goes up somewhat, supply falls short, syndicates step in to fill the shortfall with slaves, essentially.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        NewDealer,
        I think if you talked to some escorts, you might get a better idea of which ones are coerced and which ones aren’t.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        And to follow onto my question to @nobakimoto , it illustrates why treating people as market product, may not map quite 1:1, nor be politically palatable.

        Alcohol demand outstripping supply in a legal market? No problem, make more alcohol!

        Prostitute demand outstripping supply in a legal market? Uhhhh….

        Pretty much any way you achieve it, human trafficking or no, “make more prostitutes” is not something most people are comfortable with.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        James, I know that legal markets are easier to regulate than illegal markets. My issue is if a legalized sex market is going to receive the amount of regulation that is necessary.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        Glyph,
        you say people are not comfortable with making more prostitutes…
        And yet I see so many people in favor of legalizing drugs…Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        @kim – I am in favor of legalizing both. But I don’t think it behooves us to pretend that we may not see upticks in drug users or prostitutes, and address those questions and related issues head on, hopefully by demonstrating reduced harm in some arenas that more than compensates for increases in other arenas.

        If heroin were legalized tomorrow, some non-zero number of doofuses would rush out to try it who otherwise wouldn’t’ve, and some of them will become addicted, and that is a possibility that must be dealt with. If you pretend it is not at least possible, you are being unrealistic.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        Glyph, your second reply to Nob is one reason why I’m not that sure that legalizing prostitution or the sex industry is a good idea. Some indusrties even if legal are always going to have blurry lines between legal and illegal behavior for various reasons. We can’t have complete legalization of prostitution because there things that no government can permit but that there is going to be a serious demand for. I also imagine that business people in the sex industry differ more from conventional morality than people trying to get rich from say groceries. So what you have is an industry thats going to attract a lot of ethicallly challenged participants.

        Another issue is who is going to be drawn into the industry. From what I’ve read, in most countries with legal prostitution, the prostitutes come from the desperate parts of the population. Most people do not intentionally go into the sex industry, especially on the prostitution side. That means that the legal prostitutes tend to be older and less attractive but the johns want younger and hotter prostitutes. Thats why there is still a lot of trafficking of desperate but conventionally attractive young women into countries with legalized prostitution.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        @leeesq – at least in theory, some of that could be mitigated by de-stigmatizing sex work. If it’s just another job, with benefits etc., presumably young hot women might get into it just because the money’s good and the benefits are good and what the hey, it’s a job; rather than outright desperation (though, people take all kinds of crappy jobs out of desperation, and anyway, is some pay better than no pay, if you are desperate?).

        But I realize this gets us into a Firefly/Inara sci-fi kind of society (and to be fair, not even Firefly presented Inara’s job in a completely idealized manner, entirely free of problems or social stigmas).

        And again, when people are talking about legalizing prostitution they are mostly thinking about helping existing prostitutes; the idea that they may also create more, is one that may not occur to them (but should, if they are being honest).

        Again, I favor legalization, but advocates do themselves no favors by waving away possible downsides.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        Glyph,
        I’m more concerned with the interaction between the two.
        There’s a reasonable argument for banning alcohol because it
        fucks with people’s perception of consent — including the person
        not giving it.

        How horrible is it to get raped, and then excuse your rapist from any punishment?

        Plus, we really ought to look a bit more closely at the negative externalities of legalizing drugs… It will result in more unwanted pregnancies, younger pregnancies too. Some of them will be “voluntary and consensual” others will be “I got too shitfaced to not consent” and some will be because of actual predation on the part of guys.Report

      • NobAkimoto NobAkimoto in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        per my question above, do you know if they have determined that legalized prostitution was *causing* an increase in human trafficking, or if it was instead just making human trafficking more visible?

        The data I have available tells me that Sweden’s rate of human trafficking fell sharply after it outlawed prostitution in 1999, while Finland (who keeps it legal) has a monstrously higher rate of trafficking (both legal and illegal) in comparison.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        @leeesq
        My issue is if a legalized sex market is going to receive the amount of regulation that is necessary.

        Compared to what? Don’t compare to a hypothetical ideal, compare to today’s reality. Is the illegalized sex market receiving the amount of regulation that is necessary?

        Again, I say, look at Nevada. Compare its sex market to the sex market in any other state in effectiveness of regulation, safety, health standards, and so on.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        From what I’ve read, in most countries with legal prostitution, the prostitutes come from the desperate parts of the population.

        By all means, then, take away one of their few opportunities.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        I also imagine that business people in the sex industry differ more from conventional morality than people trying to get rich from say groceries. So what you have is an industry thats going to attract a lot of ethicallly challenged participants.

        Setting aside my qualms about moral elitism, which is going to attract a larger proportion people who are extra ethically challenged, a legal business that makes mainstream folks squirm or an illegal business that makes mainstream folks squirm?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        Glyph, the closest historical example we have this type of society is Japan with licensed quarters and a hierarchy of different types of sex workers. Ranging from the highly-trained Geisha on top, who weren’t strictly sex workers, to your ordinary desperate prostitutes on the bottom. One of the first things that Japanese women did after they got the vote was to lobby to make prostitution illegal. Just because sex work is seen as fine doesn’t mean that a society isn’t very patriarchal.

        My point is that I don’t think we can have a society where sex work is only seen as just another way of making money. The idea that you can get billions of people to perceive sex in the same way is a bit hillarious. We can’t even agree on whats ethical to put in our tummies. There are to many people on the right and the left that will have severe problems with legitimizing sex work. Its also something that I can’t imagine that people choose to become in the same way that people decide to be pharmacists or cops.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        Its also something that I can’t imagine that people choose to become in the same way that people decide to be pharmacists or cops.

        Perhaps not most, but some do. I think you’re looking at it from your own moral perspective and unconsciously making assumptions about how all other see it.

        When I drove a cab there were some prostitutes that used our company regularly, and I drove them a few times. They weren’t beaten down and oppressed, but were independent business women (not like most of the women you see street walking). See also, Allie the escort.

        Obviously prostitution is not something to be entered into lightly, and streetwalking is particularly dangerous. But you need to see this from the perspective of people actually in the business, rather than simply transposing your moral sentiments onto them.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        @nobakimoto – thanks. Though I am not sure even THAT answers the question definitively, since presumably when Sweden outlawed prostitution, the syndicates simply started shipping to Finland instead.

        To get a really clean apples-to-apples, you’d need to know the rate before and after legalization in one country – and the *true* rate prior to legalization is almost certainly underreported for the reasons I mention, whereas I’d be more inclined to trust the numbers of the rate after legalization, when there is no longer any reason for ‘good’ market actors to not report the bad ones.

        But anyway, it wouldn’t shock me to find out there’s always at least some increase in trafficking post-legalization, since I presume increased demand for prostitutes may cause shortfalls in supply.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        From what I’ve read, in most countries with legal prostitution, the prostitutes come from the desperate parts of the population.

        By all means, then, take away one of their few opportunities.

        @jm3z-aitch, while I cautiously support the legalization of prostitution, what I wonder is, what does it say about a society that there are certain classes of people whose opportunities are so limited that eliminating their ability to go into prostitution is harmful to them?Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        Chris,

        1. I’d say you’re imposing your moral perspective on others.

        2. I’d say it means it’s pretty much like every society that’s existed since the development of agriculture. And if we look at hunter-gatherer societies and even chimpanzees, we find sex-for-food exchanges, so maybe it means it’s pretty much like every primate society that’s ever existed. If we want to move society to another level, one can certainly argue for doing so, but there’s little purchase for a critique of any particular society just because sex is a valuable trade good.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        If we take away the right of the poor to eat sawdust, more poor people will go hungry.

        It’s obviously an issue about sawdust.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        If we want to ensure people have better opportunities, I wonder if it might be a better idea to make those other opportunities available before we close down the crappy opportunities that they currently have?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        James, re 1: Aren’t we always doing that? If we think that the exploitation of a particularly segment of the society — in this case, women — is a real problem, I see no reason not to try to mitigate it. And if being exploited is one of that segment’s few opportunities, I see no reason why we should try to change things so that they have other opportunities that don’t require their exploitation.

        re 2: That is true, but part of the reason we have a society, and continue to try to improve that society, is to try to change some of the things that have always been the case, right?Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        Chris,

        See my comment immediately preceding your latest.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        @glyph

        Pretty much any way you achieve it, human trafficking or no, “make more prostitutes” is not something most people are comfortable with.

        Are you sure about that? If the market is functioning, the way it would be achieved is by salaries going up enough that supply meets demand. Would we really be so uncomfortable with an uptick in the number of prostitutes if the equilibrium wage settled at, say, $100K+?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        James, ah yes, I agree with that. Like I said, I’m a cautious supporter of legalization, but I don’t think legalization by itself is enough.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        @troublesome-frog I guess I think that’s probably an idealized scenario that assumes no ability to import prostitutes (and the European experience of increased human trafficking, if it’s being accurately analyzed, bears that out).

        Prostitutes charging above a certain rate, will not satisfy the demand for more-affordable prostitutes, and presumably syndicates will step in to fill that need with ones trafficked from poorer countries. Kind of like how cigarettes are both legal/costly, and also cheaper highly-profitable black-market/smuggling items.

        Except young boys and girls, instead of rolled tubes of tobacco.

        But IF criminal syndicates could be stopped (spoiler: they can’t; not entirely anyway), you’re right, we’d see some increase in number and price, that would settle somewhere most everyone could probably live with.

        My more general point was, (most) everybody is for “help existing prostitutes”; very few are for “make more”. And that is a real political hurdle, regardless of any other considerations.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        “make more prostitutes” is not something most people are comfortable with.

        Neither is “make more death metal,” and yet there’s market demand.

        Prostitutes charging above a certain rate, will not satisfy the demand for more-affordable prostitutes, and presumably syndicates will step in to fill that need with ones trafficked from poorer countries

        So the worst case scenario is we’d have a black market. Good thing we don’t have that now.

        More seriously, this sounds like scare-mongering to me. Yes, it’s theoretically possible, but it assumes that there’s no domestic supply for low-wage prostitution. It’s not remotely clear to me how legalization by itself would have this effect.

        I can see how creating better opportunities for poor American women would have that effect, but then it will have that effect regardless of whether prostitution is legal or not.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        @jm3z-aitch – It’s not “scare-mongering” if it is in fact what is happening in the European countries that legalized prostitution. As I have said, I question those analyses somewhat, and anyway it’s possible that here it would turn out more like Nevada than like Sweden.

        But maybe not.

        I am on your side here. Ultimately I think it should be legal, and that the benefits would outweigh the harms (or at least the harms would be reduced). But human trafficking/sex slavery is real slavery, with people being shipped across oceans, held against their will, beaten, and made to perform acts solely for their owners’ benefits and not their own.

        If legalization of prostitution would increase incidences of this, even inadvertently as a side-effect, then it is something we – as Americans especially – should be cautious about.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        James,

        If we want to ensure people have better opportunities, I wonder if it might be a better idea to make those other opportunities available before we close down the crappy opportunities that they currently have?

        The word “opportunities” is doing lots of work here, it seems to me. Eg: is the claim that preserving these opportunities are important for women in *developing* countries? For poor women in who live in rich countries? For rich women who might otherwise reject the legitimacy of the opportunity because others are preferred?

        Here’s a contentious way to personalize the issue in precisely the way I think you’ve been objecting to in some of your comments (don’t take offense! Please!): suppose that one of your daughters chose to engage in prostitution as a way to make her living. Would you simply accept this and defend her right to do so (as an opportunity which ought not be curtailed) and site her choice as evidence that prostitution ought to be legal and culturally sanctioned in the US? Or … would you make a moral judgment about either her choice, or the institutional structures she lives in such that both the coherence of her “choice” as well as the cultural institutions which would sanction her choice are morally problematic?

        I mean, I get that in you’re specifically focusing on poor women who have no other economic opportunities and that liberals who would deprive them of that option are harming them. But I also get the sense that you think that the argument extends beyond poor women in impoverished countries, and includes women (and men of course!) who actually do have other ways to make a living. Yet, I also think that morality is hard to avoid in discussions about this topic.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        Adding on – wikipedia tells me that there are 28 brothels in Nevada. I believe there are (or were – Rhode Island maybe?) a few other areas in the US that had some level of legal or at least decriminalized prostitution, but for argument’s sake let’s assume these 28 brothels are the extent of legal prostitution in the US in 2013.

        How many girls does each one employ? Maybe 100? So we have 2800 slots for legalized prostitutes.

        No need to import, I’m sure we can source that locally, no problem.

        What if we need 2800 or more in every state?

        Could there be scalability problems?Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        @glyph,

        I go back to your question here.

        As to the numbers in Nevada, there’s no reason to assume the legalization has met all demand. We’d have to dig into the regulations on that, to see if there are limits on how many prostitutes are allowed. Plus, it’s not legal in NV, the biggest city and tourist attraction, so we can be pretty sure there’s some demand unmet by the legal market.

        Anyway, I don’t get how legalizing it would cause demand to be unmeetable. There are constraints on the demand for prostitution unrelated to legality (as in, my wife might take it unkindly were I to go to a prostitute).Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        Over on The Dish Sully has a post about France trying to make prostitution illegal. It touches on many of the same issues brought up here. It is interesting that many countries where it was legal are moving back to make it illegal.

        Also, not sure if i’ve seen it upthread, but even if prostitution is legal there is still a strong incentive to get poor desperate women from overseas to work as prostitutes. They are just more willing to endure the hardships that many hookers have to AND are for more helpless, without support and dependent on their pimps. That isn’t a recipe for a good job especially one that comes with the down sides of being a prostitute.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        Chris says:
        If we think that the exploitation of a particularly segment of the society — in this case, women — is a real problem, I see no reason not to try to mitigate it.
        and immediately I think of illegal immigration.

        Q: To those supporting legalization of prostitution, would you extend these same principles to illegal immigrants, child labor laws, etc?

        Because it seems to me like a thing that makes sense mostly if people are inclined to agree on it already.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        Stillwater,

        It’s two arguments for two different sectors. For those who are exploited–and for the purpose of argument I will accept the liberals’ definition of this as meaning they don’t have other good opportunities, although I am not actually relaxing my opposition to that definition–we should provide better opportunities, but we should do so before we close out the exploitative opportunities. (This should not be taken, however, as any kind of defense of sex slavery.)

        For those who are not exploited, who have other opportunities, people should stop imposing their morality on them. Focus on regulating to prevent harm, to them, to their patrons, to their patrons’ other partners.

        Above all, line up all the moralists who would impose their person moral standards on others and gun them down. Oh, sorry, that’s part of a broader argument.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        Will,

        I don’t think there should be such a thing as “illegal” immigration; just immigration. (OK, forced immigration, i.e., kidnapping, should be illegal, but no voluntary immigration should.)

        As to children, they are a special case. It seems that no matter how often it gets repeated here that even libertarians see children as a special case because they don’t yet have the maturity to make their own decisions (libertarianism presumes competent adults), there’s always someone willing to throw up kids as a pseudo-serious question. It gets old. Voluntary agreements between competent adults != chaining kids to sewing machines for 18 hours a day. OK?Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        @jm3z-aitch :
        Just asking. No need to get touchy about it. The clarification is sufficient.

        Here’s the part I really have a problem with:
        people should stop imposing their morality on them.
        I don’t really think it’s an issue of morality, but one of harm.
        Prostitution, even in forms such as strippers, etc., has a profound and lasting effect on people. From that point on, it’s pretty much a guarantee that this is a person who will be unable to maintain any manner of healthy relationship for the rest of their life (likely were unable to in the first place, in order to be susceptible to such a thing). I see a prostitute as a person who needs some serious therapy. Encouraging untreated mental illness on a widespread basis seems imprudent.
        Same with hard drugs; cocaine, heroin, etc. Those drugs are known for inducing psychosis in addicts; in fact, addiction in itself is a form of psychosis.

        That said, the legal system isn’t the best way to deal with untreated mental illness.
        Which is to say, that decriminalization is a notably differing stance than legalization.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        @jm3z-aitch – so forget my speculation as to why it *could* happen, and address the real-world data from Europe.

        Assuming the European experience is being reported/analyzed properly – why are the European countries that have legalized prostitution experiencing more problems with human trafficking, while the ones who have re-banned it (or never allowed it to begin with), are experiencing less?

        And, whatever the answer is – why do you expect a similar dynamic would not obtain here in the US?

        Because right now, as I see it, if we have “Nevada’s experience” on one side of the ledger, and “France, Germany, and the Scandinavian countries’ experiences” on the other, we are basically flipping a coin as to how it would turn out here.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        Will H., is that data or belief? (And sorry about snapping at you, but the “children” straw man is thrown out so frequently, even here where it’s been rebutted non-stop, that it sends me poastal.)

        Glyph, I’ll take a closer look at those claims about Europe and get back to you. In general, though, I’m suspicious of claims of fact that lack a good theoretical explanation; that is, where there’s no clear mechanism for why something shoukd happen. In most cases that’s a tell that the situation is being misunderstood.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        @jm3z-aitch :
        That’s data. Sociology is, on occasion, actually good for something; just not all that much.

        Prostitutes (in the US; not sure about other nations) overwhelmingly come from a background of alcohol or drug abuse, and child sexual abuse; and all that comes with that. In almost all cases, it affects intimate relations throughout their lives; transference, normalization, etc.
        If you think about it, a stripper one might find appealing likely thinks of her admirer in much the same terms, though unconsciously, as the uncle who molested her, it’s really not all that appealing.

        As for drug addicts, the three primary forms of intervention are: parental, spousal, and legal. All others taken together are statistically negligible. We can draw from that that the legal system (primarily the criminal justice system, but also involuntary commitments) is the backstop for those where parental and spousal intervention have failed.

        Whether by chance or design, probation is one of the worst things that could happen to someone in one of those situations. Jail time is a little bit better, but comes with negative consequences nonetheless.

        An apology was unnecessary, but appreciated, because it shows a bit of class; and that is not lost on me.
        I’m sure you’ve rebutted that one before, but I don’t pay that much attention quite a lot of the time.
        Please accept that it is likely to come up again.

        But the issue begs the question:
        What is “Child,” and how might I recognize one if I see it?

        I remember a few years back when Canada raised the age of consent from 12 to 14; their laws governing such things originating at the federal level rather than the state level, as is ours.
        On the verge of descending into a false equivalence here, but the point is salient nonetheless.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        Will,

        The arrow of causality got reversed between your prior comment and this one. Not unusual for sociology, I suppose.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        I’d say the first isn’t so much about causation, but progression and reinforcement; weakened executive function due to past trauma.

        But this brings up a big issue I have with the behavioralists (which I hold in fairly high regard); namely , that such experiences are no big deal, right up until they become a big deal. That never really made sense to me.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        Glyph,

        That Atlantic article is too superficial to tell us much of anything. It tells us proponents claim legalization increases trafficing, but doesn’t provide anything more than that second hand claim.

        I’d venture that it’s going to matter what the rules are. Nevada , iiuc, only allows prostitution in brothels, which makes it easy to monitor the workers, and harder to hide workers who are coerced into it. If you just make it legal with no regulation or monitoring, then you make it easier to hide forced workers; probably even harder than when it’s banned, because at least in the latter case there os some attempt to monitor the business.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        Will,

        Assuming thst’s true, it still doesn’t hit my true rejection because it’s too paternalistic, and it doesn’t hit my pragmatic rejection of fixing the problem instead of banning a symptom.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        @jm3z-aitch – fair enough. I myself have offered a few half-formed thoughts as to why it may be misleading, sometimes correlation is just a cigar, etc.

        But SOMETHING is happening that is making countries that legalized it – and that tend to be a little less moralistic and religious than the US – have second thoughts about it.

        If we ever want to see it legalized here, we’d do well to understand why that is happening; or what currently seems like an uphill battle politically here, will be a forever-impossible one.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        Ordinarily, I’d say the same; much the same as my arguments against affirmative action, in fact.
        But I don’t see many options for any effective manner of treatment, other than from a paternalistic stance. There’s the group therapy, much of the modern stuff derived from behavioralists, with a facilitator as something of a referee, enforcing the rules, rather than as a therapist. I question the efficacy of such groups over the long term.

        As for addressing symptoms, a lot of social problems do that; case in point: domestic violence. Domestic violence is almost always an expression of exploitative relationships (with both participants), and it’s highly likely that abuser/abused both have very few personal relationships which are not exploitative in nature. This is a big reason that domestic violence is often recurring over a number of partners.
        That said, things like alcohol & drug addictions and child sexual abuse are things we can address as a society, penalizing them to criminality. Not so much with exploitative relationships; in fact, addressing that through traditional means reinforces the dominance-based exploitation at its root.

        Addressing an underlying cause can be very tricky at times, while mitigating damages often leads to more damage to mitigate.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        Will H,

        Addressing an underlying cause can be very tricky at times,

        Sure. But that admission seems inconsistent with your claims about the general uselessness of sociology as an area of study. I mean, establishing underlying causes is pretty tricky in all cases, depending on how far down the rabbit hole you’re willing to go.

        while mitigating damages often leads to more damage to mitigate.

        Again, sure. I don’t think anyone disagrees with this. I mean, the prohibition of anything leads to consequences which some people think must be dealt with. Just as some people think the consequences of continued permissions must be dealt with. Or not, in either case, of course.Report

  8. Avatar LeeEsq
    Ignored
    says:

    One of the main problems with the right and left dynamic is that it often it expresses itself on issues that really should not be right or left like transportation. Transportation is about a technocratic and value neutral an issue as possible but even that gets subject to the culture war.Report

  9. Avatar Philip H
    Ignored
    says:

    For my liberal friends, if you can be objective for a moment, do you think a huge leftward swing on your favorite policy would be harmless, or does it benefit from a slower rollout?

    Mike,
    I hate to call you out for strawman/red herring thinking – mostly because you rarely do it. But to ask Liberals if they think their ideas should roll out any slower is like asking us if we want clocks to actually spin backwards.

    Take the ACA. I’m no fan of it in principle because it uses a market based approach to address a market failure (which, FWIW USED TO BE how Republicans wanted things done). That said, the Nation started talking about inclusive (as in for every citizen) healthcare delivery in the Eisenhower Administration. President Nixon tried to introduce legislation that looked like the ACA during his Presidency. President Clinton went further nearly a decade and a half ago (when the Heritage Foundation wrote out many of the policies embodied in the ACA) but met strong political opposition. So by my really jaundiced and not well caffeinated account we’ve been trying to do much of what the ACA now accomplishes longer then the 42 years I’ve been alive. That aside, the Obama Administration spent two years post-passage slow rolling a lot of the ACA into existence to minimize the impacts. What they didn’t do was contract the web site well, nor did they do any really public education about the changes. So in the case of the ACA, and health insurance reform generally, I’d say we’ve slow rolled it enough.

    I think the political opposition from the Right the Mr. Obama has been too severe and too strident – even when they’ve won the argument on the merits (as with the ACA which survived 8 months of hearing in both Houses of Congress), they refuse to stand up and say “Hey, a Democrat liked and enacted OUR ideas – so they must be better. Glad you guys came around.” Nope, they want to call it a train wreck, refuse tens of billions of federal dollars at the state level to help their own citizens, and then vote 40 plus times to repeal the law without a single vote on a replacement plan. That’s not about principled opposition or needing to slow something down – that’s a naked power grab. And that power grab isn’t about slowing things down to minimize impacts.

    Do I think we as a Nation have failed to help many of our fellow citizens deal with the changes in the world around them – . But that failure is about policy choices focused on a slim part of our society and economy by both sides, not the necessity of change itself.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Philip H
      Ignored
      says:

      @Phillip H

      “I hate to call you out for strawman/red herring thinking – mostly because you rarely do it. But to ask Liberals if they think their ideas should roll out any slower is like asking us if we want clocks to actually spin backwards.”

      That’s why I asked that you be objective. There have to be some policies which your liberal blood wants you to roll out as fast as possible but you can objectively admit that conservative pushback isn’t creating a net harm. For example, legalizing marijuana. I would love it to be 100% legal from coast to coast tomorrow but I also recognize that a slower process probably isn’t hurting anyone. Of course, one could argue that the crime associated with black market drugs does call for a faster process. Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Mike Dwyer
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        says:

        but I also recognize that a slower process probably isn’t hurting anyone

        Except for the people who continue to go to jail. Or the people harmed by the Mexican cartels who are bringing in much of the marijuana, and are therefore strengthened by its continued illegality.Report

      • Avatar trumwill in reply to Mike Dwyer
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        says:

        Along the lines of what Mike is talking about, though I am not a liberal. I support massive charterization of our school system but think it’s probably for the best that things don’t move as quickly as I would like.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Mike Dwyer
        Ignored
        says:

        Or people in right-wing states who are out of ACA because their governors refused to expand Medicare or set up exchanges. Or people who can’t marry their loved ones, or get fired for being gay and/or trans.

        Or our rising temperatures and oceans, etc.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Mike Dwyer
        Ignored
        says:

        Ummm, Chris?

        “…Of course, one could argue that the crime associated with black market drugs does call for a faster process.”Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer
        Ignored
        says:

        Trum,
        I can’t support charterization.
        Just another stalking horse.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Mike Dwyer
        Ignored
        says:

        Ummm… Mike, if it’s illegal, it is all black market. And the people going to jail rae harmed simply because it is illegal.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Mike Dwyer
        Ignored
        says:

        I’ll try to say it less pithily: either people are harmed or they aren’t. Cartels exist because drugs are illegal. Either people are harmed by cartels or they aren’t. People are arrested for using or selling small amounts of illegal drugs because they are illegal. Either people committing no other crimes are harmed by being arrested or they aren’t. The militarization of police, and its ability to invade the privacy of a large number of private citizens, to seize assets, etc, are largely a product of the drug war (with the “war on terror” tacked on). Either people are harmed by this role of the police or they aren’t (if you think they aren’t, I’d recommend Balko’s blog).

        There is no way to argue that the war on drugs is not harmful. You could argue that it does more good than harm, but you cannot argue that no one is harmed. It is simply empirically false, even if we exclude crime associated with drugs other than the crimes of drugs themselves.Report

      • Avatar Philip H in reply to Mike Dwyer
        Ignored
        says:

        Mike,
        Sorry, I can’t bite that apple. Marijuana legalization has to start at the states, because once its done in all 50, the Congress will have to go along, owing to that whole federalism thing we have going on. Same Gender Marriage is somewhat similar – since we’ve long left it to the individual states to define marriage (and issue licenses, etc).

        Of course, if one really thinks about it many unfunded or incomplete liberal policies are leaving harm in their wake whether because of political opposition, or because the political class doesn’t really represent the majority of Americans anymore – lack of federal legislation on same gender marriage causes significant differences in legal status for citizens crossing state lines, recent DOMA decisions in the federal courts not withstanding. As you well know I’m in significant favor of Universal, single Payer healthcare, but as I alluded to above its taken us so long to get here that I am not willing to give any ground on the timeline for that. And the longer we refuse to tax financial transactions as income, or fail to fix the AMT patches permanents, or leave our SNAP and long-term unemployment insurance cuts in place, the longer real Americans will be harmed economically and socially.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Mike Dwyer
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        says:

        At the very least, one can legitimately say that as a mind-altering substance currently on the verboten list, MJ doesn’t have the long list of other legal restrictions that, say, alcohol does… and removing MJ from the verboten list without considering the practical considerations (stoned schoolteachers?) is contraindicated on prudence grounds.Report

  10. Avatar Dan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    Global warming, global warming, global warming. Ultimately, your “let’s move cautiously” approach only works if there’s no time limit on when we solve an issue. For example, let’s take ending the war on drugs. It would be great if it ended sooner rather than later; but if progress stalls out or even regresses for another 30 years, it would be bad, but there would be nothing stopping us from moving back towards a sane position once we got our shit together. But global warming needs to be solved NOW (or, honestly, 20 years ago). The longer we go on without doing anything about it, the more painful it becomes. A gradual carbon tax starting low and increasing over time would have been a great idea in the ’90s; it’s still a good idea, but we’ve made it much less effective through stubborn inaction.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Dan Miller
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      says:

      The more painful? I’d say the more uncertain that we’ll be able to solve it without genocide.

      It is quite possible for us to break planet earth in such a way that the human population is reduced to 1/1000th of current conditions.
      I hesitate to call that painful. I might call it catastrophic.Report

    • Avatar Will H. in reply to Dan Miller
      Ignored
      says:

      A carbon tax penalizes innovation based on what is ultimately irrelevant data.
      I favor cap-and-trade, because it rewards innovation, and subsidizes building costs. The latter is important, because we have much more advanced technology available to us which is unfeasible to implement due to costs.

      But there needs to be a hard ceiling immediately.
      I’ve asked engineers on various projects about how the target for carbon emissions for the project were arrived at, and the answers are all over the board.
      “We looked at that, and most places use 5 these days, and a few as low as 3, but we decided 8 should be sufficient.” Because everybody knows that regulation is inevitable, and they want to build to be in accordance with the regulations when they come; but all they really know is that the hard ceiling will be 15 or less (which is really a strong assumption, in the end).

      Variables in the design parameters always generate additional expense.

      The nuclear industry has been lobbying hard against clean coal, but I really don’t see storing mass quantities of heavy water now until forever as viable.
      Meanwhile, exploitation of the mineral resources of flue gas is ongoing; becoming more of an industry every year.Report

    • Avatar Roger in reply to Dan Miller
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      says:

      If I was a handicapper I would say the odds are ten to one that likely government solutions to global warming are worse than the problem.Report

  11. Avatar NewDealer
    Ignored
    says:

    Another issue in which I would like carte-blanche without an opposition is employee rights including but not limited to*:

    1. Passing of EDNA

    2. An end of at-will employment with the replacement of just cause

    3. More robust monitoring of things like wage and hour violations, internship abuse and mistreatment, discrimination, etc.

    4, A National Vacation policy that guarantees all Americans at least 3 weeks of vacation a year.

    5. A more robust Family and Medical Leave Act and sick leave protection with maternity and paternity leave for all and not just a lucky few.

    *I suspect that this can also be an intra-party fight among Democratic types.Report

  12. Avatar Chris
    Ignored
    says:

    The implication of the “progress but slow,” for the political parties is essentially that the Democrats have the right ideas, and the Republicans have the right process, or even worse for the Republicans, the Democrats have the right ideas, and the Republicans are a necessary evil because they keep the Democrats from enacting the right ideas too quickly. Whatever the formulation, I can’t think of any stronger criticism of the Republican party than “Your purpose is to reduce the speed at which the Democrats enact good policies.”Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Chris
      Ignored
      says:

      Disraeli’s ideal government was Conservative MPs enacting Liberal policies.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        I imagine there are two arguments for slowing down progress. The first is that it may have unintended consequences, and we’ll be better able to recognize and react to those if we are moving slowly. The second is that people may not be ready for change. Neither is, by itself, a valid argument. For example, both arguments could be, and were used against both abolitionism and the Civil Rights movement. How likely was it that the unintended consequences would outweigh the loss of freedom, dignity, and equality associated with both slavery and segregation? The question should never be, “Might there be unintended consequences?” because there always are, and there always will be. The question should be, “How likely is it that the unintended consequences of these changes will outweigh the progress made?” I suspect that the answer is not very likely as often as not, particularly where civil rights and equality are concerned. And the same sorts of questions should be asked any time we talk about people not being ready.

        I want fast progress to facilitate justice and fairness, with an eye toward mitigating unintended consequences, not slow progress that delays justice and fairness out of unrelfective fear under the guise of prudence.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        Chris, I think it depends on what sort of progress we are talking about. If you are talking about human rights issues like LBGT rights than by all means you should implement them at full speed.

        For more technocratic aspects of progress like public health issues, the fight against obesity say, than taking it slow and trying to get the details right might be the best path.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        Lee, I’m cool with that, but in those cases there are largely institutional or practical barriers that have to be overcome, and those will slow progress. That is, progress is slowed because implementing change quickly is either inefficient or impossible. We don’t need a party opposing positive progress to do that work.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        @chris

        I am not sure who you are quoting with the “progress, but slow” phrase, but let me jump in.

        First, as you know, change is not progress. Progress assumes a direction most (pretty much all) people want to go. Conservatives don’t want their culture to encourage activities which might lead to people burning in hell. I know that sounds funny to you and me, but they really do believe this. Thus they fight some actions which we promote.

        Conservatives and libertarians similarly don’t believe that the best way to solve problems is the STATIST default. Retirement, health care, unemployment insurance, education, etc etc may be great things, but the argument from these groups is that the best way to deliver these things is more decentralized than top down. Those on the left picture themselves as being (for example) anti poverty and the other side is either neutral or pro poverty. This is laughable. The debate is over the how. To those not of the left, the problem with progress is that the left keeps throwing sand in our gears. Exaggerating for effect, Detroit is what left progress looks like to us.

        To grossly oversimplify, the left says “we have a problem let’s create a government solution” the other side says “we have a problem and it is best solved institutionally by those most effected.” They both want progress, but you are right, conservatives/libertarians see all kinds of horrible unintended consequences with the more statist approach.

        Even on the topic of equality, most conservatives and libertarians will roll their eyes at leftist recommendations. I know this is hard for those on the left to imagine, but we think equality of outcome is a bad thing. We realize that people want different things and take different risks, and put in different efforts and pursue different versions of success and as such no two people ever get the exact same outcomes. Nor should they. Equal outcome is a horrible outcome which can only be accomplished via totalitarianism and intolerance.

        Equal opportunity is great, but much of human potential comes out of cultural habits. Different families and cultures have different habits and are absolutely totally sure to accomplish different normal outcomes. Thus unless we override all cultural freedom, it will appear that there is not just unequal results, but unequal opportunity as well. People from certain cultures have certain outcomes stacked against them (or advantages stacked up for them) from birth unless they are adopted by another culture.

        You say the left wants justice and fairness. When I hear you I suspect you want equal outcomes forced onto different cultures with different values by putting the left in charge and telling us what we can’t do and how much everyone owes everyone else. I am thus skeptical of either your motives or your understanding of the situation.

        So, you see us wanting to limit progress. I have a suggestion….Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        Roger, you should read the OP.

        Anyway, your “let the powerful screw everyone else” approach is uninteresting to me. Wait, that’s not what you’re saying? Eh, that’s how I choose to read it, in order to remain as charitable and honest in my interpretation of you as you are in those who disagree with you.

        Seriously, I’m done conversing with you, unless you want to talk music or baseball or the weather in Manitoba this time of year. Nothing fruitful can come of it. I’m letting you know so that, if you choose to respond to something I say in the future, you’re aware that you won’t be getting a response back.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        Well thanks for keeping an open mind.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        Roger: Your contention is that Chris lacks an “open mind” because he correctly identifies your propensity to argue straw-men and how that makes real discussion impossible?

        Isn’t that ironic.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        Roger, right back at ya, brother.

        You notice that I have no problem talking to James? Your actual views have little to do with my opinion of you and the tactics you employ here. It’s not your views that I’m refusing to engage, it’s you.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        I think we need some disengagement here.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        I am fine with anyone continuing to comment on my comment. To the extent people can keep it on the topic and off of “let’s chat about Roger (THE ANTI-JAMES)” it would indeed be appreciated.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        @chris

        “How likely is it that the unintended consequences of these changes will outweigh the progress made?”

        The problem — practically speaking — is that everyone is going to do their own calculus on this and many will overvalue the costs they suffer and undervalue the progress if its gains are disproportionately distributed to others. So, you risk a white plantation owner saying, “Hey, if you free the slaves and I have to pay for labor, that is going to suck for me. That is a horrible unintended consequence of abolition.”

        Now, we shouldn’t necessarily heed this argument. But the problem is that not everyone sees progress as progress.

        This doesn’t necessarily refute anything you’ve said, as I largely agree that “progress but slow” is a curious rule-of-thumb to adhere to.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        @roger

        “Conservatives don’t want their culture to encourage activities which might lead to people burning in hell. I know that sounds funny to you and me, but they really do believe this. Thus they fight some actions which we promote.

        Conservatives … don’t believe that the best way to solve problems is the STATIST default.”

        Do you see the issue there that I do?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        @roger

        “…the other side says “we have a problem and it is best solved institutionally by those most effected.””

        What happens when those most effected are excluded from the institutions so situated as to effect change? What if that itself is one of the problems?Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        @kazzy

        Yes. Conservatives and the liberal left both look up, but to something different.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        @roger

        I don’t think that satisfies the contradiction within the quoted section. You said that “[c]onservatives … don’t believe that the best way to solve problems is the STATIST default.” Yet they so often seek “STATIST” solutions to address when they perceive that “their culture … encourages activities which might lead to people burning in hell.” You then go on to say “the argument from [conservatives] is that the best way to deliver these things is more decentralized than top down”. Yet conservatives prefer statist solutions when they perceive that hellacious activities are taking place and eschew decentralized solutions.

        I recognize you do not identify as conservative and thus are not compelled to speak on their behalf or defend them. But I do think it appropriate to ask that you represent their guiding philosophy(ies) accurately. And I do not think you have done so here.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        “What happens when those most effected are excluded from the institutions so situated as to effect change? What if that itself is one of the problems?”

        Exclusion is one of the premier types of harm. It is a form of coercion or exploitation. My recommended solution is first not to create exclusion. Second, it is to eliminate any exclusion which has been created.

        Btw, to a classical liberal, this includes the following types of exclusion:
        1). The exclusion of not being able to take a job at a rate below the minimum wage
        2). The exclusion of not being able to work without being forced into a union
        3). The exclusion of not being able to enter the country
        4). The exclusion of not being able to buy a product or service because those who happens to want to sell it for more feel you might not be spending your money wisely

        You will not find many libertarians/classical libs around here that are for exclusion or state supported privilege. The dilemma comes when freedom meets intolerance. These two values can indeed clash. Does someone have the freedom to discriminate? I would lean toward no. Libertarians often lean more toward yes. Those on the left lean strongly yes.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        Just joking. Those on the left lean strongly no.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        Well said, kazzy. I was sorely tempted to respond for you (actually had the comment written!), so I’m glad you showed up to say those things yourself.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        K,

        Agreed. They do indeed like statist solutions to moral issues. My bad. Fully agree.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NewDealer
        Ignored
        says:

        I agree entirely with #2 and #3. I’m relatively agnostic on minimum wage laws; I haven’t delved deep enough into the studies for or against to have a firm opinion. I probably lean closer to being against them but not strongly enough to actively advocate for such. I’m not sure I understand what you mean by #4. Or, perhaps more accurately, I’m not sure I can think of a real-life example that fits it as you’ve described it.

        Regarding exclusion from institutions more broadly, one of the issues I take with “free market” approach to solving this problem is that we are decidedly a non-free market right now. There are all sorts of ways in which people with ill-gotten power use that ill-gotten power to maintain their ill-gotten power and often actively increase their ill-gotten power. This often results in half-hearted and/or ineffective or limitedly effective efforts to combat this. For instance, anti-discrimination laws (which I fully acknowledge you allow for but which the broader philosophy which I struggle with generally does not) were adopted to combat extralegal discrimination which was allowed to take hold because of legally protected discrimination. And while anti-discrimination laws have been effective in a number of ways, they haven’t deconstructed the systems and institutions that necessitated their creation. As such, they continue to be necessary and — quite possibly — even greater efforts are needed.

        I tend to analogize it thusly…

        Imagine a game wherein one side starts with 100 points and the other side with 1 point. The rules of the game are such that each successive turn awards 10 points to the former side and 1 point to the latter side. The rules of the game are also such for every 50 points accrued, an additional 10 points are given. Lastly, when certain achievements in the game are reached, the former team receives more points than the latter team. Within just a few times, the absurd imbalance of 100-to-1 quickly grows. Eventually, someone points out that the rules of the game are wildly unfair. They remove one and then another but then replace one of those and remove a third and on and on, such that at any given time one or two rules are eliminated but never all three. And, most importantly, the initial imbalance nor the subsequent increase in that imbalance is ever rectified. But people point to the continued jockeying of the horribly unfair rules and say, “See? We’ve made it fairer.”

        To me, that is unsatisfactory. And I recognize this seems like a call for radical redistribution. Which is not something I am necessarily in favor of. But when I hear folks say, “Let’s make the world a truer meritocracy,” I respond with, “Cool! That means you have to give up everything you have that is not a function of merit.” And suddenly, the meritocracy doesn’t seem like such a great idea to the other person.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        No prob, Rog. And I hope you see I deliberately excluded libertarians from my critique because I generally find them to be more consistently principled.

        Conservatives are all about small government and maximum freedom until it comes to two dudes kissing. Somehow, they fail to see this as a contradiction. And the thing is, you could probably build a cogent, consistent philosophy in which you argue for expanded economic freedom AND legally imposed social mores. But you can’t do that on the mantle of small government, maximum freedom, and the like. Problem for the cons is that they’ve attempted to stake their claim to those ideals and simply ignore the corner they’ve painted themselves into.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        I think people constantly try to rig the game. This is one of the biggest barriers to human progress.

        I think some of the rigging is disguised as attempts to fix the rigging. Economics is really complex, and the best way to rationalize privilege is to pretend it is anti privilege. “Protect the American worker against unfair competition from you know whats”

        I think that people are unequal in goals, desires, risks, investment, work, creativity, manners, outlook and luck. As such they consistently achieve totally different outcomes. The best solution for this is social safety nets which are sufficient but not anywhere close to desirable. Poorly designed ones act as traps.

        I think that culture is much more important than genes. However cultures are resistant to change and subject to inter generational effects.Report

  13. Avatar NewDealer
    Ignored
    says:

    @glyph

    Same suggestions. Suppose narcotics were legal. Would you encourage your kids to get involved with the market as a career or would you steer them away?Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to NewDealer
      Ignored
      says:

      Don’t know. In this society? Probably not. Unless it was a “soft” drug (I wouldn’t really care, I don’t think, if my kid went into cannabis farming [edited to add: in a state with legal recreational cannabis], any more than I would care if he wanted to be a craft brewer.)

      In a different society? Why should cultivating a high-end poppy be different from distilling a high-end whiskey? Both can addict and/or kill the user.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to NewDealer
      Ignored
      says:

      Boxing’s legal, but I steer my kids away from that.Report

    • Avatar dhex in reply to NewDealer
      Ignored
      says:

      would i steer my kid from working for a scotch company? i’d probably steer him from a weed company because the graphic design and branding converns tends to be just gawdfrickinawful, but outside of that? presuming a genuine legal market a la booze?

      that’s a moral decision he’d need to make, not me. we have enough of generation veal to go around.Report

  14. Avatar Pinky
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    says:

    What would you like to see move more quickly in one direction or another

    Expansion of nuclear power.

    and is political opposition from the other side of the aisle the only thing that is realistically stopping it?

    Yes, athough see below.

    If the opposition was removed, would the public support a more aggressive approach?

    I think the public could be persuaded, but they’re not there yet, and no one’s even trying to persuade them.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Pinky
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      says:

      I luv ya Pinky, I hadn’t thought of that one which is odd considering how fond I am of nuclear power.Report

    • Avatar Rod in reply to Pinky
      Ignored
      says:

      Three problems: Nuclear waste, nuclear waste, and, umm… oh, yeah, nuclear waste.

      This seems like more of a political than technical problem to me. We really don’t need to come up with million-year solutions. Yucca Mountain should be fine for hundreds of years in which time either science will devise something better or humanity’s extinct and who gives a fuck?

      Fukashima also needs to be taken as a serious object lesson. This is serious crap we’re playing with and siting and design are crucial considerations.Report

  15. Avatar Kolohe
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    says:

    To me, the best recent example of the merits of the slow and steady approach was the DADT repeal. (DADT itself, it is sometimes hard to remember, was actually an improvement over the status quo at the time, where gay people were subjected to witchhunts and openly treated like terrorists and commies by the bureaucracy)

    By doing the repeal through the legislative process, vice an executive order – and getting the marginal Republican on board – it ensured its permanence as policy. Contrast, with say, the back and forth each Presidential term with the so called Mexico City rule on abortion policy.

    Now, on the other hand, one could bring up Harry Truman’s desegregation of the armed forces in one fell swoop by executive order. And that ‘stuck’ as a policy too. However, the difference is that in 1948 there was no longer any national constituency for a segregationist politician, particularly a Democrat (which were the majority of segregationist politicians at the time). In 2010, one can still be a viable national candidate on a anti-gay rights platform.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Kolohe
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      says:

      On the other hand, 4-8 years of gays in the military with no evidence that it harms efficiency or effectiveness makes taking a group’s rights away pretty difficult.

      Anti-integration forces within the military tried really hard, during the Korean War, to blame largely black units for mistakes, and could make anything stick (despite the facts that the first few months of that war were rife with mistakes, and people were looking for someone to blame). It’s very difficult, once you’ve given a minority group a right that most people already have, to justify taking it away, because even people who were initially against that group having the right often find doing so troublesome.Report

  16. Avatar NewDealer
    Ignored
    says:

    @jm3z-aitch

    “By all means, then, take away one of their few opportunities.”

    Now this seems to be getting at the crux of the issue on whether prostitution/sex work should be legal tonight and what kind of policies and world we want to promote.

    For the sake of the hypothetical, let’s say that the dissenters against legalized Prostitution are right and that many or even an overwhelming majority of participants only enter sex work out of varying degrees of lack of opportunity and/or desperation.

    Which is the better solution to this conundrum?

    1. Figure out why these potential sex workers are lacking opportunity and/or desperate and figuring out how to get them more opportunities and end their desperation. This can be done through government work and private charity.

    2. Legalized and regulated prostitution.

    3. Both 1 and 2.

    I think in your line a lot of people see an implicit cruelty which is not intended but it can read as a tacit admission that X amount of the population is always going to lack opportunity and be in dire straits for reasons that might or might not be of their own making and allowing things like sex work to be legalized is the only way to help (or kidney donation). This week I read an article on District Court 36 in Detroit, Michigan. I was struck by this paragraph:

    “I have a clear memory of one case from three or four years ago, which involved a woman who had been robbed and beaten in the middle of the day in a parking lot outside a grocery store on Woodward Avenue, Detroit’s main thoroughfare. She had lost her job while she was in the hospital and fell behind on the rent. The landlord was just someone who owned another house or two besides his own, not a big real-estate company that could float someone for a while, not that it would be inclined to. Neither had a lawyer. She wound up being evicted. The woman stands out in my mind because she had such a cascade of problems. It’s rotten luck to have your whole life unraveled by a trip to the grocery store one summer afternoon. Sob stories are common at the 36th District, although I’ve only ever seen one person weep.”

    There has to be away to find a world with equitable solutions to such random examples of bad luck. Sometimes it seems like the opinion of many (not necessarily you) is not though.

    http://prospect.org/article/peoples-courtReport

    • Avatar LWA in reply to NewDealer
      Ignored
      says:

      You’re right, this does get at the crux of the debate.

      We want to enact governmental policies to…

      Do what, exactly?

      What are we trying to accomplish by liberal/conservative/libertarian policies?

      What vision of a future can we craft to persuade our fellow citizens to adopt our position?

      More importantly, why would we wish this vision on our fellow citizens?

      To the woman who is on hard times and sees prostitution as her only opportunity, why should conservatives care about her moral choices, liberals care about her opportunity, or libertarians care about her freedom to choose?

      Is it altruism, concern for her? Or self regard, that we want an outcome that maximizes our happiness?Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        Obviously the libertarians are right and the others are mistaken. Insert smiley face.

        The logic for the libertarian side is that she is a better judge than anyone else, therefore by not limiting her options, we can allow her to use her values to choose her preferred course.

        The conservative side runs into the problem of intolerance, of projecting ones values on another. Pushing someone west when they want to go east is the worst kind of crime. It is harm under the guise of help.

        The left liberals similarly want to decide for others which paths are acceptable. Note all the left comments on how prostitution or stripping are mistakes that they need to be prevented from doing. Note the total lack of trust in the judgment that this entails and how it effectively substitutes ones own judgment for the person actually making the choice and living with the consequences.

        You say lefties want to increase opportunity, this is kind of funny when you want to do so by cutting off a viable choice. Not allowing a person to be a prostitute is not an increase in opportunity, it is a reduction. A libertarian would suggest the heuristic should be a strong burden of proof before doing so.

        I am aware that some odd libertarians value freedom for the sake of freedom. Not many of those types frequent this site. In general the ones around here believe the rule of thumb is to not force our values on others. Something we can’t understand why those on the left and right refuse to adopt.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        But Rog, liberals would want a uni health care system so you could get care, if you couldn’t afford it, for the frequent separated shoulders you get from patting yourself on the back so hard. Of course you would always be able to afford care though i’m sure.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        Note all the left comments on how prostitution or stripping are mistakes that they need to be prevented from doing.

        I’m going to start interpreting you the way you interpret the “left.” Since you gloss “exploitation is bad and should be reduced or eliminated, but not necessarily by making prostitution illegal” as “prostitution is a mistake that people need to be prevented from doing,” I’m going to gloss all of your comments about the poor as “poor people should be made to eat catfood.” That way, we’ll be interpreting each other with the same level of charity and honesty.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to LWA
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        says:

        So libertarians want to increase the number of options this hypothetical woman has available to her?
        Again, why?
        Is it a concern for her well being, or a disregard for it?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        Presumably, placing women, particularly poor women, on a more equal footing would be tantamount to providing them with more opportunities. I think James realizes this, which is why he doesn’t object to focusing on the underlying reasons why prostitution is one of the few opportunities for some women at the same time we legalize prostitution (though see Nob’s comments above about sexual trafficking for reasons not to legalize it). Roger, on the other hand, sees examining the underlying causes as moralistic and limiting,apparently. I think what you see here is the difference between reflective (James) and rote (Roger) market-focused approaches. It’s a nice contrast, if only because it shows some of the liberals who see all libertarians as being like of the rote sort that they, the liberals, are mistaken.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        Greg,

        See my comment above that got all into Chris’ milkshake. The other side doesn’t not want health care, the other side believes health care is better provided via personal effort with safety nets. We are disagreeing on the best way to get there. Really.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        And if she wants to sell herself into slavery, or contract a marriage in which her husband has complete control over all of her property, who are we to say that’s wrong?Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        Chris, drop the personal attacks.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        Mike,

        “Strong burden of proof” was inserted just for you. Try reading it again.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        Earlier this year, my mother spent 2 weeks in India, working with Bombay Teen Challenge. Most of her group’s time was spent outside of Mumbai, at a shelter for women and children rescued from slavery — sex slavery. One day, however, was spent touring the Mumbai red light district, which is one of the largest in the world (I believe it’s the 2nd or 3rd largest). It is basically a city unto itself, a city with conditions so bad that they are impossible for you or me to fathom. My mother, who’s been there, has trouble understanding what it must be like to live there.

        The reason most of the women are there is because their families had few other opportunities other than selling their daughters into slavery. So, when someone “on the left” suggests that addressing the underlying conditions that lead to this is something we have to do, regardless of whether we legalize prostitution, he or she is not merely “projecting ones values on another,” or “decid[ing] for others which paths are acceptable,” or stating that “prostitution or stripping are mistakes that they need to be prevented from doing.” The only way someone would read it that ways is if they have both a complete lack of knowledge of prostitution and its underlying social and economic dynamics and such an impoverished and mistaken conception of how people to his or her “left’ think that they are incapable of accurately interpreting them.

        The BTC program educates the women and children, providing them with skills that will allow them to find work, work that doesn’t involve selling themselves or their children in to sex slavery. Presumably this is precisely the sort of program that people on the “left” can get behind, though people on the “left” may want the Indian government, and those of other nations with large populations of sex slaves to crack down on forced prostitution as well.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        Roger, personal observations.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        What’s your proof, other than that you personally disapprove of coverture and slavery? There are certainly card-carrying libertarians with good things to say about the former and Nozick, among others, had no problem with contracts that enforce voluntary slavery.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to LWA
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        says:

        What’s with the quotes around “left?”Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        Mike,

        I am assuming you actually do understand what burden of proof and default heuristic and rule of thumb imply.

        Chris,
        I am assuming you get to reply to me, but would prefer I not respond to you?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        I am assuming you actually do understand what burden of proof and default heuristic and rule of thumb imply.

        I do. I also know what “solution by mathematical induction” means, but I like it when people show their work.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LWA
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        says:

        Brandon, I’ve pretty much always used scare quotes around “left” in these contexts for a couple reasons. First, I don’t consider American liberals to be particularly leftist, either in terms of the history of American politics or the current state of global politics. Second, I don’t particularly like the right-left political spectrum as it’s applied to American politics today. I think it’s generally unproductive. The “right” and “left” labels (you’ll notice I almost never use “right” to refer to American conservatives, and when I do, I put it in scare quotes as well) perpetuate an inaccurate flattening of the space of political ideas, lumping people together on largely arbitrary grounds, or at least on grounds that have little more basis than almost entirely pragmatic political alliances. Democrats and Republicans or conservatives and liberals, while still not unproblematic, are better and less contentious labels. Mostly, I’d just rather talk about people and ideas rather than vague concepts with as much baggage as “right” and “left” tend to carry. So if I use them, it’s almost always in response to someone else doing so, and I use them simply to make it clear what I’m replying to.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LWA
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        says:

        The bit about liberals and conservatives or Democrats and Republicans might be unclear. Democrat and Republican express a political reality, namely one’s alignment in our two-party system. Liberal and conservative can both be used to refer to the same person or group. For example, it’s possible to be economically conservative and socially liberal, or economically liberal and socially conservative. Left and right are generally used in a more all-encompassing way.Report

  17. Avatar Roger
    Ignored
    says:

    LWA,

    The reason I want her to decide is because my baseline heuristic is that in most cases the best person to decide is the one personally affected by the decision. He or She knows her values, goals, needs, trade offs and situational details better than a third party. Just as importantly, he or she experiences the feedback from the decision and thus can learn from it or adjust.

    I do not recommend drug use, stripping, prostitution or riding bikes without a helmet. But I believe the default adult position is to allow others to choose for themselves as long as others are not harmed. The reason is that I believe it leads to a better world for him or her, you and me. I believe it is the optimal heuristic for utilitarians, altruists and egoists.Report

    • Avatar LWA in reply to Roger
      Ignored
      says:

      “Optimal” by what standard?
      What moral test can we apply to determine if something is optimal?

      Is maximal liberty the goal, or is it a means to a goal? How can this goal be described in a way that we can all share?

      For example- in the Christian worldview, the purpose of societal organization is to promote the full development and realization of the human person, defined broadly.
      Each individual is equally valuable, and their well being deserves rightful consideration. This allows for reward and punishment, individual property and communal sharing, but all of these are subordinate to the higher goal of enriching and promoting the universal good.

      So this provides a measurement, by which we can evaluate the status quo and decide if it is legitimate, or if it needs changing. It also defines a moral ranking of values, which can be argued and debated.

      Whereas asserting that everyone should be allowed to do what they want so long as no one is harmed, is too simple a statement to allow to testing- is any outcome really legitimate, so long as it complies with that simple equation? Any outcome at all, bar none? And do we have a firm grasp on what “harm” means?

      I could, for instance, assert that an outcome in which a woman has no other economic choices but to starve or sell her body, is itself a great harm by negating the value of human dignity, and therefore according to lilbertarian axiom, this legitimizes a restriction on that choice, and a system of wealth redistribution so as to avoid this harm.

      Or I could, with equal validity, argue that no harm is being done, since there is no harm in the sale of bodies, sex, or anything else.

      Does the desire for liberty spring from a valuation of the dignity and worth of every human? What would it mean if it did?Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        Optimal by her standards not yours or mine. Value is subjective and thus as a rule of thumb the person to look for for whether it is of value or not is the person experiencing the value or harm.

        LWA, I know of no metric of value superior to a subjective evaluation by the person affected. Dignity and moral issues are also likely values held by the woman in question. Thus she trades these against her other values within her context.

        I certainly agree that there are exceptions to every rule of thumb. It is possible that people make mistakes in one area so routinely that we should carefully and cautiously step in and eliminate this choice. Here I argue that the burden of proof be extremely demanding and overwhelmingly clear.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LWA
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        says:

        Optimal by her standards not yours or mine.

        Is it within the realm of possibility that an impoverished woman could say both a) “I’m thankful to the libertarians for defending the opportunity to prostitute myself for money since I have no other options” as well as b) “I sincerely wish that other folks with more power than me could change the institutional structures I live in so that I didn’t have to make this really shitty choice”?

        Value is subjective

        Not if there are only two competing values: death by starvation or life by prostituting yourself. I think subjectivity of value gains credence some distance above the basic necessities of life.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to LWA
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        says:

        “Is maximal liberty the goal, or is it a means to a goal? How can this goal be described in a way that we can all share?”

        To me it is a bit of both. Actually, I would say to most of us it is a bit of both. Most of us want freedom for freedoms sake, but we also want it for instrumental reasons. If a course of action is good enough that it seems worthwhile to an adult to take that course, my default position is that they are a better judge of its utility than you or I. Again they have the situational awareness, they know their tradeoffs, values and goals. They know their risk tolerance. They experience the feedback and can react to it as deemed prudent. Most importantly, they are unlikely to wish to exploit themselves.

        Thus the person experiencing the impact of the decision is, as a general rule, the best person to decide from both a knowledge and benevolence standpoint.

        My short answer is that freedom is more instrumental than a goal in and of itself. But it is both.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LWA
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        says:

        Also, in a discussion as few days ago I asked you and other libertarians if the desire to make more money to the exclusion of other values was something that could be justified and if so what that justification is, or whether that bare desire to maximize monetary return on investment was a bare fact that constituted the foundations of a theory of political economy. Here I think we have a bit of an answer: insofar as people act to maximize monetary value above all else, they’re acting as tho *that value* isn’t subjectively determined, that it’s an absolute value (functionally speaking), one which certain types of theories assume as a basic condition upon which the rest of the theory hangs.

        Likewise, saying that a woman who chooses prostitution over starvation cannot be construed as a subjective determination of value without begging a bunch of questions about the functions of economic institutions as well as the suggestion that maximizing monetary return to the exclusion of other (competing values) constitutes a bare fact of human nature.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to LWA
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        says:

        But you asserted that maximizing liberty results in optimal outcomes for everyone.

        So clearly you are working from some understanding of an optimal outcome, that hasn’t been fleshed out and described.

        Are you saying that there is no moral value that is universal? That all values are personal and relative?Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to LWA
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        says:

        “…in the Christian worldview, the purpose of societal organization is to promote the full development and realization of the human person, defined broadly. …So this provides a measurement, by which we can evaluate the status quo and decide if it is legitimate, or if it needs changing. It also defines a moral ranking of values, which can be argued and debated.”

        Great. Then all you need to do is persuade me (every individual) of these values. Once you have persuaded me that they are right, then I (everyone agreeing) will live by them too and accept the institutions which support and reinforce them. Absent this persuasion though, you must coerce them to agree. I believe coercion of this type should be minimized as clarified elsewhere.

        In reality, I suggest you are just promoting the equivalent of the old wars of religion. People will face off into groups of similar thinkers and attempt to grab the reigns of power so they can coerce everyone to obey (for their own good or soul or whatever). The only thing worse than individual violence is group violence, and is see your path leading to not just war, but total war.

        Persuade me. If you can’t persuade me, then perhaps your case is weak, or my values are different. My guess is if you can’t persuade me you will come back with guns to make your point later.

        “Whereas asserting that everyone should be allowed to do what they want so long as no one is harmed, is too simple a statement to allow to testing- is any outcome really legitimate, so long as it complies with that simple equation?”

        Yeah, the equations are simpler. Universally voluntary actions are permitted. Actions which affect one person as a rule are allowed. Interactions need to be agreed to by both affected parties. Larger groups can be unanimous or members can agree to join and sublimate their decisions to others in a less than unanimous setting for ease of decision making (majority rule, etc). Externalities can be controlled via institutional processes.

        This allows a flowering of values and experimentation in a positive sum framework. It also allows people to cooperate and form into larger social units of shared value. Christians and Muslims can worship and promote their own values without having to exterminate the other.

        “Any outcome at all, bar none? And do we have a firm grasp on what “harm” means?”

        I actually want to write a guest post on the nature of harm. Here are my tentative groupings, each with unique challenges…
        1). Coercive acts. Theft, assault, fraud, rape, etc
        2). Limitations on freedom of action
        3). Externalities
        4). Self harm
        5). Accidental harm
        6). Lost opportunity harm (not being chosen to dance or be hired, ie a win/win opportunity lost)

        The interesting ones are 2 and 6. Classical liberals tend to fight against attacks on limitations of freedom but accept lost opportunity harms as on net acceptable (inevitable actually).

        “I could, for instance, assert that an outcome in which a woman has no other economic choices but to starve or sell her body, is itself a great harm by negating the value of human dignity, and therefore according to lilbertarian axiom, this legitimizes a restriction on that choice, and a system of wealth redistribution so as to avoid this harm.”

        Yeah, I bet you can think of all kinds of great reasons to redistribute other people’s money. This would certainly be more worthwhile than most. Again, if it is so worthwhile, why can’t you persuade people again? Even more importantly, why is it that the close to one trillion in aid we pay annually isn’t going to these girls now? Where are you spending this now?

        Indeed let me further turn the tables. (This is where Chris better stop reading) You do realize that the reason classical liberals argue against red tape, regulated job credentialism/licensure, minimum wages, mandatory days off, union cartels and so on is that we believe it leads to huge numbers of unskilled workers with no options other than to (for example) sell their bodies or drugs? You do realize that it isn’t libertarians who ruin the schools that turn out kids so lacking in useful knowledge that they offer zero marginal value to an employer other than a pimp or dealer?

        We have thirty six percent inner city unemployment for minority youths. And you want to throw prostitution in my face? We warn you of totally predictable consequences of misguided pathological altruism and you imply I don’t care about young boys and girls?

        Sorry. Look in the mirror. You priced her out of the market and screwed up her education. If you really, truly cared about her you would listen to the warnings we keep giving you on limiting and restricting freedom and opportunity.

        My guess is I am not persuasive. But I tried. I will keep trying.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LWA
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        says:

        Persuade me.

        Are you the final arbiter on this Roger? Do you have veto power? Where does this insistence that everyone needs to persuade you come from? Are you a litmus test for future political activism? For coherence of thought (Gawd help us).

        You and LWA aren’t even speaking the same language, it seems to me. You can’t even summarize his arguments correctly. Or North’s or kazzy’s or Chris’s or greg’s or Mike’s or mine. It’s a strange dynamic, Roger. One that doesn’t incline me to take your positive views all that seriously since those views are so infused with a general negativity directed towards your “opponents” – you know, those ignorant folks aligned with villainy, remember? – I wonder how honestly your taking these issues.

        Sorry to say it that baldly, Roger, but it’s true: it seems to me you’re more interested in finding arguments to fit your conclusions than you are in evaluating the arguments themselves.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to LWA
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        says:

        Stillwater,

        In the end every discussion turns to your favorite topic….ME! I should send you a picture so you can put it on your dart board or something.

        I would like to respond to your good comments buried in the bad, but it would be futile. Until you play nice I will opt out of discussions. Peace.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        Roger, I am playing nice. I’m just trying to tell you that you’re negative critiques of liberals, or progressives, or leftists, or whatever you want to call them are entirely wrong and constitute a strawman. Your positive arguments, however, stand on their own.

        If you spent less time demonizing your perceived opponents (calling them ignorant and evil and whatnot), and actually heard and internalized their arguments without negative bias and question-begging judgements, then perhaps you could actually engage in what’s called a “dialogue”.

        Challenging people to persuade you – when it’s crystal clear you don’t understand what they’re saying – isn’t really a dialogue, now is it?Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        Just one example…

        Persuade me was inserted to emphasize the word persuade. I was just the example. This is pretty clear from the context. You did notice the parenthetical at the end of the quoted words repeated several times in the second
        paragraph, right?

        Let me spell it out… If the truth is so obvious to LWA, then all he had to do is persuade OTHERS of his great insight. He can start with me.

        Stillwater, conversations with you are useless. You did the same thing last week by ignoring the phrase I repeated three times in one paragraph ( I think it was “all else equal”). I must assume this pattern is intentional.

        Any further commentary on my part would be a violation of the standards.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        Stillwater, conversations with you are useless.

        Hey, we finally agree on something!!!Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        “Persuade me”.
        But we have persuaded the overwhelming majority of Americans (and Europeans and Canadians and Australians and New Zealanders and on and on) of this worldview.

        Our Constitution and the thinking of the Founders was suffused with the premise that there is more to the existance of the state than merely liberty, that state assists the culture in providing for the general welfare, domestic tranquility and so on.

        The status quo of virtually every legislation and common law is premised on this normative proposition, that the optimal outcome of society’s organization is the full development of human dignity, of which liberty is only a part, subordinate to the whole.

        In the end, you really are asserting a moral framework that holds that there is one and only one universal value which is individual liberty. Human dignity, the more broad flowering of the human spirit, are just irrelevant personal preferences and beliefs.

        For all the societal ills you mention, there is only one single cause and cure, which is liberty or the lack of it. There are no other dimensions to this equation.

        You paint a picture of people freely doing this or that, as evidence of the superiority of liberty. But unless we hold these people’s existance as having some intrinsic worth and value, their free associations and choices are pointless.
        If the suffering of others (due to freely chosen foolishness) is of no consequence to me, why should their suffering due to coercion be any more important?

        And even in the world you describe, what is the ultimate point and purpose? Are people happier, more prosperous? Are their lives richer and more fulfilling?

        If you think yes, then doesn’t it logically follow that you are making assumptions about what makes people happy and fulfilled?
        Something universal, common to all?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LWA
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        says:

        If you’ll notice, @lwa, the arguments generally given for liberty as the focal value are instrumental. The problem is that the focus in liberty, in some cases at least, has reached a point where liberty’s connection to other positive outcomes is taken as a article of faith.

        I don’t think all of the liberty-first folks do that, but some clearly are, to the point that there is no way to argue otherwise for them. What’s more, it leads to a very narrow conception of liberty.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        @lwa

        But you forget that Roger is the final arbitrator in all things. It is quite a surprise that anyone dare disagree in the first place. We all know we will lose to his overcommanding sense of self in the end.

        /sarcasm

        FWIW, I tend towards option number 3 as the answer in my original comment that spurred this debate. And I am not completely convinced that people only turn to sex work out of desperation. I was merely being polemical.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to LWA
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        says:

        Dude,

        I have repeatedly said liberty is not primarily a value. My argument clearly is that it is primarily instrumental as a process to allow people to pursue their other values. The fact that you go on for paragraph after paragraph ignoring what I wrote repeatedly just shows you are wanting to argue with someone else.

        I don’t value liberty primarily for the sake of liberty. I do value it primarily as an instrumental technique to allow people to achieve their other values and goals. This of necessity implies people do have other values and goals. I cannot even imagine someone who really values only liberty. The fact that despite my half dozen or so denials that you still think I do is just weird. Like, disturbing, weird. Rainman weird.

        I also mention that one way to discover or realize these other values among diverse people is via persuasion. You then argue that people have already been persuaded thus implying this disproves my case. Well it would if I was that freak who thinks liberty is the only value. But I am arguing for persuasion to discover other values. You made my fricken point. Thanks.

        “For all the societal ills you mention, there is only one single cause and cure, which is liberty or the lack of it. There are no other dimensions to this equation.”

        Not true at all. There are many other techniques beyond liberty to address social and natural problems. Just because I argue the instrumental value of liberty to solve some problems does not imply I believe it is the only or even the best technique.

        “You paint a picture of people freely doing this or that, as evidence of the superiority of liberty. But unless we hold these people’s existence as having some intrinsic worth and value, their free associations and choices are pointless.”

        No. They are capable of discovering and reveling in the value of intrinsic worth. You are not god, LWA. You do not have to coercively force your values on others for the value to exist. You do realize that when you close your eyes, the stars are still there?

        “If the suffering of others (due to freely chosen foolishness) is of no consequence to me, why should their suffering due to coercion be any more important?”

        You will need to come to grips with the answer to this yourself.

        If you think people are routinely, freely choosing suffering, then you are assuming you are better than them at knowing their own values. I explained why this is extremely unlikely, but you keep ignoring my arguments.

        “And even in the world you describe, what is the ultimate point and purpose? Are people happier, more prosperous? Are their lives richer and more fulfilling? If you think yes, then doesn’t it logically follow that you are making assumptions about what makes people happy and fulfilled?
        Something universal, common to all?”

        Certainly people’s values and goals overlap. Most people want food, shelter, status, happiness, meaning, pleasure, spiritual connection, etc. Liberty and persuasion are great techniques (not the only!) to allow people to realize them.

        The difficulty, if you spent some time thinking about this issue, is that some goals and some paths to a common goal contradict. That the easiest path to even a shared goal can often be zero sum. Each of us can try to get more food by stealing what the other has. Thus we make no net progress. Another common technique to screw people over is to tell them they must obey for their own good. Elites, slavers and dogmatic extremists have been doing this for millennia.

        By the way, are you still a good driver?Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        But we have persuaded the overwhelming majority of Americans (and Europeans and Canadians and Australians and New Zealanders and on and on) of this worldview.

        Argumentum ad populum.

        Next fallacy?Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        “But you forget that Roger is the final arbitrator in all things. It is quite a surprise that anyone dare disagree in the first place. We all know we will lose to his overcommanding sense of self in the end.”

        How you somehow twist my argument for letting others decide for themselves in to an argument that I am suggesting I decide for everyone is kind of odd.

        Do you recognize the silliness of your argument? Or do I need to use simpler words so you can keep up?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        So long as we never say that liberty is something that people everywhere yearn for.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        “People everywhere yearn for their turn to hold the whip.”Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        Mike two words…Instrumental value.

        Guys. Can you guys please up your game a bit? It gets really tedious to argue with people who pretend they argue with me when they argue with the exact opposite of what I am saying.

        ND thinks he is arguing with someone who wants to decide for everyone, when I am arguing it is best if people decide for themselves.

        LWA goes on at length that I value liberty not just primarily as a value, but as the sole value. In reality I have now said a dozen times it is primarily an instrumental way to allow people to discover their own paths and realize their diverse values.

        All five of you (adding you, Stillwater and Chris) are skipping my argument of why I believe individual freedom is instrumentally superior. Want me to highlight the passages again.? Hint, it deals with the fact that ….

        1 individuals tend to know their situation, needs, goals, values and tradeoffs better than others
        2) individuals tend to experience and be best to respond to feedback and incentives related to their decisions
        3) individuals are less likely to have other than benevolent goals toward themselves.

        If you guys really want to continue the discussion, you need to address these points. Otherwise I am out.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LWA
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        says:

        Roger:

        I’ll answer this as I have in some other similar contexts and then elaborate a bit on objections.

        1 individuals tend to know their situation, needs, goals, values and tradeoffs better than others.

        In the ideal case.

        2) individuals tend to experience and be best to respond to feedback and incentives related to their decisions

        In the ideal case.

        3) individuals are less likely to have other than benevolent goals toward themselves.

        In the ideal case.

        But leaving that standard objection aside for a bit, let’s get into some other issues here. You’re apparently presenting 1-3 as an argument justifying legalizing prostitution. Does it? Consider 3): the fact that an individual is likely to act in their own best interests cuts both ways here, given a long and sordid history of pimps exploiting women to serve their own (the pimps!) best interests. That’s a logical problem, it seems to me. Of course, in the ideal case, pimp’s behaviors could presumably be regulated to prevent the expression of coercion on their parts. Of course, in the *ideal* ideal case, pimp’s wouldn’t have any desire to coercively exploit prostitutes for their own individual gain: their actions would be restricted to only positive-sum, win-win scenarios!

        (Notice that this is a critique of whether your argument above is sufficient for the claim that prostitution ought to be legal. I think it fails, but that doesn’t mean libertarians don’t have *other* arguments at their disposal, notably, that government intervention into the practice of prostitution leads *on balance!* to worse outcomes than prohibiting it. And notice that *that* argument can be sustained (at least in principle) without any of your premises 1 – 3 or individual liberty or positive-sumism.)

        What I just wrote is an internal critique of the soundness of your argument, but the argument can be challenged by criticizing the limited nature of the argument’s scope, ie., that it doesn’t include lots of other variables that are actually relevant. Let’s go thru some offered on this very thread:

        Will H argued that the causal conditions giving rise to the individual decision to engage in prostitution and stripping generally include a history of sexual abuse. If that’s correct, then the ideal case (potentially) hasn’t been met because individual choices are in effect constrained by prior emotional trauma.

        Glyph argued that legalizing prostitution is correlated with an increase in the coercive sex trade, which, if correct, would constitute a negative consequence inconsistent with the principles upon which your advocacy rests. James commented that this conclusion is perhaps dubious and that even if true it could potentially be remedied by tightening the regarding prostitution. So it’s an open question, it seems to me, one that can only be decided after evaluating more evidence.

        Chris and I (others too) have argued that the argument to legalize prostitution for poor women (and men) rests on treating the institutional structures those individuals find themselves in as morally neutral when – we have argued – they aren’t. The fact that those individuals have limited or even no other options other than prostitution constitutes a causal condition (and a judgworthy one, from our pov) the absence of which constitutes a better state of affairs than otherwise, and a state of affairs which ought to remedied. Does this argument rest on a moralistic premise? Yes: that the conditions which require a person to choose between starvation or prostituting themselves for money are wrong or suboptimal.

        LWA has argued that the premise of promoting individual liberty only makes sense if the outcomes of doing so increases some other value (human flourishing), so any argument which presupposes that individual liberty is an end in itself – or more importantly in the context of your comments, that it’s a trumping value – is incoherent. But that means we’re right back to talking about social values and conceptions of human flourishing and the relationship between individual liberty X and social utility Y. None of this can be determined a priori, it seems to me.

        So, and here’s the thing, Roger, if your above argument constitutes an empirical justification for legalizing prostitution, then everyone who’s disagreed with you has a valid and justified criticism. If you view your above argument as a priori justified (based on self-evidence premises) then there is no possible objection you would consider valid. If you view it as normative, then we’re back to disputes about competing values – an area which people can – and do! – disagree about.

        Conclusion of all this? In my view, people who disagree with you are entierly justified in doing so since they question the premises upon which your argument is based, rather than on merely rejecting the conclusion.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        Stillwater.

        Thank you. This is the old Stillwater I remember. You presented a fair and coherent argument. Excellent. Bravo!

        Where you modify each of my three arguments with “in the ideal case” I used the terms, “rule of thumb”, “in general,” heuristic,” or “default position.” I think we are getting to the same thing.

        I agree completely that pimps can and do try to take advantage of prostitutes, especially within a black market. I would certainly recommend pimp coercion and sex slave trade be completely illegal.

        I can indeed imagine overwhelmingly convincing arguments (to most people, not to just me) that prostitution should be exceptions to the rule of thumb, similar to freedom to commit suicide or sell self into slavery. I have not seen any such overwhelming arguments yet, but Will was exploring the proper ground. I could also be convinced that drug use should be prohibited too. In both cases the argument is not *we don’t approve* it is *those taking this path overwhelmingly regret it as it destroys their lives.*

        So yes, I very much agree it is an open question.

        I also agree with you, LWA and Chris that we have underlying institutional issues which should be addressed. The fact that my recommendations run counter to the positions SOME on the left have been arguing on minimum wage, school choice, mandatory benefits and paid vacations, maternity leave, licensure, over regulation of dignified forms of self employment and such is kind of ironic.

        I have already addressed LWAs accusations that freedom is a trump value. It is an instrumental heuristic, and every rule of thumb has exceptions. I agree that prostitution and drug use could possibly both be exceptions to the rule, though the jury is still out.

        Very, very well argued! Thank you.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        Thanks for that Roger. I’m not sure I really reserve any praise for the comment, tho, since all I did was compile-by-repeating a whole bunch of arguments that other people had already made. It felt more like clerical work than an argument.

        And to add one other thought about all this stuff: I think the best libertarian-friendly argument for legalizing (or ending the prohibition of) prostitution is one based on consequentialism rather than derived from anything like first principles or priors. Take the argument for legalizing marijuana: the argument that compels me to advocate for legalization is that doing so creates better/less worse outcomes – on balance, all things considered – than prohibition. In contrast, an argument that individuals have a basic right to smoke weed leaves me pretty flat (not completely flat). Part of that is because I don’t share the same robust conception of Right! that lots of libertarians seem to hold; part of it is that I’m suspicious of one-dimensional arguments as they pertain to complex social systems.

        So, I think the most persuasive argument for legalizing prostitution in all contexts for all people (or something more limited) would be based on pragmatics and consequentialism: that the net benefits accruing to women and perhaps even society as a whole (or whatever) from legalizing the practice are greater than the status quo as well as greater than any other feasible alternative. I think that’s largely an empirical argument, myself, and one that’s pretty hard to establish decisively. But decisiveness is too high a standard to meet in any event.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        Again, wise words, Stillwater. Thanks.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        “individuals tend to know their situation, needs, goals, values and tradeoffs better than others.”

        In the ideal case.

        That logically require that in all non-ideal cases others know the individual’s needs, goals, values and tradeoffs as-well-as or better than the individual.

        That means all of us know others’ needs, goals, values and tradeofds as well as or better than our own. That seems dubious.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        James,

        A person could think that it’s in their best interest to buy a life insurance policy and try to cash in by faking an accidental death which is in fact a suicide.

        Another person could truly believe that killing another person and taking their cash is in their best interests.

        Yet another person could think that prostituting themselves for cash, or selling a child into sex slavery, is in their best interests.

        Yet, we all seem to agree that simply acting on your best interests isn’t sufficient for actual action. It’s only in the idealized case that we grant that they are.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        I’m pretty sure that even the most radical individualists are opposed to those, though. (Are Liberty-minded individuals down with murder or fraud?)

        Is it worth exploring some of the excesses of ensuring that the dignity and worth of every human is centrally controlled? Would avoiding what happened to Turing be worth letting the occasional Ashley Dupre slip through the cracks?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        I’m pretty sure that even the most radical individualists are opposed to those, though.

        You mean, that there are some idealized constraints which everyone agrees on? Yah. I agree.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        It’s good to see you back here, btw. The place just isn’t the same without you commenting early and often.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        Stillwater,

        You limited it to the ideal case, and mow you’re positing extreme cases on the non-ideal end of the spectrum.

        Any chance you’d want to talk about normal cases?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        And when we draw the lines, that is, when we reach a point where even the most radical individualists would legislate behavior to some degree, how can we be sure that we’re not legislating morality, since at least two people in this thread have criticized others for potentially doing that?

        Note that no one here has suggested that we should keep prostitution illegal because prostitution is a behavior that we should discourage in itself. As I’ve said, I’m cautiously in favor of legalizing prostitution, but I worry about the exploitation of women, the role of addiction in prostitution, etc., and I’m pretty sure I do so because I think those things are immoral. And that’s not even getting into sexual slavery, which, if it were shown that legalizing prostitution dramatically increased the amount of sexual slavery, would lead me to be cautiously in favor of keeping it illegal, again likely on moral grounds. Where is my reasoning wrong in that? How is it different from any other legislation that legislates behavior, but would be favored by radical individualists?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        Any chance you’d want to talk about normal cases?

        Of course.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        And yet you haven’t, and I’m in no mood for BS today. Have a good evening.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        And yet you haven’t,

        Well, rather than be a dick about it why don’t you help me understand why you’re peeved? I really have no idea. What constitutes “normal” is contingent and highly contextualized to … well … cultural norms. (Circle!)

        What bearing “normal” have on the spectrum of behaviors that people could justify as furthering their own interests?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        I would ask whether what happened to Turing would qualify as a normal case.

        I have no doubt that all of us, even the statists who hold the stability of culture as superior to all, would say that what happened to Turing was a damn shame.

        What I don’t know, however, is how they can tell the difference between the matters of taste that they know they shouldn’t fiddle with and the matters of taste that are very important for them to build fences around.

        Because, lemme tell ya, if they went back to argue on Turing’s defense, I’m guessing that they’d spend a lot of time sounding like me in the argument.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        (Oh, and thanks. The new job is crazy and we’re trying to stuff 60 hours of work into 50 and, I’m told, that normalcy is just around the corner. Which is, I suppose, what I would say to my workers in my boss’s situation.)Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        Non sequitur here:
        That logically require that in all non-ideal cases others know the individual’s needs, goals, values and tradeoffs as-well-as or better than the individual.
        This ignores the possibility that aspects of an individual (and particularly in relation to needs and trade-offs) are a) unknown to any person whatever, or b) unknowable, either wholly or in part.

        Generally, I’m inclined to believe that people should be given maximum freedom when not encroaching on others.
        For the most part, prostitution is one of those things which could be regulated in such a manner; yet both Chris & Glyph have stated legitimate concerns.

        I think the underlying principle which unites all three (myself, Glyph, and Chris) is that of the right to contract, and substantial fraud.
        Where needs and trade-offs are unknown to the parties, or nebulous (the void for vagueness thing), there can be no legitimate consent.
        Thus, there can be no true agreement to sustain such damage to the psyche (or to be compelled to an unconscionable range of options, etc.) without some measure of understanding of the harm which has already taken place, much less to consent to greater future harm.

        And I don’t see it as a matter of sufficient training and protective gear to mitigate imminent danger, as is the case with asbestos abatement, et al.
        (though it is interesting to view the same arguments in relation to asbestos . . .)Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        @jm3z-aitch

        ““individuals tend to know their situation, needs, goals, values and tradeoffs better than others.”

        In the ideal case.

        That logically require that in all non-ideal cases others know the individual’s needs, goals, values and tradeoffs as-well-as or better than the individual.”

        You’ve excluded a middle there.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        re: Ashley Dupre
        I just want to go on the record and say that I am pro-porking a cocktail waitress in the can.
        It’s just that I’m anti-paying for it.
        Why do you think God created college girls?
        And besides, think of the children . . .Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        Patrick,

        Yes, “all” was too strong. But it’s the middle I’m trying to get Stillwater to see.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        “Well, rather than be a dick about it ….”

        I thought I was supposed to be the premier libertarianish jerk around here. James is the”good one.”

        All dick comments need to be aimed my way going forward.

        Thanks!Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LWA
        Ignored
        says:

        James,

        Yes, “all” was too strong. But it’s the middle I’m trying to get Stillwater to see.

        Well, first off, I think the missing “middle” Patrick was talking about was one that you missed, not me. For seconders, if you’re trying to get me to see the middle – defined as “normal” – you’re not doing a good job of it since I have no idea what you’re talking about.

        There have been all sorts of societies that do all sorts of (what we view as!) hideous things to one another, often as a result of cultural norms and without any governmental coercion. Tragic, horrible, *evil*, things. The folks who engaged in and sanctioned those practices viewed those activities as “normal”. So normal doesn’t really mean anything relevant to the discussion in my view, tho I’m willing to hear arguments to the contrary (as I said above!).

        More pointedly to the topic at hand, tho, I think you’re confusing empirical evidence with a philosophical point. To wit: the fact that the majority of people adhere to cultural norm X has no bearing on the possibility of individuals acting on (anti-norm) non-X consistently with – in this case – furthering their own interests. So of the suggestion that “normal” bears some special consideration here appears to me to be confused. Because of that, I think I’m perfectly justified in asking you to elaborate on why you think “normal” actually matters.

        Sorry to call your behavior “dickish”, however, at least insofar as you meant that question seriously and actually intended to engage in a discussion about this. (Which you haven’t yet seemed inclined to do.)Report

  18. Avatar Mike Schilling
    Ignored
    says:

    We’re seeing an interesting example of this now, with conservative organs (National Review, RedState, Weekly Standard) all writing tributes to Nelson Mandela, but, unlike the liberals who foolishly rush into things, waiting until he’s safely dead. (These pieces seem genuine and heartfelt, but if you want to keep your lunch down, don’t read the comments. That’s true at Reason, too.)Report

  19. Avatar Roger
    Ignored
    says:

    @lwa

    Down here!

    “But you asserted that maximizing liberty results in optimal outcomes for everyone.
    So clearly you are working from some understanding of an optimal outcome, that hasn’t been fleshed out and described.”

    Not really. I suggested that value cannot be summed qualitatively across individuals. I suggested that the freedom to do whatever you want as long as others are not harmed is likely to result in the better outcomes according to the person making the decision and experiencing and responding to the feedback than are restrictions on freedom as a general rule. And btw, this leads logically not to individualism, but to widespread cooperation.

    I explained the logic quite clearly and you keep skipping over it. Do you think as a general rule that you know her values, tradeoffs, context, risk characteristics, needs, goals better than her? If not then the burden is on you to explain why she is wrong.

    Do you think you experience the feedback of her decisions as intimately as she does? Can you respond to feedback as quickly and effectively as she does? If not the burden of proof is on you.

    Do you think you care about her as much as she cares about herself and her family? Do you not see the risk that your efforts to help her are really projections of you wanting to help yourself? In other word who is likely to be more benevolent toward her… Herself or someone else?

    LWA, you really need to answer these questions. I am not making any projections on what the best or optimal outcome is. I am suggesting a heuristic for optimal problem solving. It is let rational able bodied adults decide for themselves except in exceptional cases.

    “Are you saying that there is no moral value that is universal? That all values are personal and relative?”

    No. I am saying that she can recognize it as well as you and anyone who says she can’t is a pompous fool. If there are universal values, I trust her to recognize them and apply them better than I trust some pompous fool to force them on her.Report

  20. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    @roger

    I don’t deny what you say about the diversity of goals etc. And I recognize that counter-rigging is just that… Still rigging.

    You earlier spoke about the issue of equality of outcome and I generally agree that such is both impossible and generally undesirable*. But I believe firmly in equality of opportunity and we are far, far from that. I tend to focus on that. My issue is with folks (not you) who claim as much and then talk about success going to he who pulls his bootstraps the hardest while ignoring that some folks don’t even have boot straps.

    Regarding culture (and I am going to opt not to delve to deeply into this at this time), I think it is important to remember that our society does not value, treat, or reward all cultures equally. And while there are surely certain cultural practices which we ought not value, the extent to which we devalue equally legitimate cultural norms/values/expectations/etc. similarly ceases to take us further from equality of opportunity.

    Imagine, if you will, a people known as Zorts. Zorts deeply, deeply value their blue beanies they wear atop their heads and have for years. But the Zorts are a subgroup of a broader culture which sees blue beanies as a mark of idiocy and instead values red neckerchiefs. And this inspite of the fact that every scientific study has demonstarted zero inherent difference between blue beanies and red neckerchiefs; any difference is solely a function of what we assign it. Now, we could tell the Zorts to eschew their beanies, adopt neckerchiefs, and avoid any discrimination. And why not? Science shows them to be of equal value. But that still imposes a cost — a mental cost, emotional cost — uniquely on Zorts.

    I don’t necessarily have a solution for this. But simply want to point out that appeals to differing cultures doesn’t necessarily get us anywhere.Report

    • Avatar Roger in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      When culture is restricted to beanie color, I agree. To the extent culture includes differing values of investment in the future, notions of self responsibility, risk taking, value inherent in knowledge, and so on, I disagree.

      One of our favorite quotes back in my working days was CULTURE EATS STRATEGY FOR LUNCH.

      The likelihood of getting people with widely diverse cultures to even pursue the same goals is laughable, let alone to achieve the same outcomes. I am not suggesting that Chinese Americans are happier or lead more meaningful lives. However, the accomplishments they achieve (in education for example) are clearly due at least in part based upon culture.

      I suggest we be careful to never underestimate the importance of culture.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        What I mean is that a certain cultural group may value X and X may be inherently good or neutral but if broader society does not value X, then that group may suffer.

        I have a friend who is 1st generation Indian. It is an expectation within his family because of their culture that he provide materially for his parents once they stop working. This, generally speaking, is not a widely held cultural value in the US. Because it is not — because our culture does not reward or encourage this behavior — he is likely to suffer in broader American culture in service to his own culture. He is very successful in his career but does not enjoy that success in the same way as his American peers because a portion of his income is syphoned off to his parents.

        Now, it’d be hard to make an argument that this is some objectively negative aspect of his culture. It is just a different one. Yet because he honors it, he suffers while immersed in American culture.

        I don’t know that there is a solution to this or that, even if there were, it would be worth pursuing. But it is easy for people to look at him and his fellow Indian-Americans and say, “They just don’t measure up to their American peers.” Which, I think we’d agree, is unfair. And any response based on that unfair assumption would be incredibly unfair. Yet, that can and does happen.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        He is pursuing a different value set and apparently achieving it. The confusion comes if we try to use one benchmark to measure varying goals. I fail to see how he suffers except in comparison to goals that are other than his own.

        People who play baseball usually score fewer touchdowns than those playing football.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        But we reward people for a particular set of goals. We offer tax incentives for home ownership but not renting. We allow tax deductions for children who are dependents but not parents who are. Etc.

        Now, it is entirely possible that you (like I) oppose social policy via the tax code.Report

  21. Avatar LWA
    Ignored
    says:

    “Most people want food, shelter, status, happiness, meaning, pleasure, spiritual connection, etc.”

    Yay! We find common ground!

    Actually, this assertion forms the core fo Christian social justice theory, which holds that these longings are universal, common to each and every person.

    So we can evaluate the outcome of policy by measuring if these goals are being met, and if not, how best to satisfy them. The core mission of society is to provide opportunities for these, as best we can.

    Which means, that in our hypothetical example, the woman’s dilemma is very much our business. If she is unable to find a path to those broad goals of happiness and fulfillment (and is forced into two horrible choices), our society is not a just one. We’ve failed in our core mission.

    As you point out, she herself should have agency and empowerment to select her final choice.

    But her range of choices is determined by us, by the structure of society, not by her own devices. So its up to us to craft policy and a cultural/ economic structure that affords her and everyone else a better range of opportunities. And as you also acknowledge, liberty can’t be the only factor- there are other considerations to factor in.

    So this is why I say it isn’t enough to just talk about choice and freedom- and there is a massive amount of ground between shrugging disregard for her plight, and forcibly enslaving her to our choices. It starts with acknowledging our obligation, our debt to the construction of society.Report

    • Avatar Roger in reply to LWA
      Ignored
      says:

      Cool. So, let’s start by eliminating monopoly schools, minimum wages with mandatory benefits, licensure requirements, coercive union cartels, regulations against dignified self employment of all stripes, mandatory paid vacations, and all the other crazy things that we have instituted which force thirty six percent of minority youths out of the market.

      You game?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        Roger, he’s obviously not game or he would be a libertarian and you wouldn’t be disputing his views. So I have to ask you (without condescension or antagonism, really, I want to hear what you have to say about this):

        Why do you ask him if he’s game when he’s already told you that he isn’t? I mean he explicitly said “So this is why I say it isn’t enough to just talk about choice and freedom…”Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        36% of minority youth??? That is a stat so specific to be highly dubious.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        I believe the number is inner city black youth if memory serves.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        I would be happy to listen to arguments as to why the things you list harm human dignity, and prevent the full development of the human family, and why some other system is more efficacious at providing a just society.

        I would love to discuss ways in which we can deliver a high level of education to all persons, or to provide universal employment opportunities.

        If the libertarians want to discuss economic policy in these terms, I am happy to oblige.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        You’ve heard all the arguments before. No new revelations.

        For schools, it is competition and markets and consumer choice.

        For employment it is better schools (above) less market interference and fewer prohibitions against dignified self employment (drive a personal taxi, do hair, rent services, etc etc). We made self employment cumbersome or illegal and employment too expensive for low productivity people.

        In the spirit of the OP, let’s experiment with two or more volunteer cities within a state Let’s let some volunteer for the total left solution sets and some other experiment with the classical liberal solution set. Let’s then track how they perform. And let other cities adopt the solution sets appropriate to them.

        The difference from today is that we use the tradeoffs of getting the full monte in exchange for the other side getting the full monte somewhere else (rather than both sides obstructing the other). Let the ideas battle for approval constructively.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        let’s experiment with two or more volunteer cities within a state

        Tod wrote a great post a while ago, a Tale of Two Cities. Remember that one? I’ll try to track it down if you don’t.

        Also, I think arguments about licenses/barriers to entry for cabbies, hair dressers, and the like goes a bit deeper than merely as a justification for exclusion. My argument is that ensuring some basic standards are met constitutes a legitimate role of the state even if ensuring those standards constitute barriers to entry for others. I’m not sure it’s as simple as you’re suggesting. That is, it seems to me that the state is justified in constraining entry into a field can be justified and the fact the such barriers deprive others of opportunities isn’t a decisive consideration (I’m not saying that you think it is, but it sure sounds like you think it is). In fact, James and I got into a really long discussion about that some time ago. Remember that one?Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        For schools, it is competition and markets and consumer choice.

        It’s not clear to me why those things will lead where you think they will.

        Indeed, I see it as a classic parallel to the failures that were evident in our health insurance market: “keep the healthy folks, drop the sick ones” turns into the same mechanic in education of, “keep the kids that have engaged parents and who are likely to graduate and unlikely to disturb classes either due to behavioral problems or developmental issues, and drop the rest.”

        It shows now. Kids with developmental issues in California go to public school. Because the private school market does not provide them with the services that they want (whereas the public schools are required to do so, by law).

        As yet I have not heard a market- or choice- based alternative to public school that addresses this. Not once.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        People whom no market serves don’t deserve to be customers.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        “As yet I have not heard a market- or choice- based alternative to public school that addresses this. ”

        Another discussion, another time. Let’s just agree that even on the issue of institutional opportunity we can disagree on the path.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        Let’s just agree that even on the issue of institutional opportunity we can disagree on the path.

        Well, sure.

        But you see my point, yes?

        Here, on this thread, you’ve said:

        I have repeatedly said liberty is not primarily a value. My argument clearly is that it is primarily instrumental as a process to allow people to pursue their other values

        This makes you less of a normative libertarian and more like a consequentialist one. To frame it in the way that the liberal folks would find most charitable: you agree with all (or most of) the normative goals of modern liberalism, you just happen to think that the existing path chosen by liberals is less optimal than the one you have in mind, to get there.

        But if you’ll suffer me an observation: conversations between (Roger) and (League Liberals) usually don’t get to the point where participants are talking about laying out a path and walking a path, with all the hazards that path-walking entails. We’re off in weeds somewhere.

        And really, if you agree with someone’s normative goals, but you disagree with their choice of instrumentation or direction, then (presuming you want to have a conversation that goes anywhere) the right thing to do is to describe what the specific failure is in their choice of paths, and then say, “if we do it this other way, we avoid that failure… now, you may argue that if we do it this other way, then there’s a consequence that they’d prefer to avoid, but I have thought about that and here’s how we avoid that…”

        It seems (to me) that the conversation usually runs out of gas before you get there, because you’re engaging at the wrong level of abstraction… especially if you’re a consequentialist libertarian.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        People whom no market serves don’t deserve to be customers.

        Heh. Very nice, Mike.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        “This makes you less of a normative libertarian and more like a consequentialist one. To frame it in the way that the liberal folks would find most charitable: you agree with all (or most of) the normative goals of modern liberalism, you just happen to think that the existing path chosen by liberals is less optimal than the one you have in mind, to get there.”

        I am personally a consequentialist. I agree with some of the goals and disagree with others as expressed somewhere above (I disagree with equality of outcome as being either desirable or good).

        “But if you’ll suffer me an observation: conversations between (Roger) and (League Liberals) usually don’t get to the point where participants are talking about laying out a path and walking a path, with all the hazards that path-walking entails. We’re off in weeds somewhere.”

        If arguing who decides rather than the specifics is considered weeds. Seems to me it is the first question to ask. The fact that you think “who decides” is less important than “what we decide” certainly clarifies a fundamental difference in worldviews.

        “And really, if you agree with someone’s normative goals, but you disagree with their choice of instrumentation or direction, then (presuming you want to have a conversation that goes anywhere) the right thing to do is to describe what the specific failure is in their choice of paths, and then say, “if we do it this other way, we avoid that failure… now, you may argue that if we do it this other way, then there’s a consequence that they’d prefer to avoid, but I have thought about that and here’s how we avoid that…””

        Like I did when I laid out in detail why people decide better for themselves than do others? I was not only specific, I repeated it at least three times. The fundamental question I am addressing (which you call weeds) is that the logical path is to capitalize upon diversity of goals, values, needs, contexts by making decisions at the lowest practical level where possible, as a general rule. School choice was just an example as were not coercively interfering with people’s economic liberty.

        I have already engaged the left multiple times with links on multinational studies of school choice and how they outperform state monopolies on every measured dimension. I almost linked it again, but see it as a diversion. And yes, I ran out of energy dealing with five leftists at once, none of which actually bothered to respond to my argument until Sunday.

        Being consequentialist doesn’t imply avoiding first principles — like who decides. The foundational/weeds (delete whichever does not apply) discussion I am engaging in is who decides. I thought I explained why very carefully.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        If arguing who decides rather than the specifics is considered weeds. Seems to me it is the first question to ask.

        I would argue that the order of operations ought to be:

        * Do we have a problem?
        * Is this problem sufficiently bad that it warrants some sort of intervention?
        * Can an intervention be reasonably and practically designed?
        * Are there drawbacks/consequences to the intervention that are larger than the problem we’re originally solving; or if there are consequences that are not larger than the problem that we’re originally solving but there are still significant consequences, is there a better intervention?

        “Who decides” is an operational issue that comes (possibly) with consequences. So I’m talking about it in step 4.

        Not because it’s less important than steps 1-3, it can certainly be a deal-stopper.

        Because the first two identify if there is something that “ought” to be done, the third one talks about whether or not we can reasonably “do” anything, and the last one talks about the consequences of doing something.

        The fact that you think “who decides” is less important than “what we decide” certainly clarifies a fundamental difference in worldviews.

        I think you’re reading way too much into an order of operations.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        Patrick,

        Respectfully, I disagree. “Who decides” is a fundamental political question, along with “on what issues do they get decision power.” That’s the constitutional level question. “What is decided” is the policy level. The constitutional level is more basic, more fundamental, than the policy level.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, that’s a fair point, James, if you’re talking about whether or not anything can be done in the constitutional framework without breaking the rules.

        And I’ll readily grant that both sides of the equation will gloss over this question when it is uncomfortable, which is all too often, and just get right on doin’ stuff that even a charitable reading of the rules would lead anybody with a clear head to say, “Hold on a second…”

        (For the most part I come down on the side of the angels on that score.)Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, glossing over inconveniences is one of the things that we humans do best. Especially when we know, with a glowing religious fervor, that we. are. right!

        As to the first paragraph, let’s assume we’re in agreement that we’re only talking about things that can be done without breaking the rules. Even within that framework we have multiple choices about who should decide: individuals, for themselves; state legislatures for within their boundaries; the people of individual states (that have referenda/initiatives) for within their boundaries; Congress, for the whole; the executive agencies for the whole, but perhaps with regulatory federalism that allows the states a partial role; the judiciary; the international community of states via treaty? About all that’s left out, for us Americans, is national referenda/initiative.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        Maybe I should clarify that when I say “constitutional level,” I’m using a lower case “c,” not an upper case “C.” That is, I’m not necessarily referring strictly to the U.S. Constitution, but to a larger concept within which it rests; the concept of what institutions (rules (formal and informal), procedures, norms, etc.) constitute the political system.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        One would hope, generally, that you attack a given problem at the proper layer of abstraction (local/state/federal). In practice, of course, we usually don’t, but that’s often due to access to power and political will… that’s a drawback of a federated system.

        Still, I’d argue that this is an implementation issue, and only feeds back into the, “Is there a problem and can we do anything about it” in the sense of, “this would be a suboptimal solution and maybe we should try it that way”.

        Of course, people don’t like to lose, and they’ll take halfway measures even if they only think they might lead to an end goal they like rather than give up on something that shouldn’t be done that way (PPACA, cough, cough).Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        What do you mean by an implementation issue? Implementation–in the public admin literature–generally refers to the ways in which a decision is put into practice (and the decisions that must be (or are, even when must be doesn’t apply) made at that level, which often is a bit of a shady business, theoretically).

        But if we’re talking about authoritative decision-making, that’s generally considered to be discrete (in theory, at least, if not always in practice) from implementation.

        I’m not sure from the context of your comment if you’re using it that way or if you mean something slightly different and it’s just my professional indoctrination that’s confusing me.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Roger
        Ignored
        says:

        Who decides whether we even have a problem? Who decides if it deserves intervention? Whose tradeoffs are we weighing?

        Seems to me problems are as subject-oriented as solutions.Report

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