Commenter Archive

AvatarComments by Chip Daniels in reply to George Turner*

On “Can We At Least All Agree that John Derbyshire is Racist?

“For the record, I find my colleague John Derbyshire’s piece fundamentally indefensible and offensive. I wish he hadn’t written it. publicly what should only be said privately.

I suspect this is really what he meant.

On “The destructiveness of “hard work”

That said, I don’t value work as an end in itself.

My experience in life has been different. I have seen that work, in and of itself, IS valuable, something near sacred in its effect on people.

Even if we somehow COULD pay people to be idle, I think it would only create more misery, not less.

On “Other Than That, Mrs. Lincoln, How Was the Nineteenth Century?

But thats exactly the point.

Even the smallest government imaginable, even the government of libertarian dreams, will reserve the power to define what is or isn't "property" and what is or isn't an "enforceable contract".

So it IS a problem, when this court is filled with people who were nominated and approved by politicians elected by me with my money.

Thats why I said, give me enough money and I can stack a court to define anything at all as my rightful property.



The point is that simply advocating for maximum liberty of contract and property rights ignores the fact that the decisions as to what constitutes "property" or "contract" is done by the meddlesome government, on no more rational a basis than the decisions as to what is "just" or "fair".

The government could easily decide that water cannot be owned, or that intellectual property is a myth. Or decide that it will not enforce any contract that is "assumed", that isn't accompanied by a signature.

Or decide that employees accrue "property rights" to their jobs after some statutory period.


Sorry, I don't get your question.


You mean the legal principle which was carefully drafted and ruled upon by those who made sure that it never conflicted with those who were actually in possession of property, to ensure that those who weren't couldn't invoke it?

That one?


Oh by the way, speaking of RIAA.

Show me my signature on the contract where I agreed not to duplicate a CD.

In this case, courts have held that the mere act of buying a CD binds you to certain contractual rights in favor of the artist. You are assumed to have agreed to this contract.

Lets assume I have 5/4ths of the Supreme Court under my sway. What other things could you be assumed to agree to, by the mere act of going about your daily life?

"By posting a comment at The League of Ordinary Gentlemen the commenter hereby relinquishes all rights to....."


Lets stipulate that hyperbole rarely occurs.

But real world examples are not hard to come by.

Who owns the Elgin Marbles? Britain or Greece?

Who owns the Malvinas/ Falkland Islands?

Who owns Manhattan? The current owners or the Manhattan Indians?

Who owns the Colorado River that used to flow into Mexico?

And don't even get me started on Palestine/ Israel.

If it seems silly and farfetched that a government could arbritrarily decide to give me the shirt off your back, consider that a court could easily decide to give me your house.


Speaking of milkshake drinking, there's a good example, of mineral and water rights.

Not being of the attorney persuasion, I am certain that there are entire libraries dedicated to the legal structure of who gets to own what and under what conditions.

Water falls from clouds which no one (curently) owns; then once it hits ground it becomes someone's property. then once it sinks deep into the ground into an aquifer it again escapes and becomes unowned, until it resurfaces into a lake or stream, whereupon it becomes property yet again. however this time the river is subject to laws and contracts regulating who can dam it, store it, siphon it off and sell it.

In all these cases, governments enact and enforce laws to define when it is or isn't property, and whether or not people can make enforceable contracts regarding it.

I drink your milkshake!


I was using hyperbole, but sure I'll give it a go.

Lets say I designed your shirt as part of a clothing line and sold them via my chain of stores. Your brother bought the shirt gave the it to you later.

They were sold for the express purpose of being worn in certain limited venues (My sports stadium) and times (during playoff season) and only by the original purchaser- these restrictions were clearly written on the tag which you obviously didn't read before you accepted my contract.

Now you are violating our contract by walking brazenly down the street wearing them off-season. You are guilty of theft. And according to a law passed by Congress, this form of theft like file sharing is a criminal, not civil matter and the SWAT team will be dispatched shortly, homing in on the RFID chip on your sleeve.

Sure its a stretch, but there are better examples. I am thinking more of the intellectual property EULA and water wars occuring around the globe, whereby groups like RIAA exert pressure to define property to their liking.


Similar to Katherine, I think that maximizing property and contract rights does not bring maximum liberty to all; it only reinforces the power imbalance between those who hold property and those who don't.

Government literally defines what is and isn't  property, through public maps, intellectual property law and so forth; government defines contracts, choosing which ones to enforce, and under what circumstances.

And government is exceedingly sensitive to pressure from those with- you guessed it, property, in the form of money.

Give me enough money, and I can get the government to define the clothes on your back as my property, and by wearing them you are guilty of theft.

On “Privacy and Girls Around Me

Further, caveat emptor has a flip side doesn't it?

Suppose consumers, after years of getting the wrong end of deals like this- getting ripped off after finding out too late that the fine print on the bottom did all sorts of bad crap- actually DID become more wary, more cautious.

Suppose people stopped living on credit and massively deleveraged; if credit cards became a thing of the past; if people refused to buy anything but "tried and true" products they intimately knew and trusted;in short, stopped taking risks knowing that they really were on their own in a jungle of swindlers and cheats without regulation and governance.

What would be the impact on the economy?


On “If The Supreme Court Kills Obamacare, You Can Keep Your Silver Lining

How does one "manage the cost" of one's medical care?

No snark, I really have no idea how anyone would do that. As others have pointed out, no one is knowledgeable about their medical care, and no one can act rationally in medical situations anyway.

Again, it is your premise that I object to- that medical care is no different than a consumer good, and reacts well to the same market forces. I have never seen anything that would lead me to share that conclusion.


Per Jesse below, I give you props for diligently attempting a solution that doesn't violate your free market theology.

But then I notice how as the mechanism increasingly attempts to react to real life situations, it becomes more complex with more bells and whitles and safety cogs.

Becoming rather like a modified free market that is massively regulated and tightly supervised by the Federal government. Instead of a mandate to buy insurance, you are free to ignore it, then are coerced by the Federal government to pay back your astronomical medical bills.

Such a scenario could probably work, in fact.

Leaving only my question of, to what end?

How does this make our society better than say, Canada with their single payer version?

Do the American people get better medical care? Not that I can see.

Do we get medical care cheaper? I haven't heard that claim made.

It just seems like a contrived Rube Goldberg that is premised apriori on the notion that the marketplace must be maintained by any means necessary, even if it ends up being every bit as warped and distorted as what Obama is proposing.

On the other hand it allow foolish young libertairians to ride motorcycles without helmets, then convulse helplessly on the pavement, while we all stand around watching.

So there's that.


I question that- the notion that if we give away medical care for free, people will overuse it.

What if you woke up tomorrow and medical care were free, paid for by a benevolent space alien.

What medical procedure would you rush out and get?


 live with the consequences of their actions

Lets be clear what this means.

I think it means letting an uninsured indigent person die in the streets.

If thats not what you meant, please explain what sort of "consequences" you have in mind.


that is in fact the game- conservatism is the opposite of what Obama wants, updated daily.

Wildly in favor of whatever option is not on the table but always assuring us they fervently believe in something, anything except what is in place.

On “I don’t know what your healthcare costs

Never mind- I think Snarky illustrated my point more effectively below.


Damon, the concept of treating health care as a consumer good is whats bizarre.

Suppose you fall off a ladder at home and go to the ER.

Do you want an MRI?

I'm curiou.

How would you, as a "wise cost conscious consumer" determine the answer to that question?


On “Obamacare at the Supreme Court

The health insurance "market" is in fact in a suicidal sprial,without any help from the libs.

There isn't any realistic scenario whereby we can maintain private for-profit health insurance at rates that the majority can afford. Businesses willl soon be clamoring for a way to take this monkey off their backs and individuals can't possibly afford it, so by doing nothing, within our lifetimes we will see health insurance become a luxury good that only the 1% have.

What the rest of us will do, I have not a clue.

On “Near-Tragedies in Civillian Police Work

I thought of this issue this weekend;

Saturday night our dog jumped up off the bed and ran outside barking furiously.

We have half a dozen semi-feral cats and the occasional possum that live in our neighborhood so I assumed that was the trouble. Called the dog in, went back to sleep.

Woke up the next morning to find our house had been TP'd; friends of our 16 year old daughter had thrown rolls over the roof, into the trees, the whole bit.

So of course I wondered; suppose I had gone out front instead of out back, and witnessed shadowy figures running around the sideyards? Suppose I had a gun?

Would this be a funny anecdote or a tragedy?

I have a rifle, and fully support gun rights. But like Mike, I also have grown cautious over the years, and know how easily fear and internal bias can fuel stupid panicky decisions.

Its things like this that make me roll my eyes at the "home defense" reasoning of stuff like the Stand Your Ground law.

On “Cold Fusionism

This is a good place to agree-to-disagree.

My confusion over "coerce" is that you draw it much more polar and tightly knit that my fellow liberals.

We see it as much more ambiguous and broadly defined.

Telling someone in a coal town to negotiate with the coal mine or find another job elsewhere is in our book so unequal a negotiation as to constitute coercion. Obviously you disagree.

I doubt I have the means to persuade you.

But I do have a better perspective into your reasoning.


I only pursue this point because it seems a very good example of what all you libertarians [sweeping my hand in a dramatic arc across the landscape] do quite often.

That is, defining everything you like as "voluntary" and everything you dislike as "coercion". Then hammering and bending every data point into one of the boxes until it fits. (Apparently in libertarian theory there are no other characteristics- everything in the universe fits one of these two poles).

You want to construct a world where hunter-gatherers such as say, the Sioux, live without coercion. Yet amazingly enough, they live according to a set of beliefs which are universal within the tribe; there are no divisions of belief, no Sioux versions of Christopher Hitchens who speaks up and says "y'know, I don't  think there is any such thing as the Great Spirit; and these rocks and trees and mountains that are sacred- hogwash!". There are no such things as Sioux who says, "hey, these horses are mine, all mine- and fuck this, I don't want to share this buffalo with anyone!"

Nope, every single member of the tribe, without exception follows the same belief systems and accepts the same ideas as to the origin of the world, how property is to be shared or kept, and so on.

Yet none of this is "coerced"; oh, they may be shunned; they may be cast out of the tribe, to walk alone across a hostile land where half a dozen other tribes would gladly peel one's scalp or worse;

But thats not "COERCION" heck no, it is, um...voluntary.

By your very own logic- the IRS never coerces anyone; if you don't like paying taxes, you are free to exit society, (just like the hunter-gatherers!) and move to Somalia Switzerland.

Taxes are voluntary!


I did get a kick out of it.

My world was especially rocked by the concept of "voluntary recpirocal insurance" which is "not coerced";

Nonreciprocators are not likely to be tolerated in a band of reciprocators.

Please elaborate.

Sounds a lot like the voluntary, noncoercive aspects  of Obamacare.



On ““The Conservative Teen”

Oddly enough, I WAS a conservative teen in the mid 1970's; I would read Business Week and National Review in the high school library, and watch Firing Line on Sundays.

But I was an audience of one, for the simple reason that I was an introverted nerdy kid who should have been encouraged to get out more and play.

Well adjusted teen age boys and girls don't give a rip about deficit spending or banking deregulation; they might, if prodded, nod and accept broad moral precepts like "protecting the unborn" but it generally doesn't occupy much of their waking thoughts.

And yeah, this thing does have that creepy Soviet Young Pioneers air about it.

*Comment archive for non-registered commenters assembled by email address as provided.