I am not a Libertarian Because I Believe in Freedom and Property Rights, And I’d Like to Minimize Government Coercion, Part 2
by Mike Kimel
I am not a Libertarian Because I Believe in Freedom and Property Rights, And I’d Like to Minimize Government Coercion, Part 2
This is a follow-up to my previous post on libertarian philosophy, the aftermath of which was a surprising amount of, well, let’s just call it assorted vigorously uncomplementary communication. (Shows what I get for making myself easy to find, eh?) But I also got some more interesting comments from libertarians which have led me to think further, and perhaps they can help me refine my thoughts.
To quote something I noted in the last post below the fold:
In the end, the question is – who will be coerced, how many will be coerced, and how bad will the coercion be? I tend to come down on the side that the coerced party should be the one that is the first to try to coerce others, and that the coerced party should be as small as possible, and that the coercion should be the least bit possible.
By that I mean the following… when people in an apartment complex listen to loud music, or they let their lawn get overgrown with weeds, or they don’t vaccinate their children, or they dump toxic waste in a river that passes through their property, or engage in any number of other of activities, there can be very large negative externalities created. This is because the loud music doesn’t stop at their property line, and the weeds emit seeds or shelter vermin that move beyond their property line, and stuff dumped in a river keeps going past their property line, etc.
Now, just about every activity produces some externalities, positive and negative. Externalities are a byproduct of human activity and progress, and we don’t want to eliminate the good with the bad. Nothing gets produced without some amount of pollution and/or destruction. That means unless we want to live in caves, some amount of externalities have to be tolerated in society. The question comes down to how much, generated by whom, who decides, and is there some form of compensation for those who suffer the consequences?
Decades ago, Ronald Coase provided an answer. (A comment to non-economists: the paper, perhaps the reason he won a Nobel Prize, is surprisingly readable and I recommend it. A pdf version is here. Its been a decade since I looked at it last, I think I’ll reread it myself!) Essentially, he said that the problem is reciprocal – my right to prevent you from emitting toxic fumes impinges on your right to emit them. As long as the property rights are well defined, and it is easy for the various parties to negotiate, you end up with the same (efficient) outcome no matter who has the right to decide what goes into the air. The reason: the various parties will negotiate amongst themselves.
But there are some problems, aside from who decides the property rights. Coase identified one – that is is often difficult for parties to negotiate; one nightclub has a lot of incentive to generate loud music and might be able to figure out how much that generates in revenue, whereas folks two blocks away might still have their sleep disturbed by some sub-sonic thumping, but they might have a harder time realizing they were harmed or putting a dollar figure on that harm. Besides, how do you get everyone together who was harmed to negotiate?
There are other problems… my son is too young to be vaccinated for many diseases. The anti-vaxx movement is killing herd immunity. If my son gets the measles before he is old enough to get the MMR vaccine, will I know who caused it? In the unlikely even that I do know, in what world will my son be adequately compensated?
But there is one other problem Coase did not consider. I frankly don’t care if someone is listening to mind-numbing bass on their sound system down the block. I only care if I (and to be socially minded) or someone else is forced to listen to that bass. My guess is that in most instances, the person generating the mind-numbing bass doesn’t care whether other people are listening to it either. And while it is possible for the party generating the music to ensure that the music (mostly) stays on his/her property, it is very difficult for a very large number of neighbors scattered over a wider area to protect against the broad range of all possible negative externalities that might seep onto their property, any one of which might start up at any time.
In the end, someone has to decide how much a person can do on his/her property taking into account what externalities are generated. And unless you want a free-for-all or people are sufficiently distant from each other that none of the negative externalities generated is very large, that someone is the government.
From what I can tell, this is the crux of the problem as far as most libertarians are concerned. Given their distrust of the government, they want people to be left alone. And that leads a free-for-all. Galt’s Gulch may even begin as a well-ordered place, but it very quickly either develops order, or becomes an anarchy and eventually gets abandoned. If you don’t believe it, there are countless examples across the American West. Less familiar to Americans, the same pattern can be seen with settlements all across Latin America. Pick any random town in the middle of, let’s just say, the state of Goias in Brazil. (A nice place to visit, by the way, though I haven’t been there in twenty five years.) The history of that random town is probably the same regardless of which one you pick. Some settlers left a bigger settlement somewhere on the coast of Brazil, either because they were looking for gold or wanted to set up a ranch. At first there were no rules, but those settlements that are still around today are called towns and cities, have plenty of rules, and a government to enforce them. I can’t think of a functioning place that manages to remain like Galt’s Gulch after a couple of generations.
Geeze. I’m sure you mean well, but these “issues” you have with libertarianism do not reflect a good faith effort to understand it. Can we get a libertarian to guest post and completely mis-characterize modern liberalism? Fair is far.
“As long as the property rights are well defined, and it is easy for the various parties to negotiate, you end up with the same (efficient) outcome no matter who has the right to decide what goes into the air. The reason: the various parties will negotiate amongst themselves.”
What relationship to the real world does that comment have? Put another way, is there any evidence in the recorded history of man that “various parties will negotiate amongst themselves”? Are you, (or is it Coase?), including war in the definition of negotiations that may take place? You are describing issues that could otherwise be described as social conventions. That’s how governments come into being. A large group of people (social), usually within some reasonably well specified geographic area, convene (as in convention) at some time and agree with one another (negotiate) regarding how they are going to behave toward one another. Such negotiations are social, but not always civil. All the talk of individual liberty falls within this concept of social convention. As Einstein said, its all relative, and so too is the idea of individual liberty. In effect the Libertarians are blowing useless smoke. Unless one lives as a recluse there will always be those “externalities.” That refers to the others whose liberties they see as more significant than your liberties. Don’t tread on me, but I need your help. Give me liberty or give me death. Happy to oblige.
Don’t you get it? Libertarianism is not some well defined set of ideas. For every reference to an individual freedom there is a limitation that results from a clash with someone else’s freedom. That’s the idea of well defined laws. They specify the integration of our liberties. If you can envision the need for any form of help from someone else, then you need the concept of government in order to define those circumstances and the behavior of individuals within such interactions. If there is no government there is no liberty, no restrain from which to be free. Libertarianism can only make sense within a social structure defined as government. Otherwise how does the libertarian know his liberties have been restricted? l
The libertarian doesn’t want too much government? Well how much government is too much? That’s why we have the structure of government that we have. It affords a means by which the bunch of us agree on the extent of government retriction on our individual liberties. See how convoluted the concept of libertarianism can be? The more liberty you have the more government you need in order to assure that there is no external infringement on those liberties. Uh oh!! Now we have to agree on how those government assurances of our liberties are going to be carried out. In other words, how restricting will the means of assurance become? Round and round we go in any discussion of libertarianism, but it keeps libertarian writers employed and libertarian thinkers in vogue and individual libertarians have something to think about rather than concerning themselves with good government.
I could easily be missing something, but here are my confusions:
– You seem to ignore how many of the problems you bring up regarding reciprocal coercion disappear when coercive primacy is established. The initial coercer loses the chance to justifiably label any subsequent, non-escalative corrective force as coercion.
– Why can’t individuals subjectively decide their own threshold for what level of externalities they’ll accept regarding their own property? Why must this necessarily devolve into a “free-for-all” (which I take to mean disorderly to the point of unworkable)? In other words, what aspect(s) of interpersonal negotiation specifically require(s) a territorial monopoly on violence?
Libertarians are just Republicans who smoke dope and have an elaborate political philosophy that justifies their sucking up to the rich.
Jack, you’re conflating rule of law with statism; few if any libertarians advocate lawlessness, they just see the state as a poor provider of law and defense services.
Brian – I tried to take into account a lot of things that were communicated to me since my last post, including some that was communicated in a very angry way. Please point to where I mis-characterized libertarian views.
If you don’t want the state to provide law and defense services, who should we choose for that? I also wonder how you plan to avoid a very common historical theme, namely the private provider of law defense services deciding its own boss should be the ruler of all, jackboot-style.
That was Coase. I think his formulation, while nice and readable, bears no relation to any portion of the real world in which I’ve lived.
“ The initial coercer loses the chance to justifiably label any subsequent, non-escalative corrective force as coercion. ” So? Not sure why this matters.
“Why can’t individuals subjectively decide their own threshold for what level of externalities they’ll accept regarding their own property? “
Fine. If the anti-vaxx movement had been around a few decades ago, we’d still have smallpox for crying out. Exactly how would we all decide on our threshold for the willingness to accept to our children being to exposed to smallpox (with, I remind you, a mortality rate of 80% among infected children, and you have to include a lot of cases of blindness among survivors) because someone decides he doesn’t want to get his own kids vaccinated? And how would that threshold be enforced? By who?
“If you don’t want the state to provide law and defense services, who should we choose for that?”
Competing private defense and law agencies. There is a wealth of information on the subject, you can find many articles on these ideas in the journal Libertarian Papers.
“I also wonder how you plan to avoid a very common historical theme, namely the private provider of law defense services deciding its own boss should be the ruler of all, jackboot-style.”
Governments also devolve into jackbooted tyrannies. The question is which system is more likely to do so.
“Exactly how would we all decide on our threshold for the willingness to accept to our children being to exposed to smallpox (with, I remind you, a mortality rate of 80% among infected children, and you have to include a lot of cases of blindness among survivors) because someone decides he doesn’t want to get his own kids vaccinated? And how would that threshold be enforced? By who?”
I would assume most people would not accept any level of exposure, and that they would institutionally isolate themselves from anyone who didn’t feel similarly. Economic isolation can be a powerful disincentive for radical behavior. Again, no need for monopolized violence.
poppies: “Jack, you’re conflating rule of law with statism; few if any libertarians advocate lawlessness, they just see the state as a poor provider of law and defense services.”
So, instead of the nation state, we should return to something like feudalism? Not a rhetorical question. Thanks. 🙂
I suspect you would have a hard time designing a scheme whereby those who want to only associate with others who have been vaccinated for a deadly vaccine are able to keep away from those who don’t want to vaccinate. Would everyone vaccinated have a badge, and what prevents the others from mimicking that badge? And what if your kid has asthma and has a low tolerance for pollution? What are you going to do about air quality? Who do you shun?
Ive actually read a bit about these competing private defense companies. It doesn’t sound real-worldy to me at all. Sorry, I don’t see it working.
And yes, gov’ts do devolve into jackbooted tyrannies. Its usually preceded by an attack on the existing government.
poppies – I agree with Min. If the state, i.e. government, doesn’t provide law and order, who does? Even the fuedal knights of old were still ‘the government’ no matter how poor (or good) the individual knight was at providing law and order within his swords reach.
Something has to provide the law and order. Its commonly called ‘government’. What do you call it?
Islam will change
We have an excellent example of “Competing private defense and law agencies.” Its called Somalia. (Yes its anarchy, but what you described is just that).
How do you integrate one law agency that uses US common law, another that uses sharia, and another that uses French style law? All in the same block. I picked US, Mike picks Sharia, and Coberly picks French and we all want to cut down Mins Oak Trees – who wins?
I know, Mike does becuase his private defense firm has M-1 tanks…..
Islam will change
Yes, Excellent point and should apply to the LP Manefesto in general:
“What relationship to the real world does that comment have?”
Islam will change
I Red ‘NV’ inscribed on their forehead. Or maybe little red stars must be warn and we can concentrate them all in seperate camps….
LP doesn’t handle the free rider problem well at all.
Islam will change
You might want to ask the Iraqis how private defense and law agenices (like Blackwater) are working out for them….
Brian, poppies and any otehr LPs out there,
Look I’m way on your side that the current US government is too bloated. But the LP Manefesto linked in Part I showed a lack of understanding of human beings, a historical ignorance that was fascinating in its depth, and as Jack said – A total disconnect from the real world.
Mike has hinted around it but the principle issue that LP fails is its inability to allow prior restraint. Mike’s kid gets smallpox’s and dies. Who the hell cares if he can sue??? How do you set a price for pre-meditated stupidity on the part of the anti-vax movement?
Government provides the prior restraint that gets people vacinated, keeps water clean, food clean etc. The LP manefesto does not.
I have to go – see my comments from Part I
Islam will change
To follow up Buffy’s point, the “who the hell cares if he can sue” question. Say I managed to identify the guilty party, sued, and won. Even leaving out the question of whether any court ordered compensation could really compensate, if there is no gov’t enforcement, what prevents the party that lost the suit from simply saying: “Screw you” and walking away? My private defense organization? What if the other party has one too that also didn’t like (or was paid not to like) the result of the lawsuit?
Thanks, buffpilot, but you can’t agree with me. It’s a real question. 🙂
From what little I know of history, “competing private defense and law agencies” sounds like the Yakuza and the Mafia in real life. But I am awaiting poppies’ reply.
You wanna cut down my oak trees? Talk to my friend, Zatoichi, first. 😉
It all comes down to the question “You and what army?”. It’s unfortunate, but true.
as i tried to say in Part I, I have a great deal of sympathy for the “libertarian” idea. “leave me alone.”
but the Libertarian philosophy doesn’t work, and the Libertarian political platform is nonsense.
On the other hand, I keep getting a sneaking feeling that some of the anti Libertarians here would write a law and enforce it before they’d stop to think about all the unitended consequences, or the very real danger of complete loss of liberty, or the undeniable fact that a lot of law enforcement is arbitrary, stupidly cruel, and could have been avoided if we worked on creating a culture in which neighbors talk to each other.
note I don’t expect that last to work so wonderfully that governments wither away. but it would be a good place to start.
on the other other hand, i can’t even agree with Buff without him seeing a reason to hate me.
all the Libertarian philosopy is is a rationalization that attempts to explain away all the faults that people have found with the “libertarian” philosophy in its primitive form.
the fact is that Libertarians vote for insane people simply because they have been promised lower taxes.
the other fact is that Libertarians are just as ready to call for a cop or a law as most liberals are. They just spend the rest of their time in denial.
If competing law agencies can’t co-exist how is it that there are numerous countries in the world. Why isn’t the U.S. trying to take over. How is it that an American can travel to China commit a crime and not start a war. Essentially, the world is libertarian at the international level. I think libertarians want to get rid of the monopoly on specific territories altogether (in addition to getting high). I suppose that means your neighbor could pay taxes (sorry fees) to China while you paid to the U.S. Of course they would be called businesses I suppose. I admit this is a tall order and I am not entirely convinced their suggestions would work.
However, I do believe that economics has shown rather conclusively that monopolies have nasty consequences (poor service, high cost). I welcome scholarly attempts at addressing this problem as the libertarians are doing.
One last point, I believe that competing law agencies would go to war if their laws were too different to allow compromise when arresting each others citizens (i.e. sharia and british common law). But, considering that the U.S. is currently in three wars I don’t believe this should automatically disqualify competing law agencies as a viable option.
“If competing law agencies can’t co-exist how is it that there are numerous countries in the world”
Part of this has to do with the fact that there is an even larger government than the national government. There are numerous international organizations out there whose member states (read, just about every country) follow the rules set out by the international organization (be it Interpol, the UN, BIS, etc. Think the whole Bretton Woods system.) about as well as individuals follow the rules set by their own countries. In other words… internationally things look a lot more like a semi-quasi-one-world-government than they do a libertarian paradise. And there are fewer instances of one state invading another on a large scale these days than there were before the start of this semi-quasi-one-world-government, however poorly run it happens to be.
“Why isn’t the U.S. trying to take over”
Umm… we had taken over. Who do you think set up the Bretton Woods system, and who do you think got the best seat in the house in just about every organization that supported it? Who got the most say? But some time in the early 2000s, there was over-reach followed by over-reach combined with incompetence. We demonstrated ourselves even less able to dominate a stone age country than the former Soviet Union that had faded to dust.
“ How is it that an American can travel to China commit a crime and not start a war.”
Ummm… maybe because the American is not considered to be an agent of the U.S. government. And maybe, because, as I said above, there is a semi-quasi-one-world-government which looks at its member states the way, say, Illinois, looks at its citizens.
“If competing law agencies can’t co-exist how is it that there are numerous countries in the world” Steve
And what part of World History 101 did you sleep through. I’m particularly fond of the history of England over the past 3,000 years. There were individual states and they constantly invaded one another and killed, raped and pillaged to their hearts extent. No, its not that much different today. The states are only a bit more aware that they stand a damn good chance of being nuclear bombed out of existence just as much so as their enemies do. Europe is a bit calmer than it used to be, but it’s barely 70 years since the Third Reich and that conflagration. The Pacific Theater was just as hot and heavy with inter-state madness.
Private law agencies? What the hell is that? William of Normandy come to save some of his distant cousins from the Anglo-Saxons in Britain? How about Eric Prince for Chief Cook and Bottle Washer while the minions from Blackwater, or whatever name they’re now using, keep us all safe in our beds. More likely they’ll have your wife and daughter in their beds. Private armies and private law systems may be the dumbest f—king idea that’s been put up here in a long while. That’s exactly what totalitarianism is all about. The guy with the biggest army is in charge. Think of the Mafia/Cosa Nostra running the government of NJ and NY. Wouldn’t we all feel safer then with our liberties in the hands of private, for hire guns and ammo.
I suspect competing law agencies would set up inter agency organisations as well to settle disputes and what not. Think chamber of commerce or UN. Lots of talk but no teeth of their own. If you want to call this a quasi one world government, then fine by me.
As far as no large wars since WWII, I think that may have more to do with nukes then the UN. I don’t think it was the U.N. keeping the U.S. and Russia from butting heads. Also, the league of nations didn’t seem to help much.
As far as a criminal American not starting a war with China I agree with you. I was just trying to make a point that competing law agencies wouldn’t necessarily go to war at the drop of a hat. I guess that didn’t come across very well.
since it’s a real question, i will offer an answer of sort.
Feudalism as a “theory” could perhaps be justified as well as Libertarianism or… or i won’t mention all the other theories will perfectly reasonable justifications
but the fact is that historical “forces” made feudalism impossible, just as they make all the other isms impossible “All things arise out of chaos through injustice, the one against the other, and thither are they returned in retribution according to the order of time.”
I think it’s a bit funny that the American Indians had something like a Libertarian society… if you don’t count the tribal pressures that assured everyone would pretty much “obey” the tribal consensus…or move out and start their own tribe. The funny bit is that the frontier people who encountered the Indians were themselves being Libertarian and in the very act of moving out and starting their own tribes. But historical forces caught up with them, and washed over them.
And you can ask the Indians how that all worked out for them.
though I hear the Hopi at least are planning to outlast us. They don’t need oil, you see.
well, the aspect that when negotiations fail, as they always do, there will be a resort to force. and after a while there will arise a territorial monopoly on violence… because people will prefer that to chaos. Our best option is to organize a government which referees our negotiations… and whose territorial monopoly on force we regulate through the often unsatisfactory methods of democracy. The American government of checks and balances has seemed to be one of the better ideas for making that work.
But today… with the rise of Libertarian political rhetoric in the service of insane, or tribal primitive, political actors, some of whom are evil manipulators, and others of whom are fools, I am not sure we can brag that our system “works” any better than…. ah, others… with less of a tradition of checks and balances…. short, of course, of the outbreak (threat) of civil violence should the government become too repressive.
i post too much, but someone needs to say that you are right.
I used to be as naive as you are. Sorry if that doesn’t come across very well. But take a hard look at history. Or your own town and I think you will see where your fine ideas come to when they come up against the real world and the real mean people in it.
We have a big government because we have big enemies. Not all of them foreign.
“I suspect competing law agencies would set up inter agency organisations as well to settle disputes and what not. Think chamber of commerce or UN.” Steve
Is that the US Chamber of Commerce that you have in mind? They have client members whose interests they lobby for. They are called corporations, and their interests often contradict yours and all of our liberties. They are a fine example of the distorted power of wealth, especially when organized into a private defense or law system. With the US Chamber of Commerce calling the shots we would all be serfs toiling for the king’s vassals as they pay tribute to their leader. Hmmm, maybe we’ve reached that point already. As noted earlier, libertarians would achieve their goals related to greater liberty if they concentrated on the idea of good government, representative of the vast majority of the citizens, rather than small vs big government.
The assertion of “competing private defense and law agencies” reminds me of an old song lyric by Jules Shear…
“When the money’s getting old – your sane world is frozen cold – You just can’t check out some religion – and price it like a coat…” – Jules Shear, Got No Breeding
Coberly & Steve,
I partly agree with Coberly. I disagree about the “big enemies” bit. Its more that evryone has their own agenda, and some people are truly unbalanced. Take a person who lives in a nice suburban neighborhood who simply ceases doing any work on their house or lawn and becomes a shut-in. That person isn’t evil or an enemy, but that person will create more friction for their neighbors than most people will.
Then there’s the guy who likes to listen to music and either doesn’t care that it bothers other people or simply can’t see that it does. Or who owns a half-pit half Rottweiler, and won’t build a fence to keep Brutus from straying. These are just people, and if you want a well-ordered society with commerce and progress rather than a bunch of people, you need rules.
somewhat reluctantly i partially disagree with you.
a half block from my house are about twenty acres of city owned land that has weeds you wouldn’t believe. me and the dogs walk through those weeds and get the sneezes and encounter vermin like songbirds and bunny rabbits and pheasants, and yes, snakes. somehow we survive.
on the other hand i don’t panic when i see a dandelion or thistle in my lawn. i dig it out if i am in the mood, or live and let live. my neihbors spend thousands of dollars and thousands of hours on their lawns. but as long as the city doesn’t care about its property they have a hard time hasseling me about mine.
the moral to my story is that we can probably find a modus viviendi that does not involve calling the cops about every little thing that we let annoy us. loud music on the other hand has been used as a weapon of war and should be treated as such.
i agree the dog needs to be kept under control, but I had the experience of having my dogs with me in the wilderness eight miles from a dirt road that was ten miles from a paved road that was twenty miles from the nearest structure… and the people i met demanded that i put my dogs on a leash. i told them it wouldn’t be fair because the lions and bears weren’t on leashes.
i am saying that while Libertarian politics is impractical and a fraud on the foolish, I can understand why there are people who are scared to death of their over civilized neighbors who think there is a government solution for every problem.
trouble is, Libertarians are just as ready to call a cop and demand a law as are Liberals. They just are in denial about it.
oh, the big enemies.
It all boils down to this “Your right to do what you want stops at the end of my nose.”
“Jack, you’re conflating rule of law with statism” poppies
Is that a serious statement? In what alternate universe do you have a system of laws, a basic prerequisite of the “rule of law,” without having some form of a state. It may be conceivable to have a state with out a legal system, but the opposite is a contradiction of terms. A legal system, the rule of law, defines a state. Without a legal system the state becomes dysfunctional, and once there is a legal system what ever process is put in place for the purpose of enforcing that system can be defined as a state.
“Competing private defense and law agencies.” poppies
Are you smoking something stronger than a manudo? What on Earth are you talking about? Under what rubric do these private defense and law agencies operate? And once these private agencies begin making agreements between themselves how is that different from the formation of a government? The modern history of the weatern hemisphere started out in the 16th and 17th centuries as privately constituted extentions of European governments. As soon as there were more than the original “explorers” settling the lands they developed structured governments. Of course I’m disregarding the existing societies that were native to the areas at the time. The point is, however, that you don’t have human social development without the development of a governmental structure. Think of the state and the rule of law as being coterminous. One does not exist outside of the other.
Well, when I change the oil in my car and drain the used oil into the gravel driveway and it winds up in the Silurian acquifer 200′ down that the entire community and surrounds drink from, you might just come over and punch me in the nose. And as a good Libertarian, I’d shoot you. Am I getting that right?
From Jack’s Collegial Colloquial Dictionary, 4th Edition
libertarianism: A set of philosophical concepts regarding social interaction in the absence of social development; a personal belief system the adherents of which enjoy the advantage of selectively disregarding and impugning those social constraints which prove inconvenient to their own situational advantage; a social philosophy that subjugates social norms to personal preferences with exceptions for those social constraints which advantage their individual welfare over the welfare of others.
I have read both discussions. It looks like just about everyone’s personal ego is libertarian. I imagine that if two individuals form a family, this is where forming rules begins. Add children, and not all family members enjoy an equal right to doing liberty things. Then there are tribes, churches or whatever groups people. There are certainly rules and leaders in most of these. And so it goes. The larger it gets (and more powerful/responsible), the more something is needed that organizes the “group” to live with quasi tolerance with one another as long as everyone respects the rules. And so it goes. Maybe some people just didn’t go through their “terrible twos” and learn anything. Way after parents we have government, I suppose.
the terrible twos: origin of the oedipus complex. freud thought it was all about sex. maybe. but there was still that argument at the bridge about right of way.
Yep, those real-time, real-world, uncontrolled experiments will get you every time.
Thank you for saying what I would have!!!!!
Islam will change
Perhaps there are libertarians out there that are slightly to the right of anarchists but I think the bulk of those who are labeled libertarians support the rule of law. Like “liberals” or “conservatives” the population is more complex than the label tells you.
The arguments in this thread that exercises of liberty infringe on others’ liberty remind me of the arguments that were made in defense of segregation, that to afford a black child the right to go to a de-segregated school infringed on teh right of a white family to send their child to a segregated school. An argument that was made by, among others, an erstwhile progressive law school dean named Herbert Wechsler who was a disciple of the FDR-enamored “judicial restraint” camp.
I think libertarianism, as I most admire it, is one of tolerance, diversity, openness with the rule of law being applied quite firmly, but simply not a lot of laws that regulate peaceful adult interactions, and does not equate to anarchy or the proliferation of health-harming externalities.
You’re describing proggressive populism, not libertarianism as it is most often described by its most public speaking adherents.
Well said Mark. There is another word for what Mike is arguing against in his article. It is not libertarianism, it is anarchy. There are always exceptions in any group, but the people I know who call themselves libertarian (I’m not quite certain whether or not I fit into this category myself) do not believe that you can have a working society without any form of government, they simply believe that we have gone way too far in the size of government that we currently have. It has grown bit by bit over the years until it has become so massive that it hardly resembles what existed in this country in the early days of our founding, and certainly does not resemble the government which was described in our founding documents. Certainly the dividing line between acceptable government and too much government is difficult to determine. I believe we have not just a right, but a responsibility to debate where it exists because history shows us that those in power will always seek more power, whether for good intentions or self serving, and if we the people don’t question it, we will find that eventually, we won’t even have the freedom to decide how much salt to put on our own food.
Don’t know exactly what Mark means by progressive populism, but in my experience, those who call themselves progressive still have an agenda they want to impose on others.