Ryan Griggs – The Anti-Libertarian Republic: Austin Petersen Rejects Individualism

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The Anti-Libertarian Republic: Austin Petersen Rejects Individualism

By Ryan Griggs
June 1. 2015

Austin Petersen was a guest on the Tom Woods Show on June 1, 2015. Viewed by many as a libertarian, Petersen’s statements are an affront to libertarianism properly considered as an application of the Non-Aggression Principle to human relations. I supplement Petersen’s statements with context and examples so that the reader may understand the true nature of libertarianism and learn of errors to avoid. I suggest listening to the interview, though this isn’t necessary.

Murray Rothbard wrote:

“It is no crime to be ignorant of economics … [b]ut it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.”
Likewise, it is no crime to be ignorant of libertarian political philosophy, but it is “totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion while remaining in this state of ignorance.”

Part 1: Theory

What then to make of Austin Petersen of The Libertarian Republic? Clearly this is an individual of some talent and skill given his past position as Associate Producer of Judge Napalitano’s FreedomWatch and commercial success as proprietor of a for-profit (so-called) libertarian website. One would tend towards the conclusion that an individual with this background isn’t ignorant of libertarian political philosophy (or perhaps shouldn’t be).

However, as discussed below, Petersen’s thought is awash with error and incoherence. The puzzled observer is left thinking that it may not be Petersen’s knowledge of certain literature and concepts that’s defective, but his perception and understanding (what Mises would call Verstehen in German) of them. In short, something has gone terribly wrong in the mind of Petersen. His ideas will be explored below for the sole purpose of illustrating his errors such that critical thinkers may avoid them.

The rest of the article can be read here

Here’s the podcast from Tom Woods’ Show

392 thoughts on “Ryan Griggs – The Anti-Libertarian Republic: Austin Petersen Rejects Individualism

  1. Chuck Moulton

    This seems to be a long rambling rant that basically says Austin Petersen is not an anarchist, therefore he is not a libertarian.

    I disagree.

    It is yet another example of the folly of using the definition of anarchy as a definition or measuring stick for libertarians. I’m sick of it.

  2. paulie

    Griggs vigorously rejects Hayek’s position in “The Road to Serfdom”.

    Please elaborate. Which position? Do you know of a link where that position is quoted in full and/or summarized (please not the whole book)? Supposings Griggs does reject some position of Hayek’s, what are we to conclude from that, and why?

  3. Robert Capozzi

    ==Petersen’s statements are an affront to *my, Ryan Griggs’s,* libertarianism properly considered as an application of the Non-Aggression Principle to human relations.==

    Fixed

  4. Chuck Moulton

    Petersen’s statements are an affront to *anarchy* properly considered as an application of the Non-Aggression Principle to human relations.

    Fixed

  5. paulie

    Griggs vigorously rejects Hayek’s position in “The Road to Serfdom”.

    -George Phillies

    Our party is not a religious cult. What is your basis for claiming that your definition of libertarianism works? “So-and-so said so” means that you are supporting our party becoming a religious cult.

    -Also George Phillies

  6. jim

    Chuck Moulton: You said,
    “This seems to be a long rambling rant that basically says Austin Petersen is not an anarchist, therefore he is not a libertarian. I disagree.”

    No, I don’t think it “basically says” that. You have extracted one specific point, and stretched it to suggest that’s the main thrust of Griggs’ argument.
    Much to the contrary, Petersen is skewered in many ways here. He probably deserves it

  7. George Phillies

    You are making things up and putting them into my words.

    I merely found the circumstance amusing. I did not say that Griggs was right, wrong, or incomprehensible; I said he differed with another classical libertarian source. See Grigg’s rant about the ‘right to food’.

    Griggs also quotes Rothbard, who advocated a real anarchy position, namely that policemen should be allowed to summarily execute criminal suspects, an anarchy position in place in parts of the USA right now.

  8. Shawn Levasseur

    I confess, I was only able to get half way through the linked article, but I wasn’t really seeing anything worth caring about…

    (T.A.;D.R. : Too Abstract; Didn’t Read)

    Does this translate into any policies that are being objected to?

    The use of a Libertarian Party logo above the post, and the tags suggest this is somehow LP related. Is either Griggs or Peterson running for anything?

  9. paulie

    You are making things up and putting them into my words.

    When and where? I quoted your exact words without changing anything and asked questions. That was all.

    I did not say that Griggs was right, wrong, or incomprehensible

    Neither did I.

    Griggs also quotes Rothbard, who advocated a real anarchy position, namely that policemen should be allowed to summarily execute criminal suspects, an anarchy position in place in parts of the USA right now.

    He did not quote Rothbard on that point, nor made any indication of agreeing with such a thing. He did cite Rothbard on entirely different matters. As you probably know, anarchists oppose the police monopoly, and non-nihilist anarchists oppose anyone’s “right to summarily execute criminal suspects” regardless of what shiny badge the executioner buys from a dime store or makes in his or her garage. If someone quotes or cites something written by, say, Thomas Jefferson, are they endorsing chattel slavery and impregnating teenage slaves?

  10. paulie

    The use of a Libertarian Party logo above the post, and the tags suggest this is somehow LP related. Is either Griggs or Peterson running for anything?

    Petersen is running for the LP presidential nomination. Griggs, as far as I know, is not running for anything, and if he is like most hardcore Rothbardians he is probably not a big fan of the LP at all, although I don’t know that for a fact.

  11. Chuck Moulton

    Chuck Moulton wrote:

    This seems to be a long rambling rant that basically says Austin Petersen is not an anarchist, therefore he is not a libertarian. I disagree.

    Jim wrote:

    No, I don’t think it “basically says” that. You have extracted one specific point, and stretched it to suggest that’s the main thrust of Griggs’ argument.

    I read the whole thing a second time and I still didn’t see anything else.

    Petersen wrote a 5 part essay on why he is not an anarchist. Griggs goes point by point and shows in excrutiating detail that those points prove that Petersen is not an anarchist — not very difficult or impressive because that is exactly what Petersen claimed and the main point of the article Griggs deconstructed. Then Griggs waves his wand and uses his magic definition of “libertarian” — which (you guessed it!) is identical to the definition of “anarchist” — to claim he has just proven Petersen is not a libertarian at all, but rather is a collectivist who rejects individualiam and libertarianism. Of course everyone who buys into the intellectually dishonest semantic game of defining “libertarian” to be “anarchist” thinks Griggs has pulled off some brilliant masterpiece of journalism exposing an undercover operative who has been masquerading as a libertarian for decades.

    Yawn.

  12. jim

    Chuck Moulton, you said in part:
    “Then Griggs waves his wand and uses his magic definition of “libertarian” — which (you guessed it!) is identical to the definition of “anarchist” — to claim he has just proven Petersen is not a libertarian at all, but rather is a collectivist who rejects individualiam and libertarianism. Of course everyone who buys into the intellectually dishonest semantic game of defining “libertarian” to be “anarchist” thinks Griggs has pulled off some brilliant masterpiece of journalism exposing an undercover operative who has been masquerading as a libertarian for decades.”

    If Petersen is indeed “not a libertarian at all, but rather is a collectivist who rejects individualiam and libertarianism.”, then as far as I can see that conclusion could be reached without “defining “libertarian” to be “anarchist””.

    I have long understood that there are “minarchist libertarians” and “anarchist libertarians”. I knew that well before 1995, when I wrote my “Assassination Politics” essay. I was a minarchist libertarian prior to that point, and became an anarchist libertarian afterwards: I wasn’t a minarchist because I wanted a residual government, but simply because I could not think of an intellectually consistent way to get rid of the last vestiges of government,

    As such, I would not have tried to “define” libertarianism as being “anarchist, either before 1995 nor later. And I have long been able to identify “collectivist[s] who reject[] individualism and libertarianism”.

  13. paulie

    Griggs does sound rather pedantic.

    Why, I bet he doesn’t swim in even as big a pyramid of pussy as Christopher Cantwell, much less Austin Petersen…

    ?You tubby piece of shit, you couldn?t even approach 1/4 of the pyramid of pussy that I swim in on a regular basis. It?s because I have class, motherfucker!? ? Austin ?Mountain Dew Camacho? Petersen

    around the 4 minute mark.

    As Chuck Moulton expounds:

    Let’s use this as a learning experience. Supposing Cantwell’s pyramid pussy pile is proportional to Petersen’s pyramid pussy pile (that’s a tongue twister!), how much taller is Petersen’s?

    Recall the volume of a pyramid is (1/3)Bh where h = height and B = area of the base (whether that be a triangle or a square or whatever).

    The area of the base varies as the square of the length of a side. The easiest example to see this is a square: A = s2, where s = the length of a side. The same general principle applies to triangles, etc. For simplicity, we can use square base pyramids.

    Let the volume of Austin’s pussy pyramid be:
    VA = (1/3)sAsAhA

    Let the volume of Cantwell’s pussy pyramid be:
    VC = (1/3)sCsChC

    We are given that “[Cantwell] couldn’t approach even a quarter of the pyramid pile of pussy that [Petersen is] swimming in on a regular basis”.

    Therefore:
    VA > 4VC
    (1/3)sAsAhA > 4(1/3)sCsChC
    sAsAhA > 4sCsChC

    But due to proportionality we know (x is a an unknown multiple we seek to find):
    sA = xsC
    hA = xhC

    So:
    xsCxsCxhC > 4sCsChC
    xxx[sCsChC] > 4[sCsChC]
    x3 > 4
    x > cube root of 4
    x > 1.5874

    Therefore, Austin Petersen’s pyramid pile of pussy must be more than 58% taller than Chris Cantwell’s pyramid pile of pussy.

    If you couldn’t follow all that just remember “pyramid pussy pile (that’s a tongue twister!)” and it all goes down from there.

    More discussion at https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2015/09/austin-peterson-will-announce-his-candidacy-for-president-tonight-on-the-john-stossel-show/ (still trying to get a video, audio or transcript … anyone have a link?)

    And see also

    https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2015/09/austin-petersen-interview-9252015-the-1787-network/

    https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2015/09/chat-with-libertarian-party-presidential-candidate-austin-petersen/

    https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2015/09/austin-petersen-for-president-lp/

    And comments therein.

  14. paulie

    If Petersen is indeed “not a libertarian at all, but rather is a collectivist who rejects individualiam and libertarianism.”, then as far as I can see that conclusion could be reached without “defining “libertarian” to be “anarchist””.

    Obviously. The question here is whether Griggs did that or not, and whether it is in fact true in Petersen’s case, not whether it could in principle be done.

  15. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Some of Griggs points are excellent and some are not. Even if one thought he was arguing that one must be an anarchist to be libertarian (let’s just say he was for sake of argument), he makes valid points against Petersen. Such as the zinger… if something is a right it must be provided. That is a fundamental error. Petersen also argues against himself when he defends the monopoly on force and then says no, people do have a right to enforce their own rights.

    I find this article most useful to show Petersen is incoherent, which may not be Griggs’ main point, but that is the value I see. Petersen thinks he is some kind of brilliant rhetorician but he often chases his own tail in this way.

    And nothing I said has anything to do with anarchism. I saw these points when I was still firmly a minarchist.

  16. Chuck Moulton

    Caryn Ann Harlos wrote:

    I find this article most useful to show Petersen is incoherent, which may not be Griggs’ main point, but that is the value I see. Petersen thinks he is some kind of brilliant rhetorician but he often chases his own tail in this way.

    Yes, Petersen’s philosophical rhetoric leaves a lot to be desired. And he doesn’t seem to conduct himself in a presidential manner… he is often profane, ill mannered, and doesn’t treat some people well at all.

    None of that means he’s not a libertarian though or that the public policy positions he articulates are not libertarian. If Petersen has taken a public policy position that would grow the state or constrict freedom, I’d like to hear about it.

    As a delegate I will not be voting for a philosopher-in-chief. I don’t care at all that Petersen is a terrible philosopher or that Petersen isn’t a natural rights based anarchist.

    The things I care about are:
    1. Is he batshit crazy?
    2. What public policy positions does he take? Are they libertarian? Is he emphasizing the issues I think are most important?
    3. How does he present himself? How does he market himself and his campaign? Is he a good public speaker? Will he represent the Libertarian Party and libertarianism well? Will he get a lot of media?
    4. Will he grow the Libertarian Party in terms of votes, registered voters, members, donors, activists, Facebook likes, inquiries, etc.? Will he make growing the party his primary goal, by working with the party rather than building parallel organizations and by putting advancement of the party brand ahead of creating (or growing) a cult of personality?

    This is just off the cuff. I’m not copying & pasting from some big list I’ve compiled over a long period of time.

    As far as I can tell, Petersen isn’t batshit crazy, so he’s good on #1. His platform seems to be libertarian and emphasizes many important things, so he’s mostly good on #2 — though I’d like it if he were more explicitly non-interventionist / anti-war (contrast with Gary Johnson, who is advocating for a big new tax as the centerpiece of his campaign — un-libertarian in the extreme). I’m concerned about #3 because of how I’ve seen him conduct himself on these various YouTube videos. I think he’ll have a better media strategy than many candidates given his experience in TV production and Internet publishing; however, he comes off as very abrasive and profane at times and seems to divide rather than unite. I don’t have enough information to form an opinion on #4.

    I’m not sure why lots of people seem to be acting as if Petersen is running for philosopher-in-chief. To each his own I guess. There is plenty to learn about the other questions I’ve asked, which seem far more important to me — and likely to most other delegates as well.

  17. Robert Capozzi

    cah: Such as the zinger… if something is a right it must be provided. That is a fundamental error.

    ap: A right is something that MUST be provided. Any society aimed at protecting natural rights must use some type of force to guarantee those rights. Any mechanism of force used to guarantee those rights have the same effect as government, no matter what that form may take.

    me: Not sure why this is a “zinger,” although the standalone sentence might be confusing. We could say there are these abstract “rights,” but unless they are enforced, rights are just hot air.

    How is this controversial?

  18. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Chuck,

    ==Yes, Petersen’s philosophical rhetoric leaves a lot to be desired. And he doesn’t seem to conduct himself in a presidential manner… he is often profane, ill mannered, and doesn’t treat some people well at all.==

    That is understated.

    ==None of that means he’s not a libertarian===

    He is on the spectrum, he always has been (he is actually a pretty hardcore minarchist). I question whether is dedicated to being a Libertarian. I think his heart is still with the Republican Party.

    #3 and #4 is a big problem with Petersen (in your list)

    ==== though I’d like it if he were more explicitly non-interventionist / anti-war (contrast with Gary Johnson, who is advocating for a big new tax as the centerpiece of his campaign — un-libertarian in the extreme). ===

    Emphasis added. I will just leave that be as it speaks for itself in light of past conversations. I hope Gary doesn’t need therapy if he reads that. I’d just hate for him to think he was somehow not as libertarian in that issue… or OMG a second-class libertarian in that issue.:)

  19. Caryn Ann Harlos

    My main reason for not supporting Petersen at this point is your points #3 and #4… there are some minor others.

    What if he is our candidate? I find it important to support the Party and its candidate (unless it was someone like an Invictus… Petersen’s policies are solid enough… he is again more hardcore minarchist that most run of the mill Libertarians)

  20. Chuck Moulton

    Chuck Moulton wrote:

    though I?d like it if he were more explicitly non-interventionist / anti-war (contrast with Gary Johnson, who is advocating for a big new tax as the centerpiece of his campaign ? un-libertarian in the extreme).

    Caryn Ann Harlos wrote:

    Emphasis added. I will just leave that be as it speaks for itself in light of past conversations. I hope Gary doesn?t need therapy if he reads that. I?d just hate for him to think he was somehow not as libertarian in that issue? or OMG a second-class libertarian in that issue.:)

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here.

    I think you are suggesting that I am being hypocritical in on the one hand defending some non-anarchists as still being libertarians — for example, those who want to cut taxes by 90% — and on the other hand chastising Gary Johnson for being un-libertarian by his advocacy for the “Fair” Tax. (Note that “un-libertarian in the extreme” referred to “a big new tax as the centerpiece of his campaign”, not to “Gary Johnson”.)

    The difference is that a 90% cut of the income tax would be unambiguously shrinking government and expanding freedom, whereas the “Fair” Tax does not shrink government or expand freedom — in fact (as I’ve argued elsewhere), it grows government and limits freedom. Shrinking government is libertarian. Growing government is not. I see no hypocrisy there.

    Also, I’ve never said Gary Johnson is not a libertarian. In the totality, he holds a lot of libertarian positions. I am simply frustrated that he makes the centerpiece of his campaign a position that is at best orthogonal to libertarianism (doesn’t grow or shrink the state), at worst antithetical to libertarianism (we’ll create a massive new moocher class of people on the government dole, we’ll end up with both a sales tax and an income tax with a substantially higher total tax burden, the government will start monitoring all transactions, etc.). I’d be fine with Johnson’s holding the kooky, un-libertarian “Fair” Tax position if it were a side issue he rarely talked about rather than the centerpiece of his campaign that he redirects every single unrelated question to highlight.

  21. langa

    The article by Griggs is fantastic, and absolutely destroys Petersen — and it has little, if anything, to do with the “anarchy vs. minarchy” debate that some people bizarrely claim to despise, yet seem to bring up on virtually every thread. Rather, it demonstrates that, regardless of his ability to list off libertarian talking points, Petersen’s understanding of the actual principles behind them is extremely limited, and in many cases, totally non-existent.

    And as for the “philosopher-in-chief” straw man, do people really think that being able to explain the underlying logic behind libertarian positions is a non-essential trait for the LP presidential candidate? Look, the idea that a libertarian society can be achieved by tricking non-libertarians into electing LP candidates, who will then ram liberty down their throats, is absolutely idiotic. Social and political change happens from the bottom up, not from the top down. That means the most important job, by far, for an LP presidential candidate is to use the election as an opportunity to educate people about the libertarian philosophy, and hopefully, convert many of them into libertarians. If the candidate himself doesn’t even understand basic libertarian principles, how can he possibly explain them to others, let alone convince others to actually embrace them? Since when did “slick-talking, anti-intellectual carnival barker” become the new prototype for the ideal LP standard bearer?

  22. langa

    By the way, this priceless quote from the article was written with Petersen in mind, but I can’t imagine a more perfect description of Robert Capozzi:

    This inherent nihilism–the belief that nothing is real, that everything is meaningless–pervades [his] entire system of thought. … After all, if nothing’s real, if all of life is meaningless, then one may sit back and ponder endlessly, in useless loops, with never a passing thought as to validity and truth.

  23. Chuck Moulton

    Chuck Moulton wrote:

    Of course everyone who buys into the intellectually dishonest semantic game of defining “libertarian” to be “anarchist” thinks Griggs has pulled off some brilliant masterpiece of journalism exposing an undercover operative who has been masquerading as a libertarian for decades.

    langa wrote:

    The article by Griggs is fantastic, and absolutely destroys Petersen

    Case in point.

    langa wrote:

    And as for the “philosopher-in-chief” straw man, do people really think that being able to explain the underlying logic behind libertarian positions is a non-essential trait for the LP presidential candidate?

    Yes, absolutely!

    The fact of the matter is most of the public are not armchair philosophers — the natural rights justifications for anarchy are not going to persuade people to embrace libertarian policy positions or libertarianism.

    When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail. That’s the way it is with the NAP. In reality, there are many other tools in the libertarian arsenal than the anarchist natural rights praxeology — and many of them are far more appropriate in a much wider range of situations.

    My favorite food is strawberries, but when I go fishing I use worms. Pick the line of reasoning that will persuade your audience, not the line of reason that you have a personal affinity for. Most of the public wants to hear about libertarian positions on particular issues and how the libertarian approach will make their lives better — meaning, 1) most of the public wants to hear about the implementation of libertarianism rather than the theoretical basis of libertarianism and 2) most of the public is persuaded by utilitarian consequentialism (how the world will be made better through libertarian positions) not by the derivation of every moral choice from a foundational principle that is accepted on faith of a higher power (whether that be from God or from our humanity owning our own bodies).

    If the goal is to identify as many NAP anarchist cultists as possible, then perhaps we do need a philosopher-in-chief. If the goal is to identify, excite, and activate as many libertarians as possible, then a philosopher-in-chief is the worst of all possible approaches to a presidential campaign.

  24. langa

    Chuck, do you ever actually address points that contradict your arguments, or are you content to simply tear down one straw man after another?

    Anyone looking for a “quick fix” to all these “pressing” issues of the day will never accept the libertarian answer, because it’s not based on a “quick fix” — it’s based on fundamentally rethinking the way that our society is organized. As long as people are unwilling to consider that option, we will never be free, regardless of how many statist carnival barkers the LP puts in front of them. The two major parties have already cornered that particular market.

    Your attitude reminds me of those Rand Paul supporters who insist that he is just telling people what they want to hear, in order to trick them into voting for him, and once he is elected he is going to show his “true” libertarian colors. Even if that were true, it just doesn’t work like that.

    If you want to change the world, you have to change people’s minds first. Tricking them into voting for you is a complete waste of time.

  25. Chuck Moulton

    I’m not addressing straw men.

    You keep insisting that the LP presidential candidate educate people on anarchist NAP cultism. I disagree with that approach.

    Ron Paul won huge support not by constantly talking about NAP cultism, but rather by talking about ending all the wars, bringing back sound money, eliminating the income tax, and ending the war on drugs. When he was asked about each of those issues over and over again by the media, he did not respond “because doing anything but X would violate the non-aggression principle”. He responded that wars were killing all sorts of innocent people, causing blowback that makes us less safe, and costing a lot of money we don’t have to spend. He responded that the dollar has lost 97% of its value and people deserve money will stable value that won’t be stolen away by the government. He responded that with lower taxes people will have more money in their pockets to spend on the things that they care about. He responded that drugs cause health problems, but prohibition is even worse and people should be able to make their own decisions about what to ingest.

    The fact is no one gives a fuck about philosophy until they’ve already heard a lot about the issues of the day. People need to recognize that they are libertarians first. Once they realize they are libertarians, they learn more about more esoteric issues and dig more into the philosophy. Being involved in the Libertarian Party tends to turn moderates into radicals into anarchists. You need to get people in the door first though.

    The approach you are advocating is to bore people to death by talking about philosophy right off the bat even though practically no one gives a fuck about philosophy. It’s a losing approach. No one will ever get in the door.

    Libertarian solutions are not “quick fixes”. Cutting taxes by 90% or 50% is not a “quick fix”. Legalizing marijuana if not all drugs is not a “quick fix”. Substantially changing foreign policy to be less interventionist is not a “quick fix”. All of these things are complicated, but they are exciting to voters because they are fresh ideas that the Republicans and Democrats do not embrace.

    You confuse “telling people what they want to hear” in the Rand Paul sense, which is adopting a bunch of un-libertarian positions, with what I am advocating, which is consistently advocating libertarian positions (libertarian as in less government / more freedom, not libertarian as in anarchist NAP cultist only) but talking about actual policy and politics rather than philosophy.

    There are huge, huge, HUGE numbers of people who want less government and more freedom across a wide range of issues. There are tiny, almost non-existent numbers of people who can be converted to a NAP anarchist cult with a short pitch about the non-aggression principle.

    If you don’t want to market libertarian solutions to the huge numbers of people who want less government and more freedom, but instead you want to market the Libertarian Party only to the anarchist NAP cultists, then I guess we have nothing to discuss. I want the LP to tap into the huge natural constituency for libertarian ideas.

  26. Robert Capozzi

    L: a more perfect description of Robert Capozzi: [griggs] This inherent nihilism–the belief that nothing is real, that everything is meaningless–pervades [his] entire system of thought. … After all, if nothing’s real, if all of life is meaningless, then one may sit back and ponder endlessly, in useless loops, with never a passing thought as to validity and truth.

    me: Well, thanks for thinking of me, Langa. “Nothing is real” seems true, which is something I’m quite interested in — truth, that is. Here in Strawberry Fields, it’s not that life is meaningless, but everything we perceive has been given meaning by us. No thing has INHERENT meaning.

    It’s funny to me that MNR ID’d Lao Tzu as the first L, and yet the Tao is quite “nihilistic” is you want to use that label.

    In a sense I am an originalist, back to the basics L!

  27. Robert Capozzi

    cm: There are huge, huge, HUGE numbers of people who want less government and more freedom across a wide range of issues.

    me: Yes. And there are more who are on the fence, but are persuadable with demonstrations that more freedom works better. MO is not the only “show me” state! They all are.

    A way to do that is to elect more and more lessarchists, who may or may not be consistent NAPsters.

  28. Robert Capozzi

    pf: Are all of Hayek’s positions sacrosanct, assuming we learn which position of Hayek’s is being referred to here?

    me: No. No view is sacrosanct. FAH was, however, a really fine lessarchist thinker, for me the most comprehensive thinker on matters of political economy in the last century.

  29. Robert Capozzi

    http://www.rawstory.com/2011/05/alan-greenspan-had-to-be-convinced-that-he-existed-before-meeting-ayn-rand/

    Nathaniel Branden: ““You have to realize that Alan Greenspan was, and is, a brilliant mind doing brilliant things in the real world but in his 20s he is sitting with me in my apartment telling me that he cannot say with certainty that he exists, he cannot say for certain that I exist and he cannot say for certain that this conversation exists,” Branden recalled.”

    Had things gone the other way and AG’d shown AR and NB the obvious fact that skepticism about what one perceives in the material world is the truth-aligned perspective, we might be having a very different conversation right now.

  30. George Phillies

    ” Are all of Hayek’s positions sacrosanct, assuming we learn which position of Hayek’s is being referred to here?” Of course not, but neither is the non-aggression principle. Furthermore, Hayek’s comments are at least phrased operationally, unlike non-aggression, so it is possible to tell what he said without having a slew of interpreters and a chain of cult chants (“logically derive” “consistent”).

  31. Caryn Ann Harlos

    There is a great deal I would love to discuss, but rather I am amused that those who suggest that it is just horribly demeaning and turn into school marms if someone suggests someone is not consistent has no trouble continually throwing around terms like “cultist” around. Yes, I find the whole thing hypocritical. I don’t care because my feelings are not quite so fragile. It is just amusing.

    I could be wrong, but langa isn’t suggesting that the candidate need to hold forth as philosopher king. I surely am not. But he should have a coherent reason why he holds what he does. Ron didn’t out it into many talks, but he put it into enough. You do have to be heavy on policy not philosophy. Politics is about getting things done (or undone as the case may be). And the basis for a libertarian policy is the comparison to whether it initiates force or not.

    My problem with Petersen isn’t his philosophical defects- he claims not to hold to the NAP, but each of his policies (except for some foreign hawkishness) actually *do*- they are libertarian policies. He isn’t being advised well as a candidate to not prattle on about that but to point out how his policies would satisfy those who care to articulate it is their primary value.

    My problems again are #3 and #4 (his constant attack on the NAO would fall in there as part of stupid rash behavior)

    It would be easy to explain if he had some other clearly articulated metric he was bringing to explain this – such as a utilitarian concern for net human suffering etc. But so far he hasn’t.

  32. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Chuck,

    === Being involved in the Libertarian Party tends to turn moderates into radicals into anarchists. You need to get people in the door first though.==

    That is one of the best things you said.

  33. paulie

    No. No view is sacrosanct. FAH was, however, a really fine lessarchist thinker, for me the most comprehensive thinker on matters of political economy in the last century.

    Thanks for the reply. There are others who feel that way about Rothbard. Personally, I have some I like better such as Karl Hess, Roderick Long, Mary Ruwart as a writer (somewhat less so as a political candidate…the idea that women would vote for her in large numbers because she is a woman was somewhat silly, and there were other female candidates such as Cynthia McKinney and … Palin was at the bottom of a ticket, but one that got a lot more media attention, to take one nit), and some others.

    The question was aimed at George Phillies, who said that Griggs with some as yet unspecified here position of Hayek’s in a manner that indicated that doing so was perhaps beyond the pale. I just wanted to clarify which position exactly, preferably with an exact citation if possible, as well as whether disagreeing with Hayek was indeed to be taken as such an unforgivable transgression if that is what Griggs in fact did.

    Personally I do enjoy reading Hayek from time to time, but I also enjoy many other authors with whom I agree on some things and not others. Saul Alinsky, Sun Tzu, Niccolo Macchiavelli, Hermann Hesse, Lao Tzu, John Irving, Heinlein, Robert Anton Wilson, Ram Dass, Douglas Hofstadter, Ray Kurzweil, Joseph Campbell, Hunter Thompson, you name it. I don’t find my areas of disagreement with Hayek to be the more interesting parts of his work, I’m more impressed by the many areas where we do agree, especially taken in the context of the times it was written in. Like Mises, Ayn Rand, Isabel Paterson, and a few others, he helped preserve and restart the growth of libertarian thought. None of them wrote the Bible, but then I also enjoy reading the Bible and don’t take it literally either. Even when it comes to Hayeks, Friedrich is better in some respects, and Selma in others.

  34. paulie

    so it is possible to tell what he said without having a slew of interpreters and a chain of cult chants (“logically derive” “consistent”).

    Aristotle as cult leader/deity? Interesting concept.

    Perhaps our role model here should be my ancestor, Genghis Khan. He was not afraid to boldly reject the pernicious non-aggression principle, had a huge pyramid pile of pussy (possibly the biggest ever), a huge pyramid pile of human skulls and pyramid pile of descendants. I think he was pretty good at manipulating the media that existed in his time. I’m not sure if he would have been telegenic, but even if not, he had other qualities that made up for it.

  35. paulie

    === Being involved in the Libertarian Party tends to turn moderates into radicals into anarchists. You need to get people in the door first though.==

    That is one of the best things you said.

    While the LP is at least in theory dedicated to a non-aggression principle that is true. It may or may not be if you chuck that aside completely.

  36. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Paulie,

    That is true… (and it is because OMG! get your smelling salts out everyone!)… the most consistent application of the NAP…. is anarchy. The generally consistent application of the NAP is the libertarian spectrum from classical liberalism all the way to anarchy.

  37. paulie

    On my phone – no edit button for some obvious spelling errors – sorry

    I admire people who can type whole multi-paragraph comments on their phone. I can barely manage quick text messages. I make enough typos with a full sized keyboard as it is.

  38. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Paulie, not only on my phone, but still in bed from last night’s alcohol-infused festivities.

    I am up now (somewhat)…

  39. paulie

    Paulie, not only on my phone, but still in bed from last night’s alcohol-infused festivities.

    I am up now (somewhat)…

    Same here. Luckily, this time the stripper didn’t steal all the booze and stimulants, so I am not in as dire straits as I was .. last weekend? The one before? I’m hazy on when exactly, but I hate to wake up and find everything I need was already consumed last night or otherwise not available within easy arm’s reach.

  40. paulie

    Same here. Luckily, this time the stripper didn’t steal all the booze and stimulants,

    She’s also being accused by some of her friends of stealing one of their cars according to the motel management – if true, she is not afraid to not be consistent in applying the non-aggression principle, although she tested hardcore libertarian on the Nolan quiz. I had to tell the motel I did not know her very well. Her phone number is disconnected now. I haven’t checked the club whether she is still working there but my impression was that she was on thin ice with them. It’s really a shame; she could be very telegenic, if given the proper make-up and management, and probably has massive pyramid piles of both pussy and dicks alike that she swims in on a regular basis. She could have been a great presidential candidate in a few years when she gets old enough.

  41. Starchild

    I don’t think a libertarian candidate needs to talk about the Non-Aggression Principle all the time on every issue. However, a libertarian candidate should have a solid understanding of the NAP and explain from time to time how it relates to the issues of the day, for those who are ready to hear and grasp the underlying libertarian message.

    The NAP is not some abstract philosophical issue, like the question of whether or not we can prove that we exist! It is directly related to the vast majority of real-world political issues.

    As an analogy, a treasurer or an accountant need not express every bit of advice they provide to their clients or the organizations for which they work in terms of pure math. But you do want these people to have a firm grasp of mathematical principles like addition and subtraction and multiplication! Yeah, they can maybe get by for a while just knowing what formulas to plug into a calculator or spreadsheet to make things work on a practical basis. Maybe you can do exhaustive research to show that when people have relied on improper use of numbers in the past, like assuming 2+2=5, things have gone badly. But these approaches are a poor substitute for real understanding, and sooner or later an issue will come along that will trip up someone trying to rely on a purely pragmatic or empirical approach.

    Another analogy: If you are a family counselor who ignores or dismisses the ideas that people have rights and autonomy, and that it’s wrong to inflict suffering on others to fulfill our own ends, and insist on coming up with strictly “practical” reasons why your clients should not beat their spouses, sooner or later a situation is going to come along where you’ll be hard pressed to say why engaging in domestic violence is a bad idea:

    “Hey, I know you said that I shouldn’t beat my wife because it might get me in trouble with the authorities and she’s statistically likely to eventually stop loving me and probably leave me, but now that I got this terminal illness and am only expected to live 6 months, I don’t care what she might do in the future! I’ve started beat her regularly again because I’ve found it’s an effective way to get her to be conscientious about cleaning the house and preparing me the meals I like, and that improves my quality of life right now.”

    From most people’s perspective, coercively taxing people to pay for things that we want, and criminalizing people for doing things that we don’t want (even when they’re not actually hurting anyone else), is intuitive. The system seems to work (if you don’t look at it too closely and don’t think too broadly about possible alternatives). A candidate is unlikely to have the time or resources to effectively explain why these aggression-based approaches ultimately don’t work as well as a voluntary, cooperative system would, and it requires too much of a leap of imagination for many people to envision a libertarian society in order to have a basis for comparison. Establishment politicians are skilled at coming up with feel-good rationalizations for their policies which can be very difficult and complicated to refute in practical terms that are as easily communicated to voters as the rationalizations themselves.

    This is one reason why explaining bad State practices like taxation and criminalization in terms of basic moral principles that people are familiar with and can readily understand, like “Don’t steal”, and “Live and let live”, can be so powerful and effective. You don’t have to get people to understand all the ramifications of why beating your spouse is bad in each new set of circumstances, just briefly explain (or remind them) how a particular policy is another example of something they already know is bad.

  42. Caryn Ann Harlos

    And Starchild is absolutely right.

    The thing with Petersen, despite his posturing, if you got him to explain why he has the policies he does, what he would end up saying would be the NAP, he just wouldn’t call it that because for some reason he has a burr up his butt about that term (and his understanding of what other people mean by it is really shallow… he still thinks it absolutely requires that someone actually fire a gun at you before you can defend yourself— if that is what it meant, I would reject it too). What he rejects is a cartoon version.

    That then leaves his judgment in his rhetoric and posturing, and in that, I think he is terrible for the Party. Plenty of candidates have been able to not be, as people here like to say “NAPsolutists” (a meaningless, but colourful term that amuses me), without going out of their way to alienate and divide Party members. If Petersen can’t manage that basic act of a good political leader, I don’t trust him with much else.

    His actual policies are acceptable hardcore minarchism.

  43. Robert Capozzi

    pf: …my ancestor, Genghis Khan. He was not afraid to boldly reject the pernicious non-aggression principle, had a huge pyramid pile of pussy (possibly the biggest ever)…

    me: OK, now THIS is interesting information. What is your relation to Khan?

  44. Chuck Moulton

    Chuck Moulton wrote:

    When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail. That’s the way it is with the NAP. In reality, there are many other tools in the libertarian arsenal than the anarchist natural rights praxeology — and many of them are far more appropriate in a much wider range of situations.

    My favorite food is strawberries, but when I go fishing I use worms. Pick the line of reasoning that will persuade your audience, not the line of reason that you have a personal affinity for. Most of the public wants to hear about libertarian positions on particular issues and how the libertarian approach will make their lives better — meaning, 1) most of the public wants to hear about the implementation of libertarianism rather than the theoretical basis of libertarianism and 2) most of the public is persuaded by utilitarian consequentialism (how the world will be made better through libertarian positions) not by the derivation of every moral choice from a foundational principle that is accepted on faith of a higher power (whether that be from God or from our humanity owning our own bodies).

    Starchild wrote:

    Another analogy: If you are a family counselor who ignores or dismisses the ideas that people have rights and autonomy, and that it’s wrong to inflict suffering on others to fulfill our own ends, and insist on coming up with strictly “practical” reasons why your clients should not beat their spouses, sooner or later a situation is going to come along where you’ll be hard pressed to say why engaging in domestic violence is a bad idea

    “Hey, I know you said that I shouldn’t beat my wife because it might get me in trouble with the authorities and she’s statistically likely to eventually stop loving me and probably leave me, but now that I got this terminal illness and am only expected to live 6 months, I don’t care what she might do in the future! I’ve started beat her regularly again because I’ve found it’s an effective way to get her to be conscientious about cleaning the house and preparing me the meals I like, and that improves my quality of life right now.”

    […]

    This is one reason why explaining bad State practices like taxation and criminalization in terms of basic moral principles that people are familiar with and can readily understand, like “Don’t steal”, and “Live and let live”, can be so powerful and effective.

    You’ve just provided another great example of why it’s important to have another tool in the arsenal than just the NAP, yet for some reason you seem to think you’ve somehow refuted what I said.

    If you are a family counselor, telling your client that beating his wife violates the NAP is unlikely to be effective at persuading him. Explaining that it will make his life worse by pointing out he will get in trouble with the authorities or she will stop loving him will be more effective in 99.9% of cases than parading out the non-aggression principle. You then concocted an extremely unlikely scenario that falls in the 0.1%: he has only 6 months to live and he knows it. In that situation you’re right that a natural rights approach is likely to be more effective, but even then you don’t suggest lecturing him on the non-aggression principle. Instead you advocate appealing to analogous applications of the NAP that they learned growing up and may ring a moral bell in their head: don’t steal, don’t take people’s stuff, thou shalt not kill, live and let live, etc.

    For some reason you seem to think if it is difficult to come up with a utilitarian consequentialist argument in an extreme 0.1% of cases, then NAP should be used 100% of the time (even though a utilitarian consequentialist argument would be more persuasive and effective 99.9% of the time). That doesn’t follow at all.

    In addition, there are also times it is hard to apply the NAP and get a clear solution. That doesn’t mean the NAP isn’t a good guideline (for anarchism) the times it does lead to a clear solution.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve been studying law and economics for many years and I’ve found overwhelming evidence that the libertarian solution is best and makes the world a better place than alternatives every time I’ve studied any issue in detail. Libertarian ideas can be persuasively presented to the public without the NAP — and they are every day by many candidates, think tanks, economists, single issue advocates, etc.

    I have no problem with people using the NAP to explain concepts. I find I regularly need to intervene when a confused newcomer to the party is being lectured on the NAP about any given issue though… I point out how the libertarian solution works better than alternatives with economic theory and evidence of practical application in other countries or cities, and I see a light of understanding in their eyes. I suppose I could sit on the sidelines, let the newcomer remain confused, and watch that person leave.

    When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail.

    I don’t understand why libertarians can’t accept that other libertarians have other tools in their arsenal. I don’t understand why libertarians can’t accept that other tools may be more effective in many situations. I don’t understand why libertarians can’t accept that not all libertarians like using a hammer. I don’t understand why libertarians insist that all other libertarians must exclusively use a hammer. I don’t understand why libertarians insist that anyone who doesn’t use a hammer is useless. None of that makes any sense to me whatsoever. I’ve been active in the Libertarian Party and the libertarian movement for over a decade and no one has ever provided anything close to an adequate explanation for any of this mystifying behavior.

    As for me, I’m open to candidates with one or many tools in their arsenal. I’m not worried if any particular person isn’t good with a hammer or doesn’t like using a hammer… we have a division of labor and there are more than enough libertarians enthusiastically running around with hammers to bring up the slack.

  45. Caryn Ann Harlos

    And…. Chuck once again argues against a position not made. His “opponents” are not recognizable in his statements.

    For some reason – I missed the instructions that to hold to the NAP means I don’t talk practical or pragmatic solutions. Apparently I was possessed at last outreach when I did just that… And talked about the philosophical groundings when needed. It seemed I was not a robot and was able to adapt to differing conversations and needs.

    Bad, bad, bad NAPster.

    I apparently also missed the memo that the NAP is only relevant to anarchists. I held to it firmly as a minarchist.

    I must be so confused.

  46. Chuck Moulton

    Caryn Ann Harlos wrote:

    I apparently also missed the memo that the NAP is only relevant to anarchists. I held to it firmly as a minarchist.

    The NAP defines an anarchist. When the NAP is misused to define a libertarian, minarchists are not libertarians.

    When you believed you were a minarchist and not an anarchist, what things distinguished you from an anarchist? How were those distinguishing positions allowable under the NAP?

    Caryn Ann Harlos wrote:

    For some reason – I missed the instructions that to hold to the NAP means I don’t talk practical or pragmatic solutions. Apparently I was possessed at last outreach when I did just that… And talked about the philosophical groundings when needed. It seemed I was not a robot and was able to adapt to differing conversations and needs.

    Great: you don’t use a hammer for everything!

    Why is ability or desire to use (and overuse) a hammer an important quality in a presidential candidate?

  47. Wes Wagner

    Starchild/Moulton/Harlos/et.al.

    Teaching people first moral principles late in life is hard. Even if they consciously agree with you academically at the moment, they sum total of their memories and instinctual responses to questions/challenges/etc are patterned.

    This tends to make them dangerous to themselves and others, which is why I favor Moulton’s more practical argument methods when I am trying to achieve a result, and Starchild’s evangelical method when I find someone who can be truly helped.

    At this point in time we are nowhere near winning elections and achieving electoral victory because we have not built a large enough base. As a result I tend to support candidates who use a more evangelical approach because that is what is needed right now.

    I also see that if we ever did get a large enough base to have a chance at traditional electoral victory(I find this unlikely due to economics and sociology) we will unfortunately have to still trick a large majority of people into accidentally liberating themselves. The average IQ is 100 and the average person was raised in a household where children were suppressed by violence and taught to obey authority exercised by violence.

    The human condition is extremely complicated.

  48. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Chuck,

    ==The NAP defines an anarchist. When the NAP is misused to define a libertarian, minarchists are not libertarians.===

    A person who consistently (that doesn’t mean absolutely without exception the way I am using it) follows the NAP is a libertarian. Minarchists do so. Minarchists are libertarians. Yes, I think the only NAP-absolute position is anarchy.

    ==When you believed you were a minarchist and not an anarchist, what things distinguished you from an anarchist? How were those distinguishing positions allowable under the NAP?==

    I was a minarchist, I didn’t merely “believe” I was one.. though I left that POV before I realized I did because I didn’t understand what anarchists thought. Only one thing distinguished me, the monopoly on the use of force. Since I don’t hold that to be a libertarian one must be absolutely 100% consistent with the NAP, that is perfectly allowable. As far as the LP goes, it is very obvious to me that the founders and formulators over the years did not intend to exclude the monopoly of force… whether I think that consistent or not. A wooden reading of the SoP would “seem” to exclude it, but considering that minarchists wrote it and believed they were writing what they believed, it obviously cannot exclude that.

    ==Great: you don’t use a hammer for everything!===

    And I don’t think anyone you have been railing against does. That would just be dumb and unemphatic at a minimum.

    ==Why is ability or desire to use (and overuse) a hammer an important quality in a presidential candidate?==

    I reject your characterization of overuse. The ability to use all tools is an important quality, and the criteria as to whether something is a libertarian policy is it if consistently opposes the initiation of force. Being able to explain that is important.

    Petersen hasn’t merely said that the NAP isn’t the absolute center or that there other tools. He has said the NAP “isn’t libertarian.” Which is mind-numbingly stupid.

  49. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Wes,

    I agree with you. Ideologically we are very similar.

    (my agreement is on the ideological issues… I don’t know anything about average IQ and I don’t think this is about IQ… I am not the brightest bulb either)

    On the outreach weekend, one would be just as likely finding me explaining things in terms of honouring rights and self-ownership to be explaining how the drug war costs more money than simply treating people etc. It depended on where the person was at and what was important to them.

    I am a strict deontologist… but happily I believe that the right thing to do generally works out to be the most utilitarian best thing to do as well over societies and as policy. Rights (deontological) are utilitarian and consequential. I see no conflict. I will argue either way.

  50. Wes Wagner

    Rights are only utilitarian if you want the most moral Outcome for all. Some people want to optimize the enslaved production of other for their benefit. Their view of what is utilitarian is different.

  51. Herd for U.S. Senate 2016 (CA)

    Can’t say I know much about Austin Peterson but I do hope he participates in some of the upcoming Libertarian Presidential debates that will be broadcasted over the www on Oct. 13th and Oct 17th at
    http://www.facebook.com/groups/libertarianswin The Oct 13th debate is an online debate, the Oct 17th debate is a live broadcast from the Libertarian Party of Massachusetts Annual Convention. They are including a Presidential debate in their program.

  52. Robert Capozzi

    cah: Rights (deontological) are utilitarian and consequential.

    me: This MAY be true in the long term. If there were no taxation tomorrow, if all military bases overseas were closed and the SAC abolished tomorrow, and possibly if all regulations on legal and illegal drugs were abolished tomorrow, I’m not sure that would lead to a “utilitarian” outcome. The dislocation is certainly risky, to possibly catastrophic levels.

    And this assumes that ANY of things is enactable, which is also highly improbable.

    The consequence of such fringy positioning is to alienate the vast majority on both ideological and practical grounds.

    Such positioning seems counter-productive, particularly in light of the alternative of taking a first-things-first approach, picking the low-hanging fruit before trying increasingly more ambitious state-roll-back programs.

  53. Chuck Moulton

    Chuck Moulton wrote:

    The NAP defines an anarchist. When the NAP is misused to define a libertarian, minarchists are not libertarians.

    Caryn Ann Harlos wrote:

    A person who consistently (that doesn?t mean absolutely without exception the way I am using it) follows the NAP is a libertarian. Minarchists do so. Minarchists are libertarians. Yes, I think the only NAP-absolute position is anarchy.

    It really boggles my mind that you keep repeating this over and over and over again, yet still don’t see that you have agreed with me over and over and over again that you are defining “libertarian” as an “anarchist”.

    On any given issue (e.g., taxes) you are saying that the NAP position is anarchy. So the NAP defines an anarchist position.

    You say a “libertarian” is someone who consistently (doesn’t mean without exception) follows the NAP. Based on what you said immediately after though about the NAP position being anarchy, that means you believe a “libertarian” is someone who consistently (doesn’t mean without exception) takes “anarchist” positions.

    Checkmate.

    Everything else is handwaving.

    I emphatically disagree with that definition. It is wrong, it is intellectually dishonest, and it is dangerous to the libertarian movement.

    You seem to think your escape clause that not every position needs to be anarchist somehow makes your definition of “libertarian” more ecumenical. It doesn’t. A person who wants to moderately roll back the state on every single issue is not a “libertarian” under your definition because he doesn’t want to completely roll back the state on any issue. That is, a person who wants to cut taxes by 90% but not 100%, wants to legalize marijuana but not all drugs, wants to issue marriage licenses to even gay couples but not eliminate marriage licenses, wants to bring all the troops home but still have a military, etc. etc. etc. is not a “libertarian” under your definition. That’s ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.

    That you can’t see how libertarians who are not anarchists (and yes, there are moderate libertarians, despite your definition defining them out of existence) would be offended and marginalized by your definition boggles my mind. It just absolutely boggles my mind. I know I am repeating myself over and over and over again, but I am mystified that I am repeating myself over and over and over again and seemingly intelligent people aren’t getting it.

    THIS IS WHAT YOU ARE DOING TO PEOPLE, AND IT FRUSTRATES ME TO NO END.

    Caryn Ann Harlos wrote:

    I reject your characterization of overuse. The ability to use all tools is an important quality, and the criteria as to whether something is a libertarian policy is it if consistently opposes the initiation of force. Being able to explain that is important.

    Petersen hasn?t merely said that the NAP isn?t the absolute center or that there other tools. He has said the NAP ?isn?t libertarian.? Which is mind-numbingly stupid.

    He has basically said that the NAP doesn’t define libertarianism. And I agree with him.

    You are angry at him because he rejects your definition of “libertarian” and refuses to perpetuate the myth that “libertarian” is defined as “anarchist” or “mostly anarchist”. The more I see people railing on Petersen for that, the more I respect his decision to avoid using the NAP — though I still have big issues with how he treats other people.

    Petersen has found that not only is the hammer not useful in outreach, but it is counterproductive and should be avoided at all times. When anarchists beat libertarians with hammers constantly, I see the wisdom in that approach.

  54. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Hint: you try to force your definition of without exception into mine. A 90% cut on every program would qualify. No position has to be 100%. Don’t let reality ruin your rant though. Since I explicitly included classical liberals. I can’t help your straw men. You seem to enjoy them.

    Oh wait I — USED ALL CAPS TOO.

    That’s better.

  55. steve m

    My definition of the libertarian quadrant is that anybody who feel society and yes the government should when making some sort of decision try to error on society being less restrictive rather then more restrictive.

    The NAP doesn’t work for me because everyone who lives on the electric grid or drives a gas powered car or buys food from a store that uses gas powered trucks are by their life style engaging in aggression on other people, i.e. people who own land at near sea level. Or via pollution that is toxic and releases radiation (coal powered plants).

    So the NAP is an ideal and should be striven for but put me down as a skeptic that there very many of us that don’t violate it in one esoteric way or another.

    There is the joke about a group of people getting ready to stone a sinner and Jesus walks up and states let he who has not sinned cast the first stone.

    A moment later a single stone comes from out of the crowd and hits the sinner.

    Jesus states… “Mom I didn’t know you were here?”

  56. Chuck Moulton

    Chuck Moulton wrote:

    On any given issue (e.g., taxes) you are saying that the NAP position is anarchy. So the NAP defines an anarchist position.

    You say a “libertarian” is someone who consistently (doesn’t mean without exception) follows the NAP. Based on what you said immediately after though about the NAP position being anarchy, that means you believe a “libertarian” is someone who consistently (doesn’t mean without exception) takes “anarchist” positions.

    Caryn Ann Harlos wrote:

    A 90% cut on every program would qualify. No position has to be 100%.

    A 90% cut on every program still leaves 10% left on every program. That 10% uses the monopoly force of government.

    So now you are saying that initiating force to achieve political or social goals does not violate the pledge to “oppose the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals”? How can that be? Are you now claiming that the non-aggression principle (NAP) is really the minimize aggression principle (MAP) or the almost no aggression principle (ANAP)?

    You already defined “libertarian” as consistently (by which you don’t mean without exception… let’s say “mostly”, i.e., on most issues) following the NAP. Are you now re-defining it as a libertarian is someone who consistently (by which you don’t mean without exception… let’s say “mostly”, i.e., on most issues) follows the MAP (minimize aggression principle)?

    How do you reconcile such a position with the enormous body of literature saying that the NAP does not mean “minimize”, rather it means “no” or “zero” aggression? How do you reconcile such a position with the plain language of the NAP and the membership pledge?

  57. Robert Capozzi

    What CM said, plus there is NO consideration for timing. One could say one believes that one day we could live in a world where all aggression is illegal, but we are not in a place where that is either feasible or desirable, given the risks.

  58. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Chuck,

    Opposing 90% is consistently opposing and thus libertarian. It is not perfectly consistent but it is libertarian. Consistently opposing does not require perfect consistency. There is no standard to judge without a zero point and that zero point is the NAP. By consistently reducing one is consistently opposing–that is the point in reducing In all but the most arcane discussions the two concepts overlap. But the zero point is the point of absolute consistency and thus the plumb line by which one can judge if there is a consistent reduction which is why I resist the defining of merely consistenting reducing– it is subsumed in consistenting opposing. In nearly every case the two are co-extensive, but they are not co-extensive, in say, that last 10%, and to the extent that someone advocates any aggression that position is not libertarian (that 10% taken in isolation, while the rest of the 90% is– and thus overall a libertarian position)… and violates the NAP. I have always said the most consistent application of the NAP is anarchism. But one can generally follow it in a reductionist manner and not be an anarchist… that is simply being a libertarian.

    The people (person) who write the pledge didn’t oppose the monopoly in force and thus it is impossible for it to mean that in the pledge. Plain language can’t require its formulants to be so stupid that they walked into walls face first. It doesn’t matter if I find that exception incoherent, they didn’t mean it that way. My standard isn’t the LP- I let the LP be the LP–and the LP doesn’t consider the monopoly on force to violate the NAP. Thus I do not view the pledge as an anarchist pledge nor the SoP within the context of the LP. It does plainly IMHO mean all else but that, but it does not require favour eliminating it all at once or not having a pragmatic plan. Within LP definitions and usage the NAP isn’t anarchism, it does rule out certain forms of minarchism and classic liberalism as following it “purely” though. Thus in the context of the LP, the NAP is to eliminate force at least to the extent that there is just a state that enforces rights. That is not anarchism. And that is the context of the LP NAP pledge. (I would add the historical context of the words used and Ayn Rand’s claim of adherence to it while still supporting the monopoly on force)

    Outside the LP’s inherent exception for the monopoly on force, if one is consistently moving in that direction, one is libertarian. The most consistent libertarians are anarchists. If the NAP is the only or the highest ethical standard one has, that is the conclusion. One may have other ethical standards one brings in that might make a non-pure llibertarianism the desired outcome. Such as a belief that violating some individual rights would bring greater total human flourishing and that individual rights are subservient to that. That is a collectivist view that is not libertarian in isolation, but that does not merely because it is not “pure”libertarianism does not make it wrong simply do to that. One can be, as it was stated, a moderate libertarian that more so than not opposes the initiation of force.

    I do not view absolutely consistency or purity a goal merely because it is consistent or pure.

    I am at the end of my time to pursue this further here… but like I said (and was right on the other thread), I am sure we will pick it up again as we did here.

  59. Caryn Ann Harlos

    One point I forgot to add… to understand at least the LP’s position on the NAP, while not the Pope, and while I might disagree in some areas, Nolan was particularly strident on these points.

    http://laissez-fairerepublic.com/nolan.htm

    He unhesitatingly called some people “not libertarian” (stronger than I would or do) and he definitely was not an anarchist. At all.

    The NAP is AFAIC interchangeable with the principle of self-ownership. And his thoughts on this were:

    == First and foremost, libertarians believe in the the principle of self-ownership. You own your own body and mind; no extermal power has the right to force you into the service of “society” or “mankind” or any other individual or group for any purpose, however noble. Slavery is wrong, period.==

    That is the NAP. He (inconsistently IMHO) allowed for the state monopoly on force, but this the NAP I am insisting on as the definitional libertarian position. If someone is moving toward that goal in a substantial manner, they are libertarian. And I think this is the only fair sense to under the NAP in an LP-context.

  60. Chuck Moulton

    Caryn Ann Harlos

    Opposing 90% is consistently opposing and thus libertarian.

    Great! Now we’re gettings somewhere. However, your definition is now completely divorced from the plain meaning of words, so I need some clarification.

    How about 80% reductions? 60%? 40%? 10%? 1 cent? Where is the line between libertarian and not libertarian?

    Let’s suppose that you interpret the NAP definition of “libertarian” to be effectively equivalent to my definition as in the direction of less government / more freedom (except that you exalt anarchists and demean others, but we can set that aside for now). Given that your interpretation is one of many and that most anarchists interpret “consistently” following the NAP far more strictly, can you agree that a definition subject to considerable misinterpretation / subjective interpretation is a pretty lousy definition of a word compared with a definition that is clear and everyone interprets the same way (plain language without linguistic gymnastics and divergent opinions)?

  61. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Chuck I am not saying anything differently that I have and don’t think I can explain it any better than I have.

    ==How about 80% reductions? 60%? 40%? 10%? 1 cent? Where is the line between libertarian and not libertarian?==

    That is subjective and always will be. I think it would depend upon what programs we are talking about. *Any* reduction is moving in a libertarian direction. How much direction is needed for a person to be considered a libertarian writ large? That is pretty subjective and always will be. Thus some people consider Rand Paul to be a libertarian and some don’t. Even Obama (definitely NOT a libertarian) has done some things that are libertarian moves. He doesn’t do them consistently.

    The Nolan quiz for instance has made its own subjective determinations on the “libertarian quadrant.” It is good as far as it goes.

    I can’t help it if other anarchists insist that only an absolutist NAP position is libertarian. Just because people are wrong don’t make a definition bad. And those anarchists tend to not be members of the LP and would never be.

    And there is the equivocation of the LP context and the general context. The LP context absolutely does not require a repudiation of the monopoly on force. It also does not require a commitment to an immediate end in an instant of all other state aggression. It is not an agreement to “push the button” if one could. It leaves open the question how will achieve this non-advocation of the initiation of force.

    I don’t really have the motivation at this point (another day another thread) to deal further with your mischaracterization of my position with loaded rhetoric.

    (I note that even on “your side” there are divergent definition… such as Phillies for instance. That doesn’t make either of your definitions bad merely because of disagreement).

    Ironically, I am supposed to be the one “obsessed” with the NAP and I don’t get quite as lathered up as you do.

    Another day, another discussion. Done with this one.. positive it will come again soon.

    Your ipse dixit is duly noted on “plain meaning” — I am not a wooden pedantic literalist. Consistently opposing the initiation of force is pretty plain to me and means what I have been saying… particularly when it was always noted that this includes minarchists, classical liberals, and anarchists.

  62. paulie

    me: OK, now THIS is interesting information. What is your relation to Khan?

    One of his many descendants. He has more than any other known person in history.

  63. paulie

    On any given issue (e.g., taxes) you are saying that the NAP position is anarchy.

    You could argue with equal plausibility that failing to provide a monopoly system of final arbiter of justice, defense, law and order and the money to pay for them leads to force and rights-violation on a massive scale, making providing these things “defensive” force.

    Granted, I personally disagree, but it’s not an illogical argument. I would accept anyone making it as a fellow libertarian. I may think I am more libertarian than they are and they may think they are more libertarian than I am, but if they want to work with me to build the party and/or the movement, I will work with them.

    At least they take the principle as a guideline and try to fit their ideal government to it, which means they have a pretty solid guideline against accepting big government “solutions” to various problems. Absent any such guideline, it becomes quite likely that they will go far afield. Many people do even while supposedly adhering to it, and as for the ones who reject it a priori, you are quite likely to see them advocate for actually making government bigger than it already is on whole areas of public policy.

  64. paulie

    respect his decision to avoid using the NAP — though I still have big issues with how he treats other people.

    He rejects it in theory as well as practice. What’s not to like?

  65. Youthful Enthusiasm, Inspiring Rhetoric

    Herd for U.S. Senate 2016 (CA)
    October 3, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    Can’t say I know much about Austin Peterson but I do hope he participates in some of the upcoming Libertarian Presidential debates that will be broadcasted over the www on Oct. 13th and Oct 17th at
    http://www.facebook.com/groups/libertarianswin The Oct 13th debate is an online debate, the Oct 17th debate is a live broadcast from the Libertarian Party of Massachusetts Annual Convention. They are including a Presidential debate in their program.

    This is one time when everyone’s tendency to follow the Herd might not be a bad thing!

  66. paulie

    A 90% cut on every program still leaves 10% left on every program. That 10% uses the monopoly force of government.

    So now you are saying that initiating force to achieve political or social goals does not violate the pledge to “oppose the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals”? How can that be? Are you now claiming that the non-aggression principle (NAP) is really the minimize aggression principle (MAP) or the almost no aggression principle (ANAP)?

    In relative terms, yes. A 90% cut gets us 90% of the way there. If and when we ever get that far the argument over the last 10% becomes a lot more real.

    If the NAP defined state is held up as the goal, any movement in that direction is a net plus. It the NAP defined state is not defined as the goal we don’t have much of a guideline. If utilitarianism is the guideline, there is little doubt but that bringing back gruesome executions in public, gladiators fighting to the death in front of crowds, and unlucky humans mauled to the death by large carnivorous animals at your local stadium would bring joy to many more people than would be hurt in the process. This would be especially true in the era of international broadcasts and youtube.

    How do you reconcile such a position with the enormous body of literature saying that the NAP does not mean “minimize”, rather it means “no” or “zero” aggression?

    zero initiation of force would just be the goal. You would still have to get from here to there. If you are careening down a hillside at breakneck speed you should slow the hell down, and possibly stop or turn around, but slamming on your breaks as hard and fast as possible may also not be the best possible idea.

  67. Robert Capozzi

    If someone advocates what I call Nonarchy Pods, does that make him or her a purely consistent L? (The Pod would be a legal mechanism where anyone could secede onto his or her property and be 100% free of government aggression.)

    I would think CAH and Langa would have to say yes.

    If so, then that same person might take, say, RP2’s positions on everything else. S/he’d still be purely consistent Ls, since anyone COULD opt out of RP2’s agenda, yes? A non-aggression state of being would be available to any and all.

    Any lessarchist, by adopting the Nonarchy Pod standard, should easily be embraced by even the most “hard core” anarchist as a “true blue” L, yes? In fact, morearchists should be embraced as well, so long as they advocated for the Pod as well.

  68. George Phillies

    Live Broadcast from Massachusetts:

    I am trying to find out how he proposes to do this, to see if the support technologies are there to pull it off.

    Our normal site did not have internet.

  69. Spoonerite

    …As for hairsplitting over the Non-Aggression Principle and stupid definitional battles over the theoretical concepts of anarchy and minarchy (never before been seen in this reality): this is precisely the kind of mental trap that acts as flypaper for a lot of liberal Aryans, librarians, and other sorts of silly liberal terrans. Count me out. It’s a time-waster that leads nowhere, and the most idiotic voices are the loudest on this issue.

    A piece of parting advice to those who comment on this site: If you can’t see it, and there’s no way to measure it, don’t talk about it. That would save you all a lot of time that perhaps you could do something useful with.

  70. paulie

    (never before been seen in this reality)

    Au contraire. And even if it were true, there’s a first time for everything.

  71. paulie

    It’s unfortunate that this site is being destroyed by vast amounts of pointless philosophical ranting.

    Nothing new, but there has been a rash of it lately thanks to the tangential spin on Clayton’s article and Austin’s bold yet quixotic charge against the cult of the omnipotent NAP. However, thanks for the reminder to get back to more timely and practical concerns. For example:

    http://www.fairdebates.com/funding.html

    As for the NAP/ZAP this group is doing good work:

    https://www.zeroaggressionproject.org/

  72. Robert Capozzi

    pf: Austin’s bold yet quixotic charge against the cult of the omnipotent NAP

    me: LOL!!!

    Although, technically, the NAP is “impotent,” by design.

  73. paulie

    Not so. “Don’t start none, won’t be none” is very powerful.

    Besides, we are talking about perception here, not necessarily reality.

  74. Robert Capozzi

    Yes, the NAP could be a powerful concept in the sense that it opposes all state power.

    Perhaps you can answer my question: Does my advocacy of Nonarchy Pods make me a pure, consistent NAPster, like, say, Block? If anyone can opt out the state, does that qualify me in that esteemed club?

  75. Robert Capozzi

    I get that you down with the Pod. Just to clarify, does my advocacy of Nonarchy Pods make me a pure, consistent NAPster? Would a morearchist who advocates NPs also be a pure consistent NAPster?

  76. Chuck Moulton

    George Phillies wrote:

    It’s unfortunate that this site Party is being destroyed by vast amounts of pointless philosophical ranting.

    Fixed it for ya.

    I’m against all the philosophical ranting. The source of all the philosophical bickering that treats moderates like shit and drives both anarchists and moderates from the Party out of annoyance at the arguing is — * drumroll please * — the membership pledge that purports to define “libertarian”. If I have to engage in a little philosophy (which I loathe) to remove that malignant tumor that is killing libertarianism, then I’m willing to take one for the team.

    Maybe someday we will live in a world without an intellectually dishonest blood oath imprisoning libertarians in a cult. That day is not upon us yet, unfortunately.

    I led the charge to remove the pledge in 2006 and I’ll do it again a future convention.

  77. paulie

    Nah, there’ll always be something to gripe about be it the pledge and whatever it does or does not mean, the SoP, something in the platform or not in the platform, Roberts Rules … meanwhile people (including candidates, HQ, state and local parties) do and say what they want regardless of pledges or anything else.

  78. George Phillies

    As it happens, there is a convention next year.

    My state party jettisoned the oath. It took a 7/8 vote, but we did it. the method of argumentation was to report with quotations multiple interpretations of the oath. There was agreement that we should not ask people to sign something whose meeting is subject to dispute.

    I agree there is also a party problem, but I was talking about this site.

  79. Caryn Ann Harlos

    There goes Chuck with the dramatics again.

    FWIW, I rarely think of the Pledge when I am speaking of the definition of libertarianism. I do not by any means consider the LP to be the definer of it. At is best, it is will be an example of solid consistent libertarianism… but I have been around enough in my short time to know that if I expect that out of it…. well I will be miserable. If I left the LP tomorrow there would still be libertarianism and I would still be a libertarian.

    As far as the Pledge, it is a lightweight compared to the SoP and summarily describes the SoP. And requiring that the members of Party of Principle agree in some general sense with the articulated Principles is simply good sense.

    Have fun leading the charge Chuck, I will have fun opposing it. The SoP remains and will likely always remain. The Pledge, IMHO, is merely an extension of that. And to those who believe all they are doing is promising to not violently revolt… I leave that to their consciences.

    I will always oppose the removing of the Pledge, but I will not commit ritual political suicide if it misguidedly gets removed. It isn’t my peculiar obsession. If I had a peculiar obsession it is the SoP.

    I missed the blood oath part… damn. I love a good blood oath. Particularly if a goat is involved.

  80. Chuck Moulton

    Paulie wrote:

    Nah, there’ll always be something to gripe about be it the pledge and whatever it does or does not mean, the SoP, something in the platform or not in the platform, Roberts Rules

    I’ve found most intra-Party arguing between anarchists and moderates centers on the pledge. I’ve found that consistently over more than a decade across involvement in 4 states and following Third Party Watch, IPR, Facebook, etc. Platform squabbles usually refer back to the insane, cultish pledge. Bylaws arguments aren’t nearly as divisive and destructive as pledge arguments in constantly driving people out of the Party — even in Oregon.

    If someday our biggest problem is bylaws squabbles, that would be wonderful progress indeed!

  81. Chuck Moulton

    Well, the statement of principles isn’t a problem either. The only people I’ve seen concerned about that are Robert Capozzi and Carl Milstead… neither are involved in the LP anymore. There is no way 7/8 will ever vote to change the SoP.

    In contrast, the pledge is an actual problem and removing it already gets majority support. Just need to get to 2/3.

  82. Caryn Ann Harlos

    The Pledge reflects the SoP AFAIC.

    In either event, I oppose touching either. So you know at least one member of the 1/3+.

    And I agree the 7/8 will never happen. I bless the foresight of those that inserted that depth-charge into our Party.

  83. Chuck Moulton

    Caryn Ann Harlos wrote:

    As far as the Pledge, it is a lightweight compared to the SoP and summarily describes the SoP. And requiring that the members of Party of Principle agree in some general sense with the articulated Principles is simply good sense.

    Caryn Ann Harlos wrote:

    The Pledge reflects the SoP AFAIC.

    So you would support changing the pledge to language from the statement of principles?

  84. Caryn Ann Harlos

    As far “ruining this site” – I am one of the ones pretty interested in philosophical discussions yet the VAST majority of what I post/comment has nothing to do with it. If anything, my fixation appears to be Oregon and the minutae of the LNC.

  85. Caryn Ann Harlos

    I do not support tinkering with the Pledge at all. I would not get pyrotechnically opposed to something that reflected the wording of the SoP. My dedication is to the SoP, and the Pledge is secondary to that as I believe it reflects the SoP.

    But I do not support changing it at all.

    This is your particular obsession, not really mine. I have spent about as much time on it as I wish.

  86. Robert Capozzi

    cm: Well, the statement of principles isn’t a problem either.

    me: I seem to recall something like a 3/4s vote in Portland to excise the abundantly false CotOS clause. Someone on mike (not me) said it is “kooky,” which seems about right to me.

    Telling the world the LP is filled with kooks challenging something that doesn’t exist may not be a “problem” for some. Strikes me, though, as contra-indicated.

  87. Matt Cholko

    I have no problem with the SoP or the pledge.

    I wouldn’t seriously oppose attempts to tweak the pledge language a bit. But, I like it very much. I’ve been trying to find the language to express how I feel about it. I’m coming up short. But, basically, I felt really good about signing it when I joined the LP, and I find the NAP to be a great guiding principle. I would very much oppose an outright elimination of it.

  88. Matt Cholko

    I will grant that the language of SoP is a little odd. I found it odd when I first discovered it. But, that just caused me to think a bit more about it, and come to the realization that I agree with the underlying sentiment.

    Connecting the dots that led me to libertarianism, and joining the LP was possibly the most significant thing that has ever happened in my life. I’ve found it to be very liberating, and as such have little interest in changing the things that helped me find that liberation.

  89. Dave Terry

    George Phillies, Oct. 2, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    “Griggs also quotes Rothbard, who advocated a real anarchy position, namely that policemen should be allowed to summarily execute criminal suspects, an anarchy position in place in parts of the USA right now.”

    You need to more clearly define “policemen”. The term clearly implies “agents of the state”,
    (i.e. an example of authoritarianism, not anarchy)

    It’s possible that you mean “vigilantes” (i.e. self-appointed enforcement) is actually IS an actual product of anarchism.

    I sincerely hope that NO ONE considers EITHER of these abominations as representing,
    “Libertarianism”!!

  90. Dave Terry

    Jim, Oct 2;

    “I have long understood that there are “minarchist libertarians” and “anarchist libertarians”

    Wrong! This is no such entity as an anarchist (properly defined) who is a Libertarian.

    “: I wasn’t a minarchist because I wanted a residual government, but simply because I could not think of an intellectually consistent way to get rid of the last vestiges of government,”

    Correct! There is simply NO reasonably consistent way to abolish government without terminally destroying “civilized society”.

    What I DON’T understand is WHY you EVER considered yourself “an anarchist”, having experienced the difficulty (i.e. impossibility) of getting “rid of the last vestiges of government.”

    .

  91. Caryn Ann Harlos

    LOL where oh where is Chuck to defend my tender anarchist feels? (that is a joke before anyone gets rustled jimmies)

    Dave, nice opinion. The existence of many anarchist Libertarians are notable exceptions. I don’t think you can excommunicate us yet.

    Is anarchy potentially impossible? Perhaps. I am willing to work towards it as much as possible. Though as I often said, if we got a real minarchy, that would be very awesome, and a stable real minarchy I think could lead to anarchy. But as yet to be seen. As long as we are going in that direction, I am good.

  92. jim

    ““I have long understood that there are “minarchist libertarians” and “anarchist libertarians””

    “Wrong! This is no such entity as an anarchist (properly defined) who is a Libertarian.”

    I guess you’ve never heard of the “No true Scotsman” fallacy. Fortunately, there is Wikipedia:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman

    “: I wasn’t a minarchist because I wanted a residual government, but simply because I could not think of an intellectually consistent way to get rid of the last vestiges of government,”

    “Correct! There is simply NO reasonably consistent way to abolish government without terminally destroying “civilized society”.”

    I would have agreed with you…before 1995. In 1995, I realized why I, (and you), was wrong.

    “What I DON’T understand is WHY you EVER considered yourself “an anarchist”, having experienced the difficulty (i.e. impossibility) of getting “rid of the last vestiges of government.””

    You’re obviously clueless. I didn’t say I considered myself an anarchist BEFORE 1995. Quite the opposite: Before 1995 I considered myself a minarchist, BECA– USE I couldn’t think of an intellectually-consistent way to get rid of the last vestiges of government. AFTER 1995 I solved that problem, and realized that anarchy could be made stable.

    You don’t read carefully.

  93. Chuck Moulton

    Dave Terry wrote:

    Wrong! This is no such entity as an anarchist (properly defined) who is a Libertarian.

    I don’t understand what you’re saying here. Libertarians want less government and more freedom. No government is a subset of less government. Under what possible definition of “libertarian” would an anarchist not be a libertarian?

    Dave Terry wrote:

    There is simply NO reasonably consistent way to abolish government without terminally destroying “civilized society”.

    That’s nonsense. Why are you conflating government with civilized society? People get together and do things for mutual benefit all the time without government. Everything government sticks its nose into would be substantially improved by removing government.

    Can you provide any examples at all of something you think is better with government than with no government?

    Caryn Ann Harlos wrote:

    LOL where oh where is Chuck to defend my tender anarchist feels?

    Right here.

  94. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Chuck,

    ==Right here.==

    🙂

    But seriously, I don’t get perturbed by any of that. I actually got very inclined to the anarchist position myself after finding myself (as a minarchist) having to defend anarchist friends from charges like the above. I thought they were woefully misguided people (the anarchists) but in defending their right to be “libertarian” I got opened up to some of the ideas and realized they weren’t so misguided after all.

  95. jim

    A little background is in order. In 1973 David D. Friedman (son of economist Milton Friedman) wrote a book called “The Machinery of Freedom”. (The book was revised in 1989). One paragraph was named “National Defense: The Hard Problem”. He stated that it was, indeed, a “hard problem” for an anarchist society to provide for ‘national defense’. (Of course, that’s somewhat of a misnomer: call it ‘regional defense’, or something similar.) Google-search ‘David Friedman hard problem’ for much more.
    Unaware of the existence of Friedman’s ‘hard problem’, I solved it in 1995, when I thought of the idea behind my 1995 essay, “Assassination Politics”.
    David Friedman’s “hard problem” was that anarchy was inherently unstable, or at least it was thought to be prior to 1995. So, when Dave Terry said,

    ““Correct! There is simply NO reasonably consistent way to abolish government without terminally destroying “civilized society”.””

    He was only 20 years out of date.

    You’re welcome.

  96. Caryn Ann Harlos

    For me, the potential pragmatic impossibility is irrelevant, and we are not in a position to know yet. I hold to anarchy on ethical grounds, but if it turns out that it is impossible well I will get as close as possible. Thus, I am pretty happy with the idea of minarchy and perfectly happy working with a predominantly minarchist party and being a minority.

  97. jim

    Caryn Ann Harlos: You said, “For me, the potential pragmatic impossibility is irrelevant, and we are not in a position to know yet.”

    Read what I write, and you’ll find out that stable anarchy is indeed possible; I would say it’s ultimately inevitable.

  98. jim

    Caryn Ann Harlos: You said, “I am a pacificist. I would never agree with those ideas.”

    There were probably hundreds of millions of Christians who vowed they would never agree with the heliocentric model of our Solar System. That didn’t mean that the paths of the planets deviated even as much as an inch from their orbits.

  99. Caryn Ann Harlos

    That doesn’t change the fact I disavow killing. So I am not a potential supporter.

  100. Robert Capozzi

    cah: I hold to anarchy on ethical grounds, but if it turns out that it is impossible well I will get as close as possible. Thus, I am pretty happy with the idea of minarchy and perfectly happy working with a predominantly minarchist party and being a minority.

    me: I’m still confused, esp. in light of this statement, that you oppose MINIMIZE IOF-type language vs NIOF-language. MIOF includes anarchists, minarchists, and lessarchists. NIOF excludes minarchists and most lessarchists.

    I’m curious whether my advocacy of Nonarchy Pods, the ability of individuals to secede onto his or her property, makes me a consistent and pure L in your view, since I would hold that any individual could opt out of a coercive government.

  101. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Robert, I don’t want sh to get into it. I am here for the LP mostly – not to take all comers. I am more precisely a Voluntaryist. That answers the question with as much specficity as I choose.

    If it requires non consenting people to move, no. But better than now.

    My focus is on LP activism and issues.

  102. Robert Capozzi

    cah, no, Nonarchy Pods don’t require a person to move. The Pod allows a person to secede onto his or her own property without any need to move.

    Near as I can tell, it’s the position that fries the deontological circuits of many a NAPster. I’ve asked this of other NAP anarchists, and for the most part, they deflect. Now is your opportunity to address the question head on, to man up, woman! 😉

    Have fun with it. Don’t run away!

  103. Caryn Ann Harlos

    No thank you. I don’t play those games. The minute someone presumes to have some claim on my time with “don’t run away,” I am completely turned off.

    On the face of it, I don’t have an issue. I don’t have an interest at this point learning anything further, I am busy with other things. Paulie doesn’t have an issue with it, and that counts a lot in my book. I trust his POV.

    If everything is voluntary, I don’t have issues.

    FWIW, in a voluntary system, I would choose quite a bit of government.

  104. langa

    I don’t think a libertarian candidate needs to talk about the Non-Aggression Principle all the time on every issue. However, a libertarian candidate should have a solid understanding of the NAP and explain from time to time how it relates to the issues of the day, for those who are ready to hear and grasp the underlying libertarian message.

    The NAP is not some abstract philosophical issue, like the question of whether or not we can prove that we exist! It is directly related to the vast majority of real-world political issues.

    Exactly!

  105. langa

    If you are a family counselor, telling your client that beating his wife violates the NAP is unlikely to be effective at persuading him. Explaining that it will make his life worse by pointing out he will get in trouble with the authorities or she will stop loving him will be more effective in 99.9% of cases than parading out the non-aggression principle. You then concocted an extremely unlikely scenario that falls in the 0.1%: he has only 6 months to live and he knows it. In that situation you’re right that a natural rights approach is likely to be more effective, but even then you don’t suggest lecturing him on the non-aggression principle. Instead you advocate appealing to analogous applications of the NAP that they learned growing up and may ring a moral bell in their head: don’t steal, don’t take people’s stuff, thou shalt not kill, live and let live, etc.

    This is exactly my point (and as near as I can tell, that of Caryn, Paulie, Starchild, etc.). No one is saying that LP candidates should launch into long philosophical lectures. Rather, we’re saying that they should be willing and able to explain the basic moral foundations that underlie libertarian principles, rather than just relying on pure consequentialism and bumper sticker slogans, as you (and Petersen) seem to favor.

  106. langa

    For some reason you seem to think if it is difficult to come up with a utilitarian consequentialist argument in an extreme 0.1% of cases, then NAP should be used 100% of the time (even though a utilitarian consequentialist argument would be more persuasive and effective 99.9% of the time). That doesn’t follow at all.

    In addition, there are also times it is hard to apply the NAP and get a clear solution. That doesn’t mean the NAP isn’t a good guideline (for anarchism) the times it does lead to a clear solution.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve been studying law and economics for many years and I’ve found overwhelming evidence that the libertarian solution is best and makes the world a better place than alternatives every time I’ve studied any issue in detail. Libertarian ideas can be persuasively presented to the public without the NAP — and they are every day by many candidates, think tanks, economists, single issue advocates, etc.

    I don’t see why you think that a candidate must reject the moral case in order to present the consequentialist case. I think the two things complement one another, and the best libertarian messengers, like Ron Paul and Harry Browne, tend to use both, often at the same time.

    But there is a problem with relying purely on the consequentialist arguments. When you take consequentialist logic in isolation, without moral principles to restrain it, you end up taking the position that the ends justify the means, and that idea is totally incompatible with libertarianism.

    For example, if one accepts the idea that the ends justify the means, then why shouldn’t the government mandate that every room of every house be equipped with security cameras? Surely, the mere presence of such cameras would reduce incidents of domestic violence, sexual assault, and so on. Such an idea certainly seems to me to be about as far from libertarian as one can get, but how can it be rejected on a purely consequentialist basis?

  107. langa

    You seem to think your escape clause that not every position needs to be anarchist somehow makes your definition of “libertarian” more ecumenical. It doesn’t. A person who wants to moderately roll back the state on every single issue is not a “libertarian” under your definition because he doesn’t want to completely roll back the state on any issue. That is, a person who wants to cut taxes by 90% but not 100%, wants to legalize marijuana but not all drugs, wants to issue marriage licenses to even gay couples but not eliminate marriage licenses, wants to bring all the troops home but still have a military, etc. etc. etc. is not a “libertarian” under your definition. That’s ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.

    That you can’t see how libertarians who are not anarchists (and yes, there are moderate libertarians, despite your definition defining them out of existence) would be offended and marginalized by your definition boggles my mind. It just absolutely boggles my mind. I know I am repeating myself over and over and over again, but I am mystified that I am repeating myself over and over and over again and seemingly intelligent people aren’t getting it.

    The problem stems from your dogged insistence on defining “libertarian” as a dichotomy, where you are either 100% libertarian or 0% libertarian. As I have tried to explain to you many times, it is actually a continuum. So, yes, someone who wants to cut taxes by 80% and legalize marijuana (but no other drugs) is, to some (considerable) extent a libertarian. They simply aren’t as libertarian as someone who wants to cut taxes by 90% and legalize both marijuana and cocaine. It’s really very simple, and it boggles my mind that you can’t understand how silly your position sounds. To say that some milquetoast who wants to cut government spending by 5% is every bit as libertarian as someone who wants to cut it by 50% is just absurd on its face, and makes the word “libertarian” essentially meaningless. And again, it doesn’t matter whether the definition of “libertarian” offends people or not. It matters whether it’s true or not. This goes back to my point about how you just want to tell people what they want to hear, which is really no different than what the D’s and R’s do.

  108. Robert Capozzi

    L: And again, it doesn’t matter whether the definition of “libertarian” offends people or not. It matters whether it’s true or not.

    me: Absolutely!

    Unfortunately, the def of L-ism is not codified, nor is there anyone with the authority to do so.

  109. Robert Capozzi

    cah: I don’t play those games. The minute someone presumes to have some claim on my time with “don’t run away,” I am completely turned off.

    me: No presumption on your time here, CAH. I was emphatically urging you to engage is radical inquiry.

    In my experience, when discussing the meaning and validity of the NAP, many anarcho-NAPsters tend to disengage once the dust has been brushed away and NAPster-ism is more closely examined.

    When viewed as a sentiment vs a principle, even a rule as some NAPsters employ it, the NAP takes on an entirely different role in one’s thinking.

  110. Caryn Ann Harlos

    No Robert, you seem to think that no one who does not want to do your peculiar navel-gazing has done any “radical inquiry” which I find both pretty personally arrogant that I have no interest in. You and I don’t share the same opinion of the value of your “penetrative insights.”

    Considering that I am not the first person to say something similar you can either decide that all us deluded NAPsters are just not ready for your jelly or that you really come off a bit as self-absorbed blowhard in these little jaunts.

    Anyone for now, I am back to skipping most of your comments.

    I tried hoping things had changed.

  111. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Langa – you have spoken for me, and I wanted to affirm it is correct.

    ==They simply aren’t as libertarian as someone who wants to cut taxes by 90% and legalize both marijuana and cocaine. ==

    And they aren’t as libertarian who want to eliminate taxes and legalize everything.

    And if one has other political value/philosophies they bring to their libertarianism- this brute consistency may not be a good thing. Consistency is not some inherently good value – it is a neutral measurement. *some amount of coercion* may simply be necessary for tolerable existence.

    But that then is adding something to a libertarian view. That other view would still be a libertarian view- simply with other political imperatives/values added.

    Libertarian does not equal = good person. It is a political label measuring political realities. It is not a test that one must ace. There are other values in life.

    For me I have not found in my system other values to override my presumption for libertarianism
    – but that is because I come from strict deontology. If I came from utilitarianism I might be in the exact same spot or perhaps I would see greater utility with some coercion. As long as the consistent solution and direction was libertarian- this is libertarianism until the few points of coercive exception- which is that view are the right and moral thing to do, and brute consistency would be wrong.

  112. Caryn Ann Harlos

    (I suspect little would change btw if I were utilitarian – over societies I believe the best results from libertarianism – as I said before and as the Radical Caucus believes – rights are utilitarian – we don’t see a conflict over time and over societies for the two)

  113. paulie

    I don’t see why you think that a candidate must reject the moral case in order to present the consequentialist case. I think the two things complement one another, and the best libertarian messengers, like Ron Paul and Harry Browne, tend to use both, often at the same time.

    But there is a problem with relying purely on the consequentialist arguments. When you take consequentialist logic in isolation, without moral principles to restrain it, you end up taking the position that the ends justify the means, and that idea is totally incompatible with libertarianism.

    Exactly.

  114. paulie

    The answer to Capozzi’s query from earlier, which I had given before but forgot, is that I don’t care how much archy archists want in their tiny archy pods, as long as 100% of them agree that they want to be in a given archy pod, and as long as they keep their archy in the archy pod and don’t bother the peaceful nonarchist majority in the larger world. The flip side of that coin is that Capozzi, if I understand it correctly, agrees with the right of nonarchists to band together to create what he thinks will be nonarchy pods as long as all the people involved agree to the rules or lack thereof. The only difference between his position and mine is over a matter of prediction of which choice most people will make once they have that freedom and plenty of examples to choose from, not a matter of policy. Thus, the archy pod/nonarchy pod “dilemma” has long since been solved.

  115. paulie

    Philosophy: A social disease, somewhat like AIDS, except that it has killed far more people.

    I take it that the earlier attack by implication against Aristotle, with the statement that logic and consistency are cult chants, acknowledges that logic is a branch of philosophy in this regard.

  116. Robert Capozzi

    cah: No Robert, you seem to think that no one who does not want to do your peculiar navel-gazing has done any “radical inquiry” which I find both pretty personally arrogant that I have no interest in. You and I don’t share the same opinion of the value of your “penetrative insights.”

    me: If it comes across as “arrogant” to you, then I have truly failed as a communicator, as I’d like to think I’m as open-minded as they come. My apologies for failing you.

    One certainly need not employ my particular radical approach. Many others surely can work. Simply adopting deontological Randian/Rothbardian-ish approach could also work for a person, though it didn’t for me. Except, of course, AR’s “check your premises,” suggestion, which I would recommend for anyone.

    cah: Considering that I am not the first person to say something similar you can either decide that all us deluded NAPsters are just not ready for your jelly or that you really come off a bit as self-absorbed blowhard in these little jaunts.

    me: Ya know, before you were an active commenter, I for months asked the assembled NAPsters who makes up the “cult of the omnipotent state,” since I was unaware of any. Finally, TK said that Ba’athism qualifies, and I’m grateful to him. I’d never really looked into the Ba’athism, and my research indicated that the CotOS could plausibly be used to describe them.

    Whether a US political movement needs to challenge Ba’athism is of questionable utility, but I was happy to learn that I was incorrect. There WAS such a cult, and remnants may still exist.

    Starchild suggested the clause should be read as poetry, not literally. That’s also been helpful to me, although honestly — while I love poetry — CotOS doesn’t speak to me.

    cah: I tried hoping things had changed.

    me: They always do, and at the same time they never do. It’s a paradox.

  117. paulie

    And if one has other political value/philosophies they bring to their libertarianism- this brute consistency may not be a good thing. Consistency is not some inherently good value – it is a neutral measurement. *some amount of coercion* may simply be necessary for tolerable existence.

    But that then is adding something to a libertarian view. That other view would still be a libertarian view- simply with other political imperatives/values added.

    Libertarian does not equal = good person. It is a political label measuring political realities. It is not a test that one must ace. There are other values in life.

    Exactly!

  118. Robert Capozzi

    pf: as long as 100% of them agree that they want to be in a given archy pod, and as long as they keep their archy in the archy pod and don’t bother the peaceful nonarchist majority in the larger world.

    me: Great point. When the archy allows personal secession onto one’s own property (the NP), this would be an option everyone would have (if he or she owns property). Those who stay in the archy may not agree 100%, since some of them may not own property. They would be free to buy property and then declare themselves to have seceded from the archy.

    I would think that when the NP personal secession option is first enacted, the vast majority would not take that option up. Over time, it is possible that a nonarchist majority would emerge.

    pf: The flip side of that coin is that Capozzi, if I understand it correctly, agrees with the right of nonarchists to band together to create what he thinks will be nonarchy pods as long as all the people involved agree to the rules or lack thereof.

    me: Yes, NPs could band together to create Andyland or its rough equivalent. Or they could remain independent non-nations of one or a few people on a specific plot of land.

    pf: The only difference between his position and mine is over a matter of prediction of which choice most people will make once they have that freedom and plenty of examples to choose from, not a matter of policy. Thus, the archy pod/nonarchy pod “dilemma” has long since been solved.

    me: Perhaps. I do think that at first few would personally secede. I suspect it would build over time, so we probably agree there. Whether NPs would become a majority, I can’t begin to guess.

    But what I REALLY want to know is whether my advocacy of NPs (the right to personal secession) makes me a pure, consistent L. I advocate NPs for all adults, with the possible exception of the incarcerated (of violent crimes). Certainly everyone else would have the option to step out of the monopoly state.

    That could be fine-tuned, I’m sure. Any suggestions?

  119. paulie

    But what I REALLY want to know is whether my advocacy of NPs (the right to personal secession) makes me a pure, consistent L. I advocate NPs for all adults, with the possible exception of the incarcerated (of violent crimes). Certainly everyone else would have the option to step out of the monopoly state.

    Yes, it does.

    Like I said, I have no problem with archists banding together to create their own Jonestown. You have no problem with nonarchists banding together to create Andyland. Presumably, neither of us has any problem that any people get together to create in between such extremes, so long as participation is 100% voluntary for those passing some minimal decisionmaking threshold of maturity and mental competency.

    I agree that differences over personal preferences and predictions aren’t particularly relevant here.

    So, yes, you are.

    Now back to work.

  120. Robert Capozzi

    Thanks for the confirmation, PF.

    Petersen (I won’t call him AP for pretty obvious reasons) should consider endorsing NPs as both a matter of good policy and as a way to mollify NAPsters, then.

    Although I’m mildly hopeful that GJ makes the run. I’d probably vote for him. I might vote for Petersen, too, but it would be hard for me to make the effort.

  121. paulie

    I seriously doubt either Petersen or Johnson will comment either way about (non)archy pods as candidates, nor do I think they should. Candidates should concentrate primarily on short term incremental policy proposals and explaining libertarian philosophy in broad terms that sound appealing. They should also work to identify, activate and energize existing libertarians, help boost state and local LPs and LP candidates, and make large numbers of people aware that such an ideology, movement and party exists through mass media. They should certainly not go out of their way to comment on obscure minarchist/anarchist infighting.

  122. Thomas L. Knapp

    Quoth Caryn:

    “[David Nolan] unhesitatingly called some people ‘not libertarian’ (stronger than I would or do) and he definitely was not an anarchist. At all.”

    Hmm. You tell me that David Nolan was definitely not an anarchist. At all.

    David Nolan told me he was definitely an anarchist. Very much so.

    So now I have to decide whether to believe you, or to believe David Nolan, on the question of what David Nolan believed. This could get dicey.

  123. Wang Tang-Fu

    “Petersen (I won’t call him AP for pretty obvious reasons)”

    Aggression Principle? Archy Pods?

  124. Robert Capozzi

    WTF, this thread speaks of this fringy notion of “Assassination Politics” or AP.

  125. Robert Capozzi

    PF, it’s probably not vital for GJ to endorse NPs. As Petersen has recently spoken out against the value of the NAP, he might let it be known internally that he thinks NPs are a good idea.

    Surely neither should run on the NPs…it’s an idea WAY ahead of its time! It’s mostly for intra-lessarchist conversation.

  126. paulie

    WTF, this thread speaks of this fringy notion of “Assassination Politics” or AP.

    Just don’t tell the Associated Press!

  127. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Tom,

    First oh crap, I got on the receiving end of a Knappian “quoth”— not sure I like that.

    Second, perhaps I gave an assfact. I didn’t exactly pull it out of my rump, but I thought that was pretty much accepted lore… that Nolan was not an anarchist. He certainly wasn’t prior to the Dallas Accord (Paulie has a link to a letter from him to an anarchist where he stated emphatically he was not but still welcomed anarchists into the party to keep them honest… and said anarchist told him that he would be better off to purge them all becaue he might not like the honesty that they brought).. I have heard or read nothing that ever made me believe he changed his mind.

    So do you have some information I don’t have?

    And putting that aside, at the time of the authorship of that piece?

    Or is this some kind of performance art to draw in Phillies on his claims on the Pledge?

  128. Thomas L. Knapp

    Caryn,

    The only information I have that you don’t have is that one time I was sitting around a hotel room bullshitting with Nolan about something — I don’t remember whether it was Steve Kubby’s room in Denver in 2008 or a kind of communal thing in St. Louis in 2010 (Paulie, LibertarianGirl, Mark Bodenhausen — everyone kicked in some $$ for a place to shower and crash), and at some point I said “well, I’m an anarchist” and Nolan said “well, so am I, but [whatever point he was wanting to make, I don’t even remember the topic].”

    If it was St. Louis, that would have been the last time I saw him alive.

    As far as the pledge, Phillies, etc. is concerned, yes, Nolan did insist to the end of his days that the membership pledge had nothing whatsoever to do with the long-standing libertarian term of art it incorporated and was just about keeping the FBI off our backs. I never believed him, but I’m not trying to imply that he ever dropped that claim.

  129. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Tom,

    Thank you. I would love to see something more about his potential change of heart on the anarchy thing.

    But the time frame of the article I cited he was definitely not an anarchist- just tolerant of them. So his “not libertarian” statements were not some anarchist purism, which was my point.

    I would be pleased to learn he came to anarchism, but honestly, this is the very first time I have ever heard such a claim. It certainly wasn’t anything (if he did) that he advertised.

    And I agree with you on the Pledge thing.

  130. Chuck Moulton

    langa wrote:

    No one is saying that LP candidates should launch into long philosophical lectures. Rather, we’re saying that they should be willing and able to explain the basic moral foundations that underlie libertarian principles, rather than just relying on pure consequentialism and bumper sticker slogans, as you (and Petersen) seem to favor.

    Because time is a scarce commodity. Talking about philosophy has a cost.

    Effective candidates use their time to communicate in a manner that resonates with their audience — i.e., consequentialism — they optimize outreach limited by the constraint of time. Every second spent talking about the NAP is a second that is not spent persuading the audience and a second that is actively boring / turning off the audience. Philosophy logically deriving everything from an overly simplistic first principle resonates with a miniscule portion of the public: philosophy majors, mathematicians, computer programmers, and cultists. It’s better to communicate with the other 99.9% of the public receptive to libertarian ideas.

  131. Caryn Ann Harlos

    ==Philosophy logically deriving everything from an overly simplistic first principle resonates with a miniscule portion of the public: philosophy majors, mathematicians, computer programmers, and cultists.==

    That sounds really marginalizing and insulting. I thought that was bad?

    Ohhh I see.

  132. Green_w_o_Adjectives

    “Nolan did insist to the end of his days that the membership pledge had nothing whatsoever to do with the long-standing libertarian term of art it incorporated and was just about keeping the FBI off our backs.”

    That’s good to hear. The “Pledge” has always seemed borderline fascist to me, especially when you contemplate how alot of Libertarians seem to use NAP principles to justify aggression, violence, and even rent-seeking behavior in general. And of course it is problematic to conflate property with human beings, as it runs the risk of making things more important in law and normative ethics than people.

    If “The Pledge” is mainly about keeping the state off one’s back by pretending to be devoted to the state’s property norms, then that’s alot more understandable..

  133. Thomas L. Knapp

    Caryn,

    I would love to know more about where he was at and when he got there myself. I doubt that we ever will, unless he left some writing on it that his family or whoever eventually publishes.

    The anarchist thing was one of two times when Nolan surprised me.

    The other was when he knocked on Kubby’s door, in his customary suit and tie, came in and said “I heard you’re sharing some really good hash — I’d like to give it a try.”

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that, and over time I’ve become accustomed to “normal”-looking people turning out to be cannabis users, but for some reason that scene got me laughing so hard I was rolling on the floor. And I hadn’t been smoking any of that hash (Kubby was appalled when he found out his campaign manager didn’t care much for pot … now if he had brought some LSD, that would have been a different story altogether).

    While I’m talking out of school, I might as well speculate, but it should be fairly obvious that I’m seeing this through the lens of my own belief:

    I believe Nolan became an anarchist at some point. It may have even been earlier than you think.

    But Nolan also took very seriously his role as founding father of a political party. He was happy to have anarchists in that party, but he understood a political party (in the American electoral sense) is not a platform from which anarchism can be effectively preached, or for that matter preached much at all without damaging the party’s other activities.

    In the American electoral system, a party’s main job is to affect policy over the long term by being involved in electoral operations. Preferably by electing candidates, but other means (e.g. gaining enough support that larger parties co-opt your prescriptions) can also be effective. An ideological anarchist can run for office, but ideological anarchism is not a campaign platform worth doing so on. There have to be other reasons and other things to talk about, or it’s just a waste of time.

    I believe that Nolan, considering the LP his child, decided to forego preaching anarchism and focus instead on raising that child.

  134. Chuck Moulton

    langa wrote:

    I don’t see why you think that a candidate must reject the moral case in order to present the consequentialist case.

    Time is a scarce commodity.

    langa wrote:

    When you take consequentialist logic in isolation, without moral principles to restrain it, you end up taking the position that the ends justify the means, and that idea is totally incompatible with libertarianism.

    No you don’t.

    With public choice theory informing application it’s obvious that the means matter. Hayekian market process theory shows that a central planner lacks the knowledge to pick the right ends or the best way to achieve those ends.

    langa wrote:

    For example, if one accepts the idea that the ends justify the means, then why shouldn’t the government mandate that every room of every house be equipped with security cameras? Surely, the mere presence of such cameras would reduce incidents of domestic violence, sexual assault, and so on. Such an idea certainly seems to me to be about as far from libertarian as one can get, but how can it be rejected on a purely consequentialist basis?

    Wow, you have a pretty dim view of libertarianism! You seem to reject libertarianism as producing the best outcome for the most people, i.e., you believe libertarianism is incompatible with utilitarianism. Wrong!

    Your example fails because it assumes minimizing domestic violence / sexual assault is the only source or highest use of utility in society. That is patently false. People have other values and privacy is one of them. They also are not likely to trust an all-seeing government, given how government has exploited people over millenia.

  135. Caryn Ann Harlos

    ==People have other values and privacy is one of them. ===

    And yet we have the spy state for “safety.”

    Thanks for those values America!

  136. Robert Capozzi

    cah: Effective candidates use their time to communicate in a manner that resonates with their audience — i.e., consequentialism — they optimize outreach limited by the constraint of time.

    me: Yes and no. Mostly I’d say modern American politics is largely about developing a theme and positioning the candidate in an attractive manner. Hope and change. Morning in America. A narrative is built around the candidate and his/her resume and persona.

    This all hints at consequence and an underlying philosophy, coupled with lots of showmanship.

  137. Chuck Moulton

    langa wrote:

    The problem stems from your dogged insistence on defining “libertarian” as a dichotomy, where you are either 100% libertarian or 0% libertarian. As I have tried to explain to you many times, it is actually a continuum. So, yes, someone who wants to cut taxes by 80% and legalize marijuana (but no other drugs) is, to some (considerable) extent a libertarian. They simply aren’t as libertarian as someone who wants to cut taxes by 90% and legalize both marijuana and cocaine.

    No, they are both libertarian.

    The trope that being more anarchist makes a person more libertarian is a naked power grab by anarchists to seem holier than thou, make themselves feel better, and demean libertarians who are not anarchists.

  138. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Tom,

    Thank you for those anecdotes (LOL) and your perspective.

    We disagree slightly on the potential value of having ideological anarchism as a campaign point however. It certainly can’t be the immediate goal. But I think it can push things faster northward if it is mentioned as part of an endgame. Some people will never have given it much thought beyond visions of chaos or terrorists. Ala my next Zazzle t-shirt purchase which says “Yes, I’m an anarchist. No, I don’t want to blow up buildings.”

  139. Caryn Ann Harlos

    We must really want to demean conservatives and liberals. That is my whole goal in life for calling myself a “libertarian” — to demean everyone else!

    I mean… if that is what is meant by not being “as libertarian” means. Our whole point in putting Libertarian on our ballots is to go to all the other candidates “Ha, ha! Suckers! Insulted you really good.”

  140. Thomas L. Knapp

    The idea that a political campaign must exclude philosophy and stick entirely to utilitarian and pragmatic concerns is at variance with reality.

    Winning candidates may convey their philosophy in folksy terms rather than in dry Randian/Rothbardian language, but winning candidates DO devote some of their scarce face time to philosophy. They say what they are for or against, and they say why not only in terms of dollars saved or jobs created or crime reduced, but in terms of their moral and philosophical code. THIS is RIGHT and THAT is WRONG and here’s WHY.

    I’d pretty much go so far as to say that no candidate wins an election in which he or she has real opposition WITHOUT including philosophy in the rhetorical mix.

  141. Chuck Moulton

    Caryn Ann Harlos wrote:

    Libertarian does not equal = good person. It is a political label measuring political realities. It is not a test that one must ace. There are other values in life.

    Exactly!

    I don’t understand why anarchists insist on misdefining the word “libertarian” to demean non-anarchists.

    A equilateral triangle is not “more triangle” than an isosceles triangle. Both are just triangles.

    Cutting taxes by 90% is not “more libertarian” than cutting taxes by 50%. Cutting taxes by 90% is a better policy than cutting taxes by 50%. Just because something is “better” that doesn’t make it “more libertarian”.

    Why can’t anarchists be satisfied with “better policy”? Why do they have to be intellectually dishonest by misdefining a key term?

  142. Thomas L. Knapp

    Caryn,

    Yeah, we probably disagree slightly on the role of anarchism in political campaigns. But it’s not a big huge hairy deal to me.

    My late friend Phil Horras ran for lieutenant governor of Missouri on a platform of “if I’m elected, I’ll do my job of presiding over the Senate and trying to get them to eliminate the position.”

    Doug Craig, now of southern Missouri and a good guy, although a Gary North style Christian Reconstructionist with strange ideas that I disagree with quite a bit, ran for state legislature in California before moving to Missouri. Midway through his campaign, he became an anarchist, announced that he wouldn’t be voting for himself and entreated voters not to vote for him, or anyone else (at least that’s my recollection of what happened — it could be wrong). He’s since run for office in Missouri on a platform that, IIRC, doesn’t explicitly mention anarchism but tends to imply it (and to imply that in an anarchist society, the Kingdom of God would have a chance to emerge).

    One of the things to remember about the claims all of us — me most definitely included — make about how political campaigns need to work is that, well, it’s not like we have a lot of really successful outings to cite as proof of our claims.

  143. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Chuck,

    Because there is nothing demeaning about a definition. That is just emotive hogwash.

    Your argument on triangles… is … ironically… circular. You can’t put to something with a definition and then point to that definition as proof in an argument about definitions to begin with. I could come up with some other irrelevant analogy.. and it would be just as useless.

    Better policy is defined by which is more libertarian 🙂 90% is better.

    But that is because libertarianism is my primary (pretty much only) political value. Other people do not have that position and my position would not be “better” to them.

    “Intellectually dishonest” – OH I FEEL SO DEMEANED.

    Actually no, but I LOL at your fire and brimstone language.

  144. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Tom we agree the role of philosophy in campaigning. You nailed it perfectly.

  145. Thomas L. Knapp

    I agree that minarchist and anarchist are not “less” and “more” libertarian.

    Minarchists are just as libertarian as anarchists. They just happen to be libertarians in error on something. And that’s OK. Nobody’s perfect.

    I prefer to get along with minarchist libertarians and work with them both on the premise that many hands make light work on the things we agree on, and on the assumption that over time, they will tend to correct their error and eventually become consistent libertarians, also known as anarchists.

  146. Chuck Moulton

    Caryn Ann Harlos wrote:

    (I suspect little would change btw if I were utilitarian – over societies I believe the best results from libertarianism – as I said before and as the Radical Caucus believes – rights are utilitarian – we don’t see a conflict over time and over societies for the two)

    Exactly! Nothing changes. Natural rights and utilitarian consequentialism are two doors that both lead to libertarianism.

    But one door is a lot more attractive to the public, so why try to force them into the other door?

  147. paulie

    Doug Craig,

    Sounds like you mean Kevin Craig. Doug is still in Georgia and does not match your description in some other regards.

  148. paulie

    Chuck,

    Why does it demean someone if I think they are less libertarian than I am? They are still libertarian.

    I’m not perfectly anti-war since I am not literally a pacifist. I’m OK with wars in self defense and even secession and overthrowing tyrants. Yet I am still antiwar in the sense it is generally used politically, and it doesn’t demean me if someone points out that I am not 100% perfectly antiwar. I’ll still work with them on antiwar issues and any other issues where we agree. If someone else thinks I am less perfectly libertarian than they are because I am an anarchist … so what … as long as they are willing to work with me as I am with them, and still consider me to be a libertarian and Libertarian in good standing as I do them? They don’t have to be perfect libertarians and I don’t care if they consider me perfectly libertarian or not. We agree on the direction of movement and that’s good enough.

  149. Caryn Ann Harlos

    chuck,

    ==Exactly! Nothing changes. Natural rights and utilitarian consequentialism are two doors that both lead to libertarianism.==

    I am glad we finally do actually agree on something rather than you just saying we agree, when we don’t. There are more than two doors btw.

    ==But one door is a lot more attractive to the public, so why try to force them into the other door?==

    Tom answered this well. I use both doors.

    If you want to talk about being demeaning and exclusionary…. you talk like people like me who would not care about the door you prefer being disposable and meaningless.

    Of course, I don’t take it that way,… but using your rhetoric I should.

    I use both methods. Both methods should be used.

    In my anecdotal experience (take it or leave it) those who are reached more through the second tend to be the activists we need. Those through door one tend to be the votes we need.

    We need both. I use both.

  150. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Paulie,

    Perfect point. I could easily say I am “more anti-violence” than you or as it were more “consistently anti-violence”… since I am an actual pacifist. However, to you that is not “better” as you don’t find the idea of using violence to defend yourself wrong. You have a different value than I do. One is not better. But I am more consistently anti-violence… that’s isn’t better, it just is. And you can just as easily say “Good for you as someone beats you to death.”

    BTW I use this line on fellow pro-lifers all the time. I say I have a consistent pro-life ethic. Even in things that are not a matter of “law.” I would eschew any right to suicide. I eschew my right to violent self-defense.

  151. Robert Capozzi

    cah: Our whole point in putting Libertarian on our ballots is to go to all the other candidates “Ha, ha! Suckers! Insulted you really good.”

    me: I’m sure some feel this way. Telling voters that your association with the words “conservative” or “liberal” that they are “suckers” seems like not a great way to ATTRACT support.

    Now, Trump is somehow getting away with this childish approach (he calls people “stupid” and “low energy” and so forth), but for the most part the mudslinger technique doesn’t wear well.

    Of course, in my case, I’m more interested in peace than liberty, and to me mudslinging is not peaceful.

  152. Chuck Moulton

    Chuck Moulton wrote:

    Philosophy logically deriving everything from an overly simplistic first principle resonates with a miniscule portion of the public: philosophy majors, mathematicians, computer programmers, and cultists.

    Caryn Ann Harlos wrote:

    That sounds really marginalizing and insulting. I thought that was bad?

    Sorry if it’s politically incorrect, but my vast life experience has shown me that those demographics in particular tend to value logic over evidence and the practical.

    If it is an insult, then I am denigrating myself. I’m a mathematician: I was raised by a family of mathematicians, my parents were both mathematics professors, my parents both have masters and doctorates in math, my brother has a master in math, and my undergraduate degree is in math. I’m a computer programmer: my parents were also computer science professors and my mom taught programming for the last 40 years of her career, I effectively (though not on paper) double majored in computer science and have programmed in over 20 languages.

    So it’s no surprise that natural rights and logic speaks to me. But it would be folly to project my affinities on others.

  153. paulie

    So it’s no surprise that natural rights and logic speaks to me. But it would be folly to project my affinities on others.

    It sounds like you are still doing that. You think that everyone who is a libertarian is obsessed with being 100% perfectly libertarian, having every other libertarian be 100% perfectly libertarian, and have every other libertarian accept them as being 100% perfectly libertarian. I don’t. But then I’m not a philosophy major, mathematician, computer programmer or cultist. In case anyone cares I was a geography major. I like reading about philosophy – but also lots of other things such as history, politics, comparative religion, and so on.

  154. Chuck Moulton

    Caryn Ann Harlos wrote:

    Because there is nothing demeaning about a definition. That is just emotive hogwash.

    You are blind to how demeaning it is because as an anarchist you are the “most libertarian” of them all — at least, using that flawed definition.

    Let’s define something else in an equally ridiculous way to defining “libertarian” with the NAP.

    woman – a person with large breasts

    Sorry, Caryn… you are “less woman” than Dolly Parton and Kim Kardashian. Do you think constantly being referred to as “less woman” is demeaning?

    Don’t despair! You are “more woman” than Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman.

    It’s cool. “woman” isn’t binary… it’s a gradient. Being “less woman” doesn’t necessarily make you a worse person, so you shouldn’t be offended. You can always aspire to be “more woman” by getting implants.

  155. Thomas L. Knapp

    Damn. It’s not very often that I notice Chuck Moulton completely abandoning all reason and logic just so that he can pretend things are what he wishes they were.

    But I do have to hand it to him. When he gives in to Teh Krazy, he takes it all the way. The month is young, but so far he’s in the lead for babbling complete nonsense, and that’s really saying something given that I spent quite a bit of time listening to Augustus Invictus.

  156. Robert Capozzi

    cm, spot on.

    or: Man = a person with large muscles

    Paulie is less of a man than Ferrigno or Schwartenegger but more of a man than Ed Norton or M&M.

  157. Chuck Moulton

    Paulie wrote:

    It sounds like you are still doing that. You think that everyone who is a libertarian is obsessed with being 100% perfectly libertarian, having every other libertarian be 100% perfectly libertarian, and have every other libertarian accept them as being 100% perfectly libertarian. I don’t.

    No, not everyone. But enough people speak in those terms and make moderate libertarians feel unwelcome or second class that I see it as a problem that ought to be addressed.

  158. paulie

    If moderate libertarians feel unwelcome please explain the last two presidential tickets, or the likelihood of the next one being similar, among many other things I could bring up.

  159. Chuck Moulton

    paulie wrote:

    If moderate libertarians feel unwelcome please explain the last two presidential tickets, or the likelihood of the next one being similar, among many other things I could bring up.

    You assume if a demographic has a majority to select a candidate (even that assumption is flawed, as candidates are selected on more margins than radical/moderate, but I’ll grant it for the sake of argument), then that demographic must not be losing ground or smaller than it could be. There is no basis in that assumption.

    Suppose there are 5,000 anarchists and 20,000 moderates. 10,000 moderates exit, leaving 10,000 moderates remaining. Moderates still have a majority. In this scenario, losing 10,000 moderates is a problem, as it makes the Libertarian Party smaller, poorer, and less effective.

    I can’t quantify how many moderates we’ve lost because they are demeaned, treated like second class libertarians. I can’t quantify how many radicals we’ve lost because Bob Barr or Wayne Root pissed them off, or they decided even participating in the political process is immoral. Just because I can’t quantify these things doesn’t mean they aren’t problems.

  160. Dave Terry

    Chuck Moulton wrote:
    ….. (contrast with Gary Johnson, who is advocating for a big new tax as the centerpiece
    of his campaign — un-libertarian in the extreme).

    Nonsense, Mr. Moulton; Gary Johnson is NOT advocating for a “big new tax” – in addition to the existing tax code – He is advocating for a new flat tax; REPLACING the existing tax code!

    VERY LIBERTARIAN, in my book

  161. Chuck Moulton

    Chuck Moulton wrote:

    (contrast with Gary Johnson, who is advocating for a big new tax as the centerpiece of his campaign ? un-libertarian in the extreme).

    Dave Terry wrote:

    Nonsense, Mr. Moulton; Gary Johnson is NOT advocating for a ?big new tax? ? in addition to the existing tax code ? He is advocating for a new flat tax; REPLACING the existing tax code!

    VERY LIBERTARIAN, in my book

    Oh, you think we won’t end up with BOTH a sales tax AND an income tax (both at high levels) despite the political realities of public choice theory and consistently botched “transitions” from income to sales taxes eventually saddling people with BOTH in states and other countries? That’s adorable!

    https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2012/02/chuck-moulton-an-open-letter-to-gary-johnson-about-the-fair-tax/

  162. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Chuck,

    re: Argumentum ad Kardishian

    Holy Category Error Batman. Tom is right, you have gone into CrazyLand.

    I get that you find my definition inaccurate. But nothing at all else you said follows. A simple fact that some people might get offended doesn’t make it wrong.

    If I were to find a political value I found more important, it would not bother me in the slightest to be “less libertarian” if it meant being more of whatever I found right. If I were a utilitarian and found that greater human flourishing could be had by using coercion in some areas, I would gladly advocate coercion in those areas …. and be “less libertarian” since I would find the libertarian solution there to be wrong there even if consistently right everywhere else. I find being pro-life to be one of my highest personal values. To those who also find it one of their highest personal value, I call on them to be pacifists… I am more consistently pro-life than them.

    Nothing demeaning about it.

    And BTW, you haven’t seen me in my Xena costume. That was a bad example. I got a lot of woman going on.

    Yes Paulie, I give you permission to comment.

  163. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Part of the problem Chuck is that you are finding “offensive” and asking me to refrain from something I actually believe. Sorry I can’t do that. Many anarchists (not all obviously.. I don’t speak for you again quite obviously) have come to that position because they hold libertarianism to be their highest political value and they believe that most consistent. I am not going (nor should I) change my beliefs or understanding just because you don’t like it or it makes someone else uncomfortable. I do not go out of my way to make anyone uncomfortable, I work with everyone I can, my understanding of who is a fellow libertarian is very board, and I am a collaborator and peacemaker. I am not going to censor myself or be compelled to belief anything differently than I honestly believe. You can keep arguing offense all you want. Offense is not a counter-argument to what I see as truth. It will inform me on how I present it (and the time and place) but not on the fact that I hold it.

    Just like I would not ask Phillies to refrain from saying or believing that anarchists are the enemies of freedom and that our hoped-for end-state is immoral. It is silly to get offended at that.

  164. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Chuck,

    ==Oh, you think we won’t end up with BOTH a sales tax AND an income tax (both at high levels) despite the political realities of public choice theory and consistently botched “transitions” from income to sales taxes eventually saddling people with BOTH in states and other countries? That’s adorable!===

    Yep. Adorable as the Bubonic Plaque, I agree with you.

  165. paulie

    Yes Paulie, I give you permission to comment.

    I need to spend some time carefully and thoroughly weighing, examining and evaluating the evidence and probing it from every angle before I can come to a conclusion 😛

  166. Chuck Moulton

    Caryn Ann Harlos wrote:

    I get that you find my definition inaccurate. But nothing at all else you said follows. A simple fact that some people might get offended doesn’t make it wrong.

    The definition isn’t wrong because some people might get offended.

    My “woman” analogy wasn’t presented to address the point of whether the definition is wrong or not. The analogy was presented in response to your saying that that the NAP definition is not demeaning. Showing that some people might get offended is exactly the point I was trying to make to refute your specific statement that people are not demeaned by a definition.

    The definition is wrong because (at least, as some people interpret it), people who ought to be categorized as “libertarians” are miscategorized as “not libertarians”. The definition is inadvisable because it is subject to a variety of interpretations, which makes it imprecise and a source of argument. The definition is inadvisable because it pits libertarians against one another and offends some by its implicit intra-libertarian ordinal comparisons.

    If you interpret the NAP definition of “libertarian” to be effectively equivalent to the less government, more freedom (or some other similar such) definition of “libertarian”, then the definition is not “wrong” because it achieves an equivalent goal of sorting things correctly into “libertarian” and “not libertarian” categories. But a definition can be “not wrong” yet still “inadvisable” if there is a better definition that not only correctly categorizes, but also is less subject to misinterpretation and does not offend as much (or at all).

    Caryn Ann Harlos wrote:

    And BTW, you haven’t seen me in my Xena costume. That was a bad example. I got a lot of woman going on.

    Eventually I will find an example where you aren’t the “most” and can thus have empathy for people who are demeaned in other contexts — when they use a word to self-define their identity (“libertarian”, “woman”, “scientist”, etc.) only to be told it is a competition and they have come up short.

  167. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Chuck, you are simply repeating yourself, and I don’t care to repeat myself.

    I am not the “most” on a lot of things. I am working with some radicals right now on what our ideal Platform would be, and I would submit I might find out that I am not the most libertarian of the bunch either.

    I am not the smartest, prettiest, cleverest, hardest-working, most stable, most loving, most holy, most funny…. In fact I suck at being the most at a lot of things. I am even suck at being the sukiest of a lot of things. That’s okay.

  168. Dave Terry

    Chuck Moulton also wrote:
    The NAP defines an anarchist. When the NAP is misused to define a libertarian, minarchists are not libertarians.”

    What planet are you from M. Moulton? The NAP does, IN FACT, define a libertarian.
    When an “anarchist” uses the term, he is clearly referring to “pacifism, passivity or some form of “micro-individualism”

  169. paulie

    I am not the smartest, prettiest, cleverest, hardest-working, most stable, most loving, most holy, most funny…. In fact I suck at being the most at a lot of things. I am even suck at being the sukiest of a lot of things. That’s okay.

  170. Caryn Ann Harlos

    One thing needs addressing as it may be buried in my comments:

    ==I do not go out of my way to make anyone uncomfortable,==

    The definition happened to be the topic here. I do not go around constantly bellowing it. I rarely do in fact. I ALWAYS take under advisement the beset way to communicate something. My goal in life is not to be an a**hole just for the sake of it. IPR heated discussions are not what happens in real life. I doubt Phillies will say every other sentence “you are an enemy of freedom” either when we meet. It comes up here in the course of discussion. I expect no different.

    I submit you are blowing a specialized discussion WAY out of proportion. You don’t know me personally (yet…I am sure we will have the pleasure of meeting in Orlando) nor even particularly well online. I have tried to disengage from these discussions more often than not as they are such a small part of anything important that we do as fellow Libertarians.

    But it is what I believe. A small part. And it occupies an equivalent place in my Libertarian life. It was though a huge part of how I came to be an anarchist and thus meaningful to me. I had come to the conclusion that I held libertarian ideas as my highest political goal, and I wrestled with them to come to the logical conclusion in my understanding. When asked I discuss it. I rarely do otherwise in encounters (my FB wall being an exception, but that is a completely voluntary daily relationship that people choose to hear my ramblings— I do discuss anarchy a lot there— once in a while consistency). In Outreach I emphasized “as little government as possible” and let each person take that where they wished.

  171. Robert Capozzi

    pf, love, love, love that President Camacho used a machine gun in Congress! 😉

    Mighta been better if all the MCs and Not Sure each had one!

  172. Caryn Ann Harlos

    ==I’ve been sent the evidence, and I am examining it closely. I may have to keep wrestling with it in my mind.===

    LOL

  173. Caryn Ann Harlos

    LOL Dave, anarchism isn’t pacifism. My pacifism comes from a value outside my libertarian ideas. Specifically, my religious values. As such, while I eschew violent self-defense, I champion everyone else’s right to have such defense. And I would violently defend someone else if they requested my assistance. Pacifism to me, is a highly personal completely voluntary decision.

  174. Thomas L. Knapp

    Caryn,

    You may not have run into Dave yet. Advice you’ll likely not heed until you’ve had some time to learn from experience: Don’t bother trying to reason with him. It’s like trying to teach a pig to sing. It doesn’t work and it just annoys the pig.

  175. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Tom, it is comic relief. And I post to people such as that more for the readers. I don’t think anyone else here is a pacifist so I like to clear those things up.

  176. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Oh and guess what? I think Dave has said I am not a “real Libertarian…..” and I’m okay. I don’t need therapy. I am not crying. I am not going to leave the Party. I go “you’re wrong” and move on.

  177. Dave Terry

    Caryn Ann Harlos, Oct. 5, 2015 at 5:16
    “LOL Dave, anarchism isn’t pacifism”

    Caryn, I never claimed that anarchism IS pacifism.
    What I said was that “WHEN an “anarchist” uses the term
    “NAP”, he is clearly referring to “pacifism, passivity or some
    form of “micro-individualism”

    It simply stands to reason that IF there is NO state, NO police
    NO courts, etc., etc., people must rely totally on their ability to
    repel aggressors instantly and with deadly force!

    There cannot be any attempt to arrest, prosecute, convict, or
    incarcerate aggressors, AFTER THE FACT, without themselves
    becoming the aggressors. All continuity that was previously provided
    by the unbiased and neutral “state”, which no longer exists.

    “while I eschew violent self-defense, I champion everyone else’s
    right to have such defense. And I would violently defend someone
    else if they requested my assistance”

    Caryn, this sounds dangerously like “Jesus Christ syndrome” where
    your purpose in existing is to save others at the price of your own
    life. How do you arbitrarily separate killing others to save the lives
    of yet others; and killing others who are trying to kill you, so that you
    are now unable to defend “others” because you are now dead or
    wounded? .

  178. Thomas L. Knapp

    Quoth Dave Terry:

    “It simply stands to reason”

    You wouldn’t recognize reason if it walked up behind you and whacked you across the ass with a bass fiddle.

  179. Dave Terry

    Thomas L. Knapp> Oct 5,

    Caryn,

    You may not have run into Dave yet. Advice you’ll likely not heed until you’ve had some time to learn from experience:

    So, where and when did YOU run into me Mr. Nap?

  180. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Dave no desire to deal with your straw men.

    I am a Christian and my pacifism arises from that. Not my anarcho-libertarianism.

  181. Caryn Ann Harlos

    ==the unbiased and neutral “state”,==

    LOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOL
    LOL
    OMFG

    You are nuts.

  182. jim

    Dave Terry: I don’t understand this:
    “There cannot be any attempt to arrest, prosecute, convict, or
    incarcerate aggressors, AFTER THE FACT, without themselves
    becoming the aggressors. All continuity that was previously provided
    by the unbiased and neutral “state”, which no longer exists.

  183. langa

    Effective candidates use their time to communicate in a manner that resonates with their audience — i.e., consequentialism — they optimize outreach limited by the constraint of time. Every second spent talking about the NAP is a second that is not spent persuading the audience and a second that is actively boring / turning off the audience. Philosophy logically deriving everything from an overly simplistic first principle resonates with a miniscule portion of the public: philosophy majors, mathematicians, computer programmers, and cultists. It’s better to communicate with the other 99.9% of the public receptive to libertarian ideas.

    Are you seriously claiming that 99.9% of the public is uninterested in morality? That’s just batshit crazy. And as for the “overly simplistic” nature of the NAP, it’s really no more simplistic than the Golden Rule (from which the NAP can be directly deduced). Are you really claiming moral principles like the Golden Rule have absolutely no appeal to 99.9% of the population?

  184. langa

    With public choice theory informing application it’s obvious that the means matter. Hayekian market process theory shows that a central planner lacks the knowledge to pick the right ends or the best way to achieve those ends.

    And you think, when trying to convince the average person, that it’s easier and more effective to explain Hayek’s economic theories than to explain the gist of the NAP? When most non-economists hear “market process theory” or some similar phrase, their eyes glaze over.

  185. langa

    Wow, you have a pretty dim view of libertarianism! You seem to reject libertarianism as producing the best outcome for the most people, i.e., you believe libertarianism is incompatible with utilitarianism.

    No, I have a pretty dim view of utilitarianism, at least when it’s divorced from moral considerations. Ever hear of the tyranny of the majority, or is that something that only philosophy majors and cult members talk about?

    Your example fails because it assumes minimizing domestic violence / sexual assault is the only source or highest use of utility in society. That is patently false. People have other values and privacy is one of them. They also are not likely to trust an all-seeing government, given how government has exploited people over millenia.

    First, I don’t think abstract values like “privacy” are really relevant to unadulterated consequentialism. Otherwise, one could make “consequentialist” arguments based on values like freedom, or even (gasp!) non-aggression.

    Second, even if I grant that privacy is an end, how should it be weighed against other ends when calculating utility? If you poll the average man on the street, I’d bet most people would say that it’s worth sacrificing some privacy to substantially reduce domestic violence and sexual assault. Just look at how willing people have been to sacrifice their privacy to the TSA.

    The real reason why that idea is so unlibertarian isn’t because privacy is necessarily more valuable than preventing violent crimes — it’s because such a policy would constitute a massive violation of property rights. But I guess that’s irrelevant to a dedicated consequentialist like yourself. Who’s going to let some philosophical mumbo jumbo about property rights stand in the way of the greatest good for the greatest number, right? Hey, wasn’t that the argument for just about every big government program in history?

  186. langa

    Cutting taxes by 90% is not “more libertarian” than cutting taxes by 50%.

    I asked you this on another thread and you never answered, so I’ll try again: If Person A has only told one lie in his entire life, while Person B tells hundreds of lies every day, would it be fair to say that Person A is more truthful than Person B?

  187. Robert Capozzi

    L: would it be fair to say that Person A is more truthful than Person B?

    me: CM may have a different answer, but — duh — yes.

    The ability to tell the truth, however, is WAY WAY WAY different than a person’s political philosophy. At least, that seems quite self evident to me.

    Perhaps you can school us on how you possibly can make this analogy work.

  188. George Phillies

    ” Philosophy logically deriving everything from an overly simplistic first principle resonates with a miniscule portion of the public: philosophy majors, mathematicians, computer programmers, and cultists. ”

    You can rule out the first three of these. “…philosophy deriving…” everything form a few assumptions in fair part went out a long time ago. Mathematicians and programmers who know mathematics will recognize ‘…deriving everything…” as the old Hilbert objectives, which was more-or-less proven fundamentally intrinsically impossible as an approach by the work of, in particular, Goedel. The approach is mostly left to cultists, e.g. Neoplatonists and neoAristoteleans.

  189. Robert Capozzi

    And I take it you challenge the cult of the neo-Platonist and -Aristotelean state? 😉

    I’ll count myself in that crowd.

  190. Dave Terry

    Jim: Oct. 5,
    Dave Terry: I don’t understand this:
    “There cannot be any attempt to arrest, prosecute, convict, or
    incarcerate aggressors, AFTER THE FACT, without themselves
    becoming the aggressors. All continuity that was previously provided
    by the unbiased and neutral “state”, which no longer exists.”

    Consider this;
    If someone breaks into your home, rips off valuable property and
    flees the scene, just as you arrive and see your open door and their
    truck leaving your property. Who do you call, “Ghost Busters”?

    So, you follow the truck to a gated warehouse, just as they enter
    the property and secure the gate with a chain.

    Since there is no government, ergo, no police to call to “intervene”,
    you have two choices;
    1. drive back home and count your losses,
    2. call your friends and relatives to help you break into the warehouse
    and accost those inside, ergo: becoming the aggressor in a new,
    and even more violent act of force (i.e. aggression)

    Since there is no generally recognized source of neutral, objective or
    unbiased “force” to intervene the two incidents are completely separate
    and unrelated events. (EXCEPT TO THOSE WHO ARE PERSONALLY
    INVOLVED!!!)

    Caryn Ann Harlos wrote:
    Oct. 5,

    ” ==the unbiased and neutral “state”,==

    LOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOLLOL”

    Are you implying that an impartial, constitutionally restricted “state” is an impossibility?

    IF SO, you are a bonafide, ‘card-carrying’ Anarchist, not a Libertarian!!!!

  191. Robert Capozzi

    dt, I’d say a PERFECTLY impartial, neutral state is certainly impossible. Keeping it within a reasonable tolerance level has proven daunting.

    Whether the Lysander Insurance & Enforcement Co. would be a better outcome generally is not obvious.

  192. jim

    Dave Terry: You said,
    “Consider this; If someone breaks into your home, rips off valuable property and
    flees the scene, just as you arrive and see your open door and their
    truck leaving your property. Who do you call, “Ghost Busters”?”

    Okay, they have initiated force.

    So, you follow the truck to a gated warehouse, just as they enter
    the property and secure the gate with a chain.
    Since there is no government, ergo, no police to call to “intervene”,
    you have two choices;
    1. drive back home and count your losses,
    2. call your friends and relatives to help you break into the warehouse
    and accost those inside, ergo: becoming the aggressor in a new,
    and even more violent act of force (i.e. aggression)

    NONSENSE! The key words are “INITIATED FORCE” You don’t seem to understand that. The initiation of force doesn’t automatically “reset itself” after a period of time. And alone, the NIOF principle does not limit the extent of the response that the victim may choose to use.

    Your rhetorical nonsense is foolish. They initiated force. Subsequent to that, actions to respond to that are not the “initiation” of force. Don’t play games with what people are entitled to do in response to the “initiation of force”.

    :Since there is no generally recognized source of neutral, objective or
    unbiased “force” to intervene the two incidents are completely separate
    and unrelated events. (EXCEPT TO THOSE WHO ARE PERSONALLY
    INVOLVED!!!)”

    Like I said, that’s your RHETORICAL NONSENSE.

  193. Chuck Moulton

    langa wrote:

    Are you seriously claiming that 99.9% of the public is uninterested in morality? That’s just batshit crazy. And as for the “overly simplistic” nature of the NAP, it’s really no more simplistic than the Golden Rule (from which the NAP can be directly deduced). Are you really claiming moral principles like the Golden Rule have absolutely no appeal to 99.9% of the population?

    Politics and philosophy are different things. 99.9% of people want to hear about public policy from a politician, not philosophy.

    99.9% of people want to hear jokes from a comedian, not recipes for muffins. That doesn’t mean 99.9% of people are uninterested in muffins; it just means people have expectations and desires about the content of particular encounters in particular venues. I don’t expect a cookbook to be full of knock knock jokes either.

    For example, people don’t want to hear about religion from a politician (such as Augustus Invictus).

    If the NAP is the golden rule, then everyone already knows it. But the NAP isn’t the golden rule. The NAP is the definition of anarchy.

  194. Chuck Moulton

    langa wrote:

    And you think, when trying to convince the average person, that it’s easier and more effective to explain Hayek’s economic theories than to explain the gist of the NAP? When most non-economists hear “market process theory” or some similar phrase, their eyes glaze over.

    I never said a candidate would explain public choice theory or market process theory to voters. I was just responding to your assertion that utilitarian comsequentialism is an ends justify the means dystopia full of statism.

    Public choice theory is pretty easy to explain though. The government is not a utopia. The government is full of people pursuing their own self-interests, not some “public interest”. There are government failures just like market failures.

  195. paulie

    The NAP is not necessarily the definition of anarchy. I waited to sign it from the time when I first started voting LP and attending LP events (1992) until, through a long process of reading and discussion, I came to fully accept it among a broad range of issues as applicable across the board (1994) but I remained a minarchist, even as a party member and activist, county/regional chair and state exec comm member for several more years (2000). I still believe that I signed it in good faith and while I do think I am more libertarian now, I would not dream of saying that anyone who holds now the positions that I did in 1994 is not a libertarian or should not be welcome in the party.

    More interesting is the question of someone who holds the views I held in 1992. I did score well within the libertarian zone on the quiz, even helped give other people the quiz and went to the college LP organizing meeting. But I still believed in things like the minimum wage then. I believed in government efforts to control pollution, provide education, and guarantee and uphold the rights of employees and consumers in the marketplace. So I did not sign the pledge because I did not fully agree with it, but I voted LP as the lesser of four evils, made that public in letters to the editor, attended LP meetings, sent a notice or two to LP News, received LP literature as an inquiry, read other libertarian publications such as Reason and helped man a LP quiz table. Should I have joined the LP?

    In some senses yes, and I see many people that libertarian or less joining the LP now. But if enough of them do it rapidly enough and decide to change the LP platform, run LP candidates more along their lines, etc., that can be a problem. So I think the pledge may be part of that balance. In reality I think it keeps very few people out because most people don’t take it very seriously and join regardless of whether they believe it or not and regardless of whether they interpret it to represent the NAP or not. Aside from a tiny publicized number of cases such as Invictus no one even tried to use it to kick anyone out formally, and notice that even Invictus was found not guilty by the same people that voted to condemn some of his views at the very same meeting.

  196. paulie

    Wouldn’t gruesome public executions, gladiatorial fights to the death and animal maulings on live TV and youtube bring the greatest happiness to the greatest number? What’s the utilitarian objection, if any?

  197. jim

    You said, “99.9% of people want to hear jokes from a comedian, not recipes for muffins. That doesn’t mean 99.9% of people are uninterested in muffins; it just means people have expectations and desires about the content of particular encounters in particular venues. I don’t expect a cookbook to be full of knock knock jokes either.”

    On the subject of mentioning cooking and humor: You may be too young to remember, but in the late 60’s and early 70’s there was a TV show, “The Galloping Gourmet”, with Graham Kerr, where humor was indeed mixed with cooking. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_Kerr

  198. paulie

    I concur with several people above. There are ways to broach moral and philosophical subjects, just like economics, in a campaign context that are not at the graduate level seminar degree of complexity. Simple references to morality and economics alike can be made quickly and easily in a way the average person can readily understand.

  199. Chuck Moulton

    langa wrote:

    No, I have a pretty dim view of utilitarianism, at least when it’s divorced from moral considerations. Ever hear of the tyranny of the majority, or is that something that only philosophy majors and cult members talk about?

    You have a very warped view of utilitarianism if you think it entails majority rule.

    langa wrote:

    First, I don’t think abstract values like “privacy” are really relevant to unadulterated consequentialism. Otherwise, one could make “consequentialist” arguments based on values like freedom, or even (gasp!) non-aggression.

    Why wouldn’t privacy be a value people derive utility from? We see a revealed preference for privacy all the time.

    langa wrote:

    Second, even if I grant that privacy is an end, how should it be weighed against other ends when calculating utility? If you poll the average man on the street, I’d bet most people would say that it’s worth sacrificing some privacy to substantially reduce domestic violence and sexual assault. Just look at how willing people have been to sacrifice their privacy to the TSA.

    What are you talking about? The TSA is not a revealed preference; it is government mandated. If anything I’ve seen the opposite: many people go through significant additional expense of time and money to avoid the TSA (e.g., by driving instead of flying). If your assertion were true, the TSA should cause people to fly more, not less.

    langa wrote:

    The real reason why that idea is so unlibertarian isn’t because privacy is necessarily more valuable than preventing violent crimes — it’s because such a policy would constitute a massive violation of property rights. But I guess that’s irrelevant to a dedicated consequentialist like yourself. Who’s going to let some philosophical mumbo jumbo about property rights stand in the way of the greatest good for the greatest number, right? Hey, wasn’t that the argument for just about every big government program in history?

    I can’t help it if you think the world would be better with a massively huge government and substantially restricted freedoms. All the evidence I’ve seen shows the opposite: small government is better, no government is best.

    This reminds me of a point I bring up frequently as an atheist when Christians point to hell as their motivation for being good: I find it quite frightening that the only thing holding them back from raping, pillaging, murdering, etc. is the belief that an imaginary friend in the sky will send them to an imaginary bad place if they don’t behave. Very, very frightening.

    Similarly, I am very disappointed that you believe a libertarian world would be much worse for society than a massive government, and the only reason you are advocating for less government is you believe a simplistic phrase derives every moral decision in the universe — you’re allowing that phrase to trump all your beliefs about the best society.

  200. paulie

    Why wouldn’t privacy be a value people derive utility from? We see a revealed preference for privacy all the time.

    The same logic can be used to convert any moral preference into a utilitarian one.

  201. Chuck Moulton

    langa wrote:

    I asked you this on another thread and you never answered, so I’ll try again: If Person A has only told one lie in his entire life, while Person B tells hundreds of lies every day, would it be fair to say that Person A is more truthful than Person B?

    Depends on the content of the A lie compared with the B lies. But yes, “truthful” allows ordinal comparisons. “libertarian” does not. “triangle” does not. “woman” does not.

  202. Thomas L. Knapp

    “99.9% of people want to hear about public policy from a politician, not philosophy.”

    If 99.9% of people want to hear about public policy rather than philosophy, why do they display the exact opposite preference ratio in terms of their actual behavior?

    Watch a politician start to talk about public policy in any detail, and the vast majority of the audience yawns and changes the channel every time.

    The only way a politician EVER gets any substantial portion of the audience’s attention, empathy or support is via emotion and, at the bare minimum, a sprinkling of philosophy.

  203. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Dave,

    ==IF SO, you are a bonafide, ?card-carrying? Anarchist, not a Libertarian!!!!==

    I could have told you that I am an anarchist and saved you a lot of trouble. But I never got the fancy card. Instead I just wear a scarlet letter on my bosom so you can spot me afar off. I do, however, carry a Libertarian Party card. Sucks for you I guess.

  204. paulie

    I’ve been a card carrying Libertarian since at least 1995 (IIRC 1994 but they spelled my last name wrong, so my current membership says March 1995). I’ve been an anarchist since at least 2000, possibly 1999. I don’t have any cards or tattoos that say I am an anarchist but it’s been public information for fifteen years now. I’ve also been a life member of the LP since 2000 and have remained actively involved that whole time.

  205. Dave Terry

    Jim Bell wrote:

    “Unaware of the existence of Friedman’s ‘hard problem’, I solved it in 1995,
    when I thought of the idea behind my 1995 essay, “Assassination Politics”.

    Anyone who seriously advances the idea that random, sporadic violence
    against ANY category of people, as a legitimate political policy is totally
    outside the sphere of reasonable/intelligible discourse.

    This person neither belongs in any intellectual or political group, much less
    the Libertarian Party.

  206. jim

    You said,
    “Anyone who seriously advances the idea that random, sporadic violence
    against ANY category of people, as a legitimate political policy is totally
    outside the sphere of reasonable/intelligible discourse.
    This person neither belongs in any intellectual or political group, much less
    the Libertarian Party.”

    I don’t think I said anything about “random, sporadic violence” in my AP essay. In any case, Bob Vroman had a thing to say:

    This is from http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=009ape
    https://web.archive.org/web/20120204063833/http://www.anti-state.com/vroman/vroman9.html

    Dave Terry needs to learn that when I was writing my AP essay, I extensively considered the implications of the NIOFP (NAP), and wrote that into the essay itself. Dave may pretend that he doesn’t realize that, but it is indeed true.

    Further, Paragraphs 5 and 6 of Vroman’s item explains one reason why AP would work against government leadership:

    “Young has three main points. First, that assassination has been ineffectual in the past for destroying states. Second, assassinations will instead create a backlash against anarchism by government and citizens alike. Third he does not like the moral implications of the very likely possibility of collateral damage from sloppy AP prize-hunters, given the relatively poor caliber of historical attempts.

    The first point, despite all its exhaustive research, is I’m afraid to say, totally erroneous, because the mechanism by which AP kills its victims is fundamentally different then assassination campaigns of the past. I am not at all surprised to read that a handful of suicidal ideologues gunning down a few unlucky aristocrats failed to exorcise the nation state. Assume for the moment that AP’s basic functions materialize (I will get to Murphy’s objections later). The pool of assassins has instantaneously expanded from only insane political extremists, to every single violent opportunist in the world who can access a computer. AP represents a veritable full scale war against the State, fought by the scum of society and funded by every partisan malcontent across the political spectrum. A dozen assassinations per century is certainly not going to give any politicians second thoughts about their career choice, any more than the dozen or so plane hijackings in the past 50 years makes me nervous seeing a turban in business class. However, logically speaking there must be some tipping point at which the body count is the most pressing statistic a politician has in mind. AP will surpass this tipping point, where history’s basket case revolutionaries were doomed to fail. The State will of course respond in nasty ways, but inevitably these will prove ineffective in the face of an impenetrable network supporting a sustained and wide spread offensive.

    [end of quote]

  207. Thomas L. Knapp

    And anyone who seriously advances the notion that the idea behind Bell’s “Assassination Politics” is “random, sporadic violence against ANY category of people” is a fucking idiot.

    Not that we needed that additional data point to draw said conclusion about Mr. Terry.

  208. jim

    “Anyone who seriously advances the idea that random, sporadic violence
    against ANY category of people, as a legitimate political policy is totally
    outside the sphere of reasonable/intelligible discourse.
    This person neither belongs in any intellectual or political group, much less
    the Libertarian Party.”

    I don’t think I said anything about “random, sporadic violence” in my AP essay. In any case, Bob Vroman had a thing to say:

    This is from
    https://web.archive.org/web/20120204063833/http://www.anti-state.com/vroman/vroman9.html

    Dave Terry needs to learn that when I was writing my AP essay, I extensively considered the implications of the NIOFP (NAP), and wrote that into the essay itself. Dave may pretend that he doesn’t realize that, but it is indeed true.

    Further, Paragraphs 5 and 6 of Vroman’s item explains one reason why AP would work against government leadership:

    “Young has three main points. First, that assassination has been ineffectual in the past for destroying states. Second, assassinations will instead create a backlash against anarchism by government and citizens alike. Third he does not like the moral implications of the very likely possibility of collateral damage from sloppy AP prize-hunters, given the relatively poor caliber of historical attempts.

    The first point, despite all its exhaustive research, is I’m afraid to say, totally erroneous, because the mechanism by which AP kills its victims is fundamentally different then assassination campaigns of the past. I am not at all surprised to read that a handful of suicidal ideologues gunning down a few unlucky aristocrats failed to exorcise the nation state. Assume for the moment that AP’s basic functions materialize (I will get to Murphy’s objections later). The pool of assassins has instantaneously expanded from only insane political extremists, to every single violent opportunist in the world who can access a computer. AP represents a veritable full scale war against the State, fought by the scum of society and funded by every partisan malcontent across the political spectrum. A dozen assassinations per century is certainly not going to give any politicians second thoughts about their career choice, any more than the dozen or so plane hijackings in the past 50 years makes me nervous seeing a turban in business class. However, logically speaking there must be some tipping point at which the body count is the most pressing statistic a politician has in mind. AP will surpass this tipping point, where history’s basket case revolutionaries were doomed to fail. The State will of course respond in nasty ways, but inevitably these will prove ineffective in the face of an impenetrable network supporting a sustained and wide spread offensive.

    [end of quote]

  209. paulie

    fucking idiot.

    Not that we needed that additional data point to draw said conclusion about Mr. Terry.

    Isn’t his photo used to illustrate “fucking idiot” in the dictionary?

  210. jim

    I am glad to hear that David Friedman has re-written his book, “The Machinery of Freedom”. His last edition, in 1989, was written over 5 years before my AP essay was published, the essay which made Friedman’s “Hard Problem” obsolete. (“hard problem” meant that defense of anarchical societies seemed difficult or impossible). As a contributor to the Cypherpunks list in the mid 1990’s, Friedman certainly heard about AP.

  211. Robert Capozzi

    pf: Can’t say I agree, but do you have proof that [L] doesn’t [allow for ordinal comparisons]?

    me: It depends on what you mean by “proof.” How do propose to have a “proof” for words, which are made-up constructs?

  212. jim

    pf: Can’t say I agree, but do you have proof that [L] doesn’t [allow for ordinal comparisons]?

    Robert Capozzi: It depends on what you mean by “proof.” How do propose to have a “proof” for words, which are made-up constructs?

    JB: Lay down until you feel “at peace”.

  213. paulie

    It depends on what you mean by “proof.” How do propose to have a “proof” for words, which are made-up constructs?

    My point exactly. Chuck was stating it as an absolute fact, when at best he can say he defines the word differently than some of us here do.

  214. Robert Capozzi

    pf, that’s sorta true. However, do you deny that there are some people who use the L label that do cleave to the NAP and others that don’t? And that there is great variability even among NAPsters as to the NAP’s meaning?

    Strikes me that CM is stating the obvious.

  215. paulie

    Sure…

    just look up Clinton Libertarian or Bush Libertarian or Reagan Libertarian or David Duke Libertarian or Noam Chomsky Libertarian…

  216. Robert Capozzi

    or Georgist Libertarian or Theoretical Asymptotic Anarcho-Libertarian or Agorist Libertarian or Voluntaryist Libertarian or Ron Paul Libertarian or Objectivist Libertarian etc.

    (Did Bush ever say he was L?)

    Strikes me that if you don’t want to consider Chomsky as being on your team, don’t. We each have our tolerances, and a chasing a universal tolerance level seems like a fool’s errand. If Bill Clinton decides he wants to run as a L, vote against his nomination. If Invictus seeks the nomination, condemn his views if it feels appropriate.

    Why the need for such precision, and a pre-existing, codified standard that only the cadre can apply, based on a bunch of 20 year olds and one quirky college prof in his 50s in the early 70s?

  217. Chuck Moulton

    paulie wrote:

    Can’t say I agree, but do you have proof that [L] doesn’t [allow for ordinal comparisons]?

    Robert Capozzi wrote:

    It depends on what you mean by “proof.” How do propose to have a “proof” for words, which are made-up constructs?

    paulie wrote:

    My point exactly. Chuck was stating it as an absolute fact, when at best he can say he defines the word differently than some of us here do.

    I’ve stated repeatedly why the NAP definition is inferior to other definitions: it miscategorizes (i.e., it’s wrong), it’s imprecise, and it demeans people.

    Anyway, the burden is on those who depart from the dictionary definition(s).

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/libertarian

    libertarian – one who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/libertarian

    libertarian – a person who advocates liberty, especially with regard to thought or conduct

    I don’t see any dictionary with a definition of “libertarian” as the NAP.

    Oh, look… here is a dictionary definition of anarchy which defines it as the rejection of force / aggression.

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/anarchist

    anarchist – a person who advocates or believes in anarchy or anarchism

    anarchism – rejection of all forms of coercive control and authority

  218. paulie

    libertarian – one who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state

    I can go with that one. That means that a position for minimizing some aspect of the state by 90% is relatively more libertarian than reducing it by 9%, or do you understand that differently?

  219. Matt Cholko

    I think many people on this thread are giving the NAP and the SoP way too much credit. Aside from comments on IPR, most of the talk I’ve heard of them in the real world (and that’s very little) indicates that Ls see them as guidelines to help us navigate towards freedom, not the stone cold law of the LP.

    To put it simply, I think nearly all Ls would vote in favor of a 50% reduction in program X. And, though they may wish it was a 100% reduction, almost none would feel that they violated the NAP by “consenting” to the other 50%. Even the ones that refuse to vote would not likely hold the voters out as scumbag NAP violators.

    And yeah, I know that a few clowns on FB and IPR would make that argument. But, those few are literally just a few.

  220. paulie

    indicates that Ls see them as guidelines to help us navigate towards freedom, not the stone cold law of the LP.

    That’s what I have been saying.

    And yeah, I know that a few clowns on FB and IPR would make that argument.

    I’m not recalling anyone making such an argument on IPR.

    Actually, we are saying what you just said, and being accused of saying what you are saying people are saying but which as far as I know no one here is actually saying.

  221. Chuck Moulton

    Chuck Moulton wrote:

    libertarian – one who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state

    paulie wrote:

    I can go with that one. That means that a position for minimizing some aspect of the state by 90% is relatively more libertarian than reducing it by 9%, or do you understand that differently?

    No. Two people who want to minimize some aspect of the state are both libertarians.

    I’d interpret a minimal state as minimum workable state, not a minimum possible state. The latter would always be none at all (as a tautology) — i.e., anarchy. The former could include some functions of government whose elimination would destabilize society.

    I happen to believe the minimum workable state is no state at all. I don’t consider people who want some government my enemies or “less libertarian” than me though.

  222. paulie

    Two people who want to minimize some aspect of the state are both libertarians.

    I agree and said so earlier in the thread.

    I’d interpret a minimal state as minimum workable state, not a minimum possible state.

    The definition you provided said minimizing, not minimal workable or minimum possible.

    I happen to believe the minimum workable state is no state at all. I don’t consider people who want some government my enemies or “less libertarian” than me though.

    Of course they are not my enemies. Already stipulated.

    I also don’t consider it a big deal if they think I am less libertarian than they are and they shouldn’t get too worked up if I think they are less libertarian than I am. We are both still libertarian, and being perfect libertarians is not the most important thing in life.

  223. Robert Capozzi

    pf: I can go with that one. That means that a position for minimizing some aspect of the state by 90% is relatively more libertarian than reducing it by 9%, or do you understand that differently?

    me: Also no. The percentage I personally might advocate depends on many factors. One is the speed of reduction, and whether my judgment is that some speeds are too risky. Another is saleability and credibility. A freeze in levels of government is pretty sellable and credible. A 90% cut is neither, and it would put me on the fringes, where few would take me seriously, thereby undermining my effectiveness. Why do that?

    I can’t know whether no state, a nightwatchman state, a minimal state, or limited government would be optimal. I’ll have a better idea when (AND IF) we ever get to a limited government. I’m as sure as I can be that it’s WAY too big now. Anything more precise feels awfully grandiose to me.

    OK, I see that Jeb Bush claims to have L blood in his veins. He might well. I recall him saying on CNBC maybe 4 years ago that he reads Cato at Liberty. That’s different from saying he IS a L. It means he is influenced by L thought to me.

  224. Robert Capozzi

    IOW, the bigger cut advocates are simply advocates for bigger cuts, they aren’t more “L.”

  225. paulie

    The percentage I personally might advocate depends on many factors. One is the speed of reduction, and whether my judgment is that some speeds are too risky. Another is saleability and credibility. A freeze in levels of government is pretty sellable and credible. A 90% cut is neither, and it would put me on the fringes, where few would take me seriously, thereby undermining my effectiveness. Why do that?

    You seem to be confusing libertarian with optimal here. The most libertarian position is not necessarily the optimal one. Libertarianism is one of several values I have and can be outweighed by other factors, some of which you mention. I guess that means I am not the most libertarian under all circumstances, even though I am an anarchist, because I have some of the same caveats on the path from here to there as you do. Recall what I said earlier in the thread about slamming on the breaks as hard and fast as possible? Not always the best idea, even if you are going the wrong way.

    So I am not the most perfect 100% libertarian. And I am OK with that. Contrary to Chuck’s claim that I can only say it’s OK because I am an anarchist and thus “perfectly libertarian.” But I’m not. Nor do I think it’s imperative that I or anyone else should be. I am suggesting a direction (MIOF as has been suggested earlier in the thread) but it’s not precisely linear.

  226. Caryn Ann Harlos

    And I am not the most libertarian under all circumstances either. Claiming though that the no aggression standard isn’t the most consistent libertarian position doesn’t only go against the NAP pledge but against the SoP as well and the preamble as well.

    To argue that a position of minimal optimal coercion is just as libertarian is to argue that collectivism is just as libertarian as individual sovereignty for that is the argument. That for the good of “society” some individual aggression must be tolerated. That may very well be the best utilitarian argument to some people. But utilitarian =/= libertarianism… meaning they are not the exact same thing. They can co-exist and utilitarian reasoning by some can lead to perfectly libertarian results, but they are not the same thing, and a reasoning that posits a certain minimal coercion is not as libertarian as one that says “force and fraud must be BANISHED from all human relationships.” That is because utilitarianism is an additional value that a person has that can be of greater importance than the value of individual sovereignty and the idea that one person should not be forced to sacrifice their rights for the benefit of others

    If ones going to argue that the only way to affirm the NAP is to be an anarchist, the only way to affirm the Preamble and SoP is to be as well. Those state ideal libertarian positions. If we are working towards those ideal positions, to the extent that we do, and we do not oppose or advocate against them, we are being consistent libertarians.

    But just as libertarianism =/= utilitarianism, it also does not equal holy.

  227. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Oh an btw at a Libertarian gathering tonight. A couple of anarchists at the table. And another Libertarian told us “Really, anarchists just need to get the f**k out of this Party.” Shrug. Used to it. (and btw this wasn’t hostile, this was a friend.. . just stating their position… I didn’t get upset or hurt feelings over it)

  228. jim

    Caryn Ann Harlos:
    Well, there was a time when I thought that anarchism didn’t make sense, strictly speaking. Now I know different. The people who criticize it may simply believe (falsely) that anarchism amounts to only a simple choice, and to some, that choice seems false. If you don’t explain to people why there is really nothing that can be done to avoid anarchism, they are left with the impression that their choice is as valid as that of an anarchist.

  229. Chuck Moulton

    Everything Stringham writes is good. He is one of my mentors from my master’s program at San Jose State University… where I regularly attended the Saturday Night Anarchy Club that Stringham and Hummel ran with interesting speakers.

    Leeson is a professor at George Mason University who is another unabashed anarchist. He is most well known for his book about pirate economics The Invisible Hook. He also has an interesting paper on trial by Ordeals arguing that witch trials were rigged because only innocent people would agree to the ordeals.

    Chartier probably wrote the Conscience of an Anarchist as a response to Root’s the Conscience of a Libertarian. He donated all proceeds to antiwar.com.

  230. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Chuck,

    ==Everything Stringham writes is good. He is one of my mentors from my master’s program at San Jose State University… where I regularly attended the Saturday Night Anarchy Club that Stringham and Hummel ran with interesting speakers.==

    We have Liberty on the Rocks pretty established here which is about as close to to an anarchy club as we get. Which is tomorrow night:)

    I really appreciate the recommendations.

  231. Dave Terry

    jim, October 5,
    “NONSENSE! The key words are “INITIATED FORCE” You don’t seem to understand that. The initiation of force doesn’t automatically “reset itself” after a period of time. And alone, the NIOF principle does not limit the extent of the response that the victim may choose to use.”

    NONSENSE! The key words are ” (EXCEPT TO THOSE WHO ARE PERSONALLY
    INVOLVED!!!)”

    In my hypothetical, I clearly indicated that when the thieves entered the property and secured the gate with a chain, they then entered the building and mingled with OTHER TENANTS!

    You are correct, in that, IAF does NOT “automatically reset itself”, but it DOES include ONLY
    THOSE individuals who committed the aggression. It makes no more sense to start attacking
    people who were not involved in the initial act of aggression, just because they are now in the same general vicinity, or on the same property as those who were.

  232. jim

    Dave Terry: You ADDED the words “except to those who are personally involved”. That’s your invention. Your fiction. Your concoction. Your addition. Where did you get that?

    So, I did a Google-search for ‘except to those who are personally involved’. I couldn’t find anything which applies to that phrase and NAP. I added the phrase, “non aggression principle” as a separate string. Still nothing relevant.

    Evidently, you have yourself invented a concept that few, if any, other people even know about, let alone believe in.

  233. jim

    Dave Terry: I will repeat your nonsense here:
    “Consider this;
    If someone breaks into your home, rips off valuable property and
    flees the scene, just as you arrive and see your open door and their
    truck leaving your property. Who do you call, “Ghost Busters”?”

    Like I said before, they INITIATED the aggression. Response with violence is entirely acceptable.

    “So, you follow the truck to a gated warehouse, just as they enter
    the property and secure the gate with a chain.”

    I guess you are trying to imply that they are “home free”, like a baseball player who just happens to make it to a base, or even better, back to home plate.

    “Since there is no government, ergo, no police to call to “intervene”,
    you have two choices;
    1. drive back home and count your losses,
    2. call your friends and relatives to help you break into the warehouse
    and accost those inside, ergo: becoming the aggressor in a new,
    and even more violent act of force (i.e. aggression)”

    You’ve not explained your “reasoning” here. Why does the fact that they have managed to secure the stolen goods mean that I have no recourse? “Might makes right”? Or maybe “possession is 90% of the law”?!?

    “Since there is no generally recognized source of neutral, objective or
    unbiased “force” to intervene…”

    You sound confused. You mean that there is no authority. Fine by me. We can use our own force. You don’t explain why not.

    the two incidents are completely separate
    and unrelated events.

    UNRELATED EVENTS? Ha ha! The property is the same. The property was stolen from ME by THEM. My motivation for taking it back is that the property is MINE, NOT THEIRS.

    (EXCEPT TO THOSE WHO ARE PERSONALLY
    INVOLVED!!!)

    I am not aware of any provision of NAP that prohibits a third-party from using force to help somebody get his illegally-taken property back? The violator of NAP is the person who originally took the property. Once he does so, anyone else who chooses to apply force against him is NOT “initiating force”.

    You must REALLY be nuts!
    Where do you get your stuff?

  234. Robert Capozzi

    pf: You seem to be confusing libertarian with optimal here. The most libertarian position is not necessarily the optimal one. Libertarianism is one of several values I have and can be outweighed by other factors, some of which you mention.

    me: Ahh, no, I don’t feel confused at all.

    But you have confused me!

    Why would you ever use a word to describe your politics that you believe did NOT optimize the prevailing political arrangement?

    Is this your rap:

    >>>>”I’m a L. I think you should consider adopting L-ism, too, but keep in mind, it is NOT the optimal approach to politics”<<<>>I believe TAAALism is the optimal political philosophy. It draws insights from Hayek, Lao Tzu, and Nozick. It takes into account moral, practical, utilitarian, and peace components. It’s at once principled but flexible. I invite you to consider TAAAL-ism.<<<

  235. Robert Capozzi

    …whoa, something got hosed when I hit Post Comment….end part should be:

    Is this your rap:

    >>>>”I’m a L. I think you should consider adopting L-ism, too, but keep in mind, it is NOT the optimal approach to politics”<<>I believe TAAALism is the optimal political philosophy. It draws insights from Hayek, Lao Tzu, and Nozick. It takes into account moral, practical, utilitarian, and peace components. It’s at once principled but flexible. I invite you to consider TAAAL-ism.<<<

  236. Robert Capozzi

    …wow, maybe it’s the arrows…one more time:

    Is this your rap:

    ===”I’m a L. I think you should consider adopting L-ism, too, but keep in mind, it is NOT the optimal approach to politics”===

    Here’s mine, for your consideration:

    ===I believe TAAALism is the optimal political philosophy. It draws insights from Hayek, Lao Tzu, and Nozick. It takes into account moral, practical, utilitarian, and peace components. It’s at once principled but flexible. I invite you to consider TAAAL-ism.===

  237. Thomas L. Knapp

    I know very few people who consider the NAP “the only value.”

    Personally, I consider it the defining and essential value of libertarianism, but that allows for a lot of options. It’s a constraint, not a prescription. So there might be any number of other values or policy ideas that one holds. All of them can be “libertarian,” provided they don’t violate the constraint.

  238. Robert Capozzi

    tk, thanks, I get that.

    The “constraint” is IMO a million-pound millstone. If read completely literally and adopted as a constraining rule, NAP/ZAP as a def of L restricts all Ls to obscure shades of anarchism and “voluntary” minarchism.

    That provides for virtually no flexibility at all.

  239. Thomas L. Knapp

    I wouldn’t say it’s a millstone at all.

    There’s nothing at all to stop you from proposing to enslave people and take their stuff all the time, as much as you want.

    All the constraint does is make it clear that when you propose to enslave people and take their stuff, you’re proposing to do so on other than libertarian grounds.

  240. Robert Capozzi

    tk, what you call “enslavement” is certainly non-standard.

    But, here’s a suggestion: Why not copywrite the NAP/ZAP to your liking? That way, you have an authority you can use in making your case that many of my views are not L.

    😉

    Oh, right, you oppose IP, copywrite, etc., yes?!

    I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree, then. When I advocate a freeze on government next year, I feel just as L as you do when you exclaim that I am advocating “enslavement” according to YOUR def. of L.

  241. Thomas L. Knapp

    Robert,

    Why on earth would I want or need to make the case that your views are not L? When we are discussing something in particular and I believe that to be the case, I make my argument and let those watching decide for themselves.

    In the case of you calling for a freeze on government, I have no idea why you would think I don’t consider that “L.” You are agitating AGAINST AN INCREASE in use of initiated force. Unless you’re actively agitating FOR MAINTENANCE of the existing level, which I doubt you’ll be doing, I don’t see anything non-L there.

  242. paulie

    Why would you ever use a word to describe your politics that you believe did NOT optimize the prevailing political arrangement?

    Because, as already explained, it’s a direction I want to move in. I’m antiwar, but not perfectly 100% antiwar. Caryn is more antiwar than I am, because she would not wage war even in self-defense. But we are both antiwar in the context of today’s politics.

  243. paulie

    …wow, maybe it’s the arrows…

    I don’t recommend using angle brackets as they are used in HTML tags and the wordpress software may interpret them that way.

  244. Robert Capozzi

    pf: Because, as already explained, it’s a direction I want to move in.

    me: So, then, why do some anarchists oppose the word “minimize aggression” vs “zero aggression”? “Minimize” picks up a WHOLE lot more support, and leaves deeply theoretical scenarios (e.g., worldwide AndyLand) for cannabis-smoke-filled dorm rooms.

  245. paulie

    Dunno. I agree with you and disagree with them. Zero IOF is my goal but I’ll work with whoever wants to move in that direction and slamming on the brakes as hard and fast as possible could be counterproductive.

  246. Thomas L. Knapp

    “So, then, why do some anarchists oppose the word ‘minimize aggression’ vs ‘zero aggression?'”

    It’s not so much a problem with “minimize” aggression versus “zero” aggression as is the frequency with which “minimize aggression” is used in weasel word form that ignores calculation problems in an attempt to argue that overall “net aggression” can be reduced through judicious increases in particular aggressions.

    You haven’t been as bad about that since Brian Holtz, at one time an avid proponent of the “net aggression” scam, stopped posting here, but you may remember that back then I wrote an entire paper exposing the fallacious thinking involved.

  247. Thomas L. Knapp

    Caryn, Glad you like it!

    I’ve personally never been against actual incrementalism or small steps or whatever. I just reject the notion that the various forms of aggression can be commensurably unitized as would be necessary to calculate “net” increases or reductions of aggression as a single phenomenon. “It’s worth two more rapes if we can avoid one murder and a liquor store robbery” just doesn’t make sense.

  248. Caryn Ann Harlos

    I wish I had it last night when I was being unofficially excommunicated. Part of the argument was that we don’t believe in incremental changes, and I was about to tear my hair out.

  249. paulie

    I wish I had it last night when I was being unofficially excommunicated. Part of the argument was that we don’t believe in incremental changes, and I was about to tear my hair out.

    Why should the burden of proof be on you? Of course we do.

  250. Robert Capozzi

    tk: You haven’t been as bad about that since Brian Holtz, at one time an avid proponent of the “net aggression” scam, stopped posting here, but you may remember that back then I wrote an entire paper exposing the fallacious thinking involved.

    me: Thanks for the ringing endorsement! 😉 “as bad”…

    But, in concept, while I can’t think of any areas I personally would advocate increased government, there are certainly for me supportable “net aggression” trade-offs I might support if not advocate.

    Say, for ex., it was possible to achieve a 1% reduction in the next year’s federal budget, but as part of the deal on the table, tax preferences were capped at an annual level of say $1MM. And, because of that, on a static basis, the wealthiest 1% of taxpayers would experience a 1% tax increase in absolute dollars.

    I might support that.

    Say that it was achievable to close bases in Germany and the UK. But the only way to get that to work is to offer an early retirement plan for those stationed there.

    I might support that.

    Say a bill was pending legalizing weed nationwide. But the trade-off was stiffer sentences for meth lab owners.

    I might support that.

  251. Thomas L. Knapp

    Robert,

    Yes, you might support those things. And you would do so in the name of “minimizing aggression,” even though you have no way of calculating whether or not the measures would have that effect. Then you would complain that the people who don’t pretend that the problems involved can be so calculate “are NAPsolutists who oppose minimizing aggression.”

  252. Robert Capozzi

    tk, the calculation would not be arithmetic. It would involve judgment and intuition.

    Likely all NAPsolutists would not share in my support, but non-NAPsolutists might not as well. The latter might have a different judgment and intuition.

    The NAPsolutists, however, would likely quote some sort of (flawed) syllogism and would label me an anti-L, as Griggs does to Petersen.

    That’s OK, I’m a big boy! I might point out why the syllogism has many, many holes, but I surely don’t expect everyone to agree with me always. I would assure them, though, that my support represented my best judgment of what is available in the here and now to move the civil society toward more freedom and less coercion.

  253. Dave Terry

    Jim, I’m sorry you have so much difficulty dealing with the English language.

    I Wrote; “the two incidents are completely separate and unrelated events.”

    YOU wrote: “UNRELATED EVENTS? Ha ha! The property is the same. The property was stolen from ME by THEM. My motivation for taking it back is that the property is MINE, NOT THEIRS.

    Au contraire! ONLY those individuals who broke in to your house and stole your property
    are guilty, WHAT makes you think that everyone in the building is a party to your loss of property. If there were only three of four guys in the truck (and in your house) and there are
    twenty people in the warehouse, how do you know WHICH three guys are the culprits?

    Does it matter? Are they ALL guilty by association? Would you be surprised to learn that the
    17 people who did NOT visit your property are ONLY aware of the fact that THEY are being
    aggressed against, by YOU and your friends.

    Are you aware that you simply jumped to a conclusion without the benefit of objectivity.

    But, such is the norm in an “every man for himself” society, logically supported by an anarchistic legal system.

  254. jim

    Unfortunately, your comments are wacky. I reply inline:

    You Wrote; “the two incidents are completely separate and unrelated events.”

    I wrote: “UNRELATED EVENTS? Ha ha! The property is the same. The property was stolen from ME by THEM. My motivation for taking it back is that the property is MINE, NOT THEIRS.

    You wrote: “Au contraire! ONLY those individuals who broke in to your house and stole your property
    are guilty, WHAT makes you think that everyone in the building is a party to your loss of property. If there were only three of four guys in the truck (and in your house) and there are
    twenty people in the warehouse, how do you know WHICH three guys are the culprits?”

    This may be a problem, but it’s not a problem about the applicaiton of the NAP. It would be analogous to a person stealing property while in disguise, and then the rightful owner has a problem finding the guilty party. A difficulty, but NAP is only obliquely relevant. In today’s world, police would obtain a search warrant, and would charge the possessors of the property with “receiving stolen goods”, a felony.
    You’re trying to add complications that were not present in your original silly speculation.

    “Does it matter? Are they ALL guilty by association? Would you be surprised to learn that the
    17 people who did NOT visit your property are ONLY aware of the fact that THEY are being
    aggressed against, by YOU and your friends.”

    Again, that’s NOT an NAP issue. They may not be aware that their confederates did something wrong, but that’s one of the difficulties of that situation.

  255. Dave Terry

    In my last paragraph, I should have written “by the absence of a coherent legal system.”

  256. Thomas L. Knapp

    “In my last paragraph, I should have written ‘by the absence of a coherent legal system.'”

    Completely understandable, given the absence of a coherent individual at your keyboard.

  257. Robert Capozzi

    tk: Yes, you might support those things.

    me: It’s be great if the asymptote toward anarchy had no perturbations. Usually in life and politics, there’s some give and take. We might want to have it be all “take,” all things in our favor, but — seriously — how often does THAT happen?

    A slightly more progressive tax structure while shrinking the state sounds generally like a positive outcome vs the status quo. Walter White getting 5 more years while herbalism is legalized sounds better than the status quo to me.

  258. Thomas L. Knapp

    Right. It “sounds better to you.” That’s not the same thing as the claim that it “minimizes initiation of force.” You can know the former. You have know way of knowing the latter. The former is a true statement of opinion. The latter is a completely made up factual claim.

  259. jim

    Robert Capozzi: You said, “A slightly more progressive tax structure while shrinking the state sounds generally like a positive outcome vs the status quo. ”

    I think some (approximate) facts need to be stated in order to understand what you said. My understanding is that the large majority of revenue used to finance the Federal government comes from “the top 20% of taxpayers”, or something like that. In other words, the size of the Federal government is virtually DEFINED not by the taxation level of the lower classes, but in fact the taxation level of the upper classes. (The fact that some of the budget comes from borrowed money adds a degree of complexity.)

    Romney’s famous “47%” were those who didn’t pay Federal Income tax. He used this statistic as a stand-in to identify people who were net consumers, and not supporting the (Federal) government. This choice is inexact, of course, but it is still useful. (People who don’t pay Federal income taxes still pay sales tax, property taxes, and maybe state income tax.)

    Put another way (and I wish I could quantify it better), if you postulate “shrinking the state”, that would virtually be synonymous with reducing the average rate of taxation of the upper income level people. So, you have proposed what looks a bit like a contradiction in terms: A shrinking of the size of ‘the state’ would tend to reduce, rather than increase, the “progressive” nature of the system. All to the good, I’d say!

  260. jim

    Paulie: Are you saying that I listed EVERY POSSIBLE TAX that they paid?!? I was giving a few examples.
    Give it up, Paulie! That sounds DUMB.

  261. paulie

    I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt. Your rhetoric about the rich paying the vast bulk of taxes ignores the massive federal taxes that fall primarily on those who are not wealthy, the biggest of which is the payroll AKA FICA tax, which is a huge chunk of federal revenues and a huge chunk of money earned by hourly wage earners.

  262. Dave Terry

    Jim>
    “This may be a problem, but it’s not a problem about the applicaiton of the NAP. It would be analogous to a person stealing property while in disguise, and then the rightful owner has a problem finding the guilty party. A difficulty, but NAP is only obliquely relevant. In today’s world, police would obtain a search warrant, and would charge the possessors of the property with “receiving stolen goods”, a felony.
    You’re trying to add complications that were not present in your original silly speculation.”

    On the contrary, I have added nothing, The problem is your reading capacity. I have NOT been
    addressing the NAP specifically, but ONLY as it applies to “anarchism” All of your deviations from this do not mitigate against the fact that under anarchism there CAN NOT BE an NAP.
    To wit: as you wrote,”In today’s world, police would obtain a search warrant, and would charge the possessors of the property with “receiving stolen goods”, a felony.”

  263. Dave Terry

    Caryn Ann Harlos:
    “Well, there was a time when I thought that anarchism didn’t make sense, strictly speaking.

    So when did you have your mental breakdown? (I’m joking………………………..mostly}

    “Now I know different. The people who criticize it may simply believe (falsely) that anarchism amounts to only a simple choice, and to some, that choice seems false.”

    How do you manage to classify anarchism as a “complex choice”?

    “If you don’t explain to people why there is really nothing that can be done to avoid anarchism, they are left with the impression that their choice is as valid as that of an anarchist.”

    This a pretty weird supposition. Can you state any legitimate argument, as to WHY anarchism
    cannot be avoided? You sound almost like a Marxist defending the idea of “the dialectic”.

  264. jim

    “I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt. Your rhetoric about the rich paying the vast bulk of taxes ignores the massive federal taxes that fall primarily on those who are not wealthy, the biggest of which is the payroll AKA FICA tax, which is a huge chunk of federal revenues and a huge chunk of money earned by hourly wage earners.”

    I think you need to support your assertion “…ignores the massive federal taxes that fall primarily on those who are not wealthy…”.

    Also, I think you need to consider that FICA (Socialist Insecurity Tax) is explicitly intended (claimed, I suppose) to “pay for” Socialist Insecurity. In other words, it is said that people are supposed to get it back, someday. (I’ll stop typing for a bit while all of you can finish your laughter.)

    That is one reason there has been a limit on the amount taxed in FICA: Since Socialist Insecurity benefits don’t rise without limit, they can’t justify taxing the source income without limit.

    This is from: http://taxfoundation.org/article/summary-latest-federal-income-tax-data
    (in other words, 2013 data)

    “Introduction
    The Internal Revenue Service has released new data on individual income taxes, reporting on calendar year 2011.[1] The IRS data continues to reflect the fact that half of all taxpayers pay nearly all income taxes. However, the improving economy resulted in a spreading of the tax burden as the number of filers increased along with incomes and taxes paid for all income groups except the top 0.1 percent. The higher incomes pushed taxpayers into higher brackets, resulting in an increase in average income tax rates for all income groups except the top 0.1 percent, whose effective rate remained about the same as in 2010. The income shares of the top 1 and 2 percentiles fell in 2011, as did their shares of taxes paid.
    The Top 50 Percent of All Taxpayers Paid 97 Percent of All Income Taxes; the Top 5 Percent Paid 57 Percent of All Income Taxes; and the Top 1 Percent Paid 35 Percent of All Income Taxes in 2011” [end of quote]

    So, note the latter two figures: Top 5 percent of taxpayers paid 57 percent of all income taxes. Since about 50% don’t pay any Federal income taxes at all, that means that the remainder, about 45%, pay about 100%-57% of federal income taxes, or about 43%.

    Imagine this! If the top 5 percent of taxpayers didn’t exist, the amount of money obtained by the Federal government via the income tax would drop to 43% of what it currently is! (everything else being equal, of course.)

    So, now you see what I meant when I pointed out that if the size (cost) of the state (at least, in this analysis, the Federal Government) were to drop, by far most of the benefit would accrue to the ones paying the most income taxes.

  265. langa

    If the NAP is the golden rule, then everyone already knows it. But the NAP isn’t the golden rule. The NAP is the definition of anarchy.

    Sure, everyone knows the Golden Rule, and most of them believe in it. They just haven’t thought to apply it to politics. It’s our job as libertarians to rectify that oversight. If we can successfully do that, bingo — we’ll have a free society.

    Public choice theory is pretty easy to explain though. The government is not a utopia. The government is full of people pursuing their own self-interests, not some “public interest”. There are government failures just like market failures.

    The NAP is also pretty easy to explain: You are free to live your life however you choose, so long as you do not initiate force or fraud against anyone else. To put it even simpler, live and let live. And all this applies to government, too, since people who work for the government are still just people, not angels or superheroes. Not exactly rocket science, is it?

    Why wouldn’t privacy be a value people derive utility from? We see a revealed preference for privacy all the time.

    So what? We also see a revealed preference for not being aggressed against.

    What are you talking about? The TSA is not a revealed preference; it is government mandated. If anything I’ve seen the opposite: many people go through significant additional expense of time and money to avoid the TSA (e.g., by driving instead of flying). If your assertion were true, the TSA should cause people to fly more, not less.

    Sure, but the vast majority of people continue to fly. If they were as concerned about their privacy as you say, the major airlines would all have gone out of business long ago.

    Similarly, I am very disappointed that you believe a libertarian world would be much worse for society than a massive government, and the only reason you are advocating for less government is you believe a simplistic phrase derives every moral decision in the universe — you’re allowing that phrase to trump all your beliefs about the best society.

    I think the idea of even evaluating what’s “best for society” in the absence of basic moral principles is insane. I suppose a “utilitarian libertarian” would have no problem with the forced eugenics advocated by Augustus Invictus. After all, if some people are a “drain” on society, then why not just get rid of them, for the “good of society” — or why not force left-handed people to give half their income to right-handed people? Greatest good for the greatest number…

    …“truthful” allows ordinal comparisons. “libertarian” does not. “triangle” does not. “woman” does not.

    So, let’s summarize. “Truthful” refers to an abstract quality, possessed by some people to a greater degree than others. “Triangle” refers to a discrete geometric category, used to classify shapes. “Woman” refers to a discrete biological category, used to classify humans. Which of these things is “libertarian” most similar to? Hmm, that’s a real head-scratcher, huh?

    Oh, look… here is a dictionary definition of anarchy which defines it as the rejection of force / aggression….anarchism – rejection of all forms of coercive control and authority

    “Force/aggression” and “coercive control and authority” are not the same thing. In fact, as I pointed out on the other thread, your definitions of “libertarian” and “anarchist” ignore private, non-state sources of aggression. If, as you claim, “libertarians” are only concerned about the size of government, and not about opposing aggression in general, then they should have no problem with private aggressors, such as the Mafia. Is that your claim?

  266. Robert Capozzi

    tk: It “sounds better to you.” That’s not the same thing as the claim that it “minimizes initiation of force.”

    me: It sounds better because it minimizes force, in my judgment, on net. It could set the social trajectory on a path toward more freedom and less coercion.

    Is it a guarantee? No. But, then, not every cause/effect relationship works out like we think it will, yes? In fact, looks to me like most don’t.

  267. Robert Capozzi

    jim: A shrinking of the size of ‘the state’ would tend to reduce, rather than increase, the “progressive” nature of the system. All to the good, I’d say!

    me: Not only do you forget about FICA and other taxes, your math is hosed.

    It is possible that the absolute dollars spent by the state could decline while the percentage of total taxes paid by top 1% could increase, yes.

  268. Robert Capozzi

    langa: The NAP is also pretty easy to explain: You are free to live your life however you choose, so long as you do not initiate force or fraud against anyone else. To put it even simpler, live and let live. And all this applies to government, too, since people who work for the government are still just people, not angels or superheroes. Not exactly rocket science, is it?

    me: As a GENERAL matter, that’s beautiful sentiment. It’s definitely NOT rocket science!!

    Specific APPLICATION and ACTIONABILITY, however, of this “simple” concept has proven elusive.

  269. Thomas L. Knapp

    “It sounds better because it minimizes force, in my judgment, on net”

    Except that, as I’ve pointed out, no such “judgment” is possible because there’s no way to calculate “net” force. You’re making a guess that you can’t know the correctness or incorrectness of either before or after.

    If you don’t believe me, ask Mises (“calculation problem”), Hayek (“knowledge problem”), Hazlitt (“seen versus unseen effects”) or any number of other people far more famous than me. You’re scribbling meaningless hieroglyphs and comforting yourself with the fairy tale that what you’re doing is math.

  270. Robert Capozzi

    more to TK…

    Say there was a plan on the table in which government spending went down next year 5% and everyone’s taxes went down 5% except one very affluent person’s, who lost certain tax preferences that s/he used disproportionately. That person’s taxes went up $0.01.

    Would that be an un-L outcome? Would you say the initiation of force increased under that plan? Would you condemn my support for such a plan?

  271. Robert Capozzi

    tk: You’re scribbling meaningless hieroglyphs and comforting yourself with the fairy tale that what you’re doing is math.

    me: Actually, I’m not doing math, per se. I know, for example, that any given person’s taxes could go from among the highest percentage of income to the lowest in the next year. How? A person’s income could plummet from Year 1 to 2.

    For that person, the initiation of force falls dramatically, even under the current tax regime! With NO changes!

    Similarly, if someone wins the Lottery in Year 2, his/her effective tax rate will shoot up dramatically.

    Aggregate tax modelling is not precise. Nor, for that matter, is a business’s revenue forecast for the next period.

    Modelling uses math, but modelling is more of a best-guess. So stipulated.

  272. Thomas L. Knapp

    Robert,

    That’s a pretty odd reductio, and not a very effective one, because I can explode it with one simple addition: Sure, let’s do that, and I’ll send the one guy a buck so that he ends up with a tax cut too.

    But the actual answer is that I don’t know whether the “net” initiation of force increased or decreased under such plans, which in reality are never as simple as your reductio, and neither do you, because we can’t know.

  273. Robert Capozzi

    more…

    I’d think even President Perry’s administration would still use financial modelling when he takes office in 2017! 😉

  274. Robert Capozzi

    tk, technically, sending the guy a buck changes nothing about his TAX rate.

    Yes, we can’t KNOW whether the financial model will work out to a T, either. It IS the best guess.

    President Perry might veto the one-dude’s-taxes-go-up-$0.01 plan, with a 5% cut.

    I’d say that would be unwise. You might applaud that.

    Alrighty, then!

  275. jim

    Robert Capozzi: You said,
    “me: Not only do you forget about FICA and other taxes, your math is hosed.
    It is possible that the absolute dollars spent by the state could decline while the percentage of total taxes paid by top 1% could increase, yes.”

    I DID mention some “other taxes”. I just didn’t purport to list them all. Further, as I previously pointed out, FICA is somewhat different, because ostensibly it goes to support a payment (Socialist Insecurity) that will eventually be returned to you. (Although, for the Millenials, this may seem to be a dim hope. Blame the people who founded Socialist Insecurity.)

    I agree that for very small reductions in the size of the (say) Federal government, of the magnitude 1%, ” the absolute dollars spent by the state could decline while the percentage of total taxes paid by top 1% could increase, yes.” I did not mention that possibility, because I was primarily interested in a more substantial reduction, say, 10% or more. Reduce the cost of the Federal Government by 10%, and it would be very hard to justify maintaining, let alone increasing, tax revenue from the top 5% of taxpayers. Only a very malicious intent to punish people for having more money could explain such a position.

    Ever heard the old Communist line, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/From_each_according_to_his_ability,_to_each_according_to_his_need That was presumably the slogan justifying taking just about everything from “the rich”, but it ended up rewarding the Communist Party members over ordinary citizens.
    I’ve never seen a cogent justification for demanding that people who make “a lot more money” pay “a lot more taxes”. And I do not merely say that because I am a libertarian. A “rich person” whose income is X-times that of another person, doesn’t automatically receive X times the benefit from government services. He may buy X-times more toys, but government isn’t directly involved in that.

    BTW, have you entirely given up the idea of trying to reject my Assassination Politics idea? You’ve already said something like, ‘it doesn’t work for me’, but that doesn’t justify rejecting it for everyone else.

  276. Chuck Moulton

    langa wrote:

    Sure, but the vast majority of people continue to fly. If they were as concerned about their privacy as you say, the major airlines would all have gone out of business long ago.

    Wow… just wow… it’s hard to even find the words…

    Okay, I finally get the problem we are having communicating: you don’t understand basic economics (and probably have never taken an economics course before). Your response here displays a complete lack of understanding of foundational principles freshmen learn their first day in a college economics class.

    Just because “privacy” is one thing people value doesn’t mean it is the only thing people value. People optimize on more than one margin. There are tradeoffs between privacy and cost, and people compare those two things differently depending on individual preferences. The assertion that because people still fly that means they must place no value on privacy is as ridiculous as stating because people still buy food at McDonalds therefore no one must place any value on food quality or health.

    I really can’t have a discussion with someone who doesn’t understand basic economics, makes no attempt to
    learn it, and acts like economics doesn’t matter. I don’t have the time or desire to teach economics to someone who doesn’t want to learn.

    “It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.” — Murray Rothbard

  277. Chuck Moulton

    For the benefit of everyone else but langa…

    langa wrote:

    I think the idea of even evaluating what’s “best for society” in the absence of basic moral principles is insane. I suppose a “utilitarian libertarian” would have no problem with the forced eugenics advocated by Augustus Invictus. After all, if some people are a “drain” on society, then why not just get rid of them, for the “good of society” — or why not force left-handed people to give half their income to right-handed people? Greatest good for the greatest number…

    Hogwash. Complete lack of understanding of economics and ultilitarianism. F-

    langa wrote:

    So, let’s summarize. “Truthful” refers to an abstract quality, possessed by some people to a greater degree than others. “Triangle” refers to a discrete geometric category, used to classify shapes. “Woman” refers to a discrete biological category, used to classify humans. Which of these things is “libertarian” most similar to? Hmm, that’s a real head-scratcher, huh?

    Your definition is wrong because it mischaracterizes and inadvisable because it is imprecise, easily misinterpretted, and demeans people. I’ve already shown an analogous definition of “woman” to the NAP definition. You seem to agree that definition is ridiculous. Great, that’s step 1. Step 2 is applying that to the NAP definition of “libertarian” and realizing it too is ridiculous.

    langa wrote:

    Force/aggression” and “coercive control and authority” are not the same thing. In fact, as I pointed out on the other thread, your definitions of “libertarian” and “anarchist” ignore private, non-state sources of aggression. If, as you claim, “libertarians” are only concerned about the size of government, and not about opposing aggression in general, then they should have no problem with private aggressors, such as the Mafia. Is that your claim?

    Force / aggression and coercion are exactly the same thing.

    The mafia uses coercion. Government is a legitimized monopoly on coercion. Libertarians are also concerned about individual rights, not just the size of government. Force / fraud / aggression / coercion from private actors is a problem. Some would solve it through government, others through private institutions.

    langa wrote:

    Sure, everyone knows the Golden Rule, and most of them believe in it. They just haven’t thought to apply it to politics. It’s our job as libertarians to rectify that oversight. If we can successfully do that, bingo — we’ll have a free society.

    Most people don’t want to hear candidates talk about philosophy.

    If you want someone to run for philosopher-in-chief, that’s fine. Run yourself. It would be nice if you’d get out of the way of candidates who actually want to communicate effectively with the voters though instead of requiring that everyone wear your straightjacket and be completely ineffective as a consequence.

    langa wrote:

    The NAP is also pretty easy to explain: You are free to live your life however you choose, so long as you do not initiate force or fraud against anyone else. To put it even simpler, live and let live. And all this applies to government, too, since people who work for the government are still just people, not angels or superheroes. Not exactly rocket science, is it?

    Nice sentiment, but looks like a complete non sequitur to 99.9% of the voters. They wonder why a football player is talking about muffin recipes, stop paying attention to the libertarian candidate, vote for the R or D, and we lose a valuable opportunity to effectively communicate the message of liberty. Losing strategy.

  278. Robert Capozzi

    jim: Reduce the cost of the Federal Government by 10%, and it would be very hard to justify maintaining, let alone increasing, tax revenue from the top 5% of taxpayers. Only a very malicious intent to punish people for having more money could explain such a position.

    me: Actually, I’d think it’d be pretty easy, and would be not be malicious. In concept, I like the idea of capping a taxpayer’s total tax preference on the way to a low, simple flat tax. Some subset of taxpayers are using tax preferences disproportionately. That might cause some to experience a modest tax increase while most experience a tax cut.

    Another way might be to raise the FICA max. That coupled with a cut in income taxes generally might cause a subset to pay higher taxes, at least in the short term.

    As for AP, it doesn’t interest me. I read one of those essays about 3/4s through, and it was just too Unabomber for me. So sorry to say.

    Plus, I’ve indicated that I oppose capital punishment, and AP is kind of a form of that. It would only take one mistake for me to consider it unacceptable, since death is irreversible. Ponder that, I suggest.

  279. Thomas L. Knapp

    Quoth Chuck:

    “Most people don’t want to hear candidates talk about philosophy.”

    Still saying that, I see, and even throwing in the “99.9%” figure, even though both claims are clearly 180 degrees out of phase with observable reality.

  280. Thomas L. Knapp

    “As for AP, it doesn’t interest me. I read one of those essays about 3/4s through, and it was just too Unabomber for me.”

    You clearly never read the Unabomber’s stuff, then.

  281. jim

    jim: Reduce the cost of the Federal Government by 10%, and it would be very hard to justify maintaining, let alone increasing, tax revenue from the top 5% of taxpayers. Only a very malicious intent to punish people for having more money could explain such a position.

    RC: Actually, I’d think it’d be pretty easy, and would be not be malicious. In concept,

    “Malicious”, to my thinking, is trying to make the resulting system more “progressive” than it currently is. Or even, to maintain the current level of progressivity. No doubt they would deny the “malicious” part, of course. But with a 10% reduction of the cost of the Federal govt, and remember my quote, above:

    “The Top 50 Percent of All Taxpayers Paid 97 Percent of All Income Taxes; the Top 5 Percent Paid 57 Percent of All Income Taxes; and the Top 1 Percent Paid 35 Percent of All Income Taxes in 2011” [end of quote]

    So, that 10% savings should, if equally distributed based on its source, should go 57% to the top 5% of taxpayers, or 57% of 10%, or 5.7%
    The rest, 43%, should go to the rest of the Federal taxpayers (I’m not considering FICA here, for reasons I previously mentioned) should go to 45% of taxpayers. 43% of 10% is 4.3%.
    Please explain why it would be morally acceptable to rob from 5% of the people, to pay to the otherwise-upper 45% of the people. Remember, you cannot claim they include the bottom 50%! You can’t claim those 45% are “poor”, or “hungry”.

    “I like the idea of capping a taxpayer’s total tax preference on the way to a low, simple flat tax.”

    Why “on the way”? Why not get there immediately? To me, the main attraction of a REALLY “flat” tax (even one with a zero-bracket) is that by keeping to it, “they” couldn’t raise the tax rate on the top, say, 10%, without also raising it on everyone else in the “pays taxes” bracket. THAT would deter raising taxes, like nothing else would.

    “Some subset of taxpayers are using tax preferences disproportionately. That might cause some to experience a modest tax increase while most experience a tax cut.”

    Be specific about the “tax preferences”. Keep in mind that I consider the taxation of corporate dividends at BOTH the level of the corporation AND the individual to be “Double-Taxation”. I view, therefore, “capital gains taxes” merely as a way to reduce the impropriety of that double-taxation. Really, it should be eliminated: Either eliminate the corporation tax, or eliminate the taxes on capital gains AND interest paid by corporations. Eliminate the double-taxation completely. Is THAT the “tax preference” you were referring to?

    “Another way might be to raise the FICA max. That coupled with a cut in income taxes generally might cause a subset to pay higher taxes, at least in the short term.”

    Except that’s being dishonest, isn’t it?!? Socialist Insecurity doesn’t claim to pay an unlimited amount of money to retirees. Right now, the amounts taxed are ostensibly limited based, in part, on that fact. Sure, you could make the change you suggest, but why not just go out and rob banks, if you need money”

    “As for AP, it doesn’t interest me. I read one of those essays about 3/4s through, and it was just too Unabomber for me. So sorry to say.”

    Did you read Vroman’s 2nd?

    Plus, I’ve indicated that I oppose capital punishment, and AP is kind of a form of that. It would only take one mistake for me to consider it unacceptable, since death is irreversible. Ponder that, I suggest.

    NO! Would you say that shooting and killing an attacker is “a form of capital punishment”? Sure, you might be a “pacifist”: That would explain why you would choose to not defend yourself with force. But if not, implicitly you reserve the right to defend yourself, presumably up to whatever level you deem necessary. You wouldn’t call that “capital punishment”, would you? You are PROTECTING yourself, and perhaps others, against harm to yourself.

    And I previously pointed out that what we know as “capital punishment” is a biased system: Ordinary individuals can’t force a prosecution against some important person to occur. I’d like to see George W Bush brought to trial for murder: See Vincent Bugliosi’s 2008 (?) proposal to do just that. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDt4782gpxM
    Death penalty too, I’d say.
    W Bush’s misconduct in 2003-2004 left hundreds of thousands of artillery shells undestroyed, which were eventually picked up by the Iraqi populace, and used to make and deploy IED’s, themselves killing over 4000 American soldiers. Initially, he troops left them in place, because Bush was looking for IEDs, and thus jusitification for the invasion. Once he discovered no such WMDs existed in significiant quantity, the troops should have blown every ammunition igloo.

    And, of course, hHis invasion of Iraq was clearly illegal. I’d say that it is highly inconsistent to put others on trial for death-penalty offenses, without doing the same to George W. So don’t try to pretend that AP is like “the death penalty”.

  282. Robert Capozzi

    Jim, I consider all taxes to represent the total tax burden. Tax revenues are fungible.

    I am not so interested in direct-mail tax “plans” but rather ways to change the dynamics — using Public Choice-type insights — to reverse the fiscal ship’s direction. A flat tax would have to have too high a rate, IMO, to maintain spending or even at somewhat lower levels in the short term. I don’t consider massive spending cuts to be in the realm of the possible, and I don’t think adding to the federal debt is a good idea. In fact, a case could be made that taxes should remain at current levels while spending is cut until the debt was brought to at least manageable levels.

    YMMV.

    FICA is a flat tax, btw, but a highly regressive one.

    Note I have no specific plan. I’m mostly just talking out loud about how an engaged L might handle public policy questions in the here and now.

    I’m mostly interested in ideas that can be sold in the near term.

  283. Thomas L. Knapp

    “I don’t consider massive spending cuts to be in the realm of the possible”

    Over the short term, or ever?

    Either way, you’re way out on the fringe there, since they’re not only possible, but actually happen. A majority of the US House of Representatives temporarily institutes relatively “massive spending cuts” of 17% every couple of years (it’s called, not entirely truthfully, a “government shutdown”).

    As far as PROPOSALS for “massive spending cuts,” the current third place contender for the Republican presidential nomination has offered to balance the budget in her first year by reverting to Zero-Based Budgeting. A less likely nominee, but one who’s still done well enough to make both “adults’ table” debates, proposes to balance the budget in five years, also through “massive spending cuts.”

    Ultimately, “massive spending cuts” are not just possible but inevitable. Sooner or later, creditors will get antsy enough about the federal government’s debt load to turn the spigot way down, although probably not completely off (there’s a sucker born every minute).

  284. Robert Capozzi

    Government “shutdowns” are fleeting things, yes, TK?

    CF’s advocacy of “zero based budgeting” seem unlikely to actually decrease annual government spending. There are armies of staff to justify all sorts of things, if you’ve not noticed….

  285. jim

    JI reply inline:
    “Jim, I consider all taxes to represent the total tax burden. Tax revenues are fungible.”

    Except that government portrays different taxes to be for different things. You may have your own wacky opinion, but so what? FICA has limits because they advertise it to be for one thing, not for everything.

    “I am not so interested in direct-mail tax “plans”…”

    I have no idea what a “direct mail tax “plan” is. Please don’t be intentionally cryptic. If you don’t want to be understood, don’t write.

    ” but rather ways to change the dynamics — using Public Choice-type insights

    There you go again with your cryptic comments. What is a “Public Choice-type insight”? You are here to COMMUNICATE! Do so in a way that should make sense to 90%+ of the people.

    “— to reverse the fiscal ship’s direction. ”

    Sure sounds like a platitude, a truism. You write, but say little. Evidently, you don’t want to be understood.

    “A flat tax would have to have too high a rate, IMO, to maintain spending or even at somewhat lower levels in the short term.”

    It’s odd you would say that. Different people propose different levels of “flat tax”. Virtually by definition, a person might arbitrarily choose a higher rate over another. You’d propose a certain rate to match the spending needed. HERE, however,, you are ALREADY said the rate ‘can’t be high enough’. Which to you, might be true.

    ” I don’t consider massive spending cuts to be in the realm of the possible,”

    It sure sounds like you are not a libertarian! Of course, I think you already admitted that. And I note that you referred to them as “massive spending cuts”. You have already pre-biased your commentary to match your biases.
    Do you consider 1% to be a “massive spending cut”? I don’t. What if I proposed to return Federal spending to what it was in 1999? Would THAT be a “massive spending cut”. If so, and if you think that is not “in the realm of the possible”, how did we all get along in 1999? GOTCHA!

    “and I don’t think adding to the federal debt is a good idea. In fact, a case could be made that taxes should remain at current levels while spending is cut until the debt was brought to at least manageable levels.”

    That’s the first thing you’ve said that I consider even remotely logical. But somehow I think you’ve already telegraphed that you can’t agree with enough spending cuts to be sufficient, or even significant.

    “YMMV.”

    “FICA is a flat tax, btw, but a highly regressive one.””

    By my definition, it isn’t “regressive” at all. Because the proceeds are intended to go to the people who paid it. You display your biases when you said what you did.

    “Note I have no specific plan. I’m mostly just talking out loud about how an engaged L might handle public policy questions in the here and now.”

    In other words, you have nothing significant to say. I believe that.

    “I’m mostly interested in ideas that can be sold in the near term.”

    Can a reduction in Federal spending to, say, 2004 levels (other than military; reduce it greatly) be “sold in the near term”?

  286. Robert Capozzi

    Jim, you are — in your own way — mirroring to me why some NAPsters get frustrated with me. Thank you for that service!

    For me, the art of the comment is to keep it short and pithy. Sometimes I fail at that.

    I try to address major misunderstandings or good points others make, not to belabor every quibble. Your comments feel like quibbles to me.

    That said, just a few clarifications:

    = a direct-mail plan is a lightweight plan that stands no chance of passage, mostly used to excite true-believer donors.

    = I know SS is supposed to be a standalone, self-funding program. What it’s purported to be and what it actually is are two different things. It was ill conceived from inception, but now it’s about as untouchable as can be.

    = In truth, though, SS and Medicare are the biggest drivers of federal spending growth and levels of overall taxation. They make up almost half of federal spending. When assessing the size of the government, they are analytically unavoidable.

    = Cutting these are nearly impossible, at least in the short to intermediate term. So, returning federal spending to 1999 or 2004 levels would require large percentage cuts in discretionary and military spending. I’d like to see that happen personally, but my assessment is that that level of cutting is a non-starter, unfortunately.

  287. jim

    Robert Capozzi:
    “= a direct-mail plan is a lightweight plan that stands no chance of passage, mostly used to excite true-believer donors.”

    Couldn’t find that definition even with Google-search. That means you are a jerk. You deliberately used a term you had no reason to believe I knew. If you still disagree, find the definition and show me how you found it.

    “= I know SS is supposed to be a standalone, self-funding program. What it’s purported to be and what it actually is are two different things. It was ill conceived from inception, but now it’s about as untouchable as can be.”

    Doesn’t change the fact that the pattern of funding (taxation level; limit of taxation) is matched to the purpose of retirement. Thus, raising the maximum taxable income level is dishonest: That change focuses the burden on a relatively tiny portion of the tax-paying public. That’s crooked.

    “= In truth, though, SS and Medicare are the biggest drivers of federal spending growth and levels of overall taxation. They make up almost half of federal spending. When assessing the size of the government, they are analytically unavoidable.”

    That’s not my fault.

    “= Cutting these are nearly impossible, at least in the short to intermediate term. So, returning federal spending to 1999 or 2004 levels would require large percentage cuts in discretionary and military spending. I’d like to see that happen personally, but my assessment is that that level of cutting is a non-starter, unfortunately.”

    They say health care in Europe is inherently cheaper than here. Why is that? Obamacare, if they had been serious about cutting costs, shouldn’t have been only about health insurance.

  288. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Doesn’t change the fact that the pattern of funding (taxation level; limit of taxation) is matched to the purpose of retirement. Thus, raising the maximum taxable income level is dishonest: That change focuses the burden on a relatively tiny portion of the tax-paying public. That’s crooked.”

    Actually it isn’t, because you’re leaving out a major data point: Life expectancy. Social Security benefits aren’t paid out in a lump sum. They’re paid out from retirement until death. So if you live longer, you collect more.

    In actuarial terms, life expectancy varies by wealth, race and sex.

    On average, a poor black male collects much less than he paid.

    On average, a wealthy white female collects far more than she paid

    And of course there are various mix-and-match averages in there by various combinations of wealth, race and sex.

    At the extreme ends of the spectrum, the retirements of wealthy white females whose payments are capped and who live for-fucking ever are subsidized by the tax payments of poor black males who kick the bucket early.

  289. jim

    ““Doesn’t change the fact that the pattern of funding (taxation level; limit of taxation) is matched to the purpose of retirement. Thus, raising the maximum taxable income level is dishonest: That change focuses the burden on a relatively tiny portion of the tax-paying public. That’s crooked.””

    “Actually it isn’t, because you’re leaving out a major data point: Life expectancy. Social Security benefits aren’t paid out in a lump sum. They’re paid out from retirement until death. So if you live longer, you collect more.”

    Yes, your statement is true, but as you applied them you’re wrong.
    What YOU are not recognizing is that this affects all groups more or less equally. Thus, what might be justified is to raise the tax rate from about 7.2% (value from memory; might be wrong) from BOTH the taxpayer and employer. This means that everybody pays more. Your proposal is to increase the taxable income; don’t recall what that cutoff is now. So I am correct: My solution is to divide the expense among all beneficiaries; your “solution” is to increase the tax revenue on only a rather small number of people who are already making the maximum-taxable-income level. Any actuary can tell why your proposal is wrong and dishonest.

    “In actuarial terms, life expectancy varies by wealth, race and sex.”

    Truism.

    “On average, a poor black male collects much less than he paid.”

    Truism.

    “On average, a wealthy white female collects far more than she paid”

    That — USED TO be true. This was particularly true in the 1960’s, 70’s, and 1980’s. But gradually this effect has changed.

    I can see you are trying to obfuscate the issue.

    “And of course there are various mix-and-match averages in there by various combinations of wealth, race and sex.”

    Again, a silly truism. Nothing you’ve said justifies raising the maximum-taxable-income level.

    “At the extreme ends of the spectrum, the retirements of wealthy white females whose payments are capped and who live for-fucking ever are subsidized by the tax payments of poor black males who kick the bucket early.”

    None of your comments supported your desired conclusion.

  290. jim

    “SS/FICA is just a small part of how government redistributes income upwards.”

    You are falsely implying that FICA generally “redistributes income upwards”. At least in regards to SS, government claims to NOT be doing so. Can you support your apparent claim?

  291. Robert Capozzi

    jim: ““Doesn’t change the fact that the pattern of funding (taxation level; limit of taxation) is matched to the purpose of retirement. Thus, raising the maximum taxable income level is dishonest

    me: ADR, you are not paying attention. The whole thing is dishonest. SS was sold initially as “insurance,” and it ain’t.

  292. Thomas L. Knapp

    “None of your comments supported your desired conclusion.”

    That’s very true, since I neither presented any arguments nor indicated any desired conclusion.

  293. jim

    Thomas Knapp: You quoted and said:
    ““None of your comments supported your desired conclusion.”

    “That’s very true, since I neither presented any arguments nor indicated any desired conclusion.”

    You are probably thinking that I was responding to you. Actually, I was responding to Robert Capozzi, but that wasn’t included in my note, above.

    One of the irritating and inexplicable characteristics of IPR is that it offers to, for example:
    “Leave a Reply to Robert Capozzi Cancel reply”

    But if you type a reply, the resulting reply appears to be entirely unlabelled as to who it’s for! I ask, “What is the purpose of specifically asking the user to leave a reply to one named individual, when the identity of that individual won’t be automatically included in the reply as we see it?” What happens is that the person writing the reply is misled about what he is actually doing: He THINKS he is writing a reply that would go to a particular person, when in fact he is just entering an unlabelled comment.

    I consider that to be an irritant, a bug.

  294. jim

    Robert Capozzi: You quoted and said:
    jim: ““Doesn’t change the fact that the pattern of funding (taxation level; limit of taxation) is matched to the purpose of retirement. Thus, raising the maximum taxable income level is dishonest

    RC: ADR, you are not paying attention. The whole thing is dishonest. SS was sold initially as “insurance,” and it ain’t.

    That is an attempt to change the subject. We all know Socialist Insecurity is dishonest. Nevertheless, within that general dishonesty can be analyzed specific dishonesties. You tried to justify raising taxes on a rather small part of taxpayers, specifically the ones whose earned income is above the maximum SS income taxation limit, by means of raising that limit.

    But you did that by pointing to general increases in the overall cost of the system. Noting the latter cannot be used to justify the former.

  295. jim

    Robert Capozzi and Wang Tang Fu:

    The URL’s you cite merely talk about wealth redistribution in general; they do not support the idea that FICA and Socialist Insecurity do so specifically.
    Further, the article titled “the-government-is-spending-more-to-help-rich-seniors-than-poor-ones/” contains the paragraph:
    “Among Americans born 30 years later, the government will spend substantially more on the richest Americans. In that group, the benefits each man will receive over his lifetime were worth an average of $522,000 in 2010. In the poorest group, that figure was just $391,000. (These numbers don’t account for the larger share of taxes paid by the most affluent.)”

    Read that last sentence, in the parentheses, again.
    If anything, I’d say that the benefits ratio is FAR more egalitarian that the taxes paid by these two groups! That means there is actually a DOWNWARD wealth distribution going on here, NOT UPWARD!

  296. Thomas L. Knapp

    Jim,

    Sorry — I did think you were replying to me, because your reply quoted me. Or at least I thought it did. You’re right about it being hard to see who’s talking to whom in comments here sometimes.

    Now, about FICA redistributing wealth upward:

    I’ve already pointed out that life expectancy tends to create a large differential in collection of Social Security benefits.

    Now let’s look at Medicare. Where does THAT money go. Well, here’s where it goes, and why:

    “The 10 drug companies that make the most money from doctors using their products on Medicare patients spent more than $236 million to lobby Congress and the executive branch between 2009 and 2013 …. The biggest recipient: Health-care company Roche and its subsidiary Genentech, which together took in at least $1.65 billion — nearly 28% of what Medicare paid in 2012 for medications and vaccines administered by doctors or other health professionals under Medicare Part B, a USA TODAY analysis shows.”

    Medicare is a gigantic corporate welfare program with a candy shell of health care benefits for the people who paid for it all their working lives. Its purpose is not to deliver health care, its purpose is to justify big payouts to “health care providers” and pharmaceutical companies. It consists almost entirely of upward wealth distribution (from low-income Americans to the stockholders of large companies with well-paid lobbyists).

    With respect to “fixing” it, I’m not real big on raising taxes at the top end. My transitional preference is at the other end, in a way that cuts FICA taxes for EVERYONE: A “FICA floor.”

    Link it to the personal exemption on the federal income tax. That’s the amount of income you can make before the feds start taxing you on your income. It should also be the amount you make before they start taking FICA out of your check (realistically, they would probably take it, then give the excess amount taken back as a refundable income tax credit).

    The guy who works at the drive-thru at McDonald’s doesn’t pay FICA on the first $X of his annual income. The woman who runs Hewlett-Packard doesn’t pay FICA taxes on the same first $X of her income.

  297. paulie

    One of the irritating and inexplicable characteristics of IPR is that it offers to, for example:
    “Leave a Reply to Robert Capozzi Cancel reply”

    What are you talking about? I’m looking at the comment box and it offers no such option.

    I’ve already told you, but in case you don’t remember, none of your replies will say who they are to unless you add it in the text of the reply.

  298. paulie

    The URL’s you cite merely talk about wealth redistribution in general; they do not support the idea that FICA and Socialist Insecurity do so specifically.

    Wealth redistribution was the overall point. Government, in totality, does a lot more to redistribute income upwards than downwards, and the links, taken together and in context, provide only a few of the many reasons why this is so.

    As far as SS, aside from actual tables etc etc., SS takes money from younger people, who are on average poorer, and gives it to older people, who are on average wealthier thanks to inheritances, pensions, savings, investments, etc accrued over a lifetime. In theory those younger people will eventually get their money back (if they live long enough). That may or may not happen. As we all know here, there is no trust fund. It’s a massive upward redistribution of wealth. And it’s only one of many, only a few of which are covered in the articles linked above.

  299. Thomas L. Knapp

    Paulie,

    When you read a comment by email and hit reply, above the comment box it says (as in this case:

    “Leave a Reply to paulie”

    So it would be reasonable to assume that when you post the comment, it would be automatically be labeled “Thomas L. Knapp replying to Paulie.” But of course it isn’t. That’s not anyone at IPR’s fault, it’s a defect in WordPress native commenting.

    I think that’s what Jim is talking about.

  300. paulie

    Oh. I’ve never replied to a comment by email. It’s a wordpress plugin, and I guess it doesn’t work as it should because it is not optimized for the wordpress theme IPR uses which does not have nested replies.

    In any case, just take that into account when replying.

  301. Robert Capozzi

    jim: Thus, raising the maximum taxable income level is dishonest

    me: OK, more directly, then, the maximum taxable income has been changed many times since SS was created. So have other terms for the program. Most of them are fundamentally dishonest, but at this point, the dishonesty has become an institution. Lives have been built around the expectation.

    In the meantime, a massive level of public debt has been run up. Payments on the debt are first in line.

    In addition, over the last 30 years, the distribution of wealth has shifted dramatically from the least wealthy to the most. http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

    This doesn’t especially trouble me per se, except that: it has happened while the state has grown quite dramatically; public debt (generally held by the affluent) has surged; and that debt is first in line.

    Couple that with TARP and other game-rigging policies that the government uses, and the picture that emerges for me is that the plutocrat class is gaming the system to their benefit, choking especially the middle income demographic.

    Unwinding this sorry state of affairs will not be easy, but I’m open to the possibility that certain counter-intuitive counter-measures may be necessary to level the playing field and to roll back the state.

  302. paulie

    it has happened while the state has grown quite dramatically; public debt (generally held by the affluent) has surged; and that debt is first in line.

    Couple that with TARP and other game-rigging policies that the government uses, and the picture that emerges for me is that the plutocrat class is gaming the system to their benefit,

    Exactly.

  303. Thomas L. Knapp

    Speaking of Social Security, so far the only presidential candidate in this cycle who seems to be “seriously” addressing it is Chris Christie. I don’t know if his numbers work and I don’t agree with his plan, but he seems to be taking it seriously as an impending disaster. Right now, as best I can see:

    – The “centrist” Democrat candidates insist that Social Security “works” and will continue “working” forever.

    – The “leftist” Democrat candidates and Greens insist that not only does it work, but it needs to be dramatically expanded so that everyone can have a pony and two Buicks and unlimited free beer.

    – The Republican candidates all seem to be talking about “saving” Social Security, but like I said, Christie seems to be the only one with anything resembling a detailed plan for doing so (IIRC, he wants to raise the retirement age by two years over a fairly long period of time, “uncap” the FICA tax, and “means test” wealthier recipients so that if you’re still making six figures after putative retirement, you don’t get a Social Security check).

    That leaves Libertarians a clear field for being the ones to talk about how we get off the merry-go-round.

    In theory, the Social Security “trust fund” will become “insolvent” some time between 2025 and 2035, depending on who you ask.

    In fact, it already IS insolvent. The only thing in the “trust fund” is “government securities,” i.e. IOUs from a government already $18 trillion in debt and showing no signs of slowing down its credit card binges.

    Social Security IS going to end at some point, and that point seems to be relatively soon (within the lifetime of the average 30-year-old). Libertarians should be the ones explaining how to end it without mass starvation of the elderly as part of the outcome. Just sayin’ …

  304. paulie

    The military-industrial and drug war/police-prison-industrial complexes are two other ways income gets redistributed upwards. That includes the money paid in fines and court fees, slave labor in jails and prisons, money paid to (occupational licensing protected) lawyers to stay out of the system… it goes on and on.

  305. Robert Capozzi

    off the top of my head, tk’s FICA floor has some advantages. However, to continue to pay out benefits, I suspect that tax rate over the floor would have to be raised. Or, the maxtax level would have to be dramatically increased. Or some combination.

    It does seem obvious to me, though, that to tax the first 15% of someone’s effective earnings makes it awfully tough to survive. It also dissuades entry level jobs on the margin.

  306. jim

    You said:

    In addition, over the last 30 years, the distribution of wealth has shifted dramatically from the least wealthy to the most. http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

    Table 7: Distribution of income in the United States, 1982-2006
    Income
    Top 1 percent Next 19 percent Bottom 80 percent
    1982 12.8% 39.1% 48.1%
    1988 16.6% 38.9% 44.5%
    1991 15.7% 40.7% 43.7%
    1994 14.4% 40.8% 44.9%
    1997 16.6% 39.6% 43.8%
    2000 20.0% 38.7% 41.4%
    2003 17.0% 40.8% 42.2%
    2006 21.3% 40.1% 38.6%
    2009 17.2% 41.9% 40.9%
    From Wolff (2012).
    (end of quote: unfortunately, the columns don’t exactly line up)

    The relationship between the “Next 19 percent” and the “Bottom 80 percent” is actually rather close. You presumably object, therefore, to the oft-criticized “1%”.

    Another problem is, “is this really a problem”? The figures limit the analysis to the United States: Presumably, one effect over the last “30 years” has been a great increase in the proportion of manufacturing capacity, moving from America to various other nations. (Korea, Taiwan, Mexico, China, India).
    Look at ALL the numbers, including those nations, and maybe you’d find that by making people from those nations richer, and making people from America poorer (or maybe just “less rich”), things might actually be IMPROVING from a “distribution of wealth” or “distribution of income” standpoint.
    But see? The people who are pushing these kinds of analyses like to cherry-pick the numbers to match their agendas. You too, I suspect. We were talking about FICA and the extent to which it does, or does not, transfer wealth upwards or downwards. You had to change the subject to defend your position.

  307. paulie

    The entire fabric of taxes and regulations – collectively and colloquially “red tape” – is what dissuades people from starting their own businesses. Eminent domain, corporate welfare, bailouts, custom loopholes – these keep existing big businesses on top. A fairly wealthy class of lobbyists greases the skids. Routine health care being paid for with insurance, and insurance being tied to employment, is a big one – it keeps many people as corporate or government employees rather than striking out on their own. Occupational licensing, debt, it goes on and on…. the class system is interwoven at every step with government. Welfare dependency is not exactly a way to encourage entrepreneurship. The “help” government supposedly gives poor people is less than a drop in the bucket compared to the massive money it shovels out the back door to the reach, “quantitative easing” included. It’s just window dressing for the Potemkin village and a way to make the whole sick setup have the guise of doing something charitable and moral to help people.

  308. paulie

    In addition, over the last 30 years, the distribution of wealth has shifted dramatically from the least wealthy to the most. http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

    Yes, the URL does help show that the share held by the bottom 80 shrunk an the top 1% grew. The problem is that it cuts off in 2009, and the trend of government-aided upward income redistribution has dramatically accelerated since then. The other problem was that there was already plenty of government-aided upward income redistribution even in 1982.

    We’ve given you plenty of reasons why FICA is an upward redistribution of wealth, but just so we don’t get too off track here, I reproduced my comment above that FICA is just one of many ways that this is happening, which led to this tangent. So if anyone is trying to change the subject it’s you.

  309. Thomas L. Knapp

    Jim,

    I find it odd that you even find the claim that wealth redistribution in the US is “from the bottom to the top” to be controversial.

    Redistributing wealth and power from the productive class to the political class is what the state DOES. That’s what it’s ALWAYS done.

    Even if we assume initial purity of motive in this case or that (“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”), vesting a monopoly on the use of force in a central organization (a state) inevitably results in the seizure of control of that organization by those who see that it can be bent to their ends rather than to its alleged purposes.

    That’s Libertarianism 101, dude.

  310. paulie

    I find it odd that you even find the claim that wealth redistribution in the US is “from the bottom to the top” to be controversial.

    Redistributing wealth and power from the productive class to the political class is what the state DOES. That’s what it’s ALWAYS done.

    Exactly!

  311. jim

    Thomas Knapp: You said,
    ““Leave a Reply to paulie”
    So it would be reasonable to assume that when you post the comment, it would be automatically be labeled “Thomas L. Knapp replying to Paulie.” But of course it isn’t. That’s not anyone at IPR’s fault, it’s a defect in WordPress native commenting.
    I think that’s what Jim is talking about.’

    Yes, that is exactly what I’m talking about. It is misleading to the user for the computer to refer to a recipient, when that recipient isn’t even mentioned when the “reply” is posted. If the thing simply said, “Leave a comment” the user would be alerted that his message isn’t specifically directed to somebody.

    I don’t know what “WordPress native commenting” means, but somebody sure screwed up!!

  312. jim

    Thomas L. Knapp: You said,
    “In fact, it already IS insolvent. The only thing in the “trust fund” is “government securities,” i.e. IOUs from a government already $18 trillion in debt and showing no signs of slowing down its credit card binges.”

    I’ve advocated that the Republican majority in Congress use the “debt ceiling” increase to make major changes. Instead of a huge, trillion dollar increase, define by statute a per-day increase, one that requires a continuing, regular vote by Congress (one that can’t be filibustered, nor vetoed by Obama), perhaps weekly. Rebudget the entire budget to eliminate “baseline budgeting” (the practice of adding to previous years’ budgets without newly justifying them), and make major cuts to all pork, ESPECIALLY Democrat pork.

  313. jim

    Robert Capozzi:
    “It does seem obvious to me, though, that to tax the first 15% of someone’s effective earnings makes it awfully tough to survive. It also dissuades entry level jobs on the margin.”

    A lot of things don’t seem obvious to you, however. One of them is, if those dollars of tax based on the first 15% of someone’s earnings ISN’T paid by him, it will have to be paid by SOMEBODY. Who?

    Tell us that you understand this! You claimed that at one point you were a libertarian. I see little evidence of it based on your comments.

  314. Thomas L. Knapp

    Jim,

    Yes, “zero-based budgeting” instead of “baseline budgeting” would be a good start.

    Under “zero-based budgeting,” at the beginning of each fiscal year a department’s budget is zeroed out and that department then makes a budget request in which it has to justify every dollar it wants.

    Under “baseline budgeting,” it is assumed that the department will need as much money as last year plus an automatic upward adjustment for inflation and so forth, and all that has to be justified in the budget request is any ADDITIONAL money.

    Carly Fiorina said in an interview the other day that she would balance the budget, and that the first step would be returning to “zero-based budgeting.” She immediately got savaged by “budget experts” who whine that the federal government is just too big and complex to expect the bureaucrats to justify their expenditures every year.

    And yet that is the USUAL way of doing things. When a business plans its upcoming budget, it doesn’t just assume that it has to continue doing everything it’s been doing and add to it. It looks at the last year and figures out what worked and what didn’t, and gets rid of the stuff that didn’t.

    As far as pork is concerned, I don’t worry that much about it. “Earmarks” — the format in which pork is requested and delivered — are allocations of money already set to be appropriated. If Congress is appropriating $500 billion for “defense,” and some congresscritter “earmarks” $1 billion to build a ship at a shipyard in his district, the total appropriate remains the same, it’s just that $1 billion of that $500 billion has to be spent on something in particular.

    In fact, “pork” has some good effects, to the extent that it takes particular spending decisions out of the executive branch’s hands. Without earmarks, Obama just gets handed that $500 billion and told “spend this on defense — YOU decide how.”

  315. Thomas L. Knapp

    Quoth Jim:

    “if those dollars of tax based on the first 15% of someone’s earnings ISN’T paid by him, it will have to be paid by SOMEBODY.”

    Non sequitur. That’s like saying “if I don’t burglarize YOUR house tonight, I have to burglarize someone ELSE’S house tonight.” There’s a third option — don’t burglarize a house tonight.

  316. jim

    Paulie: You said,
    “We’ve given you plenty of reasons why FICA is an upward redistribution of wealth, but just so we don’t get too off track here, I reproduced my comment above that FICA is just one of many ways that this is happening, which led to this tangent. So if anyone is trying to change the subject it’s you.”

    I guess I must have missed ALL of them in the flurry of comments about inequality, etc.

  317. jim

    Thomas L. Knapp said, and I reply inline:

    “I find it odd that you even find the claim that wealth redistribution in the US is “from the bottom to the top” to be controversial.”

    I make an extreme distinction between “wealth redistribution” done by the private, free market, and “wealth redistribution” intentionally done by government.
    When I want a product, I buy it, with money I earned. Somebody (actually, a lot of somebodies) make a _profit_ on that transaction. Eventually, some of those profits go to “the top”, or to places in between. Because it’s a free market, I see NOTHING AT ALL WRONG with that. Indeed, most people seem to ignore it.

    But if you are talking about GOVERNMENTAL wealth redistribution, that’s a different subject.

    “Redistributing wealth and power from the productive class to the political class is what the state DOES. That’s what it’s ALWAYS done.”

    Well, look at what I wrote above. I think that the largest portion of the “redistributing wealth and power from the productive class to the political class” is actually done by the free market, NOT by “the state”. The Free Market (to the extent it is “free”) is, after all, much larger (so far, thank you!) than the government is.

    Now, I’m not trying to disregard the fact that the government may buy goods and services (say, military hardware; health care for Medicare/Medicaid, etc) and THAT seems to result in an “upwards redistribution”. But in those cases, somebody forgets that the _ostensible_ beneficiaries of most of the value (people who are supposedly being protected; people who are receiving medical treatment) generally goes “down” rather than “up. . True, the PROFITS made by the military contractors or the medical services people may seem to be “redistributing upwards”, but it is possible to argue that the vast bulk of the actual benefit goes DOWNWARDS. * But people just don’t think about military spending or medical spending in that way. They simply ignore the vast majority of the ostensible benefit.

    That’s not my fault!

    This may be a new concept to people, even people around here.

    * I don’t mean to suggest that I LIKE military spending, especially at its current level. But assuming we are talking about a PROPER level of military spending, done efficiently, the benefits to that ought to be considered to accrue to all citizens, even all residents to the specific country being referred to. Properly considered, that should dramatically change the “upward/downward” analysis substantially.

  318. Thomas L. Knapp

    Jim,

    I think you’re making a very excusable mistake: You think that those of us talking about redistribution upward consider “income equality” or “wealth equality” to be bad things in and of themselves, and for general “equality” of wealth or income to be a good thing no matter how it comes about.

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but that does not describe me. I don’t value “equality” in and of itself. Rather, I consider drastic wealth/income inequalities to be a SYMPTOM of the observable fact that the market is NOT free. To put it a different way, I believe that in a free market, the range between “wealthy” and “poor” would tend to not be nearly as large, and that the lowest end of “poor” would be less “poor” than under a state-controlled market.

    I could be wrong. If we ever have anything approaching a free market, I guess we’ll see.

    At this time, the vast majority of government wealth redistribution is redistribution from the low end to the high end, and that is ALWAYS what statism evolves into sooner or later.

    You don’t have to agree. It’s true whether you agree or not.

  319. Robert Capozzi

    Jim, you lifted “income,” not “wealth.”

    Here’s another set of charts that, even though I’m L, give me pause:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/charts-on-us-inequality-2013-11#the-share-of-us-wealth-held-by-the-top-1-has-soared-in-recent-decades-from-20-to-35-1

    Jim: We were talking about FICA and the extent to which it does, or does not, transfer wealth upwards or downwards. You had to change the subject to defend your position.

    me: No, I don’t look only at the silo of analysis. It’s my practice to look at the big picture. I then do my best to assemble data that is at once meaningful and useful. (Everyone cherry picks, btw, as human perception is limited and human cognition is also limited.)

    The big picture I see is that entitlements have ballooned along with the federal debt. ATC, the setup is now a gigantic transfer of wealth from the young — who will service the debt — to the old, who largely won’t service the debt. The debt service will be paid in large measure to the affluent, as they hold a growing percentage of the nation’s wealth.

    Since SS is pay as you go, we now have low-wage people subsidizing affluent retirees. Don’t you agree?

    My reading of the numbers suggest that the path we are on is unsustainable.

    Personally, I don’t think assassinating people is the answer. Nor do I think converting large masses of the population to Roderick Long-ism is likely to work. And, yes, I find the distribution of wealth is being managed by a visible hand, that is, the political class and their contributors.

    Turning this all around requires some fresh thinking.

  320. Robert Capozzi

    jim: One of them is, if those dollars of tax based on the first 15% of someone’s earnings ISN’T paid by him, it will have to be paid by SOMEBODY. Who?

    me: You missed that I made that very point to TK in the same comment. For your comprehension, I put it here:

    ===off the top of my head, tk’s FICA floor has some advantages. However, to continue to pay out benefits, I suspect that tax rate over the floor would have to be raised. Or, the maxtax level would have to be dramatically increased. Or some combination.===

    Hope that helps….

  321. jim

    Paulie:
    I guess I must have missed ALL of them
    So just scroll up and read them. Not that hard.

    Thats the problem, Paulie! There aren’t any that defend the idea that FICA is ‘upwards redistributing. Plenty that talk about wealth or income inequality, etc.
    You see to forget that the cutoff of FICA taxation at a certain level of income is intended to match with the reality that Socialist Insecurity benefits DON’T rise, without limit. A person who made $1 million /year doesn’t get 100x the SS benefits of people who made $10K per year. Thus, there was and is no logic in taxing ALL of the $1million dollar earner for FICA.
    If all that income WAS taxed as FICA, and SS benefits DIDN’T go up by a factor of 100x for such people, THEN that would amount to DOWNWARD redistribution of that income, admittedly delayed in time.

    Is that so difficult to understand?

  322. paulie

    If you still missed all the comments that addressed it, that’s your own fault. They are there and all you have to do is use the scroll bar. If you don’t see them, it still leaves them there for everyone else to see, so your insisting that what is there isn’t there looks even more ridiculous every time you repeat it.

  323. jim

    Robert Capozzi:
    “Since SS is pay as you go, we now have low-wage people subsidizing affluent retirees. Don’t you agree?”

    SS is SUPPOSED to be “pay as you go”. The problem is, SS was supposed to generate a huge bank of assets, eventually to be used to pay off retirees. One problem was that the SS system gradually added recipients, such as spouses, disabled people, etc, people who might never have paid into the system, or at least not enough to justify their newly-acquired benefits.
    All well-meaning, of course! But the money that was being paid-out (and the implicit promises made) did not match the rate of paying into the system. SS became a giant Ponzi scheme. (or perhaps we should finally retire Ponzi, and call it a “Madoff scheme”.)
    It is as if ‘we’ are digging a hole, which has eventually become a very huge hole. That wasn’t clear, except to economists, and economics has always been seen by the masses as being boring.

    “My reading of the numbers suggest that the path we are on is unsustainable.”

    CERTAINLY!

    Personally, I don’t think assassinating people is the answer.

    I do. https://cryptome.org/ap.htm

    But part of the reason is this: Early in my writing of my AP essay, I realized that not only individuals, but groups, neighborhoods, towns, cities, states, and even nations would be able to protect themselves from aggression. Today, America spends about $600 billion per year on “defense”. Could we actually defend ourselves using an AP-type system for 100x less? 6 billion per year, rather than $600 billion? For reasons you don’t currently understand, mostly because you don’t WANT to understand them (!). By your immediately rejecting the very idea, you do not go on to consider the huge savings that could accrue to people, currently wasted in the form of military spending.

    You don’t realize that by rejecting my idea, you are implicitly, virtually EXPLICITLY ACCEPTING the existing way of doing things. Or, you might claim you aren’t really “accepting” it; you just don’t have a solution to provide.

    Spending $600 billion per year on defense. Is that what you really intend to do? If you don’t understand why I say that AP could drop “defense” costs by as much as 100x, then that means you have a moral obligation to at least understand what you are rejecting.

  324. Robert Capozzi

    jim: Or, you might claim you aren’t really “accepting” it; you just don’t have a solution to provide.

    me: I’m pretty much of a fatalist. We are, after all, all going to die. Acceptance is my middle name!

    I do think we’re on a bumpy path, and things could spin out of control. Or, we could be on a slow death spiral. It’s also possible that there could be a tech breakthrough that could provide for a kickstart in a more positive direction.

    I DEFINITELY do NOT have a solution, though. I do share ideas about how to right the ship, but I certainly have no monopoly on wisdom. I can’t say I’ve met the person who does!

  325. jim

    Robert Capozzi: I forgot to add a comment. You said,
    ““Since SS is pay as you go, we now have low-wage people subsidizing affluent retirees. Don’t you agree?””

    No, I DON’T agree. What we have is affluent retirees NOT subsidizing low-wage people. Big difference. (If I am in a 10-foot deep dug ditch, and you are on level ground, do I say that “Boy, you are really up high!!!” Think about it.)

    It sounds like you are pretending to not understand that Socialist Insecurity was not intended to (or, at least, advertised to) be an income-redistribution system. There was no “subsidization” that was supposed to be going on! At least not systematic subsidization. While an explicit accounting of every given person wasn’t taken, the benefits from one large class of contributors wasn’t supposes to be stolen to help another group.

    The only reason anybody is talking about “means-testing”, today, is that the system has been so badly managed, over the last nearly 80 years, that the system is desperately in need of some sort of ‘rescue’. And that means people like you will call for means-testing, as if you don’t realize that this dishonesty would destroy the promises made by ‘the system’ over those many decades.

  326. Thomas L. Knapp

    “the promises made by ‘the system’ over those many decades.”

    What promises are you talking about? The US Supreme Court ruled in Fleming v. Nestor in 1960 that Section 1104 of the Social Security Act was constitutional, and that there was therefore neither any “property right” in Social Security benefits nor any requirement that the benefits be strictly linked to the amount of extorted taxes preceding them; Congress was free, as it had claimed in the initial law itself, to change the rules, ratios, etc.. From Harlan’s opinion for the majority:

    “[E]ach worker’s benefits, though flowing from the contributions he made to the [363 U.S. 603, 610] national economy while actively employed, are not dependent on the degree to which he was called upon to support the system by taxation. It is apparent that the noncontractual interest of an employee covered by the Act cannot be soundly analogized to that of the holder of an annuity, whose right to benefits is bottomed on his contractual premium payments.”

    So, Congress said at the very beginning, “hey, we can jigger around the ratio of taxes to benefits, etc. all we want.”

    Then in 1960, the Supreme Court said “yep, they can.”

    Anyone who has cared to know this has known it for AT LEAST 55 years. Any other “promises” made by politicians are, like most “promises” made by politicians, bullshit.

  327. Robert Capozzi

    jim, what the Feds said and what they did are not the same thing. It was “advertised” as insurance, but it’s not. It always was redistribution, from the start.

    As TK reminds us, the Nestor case made it all quite plain. SS is what Congress says it is.

  328. jim

    Robert Capozzi: You said,
    “jim, what the Feds said and what they did are not the same thing. It was “advertised” as insurance, but it’s not. It always was redistribution, from the start”.

    First, did I label it as “insurance”? I realize that this is a common term, but I didn’t buy into that. I view “insurance” as sharing an risk.

    As for “it always was redistribution”. What you said is misleading. There are many hypothetical kinds of “redistribution”. Is a 401(k) “redistribution”? It’s you, young, paying to you, older, later. That is arguably a form of “redistribution”. But it isn’t the kind of “redistribution” I believe we are talking about.
    I think you used the simple word, “redistribution” because you can’t nail down what kind of “redistribution” SS really is. Was it intended to take a lot of money, from the “rich”, and pay a lot of it to other people, the “poor”? I don’t recall any such claim.

    As TK reminds us, the Nestor case made it all quite plain. SS is what Congress says it is.

    That does not mean that Congress has ever said it was turning SS into a major “income redistribution” system, one that treats people in some classes better than others. Now, that might be what you WANT it to become, but I don’t think that’s happened, yet. Or do you believe it has?

  329. Robert Capozzi

    jim, iirc, the very first SS beneficiary got a rate of return of something like 22,000%. He paid “in” for the minimum amount of time, and received benefits for decades.

    I’d call that redistribution, esp because FICA is a tax. Taxpayers funded this rather extraordinary rate of return.

    Also iirc rates of return will turn negative soon for most. The PV of lifetime FICA taxes will not have any returns for the average taxpayer. I’ve seen whether some ethnicities with shorter life expectancies are already negative.

    Sounds like redistribution to me.

    What YOU call it is immaterial. SS was sold to the public at the outset as “insurance,” and it isn’t.

    Congress mislabels things all the time. SS is and always has been a form of redistribution.

  330. jim

    Robert Capozzi: My replies inline:

    jim, iirc, the very first SS beneficiary got a rate of return of something like 22,000%. He paid “in” for the minimum amount of time, and received benefits for decades.

    The first beneficiary was: (from Wikipedia, “Social Security United States”
    “1940 First monthly benefit check issued to Ida May Fuller for $22.54”

    Actually, I doubt whether she “paid in for the minimum amount of time”. She might have paid in for 3 years. While that might have been, for startup, the “minimum amount of time”, I don’t think that lasted long. I’m sure that for political reasons, they wanted the payments to start quickly.

    In any case such a startup oddity was not intended to be a long-term reality.

    “Also iirc rates of return will turn negative soon for most. The PV of lifetime FICA taxes will not have any returns for the average taxpayer. I’ve seen whether some ethnicities with shorter life expectancies are already negative.”

    You’re still not citing evidence of a deliberate practice of large-scale redistribution based on different kinds of identifiable groups.

    “Sounds like redistribution to me.”

    Not to everybody else, I suspect! While they have been proposing the idea of “means testing”, and that WOULD turn the system into a redistributive system, that has so far only been a proposal, not an adopted.

    “What YOU call it is immaterial. SS was sold to the public at the outset as “insurance,” and it “isn’t.”

    It sounds like you’re continuing to pretend that I called SS “insurance”. Why do you do that?

    “Congress mislabels things all the time. SS is and always has been a form of redistribution.”

    You keep failing to establish that Congress intended (or intends, now) for SS to be redistribution, based on deliberate redistribution from one large group to another. Call me back when Congress finally decides to ‘means-test’ SS.

    Besides, if you continue to call it “redistributive”, you have to state the nature of the redistribution: What is the scheme of the redistribution TODAY? You tried to claim that claim that it was some sort of lower-income-to-upper-income system, right? Okay, give us statistics on how much that amounts to.

  331. paulie

    The problem here may be Jim’s goofy system of relying solely on email notifications of comments. Some comments may just be getting caught in the spam filter or otherwise being missed. Go to the post in question and use the actual scroll bar, read all the comments in sequence and see what all you missed.

  332. jim

    Robert Capozzi: You have said that the Socialist Insecurity system actually redistributes income upwards, from lower-income to higher-income groups. Well, take a look at this:

    http://www.nber.org/digest/mar02/w8625.html

    “A number of proposed Social Security reforms would increase the link between workers’ Social Security contributions and their retirement income by supplementing or replacing the current system with defined-contribution personal retirement accounts (PRAs). These proposals have led to concerns that some of the redistributive and poverty-reducing components of the system would be lost.”

    “Liebman suggests that his results have two implications for such Social Security reform. First, they suggest the magnitude of redistribution that a PRA-based plan would need to achieve in order to maintain THE CURRENT LEVEL OF REDISTRIBUTION FROM HIGH-EARNERS TO LOW-EARNERS. A mixed plan in which PRAs are responsible for about one-third of the retirement income from Social Security would require the equivalent of $7 to $10 billion per year in transfers. However, most PRA plans would mandate that retirees convert at least part of their account balances into annuities and thus would redistribute from demographic groups with short life expectancies to groups with long life expectancies). Therefore, several billion additional dollars of transfers would be necessary to maintain the current level of redistribution.” [end of quote; emphasis by capitalization mine.]

    Read it and weep! You are entitled to your own opinions. You are NOT entitled to your own facts. I have nothing but disgust for people like you who invent “facts” concocted solely to appear to win arguments.

  333. Robert Capozzi

    jim, you are being argumentative.

    SS has in some ways redistributed from high to low income, in that the rates of return for low income beneficiaries were higher. That’s why they put in the maxtax.

    But that’s just one piece of the puzzle. There’s gender, ethnic, and other subsidizations.

    I sometimes toy with Friedman’s negative income tax and Georgist insights. What if all US citizens got SS benefits? Every dollar saved by cuts in Federal spending would go back as a citizen’s dividend.

    Heretical for some Ls. I see it as a potentially huge step forward for liberty. A possible game changer.

  334. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Read it and weep!”

    I did and I am. If anyone had told me even a month ago that I’d read you proclaiming “See? The government says it, I believe it, that settles it!” on ANY issue, I’d have called that person nuts.

  335. paulie

    Hopefully Jim is just trolling us and not suffering from brain degeneration. His bio indicates a much higher intelligence level than his IPR comments do.

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