Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

March 27, 2008

Why Mike Gravel Is Not A Libertarian

by Doug Mataconis

This list seems to sum it up nicely:

  • The Fair Tax. Anti-Libertarian redistribution of wealth by another name.
  • Single-Payer Medicine. No. No, no, no, NO. There is a libertarian proposal for medicine, and this is just about the exact opposite.
  • Social Security. He’s pro. Libertarians are anti.
  • Carbon tax. Another anti-libertarian value. Sin taxes by any name.
  • The US acting as a guarantor for the demilitarization of Israel’s border with a future Palestinian state. Again, no. Libertarian value = stay the fuck out of other people’s business.
  • That the US should immediately sign the Kyoto Protocol. Again, no. Anti-libertarian agenda through and through. (This doesn’t even Begin to touch on the fact that the Kyoto Protocol is by all measurable standards an absolute failure, including the standard of the impact it would have had if successful.)
  • At the February 2007 Democratic Presidential Candidates Forum he has said that he is in favor of some degree of public financial assistance to the campaigns of Presidential candidates. This, again, is an anti-libertarian view. No subsidizing campaigns with taxpayer money. (Yes, I am aware this is already done via funds-matching. We’re against it.)
  • Senator Gravel proposes an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and an accompanying Federal Law to bring about a means of citizen-initiated national lawmaking in addition to the existing means of lawmaking through the institutions of representative government (i.e., Congress and the President). — Democracy is a principle which while many view beneficial, in many cases is viewed by libertarians as anti-freedom. There’s a simple reason for this. “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for dinner.”
  • His position site states: “One thing we know for sure: No Child Left Behind has left too many children behind. It needs to be reformed and adequately funded. ” I.e.; he wants to expand spending here. We’re already spending so much we’re getting nothing done. This is throwing good money after bad. No.
  • Net Neutrality. Like it or not, the net neutrality legislation is actually anti-libertarian. It expands the authority of the government to inform businesses how they may or may not operate. This is the literal definition of fascism.

I’ve honestly got to say that by welcoming the likes of Gravel into it’s ranks, the Libertarian Party has pretty much abandoned it’s principles.

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  • http://kehlkopfmikrofon.blogspot.com camelCase

    I hate to break it to you but the LP wasn’t exactly the party of principle before Gravel joined.

  • Xenman

    Gravel will be a guest on “Libertarian Politics Live” Friday night on Blog Talk Radio. It’s at 7 pm.

  • http://gravel2008.us Ben

    The person who wrote this is totally off his rocker if he thinks Gravel joining the Libs hurts their party.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org Doug Mataconis

    Ben,

    And how in the heck do you think it helps ?

  • http://poppychop.net/ Nitroadict

    Wasn’t the actual point that it doesn’t matter since the LP sealed it’s fate regardless?

  • Brian Miller

    It’s a bit rich watching “Libertarians” who were so gung-ho for Ron Paul:

    Anti-gay Ron Paul
    Anti-immigration Ron Paul
    Anti-choice Ron Paul

    …suddenly discover their inner purist by condemning Gravel.

    In reality, Gravel can help rebalance the LP and ensure that it has a vital left, rather than the far-right social-conservative monopoly that the Ron Paul people have been calling for.

  • http://poppychop.net/ Nitroadict

    This is assuming that making the LP more mainstream would do anything to help the LP itself.

    From what I remember, the last time libertarians tried going more mainstream, they eventually became Utilitarians. Didn’t really work out, I don’t think.

    In either case, the LP’s organization is a joke compared to other political parties, such as the Green Party. Having a left portion in the party is not going to solve anyone’s problems.

    But at least Gravel’s got some headlines, right?

  • Yuriy

    In many of Gravel’s policies he does support a redistribution of wealth, however he tries to keep the federal government out of the decision making. This is seen in his support of the fair tax, health care vouchers, and school vouchers. The fair tax is a step in the libertarian direction compared to the current income tax system. The fair tax would greatly reduces bureaucracy and the government’s influence on taxes, since in a fair tax (sales tax) they cant create loopholes. Health care vouchers would allow the people to decide what health care they want and would still allow competition between providers. School vouchers would create some competition to the existing monopoly of public schools. So even though Gravel does believe in taxes and the federal goverment redistributing wealth, he is a step in the libertarian direction over current dems and reps. And he is definitely libertarian on social issues.

  • http://poppychop.net/ Nitroadict

    Still sounds like rationalizing to me:

    + School vouchers creates *some*; what is some, and is that enough competition? Why not question the importance of public schooling (the problem), instead of treating the symptoms?

    + Fair Tax is “more” libertarian compared to what we have now; last I checked, not many libertarians were in favor of this dubiously named fair tax.

    Also, you’ve got it backwards into thinking electing Gravel for social issues would overall help: economic freedom yields social & personal freedom, not the other way around.

    But hey, far it be it from me for you guys playing in the LP sandbox. It’s your right to waste your time.

  • http://www.freedomdemocrats.org ka1igu1a

    Just as Barr had to move to left to get traction with the rank and file LP members, Gravel is going to have to move to the right if he wants to attain any traction within the party.

    I don’t know what you want the LP/LNC to do when relatively high profile (former) politicians like a Bob Barr or Mike Gravel decide to join. You want the LNC to issue a press release, saying “Thanks, But No Thanks, We’re the Party of Principle.” Obviously, there should be some libertarian threshold such a person should meet and as a LP member I think Gravel meets it. But he is at this point too much of an economic statist for myself and much of the LP rank and file. He is going to have to show some movement.

  • http://poppychop.net/ Nitroadict

    That is assuming the LP is competent. Oops!

  • Yuriy

    I dont understand how the article criticizes Gravel’s national initiative idea using the “two wolves and a lamb” argument. Usually this statement is used by those who are justifying a government that has to protect the people from themselves. Isnt this incredibly against libertarian principles. I would appreciate responses to that, because that is an argument seen often when defending America’s republic and justifying why people should not have power. By the way, gravel’s national initiative idea (basically a national referendum process that can be initiated by the people through an organization other than congress or state govs) does not force people to vote on every issue (like a direct democracy). Anyway, I have been more of a gravel supporter than a libertarian, I like his mix of keeping the gov involved in redistribution of wealth but giving more choice and decision making to the people (fair tax, vouchers, national initiative), so I am curious how the national initiative idea fits in with libertarian ideology. I was very surprised to see the “two wolves” remark, since that argument supports government decision making, and hence is totally anti libertarian.

  • http://pith-n-vinegar.blogspot.com/ Quincy

    Yuriy –

    The “two wolves” remark is actually spot on. A core principle of liberty is that the lawmaker should have limited, well-defined powers to prevent abuse. Granting lawmaking power to the people almost always goes against this, since the people will believe they can vote on anything.

    Just imagine what would happen if the people in the US had the power to use the IRS to collect benefits on their behalf from “the rich”. There you have it, two wolves and a lamb.

  • Yuriy

    Quincy –

    Thats a good point, however I think Gravel really dislikes lawmakers acting in their own self interest, or in their buddies interests, (for instance, war is usually not in the peoples interest but in elite’s interest), and that the only way to prevent the lawmakers from doing so is to have the people as a check on their power once in a while. Gravel sees current lawmakers as wolves, and the only way to curb their corruption and abuse of power is through the people. Gravel sees people as the true holders of power, and that congressmen derive their power from the people. So even though the congress is meant to handle most of the governing, or prevention of abuse by the people, when congress themselves are abusing power gravel would like the people to step in. It sounds like with “well defined powers to prevent abuse” you are relying on over 400 benevolent dictators. Gravel sees over 400 tyrants in congress

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/ Brad Warbiany

    The Fair Tax. Anti-Libertarian redistribution of wealth by another name.

    The FairTax, as it stands, is much better than anything we have now. It also is far more “libertarian” than the current system.

    Does it reduce taxation or spending? No. But it does give individuals a lot more discretion as to when and how they pay taxes (i.e. purchasing used goods, etc, to avoid the tax).

    As a former advocate of the FairTax, and an avowed libertarian, I can say that the plan– as written– is actually pretty good. But as I’ve lost all faith that politicians will enact it as written, I’ve chosen to spend more time attacking the use of tax dollars than the collection method.

  • http://poppychop.net/ Nitroadict

    Indeed; while Fair-Tax might possibly be a less painful symptom to deal with, it’s still a symptom that’s better avoided by addressing the root cause of use of tax dollars.

    Is it just my imagination, or is there a *lot* of wishful thinking going on w/ Gravel? I remember this occurring somewhere & with someone else before…

  • http://poppychop.net/ Nitroadict

    That be it, moderates will be moderates; radicals will be radicals.

    I’m surprised the people who are blushing over Gravel being a “Libertarian” magically forget some of the recent articles concerning one of the problems of the LP being that it forces moderates & radicals to work together, eventually resulting in a convoluted party platform, strategy, & organization that would make the existence of an Anarchists For Community party more likely to get votes from the wilderness of Alaska’ various Chris McCandlesse’s, than the LP itself making a difference.

  • Karin R

    I’m not a libertarian, just a Gravel fan. But regarding the redistribution of wealth: is there no recognition that the United States is precisely in the position it’s in because of violent and immoral wresting of wealth from the poor to the rich, from the slave to the slaveowner, from the exploited and disinherited to the corporate oligarchy, from the barefoot Cuban to the Dole corporation? Do you not see any justice at all in African American living in slums going to slum-like dangerous schools getting something in exchange for not having inherited anything? Don’t most of us unfairly benefit from our inheritances, almost all of which are unfairly padded to due to slavery, do to global exploitation, whether we can see the direction connection or not? Do you honestly think that the Constitution was a just document?

  • oilnwater

    it just sounds like you’re quite confused about things.

  • oilnwater

    but fear not, most libertarians share your pain.

  • http://poppychop.net/ Nitroadict

    Once again, it seems socialists (or “Gravel fans”), seem to have abandon logic in assuming capitalism creates corporatism (which is a form of class collaboration), while unaware that they’re actually describing Neo-Feudalism; more specifically, wealth condensation.

    But at least you’re not as bad as Naomi Klein; people actually pay money to read her dreck.

    And no The Constitution is not “just” a document. I’m not sure where that’s implied here, actually.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/author/tarran/ tarran

    Karin,

    There’s a great saying we parents of multiple children find ourselves saying often:

    Two wrongs do not make a right.

    People who inherit wealth, inherit it because the guys who either produced it (or stole it) want to give it to them. One could argue that stolen wealth should be returned, but for the wealth that was justly and honestly produced, we have no right to take it away from the person who earned it. You are far less deserving of Paris Hilton’s inherited wealth than she.

    Much of the theft and immoral acquisition of wealth that you condemn is well in the past. At this point there is no way to identify what modern wealth represents stolen property and what justly acquired wealth, and which victims are owed how much. Faced with the impossibility of calculating which victim is owed what from whom, we must regretfully move on.

    I should point out that in two generations such disparities in wealth can easily be wiped out. The poverty of blacks living in the deep south and in the inner cities has far more to do with corrupt governments that predate upon them and refuse to honor their property rights. The war on drugs and byzantine licensing laws that make it impossible to start a business in the inner city do far more harm than any distant poverty due to slavery.

  • jim

    @ tarran

    If believing that, regarding your stolen wealth, is what you need to do to sleep at night or be able to look at your self in the mirror then so be it.

  • http://pith-n-vinegar.blogspot.com/ Quincy

    Yuriy –

    What’s to stop the people, or 50% plus 1 of them, from acting in their own best interest? Nothing. All Gravel’s proposal does is change it from 2 wolves and a sheep to 2 million wolves and a million sheep. As long as they get to vote on what’s for dinner, the problem exists.

    Libertarians recognize the vital nature that a Constitution of limited, well-defined powers plays in protecting freedom. Our Constitution, in short, makes it clear that while the wolves and sheep may vote on the silverware, the decor, and the wine, they don’t get to vote on the main course.

    Gravel’s past actions and current agenda shows he still believes everything can be up for a vote, including our natural rights. Anyone who believes so is simply not a libertarian.

  • http://pith-n-vinegar.blogspot.com/ Quincy

    Karin –

    How in crum’s sake can you assert that the US is in the position it’s in precisely because of the “violent and immoral wresting of wealth from the poor to the rich, from the slave to the slaveowner, from the exploited and disinherited to the corporate oligarchy, from the barefoot Cuban to the Dole corporation?”

    Maybe I’m a little rusty on my history and current events, but last I checked the violent and immoral wrestling of wealth from the poor to the rich has happened in many ages and places, including such paradises as Castro’s Cuba, Chavez’s Venezuela, Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, colonial India, most of the continent of Africa, etc… So, why aren’t these places in anywhere the same position the US is?

  • Yuriy

    I guess we are just discussing tyranny of the majority vs. just tyranny. So I guess libertarian means that on certain issues (dinner) no one has the power to make decisions, and hence there can be no tyranny since no one has the power. However in our current system, what power does congress not have? They can pretty much vote on anything. A national initiative/referendum system would still have to abide by the constitution, so that laws passed by the people could be challenged in court. Currently more than 20 states have statewide referendum mechanisms in place, gravel is suggesting that there should be one as a 4th check along with congress, the president, and the judiciary. Isnt this sort of a dilution of the power?

  • http://pith-n-vinegar.blogspot.com/ Quincy

    “So I guess libertarian means that on certain issues (dinner) no one has the power to make decisions, and hence there can be no tyranny since no one has the power.”

    Absolutely. The original structure of the US provided that Congress had power only in certain domains as strictly defined by the US Constitution. The fundamental rights of the citizens fell beyond regulation.

    Since the founding of the US, the breadth of what the courts will judge to be constitutional has expanded greatly, to the point where only the most egregious abuses of power are deemed unconstitutional. The same problem exists whether the laws are being made by congress critter or the people. The limits of power in the Constitution must be restored to secure liberty, no other measure will do.

    To that end, I think direct democracy does have a role in all this. The proposal goes roughly like this: In cases where the Supreme Court has upheld the power of government to abridge a fundamental right, the decision may be appealed to a popular vote if a certain bar has been reached, say 1 million signatures nationwide. For the power to remain in effect, it must receive a 3/4 majority vote to remain in effect.

    This proposal lets the people act as a check on the so-called “learned elite” on Capitol Hill while not introducing another opportunity to vote themselves benefits.

    Your thoughts?

  • http://poppychop.net/ Nitroadict

    I actually think a more direct democracy approach may be feasible regarding the capabilities of technology that the Greeks simply could not imagine of, back in the day.

    I don’t think direct democracy, based on current technology alone, would be reliable though. It does give food for thought, however.

  • Yuriy

    3/4 majority of the population is a tall order, I dont konw if its possible to get 3/4 to even support all of the bill of rights. But if we believe that the constitution was made by those who knew whats best,then I suppose it should take more than just 50% to change it.

    If the courts have the power to interpret teh constitution and they have interpreted it a certain way, (for example giving congress additional power), then is the only way to go against that interpretation to create an amendment? I mean the state legislatures did approve the 16th amendment, which allowed congress to tax whatever they wanted. If it was not for this amendment then perhaps most of the current tax structure would be unconstitutional. (however a sales tax would be ok right, since its indirect?)

    In Gravel’s proposal he wants two rounds of votes, if over 50% is achieved in the first round then a second round takes place about a year later. His central belief is that power stems from the people, but I think that his proposal still requires the courts to make sure what the people decide is still in line with the constitution.

    I think that it would be ok for there to be a 50% vote on laws, and that there be a higher requirement to actually change the constitution, such as 66% or 75%. This would allow for the courts to decide if the laws voted by the people are constitutional, but still give the people the power to change the constitution and possibly overrule the courts with 75% majority, which should be their right.

    Voting mechanisms are not foolproof as seen by recent presidential elections, but nowadays we do use atm cards and make purchases online, so why not voting? Paper trail is always good though.

    Sorry if I am going all over the place.

  • http://pith-n-vinegar.blogspot.com/ Quincy

    Yuriy –

    There are two topics going here: 1) Mike Gravel believes power stems from the people. This is only partially correct. The government’s power and legitimacy come from its stated goal to protect the fundamental rights of the people. I have never heard Gravel articulate this correctly, and most of his positions directly contradict this principle.

    2) What form of direct democracy would act as a check on runaway government power? Gravel believes that they should have the power to make law. I believe they should have some power to overturn laws but *not* make them. Neither of us is proposing the changing the amendment process, which would be extremely dangerous.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/author/tarran/ tarran

    For the power to remain in effect, it must receive a 3/4 majority vote to remain in effect.

    You realize that under that scheme the Jim Crow laws would have thrived?

    Even if 1 person was going to be the victim of having their rights violated, and every other person thought it was a peachy idea, I still would find the idea unacceptable.

  • http://pith-n-vinegar.blogspot.com/ Quincy

    tarran –

    There’s a reason my proposal is narrowly tailored to cases where the power was already upheld by the supreme court. I don’t want to give the people any chance to enhance the power of government through a direct vote, only to give a voice to the people when the supremes inappropriately upheld a government power. In your Jim Crow example, it likely would never have gotten to a vote because no one would have publicly questioned it.

  • Yuriy

    Gravel was just on CNN. They mentioned the libertarian convention coming up in may, and Gravel blasted both the democratic and republican parties for supporting the military industrial complex.

  • http://poppychop.net/ Nitroadict

    Since when CNN a reliable barometer for news? Other than wishful thinking of course.

  • uhm

    He’s better than the other choices. Saner elements of the right and left must get together. There needs to be a new political realignment. He’s a step in the right direction like Ron Paul and Bob Barr even if there are some detours on the way. Liberal interventionism and military keynesiasm must stop.

  • http://poppychop.net/ Nitroadict

    Since when was the only strategy for winning an election getting “a few good men” for the job? You are a complete idiot if you think that will be all that’s needed to win an election, let alone get more than 10% nationally. The LP party is about to hit an iceberg it kept avoiding because it’s been dead at sea. They (the party itself) are only going to make the boat run until it sinks.

    No thanks; unless there is a complete overhaul of people running the LP (the people who know how to run a political party, maybe), there isn’t much a Bob Barr is going to do. Why not just get this over with and re-label the LP as the Utilitarian Party? It sounds exotic & sexy & hip.

    Unless the party understands forcing moderates & radicals into a cage doesn’t work, that they should be more consistent on their principles, expel the paleo-con & paleo-libertarian influences (oops, don’t read that RP deniers), while at the same time addressing public stigma attached to “libertarianism”, and subsequent bastardized use of libertarian concepts by the Neo-Cons, nothing much is going to get done.

    Moderates & mainstreams would be way better off, imo, if they abandoned this Statist pandering LP, and infiltrated the two major parties to try and make them opposites again. The radicals can take care of the local education, activism, & intellectual debates, while moderates & mainstreams get the needed dirty election work out of the way with.

    What’s next? A Gravel/Daffy Duck 08 ticket? Give me a break. I though a prerequisite for being a libertarian was a nice, healthy dose of political science & history? I guess all you need now is to have voted Democrat in 00 – 06 (so close guys!), & a credit card.

    :throws rock into pond, lol!:

  • jim

    @ nitroadict
    What is your problem? This election is a one issue election and Gravel is on the right side of that issue. If you keep waiting around for the “perfect” candidate you are going to wait forever. None of the major contenders are perfect fits for their parties. Some of politics requires compromise. How about running a candidate that might get some votes. That has some name recognition. That has some real world experience. Stop the war (for real) in Iraq that is first and foremost. That is something a Commander in Chief can accomplish. Everything else (Democracy Initiatives) are concepts, ideas, that can be debated, big deal. But mostly you need a guy that understands that “we the people” are being shut out of our own country. You cannot deny that Gravel has a far better grasp on that then either Hillary, Obama or McCain. So get on board the citizen train. Unless you are a corporate shill or CEO or landowner or high rolling investor or politician with turf to protect. Don’t tell me you are voting for McCain.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/author/tarran/ tarran

    This election is not only about the war. It is about a whole host of other issues as well.

    Mike Gravel is wrong on economics and he is wrong on health care. So he goes into the same bucket as Ron Paul, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Barak Obama, Cynthia McKinney – the bucket of people I won’t be voting for.

    Voting for someone is kind of like getting married. If every guy asking for your hand likes beating up girls then you turn them all down. You don’t have to pick one. Go into the booth and cast your vote for “none of the above” and let the chips fall where they may.

  • http://pith-n-vinegar.blogspot.com Quincy

    jim –

    Most of Gravel’s policies are exactly the same kind that shut us out of our own country. My problem isn’t with Gravel as a person, or even as a politician. My problem is with Gravel as a libertarian. He’s simply not.

    Contrary to popular belief, being a libertarian means more than being some crank who wants to end the war and legalize drugs. It means supporting liberty across the board. Economic liberty *and* social liberty.

    So there’s a damn good reason we’re not shutting up and getting “on board the citizen train.” It’s about liberty and only voting for candidates who support it.

  • oilnwater

    so tarran, who, praytell, would you vote for? it seems to me your non-voteable filtering is on just a little too tight.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/ Brad Warbiany

    oilnwater,

    You do realize tarran is an anarchist, right? When he doesn’t believe the system is legitimate, and he believes that the chance to change the system from within is unlikely to be successful, why would he vote?

  • uhm

    Nitroaddict, if you want a more Libertarian society then you need to fix the structural defects in this one so people feel safe enough to give liberty a chance. Libertarian is a word. The meaning of words change. I personally don’t care what word these saner liberals and conservatives use to call themselves as along as they are better than the Democrats and Republicans. Mike Gravel is far from perfect but he is still better than the other three clowns because he understands some of our defects, coming from the same place as Ron Paul.

    There needs to be a open debate on where to go from here besides staying the course into bankruptcy and despotism. People say the Libertarian Party is useless anyway perhaps it can be a forum for debate for orphaned liberals and conservatives. Then perhaps libertarian arguments will win over people (those who think libertarians are sock puppets for Corporate America).

    To be honest, I think this country is going to have to go through bankruptcy to get some sense knocked into it, but even then it might stay delusional (Hillary has been attacking China lately for propping up our dollar). The lobbyist are going to have to loot it clean. What we will end up with is a more protectionist and nativist society. Hillary and Obama are making protectionist speeches lately from what I read due to our economic problems. I’d vote for Daffy Duck if I could! He’d do a better job than Obama, Hillary and McCain! ;)

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/author/tarran/ tarran

    My default position is not to vote for any candidate unless I think he will take steps needed to reduce and eventually eliminate the Federal Government. If I don’t think a candidate is going to meet this requirement, I don’t vote for him or her. If two or more candidates were to meet this requirement, I would vote for the one that I think would be the most successful at it.

    Of the current crop of candidates?

    None.

    Oh, Ron Paul came close. His good ideas were great, and his bad ones were on a par with the status quo. Thus, on ideas he was OK.

    I rejected Ron Paul because of his proven track record of incompetence in managing people. Nothing against the guy. I like him. But, I don’t think a President Paul would have really advanced the cause of liberty in a meaningful way. In fact, I think that the U.S. government would have become more powerful and more activist as a result of a Paul presidency and that the corrupt people that he would appoint into office would cause a vast majority of Americans to associate classical liberalism with crony capitalism and corruption.

    Again, we need a president less than a woman needs a man. There is absolutely no need for anyone to cast a vote for someone who would be a “bad” president.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/ Brad Warbiany

    uhm,

    if you want a more Libertarian society then you need to fix the structural defects in this one so people feel safe enough to give liberty a chance. Libertarian is a word. The meaning of words change. I personally don’t care what word these saner liberals and conservatives use to call themselves as along as they are better than the Democrats and Republicans.

    …snip…

    People say the Libertarian Party is useless anyway perhaps it can be a forum for debate for orphaned liberals and conservatives.

    The problem is that libertarianism is itself a philosophical movement, and only a political party as a secondary concern. Many of the founders of the party itself viewed it as purely an educational tool, a way to inform people that the principles of libertarianism exist.

    You want a party for “orphaned liberals and conservatives”? Try to revive Unity’08. They want to be united at the expense of principle. The Libertarian Party, if it sacrifices principle for electoral success, will be even more useless than it is already. At least now it is a place where pro-freedom people can find others like them and be assured that they’re not alone in a sea of statism.

  • uhm

    Brad, that would be better but at the moment the action for better and for worst is at the Libertarian Party.
    http://www.lp.org/media/article_573.shtml

    Thanks, I haven’t seen the Unity ’08 before. I’ll check it out! :^)

  • http://poppychop.net/ Nitroadict

    jim, my problem is some people are taking their stupid pills thinking that Gravel is a libertarian; he is not. This latest news is just a more symbolic event that represents a party that compromised on principle since the day it was conceived.

    And to put the words back into your mouth, not mine: no, I’m not voting McCain. I’m not voting for a single person this year, because none of them are remotely worth it.

    If RP’s followers do anything regarding trying to bring actual conservatism to the Republican Party (unlikely), more power to them, but that will most likely blow over as this country crashes further into a self-made depression that which Socialism will once again have it’s chance to grow by leaps & bounds. I just can’t wait for even minor riots to occur, & martial law is actually considered by the low lifes on Capitol Hill. I say minor, because everyone seems more content in just going along for the wave and waiting their turn to get food stamps.

    At this point, I can’t really take the mainstream & moderates seriously until they all realize what a fool’s errand the LP has been. Bonus points if anything is actually learned by the eventual self-implosion of the LP itself.

    It’s really not surprising that some libertarians are calling for a different name to differentiate themselves from the stigma & confusion the current term libertarian.

  • http://poppychop.net/ Nitroadict

    Also, what Quincy said, in response to jim.

  • oilnwater

    no, didn’t realize that. all right then.

  • jim

    I’ve concluded the only thing the libertarians actually have of value is ballot access. I gather Gavel probably feels the same. Based on my research and from reading postings on various Libertarian blogs I’m left concluding that Libertarians mostly stand for….for….a ..ummm…a…really bizzare twist on the concept of survival of the fittest. They seem to view individual interaction in the so called “market” or society as a kind of no holds barred cage fight. I’m curious since I’m not a Libertarian are there any contingency plans for the “not so fit” in your platform. I’m thinking along the lines of the physically or mentally impaired. Otherwise healthy individuals born in to circumstances beyond their control and that are lacking access to instruments to lift them out of those circumstances. The aged…those kinds of people. Also why are the Libertarians so anti environment? Is it just the principle of being able to crap where you eat that you hold dear? Or do you actually believe it’s good for the diet?

  • http://tiger.towson.edu/~apeak1 Alex

    Mr. Miller writes, “It’s a bit rich watching ‘Libertarians’ who were so gung-ho for Ron Paul,” and continues by saying:

    “Anti-gay Ron Paul.”

    Paul made it clear that he doesn’t believe any state should ban gay marriage. If he were anti-gay, he would not have said this to John Stossel.

    John Stossel: Homosexuality. Should gays be allowed to marry?

    Ron Paul: Sure.

    Stossel: The State says, we will believe in this?

    Paul: Sure they can do whatever they want and they can call it whatever they want , just so they don’t expect to impose their relationship on somebody else. They can’t make me, personally, accept what they do, but they gay couples can do whatever they want. In fact, I’d like to see all governments out of the marriage question. I don’t think it’s a state function. I think it’s a religious function. There was a time when only churches dealt with marriage, and they determined what it was. But 100 years or so ago for health reasons they claim that the state would protect us if we knew more about our spouses and we did health testing and you had to get a license to get married and I don’t agree with that.

    Mr. Miller continues, “Anti-immigration Ron Paul.”

    I’m willing to excuse him for his obvious error here. Whereas Paul stated that we need to get rid of welfare before welcoming immigrants in, I would hold that the order is irrelevant, and that we need to do both as soon as possible. I would also argue that it is unconstitutional for the government to regulate immigration, whereas it is constitutional for government to regulate “citizenship.”

    Mr. Miller continues, “Anti-choice Ron Paul.”

    Another position on which Paul is wrong.

    He also believes that government should not be abolished. He’s wrong, government should be abolished. But I’m willing to accept a few mistakes, so long as they’re not too numberous or egregious.

    Mr. Miller continues, “…suddenly discover their inner purist by condemning Gravel.”

    I’m an free-market anarchist. I have condemned Paul on his few mistakes. Gravel’s mistakes are more numberous, so numberous in fact that I do not believe we can legitimately call him a libertarian. But I welcome him into the party, and hope his exposeur there will turn him more libertarian, just as it has turned Barr more libertarian than he was when he joined.

    Mr. Miller continues, “In reality, Gravel can help rebalance the LP and ensure that it has a vital left, rather than the far-right social-conservative monopoly that the Ron Paul people have been calling for.”

    Gravel’s economic positions are to the right of the free market. (But, of course, the free market is as left as one can go. Government intervention into the economy is right-wing.)

    There are very, very few social conservatives in the party, and those that are are only there because they haven’t been paying attention.

    Yuriy writes, “The fair tax is a step in the libertarian direction compared to the current income tax system.”

    I completely disagree.

    Nitroadict writes, “economic freedom yields social & personal freedom, not the other way around.”

    I would say they come hand-in-hand, and cannot be separated from one another.

    “It’s your right to waste your time.”

    There is no such thing as a right to vote. Voting is a privilege granted to us by our slave-masters. ;)

    What we have a right to is to not needing to vote. But this right is constantly infringed upon by the government, and as such, I continue to vote. ;)

    Yuriy writes, “I dont understand how the article criticizes Gravel’s national initiative idea using the ‘two wolves and a lamb’ argument. Usually this statement is used by those who are justifying a government that has to protect the people from themselves.”

    The only context I’ve ever seen it in, or used it in, is in the context of saying that the rights of minority factions should not be infringed upon by the votes of majority factions.

    If we had Gravel’s referendum initiative in place, the majority of Americans would vote to ban gay marriage, thereby infringing upon the freedom of religion of member of the United Church for Christ (a pro-gay church) in the country. As libertarians, we understand that there should be a separation of marriage and state.

    If Gravel’s proposal would simply allow people to repeal federal laws, and not to also make new federal laws, then I would argue that it is a libertarian proposal. But until then, it is not.

    Yuriy writes, “I would appreciate responses to that, because that is an argument seen often when defending America’s republic and justifying why people should not have power.”

    People should not have power to infringe upon the rights of others. People should have the power to do everything else. To quote Leonard Read, “Anything that’s peaceful.”

    Yuriy writes, “I was very surprised to see the ‘two wolves’ remark, since that argument supports government decision making, and hence is totally anti libertarian.”

    That quote does not support government decision making. It supports the notion that there are certain rights that no government, not even a democracy, has the right to infringe upon. It supports at least a minarchist position, and at most an anarchist position.

    Yuriy writes, “Thats a good point, however I think Gravel really dislikes lawmakers acting in their own self interest, or in their buddies interests, (for instance, war is usually not in the peoples interest but in elite’s interest), and that the only way to prevent the lawmakers from doing so is to have the people as a check on their power once in a while.”

    But how do we check the power of the anti-peaceful, authoritarian majority factions?

    No system of statism ever proposed keeps everyone in power checked.

    Mr. Warbiany writes, “The FairTax, as it stands, is much better than anything we have now. It also is far more ‘libertarian’ than the current system.”

    Methinks that if it were ever to be implimented, it would kill the libertarian movement for the following hundred years.

    Mr. Warbiany writes, “But as I’ve lost all faith that politicians will enact it as written, I’ve chosen to spend more time attacking the use of tax dollars than the collection method.”

    Good choice. :)

    Nitroadict writes, “Why not just get this over with and re-label the LP as the Utilitarian Party?”

    It would force natural law theorists such as myself out of the party.

    Nitroadict writes, “Unless the party understands forcing moderates & radicals into a cage doesn’t work, that they should be more consistent on their principles, expel the paleo-con & paleo-libertarian influences (oops, don’t read that RP deniers), while at the same time addressing public stigma attached to ‘libertarianism,’ and subsequent bastardized use of libertarian concepts by the Neo-Cons, nothing much is going to get done.”

    Moderates and radicals can easily work together, as long as the Dallas Accord is in effect. Unfortunately, the Accord went out of effect in ’06 thanks to the efforts of the Libertarian Reform Caucus. Given the strong support for the Restore ’04 proposal (headed by David Nolan himself), I suspect and hope the Accord will be back in effect in ’08. Then, both factions can get back to working together to further our shared goals.

    Paleoconservatism is a contrived term, and I’m glad Rockwell no longer uses it. It has no useful meaning.

    Mr. jim writes, “This election is a one issue election and Gravel is on the right side of that issue.”

    It’s a two-issue election. The economy is the other half of the equation (if not the dominant half), and Gravel is clearly on the wrong end of that stick.

    Mr. jim writes, “If you keep waiting around for the ‘perfect’ candidate you are going to wait forever.”

    False. The perfect candidate, Dr. Mary Ruwart, is currently running for the Libertarian Party nomination. I believe she is a shoe-in, unless Barr enters the race. If he enters, it will be a battle between the two.

    tarran writes, “Mike Gravel is wrong on economics and he is wrong on health care. So he goes into the same bucket as Ron Paul, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Barak Obama, Cynthia McKinney – the bucket of people I won’t be voting for.”

    Had Gravel gotten the Democratic nomination, I would have held my nose and voted for him. I will not vote for him as a Libertarian until he changes a number of his views.

    I would vote for Ron Paul as a Republican and as a Libertarian.

    I would not vote for the other persons you list.

    Cheers,
    Alex

  • http://pith-n-vinegar.blogspot.com/ Quincy

    jim –

    May I suggest that your research is wholly inadequate if you actually believe that “Libertarians mostly stand for…for…a …ummm…really bizzare twist on the concept of survival of the fittest.”

    Libertarianism is not about social darwinism. It’s about constructing the state so as not to interfere with consenual interactions among adults. We don’t oppose charity, so long as it’s not supported by tax dollars. We don’t mind people joining churches or other organizations where they’re told how to live; we only mind having the government be such an organization that’s imposed on people against their will.

    The majority of people in society are rational adults who need to be treated as such. Some aren’t, and one of the dilemmas of libertarianism is how to deal with those truly unable to live independently.

    The problem with both left- and right-wing statist thinking is that they say because some people can’t make the correct decision about something, no one should be free to make a decision about that thing. The only difference between left and right in America today is which somethings are targeted by them.

    I think this is why many people have such a problem understanding libertarianism. There is no concept that people should be free to choose, even if some choices may not be in their best interest. We don’t believe this because we are social darwinists, but because people do very poorly when making decisions for other people. This has to do both with the information available and the incentives present to make a good decision. If you want a good place to start, check out “Free to Choose” by Milton Friedman.

  • jim

    @ Quincy

    I don’t know Quincy. I’m watching this film right now called “No end in Sight” a documentary about the lack of plan for post war Iraq. It looks kind of like what I imagine pure Libertarianism to be. Just chaos. Man is basically evil. Structures need to be in place to protect the weak from the strong. It’s not that people can’t make decisions. It’s just that more often than not they will make the decision that favors themselves at the expense of everyone else.

    I know who Friedman is but I haven’t read that particular book. I’ll look closer at it.

  • http://poppychop.net/ Nitroadict

    Man is basically evil? I’m sure many a religious fundamentalist would love to here that schlock.

    You are equally foolish for comparing the aftermath of Iraq to what you imagine “pure Libertarianism”. Seriously, go read some more books, and you’ll realize how erroneous this is. Otherwise, what you imagine is simply that: pure imagination.

    “Structures need to be in place to protect the weak from the strong.”

    I’m sure every dictator would love that argument right there, but they would probably say something along the lines: “Structures need to be in place to keep the weak from becoming strong enough to over throw that which keeps the weak.”

    Also, good luck with trying to amass a factual view of the world from documentaries; they’ve proven to be so honest in the past. Be sure to ask Santa for the Michael Moor box-set this christmas, so you can continue learning the ways of a statist-apologist.

  • jim

    @ Nitroadict

    Wow look who’s come out to defend Libertarianism.

    Libertarians live in a fantasy world were everyone’s idea of liberty matches perfectly with their own. But just in case it doesn’t they reserve the right to shoot you.

    Never met a documentary you liked huh? How do you feel about shapes and colors? It’s absolute lawlessness in Iraq. That is more or less the Libertarian way. Fend for yourselves. Free market will sort it all out. The cream will rise to the top. No central planning.

    The structure you describe that protects the interests of the strong at the expense of the weak is precisely what we have here in America. How are Libertarian values going to reverse that?

  • http://pith-n-vinegar.blogspot.com Quincy

    jim –

    That’s not libertarianism, that’s unmitigated anarchy. In a libertarian society, it is a proper role of government to prevent the use of force by one citizen to coerce another. You’re either confused about the difference between libertarianism and anarchism or deliberately conflating the two to score a cheap point.

    Libertarians contend that one of the foundations for a functioning free market is an environment in which people are free to choose. This means a government that protects them from violence and provides them a place to settle disputes. It does not mean a government that makes decisions for people, as the modern left and right are wont to do.

    “The structure you describe that protects the interests of the strong at the expense of the weak is precisely what we have here in America. How are Libertarian values going to reverse that?”

    Well, since the strong in this country have gotten mighty good at using the putrid gravy train emanating from capitol hill to their own advantage, I’d say libertarian values would do a damn fine job knocking them down a peg or two. Just where exactly would the big oil companies and farm conglomerates be today without their considerable subsidies?

  • http://poppychop.net/ Nitroadict

    @jim:

    “Wow look who’s come out to defend Libertarianism.”

    Defend? From what, ignorance? Would you like to crack out another gem like, “A centrally planned economy is the key to freedom?”. Papa Gravel would be proud.

    By the way, being the Libertarian *you* think I am, I just want to make it clear that all shapes & colors are separate, but equal. This sentence, nor the one sentence before, is not at all sarcastic in any way.

    Last I checked, I don’t think one of the libertarian principles was to shoot anyone they didn’t agree with. Please consult The Internet for the answer to your either intentional or unintentional confusion. Or perhaps pay more attention to other individual’s comments here; that might help.

    I have no problem with people watching documentaries; believe whatever you want to believe, watch whatever you want to wacth. Your argument, however, is a blunt one, as my problem was how you felt qualified to assume so much on what you *think* libertarianism is, based on what little you know (which isn’t a lot, obviously), versus what libertarianism actually is.

    Reading tends to help one understand, as does thinking. Letting a documentary do that for you doesn’t seem to be the best way to go about with forming a basis of an argument. Least of all, a documentary that claims to offer some type of objective view of the aftermath of Iraq, when it mostly just provides liberal viewpoints to continue to fuel the extreme, almost religious, Bush hatred, which, while not at all unwarranted, has long since entered the familiar realm of ridiculousness & blind arrogance that is reflected with Liberals & Leftists common view of economics & the tyranny of good intentions.

    Oh and yes, based on that one comment, please, by all means, call me a McCain/Bush/Rethug supporter, because anyone who disagrees with you is and should be the enemy.

    Since I disagree with you, perhaps you should shoot me? I’m sure your morality will still hold up when you point the barrel of the gun at me.

    (Also, yet again, what Quincy said.)

  • uhm

    Jim, I disagree. The government gives power to the strong to rule the weak. The corruption we see is caused by the design of the system through the structural legal framework. The system protects, encouraging inefficiency and corruption: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aHCnscodO1s0

    The Iraq civil war is not a result of libertarianism but groups fighting amongst themselves for power and control. Libertarians are individualist :*)
    http://www.consortiumnews.com/2008/032608b.html

    I think Bush has been the biggest liberal president since Lyndon Johnson. He expanded government, doubled the national debt, and went on liberal interventionist crusade to do good.

    The reason why liberals dislike the Iraq war is because a Democrat didn’t start it. They want to liberate other countries like Darfur, Tibet, creating more havoc through their blind dogoodry. They hate Bush because he is a Republican not for his Wilsonian foreign policy.

    I don’t see why all the anger about Gravel. He and his followers might be deprogrammed from the socialist cult of tyranny. I think what they are afraid of is power concentrated in corrupt hands and libertarianism has the answer for that. Socialist like Gravel just need to listen to the hymn of small government and no regulation. Corporations have no power if they don’t legally exist. Problem solved.

  • http://poppychop.net/ Nitroadict

    The problem will not be solved when those like Gravel and other socialists are still blind to their own problems: one of which, i mentioned before, is the tyranny of good intentions, the second being their lack of knowledge concerning economics (or in the best case, simply a lack of exposure to economics outside the mainstream) .

    At best, I see Gravel being a soft-parentalist type within the LP, and if anyone still confuses soft-parentalist with libertarianism, they need to go look up some terms asap.

    It would be a sign of good faith if the LP were smart enough to hold public conferences concerning Gravel & possibly getting their shit together anytime soon. I won’t be holding my breath though.

  • http://poppychop.net/ Nitroadict

    edit: *Soft-paternalist

  • uhm

    I personally don’t foresee anything relevant happening in the LP on the national level. Nader/Ross Perot pretty much killed it for third parties for awhile at least unless a miracle happens.

    You are right they are blind. This may provide a chance to reason with and educate a few of them. They don’t have the answer to the problems they see and libertarianism does. They don’t see how they contribute to the problems and libertarianism does.

  • jim

    Some of you guys (Nitro) are too hung up on semantics. You can’t see the forest for the trees. Liberal, Conservative, Libertarian, Free Trade (that’s my favorite), It’s all meaningless.

    Here is how life between individuals works. If you are by yourself on a trip you get to call all the shots. Add one other person and the chances of disagreement and the need to compromise goes up. Add just one other person and the compromise factor goes up exponentially. Keep adding people and wars break out. We need rules to protect our liberties from the liberties of others. We need rules to protect our liberties from those who we choose to make the rules. Some liberties will need to be curtailed for the good of the whole. Wealth needs to be eqitably distributed out of fairness and so that there is some semblence of a market. Slavery is evil.

    The current government is an employee of the major corporations. It’s like the board of directors. Elections and political parties are theater. An honest to goodness peoples revolution or a complete and total breakdown brought on by resource depletion is the only way to do away with the status quo. That is no gaurantee that something better will replace it.

    Free trade and free market are just code words for FREE LABOR. That is the only way business owners control profits and costs. Labor. You know it, I know it, everybody knows it. If you own a buisness that actually matters in this country (food, energy) the government will do everything in it’s power to make sure you not only succeed but grow to nuclear mutated proportions. There is no free market or free trade for the average citizen. The path to sucess is frought with obsticals purposely put there to prevent you from surpassing those already there and to feed the government so it can in turn feed the businesses that the government deems important. The Market is an illusion. If the so called market worked as you think it does there would be no need to advertise. Most everything we have we don’t need. The market has to convince you that you need it. So as is always the case the one with the conch shell sets the agenda. We don’t know if our actual NEEDS can be met. Food/Energy. We have to rely on what the guys with the info tell the market. Do the futures really tell us about oil supplies? If so we are in trouble wouldn’t you agree? Does it really tell us about wheat and rice harvests? Again if the market is infallible we are in some serious trouble. Can the market be manipulated? Can the people who determine monetary policy create havoc? Did the plunge protection group manipulate the futures market last week? Are those who went short being forced to cover, prematurely? There is no free market and there never will be. Free market, free trade are just advertising gimmicks.

    Maybe 20% of the population is living the so called American dream. The number is probably much less. That’s the carrot. The one that can’t be reached because the system has put it out of reach of the majority. But you need to see that carrot and you need to believe you can reach it so that the system is perpetuated and the ones with the carrots can keep eating as many as they like. They need you to plant and harvest them. They just don’t want to pay you to do it. They don’t want to share equitably. They have to be forced to do so. If they weren’t forced there would indeed be slavery as there has been throughout mans history.

    The concept that one guy should own what we all need is so last century. Reality dictates. The reality is we need energy to sustain our population. Should the free market allow Mr. Burns to own the sunshine? He paid to have someone figure out how to harness it first? So what he killed the inventor. So what he bought off the competitors. So what he greased the wheels of the government to invade the country to the south to secure the resources he needs to build the machine and keep it running. So what his original capital was gotten by illegally trading in opium. The market dictates. BS.

    I know GWB is a traitor and should be dealt with as those convicted of treason should be. Him and all of those around him. I voted for him twice. If I had to hang in order for him to recieve his justice I would willingly do so. If Katrina did not wake you up to the fact that GWB does not care about this country or it’s citizens then nothing will. Iraq is about oil. The only thing secured in this entire charade has been the oil ministry. If karma exists this country has a debt that may never be paid off. Darfur is all about oil. Sudan has it, we want it. China currently holds the concessions. But Condi Rice’s old company Chevron is right next door in Chad just itching to get back in there ever since they were run out back in the early eighties. Same time aids started spreading throughout Africa, coincidentally.

    You guys are all suffering from denial. The American people are just people. Some bad some worse. People are naturally selfish. I don’t know why you would deny that. It’s simple human nature. But our government is evil. Pure unadultarated evil. It’s not easy to admit that but it’s the truth. We are 5% of the worlds population and we use 25% of the worlds resources on a daily basis. That is selfish. That is evil. Our government does everything in it’s power so that we can continue to live like this. We are complicit.

    I know the essence of Libertarianism is basically leave me the hell alone to live my life the way I see fit. But the house next door to yours is on fire. It could spread to yours or your neighbors. There are children, little babies, burning up in the house on fire. You just gonna keep watching TV?

    ( I don’t have time to edit this)

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    What does what you wrote have to do with a crypto-socialist like Mike Gravel ?

  • jim

    @ Doug

    Libertarians want to reject Gravel out of hand. But they should reconsider because it is not he that needs to grow and change. It is the Libertarians. Their dogma is too rigid. There ideals are outdated. They would achieve more liberty for themselves if they would abondon their misguided belief in the “imaginary” free market and embrace the socialism we are already operating under. It is their resistance to this reality that keeps it from working to the best of it’s ability. Just admit that we have socialism now and make it work better for all instead of just the few at the top of the pyramid.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Jim,

    If you’re telling me to reject the ideas of economic freedom and private property rights and accept Mike Gravel (even though he garnered about as many votes as Alan Keyes), then my response is thus:

    No-way-in-hell.

    There are some principles that cannot be compromised. If you don’t like it, go find another political movement to be a part of.

  • jim

    @ Doug

    Ultimately you are not going to have a choice. What you’re going to get because of your stubborn insistance on some precieved entitlement to consume as much as possible, is a military dictatorship. Iraq is a dry run.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    If I believed you, which I don’t, then you’re basically giving me a choice between a Bush/Cheney Military Dictatorship and a Gravel/Kucinich Economic Dictatorship.

    Given the choice, I choose not to choose.

  • jim

    Well if I had to put money on it I would bet on the military dictatorship. The people at the top are not going to wilingly share power and resources. But they will still need to eat. They will still need for someone to serve them and clean up their messes. They just don’t believe those things are as worthy of compensation as making a “wise” investment or inherited wealth and position. I’m at a loss as to why the vast majority of people who own nothing will lay down their freedoms to protect those who do. Like a mass expression of the Stockholm Syndrome. God save the Queen.

  • http://pith-n-vinegar.blogspot.com Quincy

    jim –

    “Free trade and free market are just code words for FREE LABOR. That is the only way business owners control profits and costs. Labor. You know it, I know it, everybody knows it. If you own a buisness that actually matters in this country (food, energy) the government will do everything in it’s power to make sure you not only succeed but grow to nuclear mutated proportions. There is no free market or free trade for the average citizen. The path to sucess is frought with obsticals purposely put there to prevent you from surpassing those already there and to feed the government so it can in turn feed the businesses that the government deems important. The Market is an illusion. If the so called market worked as you think it does there would be no need to advertise. Most everything we have we don’t need. The market has to convince you that you need it. So as is always the case the one with the conch shell sets the agenda. We don’t know if our actual NEEDS can be met. Food/Energy. We have to rely on what the guys with the info tell the market. Do the futures really tell us about oil supplies? If so we are in trouble wouldn’t you agree? Does it really tell us about wheat and rice harvests? Again if the market is infallible we are in some serious trouble. Can the market be manipulated? Can the people who determine monetary policy create havoc? Did the plunge protection group manipulate the futures market last week? Are those who went short being forced to cover, prematurely? There is no free market and there never will be. Free market, free trade are just advertising gimmicks.”

    Right. Just because you call government-enforced corporatism the free market don’t make it so. You’ve put up a great argument for why we need libertarianism in this country, yet you’re so hung up on what you *think* libertarianism is, as opposed to what it *actually* is that you can’t see it.

    “I know the essence of Libertarianism is basically leave me the hell alone to live my life the way I see fit. But the house next door to yours is on fire. It could spread to yours or your neighbors. There are children, little babies, burning up in the house on fire. You just gonna keep watching TV?”

    I’m going to get up off my ass and do something, thank you very much. Just because we libertarians don’t want the government on our backs doesn’t mean that we’re selfish recluses who won’t do anything to help another person.

    So, you say all us libertarians are lazy, stingy, evil types who like to let the little guy suffer. You also say our current government is evil. Instead of just bashing all the ideas presented here, why don’t you tell us the way you’d have it work? Seriously. Because you keep insisting you have the inside track on human nature, why don’t you let all us clueless sheep in on it and lay out your blueprint for a perfect, just society.

    I’m waiting.

  • uhm

    Jim, slavery goes against libertarianism. I don’t see no reason to curtail liberty. As long as people’s property is respected who cares what people do.

    It is interesting that you think socialism is good but agree that government is evil. Why more of it? Why not gut the power structure through deregulation that sustains the beast and stop feeding it? Take away the power of corporations through deregulation. Cut the taxes so there is less incentive to steal from the populace to commit destruction and redistributing it to people who don’t need it. Put the lobbyist out of work. Then go outside and deal with real people and raise money in a way that doesn’t use coercion. Altruism > Socialism.

  • jim

    Wow look at gold dropping like a rock today. While equity markets rally for absolutely no reason what-so-ever. Yet OIL still >$100. I thought oil prices were reflective of the weak dollar? Yet the dollar is rallying today. Why would that happen when the FED has just printed billions of fresh new dollar bills? Hmmm? Free Market sorting it out? Don’t bet on it.

    Communism is the answer. But it will never work precisely because of human nature. Humans just can’t deal with what communism requires to work. A healthy family unit is basically communism working. It can’t work outside of that small unit though. Just impossible

    So we are left with socialism. A strong central government held in check by ….I don’t know……the participation of the people??? Survival instincts?? Necessity??…I don’t know. But someday people are going to wake up to the whole delusion of the concept of royalty. They are going to demand their fair share. Let them eat cake aint gonna cut it forever.

    Capitalism is doomed to failure. It uses up resources too quickly and the disparity between the haves and have nots is too wide. Capitalism depends on unlimited growth. The universe may be infinite but the earth is less so.

  • jim

    @ Quincy

    Libertarianism can’t work because of basic human nature. The free market will always be corrupted because of it. This is why we have to admit that socialism is what we are left with. We have it now only it is socialism for the powerful. If we admit that we have it now the shame of it will disappear and we can make it work for everyone not just the corporations who avail themselves of all the subsidies and keep us convinced that the government shouldn’t pass out freebies to the general public…just to them.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/ Brad Warbiany

    So we are left with socialism. A strong central government held in check by ….I don’t know……the participation of the people??? Survival instincts?? Necessity??…I don’t know. But someday people are going to wake up to the whole delusion of the concept of royalty. They are going to demand their fair share. Let them eat cake aint gonna cut it forever.

    A strong central government held in check by… What, exactly?! When has a strong central government been held in check? Do you not understand that the problems are INHERENT IN THE SYSTEM? Government rules over its subjects. The more powerful government becomes, the more it attracts people who wish to RULE, not who wish the common good. This is the way it is, and the way it has always been. You may get a benevolent dictator once in a while, but on the whole you’re looking at a long line of authoritarian assholes.

    Capitalism is doomed to failure. It uses up resources too quickly and the disparity between the haves and have nots is too wide. Capitalism depends on unlimited growth. The universe may be infinite but the earth is less so.

    Perhaps it’s doomed to failure. But capitalism and freedom, respect for property rights, and the like have been creating prosperity ever since the days of Adam Smith. How many socialist societies have survived past 200 years?

    If socialism is the answer, why is it that China is becoming much more prosperous as they REPLACE some socialism with some capitalism? Sure, they’re still a socialist country, but the rulers there understand that capitalism is the engine of prosperity.

  • jim

    @ Brad

    Whatever…I only pretend to have the answers.

    I would prefer mass enlightenment that allows for a Libertarian style utopia. I have very little faith it will materialize.

    The world would be a better place if it were less about profits and more about people.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Jim,

    The world would be a better place if it were less about profits and more about people.

    A world where people operate in their own self-interest without using coercive means against their fellow man is a world that’s about people, because it creates more beneficial outcomes for the common good even if that wasn’t the intent. That’s what Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” of the free market is all about. There’s nothing wrong with profit so long as it’s not derived through fraud, violence or the threat of violence…it’s what drives us to improve.

  • http://pith-n-vinegar.blogspot.com/ Quincy

    jim –

    OK. I get it now. Everyone is evil, nothing will work, so we have to rely on socialism because…

    Your thinking has no logical solution. If all people are evil and driven by greed, and they are all willing to bend whatever enterprise we set up to better our lot to their own ends, then the logical conclusion is to bend over and take it with a smile. There’s no solution to escape that.

    I must say, while you’ve added nothing of value to the debate on how to improve the government to protect our freedom, you have brightened my day. :-)

  • jim

    @ Quincy

    Well, they don’t call me sunshine for nothin’.

    We are doomed Quincy. America is over. Plant crops in your backyard. Try to outlive the coming crisis and start up a new community with libertarian values once the dust settles. Just remember and stay on guard because ultimately one of your citizens will f*** it up for everyone due to their nature to believe themselves superior to you and the others. It’s that element in our natures that causes the disparity that leads to misery. And yet it’s that same element that creates the motivation and activity and provides the impetus for innovation and so called progress which non of us can resist. Easier is better. So….we’re doomed to repeat the cycle over and over again until the sun explodes. :-)

    Gravel will really end the war in Iraq and that is a reason for me to vote for him regardless the party he runs on. I think RP would want to do the same, although I’m increasingly disappointed with the people he surrounds himself with. Besides I doubt he will make it past the convention. We really need to stop f****** up Iraq though. No matter how bad we need the oil.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/author/stephen/ Stephen Littau

    @ Jim

    If you want out of Iraq and want bigger government, your choice is very simple: support the Democrat. Gravel is by no means the only candidate who wants out of Iraq (McCain is the only candidate left who wants to remain in Iraq)

    If you want less government, the choice isn’t so simple. Choosing between McCain and whichever socialist wins the Democrat nomination is a choice between which freedoms you are willing to surrender. There simply are no good options left for even pragmatic libertarians.

  • http://www.belowthebeltway.com Doug Mataconis

    Jim,

    If you truly believe what you say then I suggest you stop spending your time commenting on blogs and start stocking up provisions for the impending collapse of civilization.

    Unless you haven’t gone through all the stuff you bought before Y2K that is ;)

  • jim

    @ Stephen

    Neither Democrat will ‘really’ end the war. They will draw down and then when the sh** hits the fan they will start dropping bombs. Democrats are even more ruthless warriors than Republicans. Bush keeps the war raging because it’s a business. The Dems are the same but they can’t handle American casualties. They will simply sacrifice more Iraqis via a long distance bomb. We won’t see those deaths from here so they will stay popular.

    I don’t want a big government per se.I don’t really want any government. But since we have to have a government it should protect the weakest, not the most powerful. You can’t deny that the government we currently have favors the rich people over the poor. I don’t care which party is in power. If the playing field isn’t leveled first. Meaning everybody starts out with the same monopoly money. Then simply deregulating isn’t going to help. Eliminating the income tax would help though. Gravel wants that doesn’t he?

  • jim

    @ Doug

    Common Doug, I gotta have some interaction with others while I’m down here in my fallout shelter.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/ Brad Warbiany

    Jim,

    You can’t deny that the government we currently have favors the rich people over the poor.

    What government has been different? China? USSR? Cuba? Zimbabwe? Venezuela?

    The capitalist governments have done the best job of making poor people richer, even if they’ve made the rich richer at a faster rate. How else could it be that America is so rich that our poorest people have so much food that they’re fat? You don’t see North Koreans arguing over which diet is the most effective, do you?

  • jim

    @ Brad

    We’re better than North Korea. Cool.

    Look there is tremendous wealth in this country and the vast majority of it is consolidated among 1-20% of the population and that is a generous number. The middle class is shrinking into non existence. We’re not different than most industrialized nations. A small amount of the population has way to much extra money and the leisure time that it affords and most have just enough or a lot less than enough and are debt slaves. Add to that our quality of life continues to decrease. Two wage earners. No one to stay with the kids. Kids start work at 4 years old, it’s called school. More time spent commuting. Sitting at the computer or in front of the tube. Poor air quality. Shallow pop culture. Poorly constructed products. Rampant drug and alcohol abuse. Religious fanaticism. Highest incarceration rate in the world. Chronic health problems. Aging population with no safety net. Crumbling infrastructure. Genetically mutated food. Never ending wars. This civilization is about to implode.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Brad,

    You might as well give up on arguing with him. Once people focus their economic arguments on relative wealth rather than on absolute wealth, they reduce themselves to pessimists just looking for a reason to bitch.

    Jim,

    People who obsess about removing the differences in relative wealth (which is what you’re doing) rarely accomplish anything more than making themselves miserable and then shooting themselves in the foot:

    http://www.wisebread.com/bar-stool-economics-0

  • http://poppychop.net/ Nitroadict

    I’m afraid arguing with logic (or at least a non-emotional argument) against emotional arguments is still essentially like yelling at a brick wall.

    I will leave with this quote for the more reasonable Gravel fans (and other non-Gravel socialists) to consider:

    “Social­ism began in the 1830s and expanded greatly after the 1880s. The peculiar thing about socialism was that it was a confused, hybrid movement, influenced by both the two great preexisting polar ideologies, liberalism and conservatism. From the classical liberals the socialists took a frank acceptance of industrialism and the Industrial Revolution, an early glori­fication of “science” and “reason,” and at least a rhetorical devotion to such classical liberal ideals as peace, individual freedom, and a rising standard of living. Indeed, the socialists, long before the much later corporatists, pioneered in a co-opting of science, reason, and industrial­ism. And the socialists not only adopted the classical liberal adherence to democracy, but topped it by calling for an “expanded democracy,” in which “the people” would run the economy—and each other.

    On the other hand, from the conservatives the socialists took a devotion to coercion and the statist means for trying to achieve these liberal goals. Industrial harmony and growth were to be achieved by aggrandiz­ing the State into an all-powerful institution, ruling the economy and the society in the name of “science.” A vanguard of technocrats was to assume all-powerful rule over everyone’s person and property in the name of the “people” and of “democracy.” Not content with the liberal achievement of reason and freedom for scientific research, the socialist State would install rule by the scientists of everyone else; not content with liberals setting the workers free to achieve undreamt-of prosperity, the socialist State would install rule by the workers of everyone else— or rather, rule by politicians, bureaucrats, and technocrats in their name. Not content with the liberal creed of equality of rights, of equality before the law, the socialist State would trample on such equality on behalf of the monstrous and impossible goal of equality or uniformity of results—or rather, would erect a new privileged elite, a new class, in the name of bringing about such an impossible equality.

    Socialism was a confused and hybrid movement because it tried to achieve the liberal goals of freedom, peace, and industrial harmony and growth—goals which can only be achieved through liberty and the sepa­ration of government from virtually everything—by imposing the old conservative means of statism, collectivism, and hierarchical privilege. It was a movement which could only fail, which indeed did fail miserably in those numerous countries where it attained power in the twentieth century, by bringing to the masses only unprecedented despotism, starva­tion, and grinding impoverishment.”

    ~ Murray N. Rothbard, For A New Liberty (http://www.mises.org/rothbard/newliberty01.asp)

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Jim,

    And to address your points specifically:

    Look there is tremendous wealth in this country and the vast majority of it is consolidated among 1-20% of the population and that is a generous number.

    Who pay the overwhelming majority of this nation’s taxes, which the lower earning portion of the population benefits from.

    The middle class is shrinking into non existence.

    Because they’re becoming wealthier. That’s why Democrats talk about helping the “middle class” now instead of “the poor”. The poor have basically disappeared as a voting block because there aren’t enough of them to matter anymore (because they became middle class). That’s why absolute wealth is the more important thing to focus on.

    A small amount of the population has way to much extra money and the leisure time that it affords and most have just enough or a lot less than enough and are debt slaves.

    People who make themselves “debt slaves” generally do so by living beyond their means. Were they to live within their means, they’d still be better off than 90% of the planet and would be able to improve their position. Unfortunately, they try to “keep up with the Joneses” and screw themselves over. Rarely, however, do they spend themselves into a situation that they’re incapable of getting out of with a little prudent financial planning and self-discipline.

    Two wage earners. No one to stay with the kids.

    Usually by choice, often so they can buy more toys (beyond subsistence level). You’d prefer that women were barred from the workplace and that families halved their income like in the good old days? My parents’ two-income household enabled me and my siblings to go to college and start our lives afterwards debt-free. Frankly, I found that to be a much better option than being several thousand dollars in the hole after graduation so I could watch mom sit home and clean while I was a kid.

    Kids start work at 4 years old, it’s called school.

    It’s called advancement. My nieces all went to pre-school and enjoyed it…if you know a lot of kids who don’t I’d suggest that it’s probably because their parents sent them to a school that sucked. My nieces were all able to read before they started kindergarten. I learned by the end of kindergarten. Given a choice, I’d rather have been on their learning curve.

    Sitting at the computer or in front of the tube.

    Ironic, considering the source.

    More time spent commuting.

    Sure, if you choose to live in a bigger city. My job is in a city of 300,000 and my commute is about 20 minutes on a bad day. If your commute makes you miserable, move.

    Poor air quality.

    I live in Kansas…our air’s just fine.

    Shallow pop culture.

    I combat that by not buying shitty music, watching shitty movies, or reading shitty books…and I’ve never had a tough time finding good alternatives. Don’t blame the world because you’re too lazy to look.

    Poorly constructed products.

    Only for people who are stupid enough to buy them because they didn’t do any research. If this is a problem for you, here’s a site that’ll help:

    http://www.consumerreports.org

    Rampant drug and alcohol abuse.

    Which have been declining among the population for years.

    Highest incarceration rate in the world.

    Which libertarianism opposes and has solutions for.

    Chronic health problems

    Not a problem on this end…but then again I try to take care of myself and don’t spend my time being depressed about the world.

    Aging population with no safety net.

    Sure there’s a safety net…it’s called personal responsibility and financial planning. That’s what people who don’t expect to win the lottery or live on government handouts do when they don’t want to be broke when they retire.

    Crumbling infrastructure.

    I’m assuming you’re referring to the one catastrophic bridge collapse we’ve had in the last decade?

    Genetically mutated food.

    Which is generally indistinguishable from non-genetically enhanced and produces higher yields and better quality at lower prices.

    Religious fanaticism…Never ending wars. This civilization is about to implode.

    Have you ever bothered to crack a history book? Because none of this stuff is new, our civilization’s survived all of it before, and frankly I don’t see any point to your arguments besides you coming off as an inherently unhappy and miserable person. In which case, it’s not the world that’s the problem…

  • jim

    @ UCrawford

    Kansas?! More people live in my city than live in your whole state. Take a little tour of America sometime. I mean go to where the people live. Kansas?!

    I’m happy bro. I am concerned about the future though. Some major crisis coming our way and living in Kansas won’t insulate you from them.

  • UCrawford

    jim,

    I’ve traveled enough of the world, sport, to know that we’re doing great in the States in comparison to much of the globe.

    As for your opinion of my state…frankly, I’ve found people who live in larger cities (particularly on the East and West Coasts) to be much more provincial and ignorant of the outside world than the people who live in rural areas. I’ve also found us to possess much less of an entitlement mentality than people in large cities and less of a tendency to bitch about the things in our lives that we have the ability to change.

    Some major crisis coming our way and living in Kansas won’t insulate you from them.

    Living in Tornado Alley (also a region of the country that suffered some of the worst deprivations of the Great Depression) teaches you that there’s always a major crisis looming on the horizon…and if you look for solutions and don’t wallow in futility and victimhood, you’ll generally make it through just fine.

  • jim

    UCrawford

    Okay man. Optimism is always best. I remember when I lived in the farmlands of Indiana I was exposed to much more diversity than I am in the big city. :-)

    Read this though. Being a sports guy you know somethings take a team effort. This sounds like one of them.
    http://studentpa.info/spip.php?article474

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    jim,

    I remember when I lived in the farmlands of Indiana I was exposed to much more diversity than I am in the big city.

    Your fault for not making travel more of a priority. I’d seen most of the U.S. by the time I graduated high school…another of the benefits of a two-income household.

    Read this though. Being a sports guy you know somethings take a team effort. This sounds like one of them.

    Teams that have incompetent managers using ineffective techniques don’t generally accomplish anything (like the KC Royals for the last 20 years). Beyond national defense, courts, and roads (most of the time) I don’t see much of anything that the government attempts that couldn’t be better accomplished by leaving it to individuals and the private sector.

    Also, the hysteria about “peak oil” is bullshit:

    http://economics.about.com/cs/macroeconomics/a/run_out_of_oil.htm

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/author/stephen/ Stephen Littau

    @ Jim:
    Most of the people who are wealthy now earned their wealth by making smart decisions, sacrifice, and taking risks while people who are poor generally underachieve by making poor decisions, do not delay gratification, and take unreasonable risks (and have their hands out for the government to bail them out). Even if we redistributed all of the wealth as if we were playing the Monopoly board game, within a year (or less) inequities would begin to appear because many of the same people would make the same kind of decisions as before. Has it ever occurred to you that when you play Monopoly this very thing happens? Have you ever played a game where all the players end up with exactly the same amount of money and property?

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Stephen,

    Most of the people who are wealthy now earned their wealth by making smart decisions, sacrifice, and taking risks while people who are poor generally underachieve by making poor decisions, do not delay gratification, and take unreasonable risks

    Same reason so many lottery winners and successful pro athletes from poor backgrounds end up broke after awhile. They receive the financial benefits via means that don’t require financial responsibility and as a result they don’t develop the discipline and wisdom necessary to maintain it. A fool and his money are often lucky to get together in the first place.

  • jim

    # UCrawford

    Oh, Okay, I’ll take Mike Moffatt’s word on it. After all he’s like in his late 20’s-early 30’s and he has studied economics at four universities. He has way more authority regarding oil reserves than the guy who’s made billions investing in the oil business, studied the fields of Saudi Arabia for two years, wrote a book on the subject, advised the POTUS on an energy plan, worked in the oil business for the past 30 years. Dang and you were sounding kind of smart there for awhile. I thought you knew about economics. Tell me how transfering upwards of 500 billion dollars a year out of this country into the hands of our staunchest critics is a good thing. It would take the Saudi’s about 6 days revenue on $100 a barrel to buy GM and three years to buy a 20% voting block in every S&P 500 company.

    @ Steve

    C’mom man. I bet you don’t even believe that. Most of the old money in this country that still calls the shots made their bucks the good old fashioned way. Trading slaves and running opium.

  • UCrawford

    jim,

    After all he’s like in his late 20’s-early 30’s and he has studied economics at four universities. He has way more authority regarding oil reserves than the guy who’s made billions investing in the oil business, studied the fields of Saudi Arabia for two years, wrote a book on the subject, advised the POTUS on an energy plan, worked in the oil business for the past 30 years

    I don’t care that much about his age so much as whether or not his arguments are correct…and Moffat’s arguments are correct because they’re based on simple supply and demand. Once the reserves of oil become more depleted, the price will rise. As the price for oil rises, the consumer base for oil will shrink and alternative fuel sources become more financially viable. Oil is only a major asset to us now because it’s the most financially affordable (for a variety of reasons, some directly market-related, some not). As it dries up then the market will force the severe over-regulation and restriction of nuclear technologies to lessen, or technological advances will allow solar or wind power to become more financially feasible, or the government will decide to drop tariffs on the only form of ethanol that’s not a a complete scam (Brazilian sugar cane). At no point, however, will oil simply disappear and throw our entire world into disarray…unless we get completely stupid and let the government be in charge of it all, of course (and even then it’s not likely).

    He has way more authority regarding oil reserves than the guy who’s made billions investing in the oil business, studied the fields of Saudi Arabia for two years, wrote a book on the subject, advised the POTUS on an energy plan, worked in the oil business for the past 30 years.

    I work with minerals and gas and I’ve met plenty of oil men with some pretty stupid economic ideas (although usually that was because they were running a scam). Considering the corruption and inefficiency of President Bush’s energy plan (where government and favored companies pulled most of the strings) I don’t consider someone who advised Bush on his oil policy to have any more credibility than a guy whose life is dedicated to studying economics…particularly when the oil man’s position directly contradicts basic supply and demand.

    It would take the Saudi’s about 6 days revenue on $100 a barrel to buy GM and three years to buy a 20% voting block in every S&P 500 company.

    Sure…if they wanted their government to collapse because they couldn’t pay for their socialist economies and for the foreign companies and experts who actually run their oil sector (thanks to their screwy public educational system that turns out graduates incapable of holding high-technology jobs).

    Tell me how transfering upwards of 500 billion dollars a year out of this country into the hands of our staunchest critics is a good thing.

    I have no clue what you’re referencing here. If you’re talking about foreign aid or the Iraq war, I’ve never said either was a good idea. If you’re talking about the money we spend on oil, it’s a worthwhile price for the everyday utility we derive from that oil. See tarran’s post from last week regarding “energy independent = poor”.

    Most of the old money in this country that still calls the shots made their bucks the good old fashioned way. Trading slaves and running opium.

    Old money gets pissed away the same as lottery winnings and pro contracts do…by people (in this case the heirs or beneficiaries) who lack the financial discipline and wisdom to maintain their fortune because they achieved their wealth by means that didn’t require those traits (inheritance). And the Brits were the opium runners, not the U.S.

  • jim

    Wow! You really need to do a little more research into this topic. Oil is >$100 a barrel right now. You think maybe that’s going to ripple it’s way through the economy? Here is the supply and demand scenario. Oil is sold on a worldwide market. We are a net importer. Why? Because we can’t drill enough here to meet our needs. Even if we drill in Alaska those barrels get sold at the “market” price. So we need more than we have. We aren’t the only ones who need it BTW. China needs more than it has also and is spending plenty of those $’s we’ve been sending them so we can shop real cheap at WalMart, they imported 7.4% more this month over last year at this time. The amount of oil being pumped isn’t enough for everybody who needs it and demand is only going up. That is why oil has gone up 65% since last year. Did you hear about the trucker strike today. They can’t make ends meet. Diesel fuel is too high. These are hard working independent business men who I suppose sometimes play the lotto. F**** them right? Free market says they should find another job, fine. But Truckers bring us everything we buy at the store. Not trains. Trucks. So look for much higher prices on your shelves. Especially food. Because the farmer needs gas and oil for all those farm machines and the fertilizer and then it has to be trucked to the store. There is no alternative energy source that can replace oil. None. The free market aint gonna fix that one. And if it does it will need plenty of cheap oil to retro fit our entire system and implement it. But wait oil is already >$100 a barrel. And the bankers are already complaining about a credit crunch. Hmm wonder where the capital will come from? Oh well, we’ll just print some more. But won’t that just drive up the price of oil since it’s traded in dollars. And don’t we risk hyperinflation? oh well. You say Nuclear? Better get to building those plants before the price of oil pushes the costs past the already multi millions of dollars each one costs. Then of course you’ll need oil to mine that uranium. F*** the indians in New Mexico. We’ll just break another treaty. F***** savages. What do they know. And on and on it goes. Bio Fuel it’s a bust. Of course this will all get sorted out by some friendly business men. They’re so good at coordinating for the public good. Do a little research just in case your wrong. Money does not create energy. Energy creates money.

    All them blue bloods up in New England were slave traders and opium runners. Including FDR’s grand daddy. Forbes, all of ‘em. Harvard and Yale were built on that sh**.

  • jim

    Oh yeah, how do all those rich guys hold on to their money from generation to generation? They establish something called a foundation. I wonder why foundations aren’t taxed? Man, only a rich guy could get that law passed.

  • http://poppychop.net/ Nitroadict

    Yet again, an emotional argument attacks what it lacks in evidence to understand.

    Are the bases loaded yet?

  • jim

    @ Nitroadict

    Well, that clears things up.

  • UCrawford

    jim,

    They establish something called a foundation.

    Which is generally charitable in purpose and provides benefits to the population at large and not just the familial beneficiaries. And the money, be it in a trust or a foundation, is invested in companies, which creates jobs, and products, and services, and profits, and dividends, and economic growth, and more wealth for everyone.

    I wonder why foundations aren’t taxed?

    Because they’re charitable and the government recognizes that they’re a far more effective distributor of public benefit than the government is on its best day.

    Man, only a rich guy could get that law passed.

    And then you’re back to equating being rich with being evil again. Which is the basis for almost all arguments about relative wealth…stemming from little more than jealousy and economic ignorance.

  • jim

    @ UCrawford

    You’re assuming I have something to be jealous of.

    I can’t believe you guys are so naive about wealth and power.

    BTW why should a charitable organization be exempt from taxes?

    Also btw with all of these charitable foundations why does the United States have the highest poverty rate among minors in the developed world but one of the lowest unemployment rates?

  • UCrawford

    jim,

    You’re assuming I have something to be jealous of.

    Let’s just say that in my experience probability has always favored my assertion.

    I can’t believe you guys are so naive about wealth and power.

    Again, usually a phrase I hear from people who don’t understand why they possess neither. And since libertarians tend to be minarchists as well as students of history and economics, I’d hardly call our positions on power naive.

    BTW why should a charitable organization be exempt from taxes?

    I think that pretty much everything should be exempt from taxes, mainly because the government tends to piss tax money away on stupid projects it hasn’t got a hope of succeeding at…and because a lot of our money just gets wasted on overhead. That said, if they’re going to exempt anyone, might as well be charitable organizations.

    Also btw with all of these charitable foundations why does the United States have the highest poverty rate among minors in the developed world but one of the lowest unemployment rates?

    Maybe because you’ve cited a subjective bullshit statistic created from a non-representative sample of humanity likely designed specifically to slam the U.S.? Actually, I’d love to know the methodology used to arrive at your claim. Care to cite a source or provide a link? Because I’m betting it will take one of our contributors or sane commenters about five minutes to read it and effectively de-bunk it as cherry-picked garbage that’s got nothing to do with anything.

  • jim
  • http://poppychop.net/ Nitroadict

    Here is a link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Institute_for_the_Study_of_Labor

    “Klaus-Gerhard Maximilian Zumwinkel was chief executive officer of Deutsche Post (*IZA draws substantial financial support from the research-sponsoring activities of the Deutsche Post-Foundation) between 1990 and 2008. Being under suspicion of tax fraud, he resigned from office on February 15, 2008.[3]”

    [3]: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/support_services/article3378287.ece

    I am unsure what to make of it, though: the government grabbing power as usual, or if it was outright fraud.

  • http://poppychop.net/ Nitroadict
  • UCrawford

    jim,

    It actually took me less than five minutes…

    On page 2 of your link it notes that the child poverty rate you’re complaining about has actually decreased in the United States. As for methodology, they looked at 12 countries (all Western) which is not a representative sample of the world over only a ten year window and the authors themselves state that the paper is not a comprehensive review.

    You really didn’t read this for comprehension, did you?

  • UCrawford

    jim,

    On page 6 the authors admit that their poverty line is fairly arbitrary, on page 7 they admit that their method of equally weighting all “poor” incomes may be incompatible with a rights perspective, and the statistic you cited took place at the beginning of the study and was no longer accurate by the end.

    Basically, this is just a discussion paper where the authors were spitballing a lot of arbitrary criteria. They weren’t being dishonest or even trying to bash the U.S., but their test group was intentionally not representative of world trends, they didn’t use any kind of control group from what I could see, the timeframe of their study was the epitome of a “small sample size” and the authors basically admit that their criteria for “poverty” are fairly arbitrary and not comprehensive. Therefore, while it’s an interesting discussion tool, it’s not a credible source to render a verdict on the decline of Western Civilization or the world at large.

  • jim

    @ UCrawford
    You forgot to mention that the study revealed that government spending, in this country at least, didn’t do much to change the numbers. However, in more socialist countries like New Zealand and France there was marked improvement.

    But my question still remains unanswered. With all the tax free charitable foundations that have billions of dollars at their disposal why is there poverty among children in this country at all?

    Also, please don’t try to sell me on the idea that everything is going swell for a large portion of our young people in this country. Never mind the rest of the world where we choose to exploit labor and resources.

    It has nothing to do with relative wealth. I has to do with real poverty and lack of opportunity and a constant uphill battle against the insidiousness of privilege.

    Here you go, cute Katie Curic, has this story on her CBS News site.
    More Americans Turning To Food Stamps
    Amid Economic Slowdown, Record 28 Million In U.S. Expected To Use Program In Coming Year
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/03/31/eveningnews/main3984469.shtml?source=mostpop_story
    Already, demand is up in 43 states. Fourteen have hit record highs. In Michigan, one in every eight residents is on food stamps; one in seven in Kentucky.

  • jim

    Citing Internal Revenue Service data, the Wall Street Journal reported that the top 1 percent of Americans earned 21.2 percent of all income in 2005. That’s the highest measure of income inequality since before the Great Depression.

    For everyone else, wages barely keep up with inflation, good jobs become increasingly scarce, and making ends meet got tougher and tougher.

    Right-wing economists tell us that allowing the rich to grab such a huge percentage of national wealth rewards the most “productive” sector of society and encourages them to create even more wealth, which eventually trickles down to all Americans. So who cares if the income inequality chasm has widened to historically unprecedented heights? Poor Americans now are rich compared with poor Americans in the 1920s. They’ve got their fancy TVs and access to an extraordinary array of cheaper-than-cheap products at the nearest Wal-Mart. Are they starving? No, the big social problem is rampant obesity! So let the good times roll, and make those tax cuts permanent.

    However, the average American family carries upward of $8,000 in credit card debt. The personal savings rate has never been lower. Healthcare costs are inconceivable for anyone who doesn’t have insurance. And right now, home prices, which represent the largest chunk of net worth for most Americans, are dropping at a rate of 10 percent a year.

    Americans are less equipped to weather a financial storm than anytime since the Great Depression. While John McCain (and folks like UCrawford) lectures Americans on how Wall Street deserves a bailout if financial meltdown looms, but individual Americans who screwed up deserve to stew in a soup of their own irresponsibility.

    The Great Depression: The sequel
    http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2008/04/02/depression/index.html??source=yahoo

  • UCrawford

    jim,

    Citing Internal Revenue Service data, the Wall Street Journal reported that the top 1 percent of Americans earned 21.2 percent of all income in 2005. That’s the highest measure of income inequality since before the Great Depression.

    So what? We’ve already discussed that…it’s a relative wealth argument that has nothing to do with the condition of poor people and the only people who would care about it are pessimists who choose to ignore the benefits of a free market society.

    Right-wing economists tell us that allowing the rich to grab such a huge percentage of national wealth rewards the most “productive” sector of society and encourages them to create even more wealth, which eventually trickles down to all Americans.

    We listen to “right-wing” economists because they’re correct more often than not…”left-wing” economists are socialists who generally propose governments that create mass starvation and death before they finally collapse (see “Zimbabwe”). If you honestly think that we’re as bad off as socialist countries, either you’ve never bothered to study socialist countries or you’re just making stuff up.

    However, the average American family carries upward of $8,000 in credit card debt. The personal savings rate has never been lower.

    Generally because people in that situation make bad decisions that put them in that situation. Usually stemming from wishing to live beyond their means.

    Poor Americans now are rich compared with poor Americans in the 1920s. They’ve got their fancy TVs and access to an extraordinary array of cheaper-than-cheap products at the nearest Wal-Mart. Are they starving? No, the big social problem is rampant obesity! So let the good times roll, and make those tax cuts permanent.

    So you dismiss the only argument that matters, an absolute wealth comparison, with a irrelevant gripe about fat people and a non-sequitur on tax cuts.

    I’ve obviously won this argument, so I’m done here.

  • jim

    @ UCrawford

    Yawn. Let them eat cake, huh? Your selfishness will come back to bite you. You obviously have lived a life of privilege and haven’t the slightest idea what it means to struggle. You would rather win an argument then benefit society.

  • UCrawford

    jim,

    You would rather win an argument then benefit society.

    You’re operating under the assumption that your arguments were providing a solution that would benefit society. They weren’t. So in that case, yes…I’m happy to win the argument because it’s pointless to try and reason with someone who’s only debate tactic is to change the subject when someone points out how full of crap they are.

    If you want to be taken seriously in the future here, I’d suggest you’d do well to study this list:

    http://www.csun.edu/~dgw61315/fallacies.html

    And write coherent, on-topic points instead of just cherry-picking random data in the hopes that your opponents are too stupid to notice and call you on it. You’ll find a much more welcoming audience if you do those two things, and you might even get us to consider what you’re saying.

  • jim

    You’re operating under the same assumption. Leave it to the market is obviously not working. Closing your eyes to the economic suffering that exists because it’s all working out for you seems immature to me.

    What I’ve been saying is very plain and has been extremely consistent. The disparity between extremely wealthy people and extremely poor people is growing. Even the Wall Street Journal can see that. It is not healthy for a fee society for this disparity to exist because it puts too much power into too few hands. With power and money comes undue influence that allows for the rules to be set to favor your continued success at the expense of your competitors. It has nothing to do with what you call relative wealth. Consumer items do not make up for being shut out of the process. You claim to understand economics but you completely ignore that the most important commodity to our civilization is more expensive now (adjusted for inflation) than it has ever been. You refuse to consider the possibility that the price of that commodity (oil) will continue to rise because all the easy stuff has been found. A society in debt for whatever reason, without savings, can not weather the inevitable cyclical downturn. If a rising tide floats all boats then the opposite is true. That is why you should care. Writing off some ones indebtedness to “bad” decisions is short sighted and shows a lack of sensitivity to the realities of life. Some bad decisions include paying for grandmas heart bypass or little Johnny’s broken arm. Some bad decisions include emergency car repairs or simply filling critical needs that can’t be met with stagnant salaries, like food. Paying for a plane ticket to go to moms funeral for instance. Freak natural disasters not covered by your home owners insurance. Not all mothers want to leave their children at day care so that they can work as a waitress at the local diner. They do it because they have to. You may not want to be around mom while she irons but maybe she really wants to be around you. In case you haven’t noticed the dollar is losing value, while prices go up and wages stay stagnant. I don’t see how you can turn a blind eye to peoples real fears of living without health insurance because it’s too expensive and their businesses have decided they can achieve higher returns for their investors by hiring people as temps or part timers and avoid benefit packages. Meanwhile, the CEO presides over a company that goes bankrupt and retires with a golden parachute and the rank and file are left holding an empty bag. Fairness, that’s what I’ve been railing on about. You think the market is fair. I say it’s skewed towards the interests of those that are already well off. You say socialism is bad. I say we already have it but it’s socialism for the wealthy few at the expense of everyone else. As long as we have socialism already let’s make it work for everyone instead of just the wealthy few. You think there is a chance to return to a pure free market. I doubt it. I don’t believe it ever existed. So in the meantime until it’s possible to achieve even a reasonable approximation of a free market let’s make the socialized market we do have work for the most vulnerable in our society. To that end I say vote for Mike Gravel regardless of wether or not he is a pure Libertarian.

  • http://pith-n-vinegar.blogspot.com Quincy

    jim –

    You said Fairness, that’s what I’ve been railing on about. You think the market is fair. I say it’s skewed towards the interests of those that are already well off. You say socialism is bad. I say we already have it but it’s socialism for the wealthy few at the expense of everyone else.

    So which do we have in this country, socialism for the wealthy or a free market? By definition, the two cannot exist at the same time, and as far as I can tell, every single problem you talk about in the above rant is due to the “socialism of the wealthy” you talk about.

    Like I said before, just because you call something a free market don’t make it so. Right now, we’re suffering under a heavily socialist system that’s breaking every sector of the economy. The ones that are most heavily socialized, health care and education, are the ones that are most screwed up.

    My question for you is why you think socialism can end up benefit anyone other than the rich and powerful. I mean, seriously, you’re the person who keeps insisting that all people are selfish and evil. Why don’t you see that the logical conclusion of socialism under those circumstances is the “socialism of the wealthy” we have today? It’s that way here and in every other country socialism has been tried in.

    My position on it is simple. No form of government will work as designed because people aren’t perfect. I choose libertarian principles because they give me a chance to succeed if I’m not part of the ruling cabal. Under socialism and communism, I’m 100% ****ed.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/author/tarran/ tarran

    I should also point out that the development of free markets historically correlates with the rise of the middle class.

    Free markets benefit the poor far more than the rich in terms of improving quality of life.

    Prior to the invention of the transistor, a wealthy person could afford to hire musicians to play for his pleasure. After the invention of the transistor, anybody could afford to play music anywhere.

    Prior to the popularization of the refrigerator, only the wealthy could afford meat. Afterwards everyone had access to meat.

    The engine drivign this was the desire of inventors and businessmen to get even richer by tapping into the vast wealth in the hands of the numerous poor.

    Thanks to industrialization and the rise of mass production aimed at “exploiting” the wealth of the masses – the poor of today live better lives than the Kings of Elizabethan England. their lives are longer, their medical care is better, their homes are more comfortable, their beds are less parasite infested, they have better access to entertainment, and they are at a lower risk of being killed violently.

    Socialist societies tend to be far more polarized. It is important to note that this tendency correlates with the violence underpinning the socialist society. Voluntarily socialist societies such as Kibutzes or Hutterite communes where people are free to leave whenever they wish, the amount of “inequality” is pretty low.

    In societies where the socialism is coerced, where people are forced to share the stuff they create at gunpoint, invariably the people in the authority that dictates how stuff is shared begin to enrich themselves at the expense of those who are not in the authority. Almost inevitably you arrive at the situation where you have a ruling class or nomenklatura who are well-off and a peasant class who labor in poverty for the benefit of the ruling classes. Coercive socialism generally produces a great deal of wealth inequality because of the incentive structure associated with it.

    I honestly don’t care about how wealthy the upper classes are. To me the far more important metric is the absolute wealth of the very poor. If that is increasing rapidly, then who cares how many millionaires are out there?

  • oilnwater

    you can have something resembling a free market once you regain control of your nation’s currency. that is, wrest it from the Federal government’s whim. allow multiple currencies if necessary, whatever. once you wrest your controlled currency from anti-prosperity activities such as iraq and a long list of others, you can pursue economic activity that furthers your own interest.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    tarran,

    I honestly don’t care about how wealthy the upper classes are. To me the far more important metric is the absolute wealth of the very poor. If that is increasing rapidly, then who cares how many millionaires are out there?

    Hear, hear.

  • jim

    Oh please it’s not free market capitalism that has brought better living to more people. It’s oil. Cheap oil. And that stuff is quickly reaching it’s capacity. Even Royal Dutch Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer admits to this and those guys are notoriously optimistic.
    http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/04/01/business/NA-FIN-US-Shell-CEO-Energy.php

    Even in countries that freely admit to their socialistic structure lifestyles are superior to what they were 100 years ago. That is solely due to the magic of cheap, easily accessible oil.

    And to answer your question Quincy we have Socialism for the wealthy in this country. And a pretend free market for labor. Meaning your on your own in terms of wages and benefits. And oh by the way here are a lot of immigrants operating beneath the law that we can intimidate into working longer for less. Hey it’s the free market. Deal with it.

    So what kind of life are you going to be left with when the price of oil makes the lifestyles we are all enjoying an economic impossibility for everyone accept those top 1% that the Wall Street Journal claims hold 21.% of the nations wealth?

    You Libertarians leave out one important component when drawing up your scenarios. Population. Sure your theories play out well if it’s between you and a couple hundred people. But given the size of our population your ideology leaves too many people on the outside looking in at you eating really, really well.

    In a nutshell:

    20 people, 10 ears of corn, one guy hold 8 of those ears and refuses to share. That is a recipe for a violent uprising.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/author/stephen/ Stephen Littau

    The person with a small amount of corn can offer other goods or services to buy more corn from the person who has 8 but he has no obligation to “share” (provided that the person who has 8 ears of corn did not steal the corn from someone else or use force or fraud to obtain it). But I guess in your world, it’s perfectly okay for the 19 people sharing 2 ears of corn to join together and politely ask the person with the 8 ears to give up a few ears at the point of a gun! In essence, that’s what you are advocating.

    It’s very clear that you have not spent much time studying economics, history, or the failures of socialism and communism.

  • http://pith-n-vinegar.blogspot.com/ Quincy

    jim –

    You’re ducking my question and being damned dishonest about it to boot.

    How do you have socialism that doesn’t turn into socialism of the wealthy?

    If you’re going to plug for socialism, answer that, otherwise I’m going to assume you’re not worth listening to.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/ Brad Warbiany

    Jim,

    The disparity between extremely wealthy people and extremely poor people is growing. Even the Wall Street Journal can see that.

    Yes, this is a fact. The only fact in your entire rant. You still haven’t proven that it’s relevant.

    It is not healthy for a fee society for this disparity to exist because it puts too much power into too few hands.

    Power? Can Wal-Mart throw me in jail? Can they even force me to shop there? For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over Wal-Mart, they are a lot less threatening of a power than the government, who takes 25%+ of my income every year and threatens to throw me in jail if I do something they don’t like (such as not paying).

    With power and money comes undue influence that allows for the rules to be set to favor your continued success at the expense of your competitors.

    True with every government, including socialist governments. Throughout history, do you really think the soviet proletariat was running things? Or did “captains of industry” hijack the system and use it to benefit themselves, at the expense of the proles? Even in modern Europe, state-owned enterprises like EADS & Airbus are doling out government cheese to the wealthy and politically powerful. When government has the power to create monopoly & regulation, INVARIABLY those with money or power corrupt to system to make sure those regulations benefit themselves.

    You claim to understand economics but you completely ignore that the most important commodity to our civilization is more expensive now (adjusted for inflation) than it has ever been. You refuse to consider the possibility that the price of that commodity (oil) will continue to rise because all the easy stuff has been found.

    Just because the easy stuff has been found doesn’t make it impossible to find more. The technology for deep-water offshore drilling is advancing. Oil sands and oil shale holds far more oil (in Western Canada and the western US) than Saudi Arabia ever has. It’s just a matter of finding the least environmentally-damaging way to extract it, and as oil prices rise, it makes it economically viable to extract it. Oil goes through boom-bust cycles (remember the 1970’s and 1980’s in West Texas?), and although it’s not as easy as it used to be to get it out of the ground, it’s not like the pump will just be “shut off”.

    A society in debt for whatever reason, without savings, can not weather the inevitable cyclical downturn. If a rising tide floats all boats then the opposite is true.

    There’s no such thing as “a society in debt”. Stop trying to make this a collective. There are individual creditors and individual debtors. Some will succeed, some will fail. Sometimes many do at once, and the results are painful in the short term. But we’re not talking society-wide collapse. And there’s no reason to think that the tide, though it looks to ebb in the next few years, won’t continue to rise in the future. After all, it’s not Venezuela that may revolutionize materials science (leading to efficient cost-effective solar power) through nanotech, it’s individual companies in the free market.

    That is why you should care. Writing off some ones indebtedness to “bad” decisions is short sighted and shows a lack of sensitivity to the realities of life. Some bad decisions include paying for grandmas heart bypass or little Johnny’s broken arm. Some bad decisions include emergency car repairs or simply filling critical needs that can’t be met with stagnant salaries, like food. Paying for a plane ticket to go to moms funeral for instance.

    If the government wasn’t taking 25% of our income in taxation, it MIGHT be easier for them to survive on their income. At the very least, it would allow Americans– the most charitable nation on Earth– to have more money to help those truly in need. However, despite any use of logic I offer, I’m sure you can continue to develop hypothetical anecdotes to show me how I’m wrong, right?

    Not all mothers want to leave their children at day care so that they can work as a waitress at the local diner. They do it because they have to. You may not want to be around mom while she irons but maybe she really wants to be around you.

    You’re right. My wife doesn’t, and I don’t want her to. We are making serious sacrifices to our way of life to allow her to stay home with our son. Of course, before that, we lived a rather extravagant lifestyle, which only makes it a RELATIVE sacrifice. We’re not going hungry, our child is not going without clothing, and all things considered, a 1-income household– though difficult– is the CHOICE we’ve made for ourselves. Probably would be a bit easier if I had 25%+ of my income back instead of sending it to the government, of course. But you and your fellow socialists would rather take it all and dole out to me what I *need*, right? Even though all my NEEDS were met long ago.

    In case you haven’t noticed the dollar is losing value, while prices go up and wages stay stagnant.

    It’s called stagflation, and it is a problem… CAUSED BY THE GOVERNMENT, NOT THE FREE MARKET. Socialism solves the problem with stagnant growth and price controls, which invariably leads to shortages (and eventually– see Zimbabwe– starvation and revolt).

    I don’t see how you can turn a blind eye to peoples real fears of living without health insurance because it’s too expensive and their businesses have decided they can achieve higher returns for their investors by hiring people as temps or part timers and avoid benefit packages.

    America doesn’t have a free market in healthcare. Our system is a hybrid that combines all the worst incentives of a socialized system with all the worst incentives of a market system. Hell, if we wanted to do “smart” socialism, we’d completely revamp our system to make it more like Switzerland’s. Instead, our politicians want to take over the whole system, taking over the cost but without adding any of the market incentives that improve quality of outcome. Typical government making it WORSE, not better.

    Meanwhile, the CEO presides over a company that goes bankrupt and retires with a golden parachute and the rank and file are left holding an empty bag.

    It’s the shareholders’ money to decide how to pay their CEO. If they really think the CEO isn’t worth it, why don’t they fire him without golden parachute?

    Heck, if you’re really upset, why don’t you complain about how sports figures are paid tens of millions dollars a year and yet fail to reach the second round of playoffs! All the while, ticket prices are going UP AND UP AND UP!!!

    Fairness, that’s what I’ve been railing on about. You think the market is fair. I say it’s skewed towards the interests of those that are already well off.

    “The market” isn’t skewed. The current big-government corporatism, however, is very skewed. We libertarians don’t believe such a system can be solved by larger and more-powerful government, because government itself responds to bad incentives. We believe that if you reduce the power of the government, there won’t be “power” to skew the market, as there is nobody to lobby for friendly regulation.

    As long as we have socialism already let’s make it work for everyone instead of just the wealthy few. You think there is a chance to return to a pure free market. I doubt it.

    I doubt there is a way to make socialism work the way you think it can. THAT is why I don’t advocate for “smart government” or “fair government”, because I know that those are oxymorons.

    Simply put, you want to somehow harness government in just the way you think is fair. To that end, I suggest you read up on George Washington:

    “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

    You believe you can make government your servant. I posit that you will be the one who ends up chained.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Why do so many people advocating socialism eventually come back to Malthus? Or more specifically, why do so many people advocating socialism seem to think that capitalism will cause Malthusian starvation and resource deprivation when pretty much the only place that ever happens is in socialist or authoritarian countries where government controls the resources (e.g. Zimbabwe, North Korea, China under Mao)?

    Trying to discuss economics with a socialist is just like trying to discuss it with a stubborn child with ADD…they usually don’t have enough knowledge on the topic to add anything useful to the discussion, they run their mouths too much to understand what anyone else is trying to say (not that they’d care to hear it anyway), and their proposed solutions are generally all shallow, egocentric, and short-sighted.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/author/tarran/ tarran

    jim,

    Your knowledge of history is seriously deficient.

    “Cheap oil” as you describe it did not become a factor until the late 19th century. Yet Karl Marx was bitching about the bourgeoisie in the 1860’s!

    I don’t know where you got your knowledge of economic history. If you paid for your lessons, though, you should demand your money back.

    I also think your assertion that without redistribution at gun point the haves will get richer and the have-nots get poorer is completely belied by history and common sense.

    A couple of lectures that might help you to get pointed in the right direction:
    Block on free trade.
    Block on the Labor Market & Minimum Wage

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/ Brad Warbiany

    UC,

    and their proposed solutions are generally all shallow, egocentric, and short-sighted.

    Reminds me of an old adage:

    For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, elegant, and wrong.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/author/tarran/ tarran

    Oh and you might want to listen to Milton Friedman here.

  • jim

    @ Quincy

    I don’t know Quincy. You know I don’t know. You can tell from my writing I’m no genius. We both agree there is no perfect government. But I do know injustice when I see it. I do care about people who are living a life of drudgery.

    We might start with strong leadership. Some one with integrity to carry the ball. We could start with a change of attitude. One that doesn’t celebrate greed and growth simply for the sake of more stuff at the expense of the planet and the people. We could start with a campaign the aim of which is to eradicate the shame of the so called nanny state. The false notion that the captains of industry pulled themselves up from their boot straps and so should each worker. They didn’t and they don’t so the worker should not be made to feel less for needing assistance. We could start by acknowledging the value of each worker and their time. When you want a burger at McDonalds the kid at the counter becomes important to you for that brief moment in time. You need him. He needs you. We could start by capping executive salaries and drastically increasing wages of labor. We could cap return on investment. We could cap interest on debt. We could reevaluate private property. Sure you can own a home and the land under it. But why should anyone person own the resources beneath the common property called the United States? Should one person own the Mississippi? We could find something to stabilize our currency, like time for instance.

    But the honest answer to your question is I don’t know. Maybe some other ideology all together needs to be thought up. Why limit ourselves to what has already been thought of. Does every new invention have to play mp3’s?

    But this system is not working for too many people and the truth is we all need each other. The notion of royalty or one person or group being more important than the others is archaic.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    jim,

    Why limit ourselves to what has already been thought of.

    Because whenever free market principles have been practiced in a society, they’ve tended to be extremely successful and beneficial for the population (although not so much for people looking to seize power).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Hong_Kong

    There is no need to come up with a “new” way of thinking when we already have the answer and it has been successful whenever it was used. The biggest problem with capitalism has been politicians’ unwillingness to leave it alone.

  • jim

    @ taran

    Your history is fairly deficient also. The industrial revolution started with coal. More than 100 years before Marx. You could even argue it started with wood, really. They cut down the closest forests and when that became too problematic they came across coal. Right around the time of Marx and Malthus oil was coming on line. In fact to answer UCrawford if it weren’t for oil Mathus’s predictions would have happened all those years ago. In the 1860’s the worlds population was nearing 2 billion people. 100 years later it was 4 billion. In the past 50 years we’ve added another 2.5 billion. All because of cheap, easy to get to oil. Nothing else can sustain those populations. Everything that makes your life wonderful is because of cheap oil. Oil was up >$3 today. Gas reserves fell by 4.5 millions barrel. Twice as much as had been predicted. Maybe if the free market wasn’t so focused on maximum profits they would build more refineries. Maybe not. Regardless, the high price of oil is going to change everything. The disparities will become even more pronounced.

  • jim

    @ Brad

    Oil shale is a bust. I’m not going to go into detail but Exxon put billions into turning those rocks into oil and the energy expended to the energy gained is not good. like 3 to 1. Shale is not oil. It’s a rock that has kerogen in it. You need crap loads of energy to heat it up and further crap loads of fresh water to finish up. We’ve known about it for at least 100 years and no technology has been able to exploit it at a profitable price.

    The whole idea about peak oil is that the days of it being super cheap are over. The implications for our economy are cataclysmic.

    Oil sands and heavy oil tars do not have the flow rates of sweet bubbling crude. Shell has just spent 14 billion in Canada and their getting 100,000 barrels a day for that. One oil well in the Saudi hay days pumped that easily. The Alberta oil sands are predicted to produce 3 million barrels a day in 10 years. We use 25 million barrels a day now. Not to mention you need to heat it up with valuable natural gas and finish it up with again crap loads of fresh water that should be used for agriculture. Then you need to mix it with sweet crude anyway to achieve the synthetic oil product. Waste of money and resources. Not to mention the mess it leaves from the strip mining to the waste product.

    There is no one alternative that can come any where near the energy density of oil. No one alternative and arguably not even all of them put together can sustain the worlds population or even our own. BTW we use the most oil out of any country.

  • oilnwater

    maybe you would be somewhat happier simply living in a full fledged socialist country.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    In fact to answer UCrawford if it weren’t for oil Mathus’s [sic] predictions would have happened all those years ago.

    Yeah…stupid evolution. How dare the human race disprove Malthus’ brilliant hypotheses by improving their lives with technological innovation? Where do they get off? Fucking contrarians and their selfish self-interest…why can’t they all just be good sheeple and die like the millenarians constantly predict?

    Everything that makes your life wonderful is because of cheap oil. Oil was up >$3 today. Gas reserves fell by 4.5 millions barrel. Twice as much as had been predicted. Maybe if the free market wasn’t so focused on maximum profits they would build more refineries. Maybe not. Regardless, the high price of oil is going to change everything. The disparities will become even more pronounced.

    *yawn*

    http://economics.about.com/cs/macroeconomics/a/run_out_of_oil.htm

  • jim

    @ UCrawford

    Yes, I understand man needs motivation to produce his best work. Man needs to own a piece of the pie. It is our nature. I get it. A man needs a reason to work hard and that reason is profit. Yes.

    So I get it. That doesn’t mean that brings joy and goodness to the world. It’s just our base primitive nature.

    Do you believe in evolution?

  • jim

    @ UCrawford

    Hey I posted the above message with the question about evolution before I saw your message mentioning evolution. Maybe we have found common ground. Probably not though because you are kind of a dick. :-) jk

    Evolution does not always mean technology. We can evolve as people.

  • oilnwater

    jim i think you’ve posted enough for this alloted time period. don’t forget, you’re burning precious oil by running your computer and causing the servers to process your posts, thus using more power.

    …think of the children..

  • jim

    @ oilnwater

    We’re not out of oil. We’re out of cheap oil. I can afford it.
    So Libertarians like to silence debate?
    I’ve looked into living in New Zealand. It looks promising.

  • oilnwater

    no no no….

    it’s not about you being able to afford it, see? i’m simply implementing for you the nation/world/system that you want, dude.

    oh btw, i’m *not* a libertarian.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    Oil shale is a bust. I’m not going to go into detail but Exxon put billions into turning those rocks into oil and the energy expended to the energy gained is not good. like 3 to 1. Shale is not oil. It’s a rock that has kerogen in it. You need crap loads of energy to heat it up and further crap loads of fresh water to finish up. We’ve known about it for at least 100 years and no technology has been able to exploit it at a profitable price.

    So what?

    http://economics.about.com/cs/macroeconomics/a/run_out_of_oil.htm

    The whole idea about peak oil is that the days of it being super cheap are over.

    Adjusting for inflation and an overall increase in absolute wealth, we’re not actually paying that much more for gas now than we were back in the ’50s.

    http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=6440

    The implications for our economy are cataclysmic.

    No, they aren’t.

    http://economics.about.com/cs/macroeconomics/a/run_out_of_oil.htm

    Oil sands and heavy oil tars do not have the flow rates of sweet bubbling crude. Shell has just spent 14 billion in Canada and their getting 100,000 barrels a day for that. One oil well in the Saudi hay days pumped that easily. The Alberta oil sands are predicted to produce 3 million barrels a day in 10 years. We use 25 million barrels a day now. Not to mention you need to heat it up with valuable natural gas and finish it up with again crap loads of fresh water that should be used for agriculture. Then you need to mix it with sweet crude anyway to achieve the synthetic oil product. Waste of money and resources. Not to mention the mess it leaves from the strip mining to the waste product.

    All irrelevant the second oil becomes less financially viable than some other source of energy.

    There is no one alternative that can come any where near the energy density of oil. No one alternative and arguably not even all of them put together can sustain the worlds population or even our own.

    And I, with great force, throw the bullshit flag.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power

  • jim

    @ oilnwater

    Well, see, there you go. That’s the only way it works. Everybody has to do it. (conserve) Not just the poor folk but the wealthy as well. Free market forces would simply exclude the poor from using expensive oil and the wealthy will buy it regardless the cost.

  • http://pith-n-vinegar.blogspot.com/ Quincy

    jim –

    I’ll take an honest “I don’t know”, and I’m perfectly OK with being asked to think outside the box to find something that works.

    I get annoyed when people try to put forward an inconsistency without acknowledging it, because that usually turns a debate into a cluster ****.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    jim,

    Evolution does not always mean technology. We can evolve as people.

    Technology will evolve, people may evolve, but the law of supply and demand has never changed…and it makes the sudden disappearance of oil a virtual impossibility.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    jim,

    That doesn’t mean that brings joy and goodness to the world.

    Everything that has ever brought joy and goodness to the world is a result of somebody doing something for profit and their own self-interest.

  • jim

    @ UCrawford

    You’re right we will never run out of oil. But there will come a time when it will take one barrel to get one barrel. At that point it is not an energy source. Plus the further you go down in the well the oil gets more heavy and more sour (sulfur). This requires different more expensive extraction processes and special refineries.

    Since when did the cost of energy not effect the over all economy? Where you around in ’79?

    Nuclear isn’t going to provide enough electricity and it’s way more expensive than oil and you still need to find and mine it. It’s a finite resource and the waste is highly toxic. But mostly it’s going to take a lot of cheap oil to build the 100’s of plants and extract the uranium. Again the problem is economics. If we are going to do Nuclear we need to start now before everyone officially admits to a peak, before the cost of oil will prohibit our being able to do it. Capital man! I know you know what that is.

    If you know of an alternate to oil that is as energy dense easy to transport, can be used in our cars without retrofitting them and costs the equivalent of $25 a barrel, please let me know.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/author/tarran/ tarran

    Your history is fairly deficient also. The industrial revolution started with coal

    No, sport. You were making the assertion that cheap oil is responsible for the rise of the middle class. I pointed out that the rise of the middle class predated that which occured when Standard Oil monopolistically made oil 10X cheaper than it had previously been.

    And yes, the middle class arose even before the ubiquitous of coal. Benjamin Franklin in his autobiography discusses debates he took part in England on the subject of why wages in the New World were so much higher than wages in the old world. You might be interested to note that the consesnus amongst successful businessmen in the New World was that wages had to be very high in order to keep the laborers from quitting their jobs and going somewhere else or starting their own businesses! Living standards exploded in the New World, despite the Navigation acts and the other mercantilist policies England pursued to keep Americans dependent on English factories for their manufactured goods.

    Again, what I find very interesting is that you are postulating that without oil there would have been wisespread poverty. This is very wrong. You are committing a grave mistake in economic analysis that was most eloquently warned against by the 19th century economist Bastiat who wrote:

    In the economic sphere an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen;

    In essence, you are ignoring that which is not seen and focusing on only that which is seen. I strongly recommend that you read the entire essay. It demolishes many of your misconceptions.

    In answer to your main argument, which seems to be that without cheap oil, free societies would not have produced a middle class, I respond that your argument is bunkum.

    In the absence of oils something else would have been used. Yes, it would have been less economical. Yes, we would all be poorer than we are now as a result. However, your assertion that we would be stuck in a feudal age falls flat on its face. We would still be better off now than we were then. Even with the same technology as in the late middle-ages, when the closest thing to cheap plentiful energy were water-wheels on fast moving streams, the standard of living for the very poor was growing at the limit of technology in free countries, while in unfree countries, often with access to better technology, the latest scientific advances, and access to higher levels of capital, like Russia, feudalism and despotism remained.

    Furthermore, the ballooning of the Earth’s population is in large part due to the fact that people have more kids when they feel economically secure. Actually that is not correct.; they tailor the number of children they have to match their economic circumstances. When people view an additional child as a burden, they take steps to prevent getting pregnant/resort to abortion/infantacide/farming out children for adoption. When more children are viewed as a benefit (either because of high mortality rates or due to living in prosperous times) people have more children.

    It is freedom that allows people to best make the most of the available resources. It is not the lack of freedom inherent in implementing widespread socialism.

    Face it, your theory about how societies economically evolve are flat out wrong. You have yet to come up with a single causal claim that has not been refuted. Your theories may feel right, but you are going to have to move beyond that if you wish to enter the world of adult discourse.

  • http://dangerouslyidealistic.blogspot.com/ UCrawford

    jim,

    At that point it is not an energy source. Plus the further you go down in the well the oil gets more heavy and more sour (sulfur). This requires different more expensive extraction processes and special refineries.

    At that point we will be using some other form of energy and the scarcity of oil won’t matter. My money’s on nuclear. They might figure out ethanol…probably not so long as the government’s running it, though. Brazilian ethanol is promising but I don’t know that there’s enough of a supply of sugar cane to supplant oil.

    Since when did the cost of energy not effect the over all economy? Where you around in ‘79?

    I was in the third grade. And that was a short term spike in prices affected by a cartel that the free market eventually rectified (since OPEC was never going to be able to maintain their embargo indefinitely).

    Nuclear isn’t going to provide enough electricity and it’s way more expensive than oil and you still need to find and mine it. It’s a finite resource and the waste is highly toxic. But mostly it’s going to take a lot of cheap oil to build the 100’s of plants and extract the uranium. Again the problem is economics. If we are going to do Nuclear we need to start now before everyone officially admits to a peak, before the cost of oil will prohibit our being able to do it. Capital man! I know you know what that is.

    I have no idea where you’re getting your nuclear information from, but you’re way off. The problem with nuclear power in this country has been excessive regulation that has made it impossible to build new plants for a quarter century…and the ones that still operate provide a disproportionate amount of our electricity. Once we need an alternative fuel source badly enough, those regulations will begin to disappear and we’ll see more plants built and we’ll see more innovations in that field.

    If you know of an alternate to oil that is as energy dense easy to transport, can be used in our cars without retrofitting them and costs the equivalent of $25 a barrel, please let me know.

    When it reaches the point where we need to worry about that, I have little doubt that the market will provide an alternative. The primary reason we haven’t found that alternative yet, though, is because it’s not in our self-interest to do so and it’s not financially feasible to do so…therefore it’s not really a concern at this point.

  • jim

    @ tarran

    Thanks for clearing that up. Of course life has been one happy hot air balloon ride for most people throughout civilization.

    Wages were high in the New World? Tell that to the slaves and the indentured servants. What there was in the NW was lots of opportunity, freedom and actual labor. The real need to get things plowed and produced created fair value. These days so much of what we produce is completely unnecessary. You spend more money convincing people they need it as you do producing it. It’s an artificial market. But look at the consequences of all that unbridled expansion in the so called New World for the people that were already here. F*** them though right? Get on board or get run over by the free market. Nature is here to serve us. Harmony is for pussies. Right? The free market includes our right to take what we want regardless of wether or not someone has it first. Hey, things are what they are, but lets not pretend the growth of this great country took place in an environment of righteous justice.

    With out oil life is hard and dirty. That’s all. Without oil or an as yet unknown equivalent there would not be anywhere near the number of people on the planet as there are today. And the approximately 30% that are living in the developed world would not be living as high on the hog as we all are. Rich and poor. There are still plenty of people on this planet that are using biomass for fuel. Cow dung, sticks, slash and burn agriculture. What evidence is there that we would have gotten to the atomic age with out something like oil?

    Don’t try to get me to argue against freedom. What kind of idiot is against the concept of freedom. But if you are in a lifeboat, with a couple of other people your absolute freedom will need to be curtailed for the sake of survival and harmony. We have this one planet. We all have to live here. Adults learn to get along and compromise there freedoms for the sake of peace, prosperity and survival.

    Yes commerce is great. But to what extent should it surpass a life well lived. If it were possible to get beyond the need to be compensated for every exchange of service or goods maybe we could actually be even more free than we feel we are today. Maybe not. But thanks for letting a kid like me chat with ya.

  • http://publiusendures.blogspot.com Mark

    I tried to read this entire thread, but it’s too long. In any event, I’m shocked- SHOCKED – at all the recommended reading you’ve given to Jim without any mention of Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, which probably does a better job at explaining why economic freedom is necessary for individual freedom than anything else ever written.

    It’s also great because it’s more a work of political science than of economics, even though Hayek was an economist. If Hayek can’t convince Jim that economic liberty means far, far more than simply allowing people to be greedy. Indeed, he agrees with this quote of Jim’s, at least in theory:
    “If it were possible to get beyond the need to be compensated for every exchange of service or goods maybe we could actually be even more free than we feel we are today.”
    …Except that Hayek goes on to show that the free market (and specifically the exchange of currency for goods and services) is precisely what allows us to get beyond the need to be compensated for every exchange. He shows that the exchange of currency (ie, any fungible medium of exchange)for goods and services is precisely what allows us to set our own priorities and live our own lives without having each of our choices dictated to us by some supposedly omniscient government authority.

  • http://publiusendures.blogspot.com Mark

    I suck.
    Insert “then nothing will” after “greedy.”

  • UCrawford

    Mark,

    Of course, he really hasn’t read anything else that we’ve given him, nor does he apparently read any of our arguments for comprehension, so it’s likely a waste of time…

    Oh well, here’s the condensed version of Road to Serfdom on the off-chance that jim will impress us all by actually studying something we send him. :)

    http://www.mises.org/books/TRTS/

  • http://publiusendures.blogspot.com Mark

    I’ve never seen the cartoon version of Hayek before! That’s terrific!
    It does miss one eensy-weensy point that Castro apologists love to overlook, though: when everything is planned by the state, offending the state results in permanent loss of work, which means you starve to death. So when Castro apologists claim that Cuba has only a few dozen political prisoners, they’re being more than a little disingenuous; you don’t need to imprison people if you can just fire them and watch them starve to death.

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