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You can't have a law about everything (new Arguement against statism)

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RagnarD Posted: Thu, Nov 8 2012 9:29 PM

At least it's a new thought for me, maybe others have written on the same thing.  Figured I'd throw it at you guys to flesh out some more, and/or critique

My thought is aside from all the incentives that government interference twists, aside from the inefficiency due to these incentives, aside from the NAP, even if all the people in government and running all the programs were perfect angels it still couldn't work.  Why?  Because you can't have a law for everything and government programs cannot respect peoples rights. 

If I send my kids to a private school and they want to have "All green Thursdays" where all the kids must wear green, it doesn't violate my rights there is no need for a law.  I'm free to send my business to another school.  If it happens in public schools it violates rights and there must be some regulation determining what the schools can mandate.  The same is true for virtually everything the school does, if it doesn't teach Japanese, or if it does. What construction materials they use, if they can have latex in the school, anything and everything is now a political issue. 

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Interesting.

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You don't need a law for everything, just things that have been deemed necessary to have specific regulations. Bureaucratic discretion fills in the gaps.

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Your point?

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Loppu replied on Sat, Nov 10 2012 11:11 AM

RagnarD, I'm sorry but I don't understand your argument. Would you like to elaborate on your argument perhaps, so I would get some sort of idea about what you are trying to say?

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Neodoxy replied on Sat, Nov 10 2012 12:16 PM

This argument was utilized by Rothbard in both Power and Market and For a New Liberty.

He claims that the state automatically brings about conflict because control of resources becomes an issue for everyone, as opposed to everyone being able to "do their own thing" and pay for whatever service that they want. In the case of democracy everyone is given partial control over resources, and in any type of government you are forced to pay or consume a service.

With this said I think that your OP and what you call this argument are both confused.

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You don't need a law for everything, just things that have been deemed necessary to have specific regulations. Bureaucratic discretion fills in the gaps.

How is "discretion" any different from not having a law at all in most instances?

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Jon Irenicus:

You don't need a law for everything, just things that have been deemed necessary to have specific regulations. Bureaucratic discretion fills in the gaps.

How is "discretion" any different from not having a law at all in most instances?

That's my point really. The state doesn't require that you have a law specifying every single public activity. 

 

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Autolykos replied on Tue, Nov 13 2012 10:59 AM

National Acrobat, do you see any (necessary) limit(s) to bureaucratic discretion?

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Autolykos:

National Acrobat, do you see any (necessary) limit(s) to bureaucratic discretion?

Are we talking normatively, empirically, ideally?

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Autolykos replied on Tue, Nov 13 2012 11:19 AM

In this case, I'm talking however you're talking.

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Well, I wouldn't say there is any universal or objective limit to bureaucratic discretion. The extent of discretion is contignent upon a whole host of things, from administrative structure, to mandate, to the bureaucrats themselves, and to more macro aspects like the institutional context and social understandings. 

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Autolykos replied on Tue, Nov 13 2012 12:02 PM

You wrote earlier that "bureaucratic discretion fills the gaps [between/among things that have been deemed necessary to have specific regulations]". That implies to me that you see no limit whatsoever to such discretion - in other words, that you'd be fine with it applying to anything and everything that isn't covered by statute. Do I understand you correctly? If not, please point out my error(s).

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Not necessarily if you have a principle of a public school he has been delegated some bureaucratic discretion in orer to effectively administer the functions of the school. This does not mean that this discretion is unlimited. He has been delegated some authority and within that mandate he can act. 

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Autolykos replied on Tue, Nov 13 2012 12:14 PM

I figured by "bureaucratic discretion" you were speaking in general, i.e. there is at least one bureaucrat among the set of all bureaucrats that has discretion over a given area. Is that not what you meant? If not, then what did you mean?

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Autolykos:

I figured by "bureaucratic discretion" you were speaking in general, i.e. there is at least one bureaucrat among the set of all bureaucrats that has discretion over a given area. Is that not what you meant? If not, then what did you mean?

That's what I meant.

 

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Autolykos replied on Tue, Nov 13 2012 2:00 PM

So then wasn't your last post disingenuous?

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I don't see the difference between the use of bureaucratic discretion in our two posts or how them being the same makes my post disingenuous 

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Autolykos replied on Tue, Nov 13 2012 2:58 PM

National Acrobat:
I don't see the difference between the use of bureaucratic discretion in our two posts or how them being the same makes my post disingenuous

You're really saying (I don't think you actually believe this) that you don't see how what you said in this post contradicts the understanding I presented in this post (which you subsequently confirmed)?

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Autolykos:

National Acrobat:
I don't see the difference between the use of bureaucratic discretion in our two posts or how them being the same makes my post disingenuous

You're really saying (I don't think you actually believe this) that you don't see how what you said in this post contradicts the understanding I presented in this post (which you subsequently confirmed)?

Yeah. I don't get where your confusion is coming from.

 

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Autolykos replied on Tue, Nov 20 2012 6:41 AM

... That assumes it's confusion. Maybe you'd like to elaborate.

Oh wait, I thought you weren't going to respond to me anymore because I'm apparently a "deeply troubled individual". Was that all just smoke and mirrors afterall? Or did you change your mind? If so, why?

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Autolykos:

... That assumes it's confusion. Maybe you'd like to elaborate.

I wouldn't actually. You asked for clarification several times. I tried to clarify. You expressed disbelief in the things I said, and I fail to see where the disbelief arose from. I think what I said is pretty straight forward. You seem to disagree. I don't know what would even need elaboration because you haven't come close to expressing what exactly you think is wrong.

So instead of playing 'what am I thinking?' how about you just tell me what wasn't clear to you...

Oh wait, I thought you weren't going to respond to me anymore because I'm apparently a "deeply troubled individual". Was that all just smoke and mirrors afterall? Or did you change your mind? If so, why?

You hadn't become entirely unreasonable in this thread. However, I see this might be changing rather soon...

 

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I always use this argument with people advocating state schools. When they complain about certain aspects of the state school, I explain that the problem is not the "green thursday's" in of itself but the fact that you can not avoid it by means of competition.

The same argument can be made against state run healthcare. When people complain about long wait times, they realy should be complaining about the lack of choice that is a result of the state run healthcare. The root of the problem so to speak is the centralised mandated industry. Not the petty issue that you have a problem with.

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Another example of this is how when something is socialised or rather an industry is monopolised by the state it becomes the interest of the government to manipulate the population in such a way that benefits that industry. Be it through regulations or taxation and other methods.

An example of this is how when healthcare is socialised or as they call it in the uk, nationalised. The health of the individual becomes a liability to the government. They see unhealthy lifestyles as a potential increase in costs to the nationalised industry. That is when you see an increase in laws against unhealthy products and increase of tax on unhealthy products. Obviously they sell the regulations and tax increases as a way of making everyone healthy, it is for their benefit that they now can't afford cigarettes any more and so on. Taxation then is no longer just a way to generate revenue to fund essential services, arguably the original justification for taxation and a common one at that. But a mechanism for the social manipulation of the population.


May be a different argument completely but I just thought it might be relevant.

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National Acrobat:
I wouldn't actually.

What are you afraid of?

National Acrobat:
You asked for clarification several times. I tried to clarify.

And as far as I'm concerned, you failed.

National Acrobat:
You expressed disbelief in the things I said, and I fail to see where the disbelief arose from. I think what I said is pretty straight forward. You seem to disagree. I don't know what would even need elaboration because you haven't come close to expressing what exactly you think is wrong.

Are you sure about that?

National Acrobat:
So instead of playing 'what am I thinking?' how about you just tell me what wasn't clear to you...

I already did, but I'll try again.

You first wrote:

National Acrobat:
You don't need a law for everything, just things that have been deemed necessary to have specific regulations. Bureaucratic discretion fills in the gaps.

I asked whether you saw any (necessary) limit(s) to bureaucratic discretion. You replied that you didn't see any universal or objective limit to it. I then asked if I understood that correctly as you being fine with bureaucratic discretion being applied to anything and everything that isn't covered by statute. You implicitly denied that by pointing to an example of a bureaucrat with a limited mandate. But as I think you know, that wasn't my point. That is, your response was only oblique or tangential at best. My point was for you to show that you're fine with limitless bureaucratic discretion in general. Hence I consider your implicit denial to be disingenuous.

So no, I don't think I'm confused about anything here. As I see it, you're simply trying to portray me as being confused in an effort to obfuscate the fact that you really are just perfectly fine with bureaucratic discretion in general "filling the gaps" between statutes - that is to say, you're just perfectly fine with every aspect of everyone's life being regulated either by statute or by bureaucratic discretion. In other words, I accuse you of being an authoritarian and a totalitarian, regardless of whether you'll publicly admit it.

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Autolykos:

I asked whether you saw any (necessary) limit(s) to bureaucratic discretion. You replied that you didn't see any universal or objective limit to it. I then asked if I understood that correctly as you being fine with bureaucratic discretion being applied to anything and everything that isn't covered by statute. You implicitly denied that by pointing to an example of a bureaucrat with a limited mandate. But as I think you know, that wasn't my point. That is, your response was only oblique or tangential at best. My point was for you to show that you're fine with limitless bureaucratic discretion in general. Hence I consider your implicit denial to be disingenuous.

So no, I don't think I'm confused about anything here. As I see it, you're simply trying to portray me as being confused in an effort to obfuscate the fact that you really are just perfectly fine with bureaucratic discretion in general "filling the gaps" between statutes - that is to say, you're just perfectly fine with every aspect of everyone's life being regulated either by statute or by bureaucratic discretion. In other words, I accuse you of being an authoritarian and a totalitarian, regardless of whether you'll publicly admit it.

If you had just posted this originally, rather than linking to our previous exchange and expecting me to parse out your misunderstanding of the situation so that I could correct my misunderstanding, it would have saved a lot of time. 

The OP talks about having specific regulations for anything the state does. I said specific regulations for everything are not required. That specifics could be stated for things deemed as such but that discretion could fill in the gaps. I didn't mean the gaps between all regulations, which would mean everything. That should have been clear where I stated that discretion is limited by a whole host of factors (i.e. that it is not unlimited). I meant gaps between the specifics of the regulation. So you don't need specifics on the status of green shirts in school, that could be dealt with by a delegation of discretion to the principle. However, you might have specifics for standardized testing or attendance. 

So, no, I'm not okay with every aspect of everyone's life being regulated. I don't like the type of discretion I outlined above in many cases where I think a mandate is unwarranted. However, in any large organization judgement calls are necessary for its function, private or public, so such discretion is necessary. These things happen everyday, therefore, the argument in the OP against statism is poor. It comes up with an impossibility condition that is overcome regularly. 

Also, if I was an authoritarian, why wouldn't I admit it publicly? Especially on an anonymous internet message board? 

 

 

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Autolykos replied on Mon, Dec 17 2012 1:29 PM

National Acrobat:
If you had just posted this originally, rather than linking to our previous exchange and expecting me to parse out your misunderstanding [sic] of the situation so that I could correct my misunderstanding [sic], it would have saved a lot of time [sic].

I assumed - and still assume - that you knew what I was talking about. I don't see how it was allegedly so difficult for you to understand. So I think you were being deliberately obtuse.

National Acrobat:
The OP talks about having specific regulations for anything the state does. I said specific regulations for everything are not required. That specifics could be stated for things deemed as such but that discretion could fill in the gaps. I didn't mean the gaps between all regulations, which would mean everything. That should have been clear [sic] where I stated that discretion is limited by a whole host of factors (i.e. that it is not unlimited). I meant gaps between the specifics of the regulation. So you don't need specifics on the status of green shirts in school, that could be dealt with by a delegation of discretion to the [principal]. However, you might have specifics for standardized testing or attendance.

Discretion may be limited in a technical sense, but so is all action. That's why I focused on the normative context, i.e. what normative restrictions on discretion do you advocate? So far, you haven't advocated any. You seem to have had plenty of time to do so.

National Acrobat:
So, no, I'm not okay with every aspect of everyone's life being regulated. I don't like the type of discretion I outlined above in many cases where I think a mandate is unwarranted. However, in any large organization judgement calls are necessary for its function, private or public, so such discretion is necessary. These things happen everyday, therefore, the argument in the OP against statism is poor. It comes up with an impossibility condition that is overcome regularly.

I think that discretionary authority itself can be seen as a form of (ad-hoc) regulation. That's why I said "you're just perfectly fine with every aspect of everyone's life being regulated either by statute or by bureaucratic discretion [emphasis added]". I find it hard to believe that you didn't see that part of what I wrote. So I again accuse you of being disingenuous.

National Acrobat:
Also, if I was an authoritarian, why wouldn't I admit it publicly? Especially on an anonymous internet message board?

In a way, I think you already have - but only implicitly. But I think to explicitly label yourself an authoritarian would run counter to your purpose here.

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Autolykos:

I assumed - and still assume - that you knew what I was talking about. I don't see how it was allegedly so difficult for you to understand. So I think you were being deliberately obtuse.

No. You misunderstood what I meant by "fill in the gaps" and then proceeded with a line of questioning that was difficult for me to follow because I wasn't going where you thought I was. 

Discretion may be limited in a technical sense, but so is all action. That's why I focused on the normative context, i.e. what normative restrictions on discretion do you advocate? So far, you haven't advocated any. You seem to have had plenty of time to do so.

When did you focus on the normative context?

I asked in what sense you were talking about limits and you said however I was talking. 

I think that discretionary authority itself can be seen as a form of (ad-hoc) regulation. That's why I said "you're just perfectly fine with every aspect of everyone's life being regulated either by statute or by bureaucratic discretion [emphasis added]". I find it hard to believe that you didn't see that part of what I wrote. So I again accuse you of being disingenuous.

Of course bureaucrat discretion is a form of regulation. But where have I insinuated that I am okay with " every aspect of everyone's life being regulated"?

In a way, I think you already have - but only implicitly. But I think to explicitly label yourself an authoritarian would run counter to your purpose here.

What purpose would that be?

 

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@Autolykos:

I asked whether you saw any (necessary) limit(s) to bureaucratic discretion. You replied that you didn't see any universal or objective limit to it. I then asked if I understood that correctly as you being fine with bureaucratic discretion being applied to anything and everything that isn't covered by statute.

^To me it seems like National Acrobat was first talking about the reality of the situation: that bureaucrats don't have a universal or objective limit to discretion. Then he replied with his ideal: that they should have a limited mandate.

At least that's what I got out of it. But, yeah, he's definitely a totalitarian.

 

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RothbardsDisciple:

@Autolykos:

I asked whether you saw any (necessary) limit(s) to bureaucratic discretion. You replied that you didn't see any universal or objective limit to it. I then asked if I understood that correctly as you being fine with bureaucratic discretion being applied to anything and everything that isn't covered by statute.

^To me it seems like National Acrobat was first talking about the reality of the situation: that bureaucrats don't have a universal or objective limit to discretion. Then he replied with his ideal: that they should have a limited mandate.

At least that's what I got out of it. But, yeah, he's definitely a totalitarian.

Definitely a totalitarian? 

 

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Autolykos replied on Thu, Jan 3 2013 10:30 AM

National Acrobat:
No. You misunderstood what I meant by "fill in the gaps"

Prove it. I'm not even going to be polite to you.

National Acrobat:
and then proceeded with a line of questioning that was difficult for me to follow [sic] because I wasn't going where you thought I was.

Again, prove it.

National Acrobat:
When did you focus on the normative context?

The entire time. I believe you know that already, so I'm accusing you of trying to throw a red herring my way with this.

National Acrobat:
I asked in what sense you were talking about limits and you said however I was talking.

That's right, I did. Your point? You didn't include any mention of any normative limits, so I've concluded that you don't have any. That's why I've made the accusations against you that I've made.

National Acrobat:
Of course bureaucrat discretion is a form of regulation.

Make up your mind. Either it is, or it isn't.

National Acrobat:
But where have I insinuated that I am okay with " every aspect of everyone's life being regulated"?

If you're okay with bureaucratic discretion filling the gaps between statutory regulations, then you're okay with every aspect of everyone's life being regulated in some fashion - either by statute or by bureaucratic discretion.

To use your school example, there may be no statutory dress code, but according to you, the dress code is still completely regulated - just by bureaucratic discretion. Even if there's no dress code whatsoever, all that means is that the bureaucratic discretion in question is currently allowing any form of dress in the school. You presumably consider it to have the authority to change that at any time. By extension, everything going on within the school is must be considered by you to be regulated by either explicit statute or implicit bureaucratic discretion.

National Acrobat:
What purpose would that be?

Why do you care? (See, I can play this game too.)

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Autolykos:

Prove it. I'm not even going to be polite to you.

Again, prove it.

You said above (and below incidentally) that I believe that bureaucratic discretion can fill in the gaps between regulations making all aspects of life subject to some form of bureaucratic discretion. I’ve said clearly this is not the case and that bureaucratic discretion is only applicable within a given regulatory mandate. 

You misunderstood. And still do amazingly.

The entire time. I believe you know that already, so I'm accusing you of trying to throw a red herring my way with this. 

That's right, I did. Your point? You didn't include any mention of any normative limits, so I've concluded that you don't have any. That's why I've made the accusations against you that I've made. 

Quote where you mentioned anything about normative context.

I wasn’t talking normatively and you never mentioned anything about normativity so why would I bring it up?

Make up your mind. Either it is, or it isn't.

Quote where I’ve waffled on whether it is regulation or not.

If you're okay with bureaucratic discretion filling the gaps between statutory regulations, then you're okay with every aspect of everyone's life being regulated in some fashion - either by statute or by bureaucratic discretion.

To use your school example, there may be no statutory dress code, but according to you, the dress code is still completely regulated - just by bureaucratic discretion. Even if there's no dress code whatsoever, all that means is that the bureaucratic discretion in question is currently allowing any form of dress in the school. You presumably consider it to have the authority to change that at any time. By extension, everything going on within the school is must be considered by you to be regulated by either explicit statute or implicit bureaucratic discretion. 

No. I’ve explained several times now that bureaucratic discretion is not unlimited. If you don’t get it at this point it’s because of your own failings. 

The regulation of activities within the school are 

...contignent upon a whole host of things, from administrative structure, to mandate, to the bureaucrats themselves, and to more macro aspects like the institutional context and social understandings. 

Why do you care? (See, I can play this game too.) 

You said I have a purpose but seem to want to keep this to yourself for some reason. I’m always curious about the products of troubled minds. I don’t mind, let everyone in on my secrets Auto.

Btw, here’s the Nth example of Autolykos’s rampant paranoia. What game? Oh, that’s right, the game you’re playing with your delusional fantasies. Have fun. I guess...

 

 

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