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I'm not a libertarian.

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Tim67 Posted: Wed, Dec 26 2012 5:03 PM

So, I've been reading this site and forum for awhile now; just the other day, in fact, it struck me that it's actually been several years.  I started reading as a leftist, and have stayed that way.  I've often intended to come in here and debate/argue/discuss a bit but I've never gotten around to it, so with the forum supposedly closing I figure I might as well start now.  As something of a preface, I've got a lot of respect for this site and many of the posters here (though I think they views espoused are often wrong, or at least not ot my liking), and I certainly am not coming in with the idea of "teaching these silly Libertarians a lesson" as it seems is often the case with people who come here to debate.  I've never really argued with serious, thoughtful libertarians on the level this forum has, so I hope we can have resonable discussions.

I'll start off as if someone asked me a simple question: "Why aren't you a libertarian?"  Hopefully the 73 millions points attending the answer can be gotten to in time as people hopefully respond.  Frankly, you all may just convert me, who knows.

 

Why aren't I a libertarian?

 


I'll start with one reason:

1. I believe in the Welfare State.

- I think that social welfare programs are a moral and practical good.  The difference in, say, "social health" between relatively low-service America and relatively high-service Europe, Japan, Australia, Canada, etc etc (you know the drill) is reasonable evidence for their practical efficacy.  Relatively lower housing and health subsidies, for example, contribute to a greater homeless problem in the US.  Lower subsidies of higher education make social mobility harder for the working and less affluent middle classes.  Laxer labor regulations make it harder for the less-skilled to attain a decent living -- fine, they should took it upon themselves to attain skills throughout their lives anyway!  Well, this lack of financial stability then effects their children, negatively impacting THEIR ability to eventually obtain a decent life for themsleves (social mobility being correlated rather strongly with parental income, and rather moreso in nations with relatively lesser social services).  In all major studies on the matter I've read, nations with high levels of social welfare programs seem to have much better quality of life metrics than those with comparatively little.  I'm open to considering evidence to the contrary, but I've not seen it.

Now, I'm aware of some libertarian solutions.  We can think of America v. Norway, for an example, as two countries playing "the same game"(ie, mixed economy) with different tweaks -- Norway more tweaked toward providing welfare programs.  Mises types way then propose(not to put words in your mouths!) a "whole new game" -- no state, so supposedly everything will be different:

Elimination of the minimum wage will help social mobility.  For people with low skills, employment opportunities are forclosed for them as they do not already have the skills to warrant 7.25/hr or whatever you like.  Further, many low-skilled people in certain situations(single mothers) find welfare just slightly more renumerating in the short run than a minimum wage job, so they don't even take those minimum wage jobs -- hurting them in the long run for the following reason.  In a free market, there would be a job available, at some level of pay, for everyone willing to work.  Those people will take those jobs, gain transferable skills, and eventually be eligable for higher-skilled, higher-payed work.

This argument has never convinced me.  For one, why isn't this principle already at work on a smaller scale?  Most of the 'lower classes' in the US are still able to find employment in minimum-wage jobs: why is social mobility in the US still so relatively low?  I've rarely come across people who've had an awfully difficult time finding low-level minimum wage retail employment.  I have come across many who have worked such jobs for many years, yet have not found themselves much more skilled and employable.  I haven't seen any evidence of holding low level employment for some time, by itself, being a dependable route to making oneself eligable for higher paying jobs.  How will giving people more access to even low-paid jobs lead to many of them becoming skilled enough to warrant higher pay?  Why should we expect this to happen, instead of expecting people to just continue trudging along as they always have, but now with an even lower level of pay?

 

That's probably enough on the practical side to get some dialogue started.  Of course, you spend much time here devoted to the moral dimension.  Government services are backed by force -- if you don't pay up, men with guns will come to your door, and force you to pay lest you be imprisoned or killed.  Thus, the whole apparatus must be torn down as it is not morally permissable.

True enough: the means to run government programs are obtained through the implicit threat of force.  I don't really have a problem with this.  I often hear libertarians rhetorically ask "What right does someone have to demand the resources of another?"  And sure, I am not aware of any ledger floating in the metaphysical ether that says "X has a right to demand Y from Z by threat of force."  Neither am I aware of such a ledger saying "X has a right to demand Y not agress against him."

We have to ask ourselves what our desired ends are and how the achieve them.  My desired end isn't necessarily to have a totally voluntary society.  I don't think a "voluntary society" as some platonic ideal stands on its own as something objectively good.  What matters in any society is the quality of life of those who inhabit it.  From what I see, the best way to create a society with the highest general living standard is to have one with a strong welfare state, which to my thinking is best administered by a government -- if the means to do so must be collected with implicit force, so be it.

 

So, that would be a general outline of my answer as if someone just asked me the simple question, "Why aren't you a libertarian?"  Hopefully the complexities of each topic can come up as people try to pick apart different parts of my post.  I've been thinking about libertarianism quite a lot lately, and am open to conversion if I can be satisfied (however much I doubt it).

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Marko replied on Wed, Dec 26 2012 6:14 PM

I don't care what you believe. Would you drag me off to prison/beat me up/shoot me in the head when I refused to pay up your social security taxes? That is the real question.

It isn't a question of whether you want money to rain down on the unemployed and the poor. What the welfare state actually means is violence against all who refuse to pay, low-paid workers and single mothers included. Do you support that, the opression of the refusniks and would you be willing to carry it out yourself, in first person if necessary?

So actually it is not a question, if you are a libertarian. It is a question of, if you are a human being. Are you?

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Tim67 replied on Wed, Dec 26 2012 6:46 PM

"It isn't a question of whether you want money to rain down on the unemployed and the poor. What the welfare state actually means is violence against all who refuse to pay, low-paid workers and single mothers included. Do you support that, the opression of the refusniks and would you be willing to carry it out yourself, in first person if necessary?"

An overwhelming majority at least oblige the state.  The number of people with who the state has to resort to outright coersion is miniscule.  Even in a libertarian society, there will be people from whom it would be in their own preference to be serial killers, or violent rapists, etc.  Whatever private security forces that attend to whatever geographical area those people operate in may have to stop them by force, perhaps even going up to killing them.  Not to liken those who may refuse to pay taxes to murderers or rapists, but just to say that in any conceivable society there will be people who will be forced into conforming to some set of norms.  Even in a voluntary society, there will be agencies that will force people to obey some certain set of norms because they feel there are compelling social reasons for going so -- the outcomes are "good enough" to warrant it.  Sure it would be regrettable if someone put up such a resistance to paying taxes that violent force was necessary, but the benefits of well funded social programs are worth it for society.

Would I do it myself?  I'm not sure exactly what arm of the police, or FBI, or whathaveyou takes part in those operations.  Either way my back and knees are sort of in bad shape, I'm not sure how well I'd meet their physical criteria.  I don't think it's a job I'd enjoy anyway.

"So actually it is not a question, if you are a libertarian. It is a question of, if you are a human being. Are you?"

But of course, this is all completely academic, because no one would refuse to pay taxes anyway, since social programs help people.  This isn't a question of being a libertarian, or a social democrat, or whatever -- it's a question of being a human being.  Right?

 

A related question: if the government had a mechanism set up, where at the 18th birthday of every citizen (or pick any random date you like), a government official goes around and has a contract for them to sign, basically a literal "social contract," in which they explicitly agree to pay taxes, etc.  If they refuse, they are immediately deported to a foreign land and left to their own devices and not allowed back in the country, though they can take whatever property they want with them and can still manage whatever immovable property they have in the country(though not while being there physically).  Would the demands of the state then be just for those who remain?

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Prime replied on Wed, Dec 26 2012 7:06 PM

I think that social welfare programs are a moral and practical good.

I agree. The question is who should provide the welfare. Do you believe the government does superior job than the market in allocating resources? If not, why in the case of welfare is it superior, but not in other matters?

  The difference in, say, "social health" between relatively low-service America and relatively high-service Europe, Japan, Australia, Canada, etc etc (you know the drill) is reasonable evidence for their practical efficacy.

I don't know what this means.

  Relatively lower housing and health subsidies, for example, contribute to a greater homeless problem in the US.  Lower subsidies of higher education make social mobility harder for the working and less affluent middle classes.  Laxer labor regulations make it harder for the less-skilled to attain a decent living

These are merely baseless assertions that will take a lot to back up.

This argument has never convinced me.  For one, why isn't this principle already at work on a smaller scale?  Most of the 'lower classes' in the US are still able to find employment in minimum-wage jobs: why is social mobility in the US still so relatively low?

Another baseless claim. This happens all the time.

 

 

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What makes you think that you have the right to someone else's money and resources just because there exists a need?

Let me give you a hint - you don't. Any and all "welfare" should be voluntary, and none of it should be compulsory.

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fakename replied on Wed, Dec 26 2012 7:39 PM

Are those the only reasons? They seem just too historically contingent to consider oneself an ideological leftist, and so open to the black/white swan criticism.

 

Back to the main points: (1) what data did you use? I can find that America is equal to some european countries in the Human Dev. Index and that indeed, most european nations are beneath the US in the same index http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Human_Development_Index (the index itself seems strange though, since saudi arabia is equal to Mexico in its degree of development).

(2) If it is true that the absense of a min. wage does not cause social mobility, then it is equally clear that leftist policies do not since there are many people on the minimum wage who do not climb the ladder of society.

 

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Those indices are absolutely useless. They don't mean anything Only a liberal-progressive gives credence to such things.

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thelion replied on Wed, Dec 26 2012 9:04 PM

I don't care what you believe. Would you drag me off to prison/beat me up/shoot me in the head when I refused to pay up your social security taxes? That is the real question.

It isn't a question of whether you want money to rain down on the unemployed and the poor. What the welfare state actually means is violence against all who refuse to pay, low-paid workers and single mothers included. Do you support that, the opression of the refusniks and would you be willing to carry it out yourself, in first person if necessary?

So actually it is not a question, if you are a libertarian. It is a question of, if you are a human being. Are you?

Precisely. OP avoided answering the question by saying he won't do it, but  that he if fine that other people will do it. Which means he thinks its acceptable to murder anyone who does not agree with his arbitrary preferences ...

And furthermore, the state does not exist for the provision of welfare. It exists to extract tribute from people (as Spencer showed how it historically arose). Other bandits rob and murder all at once, others settle to extract tribute and only murder those who refuse. They defend by necessity from other bandit groups, who would otherwise take what they would extract. They make up lofty goals to get people to give tribute with less passive resistence. And many of the people from whom tribute is extracted desire to themselves become bandits, to get that same feeling of power, and tolerate this society for the slightest opportunity of themselves gaining part of that tribute (added La Boetie and later Bastiat).

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You have to get over these relatively miniscule objections. Think of the grand scheme. Relatively capitalist economies have lifted hundreds of millions from destitute poverty to having standards of living on par, if not superior to royalty of past. 

Welfare is now only a consideration because we are so much richer than ever before in history. And look at welfare. Examine it. It's literally a blind redistribution of wealth with awful administrative costs, from centralized administers who know practically nothing about the recipients, if they even know them at all. Even if the mass of payments to the poor were larger in monetary terms under modern systems, the returns are diminishing because the way in which they operate is vapidly uncared for. I mean, what an asinine solution; give poor people money,  then they won't be poor. This basically implies a diagnosis of "poor people are poor because they don't have enough money" A child could think of this. 

Only politicians in a centralized bureaucracy, so withdrawn from the actual needs of its subjects would "think" of such a thoughtless solution. In reality, the reason why people are poor is many. Some live destructive lifestyles, wrought with drug abuse. Some had destructive childhoods and families (I'm sure there is spillover between these two groups). Etc. I'm sure there are many more reasons that I can't even come close to pinpointing, but this only goes to serve my larger point: poor people are poor for a multitude of reasons, most of which stem from poor individuals choices. This is not to blame. In fact, I have the utmost sympathy for people who were misled by their families, and those they rely on as guides. 

Therefore, no solution to these problems is easy, and none is certainly as simple as throwing money at the destitute. To think this is a solution is callous and careless to the point where I get infuriated. These people need help. To throw money at them is insulting, and in many cases harmful, because it only subsidizes the poor choices they are making. This is the essential reason we need "welfare" directed by the market in a decentralized manner. Even if the mass of funds going to the poor is less, they will be in the form of solutions that will almost surely be far more marginally effective. They will build institutions full of people who want to dedicate their life to help the poor, and who can see the results first hand of their attempted solutions.

Thinking in terms of decentralization is key. The current form of welfare which exists today is so obviously nothing more than a way in which suburban whites can guiltlessly turn their eyes away from the atrocious problems which the poor face on a daily basis. It is this reason and only this reason why welfare is such a sacred cow in America.

And when I say to look at the larger picture, I mean to say that the productive forces of capitalism have already made the problems of wealth largely obsolete, and this would only be further the case if we had yet a free-er market. To think the poor are suffering because we are not capable of producing food for them as a collective is ridiculous and proven false by the fact that we do in fact provide for them. It is not a problem of resources; it is a problem of the way in which they are used. There is no reason why poor communities cannot produce enough to garner a share of the food, clothing, housing, etc that we are easily capable of providing. It is a problem of them needing human help, from people who care and can direct them to make and build responsible communities. You can find documented on this site the numerous ways in which the gov't destroys these communities, and thus is achieving the opposite ends it claims. 

Much more can be said, but I will leave it at that. Statistics have their use, but you must frame them in a larger chain of reasoning or you will lose sight of the real problems and solutions. 

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To make my point less abstract, think of something like this.

Many poor families are single-parent households. This is a failing of a historically extrememly important institution - the two parent family. What does the state do? It provides welfare to the mom, subsidizing this extremely inefficient arrangment. Further, children from single-parent households within cities are notoriously prone to crime, poverty, and otherwise destructive lifestyles (look up the statistics - you will be astounded). 

So in this instance, the state solution is vehemently destructive. 

Now consider something like this. I have a organization which pairs single women with single men. I pay out a welfare payment to any formation of a couple which happens through my institution. Now, the welfare payment need not be as large because there are two parents. This will provide them a better quality of life in many ways, and will lead their kids on a statistically far brighter path, which will reduce poverty in the future. 

This is an ample example of how a smaller amount of money dispersed through decentralized means is more productive than a larger amount of money dispersed through (coercive) centralized means. It is obviously a hypothetical, but the to the extent it is successful, it will be replicated; and to the extent it is a failure, it will be replaced by better methods.

You must think through these things reasonably. It is not a problem of our productive capability. It is a problem of community organization which prevents able-bodied people from producing the relatively small amount they must to earn a living. The gov't destroys opportunities for the poor, and subsidizes harmful institutions.

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Tim67:

1. I believe in the Welfare State.

- I think that social welfare programs are a moral and practical good.  The difference in, say, "social health" between relatively low-service America and relatively high-service Europe, Japan, Australia, Canada, etc etc (you know the drill) is reasonable evidence for their practical efficacy.  Relatively lower housing and health subsidies, for example, contribute to a greater homeless problem in the US.  Lower subsidies of higher education make social mobility harder for the working and less affluent middle classes.  Laxer labor regulations make it harder for the less-skilled to attain a decent living -- fine, they should took it upon themselves to attain skills throughout their lives anyway!  Well, this lack of financial stability then effects their children, negatively impacting THEIR ability to eventually obtain a decent life for themsleves (social mobility being correlated rather strongly with parental income, and rather moreso in nations with relatively lesser social services).  In all major studies on the matter I've read, nations with high levels of social welfare programs seem to have much better quality of life metrics than those with comparatively little.  I'm open to considering evidence to the contrary, but I've not seen it.

I'm tired at the moment, so I will just give a short response, for now. The State may "help" the poor, but a State isn't necessary to do that, before there was State Welfare programs there were mutual aid societies. For something more in depth on the subject you may be interested in: http://www.amazon.com/From-Mutual-Aid-Welfare-State/dp/0807848417/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346631082&sr=8-1&keywords=Beito

Not only were mutual aid societies effective, much more psychologically beneficial than the current welfare system (under the current system many people become hopelessly dependent, damaging their self-esteem and dignity), they provided the services completely voluntarily.

I understand you want to help the poor, so do I, I even grew up poor. The question is, why would you want the State to provide welfare, which uses the veiled threat of aggression, when the same services can be provided in a more peaceful way?

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z1235 replied on Wed, Dec 26 2012 11:33 PM

Tim67:

So, I've been reading this site and forum for awhile now; just the other day, in fact, it struck me that it's actually been several years.

...

Frankly, you all may just convert me, who knows.

Tim, I'm happy to inform you that you are probably already converted -- you may not be fully aware of it yet. 

I think that you will enjoy these two short books:

1. Beyond Democracy

"Why democracy does not lead to solidarity, prosperity and liberty but to unrest, runaway spending and a tyrannical government.

Democracy is widely considered to be the best political system imaginable. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that democracy has become a secular religion. The largest political faith on earth. To criticize the democratic ideal is to risk being regarded an enemy of civilized society. 

Yet that is precisely what Karel Beckman and Frank Karsten propose to do. In this provocative and highly readable book, they tackle the last political taboo: the idea that our salvation lies in democracy. 

With simple, straightforward arguments they show that democracy, in contrast to popular belief, does not lead to freedom, civilization, prosperity, peace, and the rule of law, but the opposite: to loss of freedom, social conflict, runaway government spending, a lower standard of living and the subversion of individual rights. 

They debunk 13 great myths with which democracy is usually defended. What is more, they offer an appealing alternative: a society based on individual freedom and voluntary social relations. 

Do you wonder why government keeps growing bigger and the public debt keeps getting higher, while your freedom and prosperity look ever more threatened? After reading his book, you won't wonder anymore - you know why it is happening and what can be done about it. 

Beyond Democracy is a groundbreaking and fascinating book for everyone who wants to better understand current social problems and the economic crisis."

 

2. Looking Backward: 2012-2162 A View from a Future Libertarian Republic

"What would a free nation actually look like? 

Professor Julian West is all too aware of the problems facing the United States in 2012: poverty, endless wars and corporate corruption of democracy. He believes that government could fix these ills, if only government could do more. But following a fluke accident, West awakens after 150 years of slumber in a new nation that has largely resolved these issues - although not through the government solutions he has yearned for.
 
Join the astonished and dubious West as he learns what caused the Decline and Fall of the former United States and how multiple new republics were formed out of the ashes of that failed state. West now inhabits the Free States of America, a nation of limited government, free markets and civil liberties, with freedom and prosperity for all who desire it.
 
This modern retelling of Edward Bellamy's 19th-century socialist utopian novel "Looking Backward: 2000-1887" is updated for the 21st century, based on what we know now about the failure of collectivism. It is an enjoyable and easy-to-understand introduction to the ideas of libertarianism and offers a hopeful, encouraging and ultimately credible view of what a truly free nation might look like."

 

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Neodoxy replied on Thu, Dec 27 2012 12:31 AM

1. The government, since it is always run in an unwise way, will always waste a significant amount of funds and handle things poorly. Any positive model for eradicating povery which could be implemented will be implemented in a substandard way. This failure is inherent within the democratic system. State agencies are inflexible and usually poorly constructed, they atrophy and can't adapt in any meaningful way. Why is it that you want something you value so much to be handled by the idiots who are incapable of PASSING A BUDGET and DEALING WITH SOMETHING THEY BELIEVE WILL CAUSE A RECESSION?

2. Government actions which hamper capital growth, entrepreneurship, and economic expansion result in lower living standards over the long term for everyone in society

3. Government action crowds out any voluntary efforts which might have occurred. These would be more intelligent and susceptible to consumer demand and social entrepreneurship, both of which are things which would make the system much more adaptive, flexible, and positive. If we could channel a fraction of the energy which is spent on political action every year into real actions which help individuals really escape poverty then we would be on the right track to dealing with and ending poverty. This is not some wild theory but it is also backed up historically. History is filled with societies in which significant mutual aid networks have evolved and in less developed parts of the world there are still large communal networks. As the state grows it eradicates all of these things because they are no longer necessary since the welfare state takes their place.

4. Government actions often have negative side-effects. The welfare state has destroyed millions of families in America and kept their children in dire poverty and in a perpetual state of poverty. Many attempts have been made to rectify this through the welfare state and they have all failed. You are making a false dichotomy. It is not a choice between poverty and the solution to poverty, but instead between a system which perpetuates and expands poverty and a system which slowly eradicates poverty. Many government actions which are aimed at providing healthcare to all have instead increased its price and made it more inaccessible to everyone and this has only been made more true with the recent healthcare law.

Now I'm much more enthused about making people happy than making them rich, but the fact is that the system which you have proposed is counter to everything that you claim to want. Your system would expand poverty, hamper wealth creation, and perpetuate poverty so long as it is implemented and you are inconsistent and foolish for advocating it.

At last those coming came and they never looked back With blinding stars in their eyes but all they saw was black...
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Tim67:

Why aren't I a libertarian?

Ahhh! This ought to be "Why am I not a libertarian?" Aren't is a contraction between "are" and "not," and you certainly wouldn't say, "Why are not I a libertarian?" or "Why are I not a libertarian?" right?

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z1235 replied on Thu, Dec 27 2012 4:52 PM

Tim67:
We can think of America v. Norway, for an example, as two countries playing "the same game"(ie, mixed economy) with different tweaks -- Norway more tweaked toward providing welfare programs.

Tim, what are your thoughts on this article about Norway?

"Why Norway is a BS Argument for Higher Taxes" - SovereignMan.com

 

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Tim67:

So, I've been reading this site and forum for awhile now; just the other day, in fact, it struck me that it's actually been several years.  I started reading as a leftist, and have stayed that way.  I've often intended to come in here and debate/argue/discuss a bit but I've never gotten around to it, so with the forum supposedly closing I figure I might as well start now.  As something of a preface, I've got a lot of respect for this site and many of the posters here (though I think they views espoused are often wrong, or at least not ot my liking), and I certainly am not coming in with the idea of "teaching these silly Libertarians a lesson" as it seems is often the case with people who come here to debate.  I've never really argued with serious, thoughtful libertarians on the level this forum has, so I hope we can have resonable discussions.

I'll start off as if someone asked me a simple question: "Why aren't you a libertarian?"  Hopefully the 73 millions points attending the answer can be gotten to in time as people hopefully respond.  Frankly, you all may just convert me, who knows.

Why aren't I a libertarian?

I'll start with one reason:

1. I believe in the Welfare State.

- I think that social welfare programs are a moral and practical good.  The difference in, say, "social health" between relatively low-service America and relatively high-service Europe, Japan, Australia, Canada, etc etc (you know the drill) is reasonable evidence for their practical efficacy.  Relatively lower housing and health subsidies, for example, contribute to a greater homeless problem in the US.  Lower subsidies of higher education make social mobility harder for the working and less affluent middle classes.  Laxer labor regulations make it harder for the less-skilled to attain a decent living -- fine, they should took it upon themselves to attain skills throughout their lives anyway!  Well, this lack of financial stability then effects their children, negatively impacting THEIR ability to eventually obtain a decent life for themsleves (social mobility being correlated rather strongly with parental income, and rather moreso in nations with relatively lesser social services).  In all major studies on the matter I've read, nations with high levels of social welfare programs seem to have much better quality of life metrics than those with comparatively little.  I'm open to considering evidence to the contrary, but I've not seen it.

Now, I'm aware of some libertarian solutions.  We can think of America v. Norway, for an example, as two countries playing "the same game"(ie, mixed economy) with different tweaks -- Norway more tweaked toward providing welfare programs.  Mises types way then propose(not to put words in your mouths!) a "whole new game" -- no state, so supposedly everything will be different:

Elimination of the minimum wage will help social mobility.  For people with low skills, employment opportunities are forclosed for them as they do not already have the skills to warrant 7.25/hr or whatever you like.  Further, many low-skilled people in certain situations(single mothers) find welfare just slightly more renumerating in the short run than a minimum wage job, so they don't even take those minimum wage jobs -- hurting them in the long run for the following reason.  In a free market, there would be a job available, at some level of pay, for everyone willing to work.  Those people will take those jobs, gain transferable skills, and eventually be eligable for higher-skilled, higher-payed work.

This argument has never convinced me.  For one, why isn't this principle already at work on a smaller scale?  Most of the 'lower classes' in the US are still able to find employment in minimum-wage jobs: why is social mobility in the US still so relatively low?  I've rarely come across people who've had an awfully difficult time finding low-level minimum wage retail employment.  I have come across many who have worked such jobs for many years, yet have not found themselves much more skilled and employable.  I haven't seen any evidence of holding low level employment for some time, by itself, being a dependable route to making oneself eligable for higher paying jobs.  How will giving people more access to even low-paid jobs lead to many of them becoming skilled enough to warrant higher pay?  Why should we expect this to happen, instead of expecting people to just continue trudging along as they always have, but now with an even lower level of pay?

 

That's probably enough on the practical side to get some dialogue started.  Of course, you spend much time here devoted to the moral dimension.  Government services are backed by force -- if you don't pay up, men with guns will come to your door, and force you to pay lest you be imprisoned or killed.  Thus, the whole apparatus must be torn down as it is not morally permissable.

True enough: the means to run government programs are obtained through the implicit threat of force.  I don't really have a problem with this.  I often hear libertarians rhetorically ask "What right does someone have to demand the resources of another?"  And sure, I am not aware of any ledger floating in the metaphysical ether that says "X has a right to demand Y from Z by threat of force."  Neither am I aware of such a ledger saying "X has a right to demand Y not agress against him."

We have to ask ourselves what our desired ends are and how the achieve them.  My desired end isn't necessarily to have a totally voluntary society.  I don't think a "voluntary society" as some platonic ideal stands on its own as something objectively good.  What matters in any society is the quality of life of those who inhabit it.  From what I see, the best way to create a society with the highest general living standard is to have one with a strong welfare state, which to my thinking is best administered by a government -- if the means to do so must be collected with implicit force, so be it.

So, that would be a general outline of my answer as if someone just asked me the simple question, "Why aren't you a libertarian?"  Hopefully the complexities of each topic can come up as people try to pick apart different parts of my post.  I've been thinking about libertarianism quite a lot lately, and am open to conversion if I can be satisfied (however much I doubt it).

Well, friend, I find it odd that more people aren't libertarians, or perhaps more specifically why most people I've met have a strong aversion to the term. Libertarians are oft blamed for skewing elections and being idealists. While I admit that some I've met are a bit too idealistic, none I have met are stupid. Frequently, libertarians are the most well-informed people in the U.S. in my experience.

I would say the approach you're using is one of democracy. You mentioned "our desires" and how to achieve them. I must ask, what of individual desires? Where does the individual belong in your schema? One need not form an entire basis on ethics to understand/convert to libertarianism. However, principles are--no doubt--very important, as you likely understand.

I'm obliged to start with the basics, so I'll ask: can you think of an instance where it is a good thing to have your rights infringed? I'm curious to see a specific example, and I'll be happy to respond from there buddy.

 

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thetabularasa:
you certainly wouldn't say, "Why are not I a libertarian?" or "Why are I not a libertarian?" right?

Why not?

 

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JJ it's grammatically incorrect to use a plural verb conjugation for a single person subject.
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Jargon replied on Thu, Dec 27 2012 8:26 PM

Why do I get the feeling JJ knew that?

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Malachi replied on Thu, Dec 27 2012 8:57 PM
I think it still technically answers the question?
Keep the faith, Strannix. -Casey Ryback, Under Siege (Steven Seagal)
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Tim67 replied on Thu, Dec 27 2012 10:06 PM

"Tim, what are your thoughts on this article about Norway?

"Why Norway is a BS Argument for Higher Taxes" - SovereignMan.com"

 

Seems like a bunch of vague platitudes.  The guy doesn't like how the security of the Norweigan welfare state to his mind makes people less amibious, or something.  Though Norway having some of the better stats for intergenerational economic mobility (http://www.oecd.org/centrodemexico/medios/44582910.pdf) tends to lead to me to believe that the Norweigan economy is still more rife with real individual opportunity for personal advancement than the less secure USA for example.  Frankly I didn't see anything in the article worth considering: Norway is a rich country, has high marks on all indications of social health, and the supposed problem of "lack of ambition, no focus on individual success, etc etc whatever" does not seem to be borne out considering we have actually facts showing Norway's economy to be MORE "individualistic" than less welfare-oriented nations.  And yes, there are millionaire bussinessmen in Norway too.

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h.k. replied on Thu, Dec 27 2012 11:07 PM

NonAntiAnarchist:

You have to get over these relatively miniscule objections. Think of the grand scheme. Relatively capitalist economies have lifted hundreds of millions from destitute poverty to having standards of living on par, if not superior to royalty of past. 

Welfare is now only a consideration because we are so much richer than ever before in history. And look at welfare. Examine it. It's literally a blind redistribution of wealth with awful administrative costs, from centralized administers who know practically nothing about the recipients, if they even know them at all. Even if the mass of payments to the poor were larger in monetary terms under modern systems, the returns are diminishing because the way in which they operate is vapidly uncared for. I mean, what an asinine solution; give poor people money,  then they won't be poor. This basically implies a diagnosis of "poor people are poor because they don't have enough money" A child could think of this. 

Only politicians in a centralized bureaucracy, so withdrawn from the actual needs of its subjects would "think" of such a thoughtless solution. In reality, the reason why people are poor is many. Some live destructive lifestyles, wrought with drug abuse. Some had destructive childhoods and families (I'm sure there is spillover between these two groups). Etc. I'm sure there are many more reasons that I can't even come close to pinpointing, but this only goes to serve my larger point: poor people are poor for a multitude of reasons, most of which stem from poor individuals choices. This is not to blame. In fact, I have the utmost sympathy for people who were misled by their families, and those they rely on as guides. 

Therefore, no solution to these problems is easy, and none is certainly as simple as throwing money at the destitute. To think this is a solution is callous and careless to the point where I get infuriated. These people need help. To throw money at them is insulting, and in many cases harmful, because it only subsidizes the poor choices they are making. This is the essential reason we need "welfare" directed by the market in a decentralized manner. Even if the mass of funds going to the poor is less, they will be in the form of solutions that will almost surely be far more marginally effective. They will build institutions full of people who want to dedicate their life to help the poor, and who can see the results first hand of their attempted solutions.

Thinking in terms of decentralization is key. The current form of welfare which exists today is so obviously nothing more than a way in which suburban whites can guiltlessly turn their eyes away from the atrocious problems which the poor face on a daily basis. It is this reason and only this reason why welfare is such a sacred cow in America.

And when I say to look at the larger picture, I mean to say that the productive forces of capitalism have already made the problems of wealth largely obsolete, and this would only be further the case if we had yet a free-er market. To think the poor are suffering because we are not capable of producing food for them as a collective is ridiculous and proven false by the fact that we do in fact provide for them. It is not a problem of resources; it is a problem of the way in which they are used. There is no reason why poor communities cannot produce enough to garner a share of the food, clothing, housing, etc that we are easily capable of providing. It is a problem of them needing human help, from people who care and can direct them to make and build responsible communities. You can find documented on this site the numerous ways in which the gov't destroys these communities, and thus is achieving the opposite ends it claims. 

Much more can be said, but I will leave it at that. Statistics have their use, but you must frame them in a larger chain of reasoning or you will lose sight of the real problems and solutions. 

 

 

Yeah this is pretty much all you need to know.

 

Econometrically Tim has failed to address any of the statistical arguments. PIIGS nations are inferior to CASSH nations, and Cash nations are inferior to even more capitalist  countries.

 

 

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h.k. replied on Thu, Dec 27 2012 11:13 PM

Tim67:

"Tim, what are your thoughts on this article about Norway?

"Why Norway is a BS Argument for Higher Taxes" - SovereignMan.com"

 

Seems like a bunch of vague platitudes.  The guy doesn't like how the security of the Norweigan welfare state to his mind makes people less amibious, or something.  Though Norway having some of the better stats for intergenerational economic mobility (http://www.oecd.org/centrodemexico/medios/44582910.pdf) tends to lead to me to believe that the Norweigan economy is still more rife with real individual opportunity for personal advancement than the less secure USA for example.  Frankly I didn't see anything in the article worth considering: Norway is a rich country, has high marks on all indications of social health, and the supposed problem of "lack of ambition, no focus on individual success, etc etc whatever" does not seem to be borne out considering we have actually facts showing Norway's economy to be MORE "individualistic" than less welfare-oriented nations.  And yes, there are millionaire bussinessmen in Norway too.

 

 

Hey genius, welfare states never stay limited and reasonable in the long run. They grow and and grow, and rights slowly erode away.

 

Also since we're not just Libertarians, but also Austrians, we object to fiduciary media created in the fractional reserve banking process. The state is Keynesian, we are not, Keynesian economics is inferior to Austrian economics. Politicians are economically illiterate, even more inferior than standard neoclassical economists that teach at Universities, so they're a step behind even the Keynesians.. Everything that you just said is worthless and statistically insignificant.

 

As an immigrant I have learned that Americans are very whiny and entitled even though they live in a relatively rich country,Capitalism is the only way to develop a market economy because Populism is economically irrational. Your welfare is superfluous, private welfare is far better I'll use any private charity with brand recognition as an example.

 

 

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z1235 replied on Thu, Dec 27 2012 11:55 PM

Tim, so this part wasn't worth addressing?

 

"Sure, the system gives them lots of leisure time to enjoy… but this is not necessarily a choice they make freely, rather the only choice they have.

Now, even if this lack of economic freedom seems a reasonable price to pay for national healthcare… even if tamed aspirations and an uninspired career are valid trade-offs for more leisure and less hard work… Norway is not a replicable model.

People who think that ‘we should just be like Norway’ are missing an even greater point: all of this central planning is made possible by huge oil reserves… and for that matter, oil reserves that are DECADES past their peak production.

Norway’s model is not only unreplicable in most other countries, it is also unsustainable.

Mediocrity works great when you can fool society into accepting it and have the oil wealth to finance it. But the true path to prosperity is, and always will be, a system based on economic freedom that rewards hard work, creativity, and achievement."

I hear Saudis and Qataris get a lot of freebies from the state and seem to be doing quite well, too. A monarchy or a sultanate much?

 

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The State in Norway practically runs people’s lives with the amount of control it has over economic outcomes. If you prefer a universalization of living standards, you have some serious issues. It's a country of 5 million. It's not hard to provide for 5 million. Get an economic system to provide a decent standard of living for hundreds of millions. Now that's an achievement. 

This worship of European countries is pathetic. Learn economics, and realize countries can succeed for a multitude of reasons. That some countries are both "successful" (at least for the time being) and not economically free does not mean they are successful because they are not economically free. 

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If mankind sold commodities to aliens and spent the proceeds on buying technology from the aliens and stocks/bonds/real estate etc in the aliens societies, mankind could do what Norway does, i.e live beyond their means, i.e. consume more than they produce.

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thetabularasa:
JJ it's grammatically incorrect to use a plural verb conjugation for a single person subject.

Are you sure about that?

 

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John James:

thetabularasa:
JJ it's grammatically incorrect to use a plural verb conjugation for a single person subject.

Are you sure about that?

 

 

You can be singular or plural.

http://thephoenixsaga.com/
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Most of my divergences with some hardcore libertarians are grounded on my view of their rather naive concept of rights and legitimacy.

I think they should apply basic economic principles to their own positions as well, and try more to avoid content vague and ideologically charged discussions that emerge from working only in terms of categorical moral absolutes.

Because, regardless of any libertarian slogan, your rights, to property or of any other kind, are not absolute nor inalienable.

And no right can be made absolute, unless you believe in an absolute power source who may endow people with divinely protected rights.

Such a concept may be a wonderful allegory to compound and empower the language of a declaration of independence, but if you take it too far as an applied principle to the workings of the real world, you will sooner or later discover first hand how reality can be a treacherous little thing.

In the real world, any claim you make to a given set of rights needs to be generally respected by other people, otherwise you have no such rights. You can claim to be a free man, but if you find yourself locked in a cage and no one seems to be coming to open it, your claim has been denied.

And other people will respect any claim you made insofar as they perceive the costs of challenging your claim to be greater than the costs of recognizing any right attached to it.

It may look trivial enough as a point, but such a common-sense consideration is seldom invoked or remembered before people commence firing rhetorical torpedoes that are void of meaningful content, such as the NAP argumentations we frequently see.

The only right nature or the "creator" seem to have endowed us all is the right to fight. And this is not a "fair fight". Some will start in better positions than others and there's nothing that can be done about it.

The only right any living soul has is the right to fight for all other things she wishes to secure for herself.

This is as valid for the peasant claiming ownership of a small plot in the hinterlands as it is for the King claiming his crown posessions in the capital.

The King may be powerful but he has no absolute right to act as he will. He needs to fulfill a lot of demands and requirements in order to secure his crown.

That is, if he does not behave according to the expectations of his noble supporters and other powerful people inside his realm, or if he is in the way of a more powerful foreign warlord willing to conquer his kingdom, somebody will challenge his god given right to rule soon enough.

So, regardless of homestead priority or natural rights-babble,  if you want to use your land as a testing ground for nuclear weapons or as a safe harbor for undesired immigrants, you may expect retaliation from your neighbors, insofar as they are in position to retaliate.

Don't get me wrong. Most of the time I'm very libertarian.

I love shooting rhetorical bullets like "my home my castle" whenever someone starts talking nonsense about revoking gun rights, or banning cigarettes, and other authoritarian shit like that.

But even though these propaganda pieces are very effective for the purpose of shutting down some collectivist dogma regurgitating machine, they cannot be taken too literally or too extreme without backfiring.

That is, "absolute property rights" are meaningless abstractions when the point is acquiring understanding, despite the fact that they may be excellent devices to propel political talking points. 

As a general empirical rule, property rights will be more extensive when external costs deriving from indiscriminate use of property are less extensive. And this can be only sorted out in practice, through real world negotiations, litigations and perhaps violent disputes.

And I'm not saying that the tax-funded bureaucratic machinery of government is the most effective, or moral, or logical mediator to all these externalities issues.

I hardly think so.

But if you think that some abstract absolute natural rights allow you to dispose of your land and property as you wish, I shall advise you that the real world may not comply to your terms.

 

 

"Blood alone moves the wheels of history" - Dwight Schrute
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Jargon replied on Fri, Dec 28 2012 10:10 AM

ToxicAssets,

Whether rights metaphysically exist or not has zero bearing on their suitability as a grounds for a legal system. I hardly think that most of us here accept them as metaphysically existent, so there is no need to point it out anytime rights are brought up in the legal sense.

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The Anarch is to the Anarchist what the Monarch is to the Monarchist. -Ernst Jünger

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@ h.k.

"As an immigrant I have learned that Americans are very whiny and entitled even though they live in a relatively rich country"

We sure have come a long way since the Revolution, you know?

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z1235 replied on Fri, Dec 28 2012 11:18 AM

Jargon:

ToxicAssets,

Whether rights metaphysically exist or not has zero bearing on their suitability as a grounds for a legal system. I hardly think that most of us here accept them as metaphysically existent, so there is no need to point it out anytime rights are brought up in the legal sense.

 
^ +1
 
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Tim67 replied on Fri, Dec 28 2012 11:25 AM

"The State in Norway practically runs people’s lives with the amount of control it has over economic outcomes."

Documentation to that effect?  I've heard people say things like this a lot and never saw much to back it up; I'm not necessarily accusing you of this, but it sounds like a thing people say because they want it to be true and they vaguely suspect it to be true.  I'll consider sources.

"If you prefer a universalization of living standards, you have some serious issues."

I don't really.  Although plenty of people would probably call me an outright socialist in many respects, I don't really care about "equality" in and of itself, I care about everyone(or at least as many as possible) having some decent 'minimum' standard to allow access to things people need(decent education, training, growing up in a socially stable environment, whatever) to live up to whatever potentials they have.  I do suspect that in a society where most people have more or less an equal opportunity regardless of whatever circumstances they were born into (and Norway to me seems to be such a society, judging by the OECD stats) most people WILL obtain a generally similar living standard because most people are of generally similar capabilities(the vast majority of people being, obviously, around an "average" level of intelligence, etc.)

"Learn economics, and realize countries can succeed for a multitude of reasons. That some countries are both "successful" (at least for the time being) and not economically free does not mean they are successful because they are not economically free. "

That some countries are "successful" (at least for the time being) and economically free does not mean they are successful because they are economically free.

Of course, the very fact that Norway has a welfare system and that it is less economically "free" in some respects does not by itself make it a prosperous country -- the fact it has a lot of capital, created through capitalist production processes (I'm not arguing for communism here), makes it wealthy.  And it redistributes that wealth through a state-run system that has created a very stable and generally equal society (again, I'm not touting equality as some metaphysical moral good, but when a wealthy industrialized country is 'more equal' it necessarily means more people have a higher standard of living) wherein people are still free to read what they want, eat what they want, persue their own interests, get rich if they so desire(as plenty have), marry whom they want, associated with whom they want, travel where they want if they can, etc etc etc.  And of course Norway's oil (state-owned production) is a big factor in its ability to do this; but plenty of other high welfare states are able to do so without the oil.

 

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Jargon:

ToxicAssets,

Whether rights metaphysically exist or not has zero bearing on their suitability as a grounds for a legal system. I hardly think that most of us here accept them as metaphysically existent, so there is no need to point it out anytime rights are brought up in the legal sense.

 

 

I think we all agree that rights do exist in some sense, since rights are talked about all the time and they are the reason why some things happen and other things don't.

My point is not on the existence of rights, but on their nature. 

What are they and where do they come from?

My definition is that an established right is any practical constraint on the potential behavior of some others towards oneself, that one may generally expect from the rational consideration of alternatives by each of the others.

Rights are violated insofar as these expectations of constrained behavior are not met on occasion.

And rights are denied insofar as these expectations do not exit and/or are generally not met.

That is, a "right" that is constantly violated is not a right, but something else. A wish, a desire, an unsatisfied claim perhaps.

"Blood alone moves the wheels of history" - Dwight Schrute
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z1235 replied on Fri, Dec 28 2012 12:05 PM

Tim67:
And of course Norway's oil (state-owned production) is a big factor in its ability to do this; but plenty of other high welfare states are able to do so without the oil.

USSR had oil and high welfare. Former Yugoslavia, Greece, Portugal, France, and Italy had high welfare and not much oil. Each and every other western socialist-democracy is on the verge of a total collapse as we speak. Do you actually think that free markets, greed, and speculators are responsible for the "once in a century" financial crises we seem to be experiencing almost every year, at this point? What evidence is there that high welfare actually produces sustainable flourish and prosperity in a society? 

Whatever affluence and prosperity you observe in the quickly-unravelling social-democratic western world are remnants from the capital created during the industrial revolution which has been eaten up through the socialist-Keynesian, centrally-planned policies over the last hundred years. If you take your head out of the fallacious correlation=>causation "scientific empirical evidence" mirages and learned some real economics (Austrian) it would become abundantly clear to you that private property and free markets create (capital) while socialism, central-planning, wellfare, warfare, and Keynesianism devour it. Everyone is much better off with the former while all but the polit-buro elites end up as feeder cattle in the mud with the latter. How many times must history repeat these lessons before people like you finally learn them? You get taken each and every time!

Here's some evidence for you to gnaw on:

 

Presenting the decline of the West in two easy infographics

According to Toshl’s data, users in Western Europe earn an average of $2,062 per month, but spend $2,396. This is an average monthly deficit of $334 per person, or roughly 16% of income.

Toshl users in the United States are in even worse shape, earning on average $1,871 per month. But they spend $2,290 per month, an average monthly deficit of $419, or 22% of income.

So who in the world is living within their means? Australian, Brazilian, Russian, Canadian, Filipino, and Indian users all show positive surpluses each month. Chinese and Singaporeans are essentially at breakeven levels.

Both of these infographics point to the same conclusion: the west is living far beyond its means and is struggling with pitifully anemic growth. This is a long-term trend, and one that is only going to accelerate."

 

 

 

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Great post, Z.

Documentation to that effect?  I've heard people say things like this a lot and never saw much to back it up; I'm not necessarily accusing you of this, but it sounds like a thing people say because they want it to be true and they vaguely suspect it to be true.  I'll consider sources.

I mean, what else do you think is the necessary result of proportionally high state spending, restrictive taxes which limit consumption, among other things, and economic regulation? The state determines what services people are getting, in what quantity they are getting them, and for what price. You don't see an inherent problem in nationalized industries, and state spending in general? Norway may only be 5 million people (and therefore decentralized in some sense just by that fact alone), most of whom are largely ethnically homogenous, and this probably limits the damage done by state spending, but how could you possibly see the gov't stealing and spending nearly half the product of its citizens as anywhere near preferable to the citizens spending their own money themselves, in way they deem most beneficial?

"In 2011, 28% of state revenues were generated from the petroleum industry."

And there's your giant subsidy to inefficiency. It's a shame the benefit of having such valuable resources in the country is eaten up by the state.

I don't really.  Although plenty of people would probably call me an outright socialist in many respects, I don't really care about "equality" in and of itself, I care about everyone (or at least as many as possible) having some decent 'minimum' standard to allow access to things people need(decent education, training, growing up in a socially stable environment, whatever) to live up to whatever potentials they have.

You say you don't care about equality, and then you completely defy that statement on the next line. If you support some minimum standard that you subjectively determine, then you value equality in itself in some degree - just likely not in the degree that you'd support an "equality of poverty."

I'm sorry, but I see this as kind of disgustingly controlling. Sure, I definitely sympathize with a standard in which the vast majorities are free from poverty, but if I were to support any standard above that level, I'd have serious qualms about stealing on a grand scale to achieve it. Luckily, capitalism has made concerns about my conception of poverty mostly obsolete in places like America, and if allowed to function more freely, would surely continue the trend.

I've been to Denmark once before, and my impression is that everybody has about the same size house (small), most don't have cars (they use the rail system), restaurants, clothes, and other consumption goods are very expensive. It is a beautiful country, and people are generally happy. Great. In some sense, I can see the appeal in equality among a small number of culturally knit people, all living similar lifestyles. But this if for people to determine by themselves, consensually, as groups of people; not at the expense of those around them. I should have no right to steal from you to relieve me of my envy. And the reality is, the people of Denmark would probably be much better off if they had more decision-making at the individual level. They'd be wealthier and get the goods and services they actually desire for prices they think are reasonable, and their tight knit culture, and general "happiness" (who wouldn't be happy in such a beautiful country?) wouldn't disappear or collapse. Once again, we come back to the same point. Is Denmark "successful" because of state spending, or in spite of it? This is a question no statistic can answer.

when a wealthy industrialized country is 'more equal' it necessarily means more people have a higher standard of living

Nah. Their standard of living leeches off the creations of billionaires from past and present, of whom they are not equal in income to. Great innovations, especially in this day and age, usually create income inequality. There is nothing wrong with this.

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Autolykos replied on Fri, Dec 28 2012 12:50 PM

Tim67:
An overwhelming majority at least oblige the state.

Irrelevant to Marko's question.

Tim67:
The number of people with who the state has to resort to outright coersion is miniscule.

Not according to my definition of "coercion", which is "the use or threat of violence". The state threatens everyone with violence all the time. Therefore, per my definition of "coercion", it coerces everyone all the time. I consider that coercion to be aggressive and thus immoral.

Tim67:
Even in a libertarian society, there will be people from whom it would be in their own preference to be serial killers, or violent rapists, etc. Whatever private security forces that attend to whatever geographical area those people operate in may have to stop them by force, perhaps even going up to killing them.

Irrelevant to Marko's question.

Tim67:
Not to liken those who may refuse to pay taxes to murderers or rapists, but just to say that in any conceivable society there will be people who will be forced into conforming to some set of norms.

The question is which set of norms.

Tim67:
Even in a voluntary society, there will be agencies that will force people to obey some certain set of norms because they feel there are compelling social reasons for going so -- the outcomes are "good enough" to warrant it.

The set of norms to be obeyed in a voluntaryist society is much smaller than that in today's society or the kind of society you seem to support.

Tim67:
Sure it would be regrettable if someone put up such a resistance to paying taxes that violent force was necessary, but the benefits of well funded social programs are worth it for society.

I invite you to prove that "social programs" are "worth it" for "society".

Tim67:
Would I do it myself?  I'm not sure exactly what arm of the police, or FBI, or whathaveyou takes part in those operations.  Either way my back and knees are sort of in bad shape, I'm not sure how well I'd meet their physical criteria.  I don't think it's a job I'd enjoy anyway.

I invite you to actually answer the question. Would you do it yourself? What sort of physical shape you're in is completely irrelevant to that question. Would you be willing to do it yourself?

Tim67:
But of course, this is all completely academic, because no one would refuse to pay taxes anyway, since social programs help people.  This isn't a question of being a libertarian, or a social democrat, or whatever -- it's a question of being a human being.  Right?

I invite you to prove that "no one would refuse to pay taxes" and that "social programs help people".

Tim67:
A related question: if the government had a mechanism set up, where at the 18th birthday of every citizen (or pick any random date you like), a government official goes around and has a contract for them to sign, basically a literal "social contract," in which they explicitly agree to pay taxes, etc.  If they refuse, they are immediately deported to a foreign land and left to their own devices and not allowed back in the country, though they can take whatever property they want with them and can still manage whatever immovable property they have in the country(though not while being there physically).  Would the demands of the state then be just for those who remain?

In my opinion, no they wouldn't.

The keyboard is mightier than the gun.

Non parit potestas ipsius auctoritatem.

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My take on rights is thus radically different from the hardcore libertarian one.

Much like socialists, they believe that rights are emanations of some rationally "self-evident" and universal justice principle.

The difference is a minor one.

Libertarians believe this principle is the non-initiation of aggression.

And Socialists believe this principle is the equitable distribution of wealth.

Both think society does seek (or, at least, should seek) the application of their vision of Justice.

Both, at some point or another, believe to have a fair amount of concrete evidence that societies around the world are approaching their vision, even though they admit some occasional setbacks. They believe they have figured out the historical mechanism that serves as the social input of ethical norms and civilized behavior. 

And both of them are completely delusional.

No such universal "self-evident" principle could ever make any sense.

Neither aggression nor wealth are universal concepts to begin with. 

They have different meanings to different people, and they can only make sense once a context is provided.

Some people consider themselves aggressed by the mere existence of some other people.

And there are many forms of wealth that are not amenable to distribution.

We can know now what is traditionally considered as aggression or wealth, but we cannot predict the future perceptions of future people.

The future of these traditions will depend on the complicated and very unpredictable way the developments unfolds.

Rights and laws do not emanate from some rationally, self-evident, axiomatically established justice ideal.

Rights and laws emerge from the self-organization of a social system of individuals acting within an environment of circumstances that change, and whose global evolution is of transcendent complexity and cannot thus be foreseen, much less reduced to the rise of some simple cosmic principle of justice that we were trained to worship.

Even if we can discern a rational pattern for the evolution of rights, morals and the idea of justice, it doesn't mean they have a purpose to fulfill , much less that we are in a position to claim anything about their "ultimate design". If anything, such a design would be the less self-evident of all things.

Both hardcore socialists and libertarians visions are very much like the creationist take on life and the Universe, but even worse, because creationists don't usually claim to understand the designs and intentions of the creator.

Things are much more complex than that.

"Blood alone moves the wheels of history" - Dwight Schrute
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