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How would you convince a poor person to become libertarian?

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JimmyJazz Posted: Thu, Nov 15 2012 11:32 AM

Hypothetically consider a single black mother who lives in an urban center.  She has her GED and no education beyond that.  She is usually able to find work, but only at relatively shitty jobs like fast food.  She has been let go from one job by a boss who was very clearly racist (she overheard him making racist jokes on many occasions, including once about her).  She once had to quit a job because a male boss was continually sexually harassing her.  She is unable to go to school because she has to work at least 50 hours/week to support her son and herself.  Usually, she is unable to make ends meet and has to seek government assistance just to keep food in the pantry and the heat and lights on in their crummy little apartment.

Now, obviously you could choose to lecture her and blame her for her current situation, or lecture her on how she has it so much better than someone in the third world and it's all thanks to the miraculous workings of whatever sliver of free markets we allow in the USA. 

However, I'm assuming that many of you would actually like to see a libertarian world, which obviously will require quite a bit more tact than that if you are going to win over the necessary number of supporters.  So, what would you say to this person to convince her to become a libertarian?  What would be the key points you would hit on?  What objections would you anticipate and how would you respond to those?  Or, would you write off such a person as not worth trying to convince?  If so, do you anticipate that libertarian ideas can take hold without the support of such people?

Also, please don't reply that this person couldn't/doesn't exist.  Hypothetical means just that.  EDIT: Obviously, you can post whatever you want.  I'm just forewarning you that I won't spend any time arguing over whether the hypothetical could exist.  That's not what I'm interested in discussing.

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Tell her to get married.

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JimmyJazz replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 11:39 AM

That's how you would convince her to become a libertarian?

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JimmyJazz:
Also, please don't reply that this person couldn't/doesn't exist.  Hypothetical means just that.

Then why should we bother trying to address it?

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JimmyJazz:

That's how you would convince her to become a libertarian?

 

How do you know she's not already a libertarian? I don't see why you can't have poor libertarians. Ron Paul accepts Social Security but wants to end it.

Getting married will improve her situation. Becoming a libertarian will not.

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Why would anyone want to convince her to be libertarian?  Does it really help her situation?

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JimmyJazz replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 11:46 AM

"Why would anyone want to convince her to be libertarian?"

So she'll support libertarian causes and/or candidates.

 

"Does it really help her situation?"

That is certainly the question.  If she is a rational, self-interested being, does she stand more to gain by voting for libertarian or "statist" candidates, supporting libertarian or "statist" causes?

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DanielMuff replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 11:56 AM

JimmyJazz:
Usually, she is unable to make ends meet and has to seek government assistance just to keep food in the pantry and the heat and lights on in their crummy little apartment.

What prevents this lady from moving in with a relative?

Cannot she sell lemonade at park? Nevermind. She needs permission from the governent.

Cannot she braid hair in her apartment? Nevermind. She needs permission from the governent.

Now, obviously you could choose to lecture her and blame her for her current situation

Why would we do that? Is not the point that she is victim of the System? That is, the statist system?

Maybe there would be a bunch of black men willing and able to provide for this lady if they were not in prison because of the War on Drugs.

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Autolykos replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 11:57 AM

I actually wouldn't start off by trying to convince her to become a libertarian. What I'd first try to do is find out more about why she hasn't been able to get a better job. Hopefully I could then make some helpful suggestions for her about how to improve her and her son's living conditions.

Without any additional context, one piece of advice I'd offer right off the bat has to do with point of view. It seems to me that a lot of people don't get (further) ahead in life because they're constantly focused on what other people are doing. To be quite honest, I think that's a mistake. Focusing on other people just increases the chances that opportunities will be missed. So I suggest focusing on what they themselves can do. Psychology calls this "locus of control", where focusing on what other people are doing or could do constitutes an external locus of control and focusing on what oneself is doing or could do constitutes an internal locus of control.

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limitgov replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 11:58 AM

to believe in a truly free market, means you have to see the bigger picture.  You have to envision what the economy could be like if free markets existed.  Envision how much wealthier everyone would be if governments didn't steal it away.

Envision all the increased job opportunities there would be in a truly free market.  Envision all the increased labor going to actual useful and productive means.  In a truly free market, we'd have alot more people doing alot more things that would benefit the people, not government.

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Autolykos replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 11:59 AM

JimmyJazz:
"Why would anyone want to convince her to be libertarian?"

So she'll support libertarian causes and/or candidates.

 

"Does it really help her situation?"

That is certainly the question.  If she is a rational, self-interested being, does she stand more to gain by voting for libertarian or "statist" candidates, supporting libertarian or "statist" causes?

I don't think she really gains anything by voting, period. I think she has bigger fish to fry than that.

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limitgov replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 12:02 PM

she could drive a cab a make a killing in NYC in a libertarian world.

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JimmyJazz replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 12:05 PM

@ Daniel Muffinberg: your argument to her is that in a libertarian society she would be able to sell lemonade in a park or braid people's hair in her apartment (nice racial reference, btw wink) without a government permit?

 

@ Autolykos: what makes you think she is blaming anyone else for her situation?  Plenty of working poor people are doing whatever they can to actively improve their lot by their own efforts - in the hypothetical I gave that certainly seems to be the case (based on her actions - working a lot, only taking gov't assistance as a necessary last resort, etc.)

And in reply to your second post, what if she counters that she definitely gains by voting for candidates who promise to maintain gov't assistance programs that have helped her out a few different times when she absolutely couldn't make ends meet on her own?

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Wheylous replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 12:06 PM

We have enough trouble convincing middle class white males to become libertarians, and you want us to convince a poor black woman?

But anyway, you could start with the AnCap plan to reduce poverty:

http://www.reddit.com/r/Anarcho_Capitalism/comments/11b4x0/project_the_ancap_plan_to_reduce_poverty/

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Autolykos replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 12:09 PM

JimmyJazz:
what makes you think she is blaming anyone else for her situation?

I'm not assuming she is, and I didn't mean to imply otherwise. But in my experience, a lot of people who just get by in life tend to blame others for it. I wouldn't suggest her to adopt an internal locus of control under the assumption that she doesn't already have one. It would be more like a "Have you thought about it this way?" kind of suggestion.

JimmyJazz:
Plenty of working poor people are doing whatever they can to actively improve their lot by their own efforts - in the hypothetical I gave that certainly seems to be the case (based on her actions - working a lot, only taking gov't assistance as a necessary last resort, etc.)

How do you know that? What does "whatever they can" really mean here?

JimmyJazz:
And in reply to your second post, what if she thinks she has plenty to gain by voting for candidates who promise to maintain the gov't assistance programs that have gotten her through a few rough times when she absolutely needed the help?

Then I think she's deluded - but I wouldn't put it to her that way, of course.

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@ OP

Well first of all, I'd try to convince this person by saying to her this - why are the poor, poor? Isn't it the regulations of the state regarding minimum wage laws and unions that creates unemployment? And we can't deny that taxes prevent employment creation. They do. Everybody would be a lot better off financially if the government wasn't stealing their wealth and redistributing it. Forced equalization of wealth is completely unnatural, and I'd show this person videos of starved and poor people in the Soviet Union and Maoist China as a result of this "attempt to end poverty." Show her that freedom and private property are the friends of the poor through history. And tell her why the society that we live in now is no where close to a "free market," and that a true free market is actually very strict in it's enforcement of contracts (in her case, the relationship between employer and employee).

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JimmyJazz replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 12:17 PM

@Autolykos -

 

"I'm not assuming she is, and I didn't mean to imply otherwise. But in my experience, a lot of people who just get by in life tend to blame others for it. I wouldn't suggest her to adopt an internal locus of control under the assumption that she doesn't already have one. It would be more like a "Have you thought about it this way?" kind of suggestion."

OK.  Well, assume you've got to know her a little bit and she doesn't focus on other people/the environment as the source of things that happen to her.  What would be your second bit of advice?

 

"How do you know that? What does "whatever they can" really mean here?"

She works until she is physically tired.  She goes without food until she is physically hungry.  She does not have the financial means to NOT work long enough to try anything (start a business, whatever) besides working.  She has to keep working at low-wage jobs to support her son and herself.  Occasionally, even that isn't enough and she needs some temporary assistance. 

I mean, come on - I think we all get what the phrase "whatever they can" means.  It doesn't extend to, say, becoming a prostitute.  It means doing your personal best to advance your situation given the dual constraints of what activities are legal and the 24-hour day.

 

"Then I think she's deluded - but I wouldn't put it to her that way, of course."

How would you put it to her?

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gotlucky replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 12:20 PM

She works until she is physically tired.  She goes without food until she is physically hungry.  She does not have the financial means to NOT work long enough to try anything (start a business, whatever) besides working.  She has to keep working at low-wage jobs to support her son and herself.  Occasionally, even that isn't enough and she needs some temporary assistance.  (I mean, come on - I think we all get what the phrase "whatever they can" means.  It doesn't extend to, say, becoming a prostitute.  It means working really really hard).

As other posters have suggested, she could move in with family or friends, she could get married, or her son could get a job. Wouldn't it be crazy if she did all three?

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JimmyJazz replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 12:21 PM

Yes, other posters who have ignored the question of the OP (which is "how would you convince her to become a libertarian") have suggested those things.

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gotlucky replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 12:24 PM

How would you convince a neo-nazi to become a libertarian?

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Autolykos replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 12:25 PM

JimmyJazz:
OK.  Well, assume you've got to know her a little bit and she doesn't focus on other people/the environment as the source of things that happen to her.  What would be your second bit of advice?

I'm noting for the record that you're changing the context of the discussion.

With that said, I'd ask her what she thinks she can do to attain a higher-level position wherever she's working. For example, if she's working in fast food, what does she think she can do to get to a manager-level position?

JimmyJazz:
She works until she is physically tired.  She goes without food until she is physically hungry.  She does not have the financial means to NOT work long enough to try anything (start a business, whatever) besides working.  She has to keep working at low-wage jobs to support her son and herself.  Occasionally, even that isn't enough and she needs some temporary assistance.  (I mean, come on - I think we all get what the phrase "whatever they can" means.  It doesn't extend to, say, becoming a prostitute.  It means working really really hard).

I'm sorry but phrases like "working really really hard" mean next to nothing to me. What one person's idea of that is can vary wildly from another person's. So I'm sorry, but no, I won't "come on" here. To be honest with you, I personally don't think working 50 hours a week in fast food constitutes "working really really hard".

JimmyJazz:
How would you put it to her?

I would probably ask her why she puts any trust in any of the politicians.

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JimmyJazz replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 12:26 PM

gotlucky: "How would you convince a neo-nazi to become a libertarian?"

Hahahaha, wow.

 

Autolykos: "I'm sorry but phrases like "working really really hard" mean next to nothing to me."

I edited this phrase before you posted, actually. I figured you would find it too subjective.

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gotlucky replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 12:27 PM

Why won't you answer the question? It's as ridiculous as your OP.

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Autolykos replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 12:32 PM

JimmyJazz:
Autolykos: "I'm sorry but phrases like "working really really hard" mean next to nothing to me."

I edited this phrase before you posted, actually. I figured you would find it too subjective.

You don't?

Either way, I'd appreciate a response to the rest of my post.

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gotlucky replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 12:36 PM

I can only think of three general approaches to libertarianism:

1) Morality - If the individual in question supports the Golden Rule or something like it, then logically they must be against government.

2) Economics - If the individual in question understands economics, they will be able to see how the state hurts the economy in general.

3) Consequentialism - I see this as more of a combination of the two (with a focus on the consequences, obviously), but maybe others see it differently.

How are you going to convince this poor, single, black mother to become a libertarian? Use any of those approaches. If she rejects the morality aspect, then use the economic. As Dan pointed out, the government seriously ***** with the choices this woman can make. But if she is so busy, I don't see how you could possibly spend the time necessary in order to teach her enough economics in order to become a libertarian.

She's better off with the advice these other posters are giving.

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JimmyJazz replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 12:37 PM

@Autolykos -

"I'd ask her what she thinks she can do to attain a higher-level position wherever she's working. For example, if she's working in fast food, what does she think she can do to get to a manager-level position?"

OK.  I kind of wonder what you would tell the other employees, since only one person cannot be manager.  Also, you said that in your opinion working 50 hours a week at fast food is not "working really really hard".  I wonder what you do consider "working really really hard".  Would she be working really really hard if she was a manager for 50 hours a week at a fast food place?

 

"I would probably ask her why she puts any trust in any of the politicians."

She probably "puts her trust in them" to maintain the gov't assistance that has helped her in the past because they have a track record of maintaining/supporting such programs.  Or because the other candidate outright promises to reduce/remove such programs.

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Autolykos replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 12:41 PM

JimmyJazz:
OK.  I kind of wonder what you would tell the other employees, since only one person cannot be manager.

Now you're asking me to talk to more people besides her? Or what?

Otherwise, I don't see your point with this, sorry.

JimmyJazz:
Also, you said that in your opinion working 50 hours a week at fast food is not "working really really hard".  I wonder what you do consider "working really really hard".  Would she be working really really hard if she was a manager for 50 hours a week at a fast food place?

I don't think so. To me, "working really really hard" would be something like digging ditches non-stop for 50+ hours a week.

JimmyJazz:
She probably "puts her trust in them" to maintain the gov't assistance that has helped her in the past because they have a track record of maintaining/supporting such programs.  Or because the other candidate outright promises to reduce/remove such programs.

They do have a track record of that? Are you sure? Is she sure?

It's easy to have such a track record though. Just don't vote in favor of anything that would reduce/remove them.

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Autolykos replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 12:42 PM

By the way, you don't seem to be satisfied with my answers. So was your point in starting this thread really to see what others would say to her? Or are trying to corral us to a predetermined conclusion?

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JimmyJazz replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 12:49 PM

@Autolykos -

 

"Now you're asking me to talk to more people besides her? Or what?  Otherwise, I don't see your point with this, sorry."

Yes, the idea of the thread is that there could be more than one person in society who is in roughly her position.  I wasn't trying to ask about literally the one person in the United States who has trouble making ends meet.  I was using her as a type.  So if your advice to everyone in her position would be to seek managerial work, that seems bound to fail for quite a few (indeed, most) of the people you are advising.  Or put another way, if you are talking to only one such person, the probability of it succeeding for a given individual in her position seems very low. I mean the proportion of fast food workers that become managers is far less than half, is it not?  Maybe more like 1/5th?  So on the 80% chance of the "try to become manager" strategy failing, what advice would you have for her?

BTW, we've really gotten off the topic of how to convince her to become a libertarian.  Would becoming a manager in your fast food job become easier in a libertarian society?

I see that you have offered other advice of digging ditches instead of seeking a fast food manager position.  Presumably she could dig ditches without geting  a government license if the society were more libertarian.

 

"By the way, you don't seem to be satisfied with my answers. So was your point in starting this thread really to see what others would say to her? Or are trying to corral us to a predetermined conclusion?"

I have to be satisfied with your answers or else I am trying to "corral you to a predetermined conclusion"?  Those are the only two options?

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limitgov replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 12:52 PM

She could become an escort and make alot of money.  She could work in a brothel house so it'd be safe and only accept customers she wanted.

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Autolykos replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 12:53 PM

... Are you sure you're not trying to play the "find me a rock" game? Because I'm really starting to feel like you are. I'm not trying to avoid responding to you directly, but before I do, I'd really like you to explain your true intentions with this thread.

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JimmyJazz replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 12:59 PM

"I'm not trying to avoid responding to you directly, but before I do, I'd really like you to explain your true intentions with this thread."

My intention is to see what some of the people here would say to convince a poor black inner-city single mother to become a libertarian, or if they would write her off as not worth trying to convince.  Instead I'm mainly getting replies about how she could better her life, although several people have answered the question.

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Autolykos replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 1:01 PM

In other words, the rocks we're finding aren't the ones you're actually looking for?

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Convince Mitt Romney to become a libertarian.

Point being, some people have an entrenched interest in maintaining the status quo. I think black women are harmed more than they are helped by it, but they won't necessarily be able to live the way they do now in a libertarian society. It may present more opportunities but also more hardships initially. Demonstrating how the government caused the problems from the outset doesn't necessarily mean that this individual would be able to break their addiction/reliance on its "freebies".

There's a variety of arguments you can use but ultimately the one you should resort to I think is how the state adversely impacts her children in spite of its claims to better their situation.

Freedom of markets is positively correlated with the degree of evolution in any society...

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JimmyJazz:

@ Daniel Muffinberg: your argument to her is that in a libertarian society she would be able to sell lemonade in a park or braid people's hair in her apartment (nice racial reference, btw wink) without a government permit?

You made it about race. Not only that, but used a racist stereotype in your hypothetical: "single black mother who lives in an urban center".

EDIT: Why not use the married middle class black urban doctor/lawyer/accountant with two children that donates thousands of dollars to the Democratic Party every year as your hypothetical?

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ultimately the one you should resort to I think is how the state adversely impacts her children in spite of its claims to better their situation.

Yes, not many parents would want their children to live under fascism.

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JimmyJazz:

"I'm not trying to avoid responding to you directly, but before I do, I'd really like you to explain your true intentions with this thread."

My intention is to see what some of the people here would say to convince a poor black inner-city single mother to become a libertarian, or if they would write her off as not worth trying to convince.  Instead I'm mainly getting replies about how she could better her life, although several people have answered the question.

The point of those replies is that we would point out that it is the state that keeps her the socio-economic status in which she is by giving examples.

To paraphrase Marc Faber: We're all doomed, but that doesn't mean that we can't make money in the process.
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Wheylous replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 1:25 PM

You could point out that inflation erodes savings. Then talk about the foreign wars preventing money from being spent at home. Continue into a discussion of the drug war.

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Autolykos replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 1:25 PM

I'm starting to suspect that JimmyJazz's actual point is to demonstrate that such a person is doomed to a lifetime of poverty without substantial government welfare programs.

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JimmyJazz replied on Thu, Nov 15 2012 1:25 PM

Suggestions given so far (to help us all keep track of the discussion):


For why we should write off the possibility of her becoming a libertarian:

-"Why would anyone want to convince her to be libertarian?"
-"How would you convince a neo-nazi to become a libertarian?"
-"We have enough trouble convincing middle class white males to become libertarians, and you want us to convince a poor black woman?"


Of possible ways to convince her to become a libertarian:

-Show her videos of starved and poor people in the Soviet Union and Maoist China
-Point out to her that in a libertarian society she could sell lemonade in a park/braid hair/drive taxi without gov't interference
-Ask her to envision how much wealthier everyone would be if governments didn't steal it away
-Ask her to envision all the increased job opportunities there would be in a truly free market
-Point out that inflation erodes savings


Of things she could do to improve her lot in life:

-don't vote
-change her point of view
-get married / move in with a relative
-become fast food manager
-dig ditches
-become an escort
-work in a brothel house
-sell lemonade in a park
-braid hair


Have I missed anything?

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