Libertarianism

For the serious discussion of weighty matters and worldly issues. No off-topic posts allowed.

Moderators: Azrael, Moderators General, Prelates

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jun 22, 2018 5:24 pm UTC

Since it's been bantered about a bit of late, figured I'd make a thread for it rather than cluttering up elsewhere. What would an actual libertarian government look like? Assuming they, somehow, got elected into national and state offices in the most improbable landslide in history, what might an ideal goal look like?

Judiciary: Largely unchanged. While they believe in a lot of decriminalization, which ought to greatly reduce the burdens on the courts, and significantly enhance speedy trials, effectiveness of public defenders, etc, the court system as such would probably not change a great deal.

Legislative: Perhaps a bit of cost cutting. I, for one, would find it appropriate to change health benefits to the same thing enjoyed by other government workers, rather than giving them a special plan. This is not a drastic change, and would basically amount to the Office of the Attending Physician not being a thing, and killing the "free medical care at capital military installations" option. The same goes for other unusual benefits, such as the weaker insider trader restrictions. I'd also require 20 years of total government service for a pension. Five seems a bit low. Ideally, some sort of alternative voting system gets tried out that's more multi-party friendly.

Executive: Ah, here we have the meat of it. I'm gonna break this out by cabinet position*, but there's a lot of cutting here.
State Dept: Position is a valid US role. Having a lot of ambassador roles that are effectively taxpayer funded favors for politically connected people is less ideal.
Treasury Dept: Valid gov role*. Many of the advisory subagencies could vanish entirely, and we'd be the better for it. Of particular note would be the spinning down of SS/Medicare, with taxpayers having some manner of opt-out option. The transition would need to take care of people who have paid in thus far, because doing otherwise would be unjust, but folks ought to be able to avoid the system altogether.
Defense: Valid gov role. Ought to actually complete it's accounting for once. Libertarians being conservative on foreign wars, the donations to the UN probably ought to be immediately axed.
Justice: One of the few roles in need of expanding, particularly oversight of local law enforcement. However, the war on drugs has got to go. This is often misphrased as "selling heroin to children", which is a historical fact under other governments. More accurately, it would be recognizing that throwing everyone in jail for decades hasn't solved it yet, but has been very costly. This is particularly true for non-violent offenses of minor amounts. Also, asset forfeiture dies in a fire. Qualified immunity gets some hard nerfs.
Interior: Still exists, technically. National parks are alright, but the sheer volume of federal land ownership, particularly in the west, is unnecessary. Start auctioning those lands off unless a good reason for keeping them exists. Incidentally, this ought to provide a fairly decent source of revenue for a bit.
Agriculture: Park service and Forest Service can become one. We don't really need multiple branches focused on preserving forestry. Food stamps? Axed. CSREES is probably expendable. I doubt most Americans know what an extension office is, let alone where theirs is.
Commerce: Commerce is the business of the private sector. Cut the unnecessary bits, and together with labor and a few other trimmings, we can maybe have enough left for one department. But who will build the roads, you ask? The same people as now, mostly. We'll get by without the Travel and Tourism Agency. The Census can stay.
Labor: Largely gone. Unemployment insurance, minimum wage enforcement? Where we're going, we don't need these.
Health and Human Services: Health can stay, somewhat. We're still gonna trim this department, though. Medicaid is the big thing to ramp down here, but we can still axe other stuff. FDA could be a lot smaller and leaner thanks to much stricter anti-fraud regulation.
Housing and Urban Development: This can just go away altogether.
Transportation: There's something like half a dozen agencies that deal with automobile transportation in some regard. Some trimming and compacting is possible. This area's largely FAA though. Could probably privatize air traffic controllers.
Energy: The nuclear functions are fine. Genome research funding is not really an energy-related task.
Education: Mostly responsible for saddling people with endless student loans they cannot escape via bankruptcy. Wrap it up.
Veteran Affairs: A legitimate function. Also a dog's breakfast. Probably better off entirely folding veteran care into regular health care. The specific entitlements may not be identical, but ultimately people needing health care are people needing health care. You don't need entirely unique facilities for treating veterans in most cases.
Homeland Security: Give it the ol' chop. The useful bits it took from elsewhere, like the Secret Service, can be given back. The endless security lines in airports and post 9-11 airline taxes we can do without.
Trade: A small agency, and mostly informational in nature. Trim or chop.
National Intelligence: Alright, we have a defense dept, an intelligence department, AND the CIA at cabinet level. This seems redundant. These are all for defense. Fold them into there.
Budget Office: Yes, we have one of these, with thousands of workers, and yet the budget is still always a mess. With all the rest of the cutting, we really ought to be able to trim this down.
CIA: See above.
EPA: G'bye.
SBA: Really shouldn't be a cabinet level position. Maybe worth ultimately axing, but it's smaller the the executive staff. Honestly, could mostly kill it and lose little of value.
Postal Service: Kill the laws restricting them from competition. As more efficient private industry starts displacing them, shut down unnecessary locations.

Once the spending is low enough, taxes can drop to a nice flat tax at whatever level is possible. Many of these cannot vanish overnight, as folks have budgeted for them their entire lives, and cannot change at the drop of a hat. Still, it is possible to phase them out over time.

*This isn't *exactly* by cabinet position, but it's close.
**There are a few gold-buggers. They are unfortunately usually crazy people, and ought to be ignored.

Tobias
Posts: 44
Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2012 3:01 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tobias » Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:09 pm UTC

Surely it depends on which libertarian you're asking, doesn't it?

Like most of the ones I know are in favour of heavy handed regulation to create government-protected monopolies (like really strong, really absurd copyright laws), would like the country to be ruled by a monarch or dictator (they call them "benevolent" but I have my doubts), would do away with pretty much every government service but contract/crime enforcement and the afore-mentioned government-protected production monopolies and the military (and one even advocates for replacing that with privately owned and operated militias).

A couple even advocate for things like "the government should recognize parents own their children and can do whatever they wish with them".

Others want hyper-localized socialism-adjacent communities where the federal government mostly exists to protect these communities from undue influence or damage by the other communities or outside actors, and to protect the rights of individuals to travel freely between them. (so they'd advocate for military and strong environmental protections, but would largely leave it up to each community to handle how the law works in regards to local issues, policing, corporate regulation, taxes, etc.)

I sort of have a feeling libertarians, on the whole, disagree rather vehemently with libertarians on what their ideal libertarian administration would look like, but few of them advocate for something as similar as you do to what we have now.
Last edited by Tobias on Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:20 pm UTC, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
Pfhorrest
Posts: 5009
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:11 am UTC
Contact:

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:13 pm UTC

That's not even to bring up the implied recent-American conception of "libertarian" being used here, whereby "libertarian socialist" sounds like a contradiction in terms, while in most of the rest of the world and for most of history, a "libertarian" was implicitly a kind of socialist, namely an anarcho-socialist.
Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
"I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like trolls, flames, or spam."
The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:32 pm UTC

Tobias wrote:Surely it depends on which libertarian you're asking, doesn't it?


It certainly does, and there is widespread disagreement on most things even among libertarians. A core belief in individuality does mean you get diversity.

Like most of the ones I know are in favour of heavy handed regulation to create government-protected monopolies (like really strong, really absurd copyright laws), would like the country to be ruled by a monarch or dictator (they call them "benevolent" but I have my doubts), would do away with pretty much every government service but contract/crime enforcement and the afore-mentioned government-protected production monopolies and the military (and one even advocates for replacing that with privately owned and operated militias).

A couple even advocate for things like "the government should recognize parents own their children and can do whatever they wish with them".


I dare say that if they want government-protected monopolies and a dictatorship, they are not libertarians at all. That's something of a contradiction in terms. The axing government services and valuation of contract law is much more familiar, but the rest sounds ludicrous.

Others want hyper-localized socialism-adjacent communities where the federal government mostly exists to protect these communities from undue influence or damage by the other communities or outside actors, and to protect the rights of individuals to travel freely between them. (so they'd advocate for military and strong environmental protections, but would largely leave it up to each community to handle how the law works in regards to local issues, policing, corporate regulation, taxes, etc.)


*shrug* I am not particularly socialist at all. That said, if you have a fairly light central government with a lot of liberty, and good contract law, then a batch of people who decided to try out a different economic model would be welcome to do so. They simply would not be permitted to coerce others into doing so.

I sort of have a feeling libertarians, on the whole, disagree rather vehemently with libertarians on what their ideal libertarian administration would look like, but few of them advocate for something as similar as you do to what we have now.


It is sort of similar in some respects, but it is still a very large change from the status quo. Many of these individual changes(ending social security, ending the war on drugs) are huge all by themselves.

This is something of a cross section of the more popularly agree on ideas. You can definitely find more radical stuff out there, all the way out to full on anarchy, but generally libertarians fall somewhere short of anarchy(or they'd be anarchists), but beyond the traditional viewpoints on the way towards that.

Pfhorrest wrote:That's not even to bring up the implied recent-American conception of "libertarian" being used here, whereby "libertarian socialist" sounds like a contradiction in terms, while in most of the rest of the world and for most of history, a "libertarian" was implicitly a kind of socialist, namely an anarcho-socialist.


It is fair to note that the above summary is largely a US-centric viewpoint. We used to have libertarian socialists too, once upon a time, but that movement has mostly died, and only a handful remain. In the US, it's highly defined by individuality, minimal government, and low intrusiveness of government into daily life.

User avatar
Thesh
Made to Fuck Dinosaurs
Posts: 6333
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:55 am UTC
Location: Colorado

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:34 pm UTC

The people who were called libertarian socialists are now called anarchists, and their numbers are growing.
Summum ius, summa iniuria.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:51 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:The people who were called libertarian socialists are now called anarchists, and their numbers are growing.


Numbers of libertarians are generally growing as well. It's possible that if the main two parties continue in lockstep off into madness, we might see a recreation of an earlier party swap. Sure, sure, the current voting system heavily favors a two party system, so naturally, if a new party arises, an existing party must fall, but perhaps there would be a window shortly after their rise to power during which this might be changed.

Hard to do, though. There's enough inertia behind the big guys that they're hard to oust.

Tobias
Posts: 44
Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2012 3:01 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tobias » Fri Jun 22, 2018 6:54 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:I dare say that if they want government-protected monopolies and a dictatorship, they are not libertarians at all. That's something of a contradiction in terms. The axing government services and valuation of contract law is much more familiar, but the rest sounds ludicrous.


I'd say both of those are more common than not. Libertarians will often bend over backwards to defend how government enforced monopolies and monarchies are totally libertarian but they never do a particularly good job of it. Most of the big libertarian thought-leaders fall into this group.

Hoppe and Rothbard both advocated for Monarchy over Democracy, if I remember my readings correctly. Hayek also supports mandatory military conscription.

Mises and Rothbard argue that parents should have no legal obligation to feed, clothe, or educate their children, and that neglecting a child until it dies is appropriate and moral. (Perhaps you do too - it's always hard to tell what a libertarians stance on neglecting children is until you ask them, it seems pretty decoupled from almost anything else... but about half of the ones I've met see it as ok)

I'm also pretty sure I've seen works by Mises that advocate for explicit forced child labour and worse, but finding his works after-the-fact is difficult because of the Mises institution resulting in every possible reference to Mises on google search being one of their mises-unrelated articles.

Rothbard and Spooner were big advocates for government enforced monopolies in various waysl, and that it was right for the government to use force to coerce others into recognizing their exclusive rights to participate in said industry. Rothbard's support was contract based, with the express claim that you could force contracts on to others without their having agreed to them. Spooner didn't bother with that, instead claiming that production monopolies were natural right and it was the governments duty to recognize and protect those who got there first from any challengers. Other libertarians like Tucker, of course, strongly opposed that idea, but Rothbard and Spooner are much more popular for modern American libertarians.

Others like Rand took the approach that government-enforced monopolies are okay, but only for limited periods of time. Which is similar to the modern approach most liberals take, but seems even less defensible in terms of libertarian philosophy than either the maximalists or minimalists. Mises approached the concept from a purely utilitarian perspective, with no strong philosophical basis, advocating that a great many heavy handed government policies are defensive whenever it would otherwise be "very probable that technological progress would be seriously retarded" - his defense of and opposition to monopolies was based almost solely on whether supported or diminished the ability of society and technology to advance more quickly.

I think you'd be hard pressed to say none of these people are libertarians.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:06 pm UTC

Tobias wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:I dare say that if they want government-protected monopolies and a dictatorship, they are not libertarians at all. That's something of a contradiction in terms. The axing government services and valuation of contract law is much more familiar, but the rest sounds ludicrous.


I'd say both of those are more common than not. Libertarians will often bend over backwards to defend how government enforced monopolies and monarchies are totally libertarian but they never do a particularly good job of it. Most of the big libertarian thought-leaders fall into this group.


Perhaps historically, to some degree? Modern libertarianism takes from a number of sources, and may not entirely agree with all of them.

Hoppe and Rothbard both advocated for Monarchy over Democracy, if I remember my readings correctly. Hayek also supports mandatory military conscription.


Hoppe is cynical about democracy, true. Mandatory conscription comes up a lot more in older works, when it was considered a necessary part of fairness. It *is* fair, to a degree, and it was probably more important in the past, when enlisting was very much a working class option, and officers were strongly associated with wealth and nobility. Some of that still remains, but it's fading. More and more folks can get a degree these days. So, I think it's alright to discard conscription as unnecessary in the modern day.

Mises and Rothbard argue that parents should have no legal obligation to feed, clothe, or educate their children, and that neglecting a child until it dies is appropriate and moral.


I'm curious as to quotes for those two. I have not seen intentionally starving children advocated as desirable.

I'm also pretty sure I've seen works by Mises that advocate for explicit forced child labour and worse, but finding his works after-the-fact is difficult because of the Mises institution resulting in every possible reference to Mises on google search being one of their mises-unrelated articles.


I don't recall forced child labor as a thing. I do recall folks decrying anti-child labor regulation as unnecessary/big government meddling, though. Historically, I observe that governments mostly banned it after it become uneconomical, not before. Exemptions still exist for some industries, which seem a bit odd, if you're looking at it from a moral point of view. Makes perfect sense if you look at it as governments favoring pet industries at the time, though. On that basis, I think it's fair to object to such laws.

Rothbard and Spooner were big advocates for government enforced monopolies in various waysl, and that it was right for the government to use force to coerce others into recognizing their exclusive rights to participate in said industry. Rothbard's support was contract based, with the express claim that you could force contracts on to others without their having agreed to them. Spooner didn't bother with that, instead claiming that production monopolies were natural right and it was the governments duty to recognize and protect those who got there first from any challengers. Other libertarians like Tucker, of course, strongly opposed that idea, but Rothbard and Spooner are much more popular for modern American libertarians.


Most commonly libertarians advocate that natural monopolies are not a thing that happens, but rather that a monopoly requires government support to exist. Shrink the state, shrink it's power to monopolize, and you solve the problem.

Spooner spoke out heavily against government monopolies, claiming that they resulted in laziness and inefficiency. Are you sure you're not misunderstanding here? Satire and such is not uncommon.

Others like Rand took the approach that government-enforced monopolies are okay, but only for limited periods of time. Which is similar to the modern approach most liberals take, but seems even less defensible in terms of libertarian philosophy than either the maximalists or minimalists.


Rand's policy on monopolies was essentially identical to that listed shortly above.

"It is a free market which makes monopolies impossible", after all.

Tobias
Posts: 44
Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2012 3:01 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tobias » Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:12 pm UTC

Spooner did in fact argue strongly against monopolies!

Except for when he sincerely did the exact opposite and argued that if you manage to create a new market the government should forceably keep any competitors out.

That's because his arguments weren't really against monopolies but, as you mentioned, "laziness and inefficiency". He supported monopolies that he believed increased efficiency or motivated action. He's not ideologically opposed to the idea of government enforced monopolies, only to a lazy and inefficient workforce.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:13 pm UTC

I am not familiar with the latter argument, and have not heard it repeated in libertarian circles. From where does it originate?

Tobias
Posts: 44
Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2012 3:01 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tobias » Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:19 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Most commonly libertarians advocate that natural monopolies are not a thing that happens, but rather that a monopoly requires government support to exist. Shrink the state, shrink it's power to monopolize, and you solve the problem.

Yes, they do generally believe natural monopolies are not a thing that happens (which is a frustrating denial of reality, but whatever).

This belief is explicitly why they support government-granted and enforced monopolies in some areas like copyright protection, where they think competition among producers should not be allowed. They think that by right a monopoly should exist, but don't believe it can happen naturally and thus the government must create it.

Intellectual Property is the most popular topic where you hear libertarians suddenly become pro-government-enforced monopoly (hardly the only one, but the one they tend to be most blatant and vocal about). In fact, I wouldn't be surprised that now that I've mentioned the words, you don't suddenly start defending the governments right to send its soldiers into my home and shut down my ability to continue producing a product which people desire to pay me for because you believe that one person or group should hold a monopoly on its production. I do wonder which rationalization you'll use when that happens, though.

It's always fun to see the contortions, as a libertarian myself, that my brethren make to defend their preferred forms of government-enforced tyranny. ;)

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:28 pm UTC

Tobias wrote:This belief is explicitly why they support government-granted and enforced monopolies in some areas like copyright protection, where they think competition among producers should not be allowed. They think that by right a monopoly should exist, but don't believe it can happen naturally and thus the government must create it.


Ah, there is significant disagreement over intellectual property, yes.

I do agree that, at least for IP, natural monopolies will probably not crop up. If anyone could make a Micky Mouse video, then, while Disney might enjoy advantages as the "official" one, others would probably be able to make some money off it. We see this nowadays with Lovecraftian books. Sure, sure, the IP is used everywhere, on literally everything, but the original author's books are not forgotten.

I am not so intently against IP in principle as some libertarians are, but I do think we stand to lower some of the terms by a good deal, and see how things go. Mickey Mouse can be unprotected now, that's just fine. twerk it lower until we start seeing negative effects showing up.

User avatar
LaserGuy
Posts: 4558
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 5:33 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby LaserGuy » Fri Jun 22, 2018 10:38 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:EPA: G'bye.


This has never made sense to me. Environment is one of the things that the private sector is utter shit at taking care of on its own, and is sufficiently cross-jurisdictional that federal government is the only place where it can be handled in an appropriate manner. What's the alternative here?

Once the spending is low enough, taxes can drop to a nice flat tax at whatever level is possible. Many of these cannot vanish overnight, as folks have budgeted for them their entire lives, and cannot change at the drop of a hat. Still, it is possible to phase them out over time.


Are you planning on including a basic personal income in this? Otherwise a lot of people are going to be going broke, starving, or dying due to massive increases in health costs combined with reduction in program spending and a big tax increase on the poorest people in the country.

User avatar
eran_rathan
Mostly Wrong
Posts: 1822
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 2:36 pm UTC
Location: in your ceiling, judging you

Re: Libertarianism

Postby eran_rathan » Sat Jun 23, 2018 3:13 am UTC

Or, to rephrase, as long as you are a fairly well-off white middle class suburbanite, you're fine. Everyone else can go get fucked.
"Does this smell like chloroform to you?"
"Google tells me you are not unique. You are, however, wrong."
nɒʜƚɒɿ_nɒɿɘ

User avatar
CorruptUser
Posts: 10273
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:12 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Jun 23, 2018 3:51 pm UTC

eran_rathan wrote:Or, to rephrase, as long as you are a fairly well-off white middle class suburbanite, you're fine. Everyone else can go get fucked.


I'd say it's more upper-middle class and above, and would include Indian and East Asian. Of both genders, nonbinary excluded.

User avatar
Soupspoon
You have done something you shouldn't. Or are about to.
Posts: 3740
Joined: Thu Jan 28, 2016 7:00 pm UTC
Location: 53-1

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Soupspoon » Sun Jun 24, 2018 2:44 pm UTC

Thesh wrote:The people who were called libertarian socialists are now called anarchists, and their numbers are growing.

We must talk to their leaders at once!

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jun 25, 2018 2:45 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:EPA: G'bye.


This has never made sense to me. Environment is one of the things that the private sector is utter shit at taking care of on its own, and is sufficiently cross-jurisdictional that federal government is the only place where it can be handled in an appropriate manner. What's the alternative here?


Well, you've got the EPA, forest service, and park service, all of which are, broadly, interested in the environment. Sure, they have different focuses at present, but they largely do similar things. Consolidation of similar functions into a single agency avoids redundancy, and reduces bureaucracy.

The EPA generally gets selected as one of the ones to be removed because it has a much higher proportion of controversial actions. Generally speaking, people don't really hate the Forest Service. The EPA has a lot of mandates, but ends up being...not great at enforcement. Most of it's programs are literally just a logo that goes on consumer products if it meets x standard, or some other form of standard setting. For instance, while they handle fuel efficiency standards for cars, they don't actually test most of them, instead taking the manufacturer at their word for the vast majority of new models. They've also had fiscal mismanagement scandals, so all in all, they're definitely the easiest drop of the environmentally focused agencies.

The same methodology arises elsewhere. The DoD not being able to audit their books is a huge problem that neither of the two main parties seems all that bothered by. Sure, sure, you can't actually get rid of the DoD, it's essential, but some consequences need to exist.

Once the spending is low enough, taxes can drop to a nice flat tax at whatever level is possible. Many of these cannot vanish overnight, as folks have budgeted for them their entire lives, and cannot change at the drop of a hat. Still, it is possible to phase them out over time.


Are you planning on including a basic personal income in this? Otherwise a lot of people are going to be going broke, starving, or dying due to massive increases in health costs combined with reduction in program spending and a big tax increase on the poorest people in the country.


I wouldn't, no. Others may feel differently, but libertarian ideology usually revolves around extremely low taxes. Perhaps the final tax plan would only apply the flat tax upon money above some lower bar. However, generally, taxation would get a lot smaller and a lot simpler. Many libertarians would like to ditch income tax altogether, and while that does sound nice, right now it still makes up a decent proportion of receipts, so it might be difficult to get there.

So, there shouldn't be much of a tax hike, but it definitely is true that benefits would be reduced for the future. The goal is to transition those roles to the private sector, for the most part. Non-libertarians tend to be skeptical of this part, but the goal is generally to reduce costs across the board through this privatization, which'd make a huge difference for almost everyone. Certain aspects of society(health care, college loans), are extremely high priced to consumers.

As an example, consider antibiotics. You can buy them incredibly inexpensively for animals, usually without any sort of prescription requirement. Hell, some farms feed low doses to animals on the regular all the time. For humans, it requires a prescription, which tends to require a doctor visit, and total cost of medicine plus visits ends up being pretty significant for low income folks. Why the double standard? Sure, sure, antibiotic misuse/resistance is a thing, but isn't it also a thing for animals?

User avatar
ucim
Posts: 6595
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2012 3:23 pm UTC
Location: The One True Thread

Re: Libertarianism

Postby ucim » Mon Jun 25, 2018 3:03 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Well, you've got the EPA, forest service, and park service, all of which are, broadly, interested in the environment. Sure, they have different focuses at present, but they largely do similar things. Consolidation of similar functions into a single agency avoids redundancy, and reduces bureaucracy.
And once they are all together, they can be tarred with the same brush, and eliminated completely in one move, using people's dislike for one of them to kill all three.

Tyndmyr wrote:As an example, consider antibiotics. You can buy them incredibly inexpensively for animals, [...] Why the double standard?
Snake oil for starters. And no, animals don't watch TV and decide to "ask their doctor" about penis enlargements.

We talk about externalities all the time - the harm that a business or individual does in pursuit of their own goals; how do libertarians ensure that such costs are indeed borne by the instigator? Or is a polluted environment just fine with them?

And on the other side, what about good externalities? Vaccination and education for example. It benefits me that you are educated. Shouldn't I help pay for that? Isn't this a defensible role of government?

Jose
Order of the Sillies, Honoris Causam - bestowed by charlie_grumbles on NP 859 * OTTscar winner: Wordsmith - bestowed by yappobiscuts and the OTT on NP 1832 * Ecclesiastical Calendar of the Order of the Holy Contradiction * Please help addams if you can. She needs all of us.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jun 25, 2018 3:18 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Well, you've got the EPA, forest service, and park service, all of which are, broadly, interested in the environment. Sure, they have different focuses at present, but they largely do similar things. Consolidation of similar functions into a single agency avoids redundancy, and reduces bureaucracy.
And once they are all together, they can be tarred with the same brush, and eliminated completely in one move, using people's dislike for one of them to kill all three.


Why? Why would we need some conspiracy to kill the Forest Service? I mean, maybe you can argue that it ought to be combined with the Dept of the Interior, given their roles, but some federal land is going to exist under any government, and it needs to be managed by someone.

We can just cut down the number of agencies administering it, that's all.

Tyndmyr wrote:As an example, consider antibiotics. You can buy them incredibly inexpensively for animals, [...] Why the double standard?
Snake oil for starters. And no, animals don't watch TV and decide to "ask their doctor" about penis enlargements.

We talk about externalities all the time - the harm that a business or individual does in pursuit of their own goals; how do libertarians ensure that such costs are indeed borne by the instigator? Or is a polluted environment just fine with them?

And on the other side, what about good externalities? Vaccination and education for example. It benefits me that you are educated. Shouldn't I help pay for that? Isn't this a defensible role of government?

Jose


Honestly, the "ask your doctor" campaigns are often incredibly stupid. We have them going around my area for Opiate addiction now. All of which involve some patient incredulously telling their doctor that these medications have risk, and the doctor looking surprised and changing tack. Jesus, every doctor already knows that. And if you want to educate doctors about something, you can do so in far more efficient ways than running a PR campaign for the general public. Anyways, people can, right now, sell snake oil. They do basically all the time. The entire "alternative medicine" movement is garbage, and very little is done to stop it.

I'd actually say that primary education is okay. This is probably not a general libertarian viewpoint, but from a competitive viewpoint, I believe it to be advantageous for individuals to enter adulthood on at least a semi-equal basis. So, I'd be more open to health care and education for minors than for adults. If you're into meritocracy, you get more potential peak-talent individuals if you get to select evenly from the entire pool. That said, education does not have to be public, and our public schools, at present, are not even vaguely close to equal in quality. Baltimore schools often lack heating or air conditioning, and rodents are freaking everywhere. So, the current system still does need to change if you value education.

Libertarians largely attempt to mitigate externalities by limiting the role of government, since that's an extremely common avenue for how businesses and others offload costs. It's not perfect, and it doesn't capture every externality, but really, nothing does. However, if you minimize the number you need to handle through other means, then it becomes harder to hide them. The current government is so complex that it is difficult to list out every entity who benefits in this fashion, and those who go unnoticed are never addressed. Hell, even many of those who are noticed manage to keep subsidies and such because awareness is split a bunch of ways, and lobbying can counter some public influence.

User avatar
ucim
Posts: 6595
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2012 3:23 pm UTC
Location: The One True Thread

Re: Libertarianism

Postby ucim » Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:11 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Why would we need some conspiracy to kill the Forest Service?
For the same reason we need anything Trump. (And while this isn't the Trump thread, that's the trigger for this particular merger). I don't know whether ecology would be more vulnerable if the services were united or separate, but in this atmosphere I've learned to value the difficulty involved in trimming "unneeded" governmental agencies, as it has the consequence of making the resulting policies more influenced by the Supreme Leader. Maybe I'm just getting too jumpy, but turmoil rarely plays to the benefit of the citizens.

Tyndmyr wrote:Honestly, the "ask your doctor" campaigns are often incredibly stupid. [...] And if you want to educate doctors about something...
These are not about educating the doctor (or even the patient). They are about selling whatever it is that you're supposed to "ask your doctor" about. And the phrase derives from the "prohibition" against direct advertising of prescription drugs, while permitting "advisory education" spots. Kind of like calling the dosage of vitamins a "serving size". And it's one thing to hawk homeopathic remedies, it's quite another to hawk opioids. Yes, doctors do know things the general public doesn't (and shouldn't have to).

Tyndmyr wrote:Libertarians largely attempt to mitigate externalities by limiting the role of government...
...which in my view is shortsighted and counter-productive, for reasons I gave earlier. Yes, government is imperfect; that doesn't mean less government is (always) better. In many cases government does act to mitigate externalities; that's what it's there for. A truly libertarian society would be full of externalities. What's going to stop the factory from dumping into the river? They made a contract with this guy on the shore after the other guy further down wouldn't make a deal.

Jose
Order of the Sillies, Honoris Causam - bestowed by charlie_grumbles on NP 859 * OTTscar winner: Wordsmith - bestowed by yappobiscuts and the OTT on NP 1832 * Ecclesiastical Calendar of the Order of the Holy Contradiction * Please help addams if you can. She needs all of us.

User avatar
Thesh
Made to Fuck Dinosaurs
Posts: 6333
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:55 am UTC
Location: Colorado

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:16 pm UTC

You have to understand what libertarianism is about:

1) People are purely selfish and incapable of working together for a common good
2) There is a perfect set of rules that will ensure this selfishness always works towards the common good, by giving control of the wealth to the best people
3) Any democratic authority that gets in the way of these best people will necessarily work against the common good, because most people are too stupid and short-sighted to make good decisions
Summum ius, summa iniuria.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:45 pm UTC

Nah. Charity is an accepted thing, and nobody thinks that charity is only selfishness.

It is important to note that while libertarianism accepts that people have a range of skills, there's no good way to have people select the "best" people. Any time it's been tried, there's been rather a lot of self serving actions and corruption. It is, at most, getting out of the way of people who are doing good. Consider, for instance, soup kitchens that have been shut down for improper permitting. By libertarian standards, that's kind of awful.

User avatar
Zohar
COMMANDER PORN
Posts: 8293
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:45 pm UTC
Location: Denver

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Zohar » Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:04 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Nah. Charity is an accepted thing, and nobody thinks that charity is only selfishness.

Of course it is. Charity is entirely motivated by people wanting to feel better with themselves and/or promoting their ideas of what they think is better for everyone else. You think I volunteered for so long (I need to get back to it...) just because it was a nice thing to do? No, I volunteered because it was fun, and healthy for me, and generally improved me life.
Mighty Jalapeno: "See, Zohar agrees, and he's nice to people."
SecondTalon: "Still better looking than Jesus."

Not how I say my name

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:08 pm UTC

Not only selfishness.

People have some degree of empathy, and sometimes do charitable action for no, or fairly little personal gain. Now, sure, the trait of empathy might be evolved because it's advantageous for the individual, and selfishness is definitely one factor in why people do things, but I don't think it explains absolutely everything.

That said, I suppose my above viewpoint matters little. It's adequate that we agree that selfishness exists, and is pretty common. That's enough to make it a useful thing to leverage.

User avatar
ucim
Posts: 6595
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2012 3:23 pm UTC
Location: The One True Thread

Re: Libertarianism

Postby ucim » Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:12 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:Charity is entirely motivated by people wanting to feel better with themselves
Sounds suspiciously like no true Scotsman. It redefines "selfishness" to be a useless concept. But if selfishness includes feeling good when helping others, then selfishness is a Good trait.

Jose
Order of the Sillies, Honoris Causam - bestowed by charlie_grumbles on NP 859 * OTTscar winner: Wordsmith - bestowed by yappobiscuts and the OTT on NP 1832 * Ecclesiastical Calendar of the Order of the Holy Contradiction * Please help addams if you can. She needs all of us.

User avatar
Zohar
COMMANDER PORN
Posts: 8293
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:45 pm UTC
Location: Denver

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Zohar » Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:14 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Zohar wrote:Charity is entirely motivated by people wanting to feel better with themselves
Sounds suspiciously like no true Scotsman. It redefines "selfishness" to be a useless concept. But if selfishness includes feeling good when helping others, then selfishness is a Good trait.

Selfishness is not a good or bad trait - it's a fact of how humans operate. The only relevant morality is how your selfishness is exhibited.
Mighty Jalapeno: "See, Zohar agrees, and he's nice to people."
SecondTalon: "Still better looking than Jesus."

Not how I say my name

User avatar
Thesh
Made to Fuck Dinosaurs
Posts: 6333
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:55 am UTC
Location: Colorado

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Thesh » Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:21 pm UTC

Just because altruism makes you feel good, doesn't mean it's a selfish act. People are not rational, so we don't actually weigh the selfishness, and we are just as capable of acting against our rational interests.

Also, let's distinguish self-interest from selfish. The former is what you are talking about, the latter is about acting without consideration for others.
Summum ius, summa iniuria.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:34 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:
ucim wrote:
Zohar wrote:Charity is entirely motivated by people wanting to feel better with themselves
Sounds suspiciously like no true Scotsman. It redefines "selfishness" to be a useless concept. But if selfishness includes feeling good when helping others, then selfishness is a Good trait.

Selfishness is not a good or bad trait - it's a fact of how humans operate. The only relevant morality is how your selfishness is exhibited.


If you take a fairly broad interpretation that encompasses all of human morality, perhaps.

But in practice, I notice that the people who others label selfish are folks like that Skrelli chap, who very overtly put their own well being ahead of others, and seem to take pleasure in doing so.

I think using the same label to describe feeling good about doing volunteer work, because you enjoy seeing the impact you have, isn't accurate.

Yes, in both circumstances, the actor might be benefiting in some way, but it's not very similar in practice. I do agree that everyone has at least some self-interest, though, and that libertarianism is largely about finding ways to leverage that.

User avatar
Zohar
COMMANDER PORN
Posts: 8293
Joined: Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:45 pm UTC
Location: Denver

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Zohar » Mon Jun 25, 2018 6:55 pm UTC

I think Thesh's distinction of self-interest and selfishness is a good one, and I'll use it in the future for these sorts of discussions.
Mighty Jalapeno: "See, Zohar agrees, and he's nice to people."
SecondTalon: "Still better looking than Jesus."

Not how I say my name

User avatar
Ranbot
Posts: 220
Joined: Tue Apr 25, 2017 7:39 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Ranbot » Mon Jun 25, 2018 7:38 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:EPA: G'bye.


This has never made sense to me. Environment is one of the things that the private sector is utter shit at taking care of on its own, and is sufficiently cross-jurisdictional that federal government is the only place where it can be handled in an appropriate manner. What's the alternative here?


Well, you've got the EPA, forest service, and park service, all of which are, broadly, interested in the environment. Sure, they have different focuses at present, but they largely do similar things. Consolidation of similar functions into a single agency avoids redundancy, and reduces bureaucracy.

The EPA generally gets selected as one of the ones to be removed because it has a much higher proportion of controversial actions. Generally speaking, people don't really hate the Forest Service. The EPA has a lot of mandates, but ends up being...not great at enforcement. Most of it's programs are literally just a logo that goes on consumer products if it meets x standard, or some other form of standard setting. For instance, while they handle fuel efficiency standards for cars, they don't actually test most of them, instead taking the manufacturer at their word for the vast majority of new models. They've also had fiscal mismanagement scandals, so all in all, they're definitely the easiest drop of the environmentally focused agencies.

My career is tangentially related to the EPA. If that's your description of the EPA, then you don't know what they do, but you're not that different from most people in the US (left- or right-leaning). The EPA is more similar to NSA, DoD, or NASA in that their most important work is high level science, which they publish to help states with the actual regulation. The EPA also cleans-up, albeit slowly, the most contaminated sites in the nation that pose significant risk to surrounding populations, but are orphans of our industrial past and bankruptcies that no one but the EPA will risk touching. (CERCLA-NPL, aka Superfund). At any rate the average person doesn't understand and/or is bored by science, therefore when the media reports on the the EPA, or environmental issues generally, they ignore or butcher the science and report on politics and controversy instead. The end result is the general population has only a superficial understanding of the EPA and responds to it according to their ideology.
Spoiler:
...no different than how the public responds to most complicated issues, though. :roll:


And to the larger point of the discussion libertarianism is really poorly equipped to address issues with widespread social or physical risk, of which there are a great many in our very inter-connected and increasingly technological world. You don't have to think too hard to come up with many scenarios where a single person or small group of people can do massive damage others, that libertarianism glosses over with ideology. Libertarianism has some neat concepts, but it becomes completely unstable when taken to the extreme; just like extreme socialism or extreme laissez-faire capitalism. That said I'm in favor of voting more libertarian candidates into office, because they are balanced by the existing political candidates/opinions. I believe balancing various political ideologies brings about the most good for everyone.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jun 25, 2018 7:56 pm UTC

Ranbot wrote:My career is tangentially related to the EPA. If that's your description of the EPA, then you don't know what they do, but you're not that different from most people in the US (left- or right-leaning). The EPA is more similar to NSA, DoD, or NASA in that their most important work is high level science, which they publish to help states with the actual regulation. The EPA also cleans-up, albeit slowly, the most contaminated sites in the nation that pose significant risk to surrounding populations, but are orphans of our industrial past and bankruptcies that no one but the EPA will risk touching. (CERCLA-NPL, aka Superfund). At any rate the average person doesn't understand and/or is bored by science, therefore when the media reports on the the EPA, or environmental issues generally, they ignore or butcher the science and report on politics and controversy instead. The end result is the general population has only a superficial understanding of the EPA and responds to it according to their ideology.
Spoiler:
...no different than how the public responds to most complicated issues, though. :roll:


If you were going to consolidate down the most agency's interested in managing our natural environment and related concerns, how would you prefer it done?

I touched on Superfund, briefly. That'd be the part with the fiscal management scandals, and thus, becomes part of the "not great with enforcement".

The same is true of the mine they bungled and blew open recently, polluting the water supply they're supposed to protect. Yeah, the media butchers reporting of literally everything technical, but that's not sufficient to explain the EPA's PR problem.

And to the larger point of the discussion libertarianism is really poorly equipped to address issues with widespread social or physical risk, of which there are a great many in our very inter-connected and increasingly technological world. You don't have to think too hard to come up with many scenarios where a single person or small group of people can do massive damage others, that libertarianism glosses over with ideology. Libertarianism has some neat concepts, but it becomes completely unstable when taken to the extreme; just like extreme socialism or extreme laissez-faire capitalism. That said I'm in favor of voting more libertarian candidates into office, because they are balanced by the existing political candidates/opinions. I believe balancing various political ideologies brings about the most good for everyone.


I can come up with any number of such scenarios, sure. The government figures into a great many of them, as the government largely has the greatest potential to affect many people at once. They're not the only ones, but I dare say that bad governments have a pretty substantial body count, and even the "good" ones have some messy bits of past history. If we're looking at this from a risk management perspective, I think libertarianism treats this risk reasonably.

I do agree that, in an ideal situation, we'd have a number of politicians, representing the best of each ideology, and that this'd probably be among the healthiest ways of running a government. Hopefully, truly bad ideas would get pruned out pretty hard, and the reasonable ones would strike some kind of balance.

dg61
Posts: 282
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 8:30 am UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby dg61 » Mon Jun 25, 2018 8:20 pm UTC

I feel like the problems with libertarianism have been discussed in this thread _ad nauseam_. With that in mind, maybe we can think in terms of big L and small l libertarianism. Big L would be the strong form of libertarianism, that we should cut government to the bare minimum, while small l libertarianism would be a softer approach of "we should avoid government activity in x area unless it is necessary to address a specific problem not really easily addressable otherwise". Enforcement of contracts is an obvious one, as are e.g. issues of monopoly and specific public detriments that cannot be handled by private entities(regulating food safety and medicine labeling-the food and drug acts exist for a reason), as well as certain public services possibly where consolidation has real benefits.

dg61
Posts: 282
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 8:30 am UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby dg61 » Mon Jun 25, 2018 8:23 pm UTC

Also to add: I think a lot of the appeal of libertarianism is much like communism, anarchism, reactionary ideologies, etc it is clear and specific philosophically and offers a sort of grand design, even if in practice it leaves much to be desired.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jun 25, 2018 8:26 pm UTC

That's fair. Many ideologies sound nice until you have to deal with messy problems putting them into practice.

In part, that's what I was hoping to address with a proposed "this might be what a libertarian government ought to look like".

dg61
Posts: 282
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 8:30 am UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby dg61 » Mon Jun 25, 2018 8:44 pm UTC

Hm. I think you could look at the gilded age US for a failed libertarian government(failed in the sense that a more active and interventionist government became necessary to all obviously), and for a successful one...Switzerland maybe, but that's more devolved. Or to be amusingly snarky, the Catalan or Ukrainian anarchists or the YPG. Part of the problem in the US is that libertarian seems to be conflated with both reducing the scope of federal power(i.e. more power should go to state and local governments) and anti-regulatory thought. It should be obvious that local government or even state government is hardly immune to overreach and tyranny, as a quick perusal of various public morality bills put forward in Republican states or the long time it took to abolish the various state-level established religions in the early US".

User avatar
LaserGuy
Posts: 4558
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 5:33 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:03 pm UTC

Libertarianism would probably have a better chance of working if you removed limited liability from corporations... put the personal assets of all of the investors on the line so that the investors have an incentive to make sure that the company is actually behaving responsibly, and you have some way to cover the costs if the company causes damage that exceeds its ability to pay.

dg61
Posts: 282
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 8:30 am UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby dg61 » Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:06 pm UTC

Right, but that of course winds up causing economic problems by restricting economic growth, etc-which may well be fine for people ideologically but removes quite one argument for libertarianism.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:12 pm UTC

dg61 wrote: Part of the problem in the US is that libertarian seems to be conflated with both reducing the scope of federal power(i.e. more power should go to state and local governments) and anti-regulatory thought. It should be obvious that local government or even state government is hardly immune to overreach and tyranny, as a quick perusal of various public morality bills put forward in Republican states or the long time it took to abolish the various state-level established religions in the early US".


I do agree that those two are conflated, and really shouldn't be. I'm not sold on the idea of state and local governments as inherently good, or even inherently better than the fed. Sometimes they do great. Sometimes they don't. More localized does give your vote somewhat more weight, I suppose, but in either case, it's one voice against many, and there is little guarantee that your slight increase in say will matter in practice.

I favor the lighter government overall. Moving the power from the fed to the people can be beneficial in a way that shuffling it around to another governmental entity is not.

User avatar
LaserGuy
Posts: 4558
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 5:33 pm UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Jun 25, 2018 11:05 pm UTC

dg61 wrote:Right, but that of course winds up causing economic problems by restricting economic growth, etc-which may well be fine for people ideologically but removes quite one argument for libertarianism.


Corporations are created by government, and the fact that they are limited in liability is because governments have made them that way. If you want to remove government interference from markets (a core principle of libertarianism), then eliminating the concept of a corporation as a special entity is a perfectly valid approach.

dg61
Posts: 282
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 8:30 am UTC

Re: Libertarianism

Postby dg61 » Tue Jun 26, 2018 4:03 pm UTC

Right, but at that point given the usually free-market and capitalist arguments for libertarianism qua libertarianism, we might as well just go anarchist. Which is very different philosophically.


Return to “Serious Business”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 12 guests