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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 05/12/2009 :  12:14:40  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The Other ‘L' Word: Why I am a Libertarian By Michael Shermer, May 12 2009

From blog:
Okay, now that I have your attention, let me address the constructive comments posted in response to last week's blog post on how I became a libertarian, and this week explain why. But first, what is a libertarian? I hate labels, and as you can see from the comments people make certain assumptions based on the label instead of the person and particular beliefs. Nevertheless, labels are cognitive shortcuts, so the shortest thumbnail is this: a libertarian is socially liberal and fiscally conservative. It's an alternative to the standard left-right linear spectrum, and it allows one to nuance positions on different issues. For example, I am pro-choice, pro gay marriage, and pro separation of church and state, which makes me a card-carrying liberal, right? Well, I am also in favor of lower taxes, cutting welfare programs, privatizing social security, and replacing the income tax with either a flat tax or abolishing it altogether and replacing it with a national income tax, which makes me a card-carrying conservative, right? So what am I?

(Parenthetically, I find it troubling that most atheists, agnostics, skeptics, free thinkers, humanists and secular humanists are liberal. The reason I find this troubling is not because I am not a liberal (although as noted above, I agree with liberals on many issues), but because most people think that the skeptical/humanist movement is (or should be) politically neutral. If it were, there would be roughly a 50/50 split of liberals and conservatives. But it isn't, and I think that's a problem. Humanists, for example, are supposed to be in favor of all humans, but when virtually our entire constituency votes Democratic, that means we are missing half the human population! There's something wrong with this picture. I'm not saying that we should all be libertarians; only that a more politically diversified membership would indicate that our movement is more politically balanced. When I point out this discrepancy to my liberal friends and colleagues, they predictably explain the left-leaning bias as due to the fact that liberals are right! Of course… My conservative friends say the same thing when I note the conservative bias in businesses and commerce related organizations.)


He goes on to explain why he is a libertarian.

Lots of snip:


It is none of the government's business who I choose to help and give aid and charity to, and I find it deeply morally repugnant that bureaucratic agencies have the legal right to confiscate my wealth through force or the threat of force (taxes), launder my money and waste most of it to run the government organizations that process my money (with dollops allocated for paying for bridges to nowhere and prostitutes for politicians), and redistribute it to people who I do not know. Libertarians are not uncharitable selfish hedonists; we just want the freedom to choose.


Well, Ya'll probably know how I come down on this.

Thoughts?

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project

BigPapaSmurf
SFN Die Hard

3192 Posts

Posted - 05/12/2009 :  12:31:40   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have yet to hear how these L's would pull off a governement with no corruption.

"...things I have neither seen nor experienced nor heard tell of from anybody else; things, what is more, that do not in fact exist and could not ever exist at all. So my readers must not believe a word I say." -Lucian on his book True History

"...They accept such things on faith alone, without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among them, he can make himself rich in a short time." -Lucian critical of early Christians c.166 AD From his book, De Morte Peregrini
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 05/12/2009 :  12:35:19   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Or how they would pull off a market with no bad actors.

Its very idealistic, and completely naive.

So much so that it flies in the face of their alleged adherence to rationality and logic.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 05/12/2009 :  12:48:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
He thinks it's his wealth. That's the problem. No one does gets wealth alone. No one gets wealth without some kind of system, and no one goes without it without some kind of system.

I still want to read 'Mind of the Market.'

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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dglas
Skeptic Friend

Canada
397 Posts

Posted - 05/12/2009 :  13:05:10   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dglas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Greg has nothing to say with regards to Shermer that he hasn't already said a thousand times before.

--------------------------------------------------
- dglas (In the hell of 1000 unresolved subplots...)
--------------------------------------------------
The Presupposition of Intrinsic Evil
+ A Self-Justificatory Framework
= The "Heart of Darkness"
--------------------------------------------------
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Machi4velli
SFN Regular

USA
854 Posts

Posted - 05/12/2009 :  13:49:29   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Machi4velli a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by BigPapaSmurf

I have yet to hear how these L's would pull off a governement with no corruption.


I think part of the idea is to give the government fewer responsibilities/power, which (they claim) allows fewer chances to be corrupt.

"Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people."
-Giordano Bruno

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge."
-Stephen Hawking

"Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable"
-Albert Camus
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Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 05/12/2009 :  14:29:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Or how they would pull off a market with no bad actors.


I've been wondering this for a little while now, and this seems as good a place as any to ask it: Is that really what they mean when they say "free market"?

From the blog:

I find it deeply morally repugnant that bureaucratic agencies have the legal right to confiscate my wealth through force or the threat of force (taxes)...


Perhaps it's just poorly written, or alternatively I'm reading through the lines and seeing something that isn't there, but Shermer seems to indicate that he is against any and all taxes. Now I've heard of other Libertarians who do hold this view, but what I'm curious about is if they are in the majority.

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
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dglas
Skeptic Friend

Canada
397 Posts

Posted - 05/12/2009 :  14:41:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dglas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
"Libertarians are not uncharitable selfish hedonists; we just want the freedom to choose."

I don't want to pay for policing of Libertarianist's property when the market is rebalancing itself. I just want the freedom to choose.

--------------------------------------------------
- dglas (In the hell of 1000 unresolved subplots...)
--------------------------------------------------
The Presupposition of Intrinsic Evil
+ A Self-Justificatory Framework
= The "Heart of Darkness"
--------------------------------------------------
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 05/12/2009 :  14:59:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Gorgo

He thinks it's his wealth. That's the problem. No one does gets wealth alone. No one gets wealth without some kind of system, and no one goes without it without some kind of system.
This, to me, seems to be the universal blind spot among Libertarians. I've been trying to think of an extended analogy that would allow them see what they're failing to comprehend.

Imagine that you are a self-sufficient person living a hunter-gatherer lifestyle in a plentiful but dangerous wilderness. Everything you possess is an immediate result of your hard work and individual effort. This is how, I gather, most Libertarians like to imagine themselves.

Now let's say this individual happens one day upon a fort. Inside this fort, which is well protected, is a thriving community. People barter goods and services, which is facilitated by means of a common currency. The people here all chip into a community pot which pays for the protection of of the group and the infrastructure upon which their community relies. They make this self-sufficient individual a deal: if he's willing to contribute into the community coffers, he may live among them and trade his labor and goods. Instead of making his own deer-hide clothes, he can sell beaver hides for money, which he can then use to procure textile fabrics. Instead of getting by with bone knifes, he can visit the local blacksmith. Instead of spending his day picking wild berries, he can buy a bushel of corn.

But it's a trade off. If he wants to use their currency, he needs to pay a tax. If he wants to use the market to sell his goods, he needs to give a percentage of his profits back to the collective. If he wants to build a lodging inside the fort, he needs to offer assurances that he intends to comply with the various sanitation and building codes which the community has agreed upon as necessary for the public good.

In short, if he agrees to be a part of this society, then he is agreeing to give up certain freedoms for the necessary operation of the system. The market doesn't exist in a vacuum, it must be maintained.

If he assents to the terms of the group only to later complain that they're "stealing" his money by taxing him, then he's broken his end of the agreement. He would, in fact, be stealing from the group if he doesn't chip in his fair share to the community coffers. That was the arrangement. Whatever wealth he's accumulated from the time he first stepped into the fort was only made possible by the system he agreed to participate in. He is no longer self-sufficient, and so he no longer has exclusive claim to the profit of his labors.

I see most Libertarians like this ungrateful stranger. They falsely believe themselves to be self-sufficient when in fact they aren't. They're benefiting from a system that, by virtue of their participation within it, they have agreed to help maintain. Taxes aren't theft, they're membership dues.

If you don't like it, leave the fort.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 05/12/2009 15:05:31
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 05/12/2009 :  15:45:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
That's good, HH, and you don't even get to say, as a hunter-gatherer, that you did anything alone. Try to do that without the proper genes and the proper training.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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Machi4velli
SFN Regular

USA
854 Posts

Posted - 05/12/2009 :  16:31:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Machi4velli a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Ricky
I find it deeply morally repugnant that bureaucratic agencies have the legal right to confiscate my wealth through force or the threat of force (taxes)...


Perhaps it's just poorly written, or alternatively I'm reading through the lines and seeing something that isn't there, but Shermer seems to indicate that he is against any and all taxes. Now I've heard of other Libertarians who do hold this view, but what I'm curious about is if they are in the majority.


There was something above that he would support a "national income tax" (not sure what he means by that?) or flat tax.

The only problem I have with the fort analogy is that people are born into the system and have not necessarily agreed to anything, though their ancestors may have. A great many libertarians do support some taxation, but only enough to prevent foreign invasion, enforce (voluntary) contracts, and enforce laws meant to protect individual rights.

"Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people."
-Giordano Bruno

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge."
-Stephen Hawking

"Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable"
-Albert Camus
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Machi4velli
SFN Regular

USA
854 Posts

Posted - 05/12/2009 :  16:42:24   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Machi4velli a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Gorgo

That's good, HH, and you don't even get to say, as a hunter-gatherer, that you did anything alone. Try to do that without the proper genes and the proper training.


Are you arguing we owe something to other humans because their ancestors passed genes down to us?

"Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people."
-Giordano Bruno

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge."
-Stephen Hawking

"Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable"
-Albert Camus
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 05/12/2009 :  16:49:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Machi4velli

Originally posted by Gorgo

That's good, HH, and you don't even get to say, as a hunter-gatherer, that you did anything alone. Try to do that without the proper genes and the proper training.


Are you arguing we owe something to other humans because their ancestors passed genes down to us?


Maybe genes weren't a good thing to throw in where I threw them in, but I wasn't linking that to taxation, just to the idea that we aren't really alone. More importantly for the example, we learn how to make tools, when and how to hunt, etc., from other people. Humans don't survive very well alone, much less get wealthy alone.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 05/12/2009 :  16:51:56   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Machi4velli

[quote][i]
There was something above that he would support a "national income tax" (not sure what he means by that?) or flat tax.

The only problem I have with the fort analogy is that people are born into the system and have not necessarily agreed to anything, though their ancestors may have. A great many libertarians do support some taxation, but only enough to prevent foreign invasion, enforce (voluntary) contracts, and enforce laws meant to protect individual rights.


That seemed a little screwy. I'll have to read that again, as I think he was saying he'd get rid of the income tax and replace it with a national income tax?

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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Machi4velli
SFN Regular

USA
854 Posts

Posted - 05/12/2009 :  16:58:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Machi4velli a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I am also in favor of lower taxes, cutting welfare programs, privatizing social security, and replacing the income tax with either a flat tax or abolishing it altogether and replacing it with a national income tax


I'm a bit confused by that. Maybe he meant to standardize tax rules across states?

"Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people."
-Giordano Bruno

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge."
-Stephen Hawking

"Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable"
-Albert Camus
Edited by - Machi4velli on 05/12/2009 16:59:04
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 05/12/2009 :  17:11:23   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Machi4velli

I am also in favor of lower taxes, cutting welfare programs, privatizing social security, and replacing the income tax with either a flat tax or abolishing it altogether and replacing it with a national income tax


I'm a bit confused by that. Maybe he meant to standardize tax rules across states?


He probably meant national sales tax?

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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