ALL YOUR FACEBOOK ARE BELONG TO US.

So now, if you’re applying for a job, or applying for an athletic scholarship—and Lord knows what else to come—they want to know what you’ve put up on your Facebook pages.

Not just the public, but the private side of Facebook, the part set aside for your family, best friends, best enemies, and presumably, some persons your genitals want to get to know better.

Me, as a boring married person, I like never get polled, but Rasmussen robo-polled me tonight about this, and the robo-poller assured me the results will appear soon.

[She did sound really nice, so I stayed on the phone with her and answered sincerely, and with not a small amount of the patented TVD charm.]

[She actually sounded kind of hot. But it’s not as if I want her to call me back or anything and offer to meet me for drinks.]

[Or look me up on Facebook. Not really. No.]

Oh yeah, I did promise RyanB I’d just dump this one in Off The Cuff, all business, din’t mean to digress.

The point being, should schools and employers get the keys to our Facebooks? What is public, what is private?

[Personal disclosure: I’m with those who opine that anything we ourselves put up on the internet becomes no longer private. But I don’t want to beg the question: Lord knows I could lose a job just for what I’ve written here @ LoOG, as gentle and kind and nonpartisan as it’s been.]

Please do be so kind as to share this post.
Share

182 thoughts on “ALL YOUR FACEBOOK ARE BELONG TO US.

  1. In response to a question about work email policies a few years back, I was told “don’t write anything that you wouldn’t want read to a jury”.

    As rules of thumb go, this is a pretty good one.

    Given the new age of social media, the fact that companies might want to know if you’re dumb enough to post pictures of yourself doing rails off of a nice person’s backside to the internet isn’t terribly surprising.

    “Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want your HR manager reading to you.”

    At least, not under your *REAL* name.

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • My corollary to the rule of thumb is: “If someone tells you something you find dubious, when you get back to your office, send them an email that says, ‘In light of our recent conversation regarding your request to (have me give you that person’s email archive/install that unlicensed software/etc.), I want to make my reservations about this known.”  Send the email with a receipt acknowledgment.

      Yes, this can get you fired.  It’s better than the alternative.

      I have to be honest, if a company asked to see my Facebook profile I would laugh in their hiring manager’s face, and tell them that they are opening themselves up to all sorts of third-party possible lawsuits.

      If I give you access to my Facebook profile, and you see my relative’s posts about their sexually transmitted disease that are shared just with me, you’re now in possession of private data you don’t want to be responsible for.

      I’d love to hear Tod’s take on this.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • I’ve never actually seen or heard of this kind of policy used as a way to monitor employees; I have only seen it used at point of hire.  While we do create social media policies for companies, we would strongly recommend an employer not adopt this kind of hiring policy.  When we’re advising clients on policy implementation, we actually have them look at it in two separate ways:

        1. The liability issue.  In this case, will the FB combing practice increase the potential liability associated with improper hiring practices, and if so will it lead to a significantly better method of finding quality employees that will offset that risk?  And in this case, the answers are yes, and no respectively.

        No one really get’s banged on really egregious stuff on the hiring end any more.  (Like, “No black people need apply!”)  Instead, they lose money based on their inability to prove a standard of constancy.  (You refused to hire this guy because he failed a drug test, but you hired this other guy who failed.)  Reviewing all that type of data on FB – posts, pics, links, what friends post and link to, etc. – is an invitation to breach of constancy.  There’s simply too much data being reviewed too subjectively.  You might not have meant to refuse to disproportionately hire a protected class of employee, but it will be far too easy to make it look like you did.  When hiring, the fewer amount of criteria used to make your decision the better.  (e.g.: “experience/knowledge, demonstrated competence and perceived value-added to the employer” is pretty good.)

        This kind of weeding was really designed to guard against hiring the crazies and the potentially malicious.  It’s a poor tonic against the latter because they’ll have everything set up to see what you want to see in advance.  It might help against the crazies, but if you really need to comb someone’s FB page to do that then you need to revisit your other hiring practices.

        2. The good management issue.  If you’re asked to do this for a potential employer, it’s a pretty good sign of an unhealthy corporate culture.  It certainly looks on the surface that they will be the type of employer to assume a kind of power dynamic that is more about control for control’s sake (more common than you might think), and less about a partnership based on a marriage where one side brings skills and the other capital to the table.  This makes for a crummy place to work for the employee, and on the whole creates an adverse selection system for the employer since many of the people you most want to hire won’t want to work for you.

        Bad news either way you look at it.

          Quote  Link

        Report

    • As Patrick says, let someone know you find this sort of thing objectionable.   It will give the asker pause.  I was once asked to do a mud sheet logger to track employees’ phone calls.   I wouldn’t do it and said so.  I know many managers go through their employees’ email, hardballing the admins to let them in.   It’s especially prevalent in the Land o’ Microsoft.

      Facebook?  Homey don’t play dat.  Facebook is for silly persons.  Every employer tries to find some prospective employee’s online profile.   People put stupid shit online:  they should expect someone to find that stuff.   Always assume your enemy has everything but your password.   Change it often.

      As far as unlicensed software goes, my clients have the right to control what’s on their boxes.   There’s almost always an open source alternative to stealing software.

        Quote  Link

      Report

  2. I once worked for a company that monitored bathroom breaks. I mean, not with a camera, but the system kept track of how often you went and how long you took (and, if you told the system you were going to the bathroom but instead realized you needed to get something from your car first – your boss would get an email and you’d be asked about it when you got back).

    I would not be the least bit surprised if that company would, today, demand my Facebook password. Whether I would laugh in their face or not would depend on how much I needed the job. I knew what this company was when I signed on (they’re… legendary in some circles), but I needed the job really badly. And I knew it was temporary.

    Absent that… I have less of an issue giving away my Facebook password than I do working for a company that would want it in the first place. It would make me concerned about monitored restroom breaks.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  3. I can tell you that I use Facebook all the time in litigation. If someone sues my client, I ask for their Facebook identity and password in an interrogatory and if they don’t give it to me I’ll get an order from the judge asking for it. Ain’t nothing private about stuff you post on the internet. And every once in a while I get good stuff, too:

    Q: So what was your emotional reaction to being fired on June 2, 2010?

    A: I was devastated. Scared. I had no job, I didn’t think I’d ever work again, I didn’t know how I’d provide for my family. Couldn’t sleep.

    Q: Did you use Facebook on June 3, 2010?

    A: I’m sure I did.

    Q: On June 3, 2010, did you post on Facebook the phrase, “I’m having the time of my life! Getting fired was the best thing that ever happened to me!”?

    A: [Fails to respond, looks to lawyer.]

    Q: I’d like you to look at exhibit 12, which is a printout of that Facebook post. Did you write that, ma’am?

    A: No fair.

    Q: I’m sorry, ma’am. Legal objections to my questions should be made by your lawyer.

    …Or something like that. I’m going off of memory and a martini here. So, yeah, what Jaybird said about juries. That’s right.

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • I’d challenge the password request.

      Anything you find on my public personae, you’re welcome to have.  Here.  There.  Anywhere.

      You want my password to anything, you’re going to have to pry it out of my cold, dead, hand.  :-P

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • I’d think they could subpoena it assuming the communication wouldn’t be privileged somehow, obviously I’m not qualified to opine on the password part. The hard drive decryption case was about a person’s personal property, your facebook account is a record of communication that is someone else owns – that’s got to be a pretty serious legal distinction.

          Quote  Link

        Report

        • Oh, I’m certain.

          However, Facebook’s terms of service, as labyrinthine and ridiculous tho they are, clearly indicate that you *can* have multiple levels of privacy.  Sure, everything is public by default.  Hey, search my public profile, knock yourself out.

          Everything that isn’t public has been expressly and explicitly chosen by the user to have a limited audience.  I can’t see how you can make a reasonable claim that this isn’t a case where the user is deliberately *not* making this “public”.

          But then, encryption passwords are debatable in the public sphere of the law, right now, so…

            Quote  Link

          Report

        • <i>I’d argue it’s testimonial and therefore subject to the 5th Amendment</i>

          Wouldn’t the same argument apply to mandatory drug testing?   And that certainly seems to have stood the test of time…

            Quote  Link

          Report

        • It is testimonial — so if you invoke the Fifth Amendment in an objection to my discovery, and then if the judge agrees with your in camera showing that the message you were trying to keep from coming to light did, in fact, implicate you in the commission of a crime. If you did that, then the judge might very well deny me the password and you’d win your protective order application or I’d lose my motion to compel. You’d get some attorney’s fees out of me for your trouble.

          Which would piss me off and thus motivate me to work harder to find whatever it was that you were hiding from me. And, I’d know for sure there was really something there to find out. So, hmm, who else has access to that evidence other than you? Facebook itself, that’s who. Facebook’s response to my subpoena is not you testifying against yourself, it’s Facebook testifying against you. So there’s no Fifth Amendment privilege there.

            Quote  Link

          Report

          • And, I’d know for sure there was really something there to find out.

            Hee hee.  For the record, Burt (should you ever have to take up legal arms against me), I’d be liable to do this just to make you think there was something there to find out.  I’m an ornery bastard :)

              Quote  Link

            Report

              • A laptop is left where the opposition can find it.  The hard drive is encrypted, but the guys in the computer forensics lab note that the machine was sleeping, and they pull off the “freeze the memory and read the data off the RAM” trick.

                In resident memory on the laptop is a username/password combination for a facebook account, which is actually a red-herring account designed to have the investigators waste manpower digging through the personal information of all of the (completely harmless) friends of the fake account.

                Except one of the friends of the fake account actually winds up looking suspicious…

                  Quote  Link

                Report

          • Which would piss me off and thus motivate me to work harder to find whatever it was that you were hiding from me.” … So, hmm, who else has access to that evidence other than you? Facebook itself, that’s who. Facebook’s response to my subpoena is not you testifying against yourself, it’s Facebook testifying against you. So there’s no Fifth Amendment privilege there.

            Ok, I get that.  Similarly you could just ask any other party to the conversation, like the (hypothetical) panolopy of friends to testify or even provide a copy of the conversation, because it’s in no way privileged. I totally get that.

            But that’s a different issue than *me* providing my facebook password.  Even if it’s just a shortcut to what they would get anyway.   *Especially* if it’s just a shortcut to what they would get anyway. There’s plenty of elements of the law  that are, de facto, just pro-forma obstacles to what will eventually happen anyway.  (how ya like all that Latin there?).  But yet we do them all the time, because the *form* of the law does help maintain the *purpose* of the law.  [insert famous Thomas Moore quote here]

              Quote  Link

            Report

          • “Facebook’s response to my subpoena is not you testifying against yourself, it’s Facebook testifying against you. So there’s no Fifth Amendment privilege there.”

            Burt, I’m so glad to learn that a lawyer thinks internet service providers should be compelled to maintain full and detailed records of user activities, and to make these records available to anyone who thinks they might have some tasty tidbits.

            What are your thoughts on wiretapping?

              Quote  Link

            Report

  4. I can see the “cold, dead hand” approach as having some potential fringe benefits for my client (whom you are suing in a situation where this would be an issue), but I am, after all, a Gentleman. So I’ll seek the court order first and let my computer forensics guy go back in time and show me everything you deleted after the judge handed the order down. Way easier than subpoenaing Facebook.

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • Can you also get ahold of phone-call transcripts, GPS and electronic-toll records of vehicle movement, and bank records?  Those seem like they’d be awful useful as well, and you have about as much right to be getting them.

        Quote  Link

      Report

          • No, that’s actually a very keen insight. Thing is, in a typical case once the information is exposed in discovery, the damage is done. But yes, if the case went to trial, I’d have to make sure that the message was admissible. It wouldn’t be hearsay in most cases, because you wrote it, but it might be excluded on the basis of some other rule of evidence.

            But in civil litigation, what you really want is to stop me from reading that message in the first place — even if I can’t use that message, it’ll give me ideas of where to look for evidence I likely will be able to use against you. If the question is one of privacy, you’ve got a lot less of it than you might prefer to believe.

              Quote  Link

            Report

            • (I)f I can’t use that message, it’ll give me ideas of where to look for evidence I likely will be able to use against you.

              Oh, yeah, standard investigation technique in computer security, too :)

              If the question is one of privacy, you’ve got a lot less of it than you might prefer to believe.

              Well, I blog publicly and there’s very little on the Internet that I particularly regard as potentially dangerous, and that is mostly unavoidable anyway.

                Quote  Link

              Report

              • Well, by “you” I meant the generalized reader, not Patrick Cahalan specifically, whose Facebook account would surely be as mind-numbingly boring as 99% of the other electronic messages I read. Example:

                “I had a ham sandwich for lunch today. They used the brown mustard this time, mmm! It was really good.” (Two people LIKED this.)

                or

                “If Mabel likes Danny so much, maybe she should just ASK HIM OUT ON A DATE already. Girls CAN ask guys out these days, you know????????????????????”  (Four people LIKED this and two people DISLIKED this.)

                This sort of thing does not provide a lot of ammunition in litigation. And it’s what the overwhelming majority of Facebook is.

                  Quote  Link

                Report

  5. I’d prefer to work for a serious organization, and I don’t think any serious organization should care so much what kind of things I do (or did) in my free time more than whether or not I can complete the job I was hired for. In other words, prying into my Facebook page is some Mickey Mouse bullshit, and I don’t want to work for an organization that cares what I dressed up for on Halloween in 2005.

    As it is, my friends and I long treated Facebook as a joke (it was, after all, once just a tool for college kids to stalk each other): 90% of the pictures of me up there are from various Halloweens. There are some where I’m dressed up as Luke Skywalker, Alex from A Clockwork Orange, The Crow, Link from Zelda, Sarah Palin, the Zombie pictured above is of course a Halloween picture – the year I was in New Zealand for Halloween, I dressed up as a suicide bomber. I’m not sure I could have gotten away with that in the U.S., in 2004 or now.

    Of the 10% or so pictures that remain, most of them are pictures my sister has taken of me and my children. There is one, however, where one of my friends kicked me in a place that really hurts to be kicked in and then shot bottle rockets at me while I was writhing in pain on the ground (To celebrate the Red Sox winning the World Series in 2004, again while I was in New Zealand, the five Red Sox fans in my entire city split a keg.).

    Needless to say, in eight years or whatever of Facebook existence, the 80 or so pictures of me that are up don’t really comprise an example relevant to what I do in my daily life. Anyone who’s willing to generalize from that is an idiot. Nowadays, Facebook has become a tool for dorks to brown nose their way up an organization, when really LinkedIn is much better for ass-kissing 2.0. An HR manager who does not get this is an idiot and deserves whatever they get. I’m convinced that, in the long run, companies that hire and fire employees based on what’s on Facebook will exit the market, while companies that remain focused on results remain.

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • “I’d prefer to work for a serious organization, and I don’t think any serious organization should care so much what kind of things I do (or did) in my free time more than whether or not I can complete the job I was hired for.”

      As a teacher, this is a tricky area for me.  My boss, personally, might not and probably doesn’t or shouldn’t care about what I do with my free time.  As long as I show up each day and “teach the crap out of the kids” (as I like to say), there is little reason for her to concern herself with it.  But, I work in a private school.  With crazy parents.  They might very well care about what I’m doing.  In turn, if they think my off-hour activities impact the quality of my work (even if it doesn’t), they could cause problems, including pulling their kids from the school.

      I’m sure there are analagous situations in other fields.  Suppose you work directly with customers selling widgets.  In your spare time, you like to attend Klan rallies.  Your customers find out and opt not to shop at that store until you are fired.  Technically speaking, your Klan affiliation doesn’t impact the quality of your widget selling.  But it ultimately does because, without customers, you won’t sell a damn thing.  Is the employer right to care about your off-hour hobbies then?

      Unfortunately, the line is not as clear as presented above, and maybe not as clear as it should be.  The latter situation, even in its extreme presentation, is concerning.  Employers could use such logic to dismiss any myriad of employees because their behavior might be found objectionable by a segment of clients.  And what do we do if the “objectionable” behavior isn’t something easily denounced like the Klan but something more controversial like homosexuality or being Muslim.*

      * I don’t think there is anything controversial about homosexuality or being Muslim.  But many people are bothered by it and such opposition is not near universally condemnded as it is with the Klan.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • I definitely agree, and I’m not asserting a right to be immune to the consequences of doing something stupid here. What I’m saying is that, in most cases, what someone has on their Facebook page should be fairly insignificant, and if businesses are to infer false significance from that, then that’s a problem in terms of matching skilled employees with businesses that demand their services.

          Quote  Link

        Report

    • I don’t want to work for an organization that cares what I dressed up for on Halloween in 2005.

      How wonderful for you, to have such choices.

      I’m convinced that, in the long run, companies that hire and fire employees based on what’s on Facebook will exit the market, while companies that remain focused on results remain.

      What magic market mechanism would cause this? Or I should say,what evidence is there that treating your employees with respect and dignity is rewarded by the marketplace? Isn’t there ample evidence to the contrary?

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • “How wonderful for you, to have such choices.”

        Actually, Liberty60, we all have the freedom to choose who we work for. In fact, we could even generalize this to say that we all have the freedom to voluntarily sign contracts wherein one party exchanges a service/capital for the capital/service of another. I’m sorry if you’re being forced to work somewhere you don’t want to. :(

        “What magic market mechanism would cause this? Or I should say,what evidence is there that treating your employees with respect and dignity is rewarded by the marketplace? Isn’t there ample evidence to the contrary?”

        The magic market mechanism at work is the one where people choose to buy stuff they like from companies they like and don’t buy stuff from companies they don’t like. Again, if you’re being forced to buy things from companies that do things you don’t approve of, I can only offer my sympathies. If you personally don’t like the outcome of everyone making choices freely in the free market, you can either wait patiently for everyone else to see the light, become an activist or a lobbyist, or realize there are enough other choices available to not care.

        Specifically regarding the labor market, people generally do leave companies that fail to treat them with respect and dignity. Maybe we’re not really seeing it right now because the labor market isn’t particularly robust, but we’ll definitely see it in a few years.

          Quote  Link

        Report

        • Very true; everyone freely chooses where they work. Then again as I pointed out elsewhere on this thread, everyone freely chooses what city/ state/ nation to live in.

          So really, by freely choosing to live in the United States, you have chosen to be taxed and regulated. If you don’t like it, you are free to move elsewhere. No ocercion at any level!

          I read your last paragraph to my friends in the garment and agriculture industries. I assured them most earnestly that within a very short time, public disapproval of sweatshop labor and oppressive conditions in the fields will cause a sea change in the way employers and employees relate to each other.

          Any day now!

            Quote  Link

          Report

          • Just to clarify, this is what’s happened so far in our conversation:

            Christopher Carr: “Companies that care about their employee’s Facebook pages are wasting their time. I’d rather work for a company that doesn’t do that.”

            Liberty60: “But we’re powerless to stop companies that abuse their employees.”

            Christopher Carr: “Consumers are free to choose not to purchase those companies’s products.”

            Liberty60: “Your argument is so false that I have relinquished all pretensions to civility.”

            There’s two points I have in response to your last non-point: (1) I think we are on the edge of a sea change in the way employees and employers relate to each other: mainly this is due to the near-future automation of cheap production; but there is also the huge social movements that are sweeping the globe towards ethically-sourced consumer products, cooperative production structure, etc. – not to say that every worker in every country producing every possible good will be able to come how to six or seven hours in front of the 64-inch flat-screen every night. (2) Sweat shop workers work at sweatshops because the alternatives suck. Yes, this is depressing. Whats your solution?

              Quote  Link

            Report

            • No one can predict with certainty what technology and evolving conditions will do to the economic structure; so your predictions are as good as any but hardly unassailable.

              My solution, is that we look at where inujustices occur (like sweatshops) and constantly adjust our laws and regulations to test and see if they produce better outcomes.

              Your solution just sounds a lot like shoulder-shrugging acceptance. The idea that sweatshops will vanish because the marketplace will punish them is simply (and demonstrably!) absurd.

                Quote  Link

              Report

  6. I say this only as clarification and not criticism; a robo-poll is one in which you hear only a recorded or electronic voice.  If you spoke with a real live (and presumably hot) women, it was a traditional phone poll.

    As to the question itself, the issue reinforces my intense smugness about my laziness about ever putting anything up on my mostly dormant Facebook page.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  7. I’m honored to have been mentioned!

    But, since I come here from my Reader, and posts aren’t really differentiated there, I don’t see how this is different from a front page post. That’s all I was trying to say in the first place.

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • Publicize the company’s name and behavior as loudly as possible.  E.g., “SuperXCorp demands to know if it’s employees are having sex doggystyle!”

      Although I would add that privacy laws are not necessarily anti-libertarian, so if privacy laws are actually being violated, a legal response is also appropriate.

       

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • I’m asking because one of the issues I have with doctrinaire libertarianism is that it seems not to recognize that different parties in society have enormous power disparities between them.    Or, at least, not to care.

        Free agents are not equally free.  Will said  Whether I would laugh in their face or not would depend on how much I needed the job.    I do contract consulting, on occasion, and most large companies require a drug test before you can start.    When I have the option, I’ll make a stand:  about half the time the company has waived the test, and the other half the contract is cancelled.   But those times that I don’t  have the option, I have to bite the bullet and urinate.

        I strongly believe that in the employment domain, there’s some information that is germane to the job that warrants disclosure, but anything outside that (rather strictly defined) arena should be off-limits.    So, your sexual behavior, private interests, political beliefs, associations, etc. are yours to manage,.

        Since this is one of my foundational difficulties with libertarianism, I would really like to know if there is a consensus in the libertarian community about how to deal with this.   The reputational route is weak tea, to me:  we are already so information overwhelmed that we cannot also monitor the reputation of the 20,000 or so corporations that we must deal with.    Are privacy laws really acceptable to the mainstream of the libertarian community?

         

         

          Quote  Link

        Report

        • Everyplace I’ve ever applied has told me that they have a “Drug-Free Workplace”. (Well, except the restaurant.)

          Freakin’ Blockbuster made me take a hair test. (If there’s one job where it seemed like being lightly toasted would not impair one’s output, it’d be Blockbuster. Or it would have been, back when there was a Blockbuster.)

          That said, most of the places I’ve worked (like Global Conglomerate) bragged about having contracts with the government and the government demands, you guessed it, that the people who work contracts on its behalf enjoy a “Drug-Free Workplace”. Friends of mine work for CDOT (Colorado Department of Transportation) and they tell me that they are regularly told that if they get a card (and by “a card”, I mean a Medicinal Marijuana note from a doctor allowing them to purchase from a licensed dispensary), they will be terminated and never again eligible to be hired by CDOT.

          The fun argument would be to go through “you see the common thread? THE GOVERNMENT!” territory but, instead, I’ll go a different direction:

          It seems to me that there are two competing things going on here.

          If I were running a business with machine presses and asphalt trucks and sharp things in general, I’d pretty much want everybody at the top of their game. If I smelled a whiff of the reefer on the guy running the machine press, wouldn’t you *WANT* me to pull him off of it? He might hurt himself, he might hurt others. Wouldn’t I be held liable if I knew that one of my guys was lighting up on break?

          On the other hand, whenever Congress gets to vote on a “Drug Test Congress” bill, they always vote it down stating privacy concerns. (Personally, I see Congress as capable of doing at least as much damage as a stoned guy with a machine press.)

          Privacy vs. Safety.

          To what extent am I liable for the guys working the machinery on the floor? I’ll tell you this right now, if the answer comes “more than none”, I’m going to investigate such things as establishing a drug-free workplace… because if a stoned guy hurts himself or others, I’m going to make DAMN sure that he’s the one in the dock and not me.

            Quote  Link

          Report

          • Well, very few of the companies I work with are working under government contract.   And the notion that someone who smokes marijuana on the weekends, or takes ecstasy at a rave, or is prescribed Adderal for  ADD is automatically excluded from doing business consulting is based not on any proven cause-and-effect relationship between the drug use and job performance.    It’s based on stigma, and the notion that the way someone conducts their private life is the business of the employer.

            I make my living by providing analysis, or other services, to customers and clients.   If my output is unsatisfactory, they have every right to terminate the relationship.   But whether I’m gay or straight, or Democrat or Republican is not (or should not be) anyone’s business but my own.    It is only because of the power differential between employer and employee that other parties can indulge their predjudices.    If there were an absolute shortage of people with my skillset, I might be able to demand urine out of my potential clients, but we have a million other factors in law and culture ensuring that the power differential travels in only one direction.

            This is not really about drugs.   It’s about:  what is a fair set of restrictions on the more powerful party an an unbalanced economic relationship that will provide for a fair and optimal outcome for both parties?

              Quote  Link

            Report

            • And the notion that someone who smokes marijuana on the weekends, or takes ecstasy at a rave, or is prescribed Adderal for  ADD is automatically excluded from doing business consulting is based not on any proven cause-and-effect relationship between the drug use and job performance.

              Let’s say that you lose your hand in a machine press and the guy operating it smokes pot on the weekend.

              You wouldn’t bring that up during the trial? (If you would (and I suspect you would), then you see why companies might make folks pee in a cup.)

                Quote  Link

              Report

              • I could see the company’s attorney throwing this right back in your face.

                “So you were aware that your coworker Bob used illicit substances that could have impacted his ability to do his job safely.  Did you report this to your superiors?  No?  So you’re saying that you not only willingly worked with someone that may have been under the influence of performance inhibiting substances, but you also allowed everyone else at the company to be subjected to that same risk?”

                  Quote  Link

                Report

                • Depends on whether there was a drug-free workplace.

                  If the boss didn’t think that it was important to have a drug-free workplace, why should I? I’m just a blue-collar guy on the line! I’m not one of those eggheads who says “there are an acceptable number of hands we can lose every year”… I sure wish that the cost for losing hands was higher on their part. Maybe I’d still be able to caress my wife’s face today.

                    Quote  Link

                  Report

                • I dunno, Jaybird, I can’t buy your framing, at all.

                  Firstly, there’s not an ounce of evidence that I’m aware of that weekend pot use has the slightest impact on motor skills later on.     Do employers use reaction tests on Monday to make sure you’ve gotten adequate sleep on the weekend?    Do they monitor your relationships to ensure that emotional upsets don’t impinge on your judgement?    No, drug use is monitored because it’s something that people feel judgemental about;  much more than the drug’s effect on your work product, it’s about what kind of person others would take one to be.

                  Secondly–and this is a values thing, and I suspect that we’ll never agree on it–I think we all need a recognized sphere of autonomy in our lives.   In your vision, as I understand it, the powerful can demand anything of the weaker if they have the leverage to do so:  if the weaker party needs a job, or to rent an apartment, or eat at a lunch counter.

                  So, if we’re not a church, and my religion doesn’t impinge on your business, it’s not of your business.   My hobbies and relationships are none of your business.     My politics are none of your business.    As long as I’m not imposing my choices in this personal arena on you, you shouldn’t be able to impose yours on mine.   At least that’s what I believe.

                   

                   

                    Quote  Link

                  Report

                  • How many industrial accidents does GM, just GM, have every year?

                    I’m doing some googling and, of course, GM goes out of its way to keep these numbers hush-hush. It sure as heck seems to be non-zero.

                    Now I go from there to the commercials they play during daytime television. (This guy, for example, goes grocery shopping at *OUR* grocery store! He doesn’t blink in real life either.)

                    After I do some quick calculations in my head, I figure that I’d probably much rather sue the guy with the deep pockets than the guy with the shallow ones…

                    And from there I got to here.

                      Quote  Link

                    Report

                  • Secondly–and this is a values thing, and I suspect that we’ll never agree on it–I think we all need a recognized sphere of autonomy in our lives.   In your vision, as I understand it, the powerful can demand anything of the weaker if they have the leverage to do so:  if the weaker party needs a job, or to rent an apartment, or eat at a lunch counter.

                    Let’s say that I need a job as a personal assistant. Are you obligated to give it to me? If not, why not? Why is someone else obligated to give this job to me? Is there anything incumbent upon me?

                    Let’s say that I have a room that I want to rent to someone. Two people show up. What, exactly, am I allowed to expect on the part of the person that will be living in my house? Anything?

                    Back in 2007, there was a lawsuit in London at a hairdresser’s. The hairdresser place was one of those places that portrayed itself as hip, happening, funky, and so on. A devout Muslim woman, in a headscarf, applied for a job there and was turned down. She sued the hairdresser place for fifteen thousand pounds for her hurt feelings and another sum for the wages had lost by not being hired. To what extent was this woman entitled to this hairdressing job at this funky, hip, happening place?

                    It seems to me that you are not, in any way, obligated to hire me as your personal assistant and, indeed, would you do so that you’d be able to ask stuff of me (or hire someone else).

                    Or do you think that the government should force you to hire me?

                    It seems to me that I am not morally obligated to rent my room to just anybody who happens to show up but that I am allowed to say “you know what? I don’t want to rent my room to this particular person”. I purchased the house in which Maribou and I now live under the assumption that, someday, my mom might have to come live with us (we moved from a 500 square foot apartment into a 1600 square foot apartment and it honestly felt like the biggest house in the freakin’ world at the time). To what extent am I harming others by not renting out the room that I assumed my Mom would be taking over? If I could rent it out (but I don’t), how is that different from my not renting it to that distasteful person? Have they somehow stopped needing a room?

                    The lunch counter argument is also interesting, historically. In any case, I have food upstairs, right now. If I have friends over to eat, am I obliged to have strangers over to eat? How about if the friends give me a couple of bucks to cover my time and expenses?

                    Oh, I see you’ve answered all of these questions with your next paragraph:

                    So, if we’re not a church, and my religion doesn’t impinge on your business, it’s not of your business.   My hobbies and relationships are none of your business.     My politics are none of your business.    As long as I’m not imposing my choices in this personal arena on you, you shouldn’t be able to impose yours on mine.   At least that’s what I believe.

                    I’d go on to say that my business is none of your business. Or would you say that that’s completely different because the moment that I am a business, that I am obligated to provide you with a job, a room, and a meal?

                    Do *I* have a sphere of personal autonomy or is that something that only *YOU* have?

                    This is my problem with most Libertarians, actually. They keep talking about all the stuff that they’re entitled to without noticing that other people are entitled to them too.

                    (Is that better?)

                      Quote  Link

                    Report

                    • Jumping into the fray here, my primary problem with leaving power differentials completely up to the “free market” is that many of those differentials came to be through illegitimate, very non-free-market conditions. There are a great myriad of reasons why it s difficult or impossible to correct for this. And given that many of the unfortunate conditions nder whic this came to be were government-enabled or enforced, it s hard to trust the government as an effectivr agent of change. I am sympathetic to Snark’s concerns and wish there were an easy way to correct for it, but JB rightly points out that most proposed government solutions do little more than switch who has an unfair advantage.

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                    • It seems to me that I am not morally obligated to rent my room to just anybody who happens to show up but that I am allowed to say “you know what? I don’t want to rent my room to this particular [nigger]

                      Forgive the edit, but I think I’m making more than a cheap polemical point.   We have obligations to more than just ourselves:  we exist in a society that we benefit mightily for, and we have a whole choir’s worth of interests to satisy.   So we, and every other country that exists on the planet earth, places some limits on the autonomy we would all have if were were living in an anarchy, instead.

                      So we have decided that race is beyond the pale if you run a business that serves the public.   And it appears that we’re in the historical process of placing sexual orientation in that same protected sphere.   And, whatever libertarian instincts I might have, I’m all for it.

                      Businesses exist in a privileged sphere:  we give them all kinds of allowances and advantages because we consider them to be in the public interest (limited liability, adjudication services, licensing, tax deductions, etc.)   And, in return, these businesses have certain obligations to the rest of us:  they may not defraud, they have taxes to pay, their products must not be harmful.  Regardless of income or power, there are things we simply aren’t allowed to do do each other.   No murdering.   No raping.    That’s because there are other human values that trump “liberty.”

                      If GM could demonstrate that someone’s weekend marijuana use had some substantive impact upon worker safety, we could at least begin a conversation about their rights to demand your blood or urine.   But they haven’t (and drug testing is in no way constrained to those whose job entails public safety).

                      No one says you have to rent your room to me, or even rent it at all.   And, should you decide to rent it,  you are certainly allowed to consider aspects of a potential tenant that are germane to living with him.   But, were you to demand that an applicant strip, because you don’t care for people with tattoos?

                      In other words, while I subscribe to the general proposition of restricting liberty to the least degree consistent with society’s broad needs and interests, I do think that there are some limits to what we can demand of other people.    The OP example–demanding that someone surrender access to their personal information as a pre-condition of employment–is one I would certainly place beyond the pale.

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                    • Let’s go a different direction then: Abortion.

                      Let’s say that I want to get an abortion because I found out that I’m pregnant with a baby and the father, I just found out, has an African-American great-grandfather.

                      Let’s say that I even used the n-word.

                      Should the government force me to carry this child to term?

                      Edit:
                      If GM could demonstrate that someone’s weekend marijuana use had some substantive impact upon worker safety, we could at least begin a conversation about their rights to demand your blood or urine. But they haven’t (and drug testing is in no way constrained to those whose job entails public safety).

                      How many lives/limbs would you say had to be lost before drug tests would be appropriate?

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                    • So we have decided that race is beyond the pale if you run a business that serves the public.

                      Why does this trick of yours not work for drug testing? Here, watch.

                      “So we have decided that drug testing is mandatory for people who run machine presses.”

                      There. Why does your trick not work with that?

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                    • Jaybird –

                      I’m completely unclear on what your abortion example is meant to illustrate.

                      As for the GM example, they would have to show some compelling connection between weekend marijuana (or other drug) use, and decreased safety.   And it would have to be compelling enough to overcome the burden of requiring thousands of people to go to a lab, and surrender their privacy and bodily liquids.

                      As for my “trick” (unsure why you view it as such), I was just pointing out that we draw certain lines now.   I pointed out a line we do draw, and you hypothesized one that we don’t.    It’s pretty clear we would draw lines in different places…

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                    • My abortion example is meant to illustrate that it while some people may indeed have exceptionally vile positions, this does not give you the right to exercise power forcing them to act as if they had different ones.

                      For the record, I find abortion of infants suspected to have the gay gene or an “impure” genetic mix to be morally reprehensible… in the same way that I see refusal to rent a room to an African-American to be reprehensible.

                      I don’t know that we, as a society, ought to use the force of law to require that someone be hospitable to someone that they have no desire to be hospitible to on their own property.

                      Even if the opinions they have *ARE* vile.

                      As for my “trick” (unsure why you view it as such), I was just pointing out that we draw certain lines now.

                      The “drug-free workplace” is also a certain line we draw now.

                      If you want to argue that we should draw the line somewhere else, you should be prepared to deal with arguments such as workman’s comp, on-the-job injuries, and, of course, the current state of the modern American legal system with regards to who tends to get sued when a stoned guy operates a machine press.

                      If you don’t want to deal with those issues, fine. You don’t have to. Don’t be surprised if your idea about how you should have privileges but everybody else should have obligations are waved away like so many other libertarian ideas.

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                    • I find abortion of infants suspected to have the gay gene or an “impure” genetic mix to be morally reprehensible… in the same way that I see refusal to rent a room to an African-American to be reprehensible.

                      But they’re reprehensible for completely different reasons, no? I mean, collapsing those distinctions and categorizing them both under the ‘reprehensible but unsure about government intervention’ rubric seems to have already missed the substantive point about legitimate government intervention as well as what constitutes ‘reprehensible’. And I say that without implying any judgment about the two actions you describe.

                      This is a standard argument type you invoke: that people have no other arguments than a disaffection for the policy or behavior under consideration. They do.

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                    • Really? It’s crystal clear. Chicago and Star Trek (if we take the entire body of the Star Wars effort into account). Who’d even argue that? Sheesh.

                      But that’s not the point. Insofar as those are the only relevant properties in play in the two scenarios, then he has a point. But it begs questions in his favor, no? Especially given what he wrote upthread. There, he was talking about sufficient conditions for government intervention. Now he’s talking about sufficient conditions for personal choice as they conflict with the sufficient conditions establishing government policy. As if all that’s involved is sufficient conditions. But there are necessary conditions in play as well, which is what people argue over and subject to wide ranging dispute.

                      Or is that analysis wrong?

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                    • But that’s not the point. Insofar as those are the only relevant properties in play in the two scenarios, then he has a point. But it begs questions in his favor, no? Especially given what he wrote upthread. There, he was talking about sufficient conditions for government intervention. Now he’s talking about sufficient conditions for personal choice as they conflict with the sufficient conditions establishing government policy. As if all that’s involved is sufficient conditions. But there are necessary conditions in play as well, which is what people argue over and subject to wide ranging dispute.

                      My point, if I had one, would be the difference between free speech and free contracting rights and how privacy isn’t something that our protagonist has but our antagonist does not. If we want to play the game of “what do we, as a society, say is okay?” and we want a government intrusive enough to say “you have to be an equal opportunity renter” then we should not, for a second, be shocked when we have a government intrusive enough to say “yes, a drug-free workplace is an acceptable requirement for a workplace that handles machine presses.”

                      If we want to have enough privacy to say that a workplace doesn’t have the right to test its machinists for marijuana use, then we’re going to end up with enough privacy to allow bad people to say “no Irish need apply for this room for rent”.

                      We’re going to be making trade-offs, here. Unpleasant ones. For the record, I think that things would be better if we, as a society, had a healthy respect for such concepts as “privacy” (and I’m also a full-throated advocate of ending the drug war).

                      But I also know that things won’t be perfect if we move in the direction I want to go it. It’ll just be better… despite the things that will be worse.

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                    • Fair enough JB. My only complaint was that statements like this

                      If we want to have enough privacy to say that a workplace doesn’t have the right to test its machinists for marijuana use, then we’re going to end up with enough privacy to allow bad people to say “no Irish need apply for this room for rent”.

                      don’t have a lot of support other than a gut feeling. It’s a worry, I just don’t know how legitimate the worry is. And I’m certainly not sure it’s a legitimate worry if testing machinists is determined (by argument!) to be a legitimate exercise of business’ owners rights.

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                    • And we’re back to the idea of a jury trial.

                      Let’s say that there is a trial where the machinist crushed the hand of (or killed) another worker on the floor. It came out that the machinist smoked pot on Friday. It also came out that the Corporation has a policy of not testing machinists because “We Respect Your Privacy”.

                      Would you want to be the plaintiff’s attorney making a speech to the jury or the defendant’s?

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                    • I’m not sure how that’s relevant. If the trial determined that pot smoking was a contributory to the eventual accident, the it is what it is – independently what what you (or I) might think about that determination.

                      You’re arguing from a basis of a very thin hypothetical here – what a jury would decide. I’m saying that there may by an argument out there that a business owner has the right – for liability reasons – to mandate drug testing at his own company. This isn’t a hypothetical, in fact. But even if that’s so, it doesn’t lead in any way whatsoever to permitting an employer to discriminate against the Irish (or whatever your example was). I just don’t understand the similarity between the two policies except insofar as they are both advocated. But if people desire those policies, then they will be advocated in any event, independently, in tandem, or piggy-backed.

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                    • Using the example of the McDonald’s coffee lawsuit, I think we could easily make a case that the corporation has obligations to make things as safe as they possibly can on the behalf of the people who show up… even if they’re acting in what many people might be tempted to call a risky fashion.

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                    • “If the trial determined that pot smoking was a contributory to the eventual accident…”

                      …then, under the concept of vicarious liability, the employer is partly liable for the harm caused.

                      Please don’t have arguments like this if you don’t know anything about tort law.

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                  • Or to put it yet one more way, there are two types of interactions (let’s go for negative vs positive… that is to say, stuff that doesn’t require any action on my part vs. stuff that does).

                    You say that you have a right to free speech. You say a handful of things. I cannot attack you, harm you, or otherwise try to censor you. We’re good, right?

                    You say that you have a right to a kiss. I say well… okay. But brush your teeth first. If you say Hey, “I have a sphere of personal autonomy, I have a right to privacy, I have a right to live the way that I want to live and I don’t want to brush my teeth”, that’s all well and good… but you aren’t entitled to a kiss from me. I am allowed to say “no, if you want a kiss, you have to brush your teeth” and even withhold a kiss if you refuse to brush your teeth. Sure, maybe you have a right to *A* kiss… but you sure as hell don’t have a right to a kiss *FROM ME*. No matter how much you want it, no matter how long it’s been since you’ve been kissed, even if you and I have been dating for five years and you’re used to getting an unbrushed smooch.

                    Why? Because I have a sphere of personal autonomy, I have a right to privacy, and I have a right to live the way that I want to live *TOO*.

                      Quote  Link

                    Report

            • Some of it boils down to the mundane aspects of biology and chemistry.  If a guy fishes up at work, a positive test for alcohol means he had it in the last 4-8 hours.  If the last time he downed a bottle was 2 or 3 days ago, though, it would be negative.  The problem with THC tests (as I understand it), and some others, is that you can’t tell whether the guy toked 30 mins ago, or 30 days ago.

                Quote  Link

              Report

          • “The fun argument would be to go through “you see the common thread? THE GOVERNMENT!” territory but, instead, I’ll go a different direction:”

            Actually, the biggest distinguisher I know of between companies that do and don’t do drug testing is how the answer the question, “what percentage of the expenses in your industry are workers compensation premiums?”

              Quote  Link

            Report

        • doctrinaire libertarianism is that it seems not to recognize that different parties in society have enormous power disparities between them.    Or, at least, not to care.

          When it’s phrased as “doctrinaire” libertarianism, there’s effectively no way to respond.  Any suggestion I might make to the contrary of you claim is waived away as, “oh, that’s not the type of libertarianism I’m talking about.”

          Stipulated: Doctrinaire libertarians are fishing brainless idiots, as all doctrinaire people in all places and times are.

          Now that we’ve disposed of that strawman, can we talk about reasonable libertarians? At least there we have the opportunity for an actual discussion.

            Quote  Link

          Report

          •   Any suggestion I might make to the contrary of you claim is waived away…

            I think you misunderstand my intentions.    I’m not part of “libertarian culture,” and honestly don’t know what the “mainstream libertarian” view on this issue would be.    And I was hoping to try to understand whether there was a set of policies in the direction of privacy / regulation that could garner any kind of consensus.

             

              Quote  Link

            Report

            • I understand you’re not part of libertarian culture, and I also understand you weren’t intentionally trying to set up a tilted field at which you could charge at libertarianism–you’re not that kind of guy.  But, inadvertently or not, when the adjective “doctrinaire” is used, about any group, a frame has been developed that excludes the possibility of moderate interpretations.

              That said, I don’t think most libertarians are unaware of power differentials, or entirely uncaring.  The relevant question is what they see as an appropriate response to that, and most won’t see invoking government power as necessarily being an appropriate response.  E.g., You and I are in a bargaining situation–you are an employer seeking to fill one position for which you have multiple qualified applicants, and I have been unable to find work for months. You don’t have any actual coercive force over me–as unpleasant a choice as it may be, I can walk away if you ask too much.  In response, I invoke government to bring more power to my side, power that is in fact true coercive force–you can’t just walk away.  Is that truly fair? I may in fact have not leveled the playing field, but dramatically tipped it in my favor, as the punishments government can inflict upon you for playing along far outweigh the punishments you can inflict on me for not playing along.

              What justifies the belief that the new differential in power is more just than the first one?  I think it rests a lot on the assumptions about the legitimacy of politics and government, but of course any inherent legitimacy of those two things is not sufficient to demonstrate the legitimacy of any particular political actions or governmental policies. And from my perspective, there is a common tendency to think that the burden of proof lies on those who are skeptical of the legitimacy of particular political outcomes, rather than on those who claim the actions are legitimate–but logically it is the latter who bear responsibility for demonstrating that the use of coercive force is legitimate.

              Consider the following example.  We live in a society where there are far more women than men, so that men struggle to find mates, while the women can be very selective.  That beautiful girl I really desire makes what seem to me to be unreasonable demands in exchange for me taking her out on a date. If I don’t acquiesce, my changes of getting a date, any date with any woman, is minimal. I might even die a virgin, an evolutionary failure.  Is it legitimate for me to demand that government punish her if she does not moderate her demands?

              Instinctively we say, “no, that’s different.”  Why? It’s even  more vital to me than a job, so don’t I as the less powerful party deserve even more assistance from government in tilting the playing field my way?

              And to keep the issue clear, let’s stay away from the “but corporations aren’t people” angle, and assume that the job I’m applying for is to be your personal assistant.

               

                Quote  Link

              Report

              • You are in a bargaining situation. The City wants to implement a 99% income tax levy.

                The City doesnt have any actual coercive force over you–as unpleasant a choice as it may be, you can walk away and set up your business in another town if they ask too much.

                  Quote  Link

                Report

                    • I’ve argued for about the last five years (though admittedly not recently) that Switzerland is probably as close to a vision of Libertopia-on-Earth of which I’m aware, at least from a policy standpoint.

                      [Insert Jaybird’s “vector, not a destination” argument here].

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                    • Jaybird- This is important-

                      Presenting real examples of what we prefer makes arguing productive.

                      I can state that “America’s tax and health care policies should be more like Canada” where Mark can say “I think they should be more like Switzerland.”

                      We can use empirical data from each and have a productive discussion.

                      Saying “I think America should be more like this hypothetical thought experiment Rothbardian negative-rights economy based on self-autonomy argle bargle” is what prompts people to say, “Oh, that sounds like So***lia!”

                       

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                    • Saying “I think America should be more like this hypothetical thought experiment Rothbardian negative-rights economy based on self-autonomy argle bargle” is what prompts people to say, “Oh, that sounds like So***lia!”

                      Those people thereby demonstrate that they don’t know dick about Somalia but are operating on cheap, stupid, and anti-intellectual stereotypes.

                      Somalia is dominated by warlords who don’t give one wet fart about negative rights, making it as much a libertarian nightmare as Stalin’s Soviet Union.  I’m perpetually amazed at the purposeful obstinate ignorance of anyone who would say what you say some people say.

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                    • Instead of my saying “we should be more like Canada” or “we should be more like Switzerland”, I tend to say “we shouldn’t pass that law” quickly followed by “we should repeal that law we passed” and, in return, I get examples of how maybe, if I didn’t want to live in a country with laws, I should move to Somalia.

                      Usually by someone who is offended by silly caricatures of his own opinion.

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                    • ” I’m perpetually amazed at the purposeful obstinate ignorance of anyone who would say what you say some people say.”

                      Some People say those things when they lack real world examples of what we are talking about.

                      Some People know all too well that econ jargon and insider specialty terms describing abstract hypotheticals are oftentimes nothing more than euphemisms that hide and distort the truth.

                      Some People in fact know that the greatest horrors of our age were the political movements that leaned most heavily on the small armies of sociologists and economists and political theorists. So hearing others wax on about yet another sociological theology with its set of priests and gods and promises of utopia only makes them, well….uneasy.

                      When Some People hear talk about how government is the problem and needs to be drowned in the bathtub,Some People take it seriously and the only image of a society without a government that flashes to their mind is….not Switzerland.

                      Sincerely,

                      Some People

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                    • When Some People hear talk about how government is the problem and needs to be drowned in the bathtub,Some People take it seriously and the only image of a society without a government that flashes to their mind is….not Switzerland.

                      Not that I’m a true anarchist myself, but “some people’s” eagerness to pretend that ruthless warlordism is in fact what libertarians want reflects more on their honesty and intellectual integrity than on those they are criticizing.  There is a world of difference between saying, “I understand what kind of world you think would happen without government, but I think it would actually end up more like Somalia,” and saying, “So you want Somalia.”  The first is a reasoned argument from a reasonable person.  The second is intentionally dishonest bullshit from an unreasonable and dishonest person.

                      Also dishonest is the insistence on always focusing on the most extreme statements of libertarians; pretending that the whack-jobs are the proper standard to judge by.  So whenever a libertarian says, “I think a law doing X is wrong,” “some people” say, “So you want to get rid of all government and turn us into Somalia.”

                      I’m just really tired of that kind of bullshit on a blog where it’s been rebutted so very very often, and yet “some people” keep returning to it as though it actually has meaning and is a legitimate argumentative approach.  You know, no matter how many times you prop up the strawman after he’s been knocked over, he’ll never come to life.

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                    • Some People in fact know that the greatest horrors of our age were the political movements that leaned most heavily on the small armies of sociologists and economists and political theorists.

                      You know, I have to tackle this, too.  Are you seriously going to try to suggest that the approach you favor doesn’t have an army of sociologists, economists and political theorists behind it?  For god’s sake, libertarianism is rare enough among economists, vanishingly remote among political scientists, and if there are more libertarian sociologists in this country than I can count on the fingers of my right hand, I’ll eat my bowler.  You’ll find far more support among sociologists for your positions than for mine, so if you intend this as a serious criticism then it strikes just as hard, if not harder, at your political positions.

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                    • Here is where gentlemen can agree;

                      Whack jobs who make stupid statements like “government should be small enough to drown in a bathtub”, and those who say “oh, you want Somalia” should both be laughed out of the public discourse.

                      We can certainly agree that neither one should be allowed any power or influence over national policy!

                      But that, of course, would merely be an abstract hypothetical.

                       

                       

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                    • Whack jobs who make stupid statements like … “oh, you want Somalia” should both be laughed out of the public discourse.

                      Says the guy who claimed that Somalia is an example of “Libertarianism-in-practice.” Consider yourself laughed at.

                      Actually, I have as much skepticism towards liberal theorists as I ever did. Remember i used to be a Reagan Republican in my youth.

                      Oh, yeah, conservatives don’t have their own theorists, economists, and the like. Sorry, Liberty, there’s no way to duck out of your own indictment.

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                  • Actually, I have as much skepticism towards liberal theorists as I ever did. Remember i used to be a Reagan Republican in my youth.

                    I still think that tradition should be respected, on the grounds that empirical data- facts on the ground- are more persuasive than theory.

                    So I support Social Security, for instance because it has a proven track record; the Ryan plan? Not so much.

                    As with all things, this line of logic has its absurd limits- (would I have supported a radical idea of “democracy?). But grounding our arguments in observable examples seems like a reasonable way to argue.

                      Quote  Link

                    Report

                • The City doesnt have any actual coercive force over you–as unpleasant a choice as it may be, you can walk away and set up your business in another town if they ask too much.

                  Yes. Which is why I–speaking only for myself and not libertarians generally–am something of a hyperfederalist, and would allow cities a lot more leeway to make such regulations than I would allow the federal government.

                  I don’t think most libertarians agree with me on that, but then I haven’t asked most of them.

                    Quote  Link

                  Report

              • I understand what you’re saying, but there are always lines.    We prevent rich men from marrying 6 women (at least simultaneously) because of our moral traditions, and our assessment of what allowing that might do to society.   And we place human organs outside of what we buy and sell.  So we do draw lines.

                Beneath the libertarian “ideal” seems to be an assumption of perfectly rational, perfectly informed actors.   My experience of the real world is that actors seek power advantages, knowledge advantages, price-setting advantages:   all of which would take the transactional realm beyond a pure market.

                So:  is this an important line of thought in the libertarianism?   Is there grappling with where to draw lines;   and in what circumstances a “regulator” would be welcomed, to insure that the fundaments of a marketplace exist (e.g. transparency, knowledge, competition, etc.)?   Is there any rough consensus on these issues?     Any interesting thinkers that write about them?

                  Quote  Link

                Report

                • Beneath the libertarian “ideal” seems to be an assumption of perfectly rational, perfectly informed actors.   My experience of the real world is that actors seek power advantages, knowledge advantages, price-setting advantages:   all of which would take the transactional realm beyond a pure market.

                  So then what? Let’s say that we pick people to make things so that the power advantages are smoothed out, that there’s less asymmetrical information, and no advantages.

                  How long do you expect this equilibrium to last before bad actors figure out ways to capture legislation and/or regulation? (Personally, I give it less than a generation.)

                    Quote  Link

                  Report

                  • How long do you expect this equilibrium to last before bad actors figure out ways to capture legislation and/or regulation? (Personally, I give it less than a generation.)

                    Probably much less than that, actually.  Nefarious folks adapt really quickly.

                    On the other hand, all security has always been an arms race and/or evolutionary battle.  So the fact that “we change the rules means the bad guys adapt” isn’t as much a rejection of the idea as an important part of the analysis for building a good strategy for how we change the rules.

                    Now, that said, here in this ol’ U.S. of A. we have basically zero ability to have a strategy for how we change the rules.  So, I’m not certain I actually disagree with your observation about the result anyway.

                      Quote  Link

                    Report

                • Beneath the libertarian “ideal” seems to be an assumption of perfectly rational, perfectly informed actors.  

                  Yes, this is one of its weaker points.  It’s not an approach that’s well suited to dealing with issues concerning children or the mentally incompetent.

                  My experience of the real world is that actors seek power advantages, knowledge advantages, price-setting advantages:   all of which would take the transactional realm beyond a pure market.

                  Um, yeah, that’s pretty much what libertarians think, because that’s what rational actors do.  And rather than government being a benevolent neutral force, it’s just another arena in which those rational actors seek power advantages, price setting advantages and the like.  Given that government is populated by people and influence over its policies is sought by people, how could it be anything other than that? Libertarians think it takes quite a leap of imagination–and rejection of the logic on which you’ve begun–to view government any differently.

                  What logical basis is there for assuming that humans engaging in politics and government would act differently than humans act in general?

                    Quote  Link

                  Report

                  • Well, the structures created in the pre-WWII Roosevelt administration, proved to be pretty useful, and stood us in good stead for quite a while.    And the assumption that rational actors seek to maximize only their own welfare seems to take a pretty limited view of the potential of human nature.

                    I don’t know if you read Boomerang by Michael Lewis, but it’s thesis is that the way different countries reacted to the credit bubble of 2001 – 2008 tells you quite a lot about their cultures  (Americans bought big houses, Californians bought giant public pensions, Icelanders became convinced they were natural bankers, etc.)    The Germans, however, managed to keep themselves away from temptation, largely because of German cultural attributes;  and more particularly because they have a civil service with a strong ethic of public service.

                    Granted, there will be a constant arms race between the regulators and the regulated.    But if you can set up systems that discourage the accumulation of power to single parties–in Madisonian fashion–I believe that it’s perfectly plausible to have a public sector that is as adaptive and focused as individual rent seekers.

                      Quote  Link

                    Report

                    • But if you can set up systems that discourage the accumulation of power to single parties–in Madisonian fashion–

                      Lots of libertarian-minded folks prefer a Madisonian-style government to any other type.  James Buchanan, the founder of the public choice school, was one such.

                      I believe that it’s perfectly plausible to have a public sector that is as adaptive and focused as individual rent seekers.

                      Well, that’s a bit more dubious. The Madisonian vision assumes they won’t be, so they have to be constrained. Or, that is, if they’re adaptive and focused, it won’t necessarily be toward pure public service.  Agency capture, iron triangles, and all that unpleasant business. The FDR structures are not good counter-examples. There’s too much there to go into detail about here, but purposes and goals != outcomes and effects.

                      the assumption that rational actors seek to maximize only their own welfare seems to take a pretty limited view of the potential of human nature.

                      Agreed, and too many libertarians do take that view. But humans do seek their own interests, however defined, and while that definition frequently includes concerns for those within their chosen circle, in addition to themselves, you’re not going to win many bets wagering on people being willing to sacrifice for the general good.  The reason we turn to government half the time is to get other people to bear the cost of the alleged general good that we, individually, want.

                      cultural attributes

                      Oh, yeah, cultural attributes shape our understanding of what we value, and hence what we  pursue with our rationality.  Rationality is about means, not ends, after all (the masochist who seeks a sadist to whip him is rational).  But that all happens within relatively narrow bounds.  Germans may not have wanted big houses, but I notice they’re not lining up to bail out the Greeks with any great enthusiasm.

                      Anyway, we’re getting pretty far afield from the original question here.  I’m struggling to pay my mortgage and feed my kids, and I want to be your personal assistant, but you insist on having my Facebook password, or you’re going to hire Jaybird, who will happily provide his, instead.  Does that power differential justify my invoking an even greater power differential on my side against you?

                      If power differentials are the big concern, then why would my having an even greater power differential be more legitimate than your lesser power differential?

                       

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                  • And rather than government being a benevolent neutral force, it’s just another arena in which those rational actors seek power advantages, price setting advantages and the like.

                    James, I don’t believe that you believe that. Is government indistinguishable from the ‘free market’ of power distributions?

                      Quote  Link

                    Report

                • I understand what you’re saying, but there are always lines.    We prevent rich men from marrying 6 women (at least simultaneously) because of our moral traditions, and our assessment of what allowing that might do to society.   And we place human organs outside of what we buy and sell.  So we do draw lines.

                  Respectfully, all you’ve done is explain the obvious. You haven’t explained why those particular policies are justified.  That is, “we” (whoever “we” is) have decided that allowing a man to marry 6 women would do…something….presumably bad…to our society.  But saying that we’ve decided that is not an explanation of why that is a legitimate decision in the case of 1 man and 6 women who are all adults, competent, and wholly voluntarily agreeable to marrying each other.

                  As for the human organs ban, to play devils’ advocate, that’s been a great way to kill of small portions of the surplus population. Yeah, we’ve drawn that line…but is it right?

                  My demand as a libertarian is that you justify over-riding individual choice on those matters, and all you’ve told me so far is that a bunch of people have agreed we should over-ride individual choice. There are more than enough examples of cases where that has gone wrong that it’s clear more is required to justify those policies.

                    Quote  Link

                  Report

                  • I agree that we’re going pretty far afield on this one, but I would like to take this stuff up with you again at a different time (in a different post, or in meatworld).   These issues are fascinating and important to me, and I have some strong libertarian instincts–at least compared to mainstream American politics–but don’t really “get” libertarianism enough to completely understand which parts of its world  view I can embrace.

                    Libertarians often argue that libertarian policy would lead to more objectively positive outcomes:  more income, less inequality, more choice and autonomy, and  greater prosperity for all.    But at core I think that many of them don’t really care:  that it’s the core principles of “maximum liberty” that are most important, even if they led to objectively worse material outcomes.

                    My impression, for now, is that libertarianism takes too mechanistic a view of humans, of human nature, and of culture for me to buy off on   (I freely grant you that this may be an artifact of my unfamiliarity with the body of libertarian thought).    That is is a stretching of the abstract notion of “The Economic Man” way past its point of insight or usefulness.   That it celebrates “liberty” as an abstract good way above all other human values, like happiness, or belongingness, or security, or equity.

                    This is my impression, but I suspect that it’s not the real case (or, at least, not fully).   Some of the most interesting and thoughtful commenter on this blog, for instance , have strong libertarian bents.   And I kind of share the sentiment of your last paragraph.    I am really attracted to the idea of a society devoted to the notion of minimal compulsion and coersion; but from all power, not just governmental.

                      Quote  Link

                    Report

                    • but from all power, not just governmental.

                      If I may be boldly jump into this convo uninvited… It seems to me that what you wrote above is the dividing line between reasonable liberalism and reasonable libertarianism. And let me quickly add that libertarians most certainly have good reasons falling on one side of the issue. My advice in these discussion? Be patient and attribute both thoughtfulness and wide ranging intelligence to your libertarian interlocutor. You may not be entirely persuaded by the argument, but it’s much more nuanced than you initially might think.

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                    • “[A]t core I think that many of them don’t really care:  that it’s the core principles of “maximum liberty” that are most important, even if they led to objectively worse material outcomes.”

                      Well…yes, considering that libertarian theory’s core tenet is that maximum liberty will lead to more income, less inequality, etcetera.  It’s like you’re saying that people don’t care about satiation, they just care about chewing and swallowing.

                      “My impression, for now, is that libertarianism takes too mechanistic a view of humans, of human nature, and of culture for me to buy off on”

                      I guess that’s true if you think “people will always take the action they consider most beneficial to them” to be a mechanistic statement.

                      “Oh but libertarians think everything is about money!”  There’s more than one kind of money, kid.

                        Quote  Link

                      Report

                • Just a note about the organ thing, sorry it’s a pet peeve of mine, it should be noted that as a general rule we condem people to spend absolute fortunes on unnecessary stop gap treatment and sentence even more to painful deaths due to our squeemishness about the purchasing and sale of organs when all indications are that a (strictly regulated) system of organ markets would eliminate this particular problem entirely.

                    Quote  Link

                  Report

                  • Interesting to hear that you think poor black children’s organs should be sold to rich white middle-aged men.

                    “Oh but that’ll never happen!”  It doesn’t have to happen.  It just has to be possible.  You’ve been paying attention to the arguments over why libertarians are secretly racist, right?

                      Quote  Link

                    Report

  8. Can’t you just deny having a Facebook account?  Even if they find the simplest record of an account, deny its yours.

    On this note, I am in the process of hiring summer camp counselors for a camp I run.  All of them are college-aged.  I Google-searched all of them.  Not one appeared to be linked to Facebook in anyway.  Either I’m hiring a bunch of losers OR there is a way to completely block showing up in such searches.  If it is the latter, well played suddenly-cool-and-savy potential employees.

    I don’t know the specific laws on what hiring people can or can’t ask.  But, sure, ask me for my Facebook.  While you’re at it, ask me for my diary, the pictures I draw when I’m drunk, and whatever else you want.  And I’ll tell you to go Fish yourself.  And if you won’t hire me, I’m probably better off.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  9. As ever, allowing employers the power to snoop through Facebook will fall heaviest on the usual suspects- the outsiders, the cranks, those who belong to outside-the-mainstream religions or political parties or as-yet-socially unacceptable lifestyles.

    And as ever, those who currently hold power over others will gain even more, and those without, will lose what little they have.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  10. Questions.

    -Is there any kind of implied contract between Facebook and users?

    -If so can Facebook informing you that certain information is private be regarded as a commitment under that contract?

    -Finally if both the above are true would there be a basis for suing Facebook for releasing that data to a third party without either your permission or a legal obligation to do so?

    Next moving away from the legality, I don’t like the argument that people should treat all online communication as public. Yes it may well be true that information can be got one way or another but not every computer user is internet savvy and if we are explicitly told that we can choose who sees certain content I’m not going to accept the defence that we should have known the company were lying when they turn round and actually hand that content over to others.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  11. The thing that comes to my mind is this:

    1. Lots of Web sites have Terms of Service that forbid you from handing out your password to other people.  I don’t know if Facebook has this in their ToS, but let’s assume for a moment they did.

    2. It can be (and has been) argued that violating a site’s ToS is actually, no kidding, a violation of Federal law, the Computer Fraud and Misuse Act.  (IIRC that’s what they charged whats-her-name with, Lori Drew, the gal who posted nasty things on MySpace that allegedly drove that kid to suicide.)

    So if such an employer asks for your Facebook password so they can go poking around for Unsuitable Things, it seems to me like they’re asking you to break Federal law.  This seems like it could be a bit of a problem.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  12. The point being, should schools and employers get the keys to our Facebooks?

    My inclination is towards “no”. While I understand the concept of background checks, this goes beyond checking for a criminal or adverse employment history into judging people for their personal lives. It’s irrelevant, people don’t live their lives outside of school or work for the 24-7 benefit of their educators or employers, what actually matters they don’t have to read your Facebook to find out.

      Quote  Link

    Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *