392 thoughts on “At My Real Job

  1. “Many religious liberals are actively marketing to religious conservatives (and in many ways winning them over) by appealing to their faith. If libertarians do not pursue fusionism with religious conservatives, we may find in time that liberals have succeeded in branding liberalism as the only religiously acceptable political ideology.

    If that is the case, there would be no coalition on the Right. How then will there be enough of us to defend freedom?”

    Mistake #1: equating conservatism and libertarianism with freedom or the defense of same.

    Mistake #2: declarative statement that liberals are anti-freedom.

    If this is what passes for debate where you work, I don’t think I’ll be reading much more of that series.

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  2. Thanks for pointing out the Otto essay, she’s obviously genuinely interested in libertarian fusionism and passionate about reaching out to religious conservatives. But from the libertarian perspective, I feel like this right/lib fusionist advice is like telling a person locked out of their house that they should form an alliance with the neighborhood burglar because both want to get in! Or, to put it more succinctly, smart people around here often quote the libertarian perspective to “Cut taxes from the bottom up and welfare from the top down”. That perspective seems completely at odds with the modern conservative movement – as I see it – and so any fusionist essay that doesn’t tackle this contradiction will do little to convince me.

    If Ott’s point, and the focus of the essay, is that libertarians should pull conservatives into the movement by not being assholes about religion (and maybe toning it down on the “Sky Man & The Evil Snake” mockery) then I’m all for it. But if her goal is, as she says in her last sentence, a “coalition on the Right” then I think she needs to challenge the Right’s priorities more directly.

    BTW, this concluding section:

    “What made these groups poor was their lack of individual rights. Depending on the specific situation, they likely did not have property rights or legal standing. They often did not have the option to enter the job market or the opportunity to be entrepreneurial … Anything that delegates the responsibility to help the poor to others or to government programs denies individual responsibility.”

    Seems eerily familiar to Rand Paul’s argument against the Civil Rights Act, and completely misses the point that when government is the reason for transgressions against individual rights then we must demand that government – not just individuals – also rectify their transgression. I find it hard to understand how reparations for police brutality or discrimination against black farmers or Japanese-American internment would classify as denying individual responsibility, for example.

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  3. If you bristle at accusations of being a conservative pet, or that CATO in general is focused solely on one dimension of liberty (economic), then..well…that fusionism essay doesn’t help.

    Also this: “way forward for fusionism is to celebrate the moral superiority of free markets”, requires a lot more heaving lifting than she seemed willing to do, which is fine for preaching to the choir, but that’s why I find discussions about libertarianism in LOoG so much more edifying.

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    • If you bristle at accusations of being a conservative pet, or that CATO in general is focused solely on one dimension of liberty (economic), then..well…that fusionism essay doesn’t help.

      I fear you may be judging a debate solely on the opening statement of one of its participants.

      In my own opinion, which will not be expressed at Cato Unbound this month, libertarianism ought to be its own thing, independent of liberals or conservatives. In that respect, I disagree with Jacque Otto. As editor of a debate journal, I give a fair hearing to people I disagree with. I know that sounds weird, but it’s what I do.

      And besides, it would be foolish to entirely ignore and never even consider the attempts, past and present, at forging a right-libertarian alliance. Just as it would be foolish to ignore the (admittedly more tentative) attempts at forging a left-libertarian alliance.

      The 20th century libertarians stood rather more with the right. But I think that was owing to 20th century concerns, and the future is for us to be much more independent or even possibly to have a stronger affinity with the left.

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  4. I’m not seeing any trends that would point to the emergence of a ‘religious left’ as a coherent and viable political movement (and thus power broker).

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    • Don’t sleep on the Presbyterians now! I wondered if she might be referring to Catholics, but they’re a blend of both left and right views, which comes out in wash in electoral politics.

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      • As are, like Jason M. says, Catholic latinos (and Catholic non-latinos, like the PA Casey family).

        But it would be an iffy proposition to say the African American voting patterns are defined by religiosity. (on a macro, national scale. On a micro, local scale, it does matter more). And the proposition that the African American vote is at play in libertarian-conservative fusionism*, or can be made so – well, it would be nice to believe, but that’s not the way the current political map or any near-term iteration is drawn.

        *and to be clear, it’s not that the African-american vote is not worth pursuing from any and all parties, it’s just that one is going to have to press for policies – especially libertarian policies – that are not historically hitched to Goldwater-Buckley era conservo-libertarianism. (for starters, both conservatives and libertarians can stop reflexively bashing cities)

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    • Also Jews are 80 percent or more solidly Democratic and this drives the Republican Party bonkers.

      We might not be religious in the same vein as the Religious Right but we should count….

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            • Insofar as there’s a religious or moral dimension to “libertarian” (scare quotes here) arguments regarding the primacy of free market economics and individualist liberty, they seem to have largely been subsumed and incorporated into the strains of evangelical christianity that make up the core of the religious right.

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              • “In the same way that God thinks that you should be allowed to make your own decisions and go to Hell if you want, so do I.”

                This doesn’t really take off with Babtists as much as you’d think it should. Of course, I was raised from a strain that saw Presbyterians as heretics (they baptize babies, don’t you know… and worse, they don’t even baptize them, they sprinkle).

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                  • The religious right doesn’t believe in free markets in drugs, sex, pornography, religion, or labor mobility (I.e., immigration). They’re pretty selective in both free markets and individual liberty. I think “parrot” is a more accurate word than “subsume.”

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                    • Immigration law is not a signature issue of the ‘religious right’. People agitating for immigration restriction are not distinguished by a particular orientation toward various social questions. There may be a correlation there. However, I believe that Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist public policy staff is currently agitating for amnesty (though I may have confounded him with someone else). The biases of the U.S. Catholic Conference have generally run toward a lax immigration regime as well.

                      They’re pretty selective in both free markets and individual liberty.

                      More precisely, the do not define ‘individual liberty’ as the freedom to engage in vice.

                      I think “parrot” is a more accurate word than “subsume.”

                      Thanks for your input.

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        • I think Kohole is on point here. Granted, I see most of this in the Canadian political sphere, but I think similar lessons can be taken.

          There are a couple of prominent left wing (non-partisan) political organizations that are religious organizations – Citizens for Public Justice, and KAIROS. KAIROS, particularly, has become a bit of a cause celebre for liberals as it has had some pretty high profile clashes with the current government (which resulted in helping to bring down a cabinet minister). The policies of these groups mesh perfectly with secular liberal views (by and large – there are variations within every political group or coalition), so on the surface there’s nothing about them that would make people think of them as the Religious Left, even though that’s exactly what they are.

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        • The problem with this tactic is that you are requiring Jewish theology to be comparable to Christian theology and it simply isn’t.

          How are the Christian right different than any secular right-winger/conservative on many issues? Why should it be different for Jews?

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          • The religious right is the cart driving the horse on conservative social policy. Can the same be said of the religious left?

            The religious right is, in general, far less enthusiastic about capitalism in general. They’re also more likely to be squishy on immigration. And, obviously, they care a whole lot more about certain issues than the party as a whole.

            If the religious right left the Republican Party, it would be decidedly different. If the Jewish (or Episcopalians) left the Democratic Party, I’m not sure it would mark as different a change.

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            • The Jewish vote is packed enough to sway elections in at least New York and New Jersey. This includes for Congress, Senate, Governors, and the electoral college. The electoral college votes of New York is one of the states that gives the Democratic Party a strong advantage, along with the California.

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              • I’m not talking about numbers. I’m talking about whether or not they – as a specific voting block – are an active force in shaping their party the same way that evangelicals are in the Republican Party.

                I don’t think they are. I think if the Jewish vote left the party, the platform would remain very similar to what it is now and only altered to the extent that they need to recoup votes.

                If Evangelicals left the GOP, you’d see immediate changes. I see a difference here.

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    • Less pithily than my first response:
      I understand that much of the argument stems from an American centric view of politics, and in this sense I agree that there’s not really a power-broker aspect to liberal evangelicalism or even mainline Catholicism that is in itself distinct from the mainline liberal center in the US. (To some extent I think this is more an internalization of earlier trends such as the Koinonia farms style social justice movements and part of American cultural religiosity, and this itself narrows the scope of discussion about “religious voters” as a particular evangelical protestantism and Catholic fundamentalism in the US)

      But one wonders if globally there’s more to the idea of a religious left than people will give it credit for. Catholicism as a social justice movement is particularly strong in Latin America, while Protestants too are also keen on stressing charity and aid over uh individualism. To the extent that free market arguments will continue to remain relevant GLOBALLY, it needs to help address what is still a staggering global inequality.

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  5. How about all the social liberty aspects of being a libertarian?

    Or is this essay from Cato just another hands up on how social liberty is all a ruse?

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      • Akismet tagged two of your comments as “likely spam”. It’s a Bayesian filter, so some combination of your word choice, source IP, content, etc., is the likely culprit.

        It looks like you’re using TOR, and there have been cases in the past when people have been pushed over the limit in spam scoring by using anonymizing services. If you don’t drop the anonymizer, you’re occasionally going to wind up in the filter.

        (This isn’t a demand that you stop using said services, just that if you do, this is an occasional consequence)

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      • I’m trying to understand this too.

        I don’t doubt that if you looked hard enough, you’d find something from Jacque Otto with which I disagree even more vigorously than her Cato Unbound essay.

        That would be fair, and not just a random shot.

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        • If libertarian/conservative fusion is what you are after, Rick Perry is what you have to fuse with. Like it or not that’s the behavior of the movement you are trying to ally with and the sort of so-called christian morality that Jacqueline Otto argues libertarians are supposed to embrace.

          It’s not a random shot.

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            • I read what he wrote, I’m not taking cheap potshots, and if you’re just going to be a coward who shows up to snipe at me then please just ignore anything I write instead.

              You ran away from another discussion while making repeated personal attacks and at this point I believe your only motivation is trolling. You are trying to bait me into some form of response. This is my final request that you stop doing so.

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              • You ran away from another discussion while making repeated personal attacks and at this point I believe your only motivation is trolling. You are trying to bait me into some form of response. This is my final request that you stop doing so.

                Or?

                I didn’t see any repeated personal attacks so I have no idea what you’re talking about. Perhaps you can enlighten me.

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  6. Otto writes:

    “While libertarians do not quicken to accept Buckley’s leadership because of his rejection of Ayn Rand’s and Murray Rothbard’s unyieldingness”

    That means she is saying libertarians approve of Rand and Rothbard.

    I have gotten far more flack from self-described libertarians for saying that libertarians approve of Nozick. I am told that libertarianism shouldn’t be defined by its most extreme voices. But here someone supposedly friendly to libertarianism makes the same point that not accepting extreme voices (like Rand and Rothbard) means you won’t he accepted in the movement of libertarianism, as Buckley isn’t.

    How come I get flack and not Otto?

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    • Not knowing all the players, I’d guess that Otto has a different perspective on the continuum than you do, and/or that there’s disagreement that all of the above can necessarily be ranked in an ordinal ranking of “libertarian-ness”, let alone a ratio ranking.

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      • But she seems to imply that Buckley couldn’t be a libertarian or lead the libertarians precisely because he didn’t agree with the more extreme ideologies of Rand and Rothbard. Buckley has to be something not quite libertarian,

        When I say X can’t be a libertarian because X doesn’t agree with the more extremist versions of libertarianism, I get in trouble. Why not her?

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        • It’s actually pretty simple and not at all tendentious or ad hoc.

          Ask me about Murray Rothbard, I’ll say that he was an extremist with some very important, interesting, and worthwhile ideas.

          Ask you about Rothbard, and you’ll say he was a dangerous lunatic.

          In that respect, you’re more like William F. Buckley than you realize, because that was precisely his opinion, too.

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          • This doesn’t address my point and seems a bit of an attack on my ability to see the value in the work of people I disagree with.

            1. If Rothbard wrote the racist Ron Paul newsletter, he is a dangerous lunatic. Surely you agree. But maybe he didn’t write them.

            2. I appreciate the value of some of Rothbard’s ideas. Rand’s too. Neither is Robert Nozick (or even Narveson) in intellectual capability. Lesser lights and all that. If I were to call either a lunatic, it would be for Rand’s weirdly cultish personal behavior later in life and Rothbard’s flirtation with racism. Again, surely you agree.

            3. My point is that we all agree that Buckley isn’t a libertarian because he doesn’t agree with the extreme points of view of people like Rothbard and Nozick. So why do I get in trouble when I say that if you are too much of a moderate, you aren’t a libertarian? Otto makes the same point as me and gets away with it.

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            • 3. My point is that we all agree that Buckley isn’t a libertarian because he doesn’t agree with the extreme points of view of people like Rothbard and Nozick.

              That’s not why I don’t call William F. Buckley a libertarian.

              I don’t call Buckley a libertarian because he was fairly clear about personally rejecting the idea of a stand-alone libertarianism. He insisted that libertarians were basically misidentified conservatives.

              This isn’t just about labels, either. I believe Buckley’s politics was motivated by a different set of underlying concerns than most libertarians’. And he signaled those concerns in how he responded to various intellectuals around him, Murray Rothbard definitely included. In one of his infamously vicious obituaries, Buckley compared Rothbard to David Koresh.

              My own take on Rothbard is a lot kinder than that. He had some interesting and undoubtedly extreme ideas. And later in life he appears quite possibly to have gone off the deep end. A fact that saddens me, not one I can take any delight in.

              (Because I know you’ll ask if I don’t mention it – Rothbard may perhaps have written the racist newsletters, but it seems much more likely to have been Lew Rockwell: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lew_Rockwell)

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                • No. Not good. You’re wrong.

                  I don’t believe that Buckley “moderated his libertarianism.” I believe he wished that libertarians would moderate their libertarianism. He himself didn’t have any libertarianism to moderate.

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                  • Jason, do you think there were strains of libertarianism in Buckley’s thinking about politics and governance even tho he eschewed the label for philosophical and even practical reasons?

                    Consider, for example, this quote from self-identified libertarian Robert Poole of Reason: “Some commentators dubbed Buckley a “libertarian conservative,” and in the broadest sense, I guess that was true.”

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                    • Not to speak for Jason, but I think there were some strains of libertarian thought in Buckley’s thinking, but not nearly enough to really identify him as a libertarian per se.

                      For example, he was opposed to same-sex marriage, and argued that of course the majority got to set those rules. He also complained that the Massachusetts judges gave rights to gays that had been designed for “non-gays,” a denial of individual humanity that libertarian thought doesn’t swallow easily.

                      One could look to his opposition to the war on drugs and call for legalization and think, “yeah, that’s libertarian,” but his entire argument was based on the bad side effects of the war on drugs, and was a purely pragmatic change from his prior opposition to legalization. Good and correct as that was, it wasn’t the clearly more libertarian position that “what I ingest is none of your damn business.” He believed it was government’s business; he just realized that pursuing that business was unprofitable.

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                    • A Conservative Eisenhower Republican would probably believe in limits on Federal government power/jurisdiction that would, in 2013, map more to, say, the Constitution Party than the Libertarian Party but, eh. Those 3rd Party Types have more in common with each other than they do with the Real ones.

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                  • Yeah. He was too moderate to be a libertarian is a claim Otto and I agree with, but people get mad at me when I make it )because it implies libertarianism is always extremists of a sort).

                    My claim is that some people are too moderately in favor of helping the poor to be libertarians, too. Similarly, Buckley is not a libertarian because he is too moderate in different ways.

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                    • Well Buckley isn’t a libertarian, even though he accepts some of the claims that libertarians do, because he doesn’t accept libertarian ideas in their more extreme and unadulterated forms, as Rothbard and Nozick (for example) accept them.

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                    • Come in Shazbot, that’s really dishonest. That’s not what Jason said. You’re making a really convenient misinterpretation so you can claim he agrees with you, even though he’s expressed disagreement.

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                    • Buckley wasn’t a libertarian because his main political loyalty was not to the value of liberty, but to the value of tradition.

                      This being a country with a significant tradition of liberty, you will notice some overlap.

                      But a libertarian will value tradition only if it enhances liberty. A traditionalist will value liberty only if it’s traditional.

                      It’s not a mater of moderation, but of different (though sometimes overlapping) goals.

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                    • No dishonesty.

                      Everyone can get their views out.

                      1. Was Buckley a libertarian?

                      2. Was Otto wrong to imply he wasn’t a libertarian because he wasn’t in line with Rothbard (or Rand) or any other extremist libertarian?

                      It seems to me that if you answer yes to 1., you can’t answer no to 2. without logical contradiction. (Or vice versa.) Buckley either was or wasn’t a libertarian. He’s not some kind of Schrodinger’s cat ideologically.

                      It seems to me that James wants to say that Otto was wrong to say he wasn’t a libertarian. That’s fine. (Though I disagree.) Just don’t say she was right to do so and I’m not right to say the same thing.

                      I’m still not sure if Jason wants to answer “yes” to both questions or “No” to both. But you can’t answer “yes” to “one” and no to the other.

                      That’s all I’m arguing here. I’ve argued that libertarianism, properly defined, excludes people who hold less extreme views than Rothbard and Nozick. You (James) disagree, IIRC, arguing that how a person self-ascribes as libertarian or not is relevant to whether they are.

                      (Personally, I think whether you self- ascribe can’t be used as a criterion for determining whether the tern properly applies to you, because that would be circular. “I am a libertarian because I say I am. But should I say I am a libertarian? Well, I do say I am. On and on.)

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                    • 1. I don’t think Buckley was a libertarian.

                      2. I think Otto was mistaken to imply that his failure to qualify was merely due to his disagreeing with the canonical figures.

                      I take a larger view of what it means to be a libertarian, but by that standard, I still don’t think he qualifies.

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                    • Buckley wasn’t in any way a libertarian. He was a staunch capitalist, largely because the alternative was atheistic Communism. If there’d been an American tradition of socially conservative religious communitariansm, he’d have been fine with it.

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                    • “Examining postwar conservative intellectual history, Kim Phillips-Fein writes: The most influential synthesis of the subject remains George H. Nash’s The Conservative Intellectual Tradition since 1945…. He argued that postwar conservatism brought together three powerful and partially contradictory intellectual currents that previously had largely been independent of each other: libertarianism, traditionalism, and anticommunism. Each particular strain of thought had predecessors earlier in the twentieth (and even nineteenth) centuries, but they were joined in their distinctive postwar formulation through the leadership of William F. Buckley Jr…. Buckley founded National Review in 1955, serving as editor-in-chief until 1990.[37][38] During that time, National Review became the standard-bearer of American Conservatism, promoting the fusion of traditional conservatives and libertarians…. Buckley would distinguish between so-called “lowercase c” and “Capital C” conservatives, the latter being true conservatives: fiscally conservative and socially Conservative/Libertarian or libertarian-leaning.[105][106]”

                      That’s all from Wikipedia entry on Buckley.

                      After Rothbard died, Buckley wrote this:

                      “It was a great pity, but his problem ought not to be thought of as tracing to the seamless integrity of libertarian principles. In Murray’s case, much of what drove him was a contrarian spirit, the deranging scrupulosity that caused him to disdain such as Herbert Hoover, Ronald Reagan, Milton Friedman, and — yes — Newt Gingrich,”

                      Buckley believed in Fusionism, which accepted laissez-faire markets as necessarily good, i.e. it accepts the libertarian approach to fiscal issues, but accepted violations of libertarianism in the social sphere, especially with respect to abortion. Buckley accepted libertarian principles, but by accepting other principles too, he accepted a modified, more moderate ideology that shouldn’t be called libertarianism.

                      Again, this acceptance of principles in addition to libertarian principles means that Buckley was not a libertarian. In general, if you accept principles that would modify (and moderate) the more pure, extremist forms of libertarianism (associated with Rothbard and Nozick and others), then you should not be called a libertarian. “Libertarianism” is a form of extremism. (BTW, extremist is not a derisive term. Plato was an extremist. Martin Luther King was an avowed extremist.)

                      Otto and I agree on this.

                      If you disagree, Jason, then what criteria do you use to determine who is a libertarian that excludes the libertarian-leaning fusionists and libertarian-leaning liberals, that should be excluded?

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                    • To complicate matters.

                      James is always telling me that I should let libertarians decide who is a libertarian and who isn’t.

                      But Buckley often called himself a libertarian.

                      From Jacob Sullum at Reason.com:

                      “As for substance, Buckley often called himself a libertarian; the subtitle of Happy Days Were Here Again, his 1993 collection of columns and articles, was “Reflections of a Libertarian Journalist.”

                      So he is a libertarian right? Just a moderate one?

                      It seems to me that he has as much of a claim to being a libertarian as James or Jason. Buckley accepts libertarian principles, but he accepts some exceptions that extremists like Nozick and Rothbard don’t accept. (James accepts that there should be some exceptions to create equality of opportunity, which is not a strictly libertarian principle, IIRC.)

                      So he is a libertarian, right?

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                    • It seems to me that James wants to say that Otto was wrong to say he wasn’t a libertarian.

                      Jesus Fucking Christ, you have one hell of a reading comprehension problem.

                      I’ve argued that libertarianism, properly defined, excludes people who hold less extreme views than Rothbard and Nozick.

                      Yes, you have, and it’s the same ridiculous no-true-Scotsman fallacy as the first time you made it.

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                    • If Buckley isn’t a libertarian, then you aren’t either James.

                      And enough with the bullying and rhetoric. I’m behaving nicely, not swearing and calling you dishonest, and you should play nice, too.

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                    • It’s not a true Scotsman fallacy. I’m arguing that the criteria for what determines who is a libertarian a either very narrow and leave out you and Buckley, or they are broad and include him as much as you.

                      IMO, it is more useful if we could reserve the label “libertarian” for the narrow use to refer only to the Rothbards and Nozicks of the world.

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                    • And enough with the bullying and rhetoric. I’m behaving nicely, not swearing and calling you dishonest

                      No, you are not behaving nicely. You are continually misrepresenting what Jason and I are saying. There’s nothing nice about that at all.

                      IMO, it is more useful if we could reserve the label “libertarian” for the narrow use to refer only to the Rothbards and Nozicks of the world.

                      IMO you have never made a remotely logical argument in favor of doing so. It’s just an effort to marginalize. There’s a whole world of people out there who call themselves libertarians and who aren’t that narrow. You can sit around and wish it were otherwise, but there’s not a one of them that’s going to let a self-described liberal define libertarianism for them, especially when that liberal is trying to define them out of their own camp.

                      You remember those discussions that popped up some months back about who has standing to make what kind if claims? Well, you don’t have standing when it comes to defining libertarianism. So you might as well get clear about the fact that your position is not being taken seriously, and you sound an awful lot like a white guy trying to explain racism to a black guy.

                      Now you are, of course, free to believe any ridiculous thing you want. But this business of repeatedly misinterpreting people, especially when you follow up the misinterpretation with some variation on, “so you actually agree with me,” needs to stop. It is dishonest, and I have no intention of being anything but rude to and dismissive of you as long as you play that vile game.

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                    • I’m glad that you admit that you’re being rude and dismissive. Just remember the next time that you get mad at a certain commenter (who hasn’t been around) who you often tangle with, that you are okay with being as rude as he is.

                      My sin, according to you, stripped away from the angry rhetoric, is that I stated that X has such and such views. Later, I reasserted that he (and you) thi such and such, and must think be committed to accepting such and such, even if you don’t won’t to admit it. This is a common and reasonable thing to do in a debate and doesn’t deserve your admittedly rude and dismissive response. There is no dishonesty in my position. Suppose I say to someone who believes gay people are unintelligent, “You think Turing was unintelligent.” If they want to deny it, they can explain how that is consistent with their other claims. This is how I am arguing. Otto implies Buckley was not a libertarian because he accepted libertarian principles and other principles that moderated his libertarianism. He was less extreme and purist than Rothbard, and so not a libertarian. If you agree with her reasoning, then others are not libertarians either. If you disagree with her reasoning, you should be as hard on her and dismissive of her, as you were with me a long time ago. But Jason is not being as hard on her as if I had used the same reasoning to say he and you were not libertarians. This is hardly an argument that desereves rudeness and insult in response.

                      —-

                      Regarding who has standing to define libertarianism, note that Buckley often claimed to be a libertarian, and you and Jason claim he isn’t. So, you agree that the mere fact that someone self-ascribes as a libertarian is not sufficient to show that the person is a libertarian. You also agree that by accepting principles other than libertarian principles (being less pure and extremist than Rothbard) can make you not a libertarian.

                      So therefore, you must accept that your self-ascription as a libertarian is not sufficient to make you a libertarian. And , you must accept that your accepting of a less principled, less pure form of libertarianism than Rothbard’s raises a serious question as to whether you should count as a libertarian.

                      The analogy with race is a poor one. Did you know I used to be a libertarian? Thus, I have self-ascribed as libertarian and am just as able as you to talk avout who counts as one.

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                    • Is dismissing Buckley as not a libertarian despite his respect for libertarian principles, his self-ascription as a libertarian, his desrie to dismantle the entire New Deal and replace it with markets, his position against the war on drugs, bev not a “no true Scotsmen” fallacy, just because Buckley was a.) pro-life, and b.) thought that the were pragmatic, empirical reasons for not overturning traditional institutions too quickly?

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                    • Simplify that:

                      If I believe in public school, then does that mean I can’t be a libertarian?

                      Or even

                      If I believe in mandatory education, then does that mean I can’t be a libertarian?

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  7. “However, the differences between libertarians and conservatives are already well defined, and redefining them is not the purpose of this discussion. Instead, what I propose is that the way forward for fusionism is to celebrate the moral superiority of free markets and limited government and do a better job of making those moral arguments to religious conservatives.

    This task will not be an easy one, as those who are both religious and libertarian-leaning face strong cultural and ideological headwinds in our religious and political communities.”

    I think this task is a lot easier than she does.

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    • I think it’s a lot harder than she thinks it is, because I suspect that most of libertarian-leaning folk are regarded largely as captured by the conservatives, so why should they change anything to become more libertarian-leaning on various fronts?

      What are the libertarians going to do, defect to the liberals?

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  8. I want to write more on this, and I hope I get the opportunity to, but I think Otto is pretty off-base here.

    As a practical matter, if more religious people shift to the “left”, that leaves more room for people on the “right” who are more economically conservative than socially conservative. Further, religious people who move from the right to left will be taking some of their beliefs with them that will change the dynamics of the left in a way that will make current occupants of the left uncomfortable. That leaves open the potential for the right to recoup some of their losses.

    Or not, in which case the libertarian voice will become a stronger voice in a weaker party. This is the primary concern, but I am really uncertain how that is worse than the current state of affairs. At this point they are outnumbered in the ranks of the losing coalition. Drowned out, to some extent. Unable to even make an appeal, except a cynical one by cynical politicians.

    I don’t, personally, have a very optimistic view of the libertarian likelihood of success. At this point, though, I think they would more likely to benefit from a significant shift. There are, at least in my cohort, a number of people whose primary allergy to the political right are the religious types that Otto is concerned about losing, and whose primary discomfort with with the political left are precisely the views they would be bringing over with them.

    I am not one who believes that we live in an economically conservative but socially liberal nation. I think the opposite is more true, in fact, when social conservatives don’t do the crap that they’ve been doing. However, for libertarianism to be successful at any stage, I need to be proven wrong. Which means that libertarians need a voice that isn’t being drowned out on the political right, as it currently is. I am not sure I can think of a better way for this to happen than loss of some of the right’s religiosity.

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    • Oddly, what makes me most suspicious and/or turned of by the right are the many things that do not fit within the traditional mold of right-wing thinking, at least as I was taught it.

      I have certain sympathies for “small government”. But small government, to me, means less regulation on the personal decisions people make, included but not limited to drugs and sex. I am open-minded to some right-leaning economic policies though the devil is, at is always seems to be, in the details.

      I guess what I’m saying is that if the right wing were more economically conservative than socially conservative, I’d find them much more suitable to my liking. But that is where I tend to see libertarians holding camp, which is why I identify myself as liberal with libertarian leanings because I just can’t get in bed with all the ugliness that I see currently infecting the right.

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      • And I call myself libertarian with liberal leanings.

        To me — and way before any consideration of economics — small government means (1) fewer wars and (2) fewer people arrested or forced to do time in prison for wholly unnecessary crimes.

        From where we stand now, the fastest, easiest ways to move toward a more libertarian society are to drastically scale back our foreign commitments and to end the war on drugs.

        Those are both easily doable things. Not pixie dust. No need for a miracle. And they’re my highest priorities, because I am fairly certain that a lot of the civil-liberties-type issues that I deeply care about will also be won in the process, and we will all be freer and in general better off as a result.

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        • What I find interesting is that both factions often claim they are the party of “freedom”. And I realize that “freedom” comes in many forms and with many definitions and, sometimes, is zero sum, meaning freedoms come into conflict and the realization of one freedom means restriction on another and sometimes tough decisions need to be made.

          But when I think about how they spout off about “freedom”, I want to grab liberals and say, “SO WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU SUPPORT A BIG GULP BAN?!?!”
          And when I think about how they spout off about “freedom”, I want to grab conservatives and say, “SO WHY THE HELL DO YOU SUPPORT THE WAR ON DRUGS?!?!”
          And then I want to grab both and say, “YOU REALIZE THOSE ARE THE SAME FUCKING THING AND IMPOSE THE SAME GODDAMN RESTRICTIONS ON FREEDOM, RIGHT?!?!”

          And that is when I dust off the “libertarian leaning” part of my self-identification.

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          • Kaz, I listen to a fair amount of left-leaning talk radio, mostly in the mornings (Alex Bennett and Stephanie Miller), and the consensus from both the hosts and callers seemed to be that the Big Gulp ban was just dumb and pointless. Furthermore, it was more an indication of Bloomberg being an autocratic, authoritarian jerk than anything else.

            I’m not sure where you would be getting the notion that liberals, in general, were supportive of that sort of thing. At most, you may have seen some expressions of support that were strictly knee-jerk reactions against the vitriol from the right. Along the lines of “If Rush is agin’ it, I better be for it.”

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                  • I saw more vigorous defenses than that. John Personna over at OTB is still defending it. It’s tough sledding to say that the soda ban is “supported by the left.” But it does appeal to a technocratic, nudgey, anti-corporate, nutrition-virtue mindset* I see far more common on the left than the right. Thankfully, this was a bridge too far even for most liberals.

                    * – And you know what? I don’t actually completely disagree with them on this. If I thought the nudge would work, I’d actually have supported it to the horror of all my libertarian comrades here.

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                  • Can I believe it was probably a silly idea, but also believe you have no inherent right to buy a soda in whatever size you want? Especially via a law from local government? I mean, isn’t this what libertarians want? A country where wise members of local and state government like Mayor Bloomberg in New York and the legislature in Alabama passing a law banning any soda limiting laws instead of the nasty federal legislature doing silly things like raising taxes or bombing things?

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                    • oops, that got mangled. “A county where wise members of state and local government like Mayor Bloomberg can pass what he thinks is best for his city and state governments like Alabama can pass a law banning any sort of soda limiting ordinances? Instead of having a powerful federal legislature doing horrible things?”

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                    • You can believe that I don’t have an inherent right to marry another dude.

                      Believe whatever you want.

                      It’s when you start saying “I NEED TO PASS LAWS!” and when it turns out that the laws might not be constitutional that you start saying “I NEED TO PACK THE COURT!” that I am going to question where, if anywhere, your jurisdiction ends.

                      Where does your jurisdiction end, Jesse? Anywhere? The border? The atmosphere?

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                    • It ends where you can get five Supreme Court Justices to say, “sorry pal, too far.” And by the way, every appointment in Supreme Court history has been about “packing the court.” It’s just that in the past few decades, both parties have gotten honest about it and more careful with their selections.

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                    • In the sense that I don’t think the political system in America is illegitimate, sure. I have a problem with the Senate, but even with that, my is more with the filibuster than anything else, which is a rule, not a law.

                      Remember, we’re a minority. Most people in America have no problem with throwing lots of brown and black people in jail, have no problems with bombing the heck of foreign countries with drones, and want a Scandinavian welfare system on a Texan level of taxes.

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                    • by the way, every appointment in Supreme Court history has been about “packing the court.”

                      Not true. Some appointments have been to electorally appeal to particular demographics, like Ike’s appointment of Brennan.

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                    • Jesse,

                      The packing the court allegation is not completely true. It is true that most choices are partisan but there have been exceptions. Some notable ones:

                      1. Eisenhower appointed William Brennan to the Supreme Court because he thought it would appeal to Irish-Catholic Democrats if he appointed an Irish-Catholic Democrat to the Supreme Court. This was right before the 1956 election.

                      2. Hoover appointed Cardozo to the Supreme Court because he was largely seen as the best judge in the United States at the time. Cardozo was Democratic. According to wiki: Cardozo received universal acclaim for the entire faculty of Chicago, the deans of Harvard, Yale, and Columbia. The only people who opposed Cardozo were hardcore anti-Semites like Justice McRenyolds.

                      3. FDR appointed Republican Harlan Fiske Stone to Chief Justice instead of a Democratic Judge.

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                    • OK, let’s call it, 90% of the time, Supreme Court appointments are about nudging the Supreme Court to make things Constitutional you believe in and maybe make things you disagree with unconstitutional.

                      Unless you think a President Gary Johnson would appoint Janice Rogers Brown or Goodwin Liu to the Supreme Court to grab two widely known by judges standards from both sides of the aisle. No, he’d appoint a libertarian-leaning judge, which would be his right if he could get support for it from the Senate.

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                    • Jesse,

                      I’m fine with both 90% as an estimate, and happier within”nudging” in place of packing. I grant packing as rhetoric, but to me at least it has the ring of the unethical–what FDR tried to do–as opposed to just making ideological choices in whatever appointments happen to come one’s way.

                      But that’s quibbling about word choice for rhetorical purposes, no more. I got your meaning and largely agree.

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            • A fair point, Rod. I’m using “Big Gulp ban” as a place holder for other legitimate instances of “nanny-stateism” from the left, which I do think exists. My broader belief is that both sides engage in a certain amount of nanny-stateism, very little of which I support or believe in, and which is what drives my libertarian streak.

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              • Then perhaps find an actual instance of “Nanny State-ism” where something was actually banned? I mean, even if Bloomberg destroyed freedom in NYC, you still could’ve bought as much soda you wanted. You just would’ve had to juggle some cups. I mean, an actual, for example, Nanny State thing is banning smoking in private businesses via the power of the state.

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                    • Sure. But if the majority of the people agree by continuing to vote the people who supported such things into office and it’s not against the Constitution as decided by a court, you got three choices. Keep complaining, organize, or if it’s that important, leave. But, even if you’re a crazy anarchist libertarian, there’s more important things in your sphere to complain about than the right to 96oz sodas.

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                    • Jesse,

                      If you’re someone who loves soda and can afford the 60 ounce but not three 20 ouncers, maybe it is more than just an ideological idea.

                      And when liberals (ya know, that identifier that is derived from the same root word as liberty) start saying, “Well, you don’t have a right to that,” it seems they’ve conceded the argument of actually being in favor of freedom and liberty.

                      Which is cool, if they want to do that. But it makes me not want to be a liberal.

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                    • Kazzy,

                      I lay no claim to liberalism, so I am a bit removed from the conversation. I will say, though, that from the outside looking in, the typically quick leap to “You don’t have a RIGHT to do that, you know…” that some liberals around here take I genuinely find to be quite problematic.

                      It’s not that it’s not true. It’s that it’s a lousy place to start the conversation. It sets the default parameters are or “Maybe we should, maybe we shouldn’t” or “Why not?” or, as LWA put it (paraphrasing) “how does allowing this benefit us?” when the default ought to be, in my view, that we shouldn’t unless a particularly strong case can be made.

                      Jesse has a good procedural argument that “Hey, legally there’s nothing stopping us if we have the votes and the courts don’t step in.” But, while that’s procedurally true, that gets us into the difference between “can” and “should.”

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                    • However the “you don’t have a right to that” is often made Conservatives also. This is in response often to liberals saying there is a right to some such thing. Claiming rights is apple pie and tube steaks to Americans.

                      In general claiming something is a right is more a claim to moral high ground. Whether something doesn’t touch on whether it is a good idea or not ( which of course doesn’t affect whether a right is allowed since its a right after all). Rights talk gets in the way of actually making a case which, i would agree, is a better place to argue.

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                    • Again, this is local government. Don’t like the laws? Move to Jersey.

                      Ethical issues with suggesting that people move to New Jersey aside, I’ve never liked “vote with your feet” arguments. I remember a day in 2005 when people couldn’t even afford to evacuate with their feet in the face of a monster hurricane that ultimately flooded their city. Why the hell should we expect them to be able to move out of a city or state for political reasons? And what’s worse, these are precisely the people who are most likely to be ignored in the process of producing legislation, and as a result most likely to be adversely affected by it.

                      Voting with your feet as a means of political action or change is an annoying bourgeois conceit.

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                  • Like I said, I think it’s a dumb policy that probably wouldn’t work all that well, but yeah, I think the gnashing of teeth over on the libertarian side of the aisle over the idea you might have to buy 3 cups of soda instead of one giant cup of soda isn’t the best foot forward if you want to complain about “nanny statism.” A nanny would actually stop you from drinking soda, not make you go back to the kitchen three times instead of one.

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                    • I take the “gnashing of teeth” as more of actually having something real to rail against instead of deploying the Slippery Slope-a-tron 5000. Not that there aren’t plenty of things for libertarians to complain about, some of which i even agree on. But lots of people who like to scream NannyState tend to say that the big bad gov will be controlling ever part of our lives and making it so darn safe that it will be insufferable. The soda bucket ban gave them a tangible, if laughably ineffectual, target. It was a real thing, granted in one city and it wasn’t spreading out, but it gave validation to oil up the slope.

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                  • Isn’t it a (now, not to be tested) empirical question as to whether the ban would’ve made an impact on health?

                    If it had reduced obesity and child obesity even a little (as long as it was measurable) at an imperceptible cost to freedom and well-being, why would that be ridiculous?

                    I so remember everyone saying that seatbelt laws were ridiculous.

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                    • The law itself won’t be tested in a real environment, and maybe it would have done some good, but maybe it would have backfired.

                      If I’d thought it would have worked, and I mean worked more than just a little, I might have supported it. There was very little reason to believe it would work, though, in my mind. More importantly, there was no metric by which success would be judged.

                      It was much easier to see, even before they required, that seatbelts saved lives.

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                    • That assumes people actually do end up drinking less soda. It also assumes that people who drink less soda don’t end up consuming other calories in substitution.

                      I am skeptical of a soda tax, but could more easily believe that a sugar (HFCS, etc.) tax could have a measurable impact.

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                    • Shaz- Unless people are trying to cut back on calories or eat better just cutting down on one item will likely lead to them just consuming more of something else. In fact one of the big problems when people are trying to eat better is they don’t realize they are eating more of one crappy thing because they miss some other crappy things. If a person is craving a bucket full of sugar water and they can’t get it, they are likely to take in sugar some other way like in gum, candy, snorting pixie stix, etc.

                      Trying to figure out whether a soda ban actually had an effect would be super difficult at the best and likely impossible. There are so many confounding variables and measurement problems.

                      All the effort spent on the ban would have been far better spent on education and nutrition counselling for people that wanted it. The people that want to learn to eat better could and would. Those that don’t want to learn to eat better are going to drink the soda they want regardless of the bucket ban.

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                    • Greginak,

                      I’m not sure that’s quite true. It is true that people in general don’t do a good job controlling their calorie count.

                      But I don’t think that the calories a person takes in is solely determined by what they are psychologically, internally disposed to consume.

                      IMO, when soft drinks were smaller, not so many decades ago, people didn’t drink as much soda per day. (I read that in the Bronx, people drink on average 1 fountain soda per day from fastfood places, which is crazy.) Thus, the soda seller can cause people to drink more or less soda by how they deliver the soda. And they won’t just take in more calories elsewhere.

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                    • Hey Will,

                      Sorry, I didn’t mean to assume that, though it sure looks that way given what I wrote. I meant to say it is plausible that the soda size ban would work and would work better than a soda tax.

                      There is some minimal research referred to here:

                      http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/09/14/why-mike-bloomberg-s-soda-ban-could-actually-work.html

                      But we’ll never know without a test of the ban.

                      IMO, we have proven (with some certainty, anyway) that the Bloomberg ban on transfats and the calorie labelling have had positive effects. To test the soda ban, you’d have to follow people’s calorie comsumption where the ban is in place and where it isn’t for control, and check for calorie consumption, adjustng for other confounding factors as well as possible.

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                    • Shaz,

                      See my previous link on a study that suggested it would have not only been ineffective, but would have actually backfired.

                      Calorie substitution is a real thing. Bloomberg’s proposal in particular was problematic because it had more holes in it than Swiss cheese and only applied in limited circumstances. That’s why I don’t think we would have seen anything definitively measurable (sufficient to overcome confounding factors).

                      Most of the studies I’ve seen on calorie listing have suggested that they don’t work. Which was not what I was expecting at all from a policy I very much supported (and still support, science-be-damned).

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                    • Its true soda sizes are much larger now and that leads to more consumption. Part of that is food sellers want to sell us 1500 calories of stuff and nobody can eat that without plenty of fluid to lubricate the cake hole. So if you have a small soda and giant meal you are going to reaching for the soda anyway. People have, for the worse, become used to larger size servings. Unless people want less, outside restriction are not likely to add up to much. Educating motivated people is likely to lead to more significant changes.

                      One of the other bits about restricting soda in NYC is lots of people commute. Limit the soda bucket in NYC and they belly up to the soda bar in NJ or over the city limit.

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                    • Will,

                      The paper you cited is showing that soda taxes will just result in causing people to buy other unhealthy food.

                      The link I cited suggests that it is reasonable to suspect that the large soda ban might not suffer from the same problem.

                      IMO, the soda tax would have to be a big tax and there would have to be taxes on other really unhealthy foods at the same time to make it work.

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                    • Shaz,

                      Yeah, my second link was indeed concerning the soda tax. But it involves that thing that Greg and I are talking about: substitution. That doesn’t go away just because we’re talking about sizes rather than taxes. People do replace lost calories*. The article you link to asserts otherwise, but doesn’t actually make a very strong case.

                      And then my 9:27 link actually suggests that the big soda ban wouldn’t actually have reduced soft drink consumption anyway. Although that is actually citing a specific study, rather than the theoretical assertions in that opinion piece. (Yes, portion sizes matter, with consistency and over time, but that tells us little about affecting one aspect of a meal only some of the time, if indeed people would even drink less soda to begin with, which we’re not sure about.)

                      I’m not saying with 100% certainty that a big soda ban wouldn’t work. But I remain highly skeptical that it would produce results that would go beyond confounding factors (it’s such a limited intervention that is so easily circumvented by wandering taste buds). And that was *before* I read the UC study.

                      * – Which is why I think a sugar tax might be effective where a soda tax I am pretty sure wouldn’t be… because a soda tax would likely shift people towards other sugar-added products. Even a sugar tax is iffy, but I’d give it a greater chance of working than the soda ban.

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                    • Will,

                      We disagree about how likely calorie substitution is in the case of regulating portion size at restaurants. IMO,

                      This paper concludes that large portion sizes at restaurants definitely increase how much we eat when we go out, (of which soda is a part of the problem) and big portion sizes may plausibly be a partial cause of the obesity epidemic:

                      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15044675

                      I think we agree that a soda tax without a tax on other sugary products is unlikely to be particularly effective.

                      Also, cigarette taxes are effective because they’re big taxes that really hit the pocket book. I’m not sure how easily we could institute a sugar tax that was large enough to be effective, given political realities.

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                    • Shaz, I do think that portion sizes are playing a contributing factor. I am less sure removing any specific contributor, though, would actually yield progress. And in this case, it’s only one aspect of portion sizes in some meals (at some places) that’s being altered.

                      I share some of your skepticism about actually implementing a successful sugar tax. I mostly point to it as something that I think would be effective, when I believe the big soda ban wouldn’t.

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                    • But larger portion sizes in that one aspect have a ripple effect. The body becomes used to the higher sugar intake and develops cravings when it’s missed. The pattern gets people used to the idea of sitting down to dinner or lunch, having a soda can or bottle, and then going for another one rather than for water or something else less sugary when they’re done.

                      Unlimited refills and bucket-o-sugar size drinks constituting a dozen servings are a bane to health because of the behavioral training problem.

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                    • Not in this context, no. For the same reason that soda taxes lead to consumption elsewhere, big soda ban is extremely likely to lead to consumption elsewhere, or later. Making it very easy for them to get their calories elsewhere.

                      By way of personal example, I used to work at a place (in Deseret) that had a free soda fountain. I drank a lot. I was also heavy. I viewed these things as not-coincidental. I then moved and got another job at another place (in Estacado). No free drinks. 12oz Cans to be purchased. So great, right? Less sugar, less desire for sugar over time, and my body recalibrates! That’s what I was hoping, anyway. In my time in Estacado, I gained ten pounds. Then I moved yet again and got a new job (in Cascadia). No free fountain, but all the canned soft drinks you could want a very short walk away. I lost forty pounds in Cascadia.

                      I’m not arguing that the free soft drinks were conducive to weight loss, nor that getting cut off from soft drinks caused me to gain weight. Rather, I’m saying that my weight problem was the product of other things going on. A cumulative effect of all that I was consuming, where individual change merely changed the balance, rather than the sheer volume, of that consumption.

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                • The two claims are exactly analogous:

                  1. “You have to use your state-registered car this way (e.g. with a seatbelt)”

                  and

                  2. “You have to run your city-registered-restaurant-business this way (e.g by selling soda in cups no bigger than such and such)”

                  One can argue that seat belts save lives and the cup-policy wouldn’t have. But the only way to know what the cup-policy would do would be to try it out in a single city.

                  Here’s something I take as obvious. Some things that can be called rights, which maybe are rights, don’t matter much at all in any calculation about which policies are just and moral, e.g. the right to drive children without safety belts, the right to drink soda in larger cups, the right to use plastic bags instead of paper, etc., etc.

                  Some rights do matter, of course.

                  Can I easily draw the line between the ones that do matter and the ones that don’t. Well that’s complicated. From behind the Rawlsian veil of ignorance we would create society such and such… The line is blurry, but it’s there.

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                  • From behind the Rawlsian veil of ignorance we would create society such and such… The line is blurry, but it’s there.

                    A lot of that blurriness can be attributed to the particular presuppositions an individual brings with them behind the veil, no?

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                    • Absolutely.

                      Also, (to a degree) which rights matter will be contingent on contingent matters of fact about what the world is like at a certain time. The right not to have someone steal your intellectual and creative property matters now, but probably didn’t 2000 years ago. “That dude is making money singing my song without my permission!” might matter now, but it didn’t then.

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        • It’s very sad to me that being a ‘card-carrying member of the ACLU” no longer evokes liberal pride.

          I blame Mike Dukakis; or more precisely, the Roger Ailes campaign agains Dukakis that made such things unfashionable. Part of the smear, the limp-wristing, of liberal policy.

          But this liberal, and most others I know, have not left those values behind.

          But I heartily disagree with one thing: they are not easy things to change unless you change the access industry has to politics. The powers that be at the top of the prison-industrial complex do not want to end the war on drugs, they seem to be trying to extend that war into schools. And of course the military-industrial complex is old, old news; I remain stunned that nobody’s bothered to actually do a better job of chronicling how it’s lobbying efforts helped tip us into Iraq.

          I don’t hold much opinion of Rand Paul; my feminist streak runs too deep, and he doesn’t speak enough to my sense of liberty. But I was quite proud of him during his real-life filibuster on drones.

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        • To me — and way before any consideration of economics — small government means (1) fewer wars and (2) fewer people arrested or forced to do time in prison for wholly unnecessary crimes.

          Thank-you, Jason. I think if you take an international view–contrast and compare–the parts of our government that are “big” relatively speaking are mostly those beloved by the Right: The Pentagon and our prison industry as well as restrictions on personal liberty of a moralistic nature, like the drug laws, prostitution laws, etc. On the other hand, we have relatively anemic social welfare system, low taxes, weak regulatory climate, etc.

          I’m generally talking about the industrialized West here–EU, OECD, et al. And I realize I’m painting with a broad brush and there’s a lot of details in the weeds where you can point to this or that country as being exceptions. But we’re far from being over-run by the Socialist Agenda here.

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  9. “This task will not be an easy one, as those who are both religious and libertarian-leaning face strong cultural and ideological headwinds in our religious and political communities.

    Religious institutions’ opposition to libertarianism is not new. The debate over Ayn Rand in particular, the high priestess of the Church of Mammon, has been relentless within the faith community. Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism is inherently atheistic, and the debate persists over whether her limited-government and free-market beliefs can be extricated from Objectivism as a whole.”

    Here’s a serious question.

    Which religion?

    Catholicism on the death penalty and social justice?

    Judaism on abortion?

    Or is “religion” a synonym for “evangelicals and right-leaning Catholics who are also either homophobes or pro-lifers” in this paper? I suspect it is.

    And what about religious commands on foreign policy? That’s a mess we don’t normally talk about.

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  10. Otto lost me pretty quickly when she shifted from emphasizing libertarian and conservatives agreement on free markets (correct), and then immediately sliding off to talking about religion, suggesting that we libertarians shouldn’t be atheists. I wouldn’t argue that we should be atheists, but that atheism or belief is disconnected from libertarianism.

    This connects to the reason why she is fundamentally wrong to argue that;

    the practice of keeping separate encampments for libertarianism and conservatism ignores that we are both camped on the same side of the war of ideas.

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. We have one big idea in common–free markets. But libertarians are unlikely to share an encampment with the project of a new American century, and religious libertarians may share religious conservatives moral values, but will not normally share their desire to enact those values into punitive laws.

    She also thinks in purely left-right terms, even though she (weirdly) rejects the two-dimension Nolan chart as “too rigid.” But this is necessary so that she can use conservatism as the anchor to which libertarians can be drawn, making it possible for her to ignore the prospect of libertarianism being the anchor toward which conservatism is drawn.

    I applaud Jason for hosting this debate, but Otto’s essay is a poor opener. Fish in barrels ain’t in it.

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  11. Jason, I hope as the debate progresses you’ll find a writer to explore the areas where Libertarians and Liberals (as reflected by the modern Democratic Party) share common ground.

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      • In fact the current discussion was prompted by two considerations. First, balancing that earlier issue, which I had the occasion to review during the site redesign. And second, the recent political ascendancy of Rand Paul, which might — or might not — suggest that the days of libertarians pining for the left are over.

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        • My own sense was that the libertarian-left alliance, to the extent that there was one, was a product of the political atmosphere under the Bush administration (which made it difficult to be a certain type of libertarian and still vote Republican, in much the same way that it is now difficult to be that type of libertarian and vote Democrat with Obama’s “war on terror” record), and was somewhat limited to what we might call intellectual libertarians. Most of the average Jane or Joe libertarians I’ve known have either been Republicans or have been significantly more critical and skeptical of Democrats than Republicans, and I see no reason to think this will change anytime soon. If Rand Paul and other factors are causing the intellectual and the everyday libertarians to re-converge somewhere to the right of the political center, this seems both inevitable and, from the outside, uninteresting. But I imagine that because of its implications for the intellectual libertarians, it’s a pretty big deal from the inside.

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        • And second, the recent political ascendancy of Rand Paul, which might — or might not — suggest that the days of libertarians pining for the left are over.

          Careful what you wish for. Seems to me Rand Paul walks a knife edge, and there’s no safety net on either side.

          For the GOP, I suspect, it take a very long time for infusion of religious radicalism Carl Rove brought about to simmer down to something stable; what that will look like remains to be seen. But that it might look Libertarian? That has the feel of giving up too much control over social behavior, one of the GOP’s well-honed rallying tools. Would Libertarians be comfortable in a world that offers market freedom at the expense of social freedom?

          The mid-ground I see is one of economic-conservatives/social liberals; so I tend to agree with Moulitsas. When we talk about size, we’re talking about the appearance of things, not what actually get’s done. Competency, not size, matters.

          Historically, it often seems the victor in a conflict transform into their conquests. Thus the GOP is now a southern party. The Christian calendar is littered with Pagan holidays. Wall Street’s most easily grasped measure of success/failure is based on animal spirits (bull/bear markets). So I rather expect to see the Democratic Party co-opting the libertarian principals they can sit comfortably with (and this may happen because of Rand Paul’s ascendency), just as they’ve co-opted conservative policy.

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          • One of the things that I always thought boded ill for a left-libertarian alliance was the fact that there have always been, on the American left, people who’ve advocated for the sorts of issues on which the libertarians and the left might agree, but these people have rarely had any influence on the mainstream political arm of the left (that is, the Democratic party). What I mean is, there have always been anti-war, anti-police state, anti-drug war, anti-interventionist, folks on the American left, but they’ve had almost no influence (except, perhaps, briefly in the 60s, but that was more of a cultural than a political influence) on the Democratic party. In fact, they are generally treated with contempt by the mainstream American center (center, center, center) left. So I couldn’t help but wondering why libertarians would want any part of that, and even should they decide that they wanted a part of that, why anyone would think that they could have any more influence on the direction of the political arm of the American left than the existing anti-war, anti-police state, etc. members of the left have over the last several decades.

            What’s more, the people on the left who are most likely to agree with libertarians on war, police, drugs, etc., tend to be the people who are least likely, and in fact most hostile, to libertarian economic philosophy. This isn’t universally true, of course, as some left anarchists might at least like the anti-government portion of the libertarian economic plan, but they’re left anarchists and not right anarchists because they are going to have radically different ideas about the means of production and the relationship between property and freedom, so again, it’s just hard to see how the differences could be reconciled.

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            • Chris, I’ve been wondering of late if this is because we’ve moved from negotiating based on what common ground we might have to not-negotiating based upon tribal difference.

              For many years, I expected to see the small-farm/home-school Christian Right and the food-left strike a bargain of some sort. I sort of see signs of it here; I’ve been to at-home births by hippie mothers mid-wived by women from far-right Christian sects; numbers of Christian farmers/home-schoolers are primarily supported by folk from the far left. But it’s pockets of individualism, not political will. In our day and age of difference, it seems hard to find the language of common ground even where we have common cause.

              And thank you for that link.

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              • There was a paper published last year in JPSP (you can read it here that I’ve been meaning to write about (maybe I will now) that I think gets at the heart of this sort of thing. Basically, more than a reflection of actual ideological and practical/political/policy differences, political polarization is a self-reinforcing cycle both behaviorally and cognitively. We see people as different, so we treat them as different, and then project both the perception and the treatment onto them. There are probably good ways to break this cycle, but I personally haven’t been able to think up any.

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                  • I’d be interested in your thoughts on how you think women can break the cycle.

                    Don’t get me wrong, I think the increased involvement of women in our political dialogue would change the substance of that dialogue, because their perspective remains underrepresented, but I’m not sure I see how it could change the polarization cycle, because ultimately I think polarization is a gender-neutral process. But I’m open to possibility that I’m wrong.

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                    • I was thinking of the folk on Wall St. that led us into the economic collapse (late 2007/2008); at the time there was a lot of banter about alpha males, and discussions that if there had been more women amongst the ranks, this might not have happened. Certainly there’s the paltry few examples of women in power to reinforce that notion, Brooksley Born being my favorite example.

                      And per Patrick’s comment below, I suspect the slow sea change has already been happening; both in terms of our comfort with women as bread winners/leaders and with men shouldering more of the burdens of home and children, the training ground where women traditionally learned how to balance needs and negotiate.

                      I’ll read the paper and respond in more depth later tonight; for this woman is called to cook dinner for the family.

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                  • Technically, they do. But Technically, every major evangelical monotheistic faith believes that their faith will ultimately triumph and that the religious laws of their faith will be gleefully adopted as a form of world governing system once all humans Convert and Believe.

                    What the rightist propaganda fails to consider is that the number of Muslims who wish to force such conversions at the point of a sword are a minority, much as Baptists are a minority of christianity.

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            • Libertarianism is internally inconsistent. When I argue with my most libertarian friend on the necessity of a government program, his standard insistence position is that if it were really a good idea a private entity would do it absent government involvement.

              The argument falls flat.

              Take the incarceration state as opposed to early childhood education and delinquency prevention programs. The state has an interest in NOT spending a lot of money on incarcerating people. At the same time libertarians will argue against government programs to ensure proper nutrition for at-risk kids, ensure better schools for at-risk kids, ensure at-risk kids have access to music and art programs, ensure at-risk kids have access to mentors and parent figures in the community, and ensure that at-risk kids have a better chance of staying out of gangs and away from the early states of criminal behavior.

              Most conservatives and libertarians will happily pay for more of the incarceration state even when presented with accurate numbers showing that investing early reduces the overall costs significantly. The belief in “smaller” government obscures the need for more efficient government and properly proactive programs.

              Monetarily, a libertarian insists that these programs ought all be funded out of private donations and yet there is a very real financial incentive for the government to have these programs that does not exist for a private enterprise. No private enterprise can ever count “saved tax money” on the balance sheet, but the government not only can but should.

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              • Libertarianism is internally inconsistent.

                Even should I agree with this, it’s not exactly unpredictable. Is there an internally consistent political theory?

                You know… complete, correct, consistent… pick at most two.

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              • Most conservatives and libertarians will happily pay for more of the incarceration state even when presented with accurate numbers showing that investing early reduces the overall costs significantly.

                I’d like to see those numbers.

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                • It is generally my experience that people (even liberals, swear to god), when presented with numbers that do not seem inuitive to them, immediately look for holes in the data. And the more intelligent they are, the more likely they are to find confounding variables and the more likely I am to get a lecture on causation and corellation.

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                  • I assume—if he’s not simply making stuff up—that he’s talking about random controlled trials, making confounders more or less a non-issue. If the programs literally pay for themselves in present-value-adjusted prison costs, or even just fall a bit short, I’m all for them. My recollection is that interventions short of adoption have been fairly disappointing, though.

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                    • Hmmm. Seems to me that he’s making a more general “schools, not prisons” statement and a plethora of programs that are hard to measure but in the aggregate where confounding factors would be an issue. But I could be wrong.

                      If he can point to specific studies that I can’t poke holes in, I’m all ears. I have no attachment to the “incarceration state” at all.

                      I really think the bigger issue is that it’s difficult to convince people that the numbers are true (against their intuitions), rather than that they look at the numbers and say “Don’t care.”

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                    • Relatedly (and it involves you!), remember this post a while back? I asked “Let’s assume it could be demonstrated that having really nice and cushy prisons reduced recidivism, and having hard prisons increased it, would you still support hard prisons?”

                      The overwhelming response was skepticism to the purely imaginary data. Because, it just couldn’t be right. One commenter literally couldn’t imagine, even hypothetically that the data could show such a thing in a way that wasn’t wrong somehow.

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                    • Is the commenter who says “In Arpaio’s case, the criminals in his jail are – and let’s be honest here – mostly complete scum.”

                      1. Someone who know a lot about different prison populations, or
                      2. Reacting to the fact that a lot of them are Latinos and/or illegals, or
                      3. Talking about Arpaio and his staff?

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  12. One of the dynamics that I’ve noticed that contributes more to a right/libertarian fusionism than to a left/libertarian fusionism is that there are a number of conversations between the righties and the libertarians that feel like the sides are longing for the other side to convert. I’ve had righties say something to the effect of “You agree with us on this thing… why won’t you agree with us on *THESE*? Here, let’s explain it again…”

    To compare, the conversations between the left and the libertarians are more of the form “You people are supposed to like this stuff right? So you should either like this other stuff or you’re a hypocrite or something. Hey, where are you going? FUCK YOU, I’VE GOT MINE!!!”

    Any fusionism is as likely to come from the fact that, in the former case, the conversation (though deadlocked), continues.

    (Note: I have had other conversations with righties that have taken the form “you people only care about weed and sodomy” and, thus, went about as far as the discussions with the lefties. But I’ve seen more discussions of the form “let’s go over it again” with the righties, by an order of magnitude, than with the lefties.)

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      • I don’t know. I know that the relative lack of the latter type of conversation compared to out in the wild (as in, only about half of them turn into that) is one of those things that makes the LoOG somewhat different than anyplace else I’ve been.

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        • To put it another way: the overlap between the right and libertarianism includes more core beliefs than the overlap between libertarianism and the left. Any attraction between the left and libertarians on various policies is overwhelmed by a reciprocally felt repulsion over the central values and core principles. Chris actually said the same thing much more clearly in the second paragraph of this comment.

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          • Does this work?

            What libertarians share with the left (in those moments when they do share something) is the vision of what they want the end result of their policies to look like.

            What libertarians share with the right (in those moments when they do share something) is what strategies they might use to get there.

            This is what I often think when I read Jason.

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                    • I’ve not seen libertarians at other sites able or willing to do so.

                      This is such a common response, not just about libertarians, but about pretty much everyone (see, e.g., Damon in this very thread just below) who disagrees with us that I’m beginning to be convinced that most people are capable of actually hearing arguments and explanations with which they disagree, or that the LoOG is just a weird, wholly unique place, or that people are actually seeking out the idiots among their ideological opponents and avoiding the more intelligent among them, or some combination of the three.

                      Only slightly more seriously, one doesn’t have to look far to find libertarian explanations for their policy choices. A little reading would suffice. I mean, it’s not like the libertarian literature is hidden, or written in some esoteric language that only the initiated can read and understand.

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    • The issues I’ve always had with statist is their lack of logic.

      If abortion is ok because a woman owns her own body and can do with it what she wants (abortion) then why can’t I sell a kidney? It’s my body and I’ll do with it what I want. When they defend the illegality of selling a kidney, I come back to, “why is that different than an abortion” and their usual response is “because”.

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        • You know, I was initially inclined to roll my eyes at Damon’s comment, but I think there’s something to it. What if instead of taking the argument for abortion and applying it to kidney sales, we flip it around and apply the argument against kidney sales to abortion, as an ad absurdum?

          Why might a poor woman choose to have an abortion? Well, one possible reason is that she can’t afford a child. Having an abortion makes her much better off financially relative to a hypothetical future in which she chooses to bear and raise the child. And taxpayers benefit from her choice to have an abortion. Does that mean that by allowing her to have an abortion, we’re exploiting her?

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      • But you’re not arguing for a “lack of logic” on the part of the left. In fact, folks on the left would respond by saying that the two situations you’re talking about are dissimilar enough that the application of gross principles to them is incoherent, so you’re the one being illogical.

        That’s not to say you’re wrong – people disagree about these things – but that a “lack of logic” can cut lots of different directions.

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      • This liberal’s position: While people generally should be able to do what they want with their own bodies (including abortion), we have some significant concerns about the commodification of bodily integrity. Contracts that do so are against public policy and void. Examples of such contracts include slavery (or any employment contract which pays under minimum wage), the sale of newborns and the sale of body parts.

        Why are these contracts against public policy? Mostly a moral sense. In addition to providing a basic safety net for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our society, the state must disallow any contracts that seek to take advantage of those who are so desperate as to be willing to sell off pieces of themselves. While the bright line rule will inevitably be overinclusive, our experience with slavery and economic desperation justifies the overinclusiveness.

        Also, there’s nothing to prevent you from donating a kidney and, by happenstance, receiving a $50,000 gift from the recipient. The state just bars you from using the court system if the recipient won’t pony up.

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      • “If abortion is ok because a woman owns her own body and can do with it what she wants (abortion) then why can’t I sell a kidney? ”

        Allow me to step into a social conservatives shoes for a moment.
        For religious people, your question is a nonsequitur, similar to asking “If I can euthanize my dog, why can’t I euthanize my child?”
        Because they are two fundamentally different things. One doesn’t follow from the other.

        But you touch on why the libertarians worldview is so difficult to reconcile with the religious worldview.

        Religious people have as their a priori position, that certain things are sacred or taboo- sacred things like the human body, sacred places, sacred words or rituals.

        Libertarians, in my experience, struggle with these ideas. Sacred and taboo things draw invisible boundaries around our liberty, and act to constrain our behavior, even when no harm is evident.

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        • I think it’s more “just because you have a taboo doesn’t mean that you get to force other people to act in accordance with it”.

          Though I’m sure that the Nannies will continue to get people to stop eating bacon, cheeseburgers, and bacon cheeseburgers.

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            • Its universally true, binding on everyone.

              Which becomes interesting when it’s “Neither you nor I can consume this thing that I do not want to consume but you do, and that is fair because it applies equally to both of us.”

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              • I guess that’s what I’m trying to get at; even speaking as a religiously observant person, there is in fact a streak of intolerance in the very nature of religion; asserting, for instance, that the human body is sacred, or human dignity must always be respected, creates boundaries that apply to even those who object.

                This causes discomfort for many people, libertarians most of all. Religious people even amongst themselves struggle with defining sacred/taboo boundaries that are considered reasonable, but “reasonable” depends on a shared framework where a range of behavior can be tolerated.

                Any fusion between libertarians and religious will require that this issue be resolved.

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                  • I should have chosen stuff like rare burgers, or horse meat, or something.

                    Instead of having a discussion mocking the slippery slope being employed for something that would never be even suggested by the craziest councilman, we could have patient explanations about how these rules are important to protect people.

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                    • Or we could accept that stupid things like the soda bucket ban are not actually bringing down hell on earth. They are stupid blips but don’t really say much about the power of food nannies.

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                    • I don’t necessarily have a “THROW THEM IN JAIL FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES (perhaps for doing things similar to things that I did when I was their age)!” vibe from nanny staters, necessarily. I just get a “YOU DON’T NEED THAT AND IT DOES YOU LESS HARM FOR YOU TO NOT BE ABLE TO GET IT THAN YOU’D DO TO YOURSELF IF YOU GOT IT!” from them.

                      Drug warriors, by contrast, are cool with throwing people in prison for the rest of their lives. Nannies are just busybodies who think they have unlimited jurisdiction by comparison.

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                    • Drug warriors, by contrast, are cool with throwing people in prison for the rest of their lives.

                      In New York, the median age of a convict (~34 years) is a good deal older than the median age of a defendant (~19 years, I believe), so it is not as if the parties involved are all that eager to imprison. “For the rest of your life” for a population with this demographic profile would mean a median of around 45 years, depending on the reduction to one’s life expectancy from the fare served, frequent fights, and buggery.

                      The average duration of a prison sentence in this country is 2.5 years from entry to parole. I think you would have to have an encounter with the prosecutor from hell conjoined to a negligent judge or to have a string of felonies as long as your arm in order to end up serving 45 years.

                      So which is it, Jaybird? Do you think we over here are all quite content to send people to prison for prosecutors’ kicks or are you content to ignore a couple dozen felonies?

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                    • Depends on the felony. If the string of felonies is limited to “possession, possession, possession, possession with intent to distribute, possession, possession, public intoxication”, I think I’m okay with not throwing this person in prison for the rest of their life.

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                    • Perhaps “contradictory” is not the right path to take.

                      What I mean is that, if the underlying problem with Nanny-stateism is indeed the same problem with the drug war (which I believe it is but I’ve been wrong before which is why I’m asking), and one group tends to favor one and oppose the other and the other group tends to favor the other and oppose the one, maybe we can find common ground by saying, “Hey, ya know how you hate Nanny-stateism/the drug war because you think it imposes on people’s freedom and all that jazz? Did you ever think that the drug war/Nanny-stateism functions much the same way?”

                      Hopefully, HOPEFULLY, they say, “Ya know, you’re right… the drug war/Nanny-stateism is a problem.”

                      Though they might just say, “When you put it that way, the drug war/Nanny-stateism doesn’t sound half bad.”

                      Of course, they’re most likely to say, “You don’t get it. They’re evil. We’re good.”

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                    • Depends on the felony. If the string of felonies is limited to “possession, possession, possession, possession with intent to distribute, possession, possession, public intoxication”, I think I’m okay with not throwing this person in prison for the rest of their life.

                      Where is public drunkenness a felony? (It is a class b misdemeanor in New York).

                      You have a non-recidivist offender, an 18 count indictment each for possession, and a judge sentencing consecutively. Got it.

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                    • Kazzy, I’d expect people to focus on the differences as to why their preference is better.

                      For anti-nanny drug warriors, it would be “Look, we want to limit a comparatively few things but just want to come down hard on them. But outside these things, we don’t feel the need to butt in like they do.”

                      For the anti-WOD nanny-staters, it would be “Look, we may see room for intervention in more behavior, but we’re not willing to ruin lives over it. If you treated drugs like we treat raw milk, that would be real progress.”

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                    • Kazzy, the problem with the question you are asking is the WOD is a sort of a set of policies that can be lumped together. Nanny Statism is a shallow bit of name calling. The term doesn’t even attempt to address in any sort of fair way what NS means or why people might believe in somethings that are called NS. There would even be things some libertarian/conservatives would agree with that others would call NS.

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                    • For some reason, people compartmentalize substances that result in altered consciousness differently. Even the most horrid nannystater might balk from calling child services if they heard that a teenager was taken to a restaurant and said teenager ate a bacon cheeseburger with steak fries and drank a Mountain Dew.

                      I’m pretty sure that you could find people out there that would be torn on whether they should call child services if they heard that a teenager and his/her parents lit up before enjoying a very pleasant meal involving bacon cheeseburgers and steak fries and Mountain Dew (THIS IS SO GOOD).

                      There’s more than a distinction here. There’s a difference.

                      The question of whether the difference is one that ought to result in jailtime is an interesting question and worth exploring.

                      But altered states change things.

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                    • Art Deco

                      Are you arguing that we don’t have an over incarceration problem? Or are you just taking issue with a little hyperbole on Jaybirds part?

                      If it’s the former I don’t know what to tell you. If it’s the latter I might point you in the direction of Hamerlin v. Michigan (life sentence without parole for more than 650 grams of cocaine, first offense), Rummell v. Estelle (life sentence, with parole if I remember correctly, for third strike of not paying $125), or US v. Marshall (20 years for 10 sheets of acid, and, funny story, the statute as written makes perfectly clear that congress has no idea what they are doing). And those are just the ones I remember.

                      There is significant segment of the population in this country that both put these laws on the books, and support these types of consequences (luckily the number of such people is shrinking). Throw them in jail for the rest of their lives (or at least until they are almost dead) is precisely why three strikes laws were enacted

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                    • Deco, I’m going to use Prohibition as an example for why I’m opposed to The War On Drugs: you’re throwing people in jail for things that shouldn’t be crimes.

                      There are months where I buy a bottle of vino every week. (And drink it!)

                      This strikes me as something that I shouldn’t be thrown in jail for… and yet, this is something that we, as a country, THREW PEOPLE IN JAIL FOR.

                      And now you’re aghast that I’m saying we shouldn’t do this for drugs? That’s your perogative… but, seriously, there were people who were aghast that folks wanted to end Prohibition too.

                      We could probably compare your counter-arguments to those given in the 30’s that said we shouldn’t legalize wine.

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                    • Those are all fair points. I just think we need to turn the mirror on people who tout themselves as freedom warriors while simultaneously advocating policies that limit freedom. Which isn’t to say an ideologically consistent argument can’t be made for the two positions, but it takes some heavy lifting. And we should make those folks engage in it.

                      If I say, “I love freedom. But, oh, no, you shouldn’t be allowed to by/do X,” you should respond by saying, “Sounds like you don’t love freedom. Can you rectify those two positions?”

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                    • Are you arguing that we don’t have an over incarceration problem? Or are you just taking issue with a little hyperbole on Jaybirds part?

                      It was a great deal of hyperbole on his part.

                      If it’s the former I don’t know what to tell you. If it’s the latter I might point you in the direction of Hamerlin v. Michigan (life sentence without parole for more than 650 grams of cocaine, first offense), Rummell v. Estelle (life sentence, with parole if I remember correctly, for third strike of not paying $125), or US v. Marshall (20 years for 10 sheets of acid, and, funny story, the statute as written makes perfectly clear that congress has no idea what they are doing). And those are just the ones I remember.
                      There is significant segment of the population in this country that both put these laws on the books, and support these types of consequences (luckily the number of such people is shrinking). Throw them in jail for the rest of their lives (or at least until they are almost dead) is precisely why three strikes laws were enacted

                      I think there is a distinction between the way the legal system does its business as a matter of course and odd outlier cases (of the sort which might end up in a court of last resort).

                      I tend to agree with you that there are too many opportunities for the exercise of discretion by prosecutors and judges (with the proviso that particular cases may carry details that do not get reported but which weighed on both the judge and the prosecutor) and that it is not difficult to find state legislators who manifest a disinclination to think anything through when striking attitudes.

                      One of the latter with a measure of integrity in the Florida legislature sponsored the repeal of a piece of penal code humbug of which he had been the originator. He began getting a certain amount of static about the results and was most distressed to discover, with the aid of a map and a compass, what the implications of his legislation were. (It prohibited convicted sex offenders from living within x miles of a public school; public schools are sufficiently dense on the ground that paroled sex offenders were living under highway bridges because those were the only places routinely outside the radii).

                      It is not that difficult to contrive arithmetic formulae and sentencing tables which enhance penalties for recidivists without sledgehammers like three strikes laws, but innumeracy may be as common as imprudence and exhibitionism among the lawyers who get elected to state legislatures.

                      If my trawling about finds public opinion as is, it is not drug users for whom there is a widespread public hankering for life sentences, but a subset of sex offenders. Extreme distension of statutes of limitations, condemnation on the uncorroborated word of supposed victims years or even decades after the fact, offender registries which make a conduit for people to harass their neighbors, indefinite civil commitment, &c.

                      Why not fix the sentencing schedule and take some of the prosecutors’ toys away from them ‘ere we give manufacturers the green light to ramp up processing of commercially vended cocaine?

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                    • Deco, I’m going to use Prohibition as an example for why I’m opposed to The War On Drugs: you’re throwing people in jail for things that shouldn’t be crimes.

                      The legislation (passed by a supermajority) prohibited the use of a common-and-garden intoxicant which had since antiquity been a part of an ordinary man’s diet consumed daily (depending on the subculture). The people who voted for it had their reasons and it was sufficiently successful at suppressing the liquor trade that per capita consumption did not return to 1916 levels until about 1970.

                      How many intoxicants does a society need and what are the implications of free trade in those intoxicants? It is not as if controlled access to drugs is something limited to the fun stuff. We know this: a society in which family continued to have a great deal of effective authority over their errant members, a society in which the full force of the labor market hit everyone and the only alternative was squalid institutional care or the charity of family, and a society in which a desire for respectability was intense decided it could no longer tolerate laissez faire in the drug trade.

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                    • There are months where I buy a bottle of vino every week. (And drink it!)

                      This strikes me as something that I shouldn’t be thrown in jail for… and yet, this is something that we, as a country, THREW PEOPLE IN JAIL FOR.

                      I don’t think that’s actually true. Manufacturing and selling, yes. But not personal possession or consumption, as far as I know.

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    • Of course people treat their political “allies” differently than their “enemies”. I can’t help but wonder if you’ve got the causality reversed, or at least if there’s a feedback loop perpetuating the current situation.

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    • The libertarian-conservative alliance happened because the Reagan Revolution was more about shrinking the size of government’s intervention in economic affairs than it was about the other parts of the conservative triad (though “strong defense” aka spending the Soviet to death was a close second… but in those days defense spending wasn’t seen by libertarians as being as problematic as it is by some of them now; “defense” broadly conceived was seen as a “legitimate” government function, unlike redistributive welfare, etc). The libertarian movement that we now see in the United States was born, in other words, out of reaction to the economic programs of, basically, the Democratic Party of the middle of the last century.* To be sure, they had a broader vision of liberty from the beginning, but these concerns were what spurred the intellectual movement to political action.

      This aligned them with the basic aims of the conservative movement on two basic priorities: advancing the causes of free markets and reduced government, and, as a political matter, opposing (tax-and-spend) liberals, aka the Democratic Party. While conservativeas always had other, divergent aims in addition to these, they could be managed and de-emphasized given the strength of the intellectual contributions of libertarians in the areas of agreement just mentioned. The disaster of the drug war and the arrival of the social conservatives as a dominant political force in the conservative tent, both of which began to divide libertarians from conservatives as the eighties turned into the nineties are relatively recent developments and that process is still working itself out. The fight over the military response to terrorism is even more recent, and has accelerated the trend. But the history is not really all that complicated: libertarians opposed the general advance of the social welfare state seen in the twentieth century, and conservatives opposed it as well, and above all those who advanced and implemented it. The things we now think of as dividing the two were simply secondary or concerns at most, if not simply figments of our anachronistic thinking about history.

      __________
      * This, of course, is not to deny that its intellectual roots are much older and more broadly principled than that. But as a modern movement, I do think that is what its basic institutional impetus stems from.

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      • The libertarian-conservative alliance happened because the Reagan Revolution was more about shrinking the size of government’s intervention in economic affairs than it was about the other parts of the conservative triad (though “strong defense” aka spending the Soviet to death was a close second… but in those days defense spending wasn’t seen by libertarians as being as problematic as it is by some of them now;

        No. The libertarian dispensation has never had much of a component in electoral politics. The Paul-bot show is the most vigorous example of popular libertarianism. The Libertarian Party was in 1980 fairly vigorous in Alaska and had some prospects in California. That aside, there was not much of a popular libertarianism at that time either. Economics and business professors are commonly (modally?) libertarianish in their outlook and you had a libertarian opinion journalism and literary stream. With the exception of Ayn Rand and her circle, these people had pleasantly co-operative dealings with the main body of starboard journalism (e.g. Buckley) and had had such dealings since Buckley set up shop in 1955. Mr. Reagan was employed in the public relations apparat at General Electric in 1955; he did not have anything to do with starboard opinion journalism; he was hawking appliances. (Mr. Goldwater was more libertarianish in his inclinations than Mr. Reagan).

        As far as I can recall, vociferous libertarians ca. 1984 sorted neatly into those who did not write about the military (e.g. Milton Friedman) and those who were explicit isolationists (e.g. Ted Galen Carpenter).

        As for what Mr. Reagan was ‘about’, there was no excess emphasis on any of the major components of his program. In the end, the people who were attracted to the revised military and diplomatic postures got much more of their program than did others.

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        • With the exception of Ayn Rand and her circle, these people had pleasantly co-operative dealings with the main body of starboard journalism (e.g. Buckley) and had had such dealings since Buckley set up shop in 1955.

          That’s essentially what I’m referring to. The reference to the Reagan Revolution was more confusing than clarifying. By that I just refer to the general political cause of seeking rollback of perceived overextension of the government into economic affairs (especially taxes), and overgenerosity of welfare programs from before Goldwater through the Gingrich revolution and up through the Tea Parties, not the specific moment when it came to fruition in Reagan’s presidency.

          If there was a foreign-policy-first wing of libertarians who were never on that ride (and are starting to ascend again now), that’s great, but it’s actually kind of irrelevant to the observed alliance that’s being discussed here. If you see that as significant, it actually goes more to the question of whether there ever really was any libertarian-conservative alliance, not my explanation of why what people have experienced as one happened. And people certainly have the impression that there was one.

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        • As far as I can recall, vociferous libertarians ca. 1984 sorted neatly into those who did not write about the military (e.g. Milton Friedman) and those who were explicit isolationists (e.g. Ted Galen Carpenter).

          Friedman did more than any one individual to end the military draft and institute the all-volunteer military. Although he didn’t write often on foreign policy, he opposed both of the Iraq wars.

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          • Conscription was not an issue after 1973. The only public advocates of conscription were some oddball liberals (of which Charles Peters was one; there was also a nest at Time-Life). Advocacy of an all volunteer military was not by 1973 a signature libertarian cause and draft calls had tanked during the Nixon Administration.

            I fail to see what the relevance of Friedman’s (or James Baker’s) views on Iraq in 2003 were to the political discourse twenty or forty years earlier.

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      • The libertarian-conservative alliance happened because the Reagan Revolution was more about shrinking the size of government’s intervention in economic affairs

        No. The libertarian-conservative alliance is much older than that. As early as the 1950s, getting stronger with the Goldwater campaign, tested severely but ultimately even surviving Vietnam. Reagan was a latecomer.

        but in those days defense spending wasn’t seen by libertarians as being as problematic as it is by some of them now;

        No. Read some Cato publications from the 1980s. Defense is clearly legitimate, but it’s still possible to overspend on a legitimate thing.

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        • On the first, see my explanation to Art Deco of what I meant by the Reagan Revolution: “The reference to the Reagan Revolution was more confusing than clarifying. By that I just refer to the general political cause of seeking rollback of perceived overextension of the government into economic affairs (especially taxes), and overgenerosity of welfare programs from before Goldwater through the Gingrich revolution and up through the Tea Parties, not the specific moment when it came to fruition in Reagan’s presidency.” It was inadequate shorthand and a mistake to use the term the way I did, but what you describe is what I was trying to refer to (which I made clear in a comment before yours was posted).

          On the second, I did not claim they did not have that position wrt to defense budgets. I sonly said that they didn’t (as a rule) see it as being as problematic as some do today. The point was that that concern was not enough to derail what for a time was, as Deco says, a productive alliance on economic issues more broadly, and that as a matter of prominence, that view was somewhat downplayed compared to emphasis on both sides on the concurrence over economics. Perhaps that’s a mistake too, but I’m guessing it can be documented (number of Cato articles emphasizing the power of markets, destructive power of taxes, perverse incentives of welfare and related topics in the 80s as compared to number expressing concern over defense budgets). I know you will disagree with this; that’s fine.

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    • It seems to me that “fuck you, I’ve got mine” is a not entirely inappropriate description of the libertarian philosophy’s approach to scarcity or access disparities regarding information or wealth accumulation.

      It’d be better expressed as the ongoing failure of libertarian thought to account properly for the prisoner’s dilemma aspects of societal dynamics, but I can see where the shorthand makes a better bumper sticker.

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