Your President Hopes You’re Stupid

When an ideologically diverse roomful of economists, upon hearing the announcement of a new presidential policy, bursts into unanimous laughter, you can be pretty sure the president is trying to pull a fast one.

A couple of days ago, I happened to arrive a little late for our department’s regular Friday 10AM bagel hour, where a heated discussion of the original contraception-for-all policy was in full swing. I was able to report that I’d just heard on the radio that the president was “backing off” by transferring the mandate from employers to insurers. Hilarity ensued.

That’s because all economists (and I hope everyone who’s successfully completed a Principles course) understands that transferring the responsibility from employers to insurers amounts to transferring the cost from insurance buyers to insurance buyers, which is to say that it’s not a change in policy. One of the first and most important lessons we teach our students is well summarized by a slogan: “The economic burden of a tax is independent of the legal burden”. Ditto for a mandated insurance purchase. It is not the law, but the underlying price-sensitivities of buyers and sellers, that determines where the burden ultimately falls.

Your president knows this. He’s banking that you don’t.

Edited to add: I see that Greg Mankiw beat me to this. Others must have as well.

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245 Responses to “Your President Hopes You’re Stupid”


  1. 1 1 Keshav Srinivasan

    Steve, to be fair the Obama administration is justifying thesmeleves in some way, albeit highly implausibly. They claim that requiring insurance companies to cover contraception does not raise the cost of the insurance plan at all, because contraception reduces healthcare costs by preventing unwanted pregnancies, as well as mitigating some cancer risks, and they claim that these savings outweigh the costs of providing contraceptives. Thus they assert that insurance companies will not pass on the costs of contraception at all to the Catholic institutions.

    The obvious counterargument to this is, of course, that insurance companies would have already realized these savings. But perhaps they’re arguing that the health insurance market is so inefficient that people are not capitalizing on obvious profit opportunities.

  2. 2 2 Jay

    I agree with you that this does not represent any meaningful economic change. I think it may be possible that Obama agrees with you as well.

    As I understand it, the change was a concession to religious employers who opposed being forced to hand out contraception themselves. Obama found a way to appease them without making any meaningful change in policy. This is seemingly an ideal response from him (in fact, it is a Pareto improvement).

    The people complaining about the legal burden of handing out contraceptives were the religious employers–they placed great significance on being forced to provide contraception. Obama’s solution solves their (as you say, senseless) complaint, without changing the position of employees who benefit from the policy.

  3. 3 3 Harold

    Your president is probably correct, from what I can glean from the media.

    Keshav Srinivasan: ” But perhaps they’re arguing that the health insurance market is so inefficient that people are not capitalizing on obvious profit opportunities.” Perhaps it is distorted by irrational religious imperatives.

    Also, perhaps he meant “backing off” from imposing a legal burden. it is only because you are economists that you assume he must have been talking about financial costs.

  4. 4 4 Doctor Memory

    Actually, the Obama administration appears to be banking that the Catholic church’s leadership is stupid. So far the evidence is on their side.

  5. 5 5 nobody.really

    I laughed when I heard about Obama’s concession, too, because it appeared to me that Obama had found a way to hoist Catholics on their own petard. They want to make a fetish of some point of ideology, so Obama offered them an ideological way out of their problem.

  6. 6 6 Ken B

    nobody.really makes a good point. This is quite a jesuitical idea.

    I think Obama is hoping 1) that his critics are stupid and 2) that his supporters will see that they are stupid. It’s an attempt at pwnage.

  7. 7 7 KS

    This is Mankiw–

    “A. An employer is required to provide its employees health insurance that covers birth control.

    B. An employer is required to provide its employees health insurance. The health insurance company is required to cover birth control.

    I can understand someone endorsing both A and B, and I can understand someone rejecting both A and B. But I cannot understand someone rejecting A and embracing B, because they are effectively the same policy.”

    Agreed, there may be no change in policy. But semantics matter. Religious organizations (ie, Catholic churches) don’t like being told they need to provide contraception, so the president said, okay, we’ll tell the insurance companies they have to do it, as they seem to be more okay with it.

    Surely it doesn’t surprise anyone here that the president’s job might also involve semantics? After all, the basic problem here isn’t Obama, it’s the Catholic Church and their sensitivity. Couldn’t you just as easily make the case that the Catholic church, by being okay with this concession but not the original policy, is being stupid?

  8. 8 8 Roger Schlafly

    It is funny to see Obama supporters try to claim that everyone else is stupid. This compromise is no compromise at all, and Obama just gave the Republicans a campaign issue.

  9. 9 9 Ken B

    “After all, the basic problem here isn’t Obama, it’s the Catholic Church and their sensitivity.”

    False dichotomy. They are both the problem. That’s why this is such a fun fight to watch.

    “Couldn’t you just as easily make the case that the Catholic church, by being okay with this concession but not the original policy, is being stupid?”

    Yes, and I think that Steve just did: It would be stupid to accept the ‘concession’. (Perhaps you missed that bit.)

    Of course the reports are that the bishops have rejected the deal, so are not okay with the concession. Exactly who is the stupider one here remains in doubt, as Roger notes.

  10. 10 10 KS

    “It is funny to see Obama supporters try to claim that everyone else is stupid. This compromise is no compromise at all, and Obama just gave the Republicans a campaign issue.”

    I’m not making that claim at all. I’m saying, if you make the case Obama is being silly by offering a concession which has no meaningful change in policy but just semantics, you can make the same case that the Catholic church is being silly by demanding a concession which has no meaningful change in policy but just semantics.

  11. 11 11 Ken B

    “.. the Catholic church is being silly by demanding a concession which has no meaningful change in policy but just semantics.”

    I do not believe the church demanded any such concession. So far it looks like they have rejected one such. It looks like they are demanding a real change.

  12. 12 12 nobody.really

    This compromise is no compromise at all, and Obama just gave the Republicans a campaign issue.

    Oh, I expect the Obama camp is counting on this. As the Washington Post notes,

    A majority of Catholics (58 percent) support the contraception mandate generally. While Catholic Church teaching proscribes the use of artificial birth control to avoid conception, 98 percent of Catholics use contraception, according to separate surveys.

    But because this is a matter of doctrine, the Catholic Bishops can’t back down. So they’re going to engage in a battle of loyalty on their least-defensible flank. This is an exercise designed to drive a wedge between Catholic leaders and the laity — especially the laity of Pennsylvania.

    Alas for the Republicans, the population that cares the most about restricting birth control is not Catholics, but fundamentalist Protestants. So the Republican establishment can’t back down, either.

  13. 13 13 Ken B

    @nobdoy.really: for a lot of us the issue isn’t contraception though. It’s religious and personal freedom, and govt overreach. The gop needs the libertarian vote in most elections. They are not part of the base, they are voters who can go either way. It’s often a tough sell for the gop. It’s a much easier sell with issues like this.

  14. 14 14 Patrick R. Sullivan

    Isn’t the really stupid thing that Obama kept repeating that, there is too such a thing as a free lunch!

    As Mencken said, ‘No one ever went broke underestimating the American public.’

  15. 15 15 Henri Hein

    “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public”

    FTFY.

  16. 16 16 nobody.really

    [F]or a lot of us the issue isn’t contraception though. It’s religious and personal freedom, and govt overreach. The gop needs the libertarian vote in most elections. They are not part of the base, they are voters who can go either way. It’s often a tough sell for the gop. It’s a much easier sell with issues like this.

    I wonder. Political scientists observe that there are many fewer “swing” voters than people self-report. Many people resist acknowledging political commitments — it makes them feel implicated in any wrongdoing their party engages in – even when they acknowledge voting consistently for one party or the other. How many voters are on the margin here?

    I also have concerns about religious and personal freedom. And that’s why I want to steer far away from anything that smacks of theocracy. I also have concerns about governmental overreach. That’s why I’d be reluctant to vote for a party that opened Guantanamo and produced the Torture Memos.

    But I suspect there are plenty of people who self-identify as libertarian who find these issues much less compelling than the issue of tax rates. We may share a love of freedom, but we each have our own boogieman.

    In short, I question how many voters will switch their vote from D to R over this issue. Sure, people care about the issue for practical and symbolic reasons. But mostly those reasons will simply reinforce people’s existing preferences.

    Which is no to say that the issue makes no difference.

    The issue adds fuel to the fire of people who care about such issues – and draws oxygen away from other issues. Lethargic Republicans will feel newly inspired by a red-meat issue. They’ll want to hear about it in every campaign stop. They’ll turn it into a litmus test for TRUE CONSERVATISM – a test tailored to Santorum’s strengths. We need someone who understands religion! (And what religion is that Romney guy, again?) We need a real Christian in the White House! (And Mormonism – that’s a branch of Mohammadism, right?) We need a True Believer! (And what exactly does that Romney fellow believe…?)

    In short, the longer people focus on social issues, the longer the GOP has to stretch out the nominating process. The more money they’ll blow. The more negative adds they’ll run, and the higher they’ll drive up the negatives associated with each candidate. The more they’ll be compelled to pander to the extremes of their own party, and expose each other’s weaknesses.

    Romney will try to steer the conversation back to economic issues, but face it – we’ve been talking about them for years now; how much more is there to say? Besides, the unemployment rate is coming down, so today’s stories seem pale compared to the stories we read last quarter. Meanwhile, these social issues are so shiny and sparkly! How can we look away?

    Eventually Romney will have to bite the bullet and fight back in earnest. So we’ll all be treated to the spectacle of a nice, innocent, earnest, CHRISTIAN guy in a sweater vest – think Mr. Rogers, but with a critically ill daughter — being savaged by a pack of anonymous SuperPAC ads while Romney stands aside saying, “Golly, I have no control over what those people say….” And thus will Romney, blood still dripping from his hands, ascend the dais to accept the Republican nomination.

    So yeah, I expect the issue matters, but maybe not in the manner suggested here.

  17. 17 17 Ken B

    “That’s why I’d be reluctant to vote for a party that opened Guantanamo …”

    Seems a bit grudgy to still blame TR over that, but it’s your vote.

    Of course if Gitmo was really the issue you cared about you’d probably vote for some third party.

  18. 18 18 neil wilson

    What it does is change things from a debate about religious liberty to debate about birth control. This puts the President on the right side of the issue.

    Of course, no one really wants religious liberty.

    “”"Let me pull a point out of a rather long John Holbo post. Start with the assumption that ObamaCare is repealed, in its entirety, tomorrow. The day after tomorrow Abdul Hussain, owner and CEO of a large private firm with 5,000 employees, announces that his firm will no longer offer employees health insurance that permits women to visit male doctors or male employees to be treated by female doctors. This is a newsworthy event, and the day after the day after tomorrow Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder both offer the opinion that this is a form of illegal discrimination and that if it’s not already illegal it should be made illegal. Will Mitch McConnell and other congressional Republicans stand up for Hussain’s “freedom of conscience” in this case? Will my conservative Twitter followers?

    I’m going to guess no.”"”
    That was from Matthew Yglesias quoting from John Holbo.

    Honestly, how many people side with the Catholic Church would also side with the example above????

    Anyone???

  19. 19 19 KS

    Yeah, to me it’s funny how this is phrased as an issue of religious liberty, when it’s not. Basically, Obama originally mandated that Catholic organizations have to provide the option that their employees could choose contraception if they wanted. No-one is mandating people take contraception.

  20. 20 20 Seth

    That must be one of the tricks they teach them in the “How to Run The Country” course at Harvard. Or, is that one taught at Columbia, since Mankiw doesn’t seem to know anything about it?

  21. 21 21 Ken

    Your president knows this.

    Does he? What in Obama’s history makes you think this is true? So far, he’s managed to misunderstand all the economic problems put before him.

  22. 22 22 Ken

    neil,

    I will side with this example. If Abdul announces this change in policy, how many women will choose to work for him? How much money will he lose? How much lower will his profits be? If he’s willing to bear those costs, let him. Since we live in a pretty free economy, where labor is free to move about, women can find jobs at places willing to hire them.

    The difference between Abdul and the government should be clear, but from your comment you seem to be completely unaware of it, so I’ll make it explicit so you can understand. Abdul cannot force anyone to work for him. All of his workers voluntarily work for him. The government, by its very nature, uses force to enforce its rules.

    It is Abdul’s company. As much as you don’t like it, or anyone else for that matter, substituting your own preferences for his and willingly using coercive measures to enforce your preferences doesn’t make you any better of a person than Abdul. Living in a free society means tolerating people you find repulsive, not coercing them into behaving as you think they should behave.

  23. 23 23 KS

    @Ken–

    “So far, he’s managed to misunderstand all the economic problems put before him.”

    This comment makes me think there is just something about the name ‘Ken’, unless you are ‘Ken B’ and have dropped the ‘B’ in a weak attempt to disguise who you are.

    Anyway, this statement is a bit too blatant for me to correct in totality, so let me just say that, (1) there is nothing to suggest this recession is not the result from a severe drop in aggregate demand, and (2) increasing AD should therefore be the primary focus of government right now.

    I think the President gets this. Most economists get this. The ones who don’t are (1) people like you, and (2) his opposition party, who can exploit the quirks of American democracy to get a much larger amount than they should proportionally.

  24. 24 24 awp

    To me the most under-reported economic problem with all this, is the fact that insurance is particularly stupid way to pay for a regular and known occurrence. Any rational sexually active person would never want to use insurance to cover condoms or the pill. All that would do is increase your costs by the overhead and profit of the insurance company.

    It amounts to a really expensive subsidy to sexually active people who do not want to have a pregnancy occur. There may be an argument for this subsidy, but not for using the most expensive and round about possible subsidy.

  25. 25 25 Ken

    I am not Ken B. You can dislike the name Ken all you want for whatever reasons you want.

    there is nothing to suggest this recession is not the result from a severe drop in aggregate demand

    Aggregate demand results in the sum of the micro demand. The idea that the government can simply “fix” the aggregate demand problem by spending more hasn’t panned out in the past. Why expect it to pan out now?

    increasing AD should therefore be the primary focus of government right now

    Because paying off cronies has always been the path to economic recovery.

    Of course people who put forth the idea that the government can (ignoring for the moment of the questions should it or even has the legal authority to) increase aggregate demand and have it “fix” a recession ignores the underlying cause of the slump in demand: in this case government artificially increased demand for housing and credit. Since the primary cause of this problem is government increase of demand, your brilliant solution is now for the government to increase demand? Seriously? And you take a sarcastic, condescending tone with me and you put forth such a thoughtless shotgun approach which has succeeded in driving real unemployment to around 13-14% and kept the official rate above 9% for nearly 3 years? Ha!

  26. 26 26 KS

    @Ken–

    “The idea that the government can simply “fix” the aggregate demand problem by spending more hasn’t panned out in the past. Why expect it to pan out now?”

    I won’t argue the empirical evidence with you, but yes, deficit spending can be expansionary and certainly has been in the past. Now if you’re making the claim that deficit spending is NEVER expansionary, I disagree. I would also disagree with the claim that deficit spending is ALWAYS expansionary.

    “Because paying off cronies has always been the path to economic recovery.”

    This isn’t a legitimate argument.

    “ignores the underlying cause of the slump in demand: in this case government artificially increased demand for housing and credit. Since the primary cause of this problem is government increase of demand, your brilliant solution is now for the government to increase demand?”

    The idea that government is the primary cause of the housing and credit slump currently is revisionist at best. But suppose I grant it to you; that still wouldn’t translate to government not being able to help out.

    Your argument runs something equivalent to this: ‘A team of firefighters came and accidentally set my house on fire. I will never call another team of firefighters ever as clearly I have shown that if one form of X caused a problem, another form of X can in no way help. Oh wait, I will also never examine the evidence that my house was set on fire by deregulated markets, not firefighters, either. I am an idiot.’

  27. 27 27 KS

    “put forth such a thoughtless shotgun approach which has succeeded in driving real unemployment to around 13-14% and kept the official rate above 9% for nearly 3 years? Ha!”

    Wow, I almost forgot this doozy of a retarded statement. To analyze an intervention (say, the AIRA), you need to compare what happened to what would have happened (the counterfactual).

    It is meaningless and retarded to say, well, the unemployment rate is now 8.3%, and AIRA was passed 3 years ago, ergo, AIRA caused an 8.3% unemployment.

    I am going to use a medical example as it is my area of expertise. Say we take 100,000 people and give them all aspirin daily, then measure the number of heart attacks that occur over the next 10 years. Say that number happens to be 5000. For me to say, aspirin caused 5000 heart attacks, would basically translate to, “I am retarded.” (As you just said). The valid thing is to say, okay, how many heart attacks would have occurred without aspirin? Let’s compare THAT (the counterfactual) to 5000.

    See? You should try and make a dedicated effort to (1) not be retarded. That’s it. There is no (2). Just follow #1.

  28. 28 28 Ken

    I won’t argue the empirical evidence with you

    Well then. What more is there to say?

    You can continue to call me retarded as much as you like, but here’s the crux of it. The predictive powers big government power grabbers such as yourself has to explain the failur of the stimulus. Not only does is the economy worse than predicted with the stimulus, the economy is worse than predicted without the stimulus. At best, these arguments show that macroeconomists are guessing at best.

    You bet you don’t want to argue the emperical evidence because then you’d have a lot to explain.

    Also, your throw away This isn’t a legitimate argument. shows how retarded you are. This is the most legitimate argument in arguing against politicians directing money in the economy. First and foremost, the government must take whatever resources it gets, by force. Then it hands out that money due mostly to political clout. GM is the most visible example of this, but it happens all the way down to small grants to fund pet projects.

    The idea that government is the primary cause of the housing and credit slump currently is revisionist at best.

    The idea that government wasn’t the primary cause of the housing and credit slump is sticking your fingers in your ear yelling “LALALALALALALA…”.

    Your analogy about firefighters again displays your own retardedness. You forgot to mention that EVERY large fire at my house was “accidentally” set by those firefighters. And your passing mention of deregulation is again just sticking your head in the sand. Both housing and financial markets have hundreds of thousands of pages of regulations they have to follow and tens of thousands of regulators supposedly watching them. To say that the most regulated industries in the US economy have somehow been deregulated is to announce to the world that you have no idea what you are talking about.

  29. 29 29 Ken

    It is meaningless and retarded to say, well, the unemployment rate is now 8.3%, and AIRA was passed 3 years ago, ergo, AIRA caused an 8.3% unemployment.

    Except I didn’t say that. I said that people who pushed it guaranteed that unemployment wouldn’t go above 8%. Not only did it go above 8%, but it increase and has stayed in double digits after passage.

    And dear god help those poor fools who go to you for medical advice.

  30. 30 30 KS

    Ken, this is getting a bit too off topic from the main thread for me to continue it. I am just going to end by quoting you: “succeeded in driving real unemployment to around 13-14% and kept the official rate above 9% for nearly 3 years?”. Ie, you said policy X has kept the rate above 9% for 3 years. That is akin to me saying, giving aspirin produced 5000 heart attacks. Someone with an IQ over 85 could see the stupidity of either statement.

  31. 31 31 KS

    ” You forgot to mention that EVERY large fire at my house was “accidentally” set by those firefighters. And your passing mention of deregulation is again just sticking your head in the sand. Both housing and financial markets have hundreds of thousands of pages of regulations they have to follow and tens of thousands of regulators supposedly watching them. To say that the most regulated industries in the US economy have somehow been deregulated is to announce to the world that you have no idea what you are talking about.”

    Actually sorry, I just read this and felt like I had been hit by a giant stick of stupid.

    (1) Even if some firefighters produce every fire at your house, that does not mean the solution cannot involve some modified firefighters. Ie, if X contributed to the problem, that doesn’t mean modified X can’t contribute to the solution.

    (2) The regulation of a market is not measured by the number of pages it takes to write regulations. Sigh, Ken, you make me fear for the future of the species.

  32. 32 32 Jimbino

    Any organization that can invent the Assumption of Mary and pardon Galileo hundreds of years late can define any problem away.

    Especially those with a flock that has no clue as to the meaning of the Immaculate Conception.

  33. 33 33 KS

    @Ken–

    “I will side with this example. If Abdul announces this change in policy, how many women will choose to work for him? How much money will he lose? How much lower will his profits be? If he’s willing to bear those costs, let him. Since we live in a pretty free economy, where labor is free to move about, women can find jobs at places willing to hire them.”

    Boy, the more I read about what you’ve said, the more retarded you come across. Replace the term ‘woman’ with ‘black person’ and your argument becomes: If Abdul doesn’t want to hire black people, it’s okay, as we have a free market economy where black people can find jobs at places willing to hire them.

    Thank GOD your thinking evaporated from the mainstream in the 1960s.

  34. 34 34 Martin

    The Christian employers deserve a say in this discussion. Whatever their rational, which I wouldn’t call totally bigoted (but which I would call a product of the imagination of ancient shepherds), if they don’t like paying for people’s contraception then that’s a legitimate cost of the policy. What would vegetarian employers think if they had to offer every employee a daily tax-exempt hamburger at lunch? If evangelicals are pissed now then they’ll still be pissed in the next election, and the next one, and the next one, and the noise will distract voters and the media from more important issues.

    Obama’s solution does look ridiculous. I’ll have to check with my friend in Seminary School to see if he feels vindicated. But even if evangelical employers are somehow happy, what about evangelical insurance providers?

  35. 35 35 Dick White

    1. I do believe that @Ken has it right. Abdul has essentially has reduced the wages of employees unwilling to seek the required MD that the plan approves. Chances are that number would not be insignificant and his business would be adversely affected much like XYZ which has a robust choice of plans and next year offers only an HMO option. To the extent many employees had used the more generous plans, they would be facing a compensation decrease and would be motivated to seek other employment.

    2. A number of responses, I believe, misunderstand the Catholic objection. It seems that such objection is based on the employer sanctioning of birth control, abortifacients and sterilization required by the HHS regulation. That the sanction takes the form of payment by the employer (the original regulation) or acquiescence by the employer of these benefits paid for by the insurance company (the compromise) is irrelevant to the Church’s objection. Of course, one could disagree with the Church’s position but it seems that position is internally consistent.

  36. 36 36 Ken Arromdee

    (People who dislike the name “Ken” may ignore this.)

    “To the extent many employees had used the more generous plans, they would be facing a compensation decrease and would be motivated to seek other employment.”

    I don’t agree. If an employer has effectively reduced the salary below market rate for women, the employer is still part of the market. Instead of n employers willing to hire women at reasonable wages, there are n-1 employers. Since there are marginally fewer employers, the other employers will find that the women are marginally more desperate to find a job and thus marginally more willing to work for lower wages. The result will be the lowering of wages for women everywhere. It will happen at the margins and be distributed over a lot of workers so it’s hard to see, but the effect will still be there.

  37. 37 37 Greg MN

    Ken said Abdul cannot force anyone to work for him. All of his workers voluntarily work for him. The government, by its very nature, uses force to enforce its rules.

    I agree an employer cannot force anyone to be an employee, but the government cannot force anyone to be a citizen, can it? People have choices regarding employment and they have choices regarding citizenship and places to live.

  38. 38 38 Dick White

    @KenAromdee

    Perhaps I’m confused. I think employers are unchanged. It’s just that Employer Abdul seeks to attract employees amenable to his unique health plan. If he finds them, the overall demand for labor is unchanged and the displaced women relocate to competing/other employers who have suffered departures to Abdul. If his plan doesn’t attract replacements then, ceteris paribus, his business volume declines, his competitors’ volume increases and the former Abdul employee women find work at their existing wage/benefit rate at organizations with the now increased volume of business.

  39. 39 39 Will A

    @ Ken B:

    The gop needs the libertarian vote in most elections. They are not part of the base, they are voters who can go either way.

    This a pretty good point. The current GOP’s catering to the religious right (push to outlaw abortion, push to put the 10 commandments on buildings, etc.) has pretty much shifted a good number of the California libertarian vote to the Democrats.

    My guess is that if forced to choose between Obama who wants to mandate that insurance companies cover birth control for customers who want that service vs. a candidate who believe states should have the right to outlaw birth control and/or abortion, these California libertarians will either vote Obama (or not vote).

    If there was a choice for a Republican candidate who thought that everyone should have the right to purchase the birth control method of his/her choice, then these libertarians would pretty much vote and vote republican.

  40. 40 40 Ken Arromdee

    @DickWhite: If his conditions are so intolerable that no woman will work for him, then he’s effectively reducing the number of available employers for women by 1, with the result I noted: employers are scarcer and that drives down salaries.

    An intermediate situation like yours just produces an intermediate result. Salaries are reduced, but not by as much.

    In an intermediate situation, where women both join and leave, everyone that joins his company raises the market salary for the outside women and everyone who leaves his company reduces it. Furthermore, the amount by which the market salary goes up or down is affected by how much the women dislike Abdul’s policies; the worse his policies are perceived as, the less other companies need to offer in pay to lure women away or keep them from going to him.

    In order for Abdul to have no effect on women’s salaries, it must at least be true that the same number of women join and leave Abdul’s company, *and* that the ones that join honestly don’t perceive his policies as bad. And if you say that, you’re pretty much denying the premise ofa the hypothetical.

  41. 41 41 Ken

    Even if some firefighters produce every fire at your house, that does not mean the solution cannot involve some modified firefighters.

    Yes and the problem with communism is that all the wrong people get into power. If only the right people could control the government, instead of the corrupt power hungry, right? It’s not like this has been the central problem of government since the beginning of government, right? The basic problem with government is that the corrupt and power hungry will always get into power. The best way to handle that is to limit how much damage they can do. However, idiots like you clammer to hand over your last dollar and your last liberty to these corrupt people.

    The regulation of a market is not measured by the number of pages it takes to write regulations.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! And someone’s saving isn’t measured by the number of dollars he has! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

    If Abdul doesn’t want to hire black people, it’s okay, as we have a free market economy where black people can find jobs at places willing to hire them.

    Absolutely. Is liberty really so hard to understand? Are you willing to force a black man who didn’t want to work for a white man work for that white man? Are you willing to force a black man to patronize a shop run by white men when then black man doesn’t want to patronize that white man’s shop? If not, why are you willing to force a black man to buy the labor of white men?

    Additionally, why do you think Jim Crow were a set of laws enacted by the democratic party? Because the freedom of black men to work and sell their labor to whomever they wanted undermined those who didn’t want to compete against competitors who hired black men, nor did they want to compete against black run businesses. The racists from the democratic party didn’t evaporate (the people you wontonly compare me to), they staid in the democratic party and worked their hardest to successfully destroy the black family. Detroit is the shining example of the democrats’ policies.

  42. 42 42 neil wilson

    My point is not whether or not it makes sense to impose Sharia Law on the workers of a Muslim owned company.

    My point is that anyone who sides with the Catholics on religious freedom would not side with the Muslims.

    You can take a free market libertarian view to support both the Muslims and the Catholics. But I am waiting for someone to defend them from ONLY a religious point of view.

  43. 43 43 iceman

    @ Neil Wilson: I’m not sure what sort of response you’re looking for exactly, but I think a libertarian can look at this in terms of freedom, period – e.g. free markets, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, all related facets. I agree Holbo’s example raises some thorny issues, e.g. things we’re supposed to feel like we’re not supposed to talk about (but I see Ken is unflinching). I’d just note the flip side (perhaps this still just falls in the “free market” bucket) is that, even in a post-1960s world, you’re presuming people have a *right* not just to be considered on an equal footing with everyone else, but to work for a particular employer *on their preferred religious (or non-religious) terms*. That scenario is more like a bunch of like-minded people start / join a hospital under commonly agreeable rules, then one day someone converts to a different faith, decides they don’t like the arrangement and sues. In some ways this seems closer to the case at hand where a change is being imposed from without the organization.

  44. 44 44 iceman

    @KS: “…Catholic organizations [simply] have to provide the option that their employees could choose contraception if they wanted. No-one is mandating people take contraception.”

    You really don’t find it to be an issue of religious liberty to force someone to offer / acquiesce to (some say this = sanction) a service that they believe to be immoral? Substitute “adultery” for “contraception” in your statement. What other tenets of Catholicism do we get to render verdict on? Note I’m not a Catholic but I respect their right to interpret their own version of faith. This is not to say there aren’t other legitimate issues involved.

  45. 45 45 KS

    @Ken–

    “The basic problem with government is that the corrupt and power hungry will always get into power. The best way to handle that is to limit how much damage they can do.”

    It is clear you see things in an all/nothing, dichotomous fashion. One form of government (communism) is bad, therefore, all government is bad. I can’t argue with something like this. I fear for any social contacts you may have, though.

    “However, idiots like you clammer to hand over your last dollar and your last liberty to these corrupt people.”

    Nope, ‘idiots’ like me recognize that government provides socially-useful services for which individuals have to pay appropriate levels of taxes. ‘Idiots’ like me also recognize that markets without government regulation are a bad thing. (Ex: the Haitian earthquake killed 250,000 people, because none of the buildings were up to regulatory code, because the legal system there is weak and ineffective. I would say, let’s fix the legal system and build a stronger government that enforces appropriate building regulations. You would say, ‘I’m retarded’, or something of that sort.)

    “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! And someone’s saving isn’t measured by the number of dollars he has! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!”

    Nope, the amount of money in a bank account is a perfect measure of the amount of money someone has in saving’s. The amount of paper it takes to write something down is not. Here is you: ‘The U.S. economy is measured by the number of pages it takes to write down everything inside it’.

    “Absolutely. Is liberty really so hard to understand?”

    For you clearly.

    Ken, your mind would have been a shining example of contemporary thought… in the 1930s. You are clearly beyond hope, but thankfully, most of society is a bit smarter. (And by that I mean A LOT smarter).

  46. 46 46 KS

    Btw, I hope everyone notices how Ken has conveniently ignored the criticism of his statement that Obama’s policies caused unemployment to stay above 9% for three years. Maybe it’s because he’s dumb, but not dumb enough to realize just how dumb he is, and fears that embarrassment. It’s too late for that Ken, too late.

    Also Ken, the word is “stayed”, not “staid”.

  47. 47 47 bart.mitchell

    I’d say that he was banking on smart progressives seeing through the policy change, and recognizing that women would still get subsidized birth control. He’s also counting on religious people being convinced that he some how backed down on the issue, when he really just shuffled the cards.

    Brilliantly played in my opinion. You can’t go wrong underestimating the average intelligence of the religious.

  48. 48 48 Ken

    One form of government (communism) is bad, therefore, all government is bad.

    You say this, even when quoting my statement The basic problem with government is that the corrupt and power hungry will always get into power, which doesn’t mention any one particular type of governemnt at all. The problem isn’t just that communism is bad, it’s that power attracts the corrupt. The more power the government has, the more corrupt and corrupting it is, and the more corrupt politicians will be, regardless of whether it’s an oligarchy, democracy, republic, etc.

    ‘Idiots’ like me also recognize that markets without government regulation are a bad thing.

    Your example is Haiti and how nothing was up to code? Ha! Look at what you just said: regulations were in effect that may have been able to prevent so many dead. Guess what? Haiti is incredibly corrupt. No amount of regulation makes a difference. In addition to that, Haiti was and is incredibly anti-free markets. Here’s some news you can use: if you want to say how free markets are bad, don’t bring forth a case where free markets are incredibly hampered by an overbearing and corrupt government.

    The amount of paper it takes to write something down is not.

    This statement is only partially true. If a regulation is passed it takes a certain number of words, give or take; however, the number of pages it takes to write down the regulations is highly correlated with the number of regulations. That the correlation coefficient doesn’t equal 1 doesn’t mean that what I said isn’t incorrect. The fact of the matter is that housing and finance are the most regulated industries in America. No other industries have so many pages of regulations written nor regulators employed. What you’ve said is that I am wrong if I claim there are 310,000,000 people in the country because that number isn’t exactly correct.

    Ken, your mind would have been a shining example of contemporary thought… in the 1930s.

    You mean the decade where Hoover radically increased the size and scope of government and FDR radically increased the size and scope even further? I am arguing for liberty and the expansion of liberty, whereas the 1930s represents a time when government radically shrank liberty. Do you ever know what you are talking about?

    I hope everyone notices how Ken has conveniently ignored the criticism of his statement that Obama’s policies caused unemployment to stay above 9% for three years.

    I didn’t ignore it. You failed to provide any sort of critique, saying that you weren’t going to get into an emperical debate. Remember that? Then you went into ad hominem as quick as you could. A great example is making a big deal out of the fact that I mispelled stayed. So? Does it at all change anything that I said? Of course not, but you’re hoping everyone else will cling to the fact that I mispelled a word and ignore the fact that the substance of my argument is correct. You’ve failed to address the fact that Obama and his team were at best guessing (i.e., didn’t know what they were talking about) and at worst knew that 2009 was the perfect time to use tax payer money to pay off political allies, regardless of the actual affects of his stimulus on the economy.

  49. 49 49 Ken

    You have failed to address that the unemployment rate has been declining lately, not because people are finding jobs, but because people have stopped looking for jobs.

  50. 50 50 KS

    “The more power the government has, the more corrupt and corrupting it is, and the more corrupt politicians will be, regardless of whether it’s an oligarchy, democracy, republic, etc.”

    Please Wikipedia the entry ‘balance of powers’. Also, please go back to the 3rd grade, as some elementary education was clearly lost on you.

    “Your example is Haiti and how nothing was up to code? Ha! Look at what you just said: regulations were in effect that may have been able to prevent so many dead. Guess what? Haiti is incredibly corrupt. No amount of regulation makes a difference.”

    Agreed, the government in Haiti is very corrupt, and the legal system is basically neutered (like your brain). My solution is to strengthen the legal system and improve transparency in government. Yours would be something like “government is bad ergo government must be small ergo I’m an idiot”. Does it not occur to you that a legal system is a PART of the government, and an effective legal system is *required* for a free market to function properly?

    Perhaps the relationship between governments and markets is complex, and not as reducible as “governments are inherently corrupt and should be as small as possible”? Perhaps your brain is retarded??

    “If a regulation is passed it takes a certain number of words, give or take; however, the number of pages it takes to write down the regulations is highly correlated with the number of regulations.”

    The number of regulations in a market is not a good estimate of if the market is over- or under-regulated. Here’s a simpler example which I hope your weak brain can handle. The population of a country is 3 million. Is the country over- or under-populated?

    What’s that? You can’t answer that question based solely on what I told you, and perhaps require more information??

    “You mean the decade where Hoover radically increased the size and scope of government and FDR radically increased the size and scope even further? I am arguing for liberty and the expansion of liberty, whereas the 1930s represents a time when government radically shrank liberty. Do you ever know what you are talking about?”

    I didn’t say your mind would relate to the leaders of the 1930s. I’m saying your opinions would have occupied the mainstream far more in the 1930s than today. Were you raised in a house with a lot of freely-accessible lead paint, by the way?

    “I didn’t ignore it. You failed to provide any sort of critique, saying that you weren’t going to get into an emperical debate.”

    Let me recap. Ken (I’m paraphrasing): “Obama’s policies have kept the unemployment rate above 9% for 3 years.” Me: umm to make that claim you need to compare to the counterfactual. Ken: “I’m an idiot” (or something equivalent)

  51. 51 51 Ken

    Please Wikipedia the entry ‘balance of powers’.

    Perhaps you should check the 9th and 10th amendments.

    Please check history and note the collusion between all branches of government. Perhaps you never heard of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. Maybe you never heard of FDR and the court packing plan, which cowed the SCOTUS and allowed him to push through much of his unconsitutional legislation. Maybe you are unaware of how the Great Society legislation got passed, despite there being no provisions for this legislation anywhere in the constitution. Or were you not paying attention when the McCain-Feingold, Patriot Act, Dodd-Frank and Obamacare got passed. All violated the constitution. The checks that come with separation of powers were weakened severely when the state check on federal power was essentially removed with the passage of the 17th amendment. There’s a lot of money to be made for politicians and bureacrats colluding against the public.

    My solution is to strengthen the legal system and improve transparency in government.

    Well if that’s all it takes, you should tell someone. To make it clear, here’s your assinine proposal: the government of Haiti is corrupt, let’s strengthen it. And how exactly to you make a corrupt government transparent? The corrupt Obama administration has directed several agencies to ignore FOI requests or simply lie about them.

    The number of regulations in a market is not a good estimate of if the market is over- or under-regulated.

    Regulations distort markets screwing up the price signals, so resources flow to areas they shouldn’t be flowing to. The more regulations, the more distortion. The odd thing about you and people like you is that when when regulation A causes distortion X, you blithely recommend regulation B, which doesn’t really do much about X, but does cause distortion Y. Your go to move is to reduce liberty and increase government power. A power that history, which you claim I’m weak on, clearly shows is the most destructive and easily corrupted power.

    I’m saying your opinions would have occupied the mainstream far more in the 1930s than today.

    I see, so politicians elected in America aren’t at least somewhat correlated with the preferences of the typical American? Is that your thesis? That in the 1930s, somehow the typical American wanted smaller government, but government grew dramatically and intrusively and these politicians so violating the wishes of the typical American remained in power? Ha!!

    to make that claim you need to compare to the counterfactual.

    Obama and his own team admitted that without the stimulus that unemployment would have stayed below 9%, or are you just denying that they made these claims, or are you finally recognizing they just made shit up to take as much money as possible from taxpayers to give to the crony friends on Wall Street and unions?

    Here are a couple counterfactuals: the early 1920′s, one of the worst stock market crashes in history started the 1920′s and the following recession lasted a whopping six months and was followed by a dramatically vibrant economy for nearly 10 years, because Coolidge stayed calm and restrained government from intervening. Three of the worst stock market crashes occurred in during the Hoover and FDR administration (two in 1929 and one in 1937), with these two adminstrations lashing out wildly and expanding drastically, causing the Great Depression. The early 70′s saw one of the worst crashes and the economy sagged as Nixon/Ford and Carter intervened, then boomed after Reagan ended much of the idiocy. Bush and Obama inherited recessions from their predecessors. Both intervened wildly. Bush saw weak growth, though low unemployment. Obama is now seeking both weak growth, when it happens anyway, and high unemployment.

  52. 52 52 KS

    I’m sorry, usually I can make it through one of your posts, but this one had so much stupid I almost drowned.

    “The early 70’s saw one of the worst crashes and the economy sagged as Nixon/Ford and Carter intervened, then boomed after Reagan ended much of the idiocy. Bush and Obama inherited recessions from their predecessors. Both intervened wildly. Bush saw weak growth, though low unemployment. Obama is now seeking both weak growth, when it happens anyway, and high unemployment.”

    You’re re-writing history. Reagan’s policies on the economy didn’t occur until well AFTER the economic recovery began (largely because Volcker drastically raised interest rates to reign in inflation). If you emphasized evidence — or were simply not retarded — you might know this. Instead, you have a narrative already constructed inside your head. I could link you to the evidence, but that would assume an IQ of 80 on your part to (1) read and (2) understand it, and let’s just say I ain’t making that bet anytime soon.

    Also, to claim the 2001 recession is even close in magnitude to the 2008 recession Obama inherited — when it was fully underway — is as dumb as saying: “Person A got punched, person B got shot 500 times. Wow, person A is fine now after being treated by doctor A, while person B is still in intensive care after being treated by doctor B. Clearly doctor A >> doctor B.”

    Do you have a voice inside your head which hints at how stupid you can be sometimes? Legitimately, almost everything you say makes me laugh / get depressed that your genes may be propagated to the next generation.

    “Or were you not paying attention when the McCain-Feingold, Patriot Act, Dodd-Frank and Obamacare got passed. All violated the constitution. The checks that come with separation of powers were weakened severely when the state check on federal power was essentially removed with the passage of the 17th amendment.”

    Now you’re being so stupid you’re contradicting yourself with two sentences! None of those violated the Constitution. Furthermore, if the Constitution is AMENDED, and new things are passed in tune with that amendment, that doesn’t make it unconstitutional. Unless you want to argue that blacks are 3/5ths of a person??

  53. 53 53 KS

    Lastly–

    “Obama and his own team admitted that without the stimulus that unemployment would have stayed below 9%, or are you just denying that they made these claims, or are you finally recognizing they just made shit up to take as much money as possible from taxpayers to give to the crony friends on Wall Street and unions?”

    Yes, Obama’s economic team — as well as everyone else — under-estimated the severity of the recession they inherited. Still, the non-partisan CBO estimates the stimulus increased employment by 1.4 – 3.3 million jobs (http://cboblog.cbo.gov/?p=1326). An intelligent economist would argue a massive amount of spending in a recession LOWERS employment. They may certainly argue about long-run effects on the deficit, unintended consequences, etc…

    But to state, as you did, that Obama’s policies drove unemployment above 9% for more than 3 years — when the economy was hemorrhaging jobs the second he took office (lost 750,000 jobs the month before he took office) — is to say, and I am being simple so you can understand, “I am weak-minded and retarded”.

  54. 54 54 KS

    Sorry, typo, it should read: “No intelligent economist would argue a massive amount of spending in a recession LOWERS employment”

  55. 55 55 Ken

    Reagan’s policies on the economy didn’t occur until well AFTER the economic recovery began

    Economic recovery didn’t happen until after 1983, well after many of Reagan’s policies were enacted. Volcker was crucial, but Reagan was too.

    …[incoherence follows]…

    None of those violated the Constitution. Furthermore, if the Constitution is AMENDED

    That’s right if. No amendment to the constitution granted the federal government the right to violate the first amendment, nor the tenth amendment. All powers of the federal government are made explicit in the constitution and the 10th amendment makes it explicit that only explicitly mentioned powers are available to the federal government. No later amendment changes this.

    Yes, Obama’s economic team — as well as everyone else — under-estimated the severity of the recession

    You mean to tell me that a government organization didn’t have all the facts about an economy that affects billions of people? Get out of here! Yet ever since then they’ve had all the facts, right? How much information do they have now in 2012 as compared to when they were completely guessing about the economy back in 2009?

    No intelligent economist would argue a massive amount of spending in a recession LOWERS employment

    And yet it happened. Labor force participation rates are at their lowest in decades.

  56. 56 56 Ken

    Notice the extreme drop off in labor participation rate AFTER the “stimulus”.

  57. 57 57 KS

    “And yet it happened. Labor force participation rates are at their lowest in decades.”

    Once again you commit the same fallacy. Stimulus occurred at point X. Labor rates fell afterwards. Therefore, stimulus caused labor rates to fall.

    I have tried to explain it to you, but now I give up. I am writing this example such that anyone else reading this may understand it. If a patient comes in with a massive stab wound causing some bleeding, and the trauma team takes him to the operating room and cuts into his abdomen to locate the source of the bleed, then you cannot say the amount of bleeding coming from the stab wound is attributable to the trauma team opening up his abdomen. Or you could, if you were Ken, and a moron.

    “Economic recovery didn’t happen until after 1983, well after many of Reagan’s policies were enacted. Volcker was crucial, but Reagan was too.”

    Reagan actually RAISED taxes in 1982. I refer you to: http://noahpinionblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/standard-republican-narrative-of_27.html. So either you (1) understand that if B occurs after A, it doesn’t mean A caused B, or (2) state that raising taxes caused the economic recovery.

    “You mean to tell me that a government organization didn’t have all the facts about an economy that affects billions of people? Get out of here!”

    Yup, the government makes mistakes. So too does the free market. We all benefit from the government. A subset of us are actually willing to pay for those benefits. The remainder — like you — are hypocrites.

  58. 58 58 KS

    “That’s right if. No amendment to the constitution granted the federal government the right to violate the first amendment, nor the tenth amendment. All powers of the federal government are made explicit in the constitution and the 10th amendment makes it explicit that only explicitly mentioned powers are available to the federal government. No later amendment changes this.”

    Constitutional originalists are so funny, as if the Constitution didn’t make a single mistake. Then you point out how black people would count as 3/5ths of a person under the original text of the Constitution. Then they ignore that and repeat the same trite argument. Then you realize why Republicans tend to oppose increased government spending on education — it would educate away their base.

  59. 59 59 Ken

    Stimulus occurred at point X. Labor rates fell afterwards. Therefore, stimulus caused labor rates to fall.

    It started falling before, but the decrease sped up only after the “stimulus”.

    And you bringing up the idea of causation doesn’t imply causation, which is a valid criticism if it hadn’t all ready been debunked. You asked for counterfactuals and I gave them to you. Now you’ve switched the argument to causation doesn’t imply causation. Fine. But it’s awfully suspect that AFTER huge governmental interventions occur, the economy faulters.

    Reagan actually RAISED taxes in 1982. I refer you to:…

    And yet this is what I read at that link: ” Reagan’s permanent tax cuts were enacted in early 1981″

    We all benefit from the government.

    We all benefit from some government. No one under the age of 65 benefits from social security or medicare. Medicaid is means tested, so if you make more than a small amount you don’t benefit from this. These three programs benefit a minority of Americans, yet is paid for by the majority. In other words, the first two programs are a wealth tranfer from the young (poor) to the old (rich, since those over the age of 65 have 47 TIMES more wealth than those under the age of 35).

    Medicaid, as is most of the welfare system, is a twisted corrupt program that really doens’t help most of the people it is supposed to help. However, all of these programs enrich those who know the byzantinne rules surrounding them. Who thinks that the US needs hundreds of bases/posts around the world and $660B benefits us all? Some of it does, but most of it again, is simply a wealth transfer from the typical American to the politically connected. These programs account for around 80% of the federal budget.

    There you go, most of the federal budget explicity excludes most Americans and you claim it benefits all. Ha!

    A subset of us are actually willing to pay for those benefits.

    Benefits! Ha! If they are so beneficial, why don’t you make them optional – allow people to opt out and not pay for or receive these “benefits”? If it’s so beneficial, why are these “benefits” enacted at the barrel of a gun? Because you know that they are beneficial for only a few, but the vast majority are just screwed. The younger you are the more screwed you are.

  60. 60 60 KS

    “And yet this is what I read at that link: ” Reagan’s permanent tax cuts were enacted in early 1981″”

    It’s almost like, they cut taxes in 1981, and yet somehow mysteriously they defied the laws of physics and raised them in 1982. Hopefully you’re smart enough to figure out how both can be possible, because clearly no-one else can.

    “It started falling before, but the decrease sped up only after the “stimulus”.”

    This changes nothing about how wrong you are.

    “Benefits! Ha! If they are so beneficial, why don’t you make them optional – allow people to opt out and not pay for or receive these “benefits”? If it’s so beneficial, why are these “benefits” enacted at the barrel of a gun? Because you know that they are beneficial for only a few, but the vast majority are just screwed. The younger you are the more screwed you are.”

    As you said, if a woman doesn’t want to work for a man who won’t give her birth control as an option, she can leave. So I say, if you hate the US government so much, why don’t you leave? Maybe go live in Somalia, where there is no government of any kind? Tell me what that’s like.

    Also, still waiting to hear a response regarding the 3/5ths compromise of the original Constitution?

  61. 61 61 Ken

    Yup, the government makes mistakes. So too does the free market.

    Except that when businesses make mistakes in a free market, they lose money and either correct their mistakes or go out of business.

    If government makes a mistake the answer is higher taxes and more government. Or if it succeeds, the answer is higher taxes and more government. Funny how that works, huh?

  62. 62 62 KS

    “You asked for counterfactuals and I gave them to you.”

    You haven’t provided a counter-factual. In fact I don’t think you have any idea what one is.

    “But it’s awfully suspect that AFTER huge governmental interventions occur, the economy faulters.”

    No, not at all, because massive government interventions occur when the economy is already in a tailspin.

    To understand the folly of how retarded that sentence was, consider this simpler analogy.

    (1) A giant forest is set on fire.
    (2) Firefighters are called and begin releasing massive amounts of water from hoses.
    (3) The forest fire gets worse still, but eventually gets better.

    Now consider the opinions of two people:

    Person A: “The fire always gets worse when water is released. The firefighters are at fault.”

    Person B: “I sure am happy that water helped control the fire.”

    Do you see how person A is retarded, and person B is not? I’ll give you a hint: YOU’RE PERSON A

  63. 63 63 Ken

    yet somehow mysteriously they defied the laws of physics and raised them in 1982

    I wonder if the tax increases in 1982 completely undid the 1981 tax cuts or if the net affect was still a tax cut compared to before Reagan, when stagflation ruled the economy. Think you could figure that one out or do you need a hint?

    if you hate the US government so much, why don’t you leave?

    Mainly because all other governments are worse than the US government and I am trying to change the US government before it bankrupts the country and we have a Greece like crisis.

    Maybe go live in Somalia, where there is no government of any kind?

    As I’m sure someone like you knows Somalis are better off now with no government, than with the government they did have. And to claim that I am arguing for no government is a straw man.

    Also, still waiting to hear a response regarding the 3/5ths compromise of the original Constitution?

    I answered that pretty clearly, but I’ll answer it again: the constitutional amendments only change the things it changes. The later amendments did not change any of the first ten amendments. The 13th made the 3/5th rule mute (since it no longer applied to anyone) and the 14th amendment superceded it. No amendment superceded any part of the bill of rights, hence it’s easy to show all of the legislation I mentioned above are in fact unconstitutional.

    In fact I don’t think I have any idea what one is.

    There. Fixed that for you.

    To understand the folly of your “aggregate demand” argument, imagine a fire breaks out at your house. The fire department determines, that it’s because of a low aggregate amount of water in your neighborhood. As a result of this very logically tight thinking, the fire department randomly shows up at some houses in your neighborhood and hoses them down. Your house is left to burn to the ground, but the aggregate amount of water in your neighborhood is now way up.

    The problem, as even you acknowledge, no government official, including the government, can possibly have all the relevant information needed to efficiently allocate resources. Using aggregate numbers that are essentially meaningless (because of the amount of information lost during aggregation), politicians lurch through the economy making things worse more often than making them better.

  64. 64 64 Ken

    Edit: The 13th made the 3/5th rule moot

  65. 65 65 Ken

    And I’m still waiting to hear why if the programs you like so much are so beneficial people have to be forced to buy them. If they are so beneficial, why won’t people buy them voluntarily?

  66. 66 66 Ken

    Additionally, I get tired of the idiots like you who think the 3/5th rule was somehow an evil thing. This only highlights how stupid and ignorant of history you are. The 3/5th rule prevented the slave states from being even more powerful at the federal level. The 3/5th rule was good for abolitionists, you fool! The 3/5th rule kept the number of representatives in the south smaller than it otherwise would have been.

    But thank you for being outraged about a rule that was against slavery and weakened slave states. This merely shows how amenable to slavery you really are.

  67. 67 67 Ken B

    KS wrote: “Yeah, to me it’s funny how this is phrased as an issue of religious liberty, when it’s not. Basically, Obama originally mandated that Catholic organizations have to provide the option that their employees could choose contraception if they wanted. No-one is mandating people take contraception.”

    This is quite wrong. The mandate as originally proposed required the church to pay forthe pill for employees who want it. Requiring a religious organization to pay for something they preach against, or go without employees, is a pretty clear issue of religious liberty.

    Note how KS has confused access to the pill with paying for it. Nothing in the bill affects who can get the pill, just who has to pay for it.

    I mentioned KS harps on small errors of wording or hyperbole, like ‘vanish’ to avoid discussing substance. One could harp on ‘choosing conttraception’ being different from ‘choosing contraception coverage’ or that even the latter is not quite the mandate, but I won’t because I see this for what it is: poor wording. KS is wrong because his argument is wrong and his facts are wrong, nort because his wording is weak.

  68. 68 68 Ken B

    @WillA:
    “The current GOP’s catering to the religious right (push to outlaw abortion, push to put the 10 commandments on buildings, etc.) has pretty much shifted a good number of the California libertarian vote to the Democrats.”

    I don’t know the numbers but I agree with the general observation. Aside form the purists, a small govt gop is the more natural home for libertarians than the democrats these days. But the gop is often NOT small govt, and guys like Santorum certainly aren’t. My own guess is that Romney will be more acceptable to most libertarians than Obama, but that Santorum or Gingrisch would not be.

  69. 69 69 Greg MN

    Ken said And I’m still waiting to hear why if the programs you like so much are so beneficial people have to be forced to buy them. If they are so beneficial, why won’t people buy them voluntarily?

    First, I thought we already established that people aren’t forced to do anything. If you don’t like the deal one country offers, you are free to choose from a market of other countries in which to live and become a citizen. Another choice is to remain a citizen and lobby your fellow citizens and representatives in an effort to persuade them on the merits of your position. When you’ve succeeded, the deal will be changed more to your liking. My advice, though unsolicited, is to abandon the whole “barrel of a gun” argument because it is nonsense and therefore unpersuasive.

    Second, government services such as national defense, clean air regulation, clean water regulation, food safety regulation, and others benefit the entire group. I believe it is impractical and imprudent to offer these services on an a la carte basis.

  70. 70 70 Ken B

    Responding to an arguemtn about enumerated powers that cited 2 amendments someone wrote “Constitutional originalists are so funny, as if the Constitution didn’t make a single mistake. ”

    As Ken pointed oput, this reveals an ignorance of history. More to the point it’s irrelevant. Just because the constitution has flaws does not mean it’s not the law of the land.

    No originalist argues that the constitution is perfect, only that the the oiginal meaning of a clause or section or whatever determines the current meaning until it is changed according to the amendment process. Here is an originalist argument: If the word ‘press’ becomes over time a synonym for ‘murder syndicate’ the 1st amendemnt would not protect murder syndicates — because of its original meaning.

  71. 71 71 Ken

    If you don’t like the deal one country offers, you are free to choose from a market of other countries in which to live and become a citizen.

    Ha! As if every other government on earth doesn’t use force to give their citizens an even more raw deal that Americans get. Free markets mean the freedom to not choose as well. If every other place on earth takes more and offers less, then your argument completely falls apart.

    If an action is wrong it is wrong and it should be changed. What you are saying is equivalent to telling a slave that if he doesn’t like being a slave, all you have to do is buy your way out of escape and hope no one else enslaves you.

    Another choice is to remain a citizen and lobby your fellow citizens and representatives in an effort to persuade them on the merits of your position.

    You mean like what I’m doing here?

    My advice, though unsolicited, is to abandon the whole “barrel of a gun” argument because it is nonsense and therefore unpersuasive.

    Yep, because we all know that if you don’t pay taxes no one with guns will show up at your house, amaright?

    Second, government services such as national defense, clean air regulation, clean water regulation, food safety regulation, and others benefit the entire group.

    False. The military industrial complex benefits those connected with the military industrial complex. Most of the Defense Department spending benefits only those who are associated with that department because most of the spending isn’t on defense, it’s on expensive boondoggles.

    Air, water, and food regulations benefit those who can game the system at the expense of everyone else. Air quality, water quality, and food quality improve as technology improves, independent of government action. Graphing the quality of these things over the last few centuries makes this clear as the rated of quality improvement didn’t change at all with any of the legislation surrounding these things.

    I believe it is impractical and imprudent to offer these services on an a la carte basis.

    Because you fail to recognize the power of free markets and the power of decentralized individuals acting in their own self interest. What makes you think politicians, regulators, and bureaucrats acting in their own self interest is somehow better than everyone else acting in their own self interest?

  72. 72 72 Ken

    If the word ‘press’ becomes over time a synonym for ‘murder syndicate’ the 1st amendemnt would not protect murder syndicates — because of its original meaning.

    Excellent point.

    But maybe the freedom of press meant the freedom of press means the freedom of the Royal Navy to press people into service. After all, the constitution is a living document and you can use whatever definition you want for any word in the constitution, amaright?

  73. 73 73 Ken B

    Ken: It is comforting to know at least that the press won’t actually be forcing anyone to serve, as no-one can be forced.

  74. 74 74 Todd

    Greg MN: “If you don’t like the deal one country offers, you are free to choose from a market of other countries in which to live and become a citizen”

    First, this is incorrect because, in order to leave this country, I must obtain a passport and have the state’s permission to leave. So it is not up to me, it is up to the state.

    Second, it is not my choice to gain citizenship elsewhere, it is again up to the respective states to grant me that citizenship.

    Essentially, you are saying that there is no grounds for complaining about mafia extortion because, if you ask very nicely, your mafia may let you go to be extorted by another mafia.

  75. 75 75 Ken B

    Todd, he also confuses absolute and relative. It doesn’t matter logically if pointing a gun at you is in some absolute sense forcing you, or if your option to get shot means you get to choose, so really you’re free. The use of the gun is MORE compulsion than otherwise. That is enough to find it objectionable.

    But I confess I like Greg’s quote as it epitomizes an attitude common on the left, and does it succinctly. (Like when KS yells ‘idiot’ at anyone who disgrees with his politics.)

  76. 76 76 iceman

    @GregMN:

    I’d formalize it a bit further: This is the “residency theory” again — i.e. “if you don’t like it you can leave” — to justify why we are duty-bound “in conscience” based on “implied consent” to conceivably *any* majoritarian policy. In a recent post I offered that this argument 1) may not represent a feasible way for one to express non-consent (unduly burdensome, and as others have pointed out there may be nowhere better to go); and 2) is circular by pre-emptively ascribing to the govt the power to make you leave, which is precisely the type of power to which one is trying to impute consent. Of course the system we actually have “originally” sought to place limitations on the kinds of things we’re able to just vote on.

    I note that the specific govt functions you mention do happen to be things many/most people might tend to view as true public goods (at least in theory, although we can quibble about the practical implementation – including our level of faith in bureaucrats not to serve their own self-interest, as others have mentioned).

  77. 77 77 Greg MN

    @Ken

    We’ve strayed from the topic, but…

    Apparently, the citizenship market fails to satisfy you. I understand. Markets and governments are imperfect and rarely, dare I say never, satisfy each individual’s desires. It’s always about trade offs.

    Sure, a wrong action should be changed. Who decides whether an action is wrong? I think our government provides valuable services and you apparently don’t. Again, how do we decide? I have an idea; let’s allow citizens to vote for people to represent our views, debate the issues, and come to a conclusion. Wait, that sounds like the system we already have. What is your idea and why hasn’t any country adopted it yet?

    I agree slaves were being forced by credible threat of physical harm. Which government action are you equating with slavery?

    Yes, I mean lobbying like you’re doing on this blog, but using better arguments.

    I believe people should abide by the law, including paying taxes. If I break the law, I expect unpleasant consequences to follow. Why should it be different? How exactly is this different from the private sector? If I refuse to pay owed money to a private sector corporation, aren’t they going to try to force me to pay, including potentially calling the police, i.e. the guys with guns?

    I might be failing to recognize the power of free markets. Of course, it also possible you have too much faith in an untested theory. I think everyone is acting in his/her own self interest. One way to express your self interest is the manner in which you allocate your resources. Another way is to vote. I think both are important. Some fellow citizens have more resources than I and some have less, but eligible voters each have one vote. Works for me.

  78. 78 78 Ken

    Who decides whether an action is wrong?

    This is a pretty easy answer. Everyone knows it’s wrong to steal and everyone knows it’s wrong to hire someone to steal for them. From this very simple logic, we can easily see that medicare, medicaid, social security, and all other wealth transfer programs are morally wrong.

    I think our government provides valuable services and you apparently don’t.

    Apparently you don’t read well. I have never implied or said that the government doesn’t provide any valuable services. What I’ve said is that most of the services provided are not valuable and/or are not constitutional. I do understand that it’s easier to argue against the straw man that I’ve claimed the government provides no valuable services, rather than to argue against the actual argument I’ve been making.

    I have an idea; let’s allow citizens to vote for people to represent our views, debate the issues, and come to a conclusion.

    Isn’t this what we’ve been doing?

    What is your idea and why hasn’t any country adopted it yet?

    My idea is not in any way original. In fact there is a document detailing my thoughts on government. It was written in the late 1700′s and has been modified 27 times. It is very clear that the republican government described in that document was not a majority rules free for all, since the document limited the government power to only enumerated powers listed within that document.

    None of the enumerated powers grants the government the power to transfer wealth or to force people to buy a product they don’t want. The infuriating thing is people like you, who instead of revering the wisdom contained in the constitution (which distills two millenia of wisdom concerning government), you see it as a game to see what you can get away with. It’s a game to say the constitution is living, so the meaning on the constitution changes over time. It’s a game to skirt the limitations of the constitution. It’s a game to use the force of law to punish those you don’t like and reward those you do. It’s a game for people like you who have no moral compass, who sees others living in a manner in which you find uncomfortable, so see fit to use the force of government to make them live differently, as if your vision of the world justifies your violent actions.

    That you have to use force to get your way rather than cooperate with your neighbors, family, friends, and the rest of your fellow human being to get them to act the way you want them to should tell you just how in the wrong you really are.

    I do understand that the constitution was, like, written a really really long time ago and it difficult to understand at times.

    How exactly is this different from the private sector?

    As I explained above, if an organization screws up in the private sector, it loses money. Thus it needs to change or eventually it goes out of business. Not so with the government.

    The social programs of the US, and the modern world in general, are demonstrable failures. Yet, instead of going out of business, politicians double down and raise taxes to get ever more private wealth funneled through their sticky fingers.

    If I refuse to pay owed money to a private sector corporation, aren’t they going to try to force me to pay

    No. It you choose not to buy a car, no car salesman can show up at your door with armed men to force you to buy it. If you don’t want a pair of pants, a house, a fan, a book, a computer, or any of the other billions of things sold in the privates sector, absolutly no one can force you to buy any of them. Not so with government products. You are forced to pay for them, no matter how much you despse them and no matter how much these products destroys your wealth and well being.

    Of course, it also possible you have too much faith in an untested theory.

    The idea that free markets are somehow an “untested theory” is simply a denial of history, particularly the last two hundred years, when an ideological shift occurred in western thinking making markets freer than at any other time in history.

    One way to express your self interest is the manner in which you allocate your resources. Another way is to vote.

    Voting is definitely a way to express self interest, particularly your self interest of another man’s wealth.

    Works for me.

    The transfer of wealth works for the people receiving the transfer, but it only works until you run out of other people’s money.

  79. 79 79 KS

    “I wonder if the tax increases in 1982 completely undid the 1981 tax cuts or if the net affect was still a tax cut compared to before Reagan, when stagflation ruled the economy. Think you could figure that one out or do you need a hint?”

    The Republican narrative is that Reagan’s permanent tax cut in 1981 spurred the strong economic growth that started in 1983. It’s the same narrative you regurgitated. Of course, pointing out that a tax increase occurred in 1982 upends that narrative, which is what I did.

    “it’s easy to show all of the legislation I mentioned above are in fact unconstitutional.”

    I’m going to introduce one word to you in legal analysis: precedence. Look it up. Well first, learn how to read, then look it p.

    “The problem, as even you acknowledge, no government official, including the government, can possibly have all the relevant information needed to efficiently allocate resources. Using aggregate numbers that are essentially meaningless (because of the amount of information lost during aggregation), politicians lurch through the economy making things worse more often than making them better.”

    Let me summarize. First, you claimed that economies falter when governments intervene. I replied, well maybe the economy was ALREADY faltering, so that’s why the government intervened. Knowing you wouldn’t get this by yourself, I used a dumbed-down metaphor.

    You ignored that point entirely and concocted some stupid explanation which confused aggregate demand (A FUNCTION) which the total amount of aggregate water in the neighborhood (A QUANTITY).

    Sigh, you are a case study in the huge necessity for education reform in this country.

    I actually think the government does a damn good job of allocating my tax dollars, whether it’s deciding where and when to build roads, to funding massive amounts of medical and scientific research, etc… I believe these things because I’m not a hypocrite. You are.

    “why if the programs you like so much are so beneficial people have to be forced to buy them. If they are so beneficial, why won’t people buy them voluntarily?”

    It’s called the free rider problem. Or, just picture yourself. You can look it up, I’m not going to waste time explaining moderately-challenging concepts to you.

    “The 3/5th rule prevented the slave states from being even more powerful at the federal level. The 3/5th rule was good for abolitionists, you fool! The 3/5th rule kept the number of representatives in the south smaller than it otherwise would have been.”

    Lol. The 3/5ths rule just highlights that the original Constitution wasn’t this perfect sacrosanct document, but requires continual amending.

    And I’m sure your passionate defense of the 3/5th’s rule is really popular with the ladies. Judging on your level of anger towards “the government”, I am assuming you haven’t been laid in YEARS. Try and get some, and watch how quickly this “Obama is taking the last gasps of our liberty” nonsense will go away.

    You’re caught in a positive feedback loop, Ken. You’re an idiot –> you subscribe to beliefs which are idiotic –> you become more of an idiot.

    @Todd–

    “First, this is incorrect because, in order to leave this country, I must obtain a passport and have the state’s permission to leave. So it is not up to me, it is up to the state.”

    Nope, you can leave any time you want. Getting back in is the problem.

    @ Ken B–

    “(Like when KS yells ‘idiot’ at anyone who disgrees with his politics.)”

    Nope, just when someone REPEATEDLY regurgitates blanket statements they don’t understand (ie, you), and others point it out as well, I’m just harsher about it.

  80. 80 80 Ken

    Of course, pointing out that a tax increase occurred in 1982 upends that narrative, which is what I did.

    Of course it does no such thing because the net affect of the 1981 tax cuts and the 1982 tax increases was a huge tax cut from 1980 to 1982.

    precedence

    As if courts are perfect, or do you think that Plessy or Dred Scott were decided correctly? Precedence and stare decisis are perfect ways to corrupt a legal system. Let me give you a graphical example of how stupid it is to cling to precedence rather than the original text to make your point:

    Imagine a square. You draw it down and show other people what a square. The first person to copy the square roughly gets it right, but the edges are rounded and the sides aren’t quite true. The second person, then copies the first person’s copy of the square. Before you know it the square, through precedence, has become a circle. And people like you will swear with your dying breath that a circle is the true representation of a square, despite clear evidence (since we have pictures of the original square) that you’re are incredibly wrong.

    I replied, well maybe the economy was ALREADY faltering, so that’s why the government intervened.

    The implicit assumption here is that politicians know what’s wrong (despite not having an incentive to know) and what to do to fix it (despite not having enough information to know what’s wrong to begin with). The idea that government politicians and bureaucrats are even competent enough to “fix” whatever you think is a problem is absurd to the nth degree. Any cursory look at history will show you government routinely making things worse.

    You claim that my metaphor is “dumbed-down”, but that’s exactly what economic intervention done by government is like. Fire departments can easily determine where a fire and how to effectively put it out. This is an easy task compared to most things.

    The fact that you think of an economy as a function shows that you don’t know what an economy is or how it works. People are not functions. They don’t act in accordance with whatever extremely simplied assumptions you are using.

    Even with the most competent and uncorruptible people people to ever exist, no small group (including the group that comprises government) could possibly have all the requisite information to run an economy the way you think it’s possible to run it. Every time this has been tried it has failed and failed miserably.

    That fact that you just assume government action can “fix” or “solve” a problem, rather than recognize that the lack of information that caused a market failure is even more likely to cause a government failure, simply highlights your unseriousness about the capability of governments.

    You keep calling me an idiot, but don’t even understand the basic reasoning behind the 3/5th rule. Is it really your claim that this was not put into the constitution to weaken, but rather strengthen slave states? Can you really be this ignorant?

    the original Constitution wasn’t this perfect sacrosanct document

    Perfection isn’t required to be sacrosanct. The writers of the constitution even recognized this by putting in place clear procedures to change it if the need ever arose. Since you can’t convince people to change it, you simply rely on ad hominem and do your level best to ignore the realities of the constitution and convince others that because it may not be perfect, it is comlpetely null and void.

    Thomas Sowell was right in his A Conflict of Vision. He understood very well people like you who think there is such a thing as perfection, hence perfectable. And he understood people like me who know that people are flawed to the core and are unable to be perfected and by extension any institution created by man cannot be perfect. The best you can do is to be less wrong. Very few government structures are less wrong than the US constitution. That in over 220 years only 27 modifications have been made to the original constitution only highlights how few imperfections it had to begin with.

  81. 81 81 Ken B

    “The 3/5ths rule just highlights that the original Constitution wasn’t this perfect sacrosanct document, but requires continual amending/” Indeed. But what you cited that for was to advance this argument:
    “Constitutional originalists are so funny, as if the Constitution didn’t make a single mistake. ”
    where it’s a complete non-sequitur. Originalists do not argue that the constitution is perfect and unchangeable. They argue that the meaning of the language depends on what the language meant when that section was adopted.

    I’d guess the most famous living originalist is Robert Bork. Bork supports at least one amendment to the constitution.

  82. 82 82 KS

    “Of course it does no such thing because the net affect of the 1981 tax cuts and the 1982 tax increases was a huge tax cut from 1980 to 1982.”

    Wrong once again. The Republican narrative was that Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts were PERMANENT, whereas Obama’s tax rebates in AIRA were temporary. Ergo, Reagan recovery > Obama recovery.

    Ignoring the fact the two recessions are very different — something you failed to do, because, and I repeat, you’re a moron — this is wrong because a 1982 tax increase after a 1981 permanent tax cut basically means the original tax cut WASN’T PERMANENT. Do you get that?

    “The implicit assumption here is that politicians know what’s wrong (despite not having an incentive to know) and what to do to fix it (despite not having enough information to know what’s wrong to begin with). The idea that government politicians and bureaucrats are even competent enough to “fix” whatever you think is a problem is absurd to the nth degree. Any cursory look at history will show you government routinely making things worse.”

    Nope, not at all. The federal government beat the Nazis, and ended desegregation in the South. Government has the power to make things a lot, lot better. The drawback to government? There are those who benefit — like you — who are ungrateful — like you — and hate on the same thing that you depend on for survival — like you.

    Might I add, Republican states — the very states which decry “redistribution of wealth” — tend to receive more government assistance than they pay in taxes, and opposite for Democratic states? It’s almost like we’re not being hypocrites.

    “Thomas Sowell”

    Ha! There’s a laugh

  83. 83 83 Ken B

    KS: Can you grow up?

    Addressing Ken you wrote “Retard, … I repeat, you’re a moron”. It goes downhill from there.

    I have a suggestion: keep your insults to just me. It’ll save time and energy, not to mention pixels, and probably would make you look less like a tiresome intemperate fool who cannot abide disagreement from anyone at all.

  84. 84 84 Ken B

    “The federal government … ended desegregation in the South.”

    F = mv

  85. 85 85 Greg MN

    @Todd

    Fair enough about needing government involvement to change citizenship. My understanding is such permission is routinely granted. What is your understanding?

    However, your mafia analogy is wrong. I didn’t discourage “complaining”. I said one of your options was to express your views and persuade fellow citizens of the merits of your position.

    @Ken

    No, I’m not confused about relative versus absolute. I was attempting to use the term “force” in the context in which I thought it was being used, which is government unjustly forcing people to do things against their will.

    If you’re suggesting it is unjust for the government to enforce the law, then we have another point of disagreement.

    @iceman

    Your concerns are valid in theory, but I’m not convinced apply to the United States. There is ample opportunity to express one’s discontent without the government imposing unpleasant consequences. Ignoring or breaking the law isn’t one of them. At the risk of repeating myself, I think citizens are obligated to follow the law. If one finds a law objectionable, lobby to get it repealed or changed. If the law is broken, the authorities should enforce the law. Maybe I’m not following you, but it seems oxymoronic to think about optional laws or to suggest I don’t need to abide by a law to which I haven’t explicitly consented.

    @All

    I’m running out of time for this discussion. I’ll keep reading, but may not have time to post.

    Enjoy the day!

  86. 86 86 Ken

    The federal government beat the Nazis.

    So the government is good at building war machines and killing people, so it must be good at everything else? Is that your claim?

    Please tell me, how is it that government officials could possibly have better information than the management team at GM about the automarket? How is it possible for the management team, who have been working in the auto industry their whole lives, at GM to fail so miserably at collecting and analyzing the auto industries information, but Obama’s administration, on whose advisory team including not a single person from the auto industry have better information and analysis? It isn’t possible. In fact, the Obama team broke laws in order to give tens of billions of dollars to GM only to have GM falter again. GM is now in the same situation it was in 2009.

    Businesses have incentive to have good information and analysis. People’s livelihoods depend on it.

    There is not incentive for government to have good information or analysis. With the tens of thousands of financial and housing regulators, did any of them lose their jobs or have fines levied or go to jail? There is no question that many of these people were complicit in the theft perpetrated against the American tax payers.

    ended desegregation in the South

    It also started segregation. Your claim is that the governmet caused a huge problem, then finally after decades and generations, it recognized it’s mistake and ended it and this is proof that government can “make things a lot, lot better”? Ha!

    There are those who benefit — like you — who are ungrateful

    I am not a beneficiary of almost all government spending. I pay tens of thousands in taxes every year and get a corrupt government in Baltimore (a city dominated by democrats and is incredibly violent and unsafe with some of the crappiest infrastructure you can possibly imagine).

    Might I add, Republican states — the very states which decry “redistribution of wealth” — tend to receive more government assistance than they pay in taxes, and opposite for Democratic states?

    If that’s true, then end the wealth transfers. As much as I dislike lefties and democrats, they shouldn’t be forced to pony up mony to republicans and conservatives.

    Ha! There’s a laugh

    Is it funny because he’s one of the smartest and most insightful people living today?

  87. 87 87 Ken B

    @GregMN:
    You said @Ken

    No, I’m not confused about relative versus absolute. I was attempting to use the term “force” in the context in which I thought it was being used, which is government unjustly forcing people to do things against their will.

    I assume I’m the Ken meant, from context, but we have at least 3 Kens here and they often disgree.

    What you said is no-one can be forced at all, and you cited a last resort choice they could make. You did NOT say they can not be forced ‘unjustly’. My point is whether the choice to emigrate — which may not exist depending on the law so really is a weka argument in principle anyway — or the choice to commit suicide is not the real point. There really are steps which are coercive and do attempt to compel. I can reasonably object to the coercion regardless of any existential doubt about ultimate choice or even free will.

  88. 88 88 Todd

    Greg MN,

    I consider my mafia analogy to be spot on, but since you didn’t like it, I will offer another.

    Tom and Jane were married some time ago, and as the years went by, Tom became increasingly abusive toward Jane. Tom now abuses Jane on a regular basis, and he believes these beatings are in her best interest.

    My response to this: Tom is wrong and should be stopped

    Your response: Jane chose to marry Tom, and she could divorce him and leave at any time; therefore, her continued presence in the marriage gives consent to Tom’s beating and he is at no fault. Additionally, if she is not happy with the beatings, she can petition Tom to beat her less.

  89. 89 89 Ken

    @Greg MN

    If you’re suggesting it is unjust for the government to enforce the law, then we have another point of disagreement.

    So when the government enforced Jim Crow, you agrees the government should have been enforcing this? When the government supported slavery, you think the government should have been enforcing this? When the government enforced forced sterilization, you think the government should have been enforcing this? It should also be pointed out that all of the above three were enacted and enforced by democrats and “progressives”.

    You are right, we do have another point of disagreement.

    I think the government should not enact, nor enforce unjust laws. As stated in my previous comment, it’s pretty straight forward to see the injustice of most of what the government does.

  90. 90 90 Greg MN

    @Ken

    The wisdom of your pretty easy answer eludes me. I asked who decides whether an action is wrong and your answer is everybody knows. This simply begs the question how do we know what everybody knows? As I recall, the constitution, which you and I admire, grants government the power to tax. Therefore, taxing isn’t stealing, or at least not everybody knows it.

    Perhaps I don’t read well because I missed any mention by you of government providing any value. Nonetheless, I was incorrect I to have implied that you think the government doesn’t provide any value. I’m glad we agree our government can and does provide value.

    Yes, my proposed idea is the system we’re using now and I believe we’ve agreed it is currently the best system in the world. Don’t misunderstand; I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t continually try to improve it further.

    I agree we should not be in a majority rules free for all. I am wondering again about your “everybody knows” answer though.

    I agree your idea is not in any way original. The constitution is a great piece of work. We back to one of our favorite questions though; who decides which actions violate the constitution? Currently, the judicial branch fills that role. I don’t have any better ideas, do you? Thankfully, if you believe you’re being harmed by an unconstitutional action, you can petition the court.

    How is private sector screws up, loses money, goes out of business different from elected official screws up and fails to be re-elected?

    If you choose not to buy something, you don’t owe anyone money, which means it doesn’t answer the question. Your description though is analogous to if you choose not to be a citizen, the government won’t force you to pay taxes. So far, you’ve chosen to be a citizen and therefore must follow the rules of citizenship.

    I believe you said there aren’t any currently any countries implementing free markets as you envision them. If none currently exist, your theory of free markets is either untested or has failed to sustain itself.

    Thanks again for the discussion. Now I need to go look for my moral compass.

  91. 91 91 Ken

    I asked who decides whether an action is wrong and your answer is everybody knows.

    Is there anyone you know who thinks stealing is NOT wrong or who thinks hiring someone to steal for them is NOT wrong? It seems pretty self-evident that no one thinks this. Yet, many support medicare, medicaid, social security and other social welfare programs. All of these programs are used to steal from one group of people and give to another group of people.

    Therefore, taxing isn’t stealing, or at least not everybody knows it.

    Taxation to support the enumerated powers listed in the constitution isn’t stealing. Taxation to support powers not enumerated in the constitution is stealing.

    How is private sector screws up, loses money, goes out of business different from elected official screws up and fails to be re-elected?

    By pretty much any measure all of the social programs are failures. However, as is repeatedly shown here and pretty much elsewhere understanding economics is hard. By any objective reading, blacks should never vote democrat, yet, they overwhelmingly do. Democrats are responsible for slaver, segregartion, the high poverty rates for blacks (minimum wage laws and most labor laws exclude low skill low experience workers), the low level of education for blacks (the crappy public education system makes sure blacks have low skills upon graduation, if they graduate at all), and the destruction of the black family (welfare in pretty much all its form incentivized poor blacks to divorce because benefits were higher). I cannot explain this.

    People act in what they think is in their own self-interest, but just because they think it doesn’t make it true.

    Your description though is analogous to if you choose not to be a citizen

    Wrong. Being a citizen, as defined by the constitution, doesn’t say that I have to buy into a system that is sold as pension insurance, but is guranteed to provide a negative rate of return. Being a citizen, as defined by the constitution, doesn’t say that I have to buy medical insurance as defined by politicians beholden to big insurance and big pharma. In fact, the constitution is pretty clear that government is there mainly to keep people from interfering with other people’s lives.

    And as stated repeatedly, the constitution explicitly says “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” In other words, if a power is not stated in the constitution, the government does not have that power.

    I believe you said there aren’t any currently any countries implementing free markets as you envision them.

    Again, this is not what I’ve said and is again just a straw man you’ve ereted. Many free markets exist here in the US and else where in the world. However, ALL governments think they are entitled to take from you and decide how much money you should have in retirement or how much health care you can purchase. Not having a free market in some markets is a far cry from saying free markets don’t, nor have ever existed.

    Now I need to go look for my moral compass.

    Indeed you do.

  92. 92 92 Ken

    I asked who decides whether an action is wrong and your answer is everybody knows.

    Let me expand this even further. Only those actions where it is common sensically wrong should the government be involved. I’m sure you will retort that who defines common sense, but it’s not hard, despite your insistence that stealing is morally ambiguous. Rape, and murder aren’t ambiguous. Defending people against theft, rape, and murder aren’t ambiguous either. Most of the things the government currently involves itself with are ambiguous at best.

    Liberty means having the freedom to screw up your life or live it up. Doing drugs, not eating or exercising, not getting an education, not saving for retirement or planning for medical emergencies are at best morally ambiguous, if not an outright moral choice. Choosing any of these things isn’t immoral. None of these things damage other people or other people’s property.

    My life is my life; it is my responsibility and no one else’s. Forcing others to take responsibility for my life is immoral for the same reason theft is immoral; it treats people as if they have no individual dignity and are simply slaves for others to exploit. If doing any of those things screws up my life, it’s on me. Most of the time, they won’t, but if they do, then the burden to correct or deal with it is mine and mine alone. If you decide to take pity and help, that’s fine and appreciated, but it is morally wrong for a politician to force you to help me.

  93. 93 93 KS

    “So the government is good at building war machines and killing people, so it must be good at everything else? Is that your claim?”

    No. Let me simplify:

    Ken: the government never does anything right
    Me: what about beating Nazi Germany?
    Ken: so now you’re claiming the government does everything right

    Do you have any inclination to how absolutist you are? Or to how retarded you are? Here is Ken on a date:

    Ken: I don’t like living in Baltimore
    Ugly fat chick (only type of girl who’d go on a date with Ken): There are some parts of the city I like, such as Fell’s point
    Ken: So you’re in favor of impoverished ghettos with widespread crack

    “In fact, the Obama team broke laws in order to give tens of billions of dollars to GM only to have GM falter again. GM is now in the same situation it was in 2009.”

    This is factually wrong. GM made a PROFIT of $8 billion last year.

    “It also started segregation. Your claim is that the governmet caused a huge problem, then finally after decades and generations, it recognized it’s mistake and ended it and this is proof that government can “make things a lot, lot better”? Ha!”

    Once again, factually wrong (seems to be your forte). Segregation was enforced via a lack of federal government oversight. After 100 years of the South not getting its act together, the federal government finally stopped in and cleaned it up. And what do we have to show for it now? Rick mother-freakin’ Perry, that’s what.

    “If that’s true, then end the wealth transfers.”

    See here’s the difference. You are an idiot who thinks to yourself, “If I make a dollar I should keep that dollar”. I am a smart person who recognizes that success if a function of (1) my own effort, (2) chance, and (3) systems built in place and paid for by others. Therefore, if I make a dollar, I am entitled to some of it, but I am OBLIGATED to pay the rest. It is the social contract, and freeriders and anti-tax government morons such as yourself try to get it both ways.

  94. 94 94 Ken

    Ken: the government never does anything right

    Dishonest straw man, since you know that’s not what I’ve said, nor can you point to any place where I made such a blanket statement.

    Segregation was enforced via a lack of federal government oversight.

    Every heard of Plessy v. Ferguson? The idea that the federal government didn’t enforce segregation is factually incorrect. And this ignores the point that segregation was a set of laws.

    I am a smart person who recognizes that success if a function of (1) my own effort, (2) chance, and (3) systems built in place and paid for by others.

    1 and 2 only enforce the not taking. 3 is factually wrong. So you’re really not as smart as you think you are. I paid for my car. My parents paid for my primary education and much of my growing; that my parents paid for this in no way obigates me to pay some stranger who lives in Washington. I paid for college and grad school. I paid for my house. I pay for the electricity that comes to it. I pay for everything I have.

    The social contract theory doesn’t wash because you incorrectly assume that I haven’t paid my way through my life.

  95. 95 95 Ken

    @KS

    You can read this to understand the accounting process that allowed GM to report a profit.

  96. 96 96 KS

    @ Ken –

    “The idea that government politicians and bureaucrats are even competent enough to “fix” whatever you think is a problem is absurd to the nth degree. Any cursory look at history will show you government routinely making things worse.”

    Translation: the government blows. Me: the government does some things right, like beating the Nazis. You: so you claim the government is always right?

    “Every heard of Plessy v. Ferguson? The idea that the federal government didn’t enforce segregation is factually incorrect.”

    Strange, was Plessy v Ferguson overturned by something? What might that have landmark case have been?

    State government used a century-old verdict to maintain segregated laws. The federal government stepped in and fixed things up.

    “I paid for my car. My parents paid for my primary education and much of my growing; that my parents paid for this in no way obigates me to pay some stranger who lives in Washington. I paid for college and grad school. I paid for my house. I pay for the electricity that comes to it. I pay for everything I have.”

    A car is no use without a road. Who paid for the road?
    Do your parents own a house? If so, I am guessing they relied on at least one tax break.
    Do you worry about a team of bandits come and robbing your car at night? No? Is that because some public police force — let’s call them, say, the police — prevents crimes such as that?

    Your mentality, “I pay for everything I have”, reveals how simple-minded and absolutist you really are. Have you ever flown in a plane? Boarded a train? Used the internet? Relied on medicine? All of these derive from benefits directly initiating from the government. Stop being a hypocrite and recognize that.

  97. 97 97 KS

    “The social contract theory doesn’t wash because you incorrectly assume that I haven’t paid my way through my life.”

    Nope, I correctly assume you have and will continue to derive benefits from government services. You are just unwilling or unable to recognize those benefits, while continuing to benefit from them.

    Like I said, if you truly want to live in a no-government society, I will pay for your one-way ticket to Somalia. I’m sure you leaving the continental United States will result in an increase in the average IQ of US residents by, say, 35 points.

  98. 98 98 Ken

    Strange, was Plessy v Ferguson overturned by something?

    So? Your statement was that the federal government didn’t take an active role in segregation, when it clearly did. One example was Plessy v Ferguson. This is like saying the south didn’t segregate anyone since Jim Crow has been overturned. This is simple incoherence on your part.

    A car is no use without a road. Who paid for the road?

    I pay for those roads. Ever heard of the gasoline tax?

    Have you ever flown in a plane?

    Yes and strangely every time I paid for it.

    Boarded a train?

    Yes and strangely every time I paid for it.

    Used the internet?

    Yes and strangely every time I paid for it.

    Relied on medicine

    Yes and strangely every time I paid for it.

  99. 99 99 Will A

    @ KS:

    I would have to say that on most things Ken B and I don’t agree.

    I do agree with him though that you should change the tone of your comments.

    When Ken B insults people (like me), he is at least original (and sometimes funny).

    Calling someone something like a dumb, dumb, dummy, stupid, retard, idiot, dummy head is unoriginal. Also, it probably isn’t necesary to call som one out for tyepos.

    Your comments are probably better suited for the news articles on Yahoo.

  100. 100 100 KS

    @ Ken–

    “I pay for those roads. Ever heard of the gasoline tax?”

    Oh I’m sorry, I forgot that you paying for the gasoline tax (what is it in the US, like 15 cents a gallon? this I don’t know) covers the price of every road and interstate highway in the entire country. Thanks, Ken!

    “Yes and strangely every time I paid for it.”

    Airplanes are highly regulated. In fact, the FAA model of reducing errors is the holy grail we use in medicine to try achieve similar results. I am sure you have sent numerous letters to the FAA thanking their strong safety regulations for the fact you haven’t died in air.

    “Yes and strangely every time I paid for it.”

    Similarly, trains are subsidized by the government as well. The price of your ticket only covers a fraction of the total cost.

    “Yes and strangely every time I paid for it.”

    Oh, you paid for the billions of dollars of research required to develop the internet as well? And not just the low price of using it now that it’s been developed?? Thanks, Ken! You sure are kind.

    “Yes and strangely every time I paid for it.”

    AND you paid for all the NIH grants to fund medical research resulting in development of drugs which were unheard of 10 years ago? That is AMAZING. Or did you just pay for a fraction of the cost of the drug once everyone else had already paid for the R&D?

  101. 101 101 KS

    “So? Your statement was that the federal government didn’t take an active role in segregation, when it clearly did. One example was Plessy v Ferguson.”

    The federal government helped create a problem. The federal government helped fix it. This fits in with my “government can be the problem but can also be the solution”. It doesn’t fit with your “government is inherently evil and should be as small as possible”

  102. 102 102 KS

    “When Ken B insults people (like me), he is at least original (and sometimes funny).”

    Agreed, and I apologize. I will def tone it down. I still think the vignette of Ken on a date was funny

  103. 103 103 Ken

    Have you ever flown in a plane? Boarded a train? Used the internet? Relied on medicine? All of these derive from benefits directly initiating from the government.

    Also, saying that an industry benefits from government patronage is different from saying tax payers benefit. Specifically, you ignore opportunity costs. Additionally, government involvement in all of these industries retarded innovation. So while you sing the praises of intrusive government, we are all less wealthy and particularly less healthy than we otherwise would have been without gov intervention.

    Oh I’m sorry, I forgot that you paying for the gasoline tax (what is it in the US, like 15 cents a gallon? this I don’t know) covers the price of every road and interstate highway in the entire country.

    It covers my portion that I use. And the roads in this country would be better maintained and less congested if they were privatized.

    Airplanes are highly regulated.

    And less safe and reliable than they would otherwise be. Additionally due to the TSA and DHS flying has become far more burdensome than it used to be without any benefits for this enormous cost.

    The price of your ticket only covers a fraction of the total cost.

    It covered the portion that I personally consumed.

    Oh, you paid for the billions of dollars of research required to develop the internet as well?

    No, but I pay for the portion that I consume. In combination with all other users paying for their usage covers these costs.

    The price of everything carries with it the coverage of costs or the company goes under. That I am not responsible for the creationg of most everything I pay for, I am most certainly responsible for the part that I consume.

    As for your strange enfatuation with NIH, this agency along with a whole slew of agencies has actively retarded medical innovation for decades.

    But further, what about all the people that don’t use these things. Likely they are poor and despite having a lower tax burden pay taxes nonetheless. You making them pay for things they don’t use is cruel.

  104. 104 104 Greg MN

    @Todd

    Your spousal analogy is worse than your mafia analogy. What government action equates to spousal abuse? I’m under the impression renouncing your citizenship is a considerably less frightening task than escaping an abusive spouse. Tom is breaking the law and should face consequences.

    Again, I believe we are and should be a nation of laws and such laws should be enforced. Being a citizen has benefits and costs. Abiding by the law is the one of the costs of citizenship. Saying the government “forces” you to abide by the law has the same meaning to me as saying a private sector retailer is “forcing” me to pay for the stuff I’m taking from their store. The fact that you can’t find any other government more to your liking has the same meaning to me as my inability to find any other private sector retailer who allows me to take their stuff without paying. Bottom line, if you want the retailer’s stuff, you have to pay. If you want to be a citizen, you have to abide by the laws.

    Again, I’ve encouraged, not discouraged, others to lobby and otherwise express their views. If you don’t like the laws, work to change them.

  105. 105 105 Todd

    Greg MN: “What government action equates to spousal abuse?”

    The short answer is “all of it.”

    The only tool available to government, and the purpose of its existence, is violent coercion. Every law, every tax, every regulation is ultimately backed by “do this or we’ll shoot you.” This, in my view, is morally equivalent to spousal abuse and mafia extortion.

  106. 106 106 KS

    “Additionally, government involvement in all of these industries retarded innovation. So while you sing the praises of intrusive government, we are all less wealthy and particularly less healthy than we otherwise would have been without gov intervention.”

    This is a claim that is un-empirical. But I implore you to put your money where your mouth is. There are plenty of places in the world where you can live without government intervention, where you are entitled to keep exactly what you make, and where you pay for everything you consume. I will pay for your one-way ticket to any of these places of your choosing.

    “It covers my portion that I use. And the roads in this country would be better maintained and less congested if they were privatized.”

    (1) The gasoline tax barely covers the negative externality (pollution) you impose by driving, if at all. It certainly does not also cover the cost of maintenance of roads, let alone the cost of building them.
    (2) Your second statement is also not empirically-verified.

    “And less safe and reliable than they would otherwise be. Additionally due to the TSA and DHS flying has become far more burdensome than it used to be without any benefits for this enormous cost.”

    Another un-empirical statement. The tobacco lobby would love you!

    “It covered the portion that I personally consumed.”

    Nope, wrong. Your ticket price would be a lot higher without federal subsidies for trains. The difference between that price and the price you pay, is in effect, the subsidy of your ticket price the government is paying for you — all to hear you bitch about it.

    “No, but I pay for the portion that I consume.”

    Wrong x2. You pay (a fraction) of the portion of drugs you consume, due to research. You did not pay for the R&D for them, as much of that R&D was subsidized. So unless you are okay saying ‘let everyone else pay for development, then I will pay once the drug is made’, you are being hypocritical.

    “As for your strange enfatuation with NIH, this agency along with a whole slew of agencies has actively retarded medical innovation for decades.”

    No-one in the medical research community would say the NIH retards medical innovation. Now, if you want to make the claim that those government funds are better spent elsewhere, that’s a legitimate claim, and you’d sound intelligent. But to say the NIH retards medical innovation makes you sound like a hybrid Rick Perry-Michelle Bachmann supporter.

    Let me summarize the circularity of your arguments:

    (1) Government is inefficient, private sector is better.
    (2) Me: what about the NIH?
    (3) The NIH is bad because government is inefficient and private sector is better.

  107. 107 107 KS

    @ Todd-

    “The only tool available to government, and the purpose of its existence, is violent coercion. Every law, every tax, every regulation is ultimately backed by “do this or we’ll shoot you.” This, in my view, is morally equivalent to spousal abuse and mafia extortion.”

    You are more than welcome to leave and go to Somalia, where there is no threat of violent coercion from a government authority. I will also pay for your one-way ticket.

    Unless, of course, you implicitly acknowledge that Somalia sucks, maybe in part because it doesn’t have a government, whereas the US has a pretty damn good one. There are costs to governmental coercion, but there are benefits. Believe it or not, there are situations where a unitary powerful authority can deprive individuals of rights, yet everyone ends up better off. (Case example: murder)

  108. 108 108 Todd

    KS,

    You make the very common mistake of equating an ineffective government with no government.

  109. 109 109 KS

    @ Todd–

    “You make the very common mistake of equating an ineffective government with no government.”

    But doesn’t every government require coercion (and as you phrased it, ultimately violent coercion equivalent to spousal abuse and mafia extortion)?

  110. 110 110 Greg MN

    @Ken

    I think we’ve made as much (or as little) progress as we’re going to make. I’m asking how judgements will be made and as far as I can tell your answer is “everybody knows”. I feel this doesn’t really answer the question, but so be it.

    You continue to assert taxation in certain cases equates to stealing. I disagree.

    You assert all social programs are failures. I disagree.

    You say people thinking they are acting in their own self-interest doesn’t make it so. I agree. This applies to you and me also. In any case, what is the alternative? Should everyone call you and ask you what is their own self-interest.

    I was asking about a complete governing system, not whether individual markets are free or not.

    You continue to assert that various government actions are unconstitutional. Again, there is a process for challenging these actions. I wish you luck with your challenges, but continue to think the justices will find your arguments unpersuasive as have I.

  111. 111 111 KS

    “You continue to assert that various government actions are unconstitutional.”

    Yeah, his standard for unconstitutionality seems to be, “This law isn’t in tune with the original text of the Constitution as I see it, ignoring precedence and the fact the Constitution gets amended. Okay the Constitution gets amended, I grant that, but these laws are still unconstitutional, because I disagree with them.”

  112. 112 112 Todd

    KS,

    That depends on how you define “government.”

    To the extent that a government uses violent coercion (or threat of it), that government is immoral.

  113. 113 113 KS

    @ Todd–

    But what government doesn’t ultimately use violent coercion?

  114. 114 114 Ken

    I implore you to put your money where your mouth is.

    I do put my money where my mouth is. I don’t turn to government to fix the problems or meet the needs in my life. I purchase everything from the private sector, where I know my money is put to good use.

    where you pay for everything you consume.

    Of course people like you clammering to have other pay for the things you want to consume or ruled by greed and immorally use your paid thugs to take from makers and give to yourself.

    All of my claims about private roads are emperically verified.

    All of my claims about the TSA and DHs are emperically verified.

    Your ticket price would be a lot higher without federal subsidies for trains.

    The sad thing is that you are actually proud that you forced some schmoe who will never use a train to pay for whatever portion isn’t covered by the ticket costs.

    You pay (a fraction) of the portion of drugs you consume, due to research. You did not pay for the R&D for them, as much of that R&D was subsidized.

    Wrong. Almost every R&D dollar comes from the private sector.

    No-one in the medical research community would say the NIH retards medical innovation.

    Many economists who study the medical community and the regulatory apparatus surrounding it has concluded that government agencies, while helping in some areas make other areas far worse, causing a net retardation in innovation in the medical community.

    Let me summarize the circularity of your arguments:

    (1) Government is inefficient, private sector is better.
    (2) Me: what about the NIH?
    (3) The NIH is bad because government is inefficient and private sector is better.

    Yes that about sums it up. The private sector has a functioning feedback loop consisting of profits and losses. The private sector uses it’s dollars incredibly carefully becauses losses can be very high. There is no feedback loop in the government. You and people like you would be very happy to spend trillions of dollars on every conceivable path in search for the cure of your favorite disease. The reality is that there are trade-offs that you ignore. In your mind it’s fine to waste money on these things because it gives you a warm fuzzy inside. But it’s simply a recipe for incredible waste and incredible corruption, which characterizes much of the decision of where research dollars go.

  115. 115 115 Ken

    I’m asking how judgements will be made and as far as I can tell your answer is “everybody knows”.

    Again, I ask who does NOT know that stealing is immoral? Do you not know this? Who does NOT know that having other people steal for you is immoral? Do you not know this? Your refusal to answer this question makes it plain that you do think “everybody knows” this, you just don’t want to admit it because then you’d have to admit wealth transfer programs are immoral.

    You continue to assert taxation in certain cases equates to stealing. I disagree.

    The contrapositve for this is that all taxation in all cases can never be characterized as stealing. Is this really something you want to assert?

    You assert all social programs are failures. I disagree.

    If you define success at spending $X and getting $Y in return and Y < X all while at the same time creating a huge class of people wholly dependent on handouts, without improving their material situation appreciably, then I guess you could say they are a success. However if you think that getting a negative rate of return, creating a dependent class of people, and not improving their material situation is a failure, then yes you have to conclude that all social programs are a failure.

    This applies to you and me also. In any case, what is the alternative?

    I’ve been explaining to you the the alternative. Making your own choices for yourself and reaping the rewards or failures yourself. If you are wrong, you only hurt yourself. When using the government and you get things wrong, you cause enormous damage. The damage is no longer localized to just your life.

    Should everyone call you and ask you what is their own self-interest.

    This is exactly what the private sector does. Businesses make money by satisfying people’s desires, so business people make it their business to find out what people’s self interest is and supply it to them, all while working cooperatively with others and NOT resorting to violence to get the resources they want.

    I was asking about a complete governing system, not whether individual markets are free or not.

    A governing system that eliminates free markets that allow people to pursue their own self interest is very bad. The only real alternative people come up with is a powerful central government enact policies based on the policy makers self-interest and the hubris that comes along with the idea that these policy makers know better than other people how they should live their lives.

    You continue to assert that various government actions are unconstitutional. Again, there is a process for challenging these actions.

    Yes you’re right and if you’d like to try to pass an amendment giving the government the authority to finance people’s retirement or control people’s health insurance that’s fine. Until you do, medicare, medicaid, social security, and Obamacare are unconstitutional.

    the justices will find your arguments unpersuasive as have I.

    I hope you remain this cocky. The gun grabbers thought the same thing right up until Heller and McDonald.

  116. 116 116 KS

    “Wrong. Almost every R&D dollar comes from the private sector.”

    Now you’re just making stuff up. More than 50% of medical research funding at any given point in time is from one entity: the NIH.
    If you’re this willing to lie about something I can verify, that doesn’t bode too well for the rest of the things you say.

    “Yes that about sums it up. The private sector has a functioning feedback loop consisting of profits and losses. The private sector uses it’s dollars incredibly carefully becauses losses can be very high.”

    The private sector also only functions because of a strong legal system. It also benefits from public investment in public goods. And free markets do NOT allocate resources efficiently in the presence of either (1) externalities, (2) information asymmetry. Please try to show some deeper understanding of what’s going on, rather than regurgitating “private sector good me hungry” over and over.

    “I do put my money where my mouth is. I don’t turn to government to fix the problems or meet the needs in my life. I purchase everything from the private sector, where I know my money is put to good use.”

    This is basic hypocrisy, which you are (sadly) unable to perceive. It would be interesting to see if you have ever used a tax deduction in your life. Then we can settle, empirically, whether you have never turned to government for help.

    “All of my claims about private roads are emperically verified.
    All of my claims about the TSA and DHs are emperically verified.”

    I’m all ears baby.

    “There is no feedback loop in the government.”

    Look up the definition of the word “election”

  117. 117 117 Ken

    Your ticket price would be a lot higher without federal subsidies for trains.

    Also, this is provably false. All subsidies do is allow waste to run rampant. The only intercontinental railroad in the US to NOT go bankrupt was a wholly privately owned a financed one… and it undercut the subsidies railways causing bankruptcy in all of its competitors.

  118. 118 118 KS

    “The contrapositve for this is that all taxation in all cases can never be characterized as stealing.”

    The contrapositive for “if A then B” is “not B then not A”

    GregMN’s statement: “Taxation in certain cases equals stealing”
    The contrapositive to that: “If it’s not stealing, then it’s not taxation in certain cases”
    Your interpretation of the contrapositive: “All taxation in all cases can never be characterized as stealing”.

    You clearly and simply do not know what ‘contrapositive’ means, just like you don’t know what ‘counter-factual’ means. People can have legitimate philosophical differences, and I enjoy debating the rare intellectual conservative.

    You, however, are simply and factually wrong.

  119. 119 119 Scott H.

    The pain!!!

  120. 120 120 KS

    @ Ken–

    The basic problem arguing with you is that you are fundamentally an absolutist. Private sector is great, government is bad. Freedom is great, collectivism is tyranny. Taxes are stealing, social programs are failures.

    On top of this dichotomous and absolutist mentality (“splitting”), there is a layer of factual inaccuracy. We can debate philosophies, we cannot debate facts. You do not understand what a counter-factual is, what a contra-positive is. Heck, you don’t even understand the definition of the term ‘unconstitutional’ (hint: it does not mean “I disagree with this law”).

    You are a caricature of thought, but a good emblem of the modern Republican party, which is caught in a vicious positive feedback loop of crazy –> recruits more crazy –> becomes crazier. You and your party are going to find out the hard way what the electoral consequences of such a mentality are.

  121. 121 121 Ken

    More than 50% of medical research funding at any given point in time is from one entity: the NIH.

    Medical research funding is approximately 30-40% public, 50-60% private for-profit and 10% philanthropic.

    The private sector also only functions because of a strong legal system.

    It’s not the “only” reason, but I agree, a legal system that has well defined property rights and provides neutral arbitration to settle disputes is one of the most important functions, if not the most important, function of government.

    And free markets do NOT allocate resources efficiently in the presence of either (1) externalities, (2) information asymmetry.

    Government rarely does any better than the private sector. And you blithely ignore the extreme externalities of government intervention and the huge information asymmetries created by government. Both of these are typically worse from government action.

    It would be interesting to see if you have ever used a tax deduction in your life. Then we can settle, empirically, whether you have never turned to government for help.

    It’s astonishing that you think government taking less from someone equates to turning to government for help. A thief who takes $20 from me, but returns $1 is not “helping” me.

    Look up the definition of the word “election”

    As I made clear, people are more than happy to elect those who they think will take from other and give to them. This doesn’t make for an effective feedback loop for government waste.

  122. 122 122 Ken

    Private sector is great, government is bad.

    Private use of your own resources is good. Some government is good. Using government to take resources from others because you want it is bad.

    Freedom is great, collectivism is tyranny.

    Freedom is great. Collectivism is tyranny.

    Taxes are stealing, social programs are failures.

    Some taxation, in fact a lot, is stealing. Social programs are failures.

    you don’t even understand the definition of the term ‘unconstitutional’ (hint: it does not mean “I disagree with this law”).

    The definition of unconstitutional is the government doing something that the constitution doesn’t allow for. The first amendment clearly states “congress shall make no law”, I repeat no law, yet McCain-Feingold abridges the freedom of speech. The powers of the federal government are clearly limited to those enumerated in the constitution by the 10th amendment. Please point to the section of the constitution giving the federal government the power to transfer wealth in the name of social justice.

    There are many constitutional laws that I disagree with and fight to change, such as the income tax. My disagreeing with a law does not mean I think it’s unconstitutional. I think laws are unconstitutional that violate the constitution.

    You continue to assert taxation in certain cases equates to stealing. I disagree.

    This statement is equivalent to: If you claim that taxation in certain cases equates to stealing, then I disagree.

    The contrapostive to this is: I agree that taxation is not stealing in all cases.

  123. 123 123 KS

    Ken: ““Wrong. Almost every R&D dollar comes from the private sector.”
    Me: “More than 50% of medical research funding at any given point in time is from one entity: the NIH.”
    Ken: “Medical research funding is approximately 30-40% public, 50-60% private for-profit and 10% philanthropic.”

    It actually depends on how you define it, believe it or not, 50% is a good estimate I have heard in the past. I’m willing to believe 30-40% as well. I am NOT willing to claim “almost” all is private. This is because I am not a dichotomozing-absolutist, but recognize the real world is complex, multifactorial, and involves gradients.

    “a legal system that has well defined property rights and provides neutral arbitration to settle disputes is one of the most important functions, if not the most important, function of government.”

    I concur. My global health experience has taught me just how necessary a strong legal system is, and that most certainly falls under the domain of government.

    “Government rarely does any better than the private sector. And you blithely ignore the extreme externalities of government intervention and the huge information asymmetries created by government. Both of these are typically worse from government action.”

    I don’t see it as that way. There are situations where private markets are better, there are industries where private markets are disasters (healthcare). But a synthesis of both is required to optimize resource allocation. Obama understands this; his muckracking Republican opponents — who claim that an increase in the marginal tax rate on top income earners of 5% is socialism/communism — do not.

    “It’s astonishing that you think government taking less from someone equates to turning to government for help.”

    So you think the optimal tax rate is 0%? Are you that extreme?

    And I will end with another mockery of Ken’s absolutist views:

    Ken: ““There is no feedback loop in the government.”
    Me: “Look up the definition of the word “election””
    Ken: “This doesn’t make for an effective feedback loop for government waste.”

    Btw, an election BY DEFINITION is a feedback mechanism. Maybe it’s slower, but it’s not as efficient. But claiming one doesn’t exist is – sorry to use harsh vocabulary – retarded.

    I am going to add ‘feedback loop’ to the list of terms you don’t seem to understand: contrapositive, counter-factual, unconstitutional

  124. 124 124 KS

    Btw,

    “In 2000, a report from a Joint Economic Committee of Congress outlined the benefits of NIH research. It noted that some econometric studies had given its research, which was funded at $16 billion a year in 2000, a rate of return of 25 to 40 percent per year. It also found that of the 21 drugs with the highest therapeutic impact on society introduced between 1965 and 1992, public funding was “instrumental” for 15.”

    So it’s almost like medical research of new drugs has SIGNIFICANT positive externalities, and the free market by itself would under-allocate resources to this end. It’s also almost like the NIH does a GREAT job of allocating resources to this public good.

    Heck, it’s almost like the relationship between markets, government, and optimal allocation of resources isn’t as simple as “markets good, government bad”.

    Heck x2, it’s almost like one shouldn’t throw out blanket and falsifiable statements like “almost all” of medical research comes from the private sector, less one want to look uninformed.

  125. 125 125 KS

    @Ken–

    “This statement is equivalent to: If you claim that taxation in certain cases equates to stealing, then I disagree.

    The contrapostive to this is: I agree that taxation is not stealing in all cases.”

    No, that’s wrong. You replaced the term ‘certain’ with ‘all’.

    Let’s say the original statement is, “If you claim that taxation in certain cases equates to stealing, then I disagree.”

    The contrapositive would be, “If I agree, then you did not claim that taxation in certain cases equals to stealing.”

    It is NOT, “I agree that taxation is not stealing in all cases.”

    If A then B –> If not B, then not A

    This is basic Boolean logic, basic Boolean logic. You simply don’t understand it.

  126. 126 126 Ken B

    Adventures in contraposition!

    Allowing the informality of equating ‘I agree X’ with ‘if X then I agree’ then

    A: I agree
    B: there exists a case where taxing is stealing

    positive: B -> A

    contrapositive: not A -> not B

    Absorbing the not into the phrases we get

    not A: I disagree
    not B: there does not exist a case where taxing is stealing

    So equivlant to not B is ‘in all cases taxing is not-stealing’

    therefore the contrapostive is

    If in all cases taxing is not stealing then I disagree.

    Inelegant English but sound logic.

  127. 127 127 Ken Arromdee

    “I do put my money where my mouth is. I don’t turn to government to fix the problems or meet the needs in my life. I purchase everything from the private sector, where I know my money is put to good use.”

    This is a common attack on libertarians that is almost never justified.

    Typically, the libertarian thinks that some government action has good effects and bad effects but the bad effects outweigh the good effects, making the action bad overall.

    And it’s never possible to opt out of the bad effects.

    It’s not hypocrisy to refuse to opt out of the good effects under these circumstances. I’m sure the other Ken would be happy to avoid accepting anything from the government, as long as he could also avoid paying taxes and avoid the distortion the government puts on the economy. But he can’t. You are telling him “if you think it’s bad, why do you accept it?” But the parts which are bad are not parts he is free to accept or reject.

  128. 128 128 Ken B

    @Ken Aromdee:
    Yes. You can illustrate this with a nice thought experiment. We pass a law mandating a $100K poll tax to pay for a $100K per person payment. KS is basically arguing that Ken sans-initial should just opt of the payment or he’s a hypocrite.

  129. 129 129 Todd

    KS: “But what government doesn’t ultimately use violent coercion?”

    None that I know of. I am saying that government, at least as it is currently practiced, is inherently immoral.

    I challenge anyone to provide a consistent definition of “stealing” which would not include involuntary government taxation.

  130. 130 130 KS

    @Ken A–

    “And it’s never possible to opt out of the bad effects.”

    Yes, you can leave.

    @Ken B–

    “You can illustrate this with a nice thought experiment. We pass a law mandating a $100K poll tax to pay for a $100K per person payment. KS is basically arguing that Ken sans-initial should just opt of the payment or he’s a hypocrite.”

    No. I am saying one who claims the government never does anything right (as Ken has), and then claims he has paid for everything in his life by himself (as Ken has), is a hypocrite.

    It’s the absolutism which is hypocrisy. Saying there is an optimal amount of government, and that amount is low but nonzero, would be intelligent. That’s just not Ken’s style.

    @Todd–

    “None that I know of. I am saying that government, at least as it is currently practiced, is inherently immoral.”

    This is too simplistic an explanation. There are certainly costs to living under a society where government ultimately uses violent coercion to get you to follow its laws. There are, however, benefits. And the benefits, at least within the US, far outweigh the costs.

  131. 131 131 KS

    @ Ken B–

    “If in all cases taxing is not stealing then I disagree.”

    This is NOT equivalent to

    “I agree that taxation is not stealing in all cases.”

    As Ken originally claimed the contra-positive was.

    Btw guys, seriously, 3 Ken’s? Can two of yall change your names?

  132. 132 132 Ken B

    Todd: “I am saying that government, at least as it is currently practiced, is inherently immoral.”

    I cannot agree with this because I also want to look at the consequences. But I would agree that government is inherently coercive, and so we should always try, even repeatedly, to do things without, or with less, government. Most people underestimate the effectiveness of market solutions, overestimate the effectiveness of gov’t action, and lapse into ‘here let me be the boss’ too easily.

    I recommend Bryan Caplan’s Myth of the Rational Voter for more on these common misestimations.

    On this very topic david henderson made a good suggestion: let women buy the pill without a doctor’s prescription. A less government approach that lowers the actual cost, and coerces no bishops.

  133. 133 133 Ken B

    “Btw guys, seriously, 3 Ken’s”

    I was going to say, count your blessings, but I see you already have.

  134. 134 134 KS

    ” But I would agree that government is inherently coercive, and so we should always try, even repeatedly, to do things without, or with less, government. Most people underestimate the effectiveness of market solutions, overestimate the effectiveness of gov’t action, and lapse into ‘here let me be the boss’ too easily.”

    I COMPLETELY disagree (btw, how do you do bold or italics)?

    A free market cannot function properly without a strong legal system that enforces property rights and mediates disputes. That’s already strong government. It can’t function without a uniform currency backed by legal tender. That’s strong(er) government. It can’t function without a police force to minimize crime. Government’s getting bigger by the boatload now.

    Now if you want to see a truly “free” market, please, go to Haiti, where the government is so weak and corrupt that markets are free. Tell me how efficiently those resources get allocated

  135. 135 135 Ken B

    “go to Haiti, where the government is so weak and corrupt that markets are free. ”

    What a ridiculous statement. You clearly do not understand what is meant by ‘free market’.

    Italics etc can be set with html directives. They are tricky to show as I cannot type them correctly or they will be interpreted. I will try and hope this does not mess up.
    with no spaces turns on italics and no spaces turns them off. Same but with b not i for bold.

  136. 136 136 Ken B

    Sigh
    {i} turns on italics on and {/i} turns them off, butyou use the less than and greater symbols than not { and }

  137. 137 137 Ken B

    To return,
    “go to Haiti, where the government is so weak and corrupt that markets are free. ”

    That comment explains a lot really. You simply do not know what other people are asserting, and make no effort to try to learn or understand. It explains a whole lot.

  138. 138 138 KS

    Enlighten me o’wise one, who has stated markets should be kept as free of government interference as possible, conveniently ignoring that a legal system, police force, currency etc… are all part of the government. Please make me as smart as you, so that I may also confuse demand with quantity demanded, have no idea what a provider is, confuse an alpha-level of 0.05 with working in 95% of patients, etc…

  139. 139 139 Ken

    there are industries where private markets are disasters (healthcare).

    That you think health care is a private market is inexplicable. The government controls large swaths of it and says what procedures and medicines can and cannot be used. Along the same lines as Ken B, if you believe the health care system in the US is a private or free market, then that explains a lot.

    No, that’s wrong. You replaced the term ‘certain’ with ‘all’.

    Yes, that’s right, that’s what happens when you negate a statement. For example if you say:

    For certain p in P, p is in X.

    The negation of this is:

    For all p in P there is no p in X.

    Thus when the statment is:

    You continue to assert taxation in certain cases equates to stealing. I disagree.

    This is equivalent to:

    If you claim certain taxes are stealing then I disagree.

    In the “If A then B” model, then

    A = you claim certain taxes are stealing
    B = I disagree

    From these you get (where “~X” means “not X”):

    ~A = you claim all taxes are not stealing
    ~B = I agree

    Putting them back together, you get the contrapositive, if ~B then ~A, of the above italicized statement being:

    If I agree, then you claim all taxes are not stealing.

  140. 140 140 Todd

    KS,

    Your assertion that the benefits outweigh the costs (in the US at least) is unsupported, and I heartily disagree. You seem to have set up a false dichotomy in your mind; either we have a violently coercive government, or we have Haiti/Somalia. This just isn’t so.

    Also, your list of things which are not possible without government coercion shows a serious lack of creativity. I can assure you that if the government had decided 50 years ago to make shoes a matter of public provision, people like you would assert that, without the government, nobody would have shoes to wear.

  141. 141 141 Ken B

    I know it’s a waste to even try but:

    A free market cannot function properly without a strong legal system that enforces property rights and mediates disputes. That’s already strong government.

    No, that’s the sort of minimal government libertarians favour. It does not entail forcing bishops to pay for the pill either. The issue btw is not ‘strong’ but ‘invasive’, or ‘pervasive’.

    It can’t function without a uniform currency backed by legal tender. That’s strong(er) government.

    No, actually that’s just a very dubious assertion. markets can function with all sorts of unofficial forms of money. A famous case is the use of taylor-made cigarrettes in post-war germany. Another is bank notes in the old west. Or come to think of it US dollars in Canada. A uniform legal tender can have advantages, but you grossly overstate. (And requiring the use of it in place of other forms of exchange is destructive.)

    It can’t function without a police force to minimize crime.
    The ‘to minimize crime’ is tendentious and wrong. A police force is quite compatible with a small limited gov’t, providing it is limited itself. You would need a force bigger than the Stasi to ‘minimize crime’.

    NOTHING you list is contrary to libertarian thought.

  142. 142 142 Ken B

    Todd,
    KS says “I am not a dichotomozing-absolutist” but as you note that is exactly what he is. Cochrane made a blunder (KS says; I have no independent knowledge of it, but grant the claim ad arguendo. Who am I to doubt the word of a man who claims the federal govt ended desegration?) so we can ignore everything Cochrane says as it proves he’s[wait for it!] an idiot. Etc.

  143. 143 143 Todd

    Ken B,

    Ideologically I think you and I would agree far more often than not, but as I see it, you aren’t taking your arguments far enough.

    If coercive force is wrong, it is always wrong–even for the powers enumerated in the constitution.

  144. 144 144 KS

    @ Todd–

    If you believe the costs outweigh the benefits, you are free to leave. The fact you don’t makes me believe maybe you don’t actually think the costs are greater than the benefits.

    @ Ken–

    I’m not going to go into details with you (as I have twice), but you’re wrong about contrapositives. The negation of “some” is NOT “all”, except in your mind. (Ie, Ken is certainly wrong does not negate to Ken is always wrong).

    “That you think health care is a private market is inexplicable.”

    I never said health care in the US is a private market; it’s not. I refer you to Kenneth Arrow’s seminal article on health economics to understand why a private market is a disaster for healthcare due to intrinsic characteristics of the health care market.

    Btw, please notice how Ken has conveniently ignored the fact the NIH funds 30-40% of health research (when he said almost all was private), or that his gasoline tax doesn’t cover the cost of roads (when he said it did), or that the government has no feedback mechanism (when in fact it does), etc…

    @ Ken B–

    “Cochrane made a blunder”

    Le sigh. Haven’t you already been proven to be idiotic in another thread? Anyway, a blunder is a quick mistake. A blunder is not a passionate and long argument defending something so idiotic that a high school student would recognize the error.

    If I say, Philadelphia is the capital of the US, then quickly correct myself, that’s a blunder. If I write a blog post arguing vociferously that Philadelphia is the capital of the US, that’s not a blunder. That’s me being retarded. Now replace me with Cochrane, and try to understand that it wasn’t a blunder.

    Anyway, Ken B, you have made so many mistakes/errors/confusions in this post and the other that from now on I’m just removing you from the debate by not replying to anything you say.

  145. 145 145 Ken B

    Todd,
    “If coercive force is wrong, it is always wrong–even for the powers enumerated in the constitution.”

    I think you are making sins of costs. Plus coercion is not always wrong — I’d gladly whack a rapist with a crow bar to stop the rape.

  146. 146 146 Ken

    The negation of “some” is NOT “all”, except in your mind.

    Let me break it down in to smaller chunks for you so you may be able to understand. In the context that I used it and it is because the subject and predicate parts of the statement are changed to clarify the negation. Again, so you can understand:

    X = For some x in X – > x in Y

    This translates as:

    X = There exist x in X – > x in Y

    This implies

    ~X1 = There does not exist x in X – > x in Y

    Which, again, translates to

    ~X2 = For all x in X – > no x in Y.

    Note that ~X1 = ~X2, and not the use of “all” in ~X2. So… as always… you’re wrong.

  147. 147 147 KS

    “So… as always… you’re wrong.”

    Le sigh x2, I can’t explain it anymore than I have. Your brain doesn’t operate by Boolean logic (clearly), so I can’t expect it to understand it, either.

    And right, because I was the one who said the following:

    Almost all medical research funding comes from the private sector.
    My gasoline tax covers the costs of roads I drive on.
    The government has no feedback mechanism, unlike the private sector.
    I’m a big giant idiot.

    Actually, you said all four.

  148. 148 148 Ken B

    @Ken: In moving quantifiers over a NOT we exchange ALL for EXISTS, that is ‘ there exists 1 or more’. You are technically incorrect to use ‘some’ rather than ’1 or more’.

    For none of the staments you discussed will this ever matter, and where there is one there will be some. The federal govt for example will have ended desegratation in some ways if it ended desegregation in one. But in terms of boolean logic ’1 or more’ is what is correct.

  149. 149 149 KS

    Ken B, we agree!

    But keep in mind, for Ken, it is always ALL or NONE.

    Ie, if the statement X is: certain ice creams are good. The true negation is: certain ice creams aren’t good. It is NOT: all ice creams are bad.

    Unless you’re Ken’s brain, that is.

  150. 150 150 Todd

    Ken B,

    Perhaps I was wrong to assume that “it goes without saying” that violence is justified only in the defensive, but this is irrelevant when discussing government violence anyway.

    I assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that the principle of non-coercion was at the root of your ideological stance. As far as I can tell, you can’t take a stance based on non-coercion consistently and advocate for any form of government.

    If yours is a utilitarian stance, then perhaps you could argue that a limited government produces the best results. I would still disagree, but that’s an entirely different discussion.

  151. 151 151 KS

    And I need to add, this is basic Boolean logic. As basic as it gets. It can’t get any simpler.

  152. 152 152 Ken B

    Incidentally I find this whole contrapositive debate silly. It’s not useful to involve statements like “I agree” into first order logic like this. (This is what modal logic is for). This is why I wrote
    Allowing the informality of equating ‘I agree X’ with ‘if X then I agree’

    ‘I agree’ just isn’t a proposition on its own, like ‘KS promised to stop reading my comments but failed to do so’ is.

  153. 153 153 KS

    ” ‘KS promised to stop reading my comments but failed to do so’ ”

    Because lo and behold, you actually made a good one! Not something like “price affects demand”.

  154. 154 154 KS

    “Incidentally I find this whole contrapositive debate silly.”

    Agreed. Scroll up and look as to who first invoked the use of the contrapositive to defend his argument, then completely and utterly misunderstood what a contrapositive basically is. I’ll give you a hint: his name begins with a “K” and rhymes with “Ben”

  155. 155 155 Ken B

    “if the statement X is: certain ice creams are good. The true negation is: certain ice creams aren’t good.”

    If you insist — as you must from your debate with Ken sans-initial — that certain means 2 or more,
    then consider 2 ice creams, chocolate and pickle.
    Assume choc is good, pickle is not.

    “some ice creams are good” — false, one is
    not “some ice creams are good” — true, being not false
    “some ice creams are not good” — false, only one is

  156. 156 156 Ken

    @Ken B and KS

    If I am wrong, simply write the negation for

    1. For some x in X – > x in Y.

    My argument is: Negating “some” make is “none”. Thus negating the above statement you get:

    2. No x in X – > x in Y.

    Is there anyone that does NOT agree with this negation? If so, write down the negation for 1. The negation of 1. is certainly not All x in X – > x in Y, because this means that some x are in Y also. So clearly the only correct way to negate 1. is the language used in 2.

    There are equivalent statements to 2. that use the language “for all”. Namely,

    3. For all x in X – > no x in Y
    and
    3′. For all x in X -> x not in Y

    Is there anyone who does NOT agree that 2. and 3. and 3′. are equivalent? That they are equivalent is easy to see. Write a Venn diagram of X and Y. By 2. these two sets have an empty intersection, hence they do NOT intersect anywhere. Thus we can conclude that for all x in X, x is not in Y.

    Is this really so hard to undestand?

    @Ken B
    In moving quantifiers over a NOT we exchange ALL for EXISTS

    I am not moving the NOT quantifier over an ALL. I am moving the NOT qualifier over an EXISTS. NOT’ing an EXISTS you get a NOT EXISTS, correct?

    Thus the statement

    4. There EXISTS x in X – > x in Y

    negates to

    5. There DOES NOT EXIST x in X – > x in Y

    And as explained above, this is equivalent to saying

    6. FOR ALL x in X – > x NOT in Y

    If you think I made a mistake in going from 1. to 2., or 2. to 3. (or3′.) explain. If you think I made a mistake in going from 4. to 5., or 5. to 6. explain.

    ——————————————-

    Thus the negation of the statement:

    Some taxes is stealing (A in the above 11:53am comment)

    is

    For all taxes, none are stealing (~A in the above 11:53am comment)

    In the above set notation, you can let X be the set of all possible taxes and P be the set of all possible thefts.

  157. 157 157 Ken B

    Ken
    The point is that some usually means more than 1, just in common parlance.

    It is clear from your examples you know this. It’s a minor subpar choice of wording. An intellectually honest opponent might point it out but will not assume assume you mean something other than what you plainly do mean, based on the rest of your argument. An intellectually honest person would not harp on it, especially without specifying exactly why he thinks the wording is wrong.

    I cannot speak for KS.

  158. 158 158 KS

    “If you insist — as you must from your debate with Ken sans-initial — that certain means 2 or more,
    then consider 2 ice creams, chocolate and pickle.
    Assume choc is good, pickle is not.

    “some ice creams are good” — false, one is
    not “some ice creams are good” — true, being not false
    “some ice creams are not good” — false, only one is”

    Le sigh x3. Certain means certain. It does not mean 2 or more.

    Assume chocolate is good and pickle is not.

    Certain ice creams are good means there is an ice cream out there that is good. This is chocolate.

    The contrapositive would be, if something is bad, it isn’t those certain ice creams. Ie, if a type of ice cream is bad, it can’t therefore be chocolate.

    Le sigh x4. Where did you Kens go to college?

  159. 159 159 Ken

    if the statement X is: certain ice creams are good. The true negation is: certain ice creams aren’t good.

    No it isn’t. The intersection of a statement and its negation is EMPTY. The statement certain ice creams aren’t good leaves open the possibility that certain ice creams are good. This means the intersection between your two statments isn’t necessarily empty. But the intersection of negations necessarily is empty. This is because, set notationally, negation is the same as the complement.

    This is why the negation of the statement certain ice creams are good is no ice creams are good or equivalently all ice creams are not good

  160. 160 160 KS

    “It is clear from your examples you know this. It’s a minor subpar choice of wording. An intellectually honest opponent might point it out but will not assume assume you mean something other than what you plainly do mean, based on the rest of your argument. An intellectually honest person would not harp on it, especially without specifying exactly why he thinks the wording is wrong.”

    I must repeat. There are mistakes which are simply differences in wording. I do not harp on this. Then there are mistakes which are both worded poorly and factually wrong. These are the ones I harp on.
    These are examples of the latter category:

    Cochrane: government spending is necessarily non-stimulative because of accounting
    Ken B: price affects demand
    Ken: anything he says basically

  161. 161 161 KS

    “No it isn’t. The intersection of a statement and its negation is EMPTY. The statement certain ice creams aren’t good leaves open the possibility that certain ice creams are good. This means the intersection between your two statments isn’t necessarily empty.”

    Le sigh times 50 billion.

    Certain ice creams are good. Let’s say we’re talking about chocolate and vanilla.

    So then what we’re saying is, chocolate and vanilla ice creams are good. The negation is, chocolate and vanilla ice creams aren’t good. The intersection of those two sets is empty.

    Please make a conscious effort to be smarter. ‘Certain’ does NOT mean ‘at least one’. Certain means a subset of specific types.

    Le sigh times three trillion. I fear for your future.

  162. 162 162 KS

    Now if my statement was, “At least one ice cream is good”, then you would be right, the negation would be “No ice cream is good”.

    Of course that wasn’t my original statement, so don’t get too excited, you aren’t right, you’re wrong.

    For anyone else reading, ‘certain’ does NOT mean ‘at least one’. I am assuming anyone who is intelligent know this.

  163. 163 163 KS

    I’m just going to go ahead and add basic set theory and basic Boolean logic to the list of things you don’t understand but assert with arrogance Ken.

  164. 164 164 Twofer

    @KenB: “Who am I to doubt the word of a man who claims the federal govt ended desegration?”

    If not by the Federal Government, how was segregation ended (which is what I think you meant as opposed to desegregation)?

  165. 165 165 Ken

    ‘Certain’ does NOT mean ‘at least one’.

    What? If a certain ice cream is good, then at least one is, right? And if at least one ice cream is good, then a certain ice cream is good, right? Since ‘certain’ and ‘at least one’ is if and only if, they are equivalent.

    If chocolate and vanilla are good, then the some ice creams are good.

    If rum raisin and mint chocolate chip are bad, then some ice creams are bad, even though chocolate and vanilla remain good.

    Since given this scenario the two statements 1. some ice creams are good and 2. some ice creams are bad, do not conflict with each other and both are true at the same time, they two statements are not negations of each other.

    Since both of those statements can be true at the same time, they cannot be negations of each other. Negations, by definition, are mutually exclusive, meaning one and only one of the statements can be true.

  166. 166 166 KS

    @Twofer–

    You’re wasting your time. What we have here is a collection of dunces (the three Ken’s, if you will) who assert things they don’t understand with confidence, make huge factual mistakes yet claim it to be issues of ‘wording’, and ignore you when you point out these mistakes. (I’m still waiting for Ken to confess he was completely wrong when he said almost all medical research is private, when in fact it’s 30-40%).

    If you were to point out that Brown v Board was a landmark FEDERAL decision that began the end of segregation, they would retort, so, Plessy v Ferguson was federal too?

    You can’t argue with these people. You can, however, take delight in the sheer magnitude of their ignorance.

    - KS

  167. 167 167 Ken B

    Ken, if you look at the debate you had with KS over the contrapositive he acted as if he ‘caught’ you, because your causal English failed to distinguish 1 or more from more than 1. Neither did his ‘certain ice creams’, which is plural. His English says plural, and the logic of his objection to you was the plural, but now he cannot admit his error.

    Like the price thing with me. I misspoke, and corrected. He says he never harps, and that he distinguishes between Cochrane’s supposed crime and a blunder. He doesn’t. Like the reagan tax thing where he kept shifting his position after each refutation, shouting idiot all the while. Or that anyone who objects to [name a govt power] thinks Haiti the model for life. He is not being intellectually honest here. He is simply not worth the effort, he is too immature, as Todd grokked long ago.

  168. 168 168 KS

    Le sigh times 300 trillion.

    “Certain ice creams”, to make it as specific and simple as possible, means “a subset of ice creams”. It does NOT mean “at least one ice creams.”

    Ie, if I say, I like certain ice creams, what I am saying is, I like a subset of ice creams. I am NOT saying, I like more than one ice cream.

    This is obvious to anyone who isn’t retarded. Sorry to bring up that term again, but frankly, you deserve it.

  169. 169 169 KS

    @ Ken–

    Certain refers to a SPECIFIC SUBSET of ice creams and not just the presence of more than one. This seems to be hard to understand for you and Ken B.

    Chocolate and vanilla are good.
    Negation: chocolate and vanilla aren’t good.

    Certain ice creams (chocolate and vanilla) are good.
    Negation: These certain ice creams aren’t good.

    At least one ice cream is good.
    Negation: no ice cream is good.

    Do you see the difference? Certain refers to a specific subset of ice creams and not just the presence of them.

  170. 170 170 KS

    “Like the price thing with me. I misspoke, and corrected.”

    This is hilarious. Ken B has repeatedly shown a lack of understanding of basic economic concepts, yet claims he “mis-spoke” and makes it seem like he corrected himself, when in fact everyone pointed out how much of a moron he was, and then he sheepishly corrected himself.

    Me: force is proportional to velocity. here is a 10 page argument on why this is so, and anyone who thinks it’s proportional to acceleration is an idiot.
    Everyone else: um no, f = m a
    Me: I’m sorry, I mis-spoke.

    Now replace me with Ken B or with Cochrane.

  171. 171 171 Ken B

    @Twofer: I was mocking a habit KS has. If someone he disagrees with makes an error, even a clear error of wording, he harps on it repeatedly, even after the error is acknowledged and corrected. *He* made the error of saying the federal govt ended DEsegragation. Now it’s quite clear form context what he meant,but he said desegregation, and if you read this whole sorry thread you will see him defend just this kind of harping on errors of wording, even if corrected — a habit which he repeats in his recent comments. So I was being arch and ironical.

  172. 172 172 Ken

    “Certain ice creams”, to make it as specific and simple as possible, means “a subset of ice creams”. It does NOT mean “at least one ice creams.”

    Ie, if I say, I like certain ice creams, what I am saying is, I like a subset of ice creams. I am NOT saying, I like more than one ice cream.

    You are aware that there is a difference in “at least one” and “more than one”, right? If you like only one ice cream, then you like “at least one”. “At least one” means at least one with the possibility, but necessarily more than one. However, if you like only one, then you do not like “more than one”. Thus, “at least one” is not equivalent to “more than one”.

    And you are aware that a subset of one ice cream is still a subset of all ice creams aren’t you?

  173. 173 173 KS

    “And you are aware that a subset of one ice cream is still a subset of all ice creams aren’t you?”

    It’s not the same thing, you fool!

    Statement 1: I like chocolate and vanilla ice cream, and no other flavor.
    Statement 2: I like strawberry and rum-raising ice cream, and no other flavor.
    Statement 3: I like at least one ice cream.

    Statements 1 and 3, and 2 and 3, are compatible. Statements 1 and 2 AREN’T.

    Translation: stating the number of ice creams is NOT equivalent to stating the types.

    Translation x2: if you say “I like certain ice creams”, what you are saying is, there are types of ice cream I like, but you haven’t specified them. If you say “I like at least one ice cream”, all you are saying is, I like at least one ice cream.

    Le sigh times a googleplex.

  174. 174 174 Ken B

    @Steve:
    Was this really just a few weeks ago? http://www.thebigquestions.com/2012/01/24/public-service-announcement-6/

    I’m one of the old hands here but frankly this blog, once the best discussion site on the web, has deteriorated to the point where it just isn’t worth reading. I even asked KS to confine his insults just to me if he cannot control himself, but he cannot do even that. Until the situation improves I’m off.

    regards
    Ken

  175. 175 175 KS

    @ Ken B–

    “If someone he disagrees with makes an error, even a clear error of wording, he harps on it repeatedly, even after the error is acknowledged and corrected. *He* made the error of saying the federal govt ended DEsegragation.”

    Once again, there are errors of wording, and then there are errors of being wrong. You and the regular Ken frequently engage in the latter, and that’s what I harp on.

    Great example:

    Ken: “almost all [medical] R&D is from the private sector”
    Me: actually it’s 50%, or 30-40% based on how you define it
    Ken: no reply

    Does that seem like an issue of wording?

  176. 176 176 Ken

    At least one ice cream is good.
    Negation: no ice cream is good.

    You are aware that when you write this, you agree with me. To say that “some ice cream is good” is exactly the same as “at least one ice cream is good”. For example if vanilla is the only ice cream that is good and I said “some ice cream is good”, then what I said is true.

    You’re claiming that “some” means “more than one” is that right? But no one uses some to mean strictly more than one. You thinking it does is a very narrow defintion, so narrow only you are using it.

    If you read and math or logic book and you see the statement

    For some x in X – > x in Y

    This means “at least one” x in X is in Y also. For example, the following statement is absolutely true and any mathematician will tell you it’s true.

    1. For some x in the real numbers, x will not have a multiplicative inverse.

    In the reals, 0 is the only one that doesn’t havea multiplicative inverse. And yet the statement is true, despite your howling that it’s not.

    Your “gotcha” game failed because the only thing you “got” was the definition of a word wrong.

  177. 177 177 Ken

    I now understand how you can think everyone else is so stupid and you’re so smart. You use a definition of a word close to, but different from what everyone else uses, then claim everyone else is dumb for not using your exclusive and secretly defined word. No problem. This seems to be pretty systemic in this discussion.

    I try not to write people off, but here you go: write whatever you want. You have the floor (comments section, whatever).

    It is clear you are intellectually dishonest, uninterested in actually debating someone and possibly disagreeing. No. What you want is for people to agree with you and acknowledge that they are stupid if they don’t.

  178. 178 178 iceman

    I know it’s a long and windy road back, but:

    @GregMN: “I think citizens are obligated to follow the law.”

    Have you heard the one about two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner?

    The question is, is that sense of obligation due merely to the threat of “unpleasant consequences”, or a respect for the legitimacy of the *process*? Clearly we don’t get to grant or withhold our explicit consent; that’s where the residency argument attempts to infer ‘implied’ consent — conceivably to anything and everything. As others have noted, our system was “originally” intended to place important limitations on the types of things we get to just vote on. It’s small comfort if one has “ample opportunity to express one’s discontent” to no effect because the wolves have the votes.

    @KS: “you are free to leave”.

    I refer you to my previous comment to GregMN on why the residency argument is circular.

    Also, I’ll probably regret this but…it’s interesting to me that you hold the Arrow article in high regard, because while influential it consisted largely of qualitative theorizing (a self-described “exploratory and tentative study”), the data consisting primarily of “observable mores of the medical profession”; in sum, hardly the type of rigorous empiricism you seem to demand of Cochrane (even in an op-ed).

    @Todd: I refer you to Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia” for a (the?) classic libertarian construction of a minimal state.

  179. 179 179 Will A

    @ Ken:

    This is not a setup, but a legitimate question I have.

    With so many he said/he said going on, it looks like you said that you paid gasoline taxes to pay for roads.

    I don’t mean to imply that you think that this is a good tax, but it seems like you don’t have a problem with this tax or with the government raising funds for things like roads with a gasoline tax.

    Would you (and other libertarians) consider consumption taxes in general to be coercive (I think this it the term you used)?

    If not, would you think that a consumption tax on food is coercive since people pretty much need food to survive, or would it not be coercive since people could choose to grow their own food if they chose?

    If you (or other libertarians) choose to answer, I pledge not to quote DeMorgan’s law in any reply.

  180. 180 180 Ken B

    @WillA:
    Whether I’m a libertarian is unclear but I sometimes play one on the web, so let me take a shot.

    Yes consumption taxes are coercive when they are collected involuntarily, just like any tax. It’s wrong to say ‘Libertarians object to all coercion.’ There are levels of coercion, and libertarians not NO coercion but as little of it as we can manage. what that little amount is varies from person to person. David Henderson’s definition differs greatly from mine.

  181. 181 181 Greg MN

    @iceman

    The obligation to follow the law stems from a respect for the legitimacy of the process. The process includes safeguards to protect citizens from the conceivable anything and everything. If a citizen believes to have been harmed by the actions of the executive and legislative branches, he is entitled to petition the judicial branch. The citizen is also entitled to vote for representatives with whom he more closely shares views. I think this is sufficient protection, while others seem to disagree. My question remains to those who disagree; precisely how should the system be changed? What additional checks and balances on our elected officials do we need? Answers of the form we just need to better follow the constitution will be interpreted as the system is fine and additional checks and balances are unnecessary.

    Can we at least acknowledge the truth in the argument that people can choose to renounce citizenship and that doing so is not unduly burdensome? This is important because it reveals the fallacy of the barrel of the gun arguments which use the term force to imply the absence of reasonable choice. You suggest the residency argument is circular, but I disagree because of the aforementioned protections. If our elected officials pass a law forcing citizens to leave or to stay without due process, the citizens have the power to fix it. I suppose if they manage to eliminate our power to fix it, the citizens will have to overthrow the government. Overthrowing the government is obviously a non-trivial task, but I don’t believe for even a moment it will come to that.

    I can’t seem to find the comment, but I believe you thought I was letting HHS off easy in this case. Perhaps I am, but they have the responsibility and the authority to craft a policy. I don’t see how they have any choice but to do so, and as I said, I can only hope they do so to the best of their ability. In doing so, my impression is they solicit opinions/feedback and consult advisors/experts. I’m not under the impression Sebelius woke up one day with an idea and wrote a contraception coverage policy. I’m quite sure she has some personal bias and opinion which will be reflected in the proposed policy, as does everyone else. We don’t have to support everything HHS proposes. We can express our dissent. What do you expect from HHS? Is there some level on agreement or consent HHS should get from the citizens before proceeding with a policy? If HHS has a burden of proof, how would they show they’ve satisfied this burden?

    Again, I think she/they believe the policy will result in fewer unplanned pregnancies and fewer abortions. My thought process is as follows. Is this a worthy objective? I think it is. Are people disputing this is a worthy goal? I don’t think so, are they? Do they have the authority to implement the proposed policy? I think so, but clearly other don’t. I’ll certainly defer to the judicial branch. Will the proposed policy achieve the objective? I think so, do you? Is there a better way to achieve the objective? Cochrane and others can argue the policy is simply bad economics, but he would be more persuasive if he could describe in more detail how an alternative would achieve the goal using better economics. For example, you or someone suggested the policy might just result in people having more sex. Maybe so. You also mentioned seat belts. If the objective of seat belt laws were to reduce traffic deaths, the policy achieved the objective according to this paper (http://www.stanford.edu/~leinav/pubs/RESTAT2003.pdf) which states Allowing for the endogeneity of seat belt usage, we find that such usage decreases overall traffic fatalities. … In addition, we do not find significant support for the compensating behavior theory, which suggests that seat belt use also has an indirect adverse effect on fatalities by encouraging careless driving.. Now, I’m fairly sure I’ve also read the opposite, but maybe the opposing view was seat belt laws perversely resulted in more accidents, but not necessarily fatalities. Ergo, people might have more sex, but not more unplanned pregnancies. Why do I fear I’ve just seeded a tangent about seat belt laws (not my intent) and why do I suspect people will still be debating the wisdom of this contraception policy long after it is implemented (assuming it is implemented)?

    By the way, I’m in agreement with KS that this contraception issue is not a serious religious liberty issue. The statistics I see regarding actual contraception usage imply the religious practitioners don’t take this particular religious position seriously either. Nobody is being forced to use, condone, endorse, or directly purchase contraception. Just because funds subsequently used to purchase contraception had at some point passed through the hands of a religious person/organization doesn’t necessarily imply the religious person/organization bears responsibility for contraception use.

  182. 182 182 Ken B

    “Nobody is being forced to use, condone, endorse, or directly purchase contraception.”

    First, it does not matter that it is contraxception particularly. They are being forced to buy something they object to buying on religious grounds.

    Second they ARE being forced to buy contraception (coverage). That is in inherent in the money ‘passing through’ their hands. It ‘passed through’ because it was theirs and then they were forced to spend it. I don’t know of anything I buy where the money has n ot ‘passed through’ my hands.

    Steve’s original post was about the transparent foolishness of the fig-leaf here.
    Greg MN might object to a tax to pay for Jerry Falwell Liberty University missions to convert the heathen in Minnesota. So I suggest we not raise taxes for Jerry Falwell directly but just for an education fund for [here follows a detailed list of qualifications including state of residence and other non-religious criteria eliminating everyone but JFLU]. Why there can now be no objection. Just because funds subsequently used to purchase hell-fire sermons had at some point passed through the hands of Greg MN doesn’t necessarily imply he bears responsibility for sermons.

  183. 183 183 Ken B

    Another example. Many people object to teaching creationism in school science classes. They won a number of court battles. Advocates of creationism then created (sic) ‘creation science’ and tried to get that into science classes. Their arguments are very similar to Greg MN’s: we add a transparently meaningless layer of indirection as a fig leaf and we are OK.

    You OK with creation science Greg? [Rhetorical.]

  184. 184 184 Greg MN

    @Ken B

    If I’m following…religious hospital purchases a package of insurance coverage from insurance company…insurance company uses some of that money to purchase contraception. I’m asked to believe this violates religious liberty.

    General Electric purchases the same package of insurance coverage as the religious hospital. Should the hospital avoid purchasing medical equipment from GE knowing that some of that money is going to ultimately fund contraception? I vote no.

    Religious person knows the local retail store purchases contraceptives for re-sale and purchases the contraceptive coverage for employees. Should the religious person avoid purchasing product from this store? Again, I vote no.

  185. 185 185 Greg MN

    @Ken part 2

    Hit Submit a bit too soon.

    I think some portion of the money I send to the government to pay my taxes is used for things of which I disapprove. I do not think this is a violation of my liberty.

  186. 186 186 Todd

    Greg MN,

    Can we at least acknowledge the truth in the argument that WIVES can choose to renounce THEIR MARRIAGE and that doing so is not unduly burdensome? (see my previous analogy)

    You have not pointed out the substantive difference between these two, and I don’t believe that there is one. Feel free to substitute references to abuse with something like “forces at gunpoint.”

    Furthermore, it is ludicrous to say that renouncing one’s citizenship and leaving the country is not “unduly burdensome.” I did not choose to live in the US, I was born here. I was raised in this culture, this legal system, this language, with these people, these values, etc. You are talking about moving thousands of miles away where I am unfamiliar with the culture, laws, and language, where I have no social network at all, and spending thousands of dollars to do it. This, you say, is not unduly burdensome?

  187. 187 187 Ken B

    “If I’m following…religious hospital purchases a package of insurance coverage from insurance company…insurance company uses some of that money to purchase contraception. I’m asked to believe this violates religious liberty.”

    No that is not what you are asked to believe. Let me flesh it out it for you to better illustrate the point. “religious organization IS FORCED TO PURCHASE insurance coverage from an insurance company which IS FORCED TO PURCHASE …”

    I am not clear why you think being forced to purchase something you object to purchasing is not an affront to your liberty. Not all affronts are equal though. Affronts to religious liberty have, per the first amendment, special standing.

    I would never force you at attend a catholic mass (there are limits even to my cruelty). I would only conscript you into the new US Army Catholic Squad. They will force you to attend catholic mass. I’m expected to believe I violated your religious liberty?

  188. 188 188 Ken B

    Todd,
    I do enjoy the irony here. Now it’s the extreme Left parroting “America, love it or leave it”.

  189. 189 189 Will A

    Greg MN:

    General Electric purchases the same package of insurance coverage as the religious hospital. Should the hospital avoid purchasing medical equipment from GE knowing that some of that money is going to ultimately fund contraception? I vote no.

    Not that I disagree with your statement, but I think the more appropriate analogy would be:
    General Electric provides its employees with insurance coverage that a religious organization finds objectionable . Should hospitals associated with that religious organization be allowed to boycott GE?

    In an effort to draw criticisms from all sides. I am personally in favor of universal healthcare with an option to opt out and purchase insurance by a 3rd party (faith healing insurance is pretty cheap).

    In the same way a person can opt out of a public education for their children, a person should be able to opt out of universal healthcare.

    What I fail to see is how those supporting Obama (or on the left) can’t see that there is a valid argument to be made that this is a legitimate case of conflict of religious freedom vs. the (perceived) public good.

    Those on the left should also realize that when those on the right say things like, “There has never been a government program that so intrudes on the freedom of Americans”, what might be true is that the Affordable Care Act intrudes on the freedom of Americans in a way that Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and Public Education don’t.

  190. 190 190 Richard

    I am not clear why you think being forced to purchase something you object to purchasing is not an affront to your liberty.

    Because I, the taxpayer, can’t object to not supporting these religious institutions because tax money does indeed go to them (and they have tax exempt status.)

    Quit crying about your ‘loss of liberty.’ There comes a point where we stop being so juvenile about not getting to always do what we want.

  191. 191 191 Ken B

    “Because I, the taxpayer, can’t object to not supporting these religious institutions because tax money does indeed go to them (and they have tax exempt status.) ”

    I cannot even parse this.

    As for the rest, I think I have objected to the attack on other folk’s liberties not mine: I am about as far from being a catholic as one can get. I think I will pass on your advice to love the jackboot too.

    “There comes a point where we stop being so juvenile about not getting to always do what we want.” It’s not clear you’ve reached that point though in your foundering attempts to force catholics to do what you want.

  192. 192 192 Ken B

    @Will A: Very well said.

  193. 193 193 Ken B

    Will A: ” I am personally in favor of universal healthcare with an option to opt out and purchase insurance by a 3rd party (faith healing insurance is pretty cheap).”

    Will, I think you would be surprised (and doubtless dismayed) if you knew how much I basically agree with you on this. I’d say govt paid health insurance not health care. In Canada we have the mirror image problem: resistance to allowing private funding into the publicly paid system. many jusrisdictions outlaw just the kind of 3rd party or private billing you (correctly) see the value of. Lots of other countries — Holland, Switzerland, Singapor, and even (it pains me to say) France — seem to have some good approaches.

    We suffer — especially on TBQ — from 100 per centers who demand either all private or all public just on ‘principle’ regardless of evidence or argument.

  194. 194 194 Richard

    “Because I, the taxpayer, can’t object to not supporting these religious institutions because tax money does indeed go to them (and they have tax exempt status.) ”

    I cannot even parse this.

    Okay…

    Religiously based institutions that perform public services, for example Catholic/Muslim/Jewish schools, hospitals, etc., receive government funding. Then they cry when government sets a rule mandating that they provide insurance to employees that covers birth control. That’s equivilent to my parents providing me a roof over my head and food on the table, then me decrying ‘tyranny’ when they ask me to clean my room. Why should these instituions get special exemption when my tax dollar pays for their existence? I didn’t get to choose to not support their operations.

    It’s not clear you’ve reached that point though in your foundering attempts to force catholics to do what you want.

    LOL! Yes, I have soooo much sway over what Catholics must do. I’m sure many Catholics have ethical objections to hiring Pagans or women who bore children out of wedlock. That ethical consideration comes second to our civil society’s ‘equal opportunity’ goal.

  195. 195 195 Richard

    I’m one of the old hands here but frankly this blog, once the best discussion site on the web, has deteriorated to the point where it just isn’t worth reading. I even asked KS to confine his insults just to me if he cannot control himself, but he cannot do even that. Until the situation improves I’m off.

    But it’s perfectly ok when Ken B makes a snark comment or a strawman. I guess it’s because he’s an ‘old hand’ and can pull seniority.

  196. 196 196 Ken B

    Richard: If I invent a strawman, point him out. Make a case don’t just assert. As for snark — guilty as charged! But see Will A’s earlier comment on my snark. I don’t just mindlessly call people idiots.

    “LOL! Yes, I have soooo much sway over what Catholics must do.” The LOL is a bit silly: I did say your attempts were foundering (www.dictionary.com). Did you think I meant by that you were succeeding? It’s your attempts and desires that I criticized; attempts and desires were what your first comment was about after all.

  197. 197 197 Greg MN

    @Todd

    Yes, of course, I freely acknowledge a spouse can renounce a marriage and the extent of the burden depends on the other spouse. Your analogy was of an abusive spouse, from which I infer the spouse would angry with the request to renounce the marriage and likely inflict physical punishment. The substantive difference is the nobody is threatening you with physical harm if you ask to renounce your citizenship. Your marriage analogy would be better in a non-abusive relationship. If a woman were in a more typical, non-abusive marriage and said to you that the marriage was terrible but she was “forced” to stay in it, would you accept that?

    Regarding distance, I am in San Diego at the moment which is considerably farther from my home than is Canada, but somehow I managed and even have the audacity to call the episode a vacation rather than a burden.

    And surely you can think of a few countries with cultures that resemble ours.

    You say you born in the US as though that too was a burden. Being born in the US is what Warren Buffett refers to as “winning the ovarian lottery”. Well said Mr. Buffett, well said.

  198. 198 198 Richard

    Ken B,

    Fair enough…

    This effect of copays on the aggregate demand function is what you are denying.

    ^To which I made no such assertion. I’m sure I can find something with your constant battle with KS, but I don’t care to mindlessly copy and paste every example considering the sheer volume of your back-and-forth replies to eachother.

    There’s also the fact that in the beginning of the earlier contraceptive blog post, you said about nobody.really…

    Not entirely fair. We rely on you for our unskilled comments.

    Double-standards are interesting things.

    The LOL is a bit silly: I did say your attempts were foundering (www.dictionary.com). Did you think I meant by that you were succeeding?

    I’m quite aware of what ‘foundering’ means. Apparently, you need help on what exactly sarcasm entails.

  199. 199 199 Ken B

    OK, this will be a bit hard to format as it is filled with quotes of quotes but here goes.

    Double-standards are interesting things.

    The LOL is a bit silly: I did say your attempts were foundering (www.dictionary.com). Did you think I meant by that you were succeeding?

    I’m quite aware of what ‘foundering’ means. Apparently, you need help on what exactly sarcasm entails.

    [apologies if the formatting did not work]

    Huh? Your sooooo much control was sarcasm. You were suggesting you did not in fact HAVE much control. So you were LOL-ing because you thought I was suggesting you had control. But clearly — ‘foundering attempts’ — I was not saying you were. It just looks like you need to lash out somehow.

    Yes my response to nobody.really was snark. But it was inventive snark that made a point. It wasn’t just, in that deathless phrase, “retarded … retarded … retarded”

    As for the effect of copays, I was dealing with logical implications. This is why I did not use quotation marks. I don’t recall if it was you or someone else. If it was not you I do apologize fro drawing logical implications from your arguments (that was snark btw). It is however a usual way to debate arguments: to see if their implications make sense.

  200. 200 200 Ken B

    Forgot to add, if you look at my copay remark, which Richard objects to as a strawman, you will see it is the conclusion of a line of argument. Here is the comment

    http://www.thebigquestions.com/2012/02/10/pro-and-contra-ception/#comment-41817

    What I was reponding to was arguemnts like this one from Richard:

    @Ken B-

    “@Richard: It simply IS a fact that I consume more blood tests when I don’t pay for them — or pay only a fraction of the cost. ….”

    Hahaha, you chose the WORST example, because that is factually incorrect. The price of a blood test may drop from $1000 to $995, that does not necessarily mean I will choose to purchase more.

    I think if I pay 0 I will purcahse more. If my copay is $995 I will purchase less.

  201. 201 201 Ken

    @Will A,

    I don’t mean to imply that you think that this is a good tax, but it seems like you don’t have a problem with this tax or with the government raising funds for things like roads with a gasoline tax.

    I don’t view this as a set up, but a legitimate question. You should also note that I followed that statement with “And the roads in this country would be better maintained and less congested if they were privatized.” The federal government doesn’t have the power to build and maintain roads, so it shouldn’t be doing it.

    Would you (and other libertarians) consider consumption taxes in general to be coercive (I think this it the term you used)?

    The question is not whether or not taxes should exist, but why those taxes exist. If they are there to fund the legitimate functions of government, they are fine.

    I have offered my tax recommendations before and it is simply this: everyone over the age of 18 pays a flat fee. If you can’t afford it, fine, you don’t get to vote for four years (preventing people from only voting in election years). Supposedly, we all get the same government, all should pay the same amount.

    In lieu of that I support nearly any proposal to make the tax code more simplified, such as a flat income, no deductions, no special treatment of some groups of people. Or even a flat sales tax, no special treatment of any item, including food.

  202. 202 202 Ken

    GregMN,

    I think some portion of the money I send to the government to pay my taxes is used for things of which I disapprove. I do not think this is a violation of my liberty.

    Simply disapproving of a government action is not a violation of liberty. I haven’t suggested that anywhere have I? But there are many government actions that are violations of liberty.

  203. 203 203 Richard

    What I was reponding to was arguemnts like this one from Richard:

    “@Richard: It simply IS a fact that I consume more blood tests when I don’t pay for them — or pay only a fraction of the cost. ….”

    Hahaha, you chose the WORST example, because that is factually incorrect. The price of a blood test may drop from $1000 to $995, that does not necessarily mean I will choose to purchase more.

    I think if I pay 0 I will purcahse more. If my copay is $995 I will purchase less.

    That was from KS, idiot. Your reading disability gets more and more obvious which each post. The term ‘retarded’ is not a deathless phrase, but more of a ‘factual’ one.

  204. 204 204 Richard

    *correction

    I should have said more clearly, in Ken B’s case, the deathless phrase “retarded…retarded…retarded” is a factual one.

  205. 205 205 Ken

    @Will A,

    I should clarify “The federal government doesn’t have the power to build and maintain roads, so it shouldn’t be doing it.” The enumerated powers of the federal government does not include the building and maintaining of roads, thus it shouldn’t be doing it. Since this is not a power granted to the federal government and the federal government is doing this, this is a direct violation of the constitution, hence unconstitutional.

    It has the power to establish a post office and build and maintain postal roads, but most of the roads we have aren’t really “postal” roads. Sure the post office uses some of them at times, but almost none were built, nor are they maintained, for the purposes of the postal service.

  206. 206 206 Will A

    @ Ken:

    My question was about government in general. The states have more leeway on the types of laws they pass. E.g. the states can require people to purchase automobile insurance (at least there is no current challenge to these laws that I know of).

    The states might have the right to enact an income tax (at least there is no current challenge to these laws that I know of), but you still might find this to be an act of stealing.

    I guess my question is do you equate consumption taxes with stealing the same way you equate income tax with stealing?

    Or do you equate Federal Income taxes with stealing because you feel the federal government doesn’t have the right to enact income taxes where as State Income taxes are not stealing since the states have the right to impose income taxes?

  207. 207 207 Todd

    Greg MN,

    The purpose of the analogy has nothing to do with the difficulty of leaving the country; it is meant to show the absurdity of your argument that government violence is justified because “if we don’t like it we can leave.” If you are not willing to accept this in the context of an abusive marriage, then you must either point out how the two cases are different in a relevant way, or abandon your flawed argument. Or, as is far more common, continue to assert that you are right without addressing the problems with your position.

    And if you would humor me for just a moment on our mostly trivial side argument, I would like to see you make this statement:

    “I would not consider it a burden to uproot my life and move to another country.”

    Can you say this? Because you’ve implied it by chipping away at the edges of my point, but I find it extremely hard to believe that you buy into your own argument here.

  208. 208 208 Ken

    The states might have the right to enact an income tax (at least there is no current challenge to these laws that I know of), but you still might find this to be an act of stealing.

    I thought I was clear when I said this: “The question is not whether or not taxes should exist, but why those taxes exist. If they are there to fund the legitimate functions of government, they are fine.” But perhaps I wasn’t. Wealth transfers are simply not a legitimate function of government. Using taxes as such are always stealing.

    The differences of the importance of the “why” can be seen in the killing of another person (I know this is an extreme example, but it’s the first I thought of). If I kill somebody simply because I dislike them or because one of my friends dislikes them, then I am guilty of a crime. If I kill somebody who is attacking me, then I am not guilty of a crime.

    I am uneasy with states using their police power to force drivers to be licensed and buying insurance. I think reasonable people can disagree with me and not be considered wanting to steal from the citizenry. The police powers of a state are easy to abuse and are routinely abused. That this is true should give pause to anyone who simply thinks the “solution” to any given problem is the expansion of police powers.

    I guess my question is do you equate consumption taxes with stealing the same way you equate income tax with stealing?

    Again, I thought I was clear when I said that taxes are implemented are not the important question. The important question is why a tax is implemented. Is it to punish the politically unfavored? Is it to coerce consumers to use one product over another? Is it to benefit the politically favored?

    Or is it to be used for the benefit of all?

    you feel the federal government doesn’t have the right to enact income taxes

    They clearly have the right and I even acknowledge that. The 16th amendment is pretty clear on this issue. That a constitutional power exists for the federal government doesn’t mean it is right (a constitutional “right” uses the term “right” differently from saying it’s not right that a government performs a certain action. It’s not right that a government has certain rights. Homonyms can be confusing).

    You seem to be hung up on the idea that I think all taxes are stealing. But I have not said that. I thought I was pretty clear in many of my previous posts that this is not what I was or am saying. I will try to be clearer in my writing. Taxes that are applied uniformly for the general welfare and in accordance with the proper powers of government are indeed not not stealing.

  209. 209 209 Ken

    Edit: Taxes that are applied uniformly for the general welfare and in accordance with the proper powers of government are indeed not not stealing.

  210. 210 210 Will A

    @ Ken:

    You seem to be hung up on the idea that I think all taxes are stealing.

    Given all of the statements it was hard for me to piece together who said what and it what context and what someone though. It could have been someone else drawing a parallel between taxes and stealing (there are now over 200 posts).

    The posts you had probably did lay out your positions clearly, however it was hard for me (I’m pretty slow and dense) to see them.

    Thanks for your reply.

  211. 211 211 iceman

    @GregMN: Here’s how the residency argument is circular:

    Tom: “I don’t agree with law X.”
    Dick: “Well you’re free to leave.”
    Tom: “I don’t want to leave.”
    Dick: “Then you have to follow X. Or go to jail.
    Tom: “Jail?? Geez!”
    Dick: “Yes. But it’s OK because it’s your choice, you see. Nobody’s being forced here. So if you think about it, not leaving shows that you must really agree with X after all.”
    Tom: “Huh? I’m only following X because you said I had to leave. And by the way, when did I agree you could make me leave?”
    Dick: “When you decided to stay. That’s law W.”

    The moral is, while you’re entitled to simply trust that whatever happens is wise and conscientious, you’re going need a different argument to convince others that whatever happens must be legitimate (i.e. not merely from “the barrel of the gun”). Note none of this has to be about endorsing anarchy or disputing that the US is still probably the best place to live. But some worry about an erosion in protections for individual liberty (the source of our best-ness) reflected in such policy non-standards as:

    “[HHS has] the responsibility and the authority to craft a policy. I don’t see how they have any choice but to do so, and as I said, I can only hope they do so to the best of their ability.”

    They have no choice but to mandate free contraception? Personally I think we’re about to get a much bigger test of things: a mandate that people buy insurance will mean the commerce clause has been abused beyond the founders’ recognition (IMHO). This does indeed mean the checks and balances are not working as intended. The system might be fine but we’re playing a different game.

    @Ken B and Will A: “opting out” of universal health care would surely be like “opting out” of public education – you’re still going to be required to pay for both. To some extent such redistribution might be appropriate – most of us might agree on a true public system of basic services for those in need. I just wish we could be more transparent about it.

  212. 212 212 Greg MN

    @iceman

    I continue to disagree the residency argument is circular and I can tell you precisely why using your example. When Dick says:

    Dick: “Yes. But it’s OK because it’s your choice, you see. Nobody’s being forced here. So if you think about it, not leaving shows that you must really agree with X after all.”

    Dick’s response goes entirely wrong by suggesting not leaving shows that you must really agree with X after all.It merely shows that you accept it and will tolerate it because you have the wisdom and maturity to realize that living in a country with millions of other people means everything isn’t go to be how you think it should be. At best, not leaving implies you’ve analyzed the total costs and the total benefits of staying and decided the benefits outweigh the costs and/or that there isn’t a more desirable substitute. But I repeat, it most certainly does not imply you agree with everything or that you feel there aren’t any costs.

    I’m surprised government enforcing the law isn’t self-evident. Is anyone proposing that laws should be optional, or that we should have fewer laws, or what?

  213. 213 213 Greg MN

    Ugh…Inadvertently pushed the closing italics tag to the end…sorry.

  214. 214 214 Greg MN

    As I said, I don’t consider the contraception issue to be a serious religious liberty issue, but it isn’t really a position to which I’m willing to allocate much time and effort. In part, because I’d prefer individuals obtained health insurance directly via the individual insurance market as opposed to via the employer.

  215. 215 215 Greg MN

    @Todd

    Todd said If you are not willing to accept this in the context of an abusive marriage, then you must either point out how the two cases are different in a relevant way, or abandon your flawed argument.

    However, in my reply preceding Todd’s post, I said:

    The substantive difference is nobody is threatening you with physical harm if you ask to renounce your citizenship.

    I don’t know where you live, but where I live, I’m not aware of anyone suffering from government imposed abuse that in any way resembles the violence imposed on an abusive spouse, nor have they feared for their safety. Seriously, it is extremely difficult to understand how you equate the government enforcing the law to abusing a spouse. Am I alone on this? Is anyone else willing to support Todd on this one?

  216. 216 216 Todd

    Greg MN,

    You are still getting hung up on the (mostly irrelevant) details of the analogy and missing the point. Let me try to reword it and see if that helps.

    Tom and Jane were married some time ago, and after a while, Tom bought a gun and told Jane that if she did not comply with his wishes, he would shoot her. Tom generally takes care of Jane, and his wishes are not too difficult for Jane to accomodate–but she must live every moment knowing that Tom could shoot her for any given failure on her part.

    What I am saying is that, even if Jane has no better alternative than to stay in the marriage, Tom is wrong.

    Again, I implore you (anyone) to draw a meaningful distinction between this and our relationship to the government.

  217. 217 217 Greg MN

    @Todd

    Of course Tom is wrong. I agreed the first time you brought it up. The fact that Jane can leave the marriage doesn’t imply Tom can’t be wrong. Our government consists of humans, therefore imperfect, therefore will also be wrong sometime(s). Our ability to renounce our citizenship doesn’t imply that the government can’t be wrong. Is that the point or am I still missing it?

  218. 218 218 Todd

    Greg MN,

    You stated early on in this thread: “First, I thought we already established that people aren’t forced to do anything. If you don’t like the deal one country offers, you are free to choose from a market of other countries in which to live and become a citizen…My advice, though unsolicited, is to abandon the whole “barrel of a gun” argument because it is nonsense and therefore unpersuasive.”

    If you can now see that this earlier statement is thoroughly invalidated by the concession that you just made, then we are in agreement.

  219. 219 219 Greg MN

    @Todd

    Sorry, I don’t see anywhere in the paragraph you quoted where I say your ability to leave means the government can’t be wrong. Perhaps you missed the several times I wrote about markets and governments being imperfect and about correcting government wrongs by petitioning the court, voting, and lobbying fellow citizens.

    This was my first post:

    Ken said “Abdul cannot force anyone to work for him. All of his workers voluntarily work for him. The government, by its very nature, uses force to enforce its rules.”

    I agree an employer cannot force anyone to be an employee, but the government cannot force anyone to be a citizen, can it? People have choices regarding employment and they have choices regarding citizenship and places to live.

    I inferred Ken was suggesting the government is significantly different from the employer, and I disagreed. The employer cannot force someone to be an employee and it is equally true the government cannot force you to be a citizen. If you choose to become an employee, the employer is going to enforce the employer’s rules. If you choose to become/remain a citizen, the government is going to enforce the government’s rules. I don’t see the difference and it doesn’t say anything about whether any of the employer’s rules or the government’s rules are wrong.

  220. 220 220 Ken B

    I know it’s crazy to wade in here but …

    “I agree an employer cannot force anyone to be an employee, but the government cannot force anyone to be a citizen, can it?”

    Actually it can. Look under Berlin Wall. It can do more; it can force you to be an employee. Look under salvery, gulag, or Auschwitz.

    Even the *American* government can force you to remain a citizen
    as any inmate serving a life sentence knows well.

  221. 221 221 Iceman

    @GregMN:

    The very definition of govt is a legal monopoly on force. That alone doesn’t make it good or bad (depends on what it’s used for), it just is. I don’t know why you’re so determined to deny there’s any force involved; maybe otherwise you’d be less willing to sim

  222. 222 222 Iceman

    (oops)…simply trust things to be wise etc. Saying “you can leave” means the govt has the power to force you to obey a law or else force you to leave. The residency argument (that not leaving establishes consent, not just fear of force) just begs the question where the power to make you leave comes from — the fact that you haven’t left? I thInk you’re actually making a good argument for limited federal power — much easier to move states than countries. And c’mon, it’s way easier to change jobs.

    Look, we both want a system that’s based on respect for the legitimacy of our laws and not just threat of force. I think we may actually agree the answer involves a govt that doesn’t become too intrusive. Your scenario where everyone agrees to ‘be mature’ and go along because sometimes things go the way you prefer and sometimes the way I prefer but nobody gets too screwed sounds just fine — and seems to reflect a fairly limited govt with decent protections on individual liberty. It will stop being based on legitimacy when some feel they’re getting screwed, either systematically or through an especially egregious overreach. For example I’d predict if your house suddenly got seized by eminent domain simply so the govt could increase the tax base you’d lose some faith in the process.

  223. 223 223 Greg MN

    @iceman

    I agree whether government force is good or bad depends on how it used. However, I don’t feel determined to deny there is any force involved. I think the government should enforce the law, using force when necessary and appropriate. My objections to the term “force” were the result of my inferring people meant that they didn’t have any choice and/or didn’t have any recourse. Perhaps I inferred incorrectly.

    I also don’t “simply trust things to be wise”. I believe at one point I said I hoped HHS would make policy wisely. I write to my elected representatives when I feel something is wrong. For example, regarding health care, I’ve expressed my opinion to my elected officials that adding requirements to employers was going in the wrong direction.

    Yes, changing jobs, states, and countries is progressively less trivial. My only point here was the government wasn’t purposefully making it burdensome in an effort to prevent anyone from leaving. It is just the nature of the task that is burdensome.

    Yes, limited government; not too intrusive. Though this discussion suggests there is limited agreement on what that means.

    I didn’t understand your comment that the residency argument just begs the question where the power to make you leave comes from — the fact that you haven’t left? Who has the power to make you leave? I’ve only discussed having the option to leave, not that anyone was being forced to leave.

  224. 224 224 Todd

    Greg MN,

    I am baffled that you don’t see the contradiction in what you have said previously versus the concession you made about Tom’s (the state’s) actions.

    I haven’t the energy to spell it out now, though. Perhaps Monday, online discussion is more appealing when I’m supposed to be doing work.

  225. 225 225 Iceman

    @GregMN:

    Enjoying the discussion, but I think we’re getting hung up on semantics over “force”. Assuming you don’t want to go to jail, your options are to obey law X or leave the country. You call that a choice. Some would call it an ultimatum.

    The residency thing prob seems like an abstract point (which I’m struggling to explain well) but too many people here have said “you’re free to leave”. Implied consent is an attempt to establish moral legitimacy. But to infer consent from an action requires there exist a feasible alternative way to express lack of consent. Saying “you can leave so the fact you stay means you agree to i.e. accept the legitimacy of all our laws (which I agree is different from ‘agree with’ every single law). Setting aside whether that’s an overly burdensome test (I think it is), framing it that way excludes the possibility of me staying and not consenting in any other way. You’ve again constructed it to give me a single option. That’s tantamount to assuming the right to make me leave if I won’t grant such consent. Which just begs how I consented to that arrangement.

    I’m glad to see the bottom line is we both believe legitimate govt power has to be constrained in some way. I just note that’s a far cry from saying the sheep and wolves can both lobby and vote. Maybe it comes down to judicial enforcement of your checks and balances (i.e. yes enforcing the Constitution).

  226. 226 226 Greg MN

    @iceman

    I too am enjoying the conversation and agree we are getting hung up on semantics and perhaps context. I did not intend it to be a snippy or absolutist “love it or leave it” comment. The context in which I brought it up was simply relative to employment. If you’re an employee and you don’t wish to be fired, you obey the employer’s rules or quit. Is this a choice or an ultimatum? Is this an unfair comparison because changing jobs is easier than changing citizenship?

    I’m curious though, why are you continuing to omit the option to change the bad law? I think we’re obligated to obey the law while it exists or face the consequences, but the process for holding lawmakers accountable makes it feel like less of an ultimatum to me. If the argument is citizens no longer feel a viable process exists, then that is an important, but different issue.

    You may find this interesting because almost certainly you couldn’t have known your preceding eminent domain reference is relevant for me. The parents of a friend of mine had their property taken via eminent domain in order to develop office buildings. Others and I argued against it, but our view did not prevail. I remain convinced it was wrong.

  227. 227 227 Greg MN

    @Todd

    I sympathize with you because I’m equally baffled you thought I was implying the government can’t be wrong. I certainly didn’t explicitly say such a thing and I don’t understand how you infer it from the snippet you referenced. Can you explain?

    Hopefully you will agree the following is a simplified, but reasonably accurate description of our political process.

    1.) Voters elect representatives.
    2.) Representatives, constrained by the constitution, make rules and appoint or hire others to make, implement, and enforce rules.
    3.) Voters hold representatives accountable by a variety of methods, including voting (looping back to step one), lobbying fellow citizens and rule makers, petitioning the court, running for political office, and proposing a constitutional amendment.

    I think you and Ken are saying something is going wrong in step 2 because our representatives are making rules that violate the constitution. My point is step 3 is designed to correct these situations and if failures in step 2 are numerous, persistent, and/or egregious, then step 3 is failing. Agree so far? Rather than debate individual cases on which we disagree (because each case might deserve its own separate post by Steve L), I asked two questions:
    Who decides which rules are wrong/unconstitutional? Currently the judicial branch fulfills this role. I don’t have any better ideas, do you?How do we alter the process in order to reduce the errors in step 2? For example, some believed large campaign contributions were causing representatives to error and proposed campaign finance laws. Others considered the campaign finance laws to be unconstitutional and petitioned the court for resolution. What would you propose?

    Moving on…You’ve said:

    The only tool available to government, and the purpose of its existence, is violent coercion. Every law, every tax, every regulation is ultimately backed by “do this or we’ll shoot you.” This, in my view, is morally equivalent to spousal abuse and mafia extortion.

    Again, the “do this or we’ll shoot you” is overly dramatic in my humble opinion. If you break the law, the government might sternly remind you, fine you, arrest you, incarcerate you, or something, but rarely will the government shoot you. But, whatever.

    You’ve also said:

    If coercive force is wrong, it is always wrong–even for the powers enumerated in the constitution[emphasis mine]

    Based on these comment snippets, I’m further baffled by what form of federal government, if any, you desire. Should the federal government exist at all? Should it make any laws? If so, should the laws be enforced? If so, how?

    I’m leaving for a cruise tomorrow (Monday) morning. I may not have a chance to respond to further posts.

  228. 228 228 Greg MN

    @iceman continued

    Regarding consent, a person is given citizenship upon birth and clearly a newborn cannot explicitly accept it and consent. Therefore, it is implied consent by either the newborn or perhaps the guardian. You said implied consent is an attempt to establish moral legitimacy. I don’t see it that way at all. I think it is simply a pragmatic way to proceed. If implied consent is a problem, what would be a practical alternative? Shall we withhold citizenship until each person explicitly consents? Should the implied consent and citizenship expire at age 18 at which point each person must explicitly consent to maintain/re-aquire citizenship? Should we grant citizenship without any expectations and responsibilities? I consider each of these alternatives to be worse than the current process, so I vote no, no, and no.

  229. 229 229 Ken B

    GregMN:
    “Therefore, it is implied consent by either the newborn or perhaps the guardian. You said implied consent is an attempt to establish moral legitimacy. I don’t see it that way at all. I think it is simply a pragmatic way to proceed.”

    It *is* a way to proceed but labelling as ‘consent’ is a dodge, a rhetorical trick, to claim moral legitimacy. “Look ma, no coercion, they consent! It’s implied!” Ridiculous. As you note “a newborn cannot … consent.” So it is better to not pretend there is consent here at all.

    This highlights a flaw in strict libertarianism. You have to do something about children, and they often cannot consent, and when they do you often need to overrule them anyway.

  230. 230 230 Greg MN

    @Ken B

    I don’t understand the practical significance of your comment. You said So it is better to not pretend there is consent here at all. Why would it be better? What would be different?

  231. 231 231 Ken B

    @Greg MN: Truth in advertising. Saying you have someone’s ‘implied consent’ when in fact all you have is your own wish is a bogus claim to legitimacy. It’s purpsoe is to deceive. If you want me to defend why being truthful and honest is a good thing …

  232. 232 232 Todd

    Greg MN,

    I did not take your statement to mean that the government can never be wrong.

    Would you say that Jane isn’t really forced to obey Tom because she can always leave? That complaints about Tom’s “barrel of a gun” enforcement are nonsense?

    You said that we aren’t forced to do anything because we can always leave, thus the “barrel of a gun” argument is nonsense. What I am saying is that, unless you would apply this same logic to Tom in the marriage illustration, it doesn’t apply to the state either.

    I think your statement that “Our government consists of humans, therefore imperfect, therefore will also be wrong sometime(s)” indicates that you don’t fully understand what I’m saying. Going back to the illustration, would you say that Tom is “imperfect and will be wrong sometimes?” Perhaps you would put it that way, but I think that is an understatement of the first degree. I would put it this way: Tom is always wrong in everything he demands of Jane because, even when his demands are truly good, they are always backed by a threat on Jane’s life.

    That’s why the “barrel of a gun” argument is anything but nonsense, regardless of consent. A wife may consent to being perpetually threatened by her husband, but that doesn’t make it right.

  233. 233 233 Ken B
  234. 234 234 Greg MN

    @Ken B

    And if everyone agreed with your position concerning implied consent, what would be different?

  235. 235 235 Greg MN

    @Todd

    Are you saying government having the power to enforce the law means government is always wrong in everything it demands from citizens?

  236. 236 236 Ken B

    “And if everyone agreed with [Ken B's] position concerning implied consent, what would be different?”

    I dunno. If everyone agreed with my position on god would they stop crediting god’s will and think more clearly? I cannot say for sure but I think it might help.

  237. 237 237 iceman

    Greg’s back! (Good now I don’t have to pretend I know wtf a Klein bottle is.) How was the cruise?

    “If implied consent is a problem, what would be a practical alternative?”

    Ensuring that our laws are respectable (or is that too ‘impractical’?). I’d define that as reasonably limited in scope by a *process* that preserves sufficient respect for individual rights. (Todd might go further.)

    “why are you continuing to omit the option to change the bad law?”

    I don’t dismiss it entirely, but I don’t generally expect the wolves to spare the sheep if they have the votes. Your “checks and balances” were supposed to mean more that that. Perhaps they would if everyone did in fact agree that implied consent was at best a useful myth at the time of the founding. The fact that you’ve seen an eminent domain abuse firsthand makes me that much more surprised you don’t.

    “If the argument is citizens no longer feel a viable process exists, then that is an important, but different issue.”

    That’s the whole issue I’m talking about. (E.g. what do the mechanics of granting citizenship matter if 51% of citizens can screw over the other 49% however they please?). Again, of course we’re “obligated to obey the law…or face the consequences.” The question is, do we do only obey for fear of the consequences? Or is it possible a system that’s reasonably self-restrained doesn’t always have to devolve into a pure power grab, but rather offer a chance that people may be able to obey, *out of respect*, particular laws with which they personally disagree?

    @ Ken B – a slight quibble: I don’t think it’s necessarily a “flaw”, just a reality to say a system based on voluntary exchange between consenting *adults* has to deal with the technical detail of how to establish an age of consent.

  238. 238 238 Greg MN

    Hi Iceman. I enjoyed the cruise and appreciate the welcome back. I also enjoyed and can relate to your comment about a Klein bottle.

    I agree our laws should be respectable and preserve sufficient respect for individual rights. Further, I think that was the intent when the government was designed and the constitution was written. Sadly, and I think you will agree (and perhaps Todd and Ken sans initial won’t), there isn’t a bright, shining line dividing sufficient and insufficient respect on the spectrum of collectivism versus individualism. So, while we agree in principle, the two of us, (let alone 300 million citizens) are unlikely to draw the line in the same place.

    You asked if it is possible to design a system that is reasonably self-restrained and doesn’t devolve into a pure power grab. I don’t know if it is possible. I think any system which relies on individual politician self-restraint is likely to fail. Our current system seems pretty well designed in theory, so why in practice is it devolving into something we dislike? How is it Congress can have dismal approval ratings, yet incumbents are routinely re-elected at a high rate? If our elected officials are a bunch of power grabbing, selfish fools, why do we keep electing them? Are citizens stupid, too busy to understand, apathetic, selfish, and/or ?? Our relatively low level of voter turnout seems to suggest a fair amount of apathy. Should we increase legislator pay in order to attract higher quality candidates? I doubt it.

    You mentioned the 51% can screw the other 49%. Should we change the system such that all legislation requires a supermajority rather than a simple majority? I’m receptive to something like that. On one hand, it would likely be more difficult to pass new laws, but also more difficult to repeal existing laws. Would having a stronger third party be of value?

    Apparently I have more questions than answers.

  239. 239 239 Will A

    @ GregMN:

    My elected officials (Jerry Brown, Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein) aren’t a bunch of power grabbing, selfish fools, it is everyone else’s elected officials who are.

    Congressional approval ratings are down because congress doesn’t follow the will of the people.

    80% (a super majority) of this country wants to either raise taxes on the wealthy or lower the taxes on the wealthy, and yet congress doesn’t do what the super majority wants and both raise and lower taxes on the wealthy.

    This is why I’m in favor of term limits.

  240. 240 240 Ken B

    ” yet congress doesn’t do what the super majority wants and both raise and lower taxes on the wealthy.”

    Actually I don’t think this is factually correct WillA, and misses an important point. Congress does raise the taxes on SOME of the wealthy and does lower taxes on SOME OTHERS of the wealthy at the same time. This is why people spend so much on politicians: to be part of the some others, not the some.

  241. 241 241 iceman

    GregMN: Fair questions, I have opinions:

    - Restricting the scope of what we’re *allowed* to vote on was the purpose of enumerated powers (a pretty bright line?), and would neatly resolve all issues of campaign finance (as Ken B alludes).
    - Supermajority voting isn’t much better in principle if it just means 70% take from the 30, or 90 from 10, or 99 from 1, just because they can.
    - Because lawmakers aren’t fools, we should expect them to push populist or special interest BS. Judges are supposed to be the last line of defense, and we devolve when they acquiesce to “living” reinterpretation of the written words. [I recommend a book called “The Dirty Dozen” here.]
    - Rational ignorance explains voter apathy, re-election of incumbents etc., and is an excellent argument in itself for limited govt.
    - If anything I think I’d prefer we *decrease* legislator pay, to ensure they come to serve temporarily and return (there’s that original intent again). But of course I don’t really want them to become too “good” at legislating. Term limits would be great, but good luck getting that amendment passed.
    - To me 3rd parties fail simply due to the game theory of it all. Maybe a different format like ranked voting would tweak that, but again at the end of the day I care not about how they win but what they’re allowed to do.

  242. 242 242 Todd

    Greg MN: “Are you saying government having the power to enforce the law means government is always wrong in everything it demands from citizens?”

    This is essentially what I am saying.

    I consider government to be immoral in exactly the same way that I consider Tom to be immoral; I see no meaningful difference. I very much welcome any attempt to justify government which does not also justify Tom, whom we have agreed to be evil.

    Now, one might (very reasonably) make the argument that government maximizes utility, or point out that it is not reasonably possible to eliminate government. I concede the latter and not the former, but that is an entirely different discussion. Whether or not government is necessary to maximize over all utility is a discussion worth having, but I am here talking about universal principles.

    As I see it, government is inherently immoral to the extent that it uses coercive force. Even if we generally agree that it is necessary (I personally do not), I think it is best that we all recognize it as evil (necessary or not). This recognition, I believe, would make us all more hesitant to increase its power.

  243. 243 243 Greg MN

    Iceman, I understand your points and I have already ordered The Dirty Dozen. Restricting the scope of government is a worthy cause, but I’m still left feeling unsatisfied that we’ve uncovered a means to achieve it.

    Thanks for teaching me a new term, rational ignorance. And on that note, I’m succumbing to rational ignorance regarding this blog and will unsubscribe. Klein bottles are easy for me to ignore because I have little interest and opinion on the subject. However, in Steven’s latest Frankly Speaking post, I feel he and other commenters have either misunderstood or are misrepresenting Frank’s article. It is difficult to ignore, but I don’t have time to engage in more discussions. I’m feeling like the guy in the cartoon Steven re-posted where the dialog between spouses is “Are you coming to bed?”; “I can’t this is important.”; “What”; “Someone is wrong on the internet.”

    I’ve enjoyed the discussion with you and wish you well.

  244. 244 244 Greg MN

    Todd, although I remain in disagreement, I’m relieved I finally understand what you’re saying. Following are three primary differences between Tom and the government.

    1.) There isn’t any agreement between Tom and Jane which grants Tom the power to abuse Jane. Whereas, the constitution is an agreement whereby citizens granted to the government permission to do certain things.

    2.) Jane’s attempt to report Tom’s behavior will likely anger Tom and might result in more abuse and more serious abuse. Whereas citizens are considerably more free to speak out against the government without retribution.

    3.) Jane’s suggestion or attempt to dissolve the marriage will likely anger Tom and might result in more abuse and more serious abuse. Whereas, renouncing citizenship is likely to be granted in a peaceful fashion, again, without retribution.

    I reject the theory that force is inherently evil. It would not be evil for the government to use it’s enforcement power to arrest and incarcerate Tom. Perhaps you view enforcement in this manner as a lesser and/or necessary evil, but evil nonetheless.

    I’m curious how far you extend the “power to enforce rules means the enforcer is always wrong in its demands” theory. Are all employers evil because they impose rules on employees and enforce those rules by firing violators? Are all parents evil because they impose rules on their children and enforce those rules via unpleasant consequences?

  245. 245 245 Todd

    Greg MN,

    Your second and third differences are entirely irrelevant. You could also have said “Tom would not likely threaten his wife (as most husbands do not) so the analogy is invalid” but this misses the point of what an analogy is. Speculating about what Tom would likely do distracts from my point, which is this: if Tom behaves exactly as the government does in every relevant way, his actions are evil. So it is with government.

    As to the first, I thought we had worked through this. I have not made any such agreement with the state, nor have most of the people in the country, as we were born here. I cannot have consented to an agreement made over 200 years ago, and I would not consent to it now if I had a better alternative. The fact that I do not have a better alternative does not excuse state violence any more than Tom could be excused for his abuse if other husbands were even more abusive.

    I was wrong to consent to the phrasing of your statement, “power to enforce rules means the enforcer is always wrong in its demands.” All I’m saying is that it is wrong to use violence against those who have hurt nobody–period. I’m not saying violence is always wrong and we should just lay down and allow evil people to harm and steal from us, but I am saying that it is wrong for the state (or anyone) to use violence against those who have hurt no one. Is that such a hard concept to endorse?

    You (apparently) support a system in which I could be killed for driving 80 mph in a 70 mph zone, and you are happy to give the state a monopoly on violent force to make this happen. I find this repulsive.

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