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Healthcare Through Force

I should probably stay away from this altogether, and in view of that, I’ll endeavor to make this brief, to the point. Since this is a health and fitness blog and we tend to have our own ideas about "reform" (like: eat real food; and the fact that’s not even materially in the debate ought to be a big clue right there), feel free to raise your own issues in comments.

So, I’ve been stewing about it a bit since reading this op-ed from Michael Pollan sent by friend and reader Kathleen:

Big Food vs. Big Insurance

Let’s cut to the chase.

As for the insurers, you would think preventing chronic diseases would be good business, but, at least under the current rules, it’s much better business simply to keep patients at risk for chronic disease out of your pool of customers, whether through lifetime caps on coverage or rules against pre-existing conditions or by figuring out ways to toss patients overboard when they become ill.

But these rules may well be about to change — and, when it comes to reforming the American diet and food system, that step alone could be a game changer. Even under the weaker versions of health care reform now on offer, health insurers would be required to take everyone at the same rates, provide a standard level of coverage and keep people on their rolls regardless of their health. Terms like “pre-existing conditions” and “underwriting” would vanish from the health insurance rulebook — and, when they do, the relationship between the health insurance industry and the food industry will undergo a sea change.

The moment these new rules take effect, health insurance companies will promptly discover they have a powerful interest in reducing rates of obesity and chronic diseases linked to diet. A patient with Type 2 diabetes incurs additional health care costs of more than $6,600 a year; over a lifetime, that can come to more than $400,000. Insurers will quickly figure out that every case of Type 2 diabetes they can prevent adds $400,000 to their bottom line. Suddenly, every can of soda or Happy Meal or chicken nugget on a school lunch menu will look like a threat to future profits.

When health insurers can no longer evade much of the cost of treating the collateral damage of the American diet, the movement to reform the food system — everything from farm policy to food marketing and school lunches — will acquire a powerful and wealthy ally, something it hasn’t really ever had before.

So, think it’ll work? Let’s just say I’m skeptical: all mega-corporations (which I consider a branch of the state: they exist by state statute and are protected by statute) will do whatever it is that brings them the most revenue at least cost because officers, directors & owners are shielded from liability. If Pollan’s logic, above, turns out to be that which accomplishes that objective, then it might work. Otherwise, it will just be more and more money out of your pocket.

But let me be generous and pretend that Pollan’s scheme is sure to work. Well, guess what? I don’t care.

You see, I have this irritating instinct. When someone asserts that something is sure or likely to work, I have an automatic response: work for whom, and at whose expense? And with striking — I jest: it’s not at all striking — regularity, institutions and programs of state are designed to "work" for those who aren’t bearing the expense. It’s kinda the point, right? After all, if everyone was bearing their own expenses, with resort only to friends, family, church and community charity…ah, never mind. …That would never "work."

But what of the "right" to health care? There can logically be no such thing as a right to goods and services produced by others. We used to have a word for it: slavery.

Sorry; call me overly principled, old-fashioned, or something. I’m just not pragmatic enough. After all, how would the Pyramids have been built? And how about the agrarian Southern United States, circa 1800? I could go on all day, y’know? There’s just no end to folklore about how great the state is when they "make the trains run on time." But I know…this is just too important not to have a final solution. After all, final solutions typically "work" for somebody.

So what’s my plan, you ask? I don’t have one. I might suggest genuine freedom and real free markets — since that’s never beed tried — but, you know…"that would never work."

I’ll end with a modest plea. I’m happy to shut up if we can simply call it what it is, and I’ll offer a suggestion: a complex protection racket funded by extortion. And it just might "work." Anyone got anything better?

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

133 Comments

  1. brian0918 on September 14, 2009 at 18:12

    Oh my, you're not going to win any friends with this comment… except for myself. 🙂 Excellent post!

  2. jon_w on September 14, 2009 at 18:29

    “a complex protection racket funded by extortion”

    sounds like the government

    • Richard Nikoley on September 14, 2009 at 19:10

      That obvious, eh?



    • chriskp on September 15, 2009 at 08:17

      So we should abolish the armed forces, police, public health care, Medicare, Social Security, libraries, public schools?

      The incredible meanness, selfishness, and idiocy of this view is breathtaking. The human species evolved through cooperation and working for the greater good. Yet we have a sector of our society that worships greed and hyper-individuality over cooperation. How anyone with even a modicum of intellect or honesty could think this way is beyond the understanding of most educated people.



    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2009 at 11:08

      “There can logically be no such thing as a right to goods and services produced by others.”

      Make your case.

      And by the way, enough with the hyperbolic bla bla. Just because someone is opposed to theft doesn't mean they are opposed to charity, cooperation, or even community.

      “working for the greater good.”

      Whose greater good? It's certainly not mine — I get to decide what's “good” for me, see?



    • chriskp on September 15, 2009 at 12:40

      So you can't even get beyond the notion that the greater good is not always what is good for you personally! That, Sir, is called gross selfishness and despised in most advanced societies, and in primitive society come to think of it. It is the “Me, Me, Me” attitude of a poorly brought up toddler, but the toddler, at least, gets a smack on the butt for it.



    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2009 at 12:54

      Greater good to whom?

      Oh, I get it? It's only greater if it _excludes_ ME? So long as it's “GREATER” than me, it's “GOOD.”

      Oh, yea, that scam. It's just repackaged original sin. Let's see:

      http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/original_sin….

      Your code begins by damning man as evil, then demands that he practice a good which it defines as impossible for him to practice. It demands, as his first proof of virtue, that he accept his own depravity without proof. It demands that he start, not with a standard of value, but with a standard of evil, which is himself, by means of which he is then to define the good: the good is that which he is not.

      It does not matter who then becomes the profiteer on his renounced glory and tormented soul, a mystic God with some incomprehensible design or any passer-by whose rotting sores are held as some inexplicable claim upon him—it does not matter, the good is not for him to understand, his duty is to crawl through years of penance, atoning for the guilt of his existence to any stray collector of unintelligible debts, his only concept of a value is a zero: the good is that which is non-man.

      The name of this monstrous absurdity is Original Sin.

      A sin without volition is a slap at morality and an insolent contradiction in terms: that which is outside the possibility of choice is outside the province of morality. If man is evil by birth, he has no will, no power to change it; if he has no will, he can be neither good nor evil; a robot is amoral. To hold, as man’s sin, a fact not open to his choice is a mockery of morality. To hold man’s nature as his sin is a mockery of nature. To punish him for a crime he committed before he was born is a mockery of justice. To hold him guilty in a matter where no innocence exists is a mockery of reason. To destroy morality, nature, justice and reason by means of a single concept is a feat of evil hardly to be matched. Yet that is the root of your code.

      Do not hide behind the cowardly evasion that man is born with free will, but with a “tendency” to evil. A free will saddled with a tendency is like a game with loaded dice. It forces man to struggle through the effort of playing, to bear responsibility and pay for the game, but the decision is weighted in favor of a tendency that he had no power to escape. If the tendency is of his choice, he cannot possess it at birth; if it is not of his choice, his will is not free.

      What is the nature of the guilt that your teachers call his Original Sin? What are the evils man acquired when he fell from a state they consider perfection? Their myth declares that he ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge—he acquired a mind and became a rational being. It was the knowledge of good and evil—he became a moral being. He was sentenced to earn his bread by his labor—he became a productive being. He was sentenced to experience desire—he acquired the capacity of sexual enjoyment. The evils for which they damn him are reason, morality, creativeness, joy—all the cardinal values of his existence. It is not his vices that their myth of man’s fall is designed to explain and condemn, it is not his errors that they hold as his guilt, but the essence of his nature as man. Whatever he was—that robot in the Garden of Eden, who existed without mind, without values, without labor, without love —he was not man.

      Man’s fall, according to your teachers, was that he gained the virtues required to live. These virtues, by their standard, are his Sin. His evil, they charge, is that he’s man. His guilt, they charge, is that he lives.

      They call it a morality of mercy and a doctrine of love for man.

      –Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

      What to know something else? Selfishness is a cardinal virtue. See this comment, and my response.

      ttp://freetheanimal.com/2009/09/healthcare-through-force.html?dsq=16634912#comment-16626386

      You might do well to try and understad the apparent contradiction as well.



    • chriskp on September 15, 2009 at 13:22

      You are quoting Ayn Rand? Come on, that's the neo con version of Kum Ba Yah, pseudo-intellectual fluff for the gullible tools of big business. Objectivism was rejected by most thinking men decades ago.

      If you live in a society you are forced to do things, Join the army in time of war, go to jail if you commit a crime, pay taxes, and contribute to a health care plan. That is called contributing to the common good. That's the way most people in the world, and even most people in the USA, want it.

      Ayn Rand? Seriously?



    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2009 at 13:39

      chriskp:

      Listen, this is the third time I have asked you questions and you have evaded direct answers.

      You apparently have no sense of exchange, healthy, voluntary give & take and have merely wasted my time for your own agenda.

      That's probably because you can only conceive of operating through force, and if not directly, through agents.



    • Matthew on September 15, 2009 at 16:28

      “So we should abolish the armed forces, police, public health care, Medicare, Social Security, libraries, public schools?”

      These are all separate entities and should treated as such. Of all the basic principles of government, health care fits under none of them. (Neither do Medicare nor social security, but that's not the argument).

      Beyond that you are not even making an argument, you are just insulting Richard. No matter how many different ways you call him base, an argument still must rest on premises.



    • Michael on September 15, 2009 at 19:31

      So we should abolish the armed forces, police, public health care, Medicare, Social Security, libraries, public schools?

      I think the better question is this, “would the lack of extorting funds (and in the case of the armed forces, kidnapping able bodied young people) mean the demise of the armed forces, police, etc.?”

      The answer to that is no. For fun you might want to do a study on historical armies. You might be surprised how many of the great “heroes” of the past were leading voluntary groups of men. Or do a study on the history of public schools versus private schools, the second option which has always existed and out performed the public option since ancient times. Yes the debate goes back that far. Or privately owned libraries (and modern ones that are funded by user fees). Yes they do exist. Or private police departments (yes they exist also and some municipalities have tried to outlaw them because they are more effective than their donut eating tax consuming colleagues). “Abolish” is just hyperbole on your part. These institutions have and will continue to exist absence your approval of extortion albeit probably in a manner different than to what you are accustomed.

      The incredible meanness, selfishness, and idiocy of this view is breathtaking.

      What is breathtaking in my opinion is your willingness to vociferously pontificate about something where you seem to lack the requisite knowledge.

      The human species evolved through cooperation and working for the greater good. Yet we have a sector of our society that worships greed and hyper-individuality over cooperation. How anyone with even a modicum of intellect or honesty could think this way is beyond the understanding of most educated people.

      Brushing over the hysterical insults, isn't that what they say about people who reject the cholesterol heart disease connection. 🙂



    • Chaohinon on September 17, 2009 at 13:06

      Given that all of those things are rooted in the use of violent coercion, yes, abolish them.

      Call things by their proper names. Violence is violence.



  3. Stan Bleszynski on September 14, 2009 at 18:46

    I share you sentiments. If health insurers saw more profit by keeping people away from food that causes diabetes, cancer and heart disease then they would have done it long time ago, with doctor's “opinions” or without. They employ thousands of people professionally trained and paid to calculate relations between market, profit and diseases. It's called marketing. I am quite sure that their models have worked out that the max profit is when you get most of the population chronically sick but not deathly sich so that they can still work and pay their dues. Diabetes is probably a “perfect” disease in that respect.

    My biggest revulsion is against the idea of health insurance itself, like against any scheme based on taking money from somebody and giving it to another. Perhaps I am too fresh after reading Ayn Rand…
    8-:)

    Regards
    Stan (Heretic)
    (Stan Bleszynski)

    • Richard Nikoley on September 14, 2009 at 19:11

      There you go, spilling the beans with THAT woman.



    • Robert Nasir on September 14, 2009 at 19:35

      Stan says, “Perhaps I am too fresh after reading Ayn Rand.”

      Then I must be pretty damn stale … I've been reading her for years.

      Kudos re: your original post, Richard, and your reply, Stan … whatever you think of “that woman”!

      Thanks for your site … and insights.



  4. Eric Gmutza on September 14, 2009 at 19:15

    Love it!

    “The wisest man in the world, with the purest integrity, cannot find a criterion for the just, equitable, rational application of an unjust, inequitable, irrational principle.”

    – Ayn Rand

  5. Mike Gruber on September 14, 2009 at 19:28

    Pollan could be right, and I think that's a bad thing. The insurance companies will use their political muscle in an attempt to **force** us to be healthy… just like they did with mandatory helmet laws on motorcycles. I don't ride a motorcycle, and I don't want to. But somebody who rides a bike should have the right to do so without a helmet, if they're dumb enough. As of now they can't, because the insurance companies drove helmet laws to limit their losses. Seat belt laws are more of the same. I *always* wear mine and always have, but it's none of the government's business in my opinion to be writing laws about it. Personal freedom should include the freedom to be stupid.

    I could see the same thing happening to diet if they think it would limit their losses… and even worse, what if they decide that more CW is what we need? Maybe there'd be a 20% tax on ribeye steaks to save us from artery-clogging saturated fat. That would SUCK.

    So there are two dangers here. One danger is that we'd all lose more individual freedoms in order to protect the profits of the corporations who own Congress. The other danger is that the idiots in charge would come to the wrong conclusions about what the correct dietary solution is, and then force THAT down our throats.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 14, 2009 at 19:43

      I think the largest danger is the average person losing any and all
      sense of reality – through the language, or other media.

      That's the most fundamental thing I see all BIG powers endeavoring to
      accomplish.

      Heh. Control of taxation, legislation, and markets. Feh. That's
      nuthin'. Now, influence to virtuality of control of minds?

      Now we're talkin'



    • stanbleszynski on September 16, 2009 at 20:39

      Re: “I think the largest danger is the average person losing any and all
      sense of reality – through the language, or other media. That's the most fundamental thing I see all BIG powers endeavoring to
      accomplish.”

      Now you are talking! 8-:)

      I think this is the most powerful insight out of this fascinating discussion!

      I have lived half of my life todate, the first 27 years in the Eastern European communism, under the system of government that was more determined to control the thoughts and ideas in our heads than our actions. To our populist debaters I have this to say: I have seen your “progressive future” – and it doesn't work! I hope your country won't go that way. Stop helping the looters. 8-:)



    • JabbaJaw on September 27, 2009 at 09:49

      Excuse me for telling you but the communism, the theoretical ideas behind the communism to be mroe exactly are not about mind control, but about equalizing masses and I did live in communism as well. When I make a comparisson between now and then, well, today is a lot worse:)) Communism offered housing for people and when you finished college(which was free by the way) you had a job no matter what and the pay check was enough to live a decent life. Nowadays people struggle to buy food so they can see the sun rise the very next day. Do you think that's a nice world we live in? I would prefer communism everyday against capitalism.
      _________________________________
      Canada Drug



    • Richard Nikoley on September 27, 2009 at 12:44

      Communism offered housing for people…

      Let's get the facts straight. Communism offers to steal the property and productive achievements of its slave subjects, support a ruling Nomenclatura with it, and through a few meager scraps to those same slaves in order to lull them into submission and the contentment of your average farm animal being prepped for slaughter.

      I would prefer communism everyday against capitalism.

      I would prefer freedom.



  6. Ed H. on September 14, 2009 at 19:58

    Statists always assume that more government involvement will make things better. However, it's the massive funding of scientific research by the government that has distorted science and created current CW (for example, the “cholesterol hypothesis”). I am heartened by the outpouring of libertarian sentiment in response to Richard's post.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2009 at 11:15

      Well, Ed, that outpouring wasn't bound to last long if you've read a few more of the comments.

      But it is instructive how easy it is for people to see the primal way in terms of diet and movement, but not in terms of social structures we evolved to handle. We evolved to account for the actions and _values_ of about 30 people, where our contribution, ideas, and efforts were integral to the group. And, we could move on if we wanted.

      Modern force-backed society is more toxic than wheat and HFCS, in my view. But, at this point, I'm satisfied enough in simply making clear identifications and distinctions (like: theft is theft regardless of edifice, office, flowing robes or fancy hats.



  7. Katelyn on September 14, 2009 at 20:09

    I love libertarian meat eaters :). Keep it up, Richard.

  8. Mark on September 15, 2009 at 09:05

    Somehow I knew the US congress would get to the “don't fundamentally change the system except to make it mandatory”. Line up for your required flu jabs and statins sonny boy – oh and write a big cheque for the privilege. And perhaps those medical insurance companies are too big to fail!

    Americans are clearly brainwashed. Not that there is a (big) grain of truth to the argument that the US government cannot be trusted to have the best interests of its citizens in mind when enabling new legislation. Public Law 88-408 anyone?

    But using the media to cause US citizens to embrace positions that fundamentally contradict their own self-interest is an old process. Perhaps a quick and easy way into seeing what has been going on for oh so long would be to watch this documentary: .

    You can see it here:

    The process outlined in the above documentary explains for me TV coverage of Social Security and Medicare recipients foaming at the mouth against government run health care – a bizarre and contradictory position to be sure.

    Look, just turn the question around. If you were broke and sick, wouldn't you want your government to ensure your care? Because, let's face it, no corporation will give two s**ts at that point.

    Remember when you “woke up” to the fact that the Standard American Diet was literally a killer? Where did your former ideas about food come from? What else is in your head and where did it come from?

    If your position enables the rotten status quo then you've been co-opted and you don't even realize it! You can eat your Twinkie or eat your vegan fruit leather or eat your grass-fed raw bison, but you are still a peasant.

  9. Michael on September 14, 2009 at 19:18

    I'll end with a modest plea. I'm happy to shut up if we can simply call it what it is, and I'll offer a suggestion: a complex protection racket funded by extortion. And it just might “work.” Anyone got anything better?

    But isn't that what taxation always turns out to be, extortion? So short of genuine freedom and voluntary markets there isn't anything better. Everything else is just another way of enslaving some folks and dividing the booty.

    Excellent post!

    • Richard Nikoley on September 14, 2009 at 19:32

      Michael:

      You are pretty much correct, in my view.

      I'd hesitate to call theft “best” in any context, but otherwise, right
      on.

      My political battle has always been one of “semantics” over concepts
      or reality.

      So long as people can have a clear view of reality, I realize I van do
      no more to change anything.

      If the world couldn't wake up and change from a theft-based system to
      something free, then any opposition would be a fool's journey.

      I hope I'm not too naive in thinking they would dump it if they
      clearly only fully understood what it really was.



  10. Matt on September 14, 2009 at 21:47

    Richard,

    As one who would argue that government is just as antithetical to the primal/paleo lifeway as a loaf of bread, I love posts like these! And, judging by the comments, so do many others. So, please, keep 'em coming, and forget the reservations at the beginning of the post!

    Thanks for all your efforts.

    • dancinpete on September 14, 2009 at 22:41

      As a Canadian I've never really understood the american sentiment of individuality above all else. At what point do you draw the line between people working together for a common cause, and 'big brother' telling me what to do?
      If we were in a small Hunter Gathering group and the rest of the group wanted to hunt, but you wanted to gather, would you just leave the group and go off on your own, rather than give in to over regulation? What if we were in a small village and we needed a group project to deal with the sewage? Who organizes that? Would you help out? What if we were a group of villages who all drank from the same river, would we cooperate with each other and plan how to use the shared resources to all of our advantage, or just turn on each other and do whatever we please?

      If you're against some level of basic universal health care for everyone because you'd rather take care of yourself and let others take care of themselves, what about all the other things you're willing to be taxed for that don't necessarily benefit you directly? Roads, schools, libraries, police, fire departments, armed forces. Are you only willing to support the fire department when its your house burning? Or is it a good thing for the community as a whole to have a fire department around just in case they're needed?

      Honestly, I”m not trying to be contrarian here.. I would really like someone to help elucidate for me, this American mentality that you're all looking out for yourselves first, and don't really seem to care about each other.. because, from an outsiders point of view.. that's what this anti-health care attitude looks like.
      If you didn't 'Unite' together in order to help each other out, then why exactly are you 'United', why not just change your name to “A bunch of states of America” and be done with it?



    • mikemcginley on September 14, 2009 at 23:23

      Americans do not necessarily have a point of view of individuality above all else. In fact, many folks do believe in big government (although they may not admit it). How else do all these social programs come to be, if otherwise? It is true that many who visit this site are smart liberty minded folks who can think for themselves and don't want to be told what to do.

      To answer your questions about roads, schools, libraries, police and fire, etc,:

      1. the free market can provide those services better than government can
      2. most would be happy to pay for a service they use (this includes road, fire, police, schools, etc)
      3. If this massive government bureaucracy was only limited to the services you stated, I wouldn't be concerned at all. The fact is, the government is a massive part of the economy. It is involved in almost all transactions that we as individuals make. It makes us all poorer.

      You also state:

      “If you didn't 'Unite' together in order to help each other out, then why exactly are you 'United', why not just change your name to “A bunch of states of America” and be done with it?”

      It is interesting you say this because originally the Unites States were a bunch of states of America. It was a republic. The individual states considered themselves sovereign. We did not become a “united” group until Lincoln's war against state's rights.



    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2009 at 11:28

      My only quibble here, and I used to engage in it myself, is that libertarians often get themselves mired in imperatives:

      roads
      schools
      police
      fire departments
      defense

      And so on. I long ago realized that there indeed may not be a way to accomplish all these things without collective stealing. So, I never bother to try and satisfy the argument by demonstrating how it would “work” as good or better.

      One of the most corrosive ideas ever in the American psyche is the notion that “crime doesn't pay.” On the contrary, crime has been paying off handsomely for 10,000 years now, and it has built an entire civilization based on force and extortion.



    • shel on September 15, 2009 at 12:47

      ~Richard

      i don't think there is a thinking libertarian who actually believes that a stateless, constitutional society can exist. can you imagine the court system and costs? we would all be lawyers. it would be as practical as communism.

      the facts of life are conservative and airy platitudes of making society a better place are definitely social liberal ideals. libertarians and conservatives are brothers (sadly, not so much in Canada, where we're sometimes viewed as exotic dangerous animals), and the job of libertarians as i see it, is to push the envelope and ask our brothers, “does the state need to get involved with this or that issue?”.

      “One of the most corrosive ideas ever in the American psyche is the notion that “crime doesn't pay.” On the contrary, crime has been paying off handsomely for 10,000 years now, and it has built an entire civilization based on force and extortion”.

      yeah, that sucks. your Constitution was the closest the world's ever come during the Neolithic to cleaning up that mess (as much as possible). too bad the Republicrats and Demicans either ignored or vilified Ron Paul, the only guy to defend the Constitution and want to start rolling back the crimes commited to it… and it's even worse that the general public did the same.

      heh… i don't know if i enjoy these posts or not. my blood pressure goes through the f(:cking roof when i get into it and start to rant. it really isn't good for my health. that's why i haven't started my blog back up; no matter what i write about, it always gets back to politics (life IS politics, right?).

      how do you relax when you get into this stuff?

      i chew tinfoil. i have fillings, and the sensations really take my mind off politics. (:



    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2009 at 12:58

      Shel:

      It's kind of like a cheat meal. That's how I handle it. Infrequent enough and with the proper approach and subject, I'm fine.

      I've actually enjoyed this. Of course, my goal is clear and simple: can't we just call things what they really are?



    • paulherbert on September 15, 2009 at 16:08

      Ok I'm going to try one more time and then I'm going to leave it alone.

      Theft – to take (another person's property) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it

      Tax: a compulsory contribution to state revenue

      They are different things.

      If you agree to live in a society (and Richard unless you take yourself off to the woods and live off the land on your own that's exactly what you are doing), then you are also agreeing to live by the rules of that society. And if the rules say you have to make a contribution. Then because you have agreed to be part of the society you have agreed to make the contribution. Therefore the payment of tax is voluntary and so can not possibly be theft.

      If you left the country and lived on your own island somewhere and uncle sam turned up and took your stuff I'd agree that it was theft.

      You might not like all the rules, (if any), but because you stay in the society you are part of it. I have visited America on many occasions and I think that on the whole it is a very tolerant and unintrusive society compared to many.

      You made a point earlier about man being sited to groups of 30 or so. And this is true (I think). But here in Europe we have a very different persecutive and it comes I think from our recent history.

      74 years ago Europe was terrorised by a tyrant. It took the collective actions of entire nations to fight back. Everybody contributed – there was no other choice. And then afterwards people felt that because everyone had played a part in defeating the evil that threatened us all, then we should all share in the fruits of our freedom.

      I know you keep quoting this “There can logically be no such thing as a right to goods and services produced by others.” But look the situation is more complicated than that. In England most doctors are educated by the state, including medical school. The hospitals only still exist because our parents and grandparents fought for them (my grandfather would turn in his grave if he thought for one second I would be refused medical treatment in a country he fought for). So the doctors owe a debt to society, and yes having provided a safe place for them to grow up and having educated them for free, and then provided them with a very comfortable living – I think that most English people do feel they have a right for the doctor to treat them if they become ill.

      Yes private enterprise can do many things cheaper and more directly than the state can. But I've yet to see them do it with more compassion. Who would look after you in your old age if you found yourself alone (I know this won't happen to you, I've seen your wonderful family on your blog). But some people, don't marry, some people have mental health problems. Some people end up old alone and sick. Someone has to look after them.



    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2009 at 17:09

      Theft – to take (another person's property) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it

      Tax: a compulsory contribution to state revenue

      I wondered when I'd see that one, again. I once had a debate with a bunch of lawyers in USENET, circa 1995, where their contention was that though taxation is a _taking_, it's a legal one, and thus not theft under the law.

      And indeed it's not. It's moral theft. Surely you aren't going to argue that the concept of immoral theft or robbery didn't exist until the state encoded it into law (in which case we'd have to wonder how the concept occurred to them — or were they just concerned with limiting competition?)

      If you agree to live in a society (and Richard unless you take yourself off to the woods and live off the land on your own that's exactly what you are doing), then you are also agreeing to live by the rules of that society.

      Yea, I eventually always get “Spiro Agnewed” as well. Always spoken like you or other own the place.

      “If you agree to live in a society….” Do you not see? I have never agreed to anything. The act of being born submits you automatically to one thing: your nature. Society pounced on me.

      If you left the country and lived on your own island somewhere and uncle sam turned up and took your stuff I'd agree that it was theft.

      Ah, you must be ignorant of the US tax code which taxes citizens on worldwide income. Moreover, even renouncing of citizenship is no longer a way to escape. You are indentured from cradle to grave no matter where you live.

      …but because you stay in the society you are part of it.

      True, I am a part of the greater society just by staying. That doesn't make it morally right to assert dominion over me if I'm not violating the rights of anyone else, and it doesn't make it morally right to force me to pay for grand designs whether I want to or not.

      In England most doctors are educated by the state

      This should rightfully be the doctors' problem, not yours or anyone else's.

      Yes private enterprise can do many things cheaper and more directly than the state can.

      For the millionth time, this is not my argument. I don't care whether they do or not. Even if free markets always failed horribly at producing adequate goods and services (which I don't believe), I'd still be for freedom.

      My argument is for freedom, plain and simple, and failing that — a certainty — then I'll settle for just calling things what they are, as I've outlined.

      Who would look after you in your old age if you found yourself alone

      Ah, well this gets into an area I haven't even mentioned, but let me pose it like this: what sorts of lifelong familial, friend, and community relationships would people develop and nurture if there was no “safety net?”

      Again, that's not part of the argument (I'll take my chances” is the argument), but it's an interesting thing to ponder.

      At any rate, yea, we probably ought to get onto more productive things.



    • Michael on September 15, 2009 at 20:11

      libertarians and conservatives are brothers (sadly, not so much in Canada, where we're sometimes viewed as exotic dangerous animals), and the job of libertarians as i see it, is to push the envelope and ask our brothers, “does the state need to get involved with this or that issue?”.

      Huh? Come again? Brothers?

      No way. I am not a conservative. Nor am I the brother of anyone who thinks that theft is okay under certain small government circumstances. I might be able to cooperate strategically on certain issues but ideologically speaking we are worlds apart.

      I think the following blog post says it well (the names have been changed to protect the innocent):

      [So-and-So] has a friend that consistently labels him as a “NEOCON” even though he is a Voluntaryist (Anarchist): anti-war of agression, anti-drug war, anti-imperialist, anti-mercantilist, anti-religious bigotry, anti-racist, anti-sexist, and [he is] pro-personal responsibility and pro-Liberty. To me, this is all antithetical to being a “NEOCON”! But [he] just cannot disabuse her of the notion.

      All one can do is shake his head. When callers-in to Bob Higgs’s wonderful interview on Book TV kept implying that he was a proponent of not only war, big government, the starvation of the poor, and slavery, but also, dogs and cats sleeping together, it shocked me. (To his immense credit, Bob just kept pointing out that his positions promoted peace, freedom, and personal responsibility!) Maybe after years of indoctrination and voting for bogus choices, people can’t recognize a difference? The mind reels.

      With all due respect to conservatives, right-wingers, Neocons, etc. who might be fans of my modest musings, allow me to quote Frank Chodorov, “Anyone who calls me a conservative gets a punch in the nose.”

      And just for the record there are lots of “thinking” libertarians who think a stateless constitutional society can exist. Society and the state are not equivalent and being stateless does not equate with being lawless.



    • shel on September 15, 2009 at 23:18

      Michael, why is there a large wing of libertarians in the Republican camp, and nothing much of the sort in the Democrat?

      …hmm, could it be that there's nothing connecting libertarians and social liberals?

      don't confuse constitutionalists (libertarian or conservative) with neo-cons, who are the most statist conservatives.

      if you think you can push the agenda through the Libertarian Party, you're as naive as any cornbraided, nose-pierced, teenaged socialist.

      …society and the state are definitely not equivalent, but there is a role for the state: to protect you and me from violence, coercion and fraud. and a proper constitution would protect our property rights, freedom of speech and gun rights etc FROM the state, the courts and populist democracy.

      sadly, a private court (civil, or especially (!) criminal) in a constitutionalist system could only happen in the land where the unicorns live… y'know, the place where idealists from the collectivist end of the spectrum wanted to live many years ago. and imagine a private police force and a private military. i mean, really, wrap your head around it. do you think that a contractual society can maintain order?

      ahh, for Utopia…

      how about we stick to the basics?… if i was an American, i would tell the state, “leave me alone; don't help me financially; stop extorting my money to feed welfare mothers, drug addicts, other peoples' school kids, subsidised farmers and corporations; kill the FED; stay away from my property, speech and guns; deregulate business…



    • Michael on September 16, 2009 at 01:58

      Michael, why is there a large wing of libertarians in the Republican camp, and nothing much of the sort in the Democrat?

      There isn't any large wing of libertarians in the Republican camp that I aware of. Care to enlighten me?

      …hmm, could it be that there's nothing connecting libertarians and social liberals?

      I think you should get out and take a look at the landscape. You could start with reading Mises.org a little more closely since I noticed you linked to them in an earlier comment. There is a rather large group of folks who refer to themselves as left-libertarians, although they have no connection to any political party. A number of them actually write for Mises.org. They are social liberals. But even that doesn't tell the whole story, because politically speaking, any libertarian worth his salt is going to be thought of as a social liberal. Given the basic definition of libertarianism, I don't see how could it be any other way.

      Which makes me wonder about your first point. What exactly would Republicans and Libertarians have in common in terms of societal norms anyway, politically speaking?

      don't confuse constitutionalists (libertarian or conservative) with neo-cons, who are the most statist conservatives.

      All conservatives and constitutionalists are statists. The constitution represents a consolidation of state power. That is historically what all constitutions have done while using the rhetoric of liberty, and the US constititution is no different.

      Further, it looks like you missed the point of the quote. It is not that I or any other voluntaryist is confusing categories, it is that someone who is perceived as anti-government, who is in fact against all theft, is thought of by an outsider (the person being quoted) as a neo-con. That is a joke. And then the author of the entire post goes on to say that not only is he not a neo-conservative he is not a conservative either (politically speaking).

      if you think you can push the agenda through the Libertarian Party, you're as naive as any cornbraided, nose-pierced, teenaged socialist.

      Interesting. I made no mention of political activism whatsoever and you assume I am trying or might be trying to push “the agenda” through the libertarian party. I think this is more a commentary on your own political lens rather than having anything to do with my “agenda.”

      But for the record, I don't believe in initiating violence or coercion by proxy, i.e. through a political party.

      …society and the state are definitely not equivalent,

      Indeed since the state is the only institution which gains its revenue by violence, and everyone else earns their keep by peaceful productive means.

      but there is a role for the state: to protect you and me from violence, coercion and fraud.

      Wow. The only institution whose very existence is due to violence and coercion is supposed to protect us from violence and coercion. If that isn't a complex protection racket funded by extortion, I don't know what is.

      and a proper constitution would protect our property rights, freedom of speech and gun rights etc FROM the state, the courts and populist democracy.

      Wow x 2. If a proper constitution would protect those things, then what happened to the US Constitution? Or to borrow the words from a title by Thomas Woods, <a href=” . Killed The Constitution?.

      Have you read Lysander Spooner's No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority? I would highly recommend that essay along with Wood's book.

      sadly, a private court (civil, or especially (!) criminal) in a constitutionalist system could only happen in the land where the unicorns live… y'know, the place where idealists from the collectivist end of the spectrum wanted to live many years ago. and imagine a private police force and a private military. i mean, really, wrap your head around it. do you think that a contractual society can maintain order?

      Already been done. Already has happened. Even a token familiarity with the development of western common law reveals private contractual law that was eventually usurped by the state (for $$$$$), and that doesn't even take into account the International Law Merchant.

      I'm intrigued by the intellectual sure-footedness that some folk display here in areas where they seem to have little footing. But the “aw shucks, man that could never work” attitude seems rather abundant. I certainly can empathize. I once thought that way myself.

      I think it was Stephen Molyneux who said that a libertarian who argues that it could never work to give over certain sectors of the society to freedom, are essentially on the same plane as others (like Republicans and Democrats) who think other sectors of society (in addition to what the minarchist is holding on to) can't be given over to freedom. It is in effect fundamentally the same argument.

      how about we stick to the basics?… if i was an American, i would tell the state, “leave me alone; don't help me financially; stop extorting my money to feed welfare mothers, drug addicts, other peoples' school kids, subsidised farmers and corporations; kill the FED; stay away from my property, speech and guns; deregulate business…

      How about telling the state to stop extorting my money, period. It can't get any more basic than that.



    • shel on September 16, 2009 at 19:41

      “There isn’t any large wing of libertarians in the Republican camp that I aware of. Care to enlighten me?”

      http://www.thelibertycommittee.org/home.asp
      http://www.rlc.org/
      http://www.getliberty.org/

      stateless utopia without violence can only be achieved incrementally (if at all) …and i hope it happens.

      “I think you should get out and take a look at the landscape. You could start with reading Mises.org a little more closely since I noticed you linked to them in an earlier comment. There is a rather large group of folks who refer to themselves as left-libertarians, although they have no connection to any political party. A number of them actually write for Mises.org. They are social liberals.”

      the very raison d’etre for social liberalism was a backlash against laisse faire capitalism and classical liberalism (libertarianism). these people are Keynsians in spirit and welfare statists. where did you learn your definition?

      …i want you to name one social liberal who writes for Mises.

      i also want you to read what Austrians say about “left libertarianism”. and despite what Long wrote in his “Mises as Radical” post, in which he tries to pull Mises away from the right, do you think Long is an advocate of income and resource distribution? do you think Rothbard, who saw the roots of libertarianism in the Left of the nineteenth century, would advocate income and resource distribution? do you know how much he despised Mill and his collectivism?

      “[…politically speaking, any libertarian worth his salt is going to be thought of as a social liberal. Given the basic definition of libertarianism, I don’t see how could it be any other way.”

      again, this is staggering. here, let me help you:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_liberalism

      “Which makes me wonder about your first point. What exactly would Republicans and Libertarians have in common in terms of societal norms anyway, politically speaking?”

      i’m talking about traditional Republicans, not the neocon wave (who grew out of the disaffection felt by postwar liberals, ironically) who wanted to save the world and sacrifice personal freedom for safety;

      traditionally: lower taxes, less regulation, gun rights, pre 60s property rights, fiscal responsibility, personal responsibility, freer trade, property rights (Republicans pushed for proposition 90), deficits (many Republicans decried Bush’s insane spending), social security, healthcare…

      …all of which, though not perfect, brought libertarians closer to Republicans than to Democrats.

      “All conservatives and constitutionalists are statists. The constitution represents a consolidation of state power.”

      no one is arguing this. there are state powers. but your Constitution also cemented property rights, freedom of speech and gun rights within the power of the individual over the state. over time, and over the edge of the abyss with the pernicious civil rights movement that hit property rights hard, the Constitution is a shadow of its former self. but a realistic, objective starting point is within reach for you guys: fight for your historical Constitution. there would be a partial consolidation of state power, but to perpetuate a peaceful but radical revolution for a stateless society without first fighting for the reattainable three liberties through the Constitution (and without getting people used to freedom and self responsibility), you’re trying to jump over the Grand Canyon.

      “Interesting. I made no mention of political activism whatsoever and you assume I am trying or might be trying to push “the agenda” through the libertarian party. I think this is more a commentary on your own political lens rather than having anything to do with my “agenda”.

      “But for the record, I don’t believe in initiating violence or coercion by proxy, i.e. through a political party.”

      you know exactly what i’m talking about. don’t play semantics. we are political creatures and push political agendas. its called “educating people”.

      “Wow. The only institution whose very existence is due to violence and coercion is supposed to protect us from violence and coercion. If that isn’t a complex protection racket funded by extortion, I don’t know what is.”

      and a private court system, a private police system and a private army would not be “a complex protection racket funded by extortion”, how?

      “Wow x 2. If a proper constitution would protect those things, then what happened to the US Constitution?”

      exactly. “what happened”, indeed? under any system, libertarian or otherwise, if freedom is not fought for, it will be lost to tyrants. fight for your historical Constitution. all of you. it’s more precious than you realise.

      “Already been done. Already has happened. Even a token familiarity with the development of western common law reveals private contractual law that was eventually usurped by the state (for $$$$$), and that doesn’t even take into account the International Law Merchant.”

      thank you for making my point. again, the fight for liberty never ends.

      “I’m intrigued by the intellectual sure-footedness that some folk display here in areas where they seem to have little footing.”

      hmm… you don’t even know what a social liberal is, never mind the fact that the “left libertarians” who believe in income and resource distribution, don’t have a voice at Mises.

      “How about telling the state to stop extorting my money, period. It can’t get any more basic than that.”

      absolutely. one step at a time, with an eye out for chaos and tyranny.



    • Michael on September 20, 2009 at 02:24

      The Liberty Committee
      Republican Liberty Caucus
      Get Liberty

      A premium on political activism. A call for limited government. Returning the Republican party to its roots (????). These folks featured in your links above aren't incrementally moving toward a stateless (i.e. voluntary society) but rather fighting over how much evil is necessary to maintain a society with a state.

      It might be a sound strategy if you presume political activism is necessary in the first place (which I don't) but it is certainly not a movement toward voluntaryism.

      And I am always befuddled by the phrase “returning the Republican party to its roots” since the Republican party is the party of Lincoln and its roots are in big government.

      And another interesting phrase is “we believe in individual liberty and limited government.” Talk about a contradiction in terms. You might as well say “we believe in individual liberty and limited theft and coercion.”

      Which brings me back to my original point in responding to you: conservatives of any stripe and voluntaryists are not brothers. They may be able to work together strategically on certain issues, but their basic bottom line principle is mutually exclusive.

      stateless utopia without violence can only be achieved incrementally (if at all) …and i hope it happens.

      There is no such thing as utopia. The question is which “system” in principle is correct (theft vs. freedom) and which “system” can best insure our freedom and liberty in a peaceable manner.

      For someone to say they hope for a stateless society and in the same breath call it utopia suggests to me they either don't understand voluntaryism or they are doing what Shakespeare called “damning with faith praise.”

      In fact I would put you in the second category because of your earlier statement:

      i don't think there is a thinking libertarian who actually believes that a stateless, constitutional society can exist.

      Well there you have it – in your own words. And you have to wonder, given the above sentiment, why you refer anyone to the Mises organization or anything by Murray Rothbard.

      the very raison d'etre for social liberalism was a backlash against laisse faire capitalism and classical liberalism (libertarianism). these people are Keynsians in spirit and welfare statists. where did you learn your definition?

      …i want you to name one social liberal who writes for Mises.

      i also want you to read what Austrians say about “left libertarianism”. and despite what Long wrote in his “Mises as Radical” post, in which he tries to pull Mises away from the right, do you think Long is an advocate of income and resource distribution? do you think Rothbard, who saw the roots of libertarianism in the Left of the nineteenth century, would advocate income and resource distribution? do you know how much he despised Mill and his collectivism?

      Okay now this gets interesting. But first let put aside this notion that classical liberalism and libertarianism are necessarily synonymous. They are not. Now, moving on.

      It is obvious if you have been reading my posts that I mean something different than you do by social liberals, but instead of acknowledging that you get into a fit over what are clearly two different operational definitions.

      So lets see if we can get to heart of the problem. In your earlier post you said this:

      Michael, why is there a large wing of libertarians in the Republican camp, and nothing much of the sort in the Democrat?

      …hmm, could it be that there's nothing connecting libertarians and social liberals?

      Which is actually a response to my objecting to you saying this:

      i don't think there is a thinking libertarian who actually believes that a stateless, constitutional society can exist.

      We have already covered the above statement so I won't go there again but when you said “social liberals” I took it in the popular American sense of those who are socially liberal versus those who are socially conservative. In other words I took you to mean culturally liberal, not someone who is belongs to the movement known as social liberalism.

      There are people writing for the Ludwig Von Mises Institute whose views on many cultural issues mirror the Democrats, i.e. they tend to be culturally liberal.

      Once that is understood then the rest of your comments above are angst over nothing.

      again, this is staggering. here, let me help you:

      Wiki on Social_liberalism

      Thanks. It helped clarify your original point and allowed me to clarify my point.

      i'm talking about traditional Republicans, not the neocon wave (who grew out of the disaffection felt by postwar liberals, ironically) who wanted to save the world and sacrifice personal freedom for safety;

      traditionally: lower taxes, less regulation, gun rights, pre 60s property rights, fiscal responsibility, personal responsibility, freer trade, property rights (Republicans pushed for proposition 90), deficits (many Republicans decried Bush's insane spending), social security, healthcare…

      …all of which, though not perfect, brought libertarians closer to Republicans than to Democrats.

      It appears to me you have bought the Republican rhetoric they have been selling for a very long time. Traditional Republicanism has never stood for liberty in practice, although rhetorically they have bamboozled a lot of people into thinking otherwise.

      Which in my opinion makes them even more dangerous than the Democrats because under the rhetoric of liberty they are steadily digging freedom's grave. But that shouldn't be surprising since they had King Lincoln as their role model.

      But lets assume for a moment you are correct. Almost everything you mentioned is economic in nature. How do Republicans rate on the personal freedom scale? Not very well, although “traditional Democrats” rate high in those areas.

      What it boils down to is that Libertarians (slighty) overlap with Democrats on social issues, and (slightly) overlap with Republicans on economic issues, but in substance stand way outside of either party.

      no one is arguing this. there are state powers. but your Constitution also cemented property rights, freedom of speech and gun rights within the power of the individual over the state.

      No it didn't. The Constitution was a power grab by a bunch of elitists who were dissatisfied they couldn't get their place of power in Parliament. It opened the door for what has ultimately become the American Imperial Empire. It was greatly feared by the Anti-Federalists that it would ultimately be an instrument of destruction. Well the Anti-Federalists were right.

      over time, and over the edge of the abyss with the pernicious civil rights movement that hit property rights hard, the Constitution is a shadow of its former self.

      You are kidding, right? The constitution was broken long before the civil rights movement arrived on the scene.

      but a realistic, objective starting point is within reach for you guys: fight for your historical Constitution. there would be a partial consolidation of state power, but to perpetuate a peaceful but radical revolution for a stateless society without first fighting for the reattainable three liberties through the Constitution (and without getting people used to freedom and self responsibility), you're trying to jump over the Grand Canyon.

      The idea that America is going to return to its “historical” constitution is rather far fetched, IMO. Its original constitution was just a power grab that opened the door to grab more and more power and that is exactly what happened. The original constitution sanctioned slavery. The original constitution gave us a central government. The original constitution was a movement away from freedom. And the very government that the constitution seeks to restrain, is the very government that is in charge of its interpretation. So gov't is supposed to check itself while holding a monopoly on initiatory violence and aggression? Yeah. Right.

      In my opinion, the best that America can hope for is freedom through secession, and those movements are popping up all across the country.

      Further, you whole argument is based on the assumption of political activism. On empirical grounds, I challenge that assumption to its very core. Most great movements for change were not political in nature. It is usually those working outside the “system” who ultimately bring change, and then if the change is broad and wide enough the government steps in and tries to take responsibility. Unfortunately this really isn't the place to cover all this, and my post is already much too long. But if you have an open mind I would suggest you might start by checking Charles Johnson's quick and dirty rebuttal of political activism accomplishing anything.

      http://radgeek.com/gt/2008/01/26/in_which/

      “But for the record, I don't believe in initiating violence or coercion by proxy, i.e. through a political party.”

      you know exactly what i'm talking about. don't play semantics. we are political creatures and push political agendas. its called “educating people”.

      Sorry no one is playing semantics. There is an ocean separating people who want to change the system of coercion and violence by utilizing the system of coercion and violence (and thereby further giving it legitimacy), and those who believe in freedom from theft and coercion, period.

      It is one thing to educate people. You can do that with hardly a look at politics. It is another thing to educate people through violence and coercion…err I mean politics.

      and a private court system, a private police system and a private army would not be “a complex protection racket funded by extortion”, how?

      This can't be a serious question.

      exactly. “what happened”, indeed? under any system, libertarian or otherwise, if freedom is not fought for, it will be lost to tyrants. fight for your historical Constitution. all of you. it's more precious than you realise.

      Wow x 3. Let me quote Lysander Spooner who was writing within 100 years of the constitution being written.

      “Inasmuch as the Constitution was never signed, nor agreed to, by anybody, as a contract, and therefore never bound anybody, and is now binding upon nobody; and is, moreover, such an one as no people can ever hereafter be expected to consent to, except as they may be forced to do so at the point of the bayonet, it is perhaps of no importance what its true legal meaning, as a contract, is. Nevertheless, the writer thinks it proper to say that, in his opinion, the Constitution is no such instrument as it has generally been assumed to be; but that by false interpretations, and naked usurpations, the government has been made in practice a very widely, and almost wholly, different thing from what the Constitution itself purports to authorize. He has heretofore written much, and could write much more, to prove that such is the truth. But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain — that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.

      thank you for making my point. again, the fight for liberty never ends.

      My point was that voluntary societies have existed and that effective law systems have existed without the state. That definitely was not your point.

      hmm… you don't even know what a social liberal is, never mind the fact that the “left libertarians” who believe in income and resource distribution, don't have a voice at Mises.

      Hmmm…well I hope we cleared this misunderstanding up earlier in my post.

      “How about telling the state to stop extorting my money, period. It can't get any more basic than that.”

      absolutely. one step at a time, with an eye out for chaos and tyranny.

      Unfortunately, all those groups you provided the links for aren't telling the state to stop extorting our money, period. They believe in selective extortion.

      And we already have tyranny, one that I noted in another post has taken the loves of 262,000,000 million people in the 20th century alone, not counting wars and “collateral damage.”

      Enough. Time for me to move on.

      Michael
      Nutrition and Physical Regeneration



    • Michael on September 20, 2009 at 02:30

      Sorry for the above post. Here is the correct one below.
      ______

      The Liberty Committee
      Republican Liberty Caucus
      Get Liberty

      A premium on political activism. A call for limited government. Returning the Republican party to its roots (????). These folks featured in your links above aren't incrementally moving toward a stateless (i.e. voluntary society) but rather fighting over how much evil is necessary to maintain a society with a state.

      It might be a sound strategy if you presume political activism is necessary in the first place (which I don't) but it is certainly not a movement toward voluntaryism.

      And I am always befuddled by the phrase “returning the Republican party to its roots” since the Republican party is the party of Lincoln and its roots are in big government.

      And another interesting phrase is “we believe in individual liberty and limited government.” Talk about a contradiction in terms. You might as well say “we believe in individual liberty and limited theft and coercion.”

      Which brings me back to my original point in responding to you: conservatives of any stripe and voluntaryists are not brothers. They may be able to work together strategically on certain issues, but their basic bottom line principle is mutually exclusive.

      stateless utopia without violence can only be achieved incrementally (if at all) …and i hope it happens.

      There is no such thing as utopia. The question is which “system” in principle is correct (theft vs. freedom) and which “system” can best insure our freedom and liberty in a peaceable manner.

      For someone to say they hope for a stateless society and in the same breath call it utopia suggests to me they either don't understand voluntaryism or they are doing what Shakespeare called “damning with faith praise.”

      In fact I would put you in the second category because of your earlier statement:

      i don't think there is a thinking libertarian who actually believes that a stateless, constitutional society can exist.

      Well there you have it – in your own words. And you have to wonder, given the above sentiment, why you refer anyone to the Mises organization or anything by Murray Rothbard.

      the very raison d'etre for social liberalism was a backlash against laisse faire capitalism and classical liberalism (libertarianism). these people are Keynsians in spirit and welfare statists. where did you learn your definition?

      …i want you to name one social liberal who writes for Mises.

      i also want you to read what Austrians say about “left libertarianism”. and despite what Long wrote in his “Mises as Radical” post, in which he tries to pull Mises away from the right, do you think Long is an advocate of income and resource distribution? do you think Rothbard, who saw the roots of libertarianism in the Left of the nineteenth century, would advocate income and resource distribution? do you know how much he despised Mill and his collectivism?

      Okay now this gets interesting. But first let put aside this notion that classical liberalism and libertarianism are necessarily synonymous. They are not. Now, moving on.

      It is obvious if you have been reading my posts that I mean something different than you do by social liberals, but instead of acknowledging that you get into a fit over what are clearly two different operational definitions.

      So lets see if we can get to heart of the problem. In your earlier post you said this:

      Michael, why is there a large wing of libertarians in the Republican camp, and nothing much of the sort in the Democrat?

      …hmm, could it be that there's nothing connecting libertarians and social liberals?

      Which is actually a response to my objecting to you saying this:

      i don't think there is a thinking libertarian who actually believes that a stateless, constitutional society can exist.

      We have already covered the above statement so I won't go there again but when you said “social liberals” I took it in the popular American sense of those who are socially liberal versus those who are socially conservative. In other words I took you to mean culturally liberal, not someone who is belongs to the movement known as social liberalism.

      There are people writing for the Ludwig Von Mises Institute whose views on many cultural issues mirror the Democrats, i.e. they tend to be culturally liberal.

      Once that is understood then the rest of your comments above are angst over nothing.

      again, this is staggering. here, let me help you:

      Wiki on Social_liberalism

      Thanks. It helped clarify your original point and allowed me to clarify my point.

      i'm talking about traditional Republicans, not the neocon wave (who grew out of the disaffection felt by postwar liberals, ironically) who wanted to save the world and sacrifice personal freedom for safety;

      traditionally: lower taxes, less regulation, gun rights, pre 60s property rights, fiscal responsibility, personal responsibility, freer trade, property rights (Republicans pushed for proposition 90), deficits (many Republicans decried Bush's insane spending), social security, healthcare…

      …all of which, though not perfect, brought libertarians closer to Republicans than to Democrats.

      It appears to me you have bought the Republican rhetoric they have been selling for a very long time. Traditional Republicanism has never stood for liberty in practice, although rhetorically they have bamboozled a lot of people into thinking otherwise.

      Which in my opinion makes them even more dangerous than the Democrats because under the rhetoric of liberty they are steadily digging freedom's grave. But that shouldn't be surprising since they had King Lincoln as their role model.

      But lets assume for a moment you are correct. Almost everything you mentioned is economic in nature. How do Republicans rate on the personal freedom scale? Not very well, although “traditional Democrats” rate high in those areas.

      What it boils down to is that Libertarians (slighty) overlap with Democrats on social issues, and (slightly) overlap with Republicans on economic issues, but in substance stand way outside of either party.

      no one is arguing this. there are state powers. but your Constitution also cemented property rights, freedom of speech and gun rights within the power of the individual over the state.

      No it didn't. The Constitution was a power grab by a bunch of elitists who were dissatisfied they couldn't get their place of power in Parliament. It opened the door for what has ultimately become the American Imperial Empire. It was greatly feared by the Anti-Federalists that it would ultimately be an instrument of destruction. Well the Anti-Federalists were right.

      over time, and over the edge of the abyss with the pernicious civil rights movement that hit property rights hard, the Constitution is a shadow of its former self.

      You are kidding, right? The constitution was broken long before the civil rights movement arrived on the scene.

      but a realistic, objective starting point is within reach for you guys: fight for your historical Constitution. there would be a partial consolidation of state power, but to perpetuate a peaceful but radical revolution for a stateless society without first fighting for the reattainable three liberties through the Constitution (and without getting people used to freedom and self responsibility), you're trying to jump over the Grand Canyon.

      The idea that America is going to return to its “historical” constitution is rather far fetched, IMO. Its original constitution was just a power grab that opened the door to grab more and more power and that is exactly what happened. The original constitution sanctioned slavery. The original constitution gave us a central government. The original constitution was a movement away from freedom. And the very government that the constitution seeks to restrain, is the very government that is in charge of its interpretation. So gov't is supposed to check itself while holding a monopoly on initiatory violence and aggression? Yeah. Right.

      In my opinion, the best that America can hope for is freedom through secession, and those movements are popping up all across the country.

      Further, you whole argument is based on the assumption of political activism. On empirical grounds, I challenge that assumption to its very core. Most great movements for change were not political in nature. It is usually those working outside the “system” who ultimately bring change, and then if the change is broad and wide enough the government steps in and tries to take responsibility. Unfortunately this really isn't the place to cover all this, and my post is already much too long. But if you have an open mind I would suggest you might start by checking Charles Johnson's quick and dirty rebuttal of political activism accomplishing anything.

      http://radgeek.com/gt/2008/01/26/in_which/

      “But for the record, I don't believe in initiating violence or coercion by proxy, i.e. through a political party.”

      you know exactly what i'm talking about. don't play semantics. we are political creatures and push political agendas. its called “educating people”.

      Sorry no one is playing semantics. There is an ocean separating people who want to change the system of coercion and violence by utilizing the system of coercion and violence (and thereby further giving it legitimacy), and those who believe in freedom from theft and coercion, period.

      It is one thing to educate people. You can do that with hardly a look at politics. It is another thing to educate people through violence and coercion…err I mean politics.

      exactly. “what happened”, indeed? under any system, libertarian or otherwise, if freedom is not fought for, it will be lost to tyrants. fight for your historical Constitution. all of you. it's more precious than you realise.

      Wow x 3. Let me quote Lysander Spooner who was writing within 100 years of the constitution being written.

      “Inasmuch as the Constitution was never signed, nor agreed to, by anybody, as a contract, and therefore never bound anybody, and is now binding upon nobody; and is, moreover, such an one as no people can ever hereafter be expected to consent to, except as they may be forced to do so at the point of the bayonet, it is perhaps of no importance what its true legal meaning, as a contract, is. Nevertheless, the writer thinks it proper to say that, in his opinion, the Constitution is no such instrument as it has generally been assumed to be; but that by false interpretations, and naked usurpations, the government has been made in practice a very widely, and almost wholly, different thing from what the Constitution itself purports to authorize. He has heretofore written much, and could write much more, to prove that such is the truth. But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain — that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.

      thank you for making my point. again, the fight for liberty never ends.

      My point was that voluntary societies have existed and that effective law systems have existed without the state. That definitely was not your point.

      hmm… you don't even know what a social liberal is, never mind the fact that the “left libertarians” who believe in income and resource distribution, don't have a voice at Mises.

      Hmmm…well I hope we cleared this misunderstanding up earlier in my post.

      “How about telling the state to stop extorting my money, period. It can't get any more basic than that.”

      absolutely. one step at a time, with an eye out for chaos and tyranny.

      Unfortunately, all those groups you provided the links for aren't telling the state to stop extorting our money, period. They believe in selective extortion.

      And we already have tyranny, one that I noted in another post has taken the loves of 262,000,000 million people in the 20th century alone, not counting wars and “collateral damage.”

      Enough. Time for me to move on.

      Michael
      Nutrition and Physical Regeneration



    • Michael on September 20, 2009 at 15:13

      I apologize for the above post. I posted the corrected one that didn't have the entire second half of the message in italics so you couldn't tell who was saying what, but it seems to have disappeared into cyberspace.

      Michael
      Nutrition and Physical Regeneration



    • Richard Nikoley on September 20, 2009 at 15:46

      Ah, that's why you double posted it. OK, found your missing tag and fixed it.



    • shel on September 16, 2009 at 22:43

      what happened to my comment? must've got lost.



    • Richard Nikoley on September 17, 2009 at 13:05

      I noticed it had gotten tied up as spam (probably the number of links) and I just approved it. Sorry for the hang-time on that.



    • Michael on September 15, 2009 at 19:52

      And so on. I long ago realized that there indeed may not be a way to accomplish all these things without collective stealing. So, I never bother to try and satisfy the argument by demonstrating how it would “work” as good or better.

      Ah but no future theory is necessary. The scholarship in this area is quite good but it is largely unknown. Still, it is arguing on utilitarian grounds and, in my opinion, that won't win the day, because for many who disagree, even if you show beyond the shadow of a doubt that voluntaryism has worked better historically than extortion, it won't change their minds. They have deep philosophical commitments to extortion per se and that is a whole 'nother ballgame.



    • Michael on September 15, 2009 at 19:53

      One of the most corrosive ideas ever in the American psyche is the notion that “crime doesn't pay.” On the contrary, crime has been paying off handsomely for 10,000 years now, and it has built an entire civilization based on force and extortion.

      This would be funny is it wasn't so true.



    • Michael on September 15, 2009 at 19:55

      That should read “This would be funny IF it wasn't so true”



    • Michael on September 14, 2009 at 23:21

      As a Canadian I've never really understood the american sentiment of individuality above all else. At what point do you draw the line between people working together for a common cause, and 'big brother' telling me what to do?

      Voluntaryism doesn't prevent prevent people from working together for a common cause, it just prevents you from forcing other people to work on that cause. At that point it is no longer common but rather coercion. And initiating violence against someone to make them do what you you think is best is evil.

      If we were in a small Hunter Gathering group and the rest of the group wanted to hunt, but you wanted to gather, would you just leave the group and go off on your own, rather than give in to over regulation?

      Why not? There is no “regulation” until someone forces you to do something that you wouldn't otherwise do. Now maybe there are consequences to such behavior, like not getting a portion of the hunt, but that is the point, everyone is responsible for their own choices.

      What if we were in a small village and we needed a group project to deal with the sewage? Who organizes that? Would you help out? What if we were a group of villages who all drank from the same river, would we cooperate with each other and plan how to use the shared resources to all of our advantage, or just turn on each other and do whatever we please?

      This whole line of thought assumes that people are incapable of peacefully cooperating to achieve desired ends and goals.

      This whole line of thought assumes there is some special group of people who know what is best for everyone else, and if other people don't toe the line then in their ultimate wisdom this special group of people can “bash heads” to bring into line those who don't buy into their “wisdom.”

      This whole line of thought assumes that people have never been able to cooperate in the past when not lorded over by others. That is demonstratively not true. Modern education blinkers everyone to this history but if you want a library of references let me know and I will be happy to pass the info along.

      Finally this whole line of thought assumes its okay for people to commit violence against other people if they don't agree. That is the nature of modern government. And even though its glossed over as democracy, it is still evil.

      If you're against some level of basic universal health care for everyone because you'd rather take care of yourself and let others take care of themselves, what about all the other things you're willing to be taxed for that don't necessarily benefit you directly? Roads, schools, libraries, police, fire departments, armed forces.

      I can't speak for anyone else but I'm not willing to be taxed (i.e. stolen from) for any of those things. Everything you mentioned can be and has been provided competently and adequately through private voluntary means. Again, I don't want to abuse my privileges here by creating a linkfest, but there are plenty of resources covering this topic.

      Are you only willing to support the fire department when its your house burning? Or is it a good thing for the community as a whole to have a fire department around just in case they're needed?

      What I am willing to do is contract privately for the services of a fire department or live in a building or community that has contracted privately for the services of the the fire department.

      One of the dirty little secrets in America is that people and communities all across the country are doing just this – it is one of the fastest growing segments of our otherwise diseased economy.

      Honestly, I”m not trying to be contrarian here.. I would really like someone to help elucidate for me, this American mentality that you're all looking out for yourselves first, and don't really seem to care about each other.. because, from an outsiders point of view.. that's what this anti-health care attitude looks like.

      The problem I see here is that you equate the desire to be free as somehow negating community. In a voluntary society people can choose to live any way they want – as long as it is voluntarily chosen. For some that might mean living out in the middle of nowhere eschewing any kind of social interaction.

      For others it might mean communal living. And for others it may mean living in cities with all the advantages that the division of labor provides for modern people. The key is the lack of initiatory violence. Free men in community with one another can solve the problems (like health care) that are before them. There is no reason to single out some of the people and give them a gun to force everyone else to toe the line. After all that is ultimately what the government is – your neighbor with a gun.

      If you didn't 'Unite' together in order to help each other out, then why exactly are you 'United', why not just change your name to “A bunch of states of America” and be done with it?

      Actually that is what the US initially was – these united States of America (notice the emphasis on the small “u”. The Articles of Confederation is what originally governed the voluntary interaction between the States and the scope of that interaction was extremely limited. They were individual states united for just two small things, defense and trade. Then the constitutionalists came along, usurped the Articles and installed a central government in Washington. And then ultimately came Lincoln and the imperial presidency, and life in the US has never been the same, but I digress.



    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2009 at 11:22

      Thanks, Michael. Very comprehensive and I don't disagree with any of it.



    • dancinpete on September 15, 2009 at 14:40

      Let’s say you live in a small walled community. What happens when one of your neighbours in your community opts to not pay his portion of your communal fire protection bill? Do you have any way to force him to pay, ie: tax him?
      How do you collectively decide which fire department to spend your communal monies on? Did you all vote on each of the tendered quotes? Or did you just vote to have a small group of you decide for the community as a whole. Do you require 100% approval by all in the community? What about the minority that wanted some other level of fire protection? What happens if the company providing your fire protection lives in another community, where they didn’t opt in to the water distribution network, thereby disabling your fire hydrants?

      It seems obvious to me, that once you start making decisions for groups larger than 20-30, you need to subdivide this decision making process, and have some method of enforcing that decision upon the group as a whole. There will always be minorities who feel their opinion is being ignored, but unless you have every decision that affects more than 2 people, ratified by 100% agreement, that’s a fact of communal living.
      Communal living isn’t available ‘a la carte’, you can’t pick and choose which services you want to contribute to, as most of them are only viable once they’ve got a critical mass of people/resources available. How well do you think our road system would hold up, if each individual or street was responsible for the maintenance of their own section?

      I guess where you see authority telling you what to do as “a neighbour with a gun”, Canadians (or at least myself) tend to see them as neighbours we’re paying to manage our collective wishes.



    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2009 at 15:04

      What happens when one of your neighbours in your community opts to not pay his portion of your communal fire protection bill?

      Gee, I don't know. Are you saying I can then steal from you or others?

      Same goes for all the other 'insoluble problems' you list. Trust me, I'm certain you could come up with a lot more. Moreover, I'm guessing that in a lot of cases, the same services couldn't be provided in a free society.

      I'd really appreciate it, however, if you put something akin to a title on it, say: “these and more are reasons why we absolutely must have rule and dominion by elites and should have the fruits of our production exacted through forced coercion, threat of jail, etc.”

      Incidentally, I do live in a community governed by a homeowners' association. I don't always agree with all the decisions, and I once single handedly overturned a stupid alarmed exit door issue that a committee head ran through the BoD. Nonetheless, I signed up for it, and that includes lien provisions (and eventual foreclosure) against my portion of the property if I don't pay dues. I have no problem with that. I contracted and I'm bound to that contract until I sell the property or unpalatable provisions of either the contract or governing by-laws are changed.

      It's very simple.



    • dancinpete on September 15, 2009 at 15:38

      Do you consider the BoD of your homeowners' association to be 'elites' who rule by dominion over you via threat of liens and foreclosure on your property? I doubt it, as by voluntarily living there, you've chosen to live by the rules and customs agreed upon by the majority or suffer the consequences.

      How is your homeowner's association situation much different than voluntarily living in a particular municipality, and agreeing to abide by the rules put in place by the majority there, and paying the taxes/fees to fund these rules even when you may not agree with each and every instance.

      I guess for me it boils down to a matter of area of influence. you seem willing to voluntarily let a small group of people make decisions that affect your immediate area, but not to let a larger group of people make similar decisions about a larger area which you also may make use of.



    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2009 at 16:13

      I doubt it, as by voluntarily living there, you've chosen to live by the rules and customs agreed upon by the majority or suffer the consequences.

      Correct. I had no obligation — or explicit need, really — to submit to an HOA. We took our chances, we could sell and move if we wanted, and so far it has been imperfect but acceptable.

      How is your homeowner's association situation much different than voluntarily living in a particular municipality, and agreeing to abide by the rules put in place by the majority there, and paying the taxes/fees to fund these rules even when you may not agree with each and every instance.

      “…much different?”

      You want me to spell it out? I don't think I have the time or space. I'll trust that people can come up with at least three ways they are different, then go from there.

      I guess for me it boils down to a matter of area of influence. you seem willing to voluntarily let a small group of people make decisions that affect your immediate area, but not to let a larger group of people make similar decisions about a larger area which you also may make use of.

      “…voluntarily let…”

      That's exactly what I'm doing, which is completely unlike any American subject's relationship with the Federal, State, and local governments.



    • Aaron Blaisdell on September 15, 2009 at 09:26

      “A bunch of states of America”. LOL. I Love it! BS of A!



    • shel on September 15, 2009 at 13:03

      dancinpete~

      as a Canadian, i ask you to please not speak for me. you're obviously from the east (or Vancouver metro), and have a different view of things. yesterday, in Alberta, a Wildrose Alliance candidate (conservative/libertarian) won a seat in a Calgary riding, upsetting our fake Progressive Conservatives. Saskatchewan is becoming more prosperous and free market oriented since they kicked out the NDPs, and there is a shift in the political weather in rural BC.

      no offense intended, but not all Canadians are Keynsians and regulation hounds who reflexively look to the state.



    • Michael on September 15, 2009 at 20:18

      Indeed!



    • dancinpete on September 15, 2009 at 14:58

      my apologies Shel.



    • shel on September 15, 2009 at 15:52

      no problem. i hope i didn't sound too harsh.

      hah! we are typically polite Canucks, aren't we?



    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2009 at 11:15

      Every now and then, but probably only in a health / fitness context.



  11. David_Brown on September 14, 2009 at 23:52

    Call me naive but I think the reason we have such a terrible food supply and so much chronic disease should be chalked up to ignorance. Most people I know, including politicians, are neither interested in nor aware of nutritional controversies. They are, however, interested in being healthy. They pay close attention to mainstream nutrition advice. They get that advice from the top nutritional authority in the world, the US Department of Agriculture's Center for Nutritional Policy and Promotion (CNPP). However, until the 13 distinguished scientists who periodically review the Dietary Guidelines for Americans get their thinking regarding saturated fats, omega-6 fatty acids, cholesterol, and added sugars straightened out, the public health system will continue to follow the recipe book. And journalists will continue to demonize saturated fats. And Americans will continue to buy foods they think are good for them.

    Thanks to Michal Pollan's Farmer in Chief letter published in the “New York Times” last Fall, President Obama has become aware that the quality of the food supply has an impact on the incidence of chronic disease. What he doesn't seem to realize is that our government's dietary advice and agricultural policies are largely to blame for current consumption patterns. Note that in a speech to the American Medical Association delivered earlier this year Obama said, “The second step that we can all agree on is to invest more in preventive care so that we can avoid illness and disease in the first place. That starts with each of us taking more responsibility for our health and the health of our children. It means quitting smoking, going in for that mammogram or colon cancer screening. It means going for a run or hitting the gym, and raising our children to step away from the video games and spend more time playing outside It also means cutting down on all the junk food that is fueling an epidemic of obesity, putting far too many Americans, young and old, at greater risk of costly, chronic conditions.”

    You can blame politicians, academics, or corporations for the current health care crisis but really, it's the ill informed consumer voting with his pocket book that made the food system what it is today.

    • Michael on September 15, 2009 at 00:32

      David_Brown wrote:

      Call me naive but I think the reason we have such a terrible food supply and so much chronic disease should be chalked up to ignorance.

      But that wouldn't explain why people are ignorant.

      Most people I know, including politicians, are neither interested in nor aware of nutritional controversies. They are, however, interested in being healthy.

      Ah, so we have established that being healthy is a rather common place goal.

      They pay close attention to mainstream nutrition advice.

      Which is certainly their perogative.

      They get that advice from the top nutritional authority in the world, the US Department of Agriculture's Center for Nutritional Policy and Promotion (CNPP).

      So now we get closer to the problem. Assuming what you say is true, why is the USDA the top nutritional authority “in the world?”

      Let me answer that question for you. Because they are funded by extorted dollars and as a result are able to force people to abide by what they declare to be the way things out to be. Now imagine a world without the FDA or USDA or any kind of state funded science. If you are having a hard time understanding this connection I have a few articles on my site that might expand your imagination.

      However, until the 13 distinguished scientists who periodically review the Dietary Guidelines for Americans get their thinking regarding saturated fats, omega-6 fatty acids, cholesterol, and added sugars straightened out, the public health system will continue to follow the recipe book. And journalists will continue to demonize saturated fats. And Americans will continue to buy foods they think are good for them.

      None of their prognostications would have nearly the power they do today without the heavy hand of government research and political favors behind it. Imagine if they had to compete in the marketplace of ideas without some government alphabet soup agency backing them. It would be interesting to say the least.

      Thanks to Michal Pollan's Farmer in Chief letter published in the “New York Times” last Fall, President Obama has become aware that the quality of the food supply has an impact on the incidence of chronic disease.

      You honestly think the Obama's were not aware of this before entering the white house? Everything about their lifestyle and food choices before they entered the white house suggests otherwise, even if those choices are not the ones we would make. And the whole “Farmer in Chief” bit and the assumptions behind it make me want to throw up.

      But the larger point is who cares what Obama or any other politician or alphabet soup agency thinks. The key to pulling the plug on any perceived ignorance that has been fueled by them is not to educate the American public on food, but rather to pull the plug on their powers that allow them to be perceived as “experts” in the first place.

      In other words we are right back to the the thrust of Richard's post when it comes to care, “a complex protection racket funded by extortion.”

      What he doesn't seem to realize is that our government's dietary advice and agricultural policies are largely to blame for current consumption patterns. Note that in a speech to the American Medical Association delivered earlier this year Obama said, “The second step that we can all agree on is to invest more in preventive care so that we can avoid illness and disease in the first place. That starts with each of us taking more responsibility for our health and the health of our children. It means quitting smoking, going in for that mammogram or colon cancer screening. It means going for a run or hitting the gym, and raising our children to step away from the video games and spend more time playing outside It also means cutting down on all the junk food that is fueling an epidemic of obesity, putting far too many Americans, young and old, at greater risk of costly, chronic conditions.”

      This is all a moot point if the power to extort doesn't exist in the first place.

      You can blame politicians, academics, or corporations for the current health care crisis but really, it's the ill informed consumer voting with his pocket book that made the food system what it is today.

      I think rather it is a bunch of people who have larceny in their heart</> – a group that includes all politicians, most academics, many corporations, and a ton of consumers – and until that problem is resolved it will be an impossible battle no matter what the President says.



    • David_Brown on September 15, 2009 at 01:14

      Larceny is pretty strong language. From my conversations with politicians, scientists, and corporate officers I get the impression that many of them simply are not inclined to delve into issues that don't interest them. Further, I have also encountered people who feel very uncomfortable when asked to question the mainstream consensus viewpoint.



    • Michael on September 15, 2009 at 01:51

      It is no stronger than extortion is and is meant to convey the same idea. I'm not really thinking of people's intentions or inclinations but rather their actions. It doesn't really matter whether or not someone feels uncomfortable taking on the mainstream consensus. The fact of the matter is that as long as the mainstream has the threat of violence behind it, its evil and will lead to the kind of situation we have today.

      The point I'm making is simply this, until people stop extorting money from other people – taxation is theft after all – to achieve their own ends by political (i.e. coercive – i.e. violent) means (in other words carry larceny in their hearts), be they politicians who do it directly or consumers who do it via proxy through their politicians, then we will just go from one “complex protection racket funded by extortion” to another “complex protection racket funded by extortion” ad infinitum ad nauseum.

      Or to put it more simply, theft is no basis on which to build a truly free and just society.



  12. anandsr on September 15, 2009 at 01:49

    You actually have too free a market. That is why anybody with money is able to break it. To have a free market you need regulation, otherwise it will be hijacked by the one with the biggest muscle.

    The government if it works well provides the muscle to keep it fair. Your government is not doing enough regulation.

    I don't like government redistributing money, but I think the government should provide free education (possibly till high school) and free medical support (possibly till college) to children. I think that the children should get a level playing field. I don't care much about the adults. Adults have no rights to anything except voting.

    • Michael on September 15, 2009 at 06:12

      You actually have too free a market. That is why anybody with money is able to break it.

      You can't “break” a market unless you threaten violence to do so. People who voluntarily exchange with one another are not in a “broken” market even if their wants and desires and type of exchanges they engage in don't meet with your you approval.

      Money only “breaks” a market when it is used to buy government influence (re: coercion) that then forces people to abide by the rules as brought about the influence of said money.

      The government if it works well provides the muscle to keep it fair.

      Fair as defined by whom?

      Your government is not doing enough regulation

      The only “regulation” you need is the prevention of fraud and the enforcement of private property rights. And you don't need government acting as the big “muscle” to have such enforcement. In fact the presence of government historically brings about the violation of property rights. Its okay to pollute or steal (in other words violate another's property rights) or whathaveyou if you do so under the guise of legalized government behavior. Modern corporations have been during that for years, as have government agencies.

      I don't like government redistributing money,

      okay so far

      but I think the government should provide free education (possibly till high school) and free medical support (possibly till college) to children.

      Interesting. You just said you don't believe in theft (you can't redistribute unless you first take it from someone), and then you turn around and say that theft is okay when it involves the children.

      I think that the children should get a level playing field. I don't care much about the adults. Adults have no rights to anything except voting.

      Leaving aside the arbitrariness of your approach, I think children should be taught that taxation is theft, conscription is kidnapping, and war is murder. I think they should be taught that every forcible gov't on this planet engages in theft, kidnapping, and murder to some degree. I think they should be taught that just as such behavior would not be tolerated if they committed such acts personally (they would be in jail or dead), so such behavior should not be tolerated just because a group of people do it collectively and call themselves “the government.”

      Talk about leveling the playing field!



    • anandsr on September 15, 2009 at 07:18

      I don't think redistribution of money by government is theft. I just think that, that is inevitable.

      You are talking about utopia. I am talking about the real world.

      We cannot live in a society this way. I guess you are advocating that we should all go back to living in the forest. When everybody needs to be good at everything required to survive. There will be no specialization.

      I don't know about you but I love being able to travel through the world, talk to people around the world.



    • Michael on September 15, 2009 at 08:25

      I don't think redistribution of money by government is theft. I just think that, that is inevitable.

      If someone takes something that belongs to you against your will, that is theft. Period. There is no magical fairy dust that cleanses a group of people who are robbing you just because they call themselves the government.

      And if you don't have the balls to take something from me personally, but rather empower someone else by proxy (your representative) to take it from me instead, that doesn't cleanse your hands of the act of thieving because you passed on the dirty work to someone else.

      Whether it is inevitable or not is an entirely different question. But since we have had a number of successful voluntary societies throughout history, no, it is not inevitable.

      You are talking about utopia. I am talking about the real world.

      Not at all. First there have been voluntary societies. Second, even today good chunks of society operate effectively on a voluntary basis. Third, the real word from my vantage point means calling behavior by its proper name, rather than trying to rationalize it away. Taxation is theft. War is murder. Conscription is kidnapping. On an individual level each one of those activities would land me in jail or worse. They don't all of sudden become okay at a governmental level. If it is forbidden to you, it is forbidden to government. Such is the only basis for a free and just society.

      We cannot live in a society this way. I guess you are advocating that we should all go back to living in the forest. When everybody needs to be good at everything required to survive. There will be no specialization.

      I don't know about you but I love being able to travel through the world, talk to people around the world.

      This is what I mean by confusing means with results. The things you mentioned above – the division of labor, the ability to travel freely – came about because of private market activity, not because of government benevolence. In fact government hinders both those activities and many others as well.



    • anandsr on September 16, 2009 at 00:46

      Can you please name those voluntary societies by the way? I would like to know about those aberrations.



    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2009 at 11:35

      “To have a free market you need regulation”

      Just wow.



  13. paulherbert on September 15, 2009 at 03:11

    I have been reading these posts with interest. And it seems to me that there is a huge gulf between you guys in the US and the rest of the world. Certainly in Europe I think people feel that they are part of society and that the only conversations you find in the UK abut organisations like the NHS are how to make them more efficient.

    Here in Europe there really is a consensus that says that if you want to work hard and buy yourself nicer cars, or TV's or live in a bigger house then that's fine. But everyone, should have enough food to eat and the best healthcare possible. It's not acceptable for some sections of society to get better healthcare just because their job pays more. After all what makes a footballer worth more than a teacher! As long as the important stuff is available to everyone it doesn't matter.

    Come on guys. If this blog is all about primal living then look at the ways primitive cultures live. If you lived in a small group 15,000 years ago, everyone would have shared. Everyone together would have looked after the young and the old and when the men of the group killed a wild animal for food, they would have done so together and taken it back to the group to share.

    What's more a small group of elders (not elected) would decide what everyone did. What group projects the village did and how much each family and/or person contributed.

    Giving some of your money to help those in your society less fortunate than you is not slavery, it's humanity and what's more it's totally primal.

    • damaged justice on September 15, 2009 at 04:19

      “Giving some of your money to help those in your society less fortunate than you is not slavery”

      Quit stealing from me — or rather, quit hiding behind the biggest gang on the block to steal from me for you — and I'd not only have a lot more to give, I'd be far more likely to give, because I wouldn't be resentful about being stolen from.



    • paulherbert on September 15, 2009 at 05:05

      “quit stealing from me”

      I'm not stealing from you. I don't even live in the U.S. And B.T.W. I have a really good job and pay in way more than most people. It's just that I don't mind. In Europe most people don't mind.

      As an outsider (i.e. not an U.S. citizen) the american obsession with self sufficiency is bonkers! This whole what's mine is mine and who cares if the family down the road don't have proper healthcare is just madness.

      The “biggest Gang on the block” are you referring to democracy.

      In Europe, we ALL get together and decide what as a society we are going to do (It's called an election) and then ask everyone to pay a bit towards it. Obviously there are times when you don't agree with the majority, but if you want to be part of society then you have to go with what the majority want.

      Hey if the majority of people in the U.S. don't want to provide decent healthcare to poor people, then they shouldn't do it. But honestly, what kind of a society would let children be sick, when it could cure them, just because their parents, have low paying jobs.



    • damaged justice on September 15, 2009 at 06:02

      Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner.

      I'm sorry you can't see the difference between sharing, which is voluntary, and done out of the goodness of one's heart and concern for one's fellow man — and “taxation”, which is stealing by another name, and rationalizing it because “it's for a good cause” and besides, you have the gang with the most guns, so might makes right.

      Government does not “ask” anyone to do anything. Government is a man with a gun saying, “Do what I say, or I'll blow your brains out.”



    • paulherbert on September 15, 2009 at 06:27

      There is no difference to see, precisely because you and I both live in a democracy. The citizens (well a majority of them) voted for the rules we live by therefore it's voluntary. If you live in a totalitarian state what you say would be true.

      Government is not a man with a gun, it is a man who represents the citizens who vote for him/her. I suppose if you don't want to abide by the majority decision you could go and live in the woods on your own. But hey you'd be at the mercy of the first gang that turned up with more firepower than you. If you're part of society, then society should protect you and look after you, so why shouldn't you do your bit to help people less fortunate then you.

      This is a group about primal Living. Primitive man lived in groups. They had the same issues we have to day. But I keep coming back to this, what singles man out from most animals is that we are a social ape, that lives in groups and looks after everyone in the group. At least we used to.



    • Michael on September 15, 2009 at 07:26

      There is no difference to see, precisely because you and I both live in a democracy. The citizens (well a majority of them) voted for the rules we live by therefore it's voluntary. If you live in a totalitarian state what you say would be true.

      A huge chunk of the rules most people never voted for – they were put into place by bureaucrats. But I think I'm beginning to understand Richard's point about semantics. If I have to pay taxes to the government under threat of fine, imprisonment, or even death if I resist enough, there is nothing voluntary about that arrangement. Nothing.

      Government is not a man with a gun, it is a man who represents the citizens who vote for him/her.

      Who has a gun to enforce whatever it is the majority who elected him want him to do. It is just a euphemistic way of saying that whatever the violation (even if it is minor like a traffic ticket) can ultimately lead to a fatal confrontation with the government if you resist enough. “Your money or your life!”

      If a “representative” doesn't have the legal firepower to enforce his gang's edicts, then we are not living under a government but rather we are living in a voluntary society.

      I suppose if you don't want to abide by the majority decision you could go and live in the woods on your own. But hey you'd be at the mercy of the first gang that turned up with more firepower than you.

      Why do you suppose such of thing? If we are country of 1,000,000 people and 501,000 vote one way, and 499,000 vote another way, why do I have to go out by myself? The point is I could easily go out with a rather large group of 499,000 or some subset if I so chose. And I could just as easily contract for defense services. You are just creating a straw man by referring to voluntaryism as if it only involves some lone individual.

      Living freely, unlike your scenario, means I can choose to live in a group or alone, without my life being threatened by government “representatives.”

      But I keep coming back to this, what singles man out from most animals is that we are a social ape, that lives in groups and looks after everyone in the group. At least we used to.

      And I keep coming back to this, living in a voluntary society doesn't mean you can't live in a group. I imagine that is how most people would live.



    • Michael on September 15, 2009 at 07:00

      I'm not stealing from you. I don't even live in the U.S. And B.T.W. I have a really good job and pay in way more than most people. It's just that I don't mind. In Europe most people don't mind.

      LOL! I'm sure he meant that rhetorically. But since you don't mind just get together everyone else who doesn't mind and take care of the less fortunate. If most people don't mind then going about this voluntarily shouldn't be a problem, correct?

      As an outsider (i.e. not an U.S. citizen) the american obsession with self sufficiency is bonkers! This whole what's mine is mine and who cares if the family down the road don't have proper healthcare is just madness.

      This fallacious appeal to emotion really has nothing to do with what we are talking about.

      The “biggest Gang on the block” are you referring to democracy.

      Yeah, you know where 51% of the people (big gang) can tell 49% of the people (smaller gang) what to do regardless of whether or not they freely opted in to such an arrangement. You can call it whatever you want but that is nothing but gang dynamics.

      In Europe, we ALL get together and decide what as a society we are going to do (It's called an election) and then ask everyone to pay a bit towards it.

      Yes we have those same electoral muggings in the US.

      Obviously there are times when you don't agree with the majority, but if you want to be part of society then you have to go with what the majority want.

      In other words you have to agree to be fleeced and mugged because if you don't we (the majority) will have our representatives put you in jail or worse. Hmmm….

      Hey if the majority of people in the U.S. don't want to provide decent healthcare to poor people, then they shouldn't do it.

      This is more logically fallacious emotional pandering and not really an argument, so I won't address it.

      But honestly, what kind of a society would let children be sick, when it could cure them, just because their parents, have low paying jobs.

      You clearly are not familiar with the history of health care in this country and how things worked long before the current system evolved to what it is today. But I have already spent wayyyyyyyyyyyy to much time on this subject.



    • Michael on September 15, 2009 at 06:34

      I have been reading these posts with interest. And it seems to me that there is a huge gulf between you guys in the US and the rest of the world. Certainly in Europe I think people feel that they are part of society and that the only conversations you find in the UK abut organisations like the NHS are how to make them more efficient.

      Given that the UK has become a virtual police state/surveillance society, your observation is no surprise.

      Here in Europe there really is a consensus that says that if you want to work hard and buy yourself nicer cars, or TV's or live in a bigger house then that's fine. But everyone, should have enough food to eat and the best healthcare possible. It's not acceptable for some sections of society to get better healthcare just because their job pays more. After all what makes a footballer worth more than a teacher! As long as the important stuff is available to everyone it doesn't matter.

      Just because some segments of society think its okay to plunder other segments of society to make sure everyone is taken care of doesn't make it right. If everybody in Europe thinks this is unacceptable then why not make taxation voluntary?

      By the way, some people are always going to have more options and opportunities than others, be it because of looks, money, connections, talent that people are willing to pay to see (i.e. footballers) or a million other things you can think of. That is just the nature of life and it does not disappear because some system of legalized coercion (i.e. government) says things ought not to be that way.

      Come on guys. If this blog is all about primal living then look at the ways primitive cultures live. If you lived in a small group 15,000 years ago, everyone would have shared. Everyone together would have looked after the young and the old and when the men of the group killed a wild animal for food, they would have done so together and taken it back to the group to share.

      You are romanticizing the past. Do you realize how high the murder rate was for many hunter gather groups? It sometimes approached 50%!

      What's more a small group of elders (not elected) would decide what everyone did. What group projects the village did and how much each family and/or person contributed.

      I'm not sure how this is analogous to the forcible government we have today. In fact groups like this could exist in a totally free society.

      Giving some of your money to help those in your society less fortunate than you is not slavery, it's humanity and what's more it's totally primal.

      Yes that's true if I am giving my money. But if someone is taking it from me to do with as they please against my will, that is not giving, which is an act of free will, but ratherthat is theft, which is an act of violence. Cloaking such behavior in the guise of “humanity” doesn't change that fact one bit.



    • Gaute on September 15, 2009 at 06:53

      It is called socialism, we voted for it.
      Try it sometime, you might like it.



    • Michael on September 15, 2009 at 07:33

      No thanks. I believe theft (taxation), murder (war), and kidnapping (conscription) are evils to be avoided, not forced on people via voting for the sake of the majority.



    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2009 at 11:48

      It is called socialism

      Thank you. It's really all I'm asking. Let's just call things what they are. Let's all just admit that we're in a wholly socialist system that is ruled by elites and paid for by extortion under threat of fine, imprisonment, or even death should one decide to take principled resistance to the very end.



    • paulherbert on September 15, 2009 at 06:56

      I'm sorry I just don't get it. Michael you'll have to explain this to me. Are you saying you don't want to pay any tax at all? How would that work? How do you have a society if nobody pays for it? There will always be people who want the benefits of a society, but don't want to pay their share. Make tax voluntary and these people will just live off everyone else. Where I come from they are called parasites.

      Or are you saying that you want to pick and choose what tax you pay? So for example, your Ok to pay for the army, but not healthcare, you'll pay for roads, but not education.



    • Gaute on September 15, 2009 at 07:08

      I am also european and I am with you on this paulherbert.

      In my opinion we have a far superior system to the US. WTF at the american school system and their healthcare, and people here argue for less taxes? You should pay more, way more.



    • Michael on September 15, 2009 at 08:02

      I'm sorry I just don't get it. Michael you'll have to explain this to me. Are you saying you don't want to pay any tax at all?

      I'm saying taxation is theft.

      How would that work? How do you have a society if nobody pays for it?

      You do realize that society does not equal government, right? You do realize that government sits as an entity on top of society, right? That government exists because the people that it “governs” are productive, by which the gov't can then draw its tax revenue since governments do not produce anything, and that without such societal production a government would cease to exist. I hope you realize that because if you don't nothing I say will make any sense since you will be confusing the means with the results.

      So the question is “how do most services in society get paid for?” Well the answer should be obvious, by the people who make up that society. And in spite of the rather large reach of government, most transactions in society are accomplished without government intervention or in spite of it.

      So I think you are probably asking about things like police, armies, etc. that you couldn't imagine a voluntary society providing. But the truth of the matter is that all those things could be better provided through voluntary participation through private contract, user fees, and other mechanisms. There is a long history of this kind of thing, even among some hunter gather groups.

      If you really want to delve into the subject I would suggest Bruce Benson's The Enterprise of Law: Justice Without the State or Healing Our World in An Age of Aggression by Mary Ruwart. Both give solid analysis and lots of real life examples, current and historical. Ruwart is more approachable and Benson is more academic.

      There will always be people who want the benefits of a society, but don't want to pay their share. Make tax voluntary and these people will just live off everyone else. Where I come from they are called parasites.

      Yeah you are talking about the so-called free rider problem, which is a huge problem right now in the US because many people do not pay income taxes. But that area is probably something you should research on your own if you really want an answer. I would like to stick somewhat within the framework of force that Richard laid out.

      To that end I want you to notice who is the real parasite. Since governments produce nothing, and can only get their revenue by taking it from productive members of society via taxation, then they exist in a parasitic relationship over the people they govern. They are the real parasites because without living off the productive capabilities of others (i.e. society), it would cease to exist.

      Given your definition above, I don't see how you can conclude that government is anything but a parasite.



    • paulherbert on September 15, 2009 at 09:56

      Michael, I am a familiar with Bruce Benson's work I just don't agree.

      Of course I do understand that government does not produce anything it simply spends/administers what what the productive element of society produces. But for me these things are arguments for small government not no government. And yes most governments interfere in things I would rather they didn't.

      I think the difference between us is that I do think that the law in general protects the week from the strong. But you do need to have a check on the law and to have a check on the law you need separation between the police, the judges and the law makers and I am afraid this all costs money. And although it is far from perfect democracy is the best system we have. Yes you can argue endlessly what flavour of democracy we should have. But the alternative is either despotism or chaos.

      If you have a situation where you and a group of your friends can band together to hire your own private militia to protect you. What is to stop me and my friends hiring and even bigger private band of mercenaries to come to your town and take everything you have.

      There are tribes all around the world who live in terror of there neighbours stealing their livestock and sometimes worse their women. Believe me modern democracy with welfare, healthcare and taxation is the best way to go.



    • Michael on September 15, 2009 at 20:50

      Of course I do understand that government does not produce anything it simply spends/administers what what the productive element of society produces. But for me these things are arguments for small government not no government. And yes most governments interfere in things I would rather they didn't.

      No, what the government does is steal and extort what the productive in society produce. The only reason they have money to “spend/administer” (given that gov't by definition doesn't produce anything) is because they stole it in the first place.

      Thus I'm not interested in arguing about how much they should steal (i.e. big government vs small government) but rather simply pointing out they shouldn't be stealing at all.

      Benson simply demonstrates that the services which you (and others who think like you) believe need to be funded by stolen goods is just not supportable by the available evidence. Its wrong on principle and on evidential grounds.

      I think the difference between us is that I do think that the law in general protects the week from the strong. But you do need to have a check on the law and to have a check on the law you need separation between the police, the judges and the law makers and I am afraid this all costs money. And although it is far from perfect democracy is the best system we have. Yes you can argue endlessly what flavour of democracy we should have. But the alternative is either despotism or chaos.

      If you have a situation where you and a group of your friends can band together to hire your own private militia to protect you. What is to stop me and my friends hiring and even bigger private band of mercenaries to come to your town and take everything you have.

      There are tribes all around the world who live in terror of there neighbours stealing their livestock and sometimes worse their women. Believe me modern democracy with welfare, healthcare and taxation is the best way to go.

      None of the above, while expressing your own personal sentiment, qualifies as an argument, and makes me think you have not read Benson's The Enterprise of Law: Justice Without the State or grossly misunderstood it. Unfortunately I have neither the time or inclination to tease all of this out but I do appreciate your comments.



    • paulherbert on September 16, 2009 at 01:26

      Bonkers!



    • Michael on September 16, 2009 at 17:31

      Bonkers! There are many places where there is competition for protective services like those that you and Benson propose,

      No there isn't, but again this makes me think you haven't read the book as you claimed, and that you are also assuming quite a few things in this discussion. At any rate I haven't made any proposals. I am simply looking at the historical record.

      and no state effectively controls that region, they are always hell holes from which people flee.

      What places?

      What you end up with is 12 year olds with AK47s!

      Now we move from personal sentiment to emotional hyperbole, neither of which represents an argument. But I guess the rational side of me would say it depends on why they have them.

      Millions have died in the eastern Congo, where refugees from Rwanda and elsewhere set up competing protective services, over and against each other, with the nominal central government nowhere to be found. The people die like flies, unless they flee from the contested areas most resembling the postulated anarchocapitalist conditions.

      On free competition for protective services, the rivals kill each other and their potential customers, or drive them out of the disputed region altogether, to such extent that no stable 'anarchocapitalist' region has ever or will ever emerge.

      There is competition of such destructive nature that the product in its complete form can never appear.

      Now I know you haven't read the original source material or you wouldn't be making such categorically false statements. I'm not suggesting you would agree as I don't think evidential arguments much matter to the opponents of freedom (or proponents of governmental theft – however you want to phrase it) but it seems clear to me you haven't covered the material sufficiently.

      But for the sake of argument lets say your analysis is right. And let us compare the destructive nature of non-voluntary regions (I have no real attachment to the term “anarcho-capitalism” since free societies can evolve in many different ways of which “anarcho-capitalism” is just one) with the “anarcho-capitalist” regions you mention above. [And by the way, anyone who is objectively covering the territory knows that voluntaryist societies have certain features that operate synegistically, the caricatures notwithstanding…but I digress.]

      According to R.J Rummel's _Death By Government_:
      , in the last century, apart from wars and “collateral” damage, 262,000,000 died at the hands of the state. (my note: non “anarcho-capitalist regions”)

      Simply incomprehensible.

      “Just to give perspective on this incredible murder by government, if all these bodies were laid head to toe, with the average height being 5', then they would circle the earth ten times. Also, this democide murdered 6 times more people than died in combat in all the foreign and internal wars of the century. Finally, given popular estimates of the dead in a major nuclear war, this total democide is as though such a war did occur, but with its dead spread over a century.”

      http://hawaii.edu/powerkills/welcome.html

      Now if we are going to look at the destructive nature of the status quo, which is apparently in its complete form, its on very shaky ground, to put it mildly.

      Anyway this is a tangent that I don't want to spend time on. As for Richard's original thesis regarding force/theft versus freedom, your stance is clear. As is mine.



    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2009 at 11:43

      How would that work?

      I re-refer everyone to my post.



    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2009 at 11:45

      How do you have a society…

      Whose “society”?

      I actually do have a society and I have always paid my fair share, as have all the others in our mutual society (otherwise they wouldn't be in our society).

      Oh, you mean collective society. Not interested.



    • paulherbert on September 15, 2009 at 12:24

      Seriously Richard, are you really not interested in anything produced by anyone not in your immediate circle (is that what you mean by mutual society)? You don't visit museums or art galleries or watch movies.



    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2009 at 12:37

      …are you really not interested in anything produced by anyone not in your immediate circle…

      Of course. I'm just not interested in you and others offering it to me at someone else's expense rather than my own, or in voluntary combination with others in _my_ society.

      Shorter version: I'm really not interested in stolen goods and services, as appealing as they might be. Call me old-fashioned & over the hill.

      I'm just not hip enough.



    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2009 at 11:41

      Come on guys. If this blog is all about primal living then look at the ways primitive cultures live. If you lived in a small group 15,000 years ago, everyone would have shared. Everyone together would have looked after the young and the old and when the men of the group killed a wild animal for food, they would have done so together and taken it back to the group to share.

      And why do you suppose those groups usually numbered around 30 and usually no more than 50?

      If you want to argue primal, then you need to integrate the primal social structures with the food choices and physical activity.



    • Grant on September 15, 2009 at 13:26

      paulherbert said: And it seems to me that there is a huge gulf between you guys in the US and the rest of the world.

      Hence, our Declaration of Independence.

      Hence, our going from nothing to being the most powerful, wealthy, politically stable and technologically advanced nation on earth within 200 short years.

      If only Americans could be reinvigorated to make that gulf bigger again. Imagine the possibilities.



    • dancinpete on September 16, 2009 at 10:24

      Sorry Grant, the US may still be the most powerful nation around, but you're no longer the wealthiest, nor healthiest. Canadians work less, earn more, drink more, live longer, safer, healthier lives, and have more and better sex.

      http://www.macleans.ca/canada/national/article….



  14. malingerer on September 15, 2009 at 09:35

    You sound like an libertarianist, but that would mean your all about the 'self' or an egoist and your blog doesn't really come across that way.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2009 at 12:29

      Ah, now we're getting somewhere.

      in fact, I'm am profoundly selfish and egoist (I consider it a cardinal _virtue_). And, yet, you notice that so much of this site is about helping others, am I right?

      So, can you explain the apparent contradiction? Can you think it through?



    • In on September 15, 2009 at 18:40

      Yes Richard. Everyone has an ego much as everyone has a heart and lungs. I suspect you consider selfishness a virtue because recognizing that one acts out of self interest is tantamount to embracing reality and that those who claim altruism are usually pretending.

      Consider the possibility however that one's sense of identity is to some degree plastic, that one can in a sense “identify” more strongly with something other than his own ego. Think of the soldier who chooses to die for his cause, or the man who dies trying to save another. Now consider further the possibility that one could identify primarily with all of humanity or even all that is. Such would be called a “mystic” or “saint” in many religions.

      My point is that it seems that only in this sense can altruism be sincere. My problem with Ayn Rand (not to pigeon hole you as an objectivist) is that she excludes this possibility and asserts that only the ego-identification is valid. Ayn Rand was an ideology pusher and there are a myriad of holes in her philosophy and books, this is but one (but an important one).

      Leftist politics has done an incredible amount of harm, no doubt about it. However I do admire lefties that sincerely care about there cause (e.g. Mike Pollan). Note however that what is going on with Mike Pollan and other sincere liberals is an identity shift away from the ego. I don't think selfishness is a virtue, but embracing the reality of human nature is.



    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2009 at 19:02

      one acts out of self interest is tantamount to embracing reality

      You said it.

      those who claim altruism are usually pretending.

      Or setting up a scam, and that runs the gamut, from personal relationships to international politics, to the silly little “popette, enamored as “cultural slaves” may be.

      Consider the possibility…

      I quote just that as a reference for brevity.

      Got it. Here's the deal: I simply accept that people hold wildly divergent values to me, or, they sometimes act in what we have come to term as “heroic” (for lack of logical explanation, if you ask me — and that's not to say I might not act equally inexplicably, given a particular unique, emergency situation).

      As simply as I can: they are welcome to those values. They are even welcome to persuade me of the virtues of such values (those I don't hold already). So, let's see…Are we getting to the point where just because they hold values and are willing to even sacrifice their lives for them, it becomes a magical mortgage on my life and productivity? …

      …she excludes this possibility…

      Oops. You may need to get out more. I'm not going to look up references, because, after all, you are the one claiming sufficient familiarity of her work to make such categorical statements,but she indeed very exhaustively dealt with the reality of self sacrifice in her moral code of selfishness.

      Also, perhaps it's best if you work it out for yourself. In the light of your second paragraph, why might a selfish egoist die for a cardinal value; like an ideal, or even a flesh & blood child, wife, parent, sibling, or other?

      I don't think selfishness is a virtue, but embracing the reality of human nature is.

      I believe the two are inseparable, and trying to synthetically conduct ourselves otherwise is an evasion of reality, and those never amount to good.



    • In on September 15, 2009 at 23:03

      Richard, sorry, I don't know how you are italicizing so I'm using quotes instead.

      “You said it.”

      And I stand by it.

      “Or setting up a scam, and….”

      I totally agree.

      “the point where just because they hold values and are willing to even sacrifice their lives for them, it becomes a magical mortgage on my life and productivity?”

      I am not claiming this. I agree with your politics more than your philosophy.

      “I simply accept that people hold wildly divergent values…”

      I think you are using the term values in the same way I am referring to identifying with something other.

      “she indeed very exhaustively dealt with the reality of self sacrifice in her moral code of selfishness….”

      Touche. I was sloppy in my point. Yes I'm sure she did explain how self-sacrifice fits into her philosophy. I do recall Rourke stating he would sacrifice himself for Gail Wynan in the Fountainhead (not that it made sense in context). That said (I read Virtue of selfishness but I am most familiar with her fiction btw) in practice and in her fiction books she wasn't championing altruistic values. Apparently high values to Ayn Rand things like being good at running a railroad, men who don't feel jealousy (Hank Reardon), pride, talking philosophically even during romantic moments, not having children, etc.,etc. I know this is oversimplifying her stories (pardon my facetiousness), but the point is she is pushing *egoic* values.

      Can't we say that some values are *better* than others? Hitler had values, so did Ghandi. Do you welcome people to embrace Hitler's values over Ghandi's? Remember that values are to a large extent a choice. This begs the question “What ought we value?” For me as far as Ayn Rand goes, it is the moral aesthete that cringes. It is the valuing of something higher and greater than the individual ego that she at least tacitly rejects as evidenced by her life and her stories.

      “I believe the two are inseparable….”

      A virtue defined, classically, is a habit of right action. Selfishness is a built in survival mechanism, not a virtue. Embracing reality on the other hand fits the definition of a virtue.



    • Richard Nikoley on September 16, 2009 at 13:03

      Can't we say that some values are *better* than others?

      Absolutely. There are objective values (i.e. natural food) and subjective values (a film). A natural paleo diet is a far better value to hold than a vegetarian diet. I hold that as an objective statement of fact based upon our knowledge of reality.



    • shel on September 15, 2009 at 13:41

      malingerer~

      forgive me if i'm wrong, but you seem to imply that “the 'self' or an egoist” is a bad thing; so, we have to define “morality”.

      subjectively, selfishness and pride (according to most religionists and altruistic humanists) are immoral states of being.

      objectively, violence, coercion and fraud are immoral states because these do direct harm to someone else.

      now i want an explanation: because i'm selfish and have pride, how is this a bad thing if i don't perpetrate violence, coercion or fraud on someone else?



    • In on September 15, 2009 at 18:49

      The most probably correct answer to your question: such is bad because you only identify with your (very finite) self and nothing greater. See my response to Richard's comment.



    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2009 at 19:06

      Ah, but you're ignoring the whole world of values.

      Do you think [rationally] selfish people don't value others, and value them highly? Think carefully.



    • In on September 15, 2009 at 23:08

      Of course they do.

      Another way of stating my response to shel: such is bad because you could value something higher than the feeling of pride or other egcentric things.



    • shel on September 15, 2009 at 23:40

      give me an objective, earthly value that's higher than my pride and my self interest.

      if i don't put force upon you, but wish you good will and show you respect, what does it matter?

      what higher thing should i value? if you say “others”, what you really mean is that if you find yourself in a jam, you expect something from me, and that i owe you some of what i've earned, though i've never taken anything from you.

      i love and value the people who have earned it.



    • In on September 16, 2009 at 07:10

      “give me an objective, earthly value that's higher than my pride and my self interest”

      How about valuing that civilization hasn't collapsed yet or that by historical and global standards you are extremely wealthy or that your children live in a safe neighborhood.

      “if i don't put force upon you, but wish you good will and show you respect, what does it matter?”

      This question poses a fundamental philosophical problem. I don't know. For all I know Orthodox Christianity could be true; then its obvious why it matters.

      “what higher thing should i value? if you say “others”, what you really mean is that if you find yourself in a jam, you expect something from me, and that i owe you some of what i've earned, though i've never taken anything from you.”

      No, don't put words in my mouth. I'm claiming that it is possible to value others, a cause, making the world a better place, etc. more than one's pride or other egocentric values. Once again we all need to answer the question: what ought we value? It is hard to distinguish pride from the feeling of being better than someone else, a sense of entitlement, which reflects to some extent a denial of reality. I caution you against pride. It can blind one to truth.

      “i love and value the people who have earned it.”

      And how different really are those who've earned it and those who haven't? It is human nature to regard some as friends and others as enemies. The reality of what other people are differs from what the social mechanism built into people tells them they are. People are mostly the same.



  15. bjjbryce on September 15, 2009 at 09:48

    Nassim Taleb has a good way of defining corporations and banks that are protected by these state statutes.

    When they make profit, they benefit directly by growing rich, but when they take huge losses, we all suffer as the government has to absorb the debt induced. It's capitalism for profit and socialism for losses. Not good.

    Great post Richard. “There can logically be no such thing as a right to goods and services produced by others.” This is a brilliant way of stating the problem.

    Thanks for keeping us thinking.

  16. golooraam on September 15, 2009 at 11:58

    Hi Richard,

    I appreciated your post. I'm not sure if I fully understand all of it, but I appreciated the WFoods CEO's take on this matter a few weeks back that caused so much uproar. When I actually read it, and realized that so much of our health problems are 'self-caused', I realized there were some really good points. Also, something I have heard no one mention (due to the uberpowerful AMA lobby) is asking them to allow more doctors. Being Indian, I know so many physicians as friends, but asking them to take a dollar less for their services leads them to almost punching me in the stomach 🙂 Prices would go down if we would allow a few more physicians.

    • monicahughes on September 15, 2009 at 14:45

      The only problem is that Mackey fell down the “fat is evil” rabbithole in his evaluation. So, to a certain extent, he buys the government nutritional bullshit without even realizing it.



  17. Skyler Tanner on September 15, 2009 at 13:00

    Richard,

    Is there (or has there been) a nation that is truly libertarian or a true free market?

    This is outside of my sphere, so any specifics or direction you can point me in would be appreciated.

    Best,
    Skyler

    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2009 at 13:32

      Skyler:

      Well, prior to agriculture, there was no such thing as State (nothing to steal). Statism arose through the chaos of the pillage of settlements. That is, marauders realized they could remain and set up a protection racket contra other marauders (or themselves if the line wasn't towed).

      After that, you have some examples of relatively small populations that were organized under some measure of anarchist principle.

      So, first, a decent overview:

      .

      Then, some examples:

      In my rather so-so knowledge of the whole thing, Medieval Iceland seems to be the gold standard, and there are a couple of papers in that list.

      And, hey, just to clarify: you are not going to find me arguing that this sort of order will necessarily produce the sorts of institutions (like schools, police, courts, military, etc) that people seem to think they can't do without. That's not my objective. My objective is simply to identify and underscore the reality that we live in an order that's based upon rule by elites (elections: getting your 1/200,000,000th say in your own affairs) and paid for through extortion (taxes: pay up of face fines, sanctions, imprisonment, or worse).



    • shel on September 15, 2009 at 14:06

      Skyler~

      if you're new to libertarianism, these are good places to start:

      http://mises.org/

      http://www.strike-the-root.com/

      .



    • Michael on September 15, 2009 at 21:26

      I'm not Richard but here are a few:

      Bronze Age India
      The Ancient Hebrews before the Kings
      Medieval Iceland
      Medieval Ireland (1000 years!)
      Medieval Anglo-Saxon England
      The so-called Wild West

      I pulled up links for a few. There is more.



    • Michael on September 15, 2009 at 21:49

      I'm not Richard but here you go:

      Bronze Age India
      The ancient Hebrews before the Kings
      Ancient Ireland for 1000 years!
      Medieval Iceland
      Medieval England
      The International Law Merchant A supremely powerful and effective example of law without the state
      The so-called Wild Wild West

      If you want the links for the rest let me know.



  18. Paul Kecoss on September 15, 2009 at 13:49

    Wow. Just wow. Way to shoehorn slavery and Nazi references. Bravo.

    I’ll take your views, and people who share your views, a bit more seriously when the hyperbole level isn’t set to eleven.

    I get it. You have ideological views as to how things should go. It’s good to have guidelines. But that’s all they are, guides, at some point we all need to deal in the imperfect practical.

    Free market utopia doesn’t exist and it won’t come about tomorrow or anytime soon.

    In the meantime we the people need to come up with cost effective systems that protect citizens because that’s governments job. If a government can’t do that on some degree it’s worthless. That degree is of course up for debate but there certainly is more to government’s role of civilian protection than having armies.

    It’s fair to consider the government’s role regarding health care in the equation of “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”

    Upon reading your comments further, it seems like you take issue with the principal government systems and this isn’t a post about health care at all. I don’t know what to tell you, we have government and it’s not going away. Even without government, republics groups of people still paid taxes, or dues, or pooled resources, or shared work, or whatever you want to call it along with having law and constraints on personal liberty.

    Your healthy skepticism of government is a good thing, but wishing it away is futile. The United States was founded as a government of aarguable degree with checks to limit central power over individual liberties, but it’s certainly not a pure ideology of “Everyone, do what you want.”

    I’m sure you’ve these criticisms of libertarianism before.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2009 at 14:24

      at some point we all need to deal in the imperfect practical

      Indeed. I'm simply pointing out that thus far, we've been unable to move from childish rule by “comforting” masters (god, kings, popes, presidents), financed through coercive force, to an adult existence of non-rule and non-force.

      Free market utopia doesn’t exist…

      Utopia never existed. Reality does. Free markets, of course, don't exist either, but they certainly could. Would they deliver our hearts' desires? Nope. Will they “work” as well as elite rule and coercive force. Depends on what any individual means by “work.” But I don't care whether free markets “work” or not. Only children justify rule and coercion on the basis of “necessity.”

      we have government and it’s not going away

      I'm absolutely sure you're right. I'm just here to tell you what it is, in no uncertain terms. And while you may be perfectly content — lulled into gleeful satisfaction even — that you live in a SOCIETY (albeit one ruled by elites and financed through extortion), I'm simply resigned to the fact.

      Even without government, republics groups of people still paid taxes, or dues, or pooled resources, or shared work, or whatever you want to call it along with having law and constraints on personal liberty.

      Well it depends on whether or not they could unilaterally opt out of allegiance, financing mechanisms, and/or obeisance (to laws or customs with the effect of law), given, of course that they would face the consequences of not receiving whatever they were getting in return. If not, then it's just a state or government by any other name.



  19. dougmcguffmd on September 15, 2009 at 12:28

    Richard,

    Excellent post, but I bet you wish you had never thrown yourself on this hand grenade. It is easy to see your point of view when it is one's own ox that is getting gored. As an emergency physician I am forced to work under EMTALA- a federal law that forces emergency physicians to see all who present regardless of their ability (or intention) of paying for services. Each year I personally provide over $400,000 in uncompensated care, and have about $40 of overhead expense for the honor of seeing each non-paying patient. I understand full-well the meaning of slavery.

    Government is the cause of high cost in Medicine. By overpromising what could be provided through Medicare and Medicaid, politicos could only prop these systems up through the next election cycle by applying price controls. The money lost through price controls can only be made up by cost-shifting onto the private sector. If we go to universal care, everything that is now expensive will instead become scarce. The government won't have to worry about “death panels”…when you need a bypass, or brain surgery they will simply say “there's the que, get in line” and a significant number will die while waiting…no need for a deliberating death panel.

    The lovers of the Canadian plan can check on my arguments by looking at Canada's own website http://www.wcwl.org. To look at the current wait lists and the forms that the doctors must fill out. Also, many Canadians avoid the death-wait by coming across the border to the US (the Prime Minister's wife got flown to Mayo). That safety valve that helps prop their system will be gone damn fast.

    Doug McGuff, MD

    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2009 at 12:46

      Hey Doug.

      Well, I'm gratified the conversation has been pretty civil. So, we're fine, so far.

      As an emergency physician I am forced to work under EMTALA- a federal law that forces emergency physicians to see all who present regardless of their ability (or intention) of paying for services. Each year I personally provide over $400,000 in uncompensated care, and have about $40 of overhead expense for the honor of seeing each non-paying patient. I understand full-well the meaning of slavery.

      Now we just have to wait for someone to say something like you're not forced at all. This is merely the price you pay for the privilege of getting to use your half-million dollar education.

      But as a friend always says: “they use the things you love against you.”

      Government is the cause of high cost in Medicine.

      Absolutely. Beyond what you mention is also the fact the regulation of “insurance” has turned it into pre-paid medical. People ought to stop and understand the difference between purchasing an extended warrantee and service contract for their vehicle (expensive) vs. buying high deductible insurance, and apply the lesson to health care. If everyone was paying out of pocket up to some max that makes economic sense to them, before insurance kicked in, demand for services would plummet and prices would fall.



  20. Tamara of In the Night Farm on September 15, 2009 at 15:45

    Awesome post. Grokked and appreciated. That took guts.

  21. Kyle Bennett on September 15, 2009 at 21:26

    Lessee, free markets are chaos… check; free markets can't provide basic services… check; free marketeers stand around watching people die… check; taxes are voluntary… check; “we the people”… check; free marketeers like taxes too, when it benefits them… check; “love it or leave it”… check; Europeans are smarter… check; selfishness is evil… check; individualism is primitive… check

    Yup, I think we got all ten. But, as they say, it goes to eleven! Ayn Rand has holes in her philosophy and only naive teenagers believe her crap…. check.

    On the other hand, I'm pleased to see that eating like a human and thinking like a human so frequently go hand in hand. Free the Animal!

  22. shel on September 16, 2009 at 00:01

    holy cow, Richard! this must be your longest thread.

  23. JLL on September 17, 2009 at 02:06

    Damn, you're the third libertarian/anarchist paleo blogger I know! Good stuff.

    I guess there is something natural about first discovering how shitty the government's diet recommendations are and then discovering how shitty the government is in general.

    Keep ruffling those feathers!

    • Richard Nikoley on September 17, 2009 at 13:24

      I guess there is something natural about first discovering how shitty the government's diet recommendations are and then discovering how shitty the government is in general.

      For me it happened the other way around. Been anarchist since '92 about, but paleo only since '07.

      I should have made the connection sooner.

      BTW, who are the other anarcho-paleos? Are you familiar with Primal Wisdom?



    • JLL on September 18, 2009 at 01:47

      I am familiar with Primal Wisdom, yeah. Good blog. I'm the third one, though my blog is about living longer in general rather than just paleolithic diets:

      http://inhumanexperiment.blogspot.com/

      I've just found many aspects of paleo diets good for life extension purposes as well. I've been eating a semi-paleo diet for a few years now.

      And while I usually avoid discussing politics on the blog, I firmly believe a society based on voluntary transactions would be much better for the longevity movement than a society based on coercion and violence (i.e. the government).



    • Richard Nikoley on September 18, 2009 at 11:55

      Cool. Yea, I took a look at your site yesterday. Well, I'm revamping
      the blogroll to include everyone out there who's writing about the
      paleo / primal way, so stay tuned.



    • WFH on September 17, 2009 at 08:57

      Not all 'anarchists' are vegans !

      “How we get what we need is how we are controlled, it is also how we control others, unless this fact is faced and owned, everything else is self-deception”-RedWolfReturns

      Freedom belongs to the individual—this is a basic anarchist
      principle—and as such resides in individual responsibility to
      oneself and in free association with others. Thus, there can be no
      obligations, no debts, only choices of how to act. The therapeutic
      approach to social problems is the very opposite of this.. Basing
      itself in the idea that we are crippled rather than chained,
      inherently weak rather than held down, it imposes an obligatory
      interdependence, a mutuality of incapacity, rather than a sharing
      of strengths and capabilities. In this, it parallels the official way
      of dealing with these problems. And no wonder. It is the natureof weakness to submit. If we all assume our own weakness, our
      perpetual internal infection by these various social diseases, then
      we will continue to nurture a submissive way of interacting with
      the world, ever ready to admit guilt, to apologize, to back down
      from what we’ve said or done. This is the very opposite of
      responsibility, which acts consciously with the assurance of
      one’s projectual approach to life, ready to take the consequences
      of one’s choices—the outlaw worthy of her transgressions.” Against the Logic of Submission-Wolfi Landstreicher



    • whitney613 on September 17, 2009 at 09:48

      I grow weary of the generalizations and notions from people who oppose my view.
      I'm more “right” than “left” and the fact that I oppose this piece of Health Care Reform therefore I must be “selfish” and “unconcerned” about others.
      Slap on the fact that I'm a “materialistic” American and that's a double whammy I'm just sick of.
      The fact that I support what Richard says and I must be a, b or c.
      It's a gross generalization, for sure.

      I give back to my community.
      I'm concerned for others.
      I'm unselfish in my own ways, but if they don't fit into YOUR box, forget about it.
      Step outside your paradigm and try to enjoy the view; albeit a different one.



  24. Nutrition and Physical Regeneration » 10 Notable Blogs from 2009 on January 11, 2010 at 23:51

    […] government is a huge reason we are in this nutritional pickle in the first place. In my opinion his Health Care Through Force article is a jarring (to some readers) but good read for namby pamby health food writers and […]

  25. Dana on April 7, 2010 at 20:49

    This is an old post, and I’m not gonna look to see if I commented already, and I know that’s annoying, and I apologize for being annoying.

    But.

    You benefit from police protection, fire protection, the Centers for Disease Control, the Interstate highway system, university research (when it’s not buried), disaster assistance when you are hit by earthquakes (you’re in California, I gather?), and the military that “fights for your freedom.” (If you don’t know why I put that in quotation marks, you’re not as big an anarchist as I thought.)

    All of this is paid for with “someone else’s money,” because you sure as heck can’t afford it all.

    Furthermore, at least some of the goods and services that we allegedly “do not have a right to” are goods and services we require in order to stay alive. Food is an excellent example. There is a patchwork quilt of laws across the country governing how and whether we can forage for our own, and in many cases, we legally can’t, at least not anything outside the vegetable kingdom. And if that member of the veggie kingdom is on someone else’s land, even a strip mall’s, forget it.

    This is ridiculous. I have a “right” to fund an outfit that goes to other countries and slaughters brown people for dubious benefit (and I am ex-Army, by the way), but I do not have a “right” to stay alive without having to wait two weeks for a paycheck?

    Nor a “right” to health care? (That won’t leave me bankrupt after?)

    Why?

    No platitudes, no paeans to Ayn Rand, please. Seriously. Why?

    I may or may not remember to come back and read your response. But think about it. Maybe you’ll write it up one of these days. Never hurts to have more blogging material, am I right?

    Ayn Rand, by the way, was a crazy woman. She idolized serial killers and was sociopathic in her outlook–any fool could tell. If there’s one thing that’s definitely Paleolithic it’s the notion that no person is an island and that we all fare better when we look out for one another.

    It’s not reasonable for you or me to look out for 300 million people, and I realize that. But this is what we’re stuck with. Unless you are ready to break up the Republic right now and go back to living in tribes–and I would be totally behind that, except the FBI will probably come investigate me now for saying so–we have to work with what is here.

    As long as we’re supposed to identify as a nation-state, the nation-state must work together. We must hang together, or we shall assuredly all hang separately. No, I didn’t coin that phrase. You know who did. Someone considerably less crazy than Ms. Rand, even if he was still a mite touched.

    There are three alternatives here: Single-payer. Making everyone pay into insurance to drive costs down. (Yes, that is how it works.) Or, break up the nation-state and leave the tribal groups to each go their own way. The existing government took the option it found the most politically viable. Good luck getting anything better.

    • Richard Nikoley on April 8, 2010 at 11:00

      “Why?”

      There can logically be no such thing as a “right” to goods and/or services produced by the time, effort and values of others.

      And I’m not interested in the “benefits” bestowed upon my by thieves, attractive as they may be.



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