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Little Big Man
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In the Sprit of the Holidays, Praise for Government
Dec 23rd, 2018 at 11:20pm
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Libertarians are often accused of being "anarchists."  Most especially, we are accused of that by by people who think that the U.S. Constitution is a libertarian plan for government. 

So this thread is for nothing else but for libertarians to say what is good about government.  The overwhelming majority of government actions are to the detriment of the people unfortunately, but some government actions are downright positive.

I'll start:

Farming.

Before farming, humans were hunter gatherers.  As hunter-gatherers, our ancestors may have been perfectly happy, but humans did not advance until we learned to farm the land and stay put.  As nomads we were little more than more intelligent versions of packs of wild dogs. 

This staying put and farming allowed for something that animals could never do: innovate.  Without government to keep roving bands of still-nomadic tribes from simply taking our food before we could harvest it, farming could never worked.  Once we learned to feed ourselves through labor instead of living off the land, our opportunities to use our large brains increased a thousand fold.

So hats off to government.  So long as it serves the people instead of vice-versa.
  

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Re: In the Sprit of the Holidays, Praise for Government
Reply #1 - Dec 23rd, 2018 at 11:51pm
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Constitutional Law/Civil Law

In the absence of constitutional and civil Laws, it's "law-of-the-jungle".   Or the King's Law, which is almost as bad.

Not all laws are good.  In a Republic, there are ways to repeal bad laws.

Prohibition was a bad law. It made criminals out of good, decent people.  So it was repealed.

Income Tax is a bad law.  It also makes criminals out of good, decent people.  It hasn't been repealed yet.
  
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The Opposition
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Re: In the Sprit of the Holidays, Praise for Government
Reply #2 - Dec 24th, 2018 at 1:24am
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Little Big Man wrote on Dec 23rd, 2018 at 11:20pm:
This staying put and farming allowed for something that animals could never do: innovate.  Without government to keep roving bands of still-nomadic tribes from simply taking our food before we could harvest it, farming could never have worked.  Once we learned to feed ourselves through labor instead of living off the land, our opportunities to use our large brains increased a thousand fold.


I'm shocked at this admission.

How do you reconcile this with the idea that if you chucked libertarians in the TARDIS and sent them back there, they would be declaring those nascent governments illegitimate?

"Well, everyone just has to pool together." says the first warlord. "I'm taking some of their crops, and feeding my army, so I can defend them, and it's less than the bandits are taking from them, so they're better off."

"Yeah. I like this better." says one of the farmers.

"Shut up! Shut up!" says the libertarian. "You have to formally consent. Cede a portion of your property to Warlord so this will be legitimate, if you dare."

"Okay." says the farmer.

"Well... But..." the libertarian insists, "what about Bill, and Mack, and Moe? They all have to consent, and cede portions of their property."

Bill, Mack, and Moe: "Okay."

"But... But... Ah here's one! This guy doesn't consent!"

Farmer: "I'm pretty sure that guy's a bandit."

Bill, Mack, and Moe: "Yeah he pillaged us yesterday."

"No no NO!!!" says the libertarian. "Not good enough! His rights are ABSOLUTE! You must pay a private court to prove he is a bandit, and even then, if the threat is not present and clear, you can only ask for reparations. You can ask for an equal value back to what he stole, and if he doesn't have it, tough luck. Imprisoning him is inhumane, disproportionate punishment is tyranny, and you can't do that. Those are his rights."

Bandit: "Rights are sweet. I think I'm going to like this libertarian shit."

Warlord: "I don't like it at all. Army, slay the bandit!"

*splat*

Farmer, Bill, Mack, and Moe: "Woo-hoo!"

Personally, I reconcile it with the idea that as silly as all this is, I'm still going to reject the idea that advancement is necessary to moral advancement, and the advancement of rights.

The libertarian is actually correct, but that doesn't change the fact that at this stage of society, if they respect rights absolutely, and the warlord calls off his army, and they invest all their time making sure they absolutely prove the bandits are guilty, they will be pillaged out of existence in the process.

The old me would have taken this as proof positive of too many rights, but I reject that.

The warlord, the farmer, and the seemingly peaceful fellows are actually selfish. They have found a way to live in an artificially calm world through the illegitimacy of government. They sacrifice the rights of the bandit to achieve this goal.

Morality is not on a sliding technology income scale. If we must use the replicator, because eating living things is wrong, then it's wrong whether we have the replicator or not and we all ought to starve.

If slavery is wrong now, then it was wrong then. Every instance, no matter the circumstance.

If having sex with an eight-year-old is wrong now, then barring some really sudden evolution into a late-blooming species, it was wrong then.

If the libertarian is right today, then he's right in prehistory. If the result is we stay nomadic, then we stay nomadic.

We don't live in some pre-K fantasy where the right action always carries a reward, and the wrong action is always punished. People who want to pretend we live in that world are still children. When you grow up, you learn that doing the right thing is more often a sacrifice... and you still do it.
  

This moral relativism of yours is exactly what lets government take this freedom, then that freedom, until we have lost them all.
-SnarkySack
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Jeff
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Re: In the Sprit of the Holidays, Praise for Government
Reply #3 - Dec 24th, 2018 at 8:46am
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Little Big Man wrote on Dec 23rd, 2018 at 11:20pm:
Libertarians are often accused of being "anarchists."  Most especially, we are accused of that by by people who think that the U.S. Constitution is a libertarian plan for government. 

So this thread is for nothing else but for libertarians to say what is good about government.  The overwhelming majority of government actions are to the detriment of the people unfortunately, but some government actions are downright positive.

I'll start:

Farming.

Before farming, humans were hunter gatherers.  As hunter-gatherers, our ancestors may have been perfectly happy, but humans did not advance until we learned to farm the land and stay put.  As nomads we were little more than more intelligent versions of packs of wild dogs. 

This staying put and farming allowed for something that animals could never do: innovate.  Without government to keep roving bands of still-nomadic tribes from simply taking our food before we could harvest it, farming could never worked.  Once we learned to feed ourselves through labor instead of living off the land, our opportunities to use our large brains increased a thousand fold.

So hats off to government.  So long as it serves the people instead of vice-versa.
Sometimes the nomadic tribes won and stole the crops, sometimes they lost to the tribes growing the crops.

You've hit on a key function of government though, protection of property. All property, not just food.
  
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Re: In the Sprit of the Holidays, Praise for Government
Reply #4 - Dec 24th, 2018 at 8:47am
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The Opposition wrote on Dec 24th, 2018 at 1:24am:
How do you reconcile this with the idea that if you chucked libertarians in the TARDIS and sent them back there, they would be declaring those nascent governments illegitimate?

Only the lunatic anarchist fringe says that all government is illegitimate.
  
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Re: In the Sprit of the Holidays, Praise for Government
Reply #5 - Dec 24th, 2018 at 1:12pm
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The Opposition wrote on Dec 24th, 2018 at 1:24am:
I'm shocked at this admission.

How do you reconcile this with the idea that if you chucked libertarians in the TARDIS and sent them back there, they would be declaring those nascent governments illegitimate?



Anarchists would do that, but not libertarians.  Not this one.

If a group of farmers wants to pay people who don't like pushing plows to carry guns on their behalf instead, that's perfectly legitimate.  If the nomadic tribes offer to protect them from other nomadic tribes for a fee, or just for the privilege of dropping in for supper from time to time, that's legitimate also. 

Suppose the farmers are not allowed to join the tribal security force.  Does that make it illegitimate?  No.  As long as the farmers still choose to sponsor the tribe in exchange for protection. 

Such an arrangement allows people suited to producing crops to do so, people who are suited to the profession of arms to practice it in a way that protects rights instead of taking them away and it also allows people who are suited to neither to innovate ways to create wealth in the form of goods and services that they can exchange for food, such as tool making, construction,  mining, clothing making and even the arts.

Government loses its legitimacy when it decides to turn its force on people who are not acting aggressively by taking their wealth instead of allowing them to voluntarily support that government.  Then it is nothing more than the exact kind of armed robbers it purports to protect us from.

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We don't live in some pre-K fantasy where the right action always carries a reward, and the wrong action is always punished. People who want to pretend we live in that world are still children. When you grow up, you learn that doing the right thing is more often a sacrifice... and you still do it.


That's right.  The mayor must sacrifice by taking a lower salary paid by volunteer sponsors of the city government than he could "pay himself" by using police to collect taxes.

  

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Re: In the Sprit of the Holidays, Praise for Government
Reply #6 - Dec 24th, 2018 at 4:49pm
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Little Big Man wrote on Dec 24th, 2018 at 1:12pm:
That's right.  The mayor must sacrifice by taking a lower salary paid by volunteer sponsors of the city government than he could "pay himself" by using police to collect taxes.

Are you off your meds again? Or self medicating?


  
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Re: In the Sprit of the Holidays, Praise for Government
Reply #7 - Dec 24th, 2018 at 6:24pm
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Little Big Man wrote on Dec 24th, 2018 at 1:12pm:
As long as the farmers still choose to sponsor the tribe in exchange for protection.


This is getting to the real meat of it, because there will be that one guy who wants to enjoy the benefit of the safer society without paying. He's banking on everyone else paying, and if he starts getting ahead because of this choice, even if the payers weren't angry before, they will be once the non-payer is clearly on easy street, thanks to everyone else.

This is where the force starts, because even if the warlord doesn't make the freeloader pay, the farmers will demand it, or they'll toss him out (off his own property) on his ass.

Sometimes, there's no solution to the problem of freeloading that's both moral and fair. Many times, there is, but other times, there's not, and that's when you get government just making everyone pay.

You could have the warlord retract his protection of the freeloader, but realistically the bandits are going to either pillage the whole town, or pass it by. The moment you tell the bandits about the situation, you know what you're doing, and you're guilty of aggression anyway.

You could even try to buy the freeloader out of his plot in the village, perhaps swap him for an equal plot of land where people don't pay for protection from bandits, but he really shouldn't take the offer since the value of the safety he's getting for free is so much higher.

Jeff wrote on Dec 24th, 2018 at 4:49pm:
Are you off your meds again? Or self medicating?


Your problem is that you think you can skim, when you obviously can't. We were discussing what it would be moral to do.
  

This moral relativism of yours is exactly what lets government take this freedom, then that freedom, until we have lost them all.
-SnarkySack
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Re: In the Sprit of the Holidays, Praise for Government
Reply #8 - Dec 24th, 2018 at 8:10pm
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The Opposition wrote on Dec 24th, 2018 at 6:24pm:
This is getting to the real meat of it, because there will be that one guy who wants to enjoy the benefit of the safer society without paying. He's banking on everyone else paying, and if he starts getting ahead because of this choice, even if the payers weren't angry before, they will be once the non-payer is clearly on easy street, thanks to everyone else.

This is where the force starts, because even if the warlord doesn't make the freeloader pay, the farmers will demand it, or they'll toss him out (off his own property) on his ass.

Sometimes, there's no solution to the problem of freeloading that's both moral and fair. Many times, there is, but other times, there's not, and that's when you get government just making everyone pay.

You could have the warlord retract his protection of the freeloader, but realistically the bandits are going to either pillage the whole town, or pass it by. The moment you tell the bandits about the situation, you know what you're doing, and you're guilty of aggression anyway.

You could even try to buy the freeloader out of his plot in the village, perhaps swap him for an equal plot of land where people don't pay for protection from bandits, but he really shouldn't take the offer since the value of the safety he's getting for free is so much higher.




All that is very true.  In a libertarian system there will be freeloading.  Those who choose to pay can use peer pressure, shaming, shunning and appeals to the freeloader's sense of fairness to reduce that.  Shop owners and craftsmen who refuse to chip in could be boycotted by those who oppose their freeloading.  Employers could make a record of having contributed a condition of employment. 

But, yes.  There would be freeloading.

However, with no taxes being taken by force of the freeloading would be severely limited.  Farmer Ted may snicker with his cheapskate wife that Farmer George is dumb to pay the recommended 5% of his crop to the men at arms and the Blacksmith may wave his hammer and say that he'd like to see any bandit try to rob him so he don't need no stinkin' men with badges.  But all those people will still have to work their trades to put bread on their table. 

If that system were like our current system of "representative republican" government, the freeloaders would be able to vote for the people who have the monopoly on force and would vote for the one who promised them the greatest ability to freeload.  Soon that imaginary land would be divided into three groups:  producers, the government dependent on the wealth of the producers and profiteers of the franchise dependent on the money the government steals from them. 

I'd could live with a co-worker who keeps all his paycheck to feed his family while I'm the sap who gives ten percent of mine to the protectors much more easily than a neighbor who doesn't need a paycheck because the government takes half of mine to feed his family.

I have a third thought, but I want to hear you respond to those two first.



  

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Re: In the Sprit of the Holidays, Praise for Government
Reply #9 - Dec 24th, 2018 at 10:38pm
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Little Big Man wrote on Dec 24th, 2018 at 8:10pm:
I have a third thought, but I want to hear you respond to those two first.


The first part is very integral to the discussion.

Little Big Man wrote on Dec 24th, 2018 at 8:10pm:
All that is very true.  In a libertarian system there will be freeloading.  Those who choose to pay can use peer pressure, shaming, shunning and appeals to the freeloader's sense of fairness to reduce that.  Shop owners and craftsmen who refuse to chip in could be boycotted by those who oppose their freeloading.  Employers could make a record of having contributed a condition of employment. 


This would work, if and only if, there are significantly more payers than freeloaders, and everyone understands the necessity of keeping it that way.

The freeloader has an advantage, which means, because he's getting something valuable for free that everyone else is disadvantaged to pay for, all else being equal, he wins. He comes out on top. He increases. He has more wealth. More children.

This easily decays all spiral-like. Pretty soon we have a boatload of freeloaders and Warlord has already cut his army down a little and his belly is rumbling, but he looks over his books and shakes his head. "Crap. We need more money." he realises, because more and more people keep freeloading. After all, it's the more successful behaviour. Of course it increases.

So Warlord increases his recommended donation. 90% of the payers do it, but 10% of them know exactly why this is happening and jump onto the winning bandwagon. These are the ones I really sympathise with but they're kinda the key dominoes here, too. "Why should I pay more because Ted won't pay anything?! If there's no consequences for Ted, and all benefit, I bloody well should do what Ted does. I'm not a damn masochist."

...And yeah, you can see where this is going. I have a sort of pet theory that all collapses are this collapse.

Now, if the people see the danger of the spiral right away, and there are enough payers to manage successful boycotts (there have to be vastly, vastly more because non-payers forced to sell to eachother will only magnify the downslope of the spiral) then yes, you have a winner.

Notice this whole thing starts off with all else being equal. Payers have to expend energy to make it not equal. They have to buy from other payers even when the freeloader's product is cheaper (which it will be).

This is pretty easy to accomplish in a small society, but it'll break down faster than Jeff's logic on pill day if there's any sort of anonymity.

Little Big Man wrote on Dec 24th, 2018 at 8:10pm:
However, with no taxes being taken by force of the freeloading would be severely limited.  Farmer Ted may snicker with his cheapskate wife that Farmer George is dumb to pay the recommended 5% of his crop to the men at arms and the Blacksmith may wave his hammer and say that he'd like to see any bandit try to rob him so he don't need no stinkin' men with badges.  But all those people will still have to work their trades to put bread on their table. 

If that system were like our current system of "representative republican" government, the freeloaders would be able to vote for the people who have the monopoly on force and would vote for the one who promised them the greatest ability to freeload.  Soon that imaginary land would be divided into three groups:  producers, the government dependent on the wealth of the producers and profiteers of the franchise dependent on the money the government steals from them. 

I'd could live with a co-worker who keeps all his paycheck to feed his family while I'm the sap who gives ten percent of mine to the protectors much more easily than a neighbor who doesn't need a paycheck because the government takes half of mine to feed his family.


So yeah, it's not as bad. It's a much smaller advantage, but I still think you could have the spiral.

The reason I think this is that the system is so good. In other words, it's what no system was before it - sustainable. You Humans have never lived under an actual sustainable system and I'm still wondering what happens when you run out of M-Class planets and some people still want to have tons of kids.

Bad systems collapse, and Humans eventually form better systems, which go bad, and then collapse.

If you actually had sustainability, you would not have prosperity. You would live on the knife's edge like every animal in the wild does, because you would be living at equilibrium.

Prosperity blossoms when resources are artificially stifled from optimal use by bad systems, and then those bad systems suddenly poof, producing what looks to you like an abundance, so your population explodes, because there's enough for everyone.

But a system that would be good enough not to decay and collapse? A capitalist one? No horrible communism every once in a while to create mass starvations? That would hone competition for resources to a razor's edge. The resources would keep flowing freely until you reached a peak population.

What this means is that competition would be so fierce that not donating might mean the difference between having kids, and not. The difference between starvation, and living.

Whether it's just wanting to or needing to, at equilibrium, people will stop paying. Then bam: Spiral.
  

This moral relativism of yours is exactly what lets government take this freedom, then that freedom, until we have lost them all.
-SnarkySack
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