Losing Free Speech?

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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fivelives » Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:16 am

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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Brekkie » Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:28 am

Fridmarr wrote:I'm not sure you have a solid understanding of limited government/libertarian principles. Civil rights would fall pretty squarely under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. That's what the federal government should be dealing with. In fact I find the republican stance on gay marriage as a "state issue" a bit of a cop out. You shouldn't be married in one state and not in another, that's precisely the consolatory behavior that the federal government should be dealing with.

I wouldn't call myself a full fledged libertarian, I'm a limited government guy though obviously. Libertarians are generally for mostly open borders, providing a path to citizenship/work permits (basically decriminalizing immigrants looking for work, decriminalizing a lot of things really), and gay marriage (though in reality they want government out of marriage all together, but allowing gay marriage is considered a step forward), so I haven't got any idea how you came up with that last comment. I'm not sure if it could be more off the mark.


I understand the Libertarian ideals. It just seems like they quite often get hijacked by bigots thinly veiling themselves in rhetoric about Liberty and Equality. It's like when the Bush administration was justifying torture by going HOW CAN YOU BE AGAINST THIS? WHY DO YOU HATE FREEDOM? It's the most detrimental thing there is to the Libertarian cause in my opinion.

It's ideological hypocrisy, and seems to happen all the time. I actually get along quite well with true Libertarians. But I can count on one hand how many of those I have met.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fridmarr » Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:42 am

You should go to one of their local association meetings, hopefully you don't get that perception there.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fivelives » Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:35 am

In today's atmosphere? Moderates don't get any traction at all. Everyone seems to be competing to see who can be The Most - whether it's The Most republican, or The Most democrat, etc. I can't imagine that the libertarian party would be any different.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Jabari » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:16 am

Brekkie wrote:I hestitate to agree that giving more power to the States is the answer though. If anything, the States are WORSE than the Federal government as far as gross mismanagement, and they have little incentive to not screw up because Big Daddy Federal Government is always there to bail them out if they totally jack their finances up.

Fix the bolded part (aka: make people responsible for their own actions), and see what happens. :)

As an aside: The same goes for the big banks, and stuff like Fannie Mae as well - BoA (as an example) doesn't have any right to even exist right now, as they've been bailed out (i.e., they STOLE money from you and me) multiple times. Why this kind of thing hasn't caused actual riots yet I'll never understand.

Fridmarr wrote:
Brekkie wrote:See, I don't think Bill Gates should be able to have the ability to have that much influence either. Or a celebrity. Or whoever. Everything I said in my post would remain the same if you replaced the word "Company" with "CEO of a company".

Money, and other types of influence are great, but they should not equal power over the political decision-making process of the Nation. No one should be able to influence the actions of a legislator *purely due to their wealth*. That is not democracy, and it is not a republic either. That is kleptocracy.

Bill Gates could certainly drop the money to influence a politician many times over in fact (The dude is worth Billions with a B, political influence wouldn't even dent his wallet), never mind if he brings some friends along. You could replace Company with Person, because private citizens can do all those things as easily as a company. Ask your favorite liberal how they feel about the Koch brothers...

Here's an idea - how about reduce the influence of government enough so that Bill Gates (or whomever) could use his Billions to ... not do much of anything as there's nothing to control. He'd just have to settle for buying really nice houses instead.

(5-10% of the population are simply going to be sociopaths. It seems like the last thing you'd want to have is a large, powerful, rights-violating government around for them to seize control of...)

Fridmarr wrote:I wouldn't call myself a full fledged libertarian, I'm a limited government guy though obviously. Libertarians are generally for mostly open borders, providing a path to citizenship/work permits (basically decriminalizing immigrants looking for work, decriminalizing a lot of things really), and gay marriage (though in reality they want government out of marriage all together, but allowing gay marriage is considered a step forward)...

Hmm - I would call you a libertarian, but not a part of the Libertarian party as they seem to be two different things. Not a minarchist either, obviously, but much further right on the "scale" than the Rs/Ds are.

A "little L" libertarian would be for strong national borders (not open borders), and NOT decriminalizing illegal immigrants (and the qualifier is important) - national defense is a legitimate function of the central government and both of those fall squarely into that category. They'd be for decriminalizing a lot of stuff (what you do on your own property is none of anyone's business so long as you don't initiate force on anyone else), and getting out of the marriage business entirely.

The "open borders" "big L" Libertarians I just don't understand. *shrug*

As far as the Lib. party itself - they don't seem to have a consistent platform, to me. Of their primary candidates (did you even know they were having a primary?): there's a huge difference between Bill Black (an actual small-l libertarian, and perhaps more to the right than that) and Gary Johnson (a Republican in Libertarian clothing).

Fivelives wrote:Whether we like it or not, the tax structure as it currently stands is the best way to take care of business in this country. The problem is out of control spending, not out of control taxation. I don't like paying 5 different taxes (income tax, state tax, sales tax, gas tax, licensing & registration tax) just to drive my car any more than the other Joe Schmoes out there, but just getting rid of income tax isn't the solution. Curbing spending is. The problem with solving that problem is the same as with every other solution out there - the solution raises a whole host of new problems; in this case, "cut where?"

Curbing spending is going to be difficult so long as there are people like Peggy Joseph out there that are celebrated (by the media, at least) instead of shamed.

At least you realize and understand all the different taxes that are on everything. I think a large part of the problem is that so much of it is "invisible".

If I were king for an hour, I would simply disallow the automatic withholding of income tax. If people had to write out a check for $30,000 once a year, I think the "cut where?" discussion would start up pretty fast. :)

Brekkie wrote:I understand the Libertarian ideals. It just seems like they quite often get hijacked by bigots thinly veiling themselves in rhetoric about Liberty and Equality. It's like when the Bush administration was justifying torture by going HOW CAN YOU BE AGAINST THIS? WHY DO YOU HATE FREEDOM? It's the most detrimental thing there is to the Libertarian cause in my opinion.

It's ideological hypocrisy, and seems to happen all the time. I actually get along quite well with true Libertarians. But I can count on one hand how many of those I have met.

Don't forget "it's for the children!" - that's just as bad, and just as abused, as "why do you hate freedom?".

Totally agree about the "ideological hypocrisy" bit.


As a footnote to all of this: I realize that my views are somewhat radical (and on top of that, I "write" stuff somewhat further to the right of my actual views at times, in order to stimulate discussion and attempt to remove some of the brainwashing that gets done in American schools). The truth is that, even with all the problems, there still isn't a better country to live in freedom-wise.

I'm just very concerned with the acceleration of the loss of freedoms (the NDAA is extremely dangerous, and just look at the thread title anyway), and the mathematical fact that we're going to have to either get to a completely balanced budget (and quick), or just default on the national debt. (Which, while bad, isn't the worst thing that could happen. It'd force a balanced budget, at least, and it's not like various European countries haven't done the same. Maybe we could sell California to the Chinese to soften the blow?)
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Jabari » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:24 am

Fivelives wrote:Quick! Blame the president! IT'S ALL HIS FAULT!


Heh, I think I'll blame the voters instead. :)
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Brekkie » Thu Mar 22, 2012 4:50 pm

Jabari wrote:
Brekkie wrote:I hestitate to agree that giving more power to the States is the answer though. If anything, the States are WORSE than the Federal government as far as gross mismanagement, and they have little incentive to not screw up because Big Daddy Federal Government is always there to bail them out if they totally jack their finances up.

Fix the bolded part (aka: make people responsible for their own actions), and see what happens. :)


I have trouble imagining a scenario where this factor COULD be fixed, short of total elimination of the Federal government altogether.

Can you really imagine how it would EVER be a good choice to simply let, say, the state of Maryland rot and go through bankrupcy, and all the citizens who happen to live in Maryland having to suffer through no fault of their own? Holding leaders accountable for their actions, and ensuring there is responsibility for the ramifications is all well and good, but to simply stand by and say "Oh well Marylanders. Sucks to be you. Shouldn't have voted for The Honorable Mr. Douchecanoe. Enjoy not having basic services such as police departments and garbage collection for the next couple years." would never be acceptable to the American people.

I think the fundamental divide in the American mindset is that we have two partially conflicting ideas.
1. You choose your own destiny and actions have consequences
2. This is America. America is a great place. We don't tolerate fundamentally bad things happening here.


So we recoil at the prospect of things like old people dying abandoned and alone, or people starving to death, or third-world-country style slums filled with desperate poor people.

We say "This is America. We are the richest country in the world. The land of opportunity. There should not be people starving to death in America. That is unacceptable." And thus we get food stamps.

We say "This is America. In America people work hard their entire lives earning an honest living. We are a hard working people. That is how we became great. There should not be old people who have worked hard all their lives which now are destitute because their families cannot or will not support them. In America, a hard worker should have the reasonable expectation of being able to retire to a comfortable life to live out their remaining years in peace." And thus we get Social Security.

But the 1st tenant is just as self-indulgent too.

One of the digs people like to make at progressives is "equality of opportunity is not the same as equality of results." And that is true. But it implies that equality of opportunity already exists, or even exists naturally without any manipulation, which is just as false.

I challenge you to name a single small-government, anarchy-idealizing, libertarian who was born with a congenital disease. Hell, name me one who isn't a fairly well-off white male. Why are there no libertarians in Bangladesh, or slum-city South America?

There's something Fridmarr said once in a WoW-related discussion that has stuck with me ever since. He said something to the effect of: "If the implications of a particular hypothesis reflect flatteringly upon myself, I am automatically suspicious of it."

That's how I see this. Just as people find the complaints of poor people claiming that "the system is keeping them down" difficult to fully lend credence to, so too the claims of well-off individuals that "everything is naturally a meritocracy in which the clever and talented will succeed if they are left alone, and the system has nothing to do with it except harm" should be viewed skeptically because it implies a natural superiority in those who are currently successful, completely ignoring all the enablers the system's "interferance" has created for them.
The truth is somewhere in the middle. And it is messy, imprecise, and doesn't make for very coherent sounding sound-bites.


The second thing I struggle with regarding libertarianism is it tends to be a subtle cop-out of responsibility.
The claims that:
-the playing field is naturally equal if left alone, and no one is naturally disenfranchised
-misfortune doesn't exist. Or alternatively, you should have forseen and planned for unpredictable misfortune, so now you have to live with the consequences you fool! Or alternatively, CHARITIES WILL SOLVE THIS!
-all things worth doing by society are naturally profitable

...all these sound like an elaborate self-justification for saying "Someone should pay for these things, but I shouldn't have to be the one to do it." It's the Tragedy of the Commons and the Free Rider Fallacy applied to political ideology.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fivelives » Thu Mar 22, 2012 5:33 pm

Brekkie wrote:I have trouble imagining a scenario where this factor COULD be fixed, short of total elimination of the Federal government altogether.


So why not do exactly this? Become a union of states, rather than a federation of incorporated states. I've posted my reasoning against it, if obliquely, but I'm definitely interested in hearing (or rather, reading) your take on the idea.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fridmarr » Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:26 pm

Privately run charities could and would do significantly more without so much government around. Even with all the government resources in place they do a lot. Today it's easy to turn the other way, because the gov't should be taking care of it. It's easy to turn the other way because almost nothing about it is local. You have to put things in the context of a situation where local government has much more power and local awareness is much higher. That said, I agree wholeheartedly that a government run safety net should be in place. It's our responsibility as a society to make sure children don't go to bed hungry etc, and if private efforts can't meet that demand, then the gov't must help.

However, those government safety nets to be setup in such a way that their intent is to return people to the private sector, which is the complete opposite of how they run now. Currently they try to expand their base because that gets them more money allocated, they try to keep people on their systems as absolutely long as possible, because that gets them more money allocated. I've seen this first hand in several states across many different social programs.

Part of the problem is that portions of their income are subsidized by the federal gov't, which is one of those terribly stupid ideas. The federal gov't taxes everyone and then doles that money out (after a little scraping off the top no doubt) to the states. The states look at it like a competition with other states to as much as they can for their program before it dries up, but the incentives are all messed up. Again, that layer of abstraction caused by the federal gov't asserting control it shouldn't have, results in local gov't that is completely out of whack.

A local school district here (a fairly well off one) has essentially 3 superintendents, and a few assistants for each. The sole job of two of them is to figure out ways to get federal dollars through all the various grant programs that the feds provide. That's absurd.

The need for social programs doesn't necessitate a large federal gov't, in my opinion it's clearly counter productive for it.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Brekkie » Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:53 pm

Fivelives wrote:
Brekkie wrote:I have trouble imagining a scenario where this factor COULD be fixed, short of total elimination of the Federal government altogether.


So why not do exactly this? Become a union of states, rather than a federation of incorporated states. I've posted my reasoning against it, if obliquely, but I'm definitely interested in hearing (or rather, reading) your take on the idea.


Oh, you were serious? I honestly thought you were making an Articles of Confederation joke.

Let me ponder it and do some reading to see if there's any notable successful precedents to model off it. My instinct is, though, that such a move would be more harmful than helpful overall, and create problems that are even more intractable and complicated to solve.

There's a reason why strong central governance is the baseline. It's because it's been the most successful model throughout human history, as far as advancing the interests of the people as a whole. History has trended slowly towards more open societies where the basic unit is the individual person, but it's a difficult act to balance because if you do it wrong the whole system falls apart and you prevent government from being able to do the things government exists to accomplish in the first place. It's called a Social Contract, because there is give and take. If you abandon the sacrifice by the individual for the good of the group, you get anarchy.

And not this Good Anarchy fantasy-land utopia libertarians talk about that somehow sustains a modern interconnected society without anyone ever having to pay for it. Such a thing does not exist in the real world, and cannot exist. There is no example, in all of human history, of successful individualistic anarchy. You don't get Utopia, you get Somalia.

Anyway, I strayed away from the whole Confederation of States thing. Like I said, I'll ponder it more.

Privately run charities could and would do significantly more without so much government around. Even with all the government resources in place they do a lot. Today it's easy to turn the other way, because the gov't should be taking care of it. It's easy to turn the other way because almost nothing about it is local.


I fear that this is dangerous, because charities are not accountable to the people, and have no requirement to be ethical, nor to contribute aid that is actually effective. We just had this whole discussion about the Kony 2012 fiasco. Ignorant, disseperate, un-coordinated aid can be actually MORE destructive than no aid at all.
In fact, in many ways the best way to raise money as a charity is to do the work that is the LEAST effective at solving the problem you are combating.

I also fear abdicating the social support structure to charities for civil liberties reasons. Many, if not most charities are religiously connected and motivated. I never want to see a situation where, in order for a starving man to receive food, he is put in a situation where he is put under overt (or even not-so-overt) pressure to convert to a religious philosophy. Or for there to be any critieria fo selection other than simple need.

Charities are generally small, independant organizations, and as such are forced to pick their battles in order to determine what to expend their limited resources on. And this would be, de facto, resulting in a selection bias for what problems get addressed, or for whom.

That scares me.

However, those government safety nets to be setup in such a way that their intent is to return people to the private sector, which is the complete opposite of how they run now. Currently they try to expand their base because that gets them more money allocated, they try to keep people on their systems as absolutely long as possible, because that gets them more money allocated. I've seen this first hand in several states across many different social programs.

Part of the problem is that portions of their income are subsidized by the federal gov't, which is one of those terribly stupid ideas. The federal gov't taxes everyone and then doles that money out (after a little scraping off the top no doubt) to the states. The states look at it like a competition with other states to as much as they can for their program before it dries up, but the incentives are all messed up. Again, that layer of abstraction caused by the federal gov't asserting control it shouldn't have, results in local gov't that is completely out of whack.

A local school district here (a fairly well off one) has essentially 3 superintendents, and a few assistants for each. The sole job of two of them is to figure out ways to get federal dollars through all the various grant programs that the feds provide. That's absurd.

The need for social programs doesn't necessitate a large federal gov't, in my opinion it's clearly counter productive for it.


I agree with you that the goal should be to get recipients off the system and into productivity.
And I agree with you that the perception of this money is of squabbling over largesse, and that these things are a major problem.

However, I think that is a problem of implementation, and a definitely solvable one. You seem to believe this problem to be inherent in the system. I think that is overly pessimistic.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fridmarr » Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:17 pm

Honestly, I could take your last sentence and apply it totally to your critique. Not only is that an implementation problem, which the rest of my post addressed with a gov't safety net, it's also the typical rhetoric that isn't even accurate today. It's not gov't vs the private sector, they can easily work together, and honestly there are examples of that today. Many of those relationships represent the best our current gov't offers.

I don't think the problem I cited is inherent in the system. It is merely yet another example of a problem that currently exists our system, though certainly one that's more likely with the abstraction of resources. I think the corruption in our federal system is inherent and nearly impossible to control while preserving individual liberties. Though whether its systemic or not doesn't matter as much as the fact that it exists.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fivelives » Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:19 pm

We're already living in a confederation of states. If we dissolved the federal government, and let each state govern itself, it would be more like the EU.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fridmarr » Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:35 pm

Fivelives wrote:We're already living in a confederation of states. If we dissolved the federal government, and let each state govern itself, it would be more like the EU.

I just don't see any particular gain for that severe a draw down in the federal gov't. Really that would be the opposite direction contrasted to the EU. They are adding members and that ultimately makes them stronger, arguably the financial troubles some of their members are having could have been much worse for them if not for the strength of the EU.

If we had some states just totally out of whack or something and causing nationwide problems, maybe I could see a reason, but that's not likely to happen with our strong central government.
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fivelives » Fri Mar 23, 2012 4:35 am

We've already had cases of two states going bankrupt, and it seems likely that we're going to have more. Wouldn't that count as "out of whack and causing nationwide problems", since the federal government had to bail them out, using federal tax money to pay for the states' income tax returns?
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Re: Losing Free Speech?

Postby Fridmarr » Fri Mar 23, 2012 6:11 am

No not really. I mean it's not good, but not a particularly onerous problem on a scale that breaking up the union would require.
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