Charles Koch; Anarcho-Capitalist

I wrote this In June when Koch was first starting to push his boy Paul Ryan towards Romney

On a week when President Obama is being accused of being out of touch, its probably important to understand just how radically “out of touch” the Republican Kingmaker Charles Koch really is. It is Koch who has wanted Obama gone from Inauguration Day and unless you understand the nature of the opposition, you will never understand the fight ahead of us.

In the summer of 1974 Koch established the Charles Koch Foundation with the help of Murray Rothbard, a Professor of economics at the New York University campus in Brooklyn. At the time, Koch was Chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, the second largest privately held firm in the United States. At Rothbard’s suggestion they changed the name of the foundation to The Cato Institute in July of 1976. Rothbard was an early associate of Ayn Rand, hailing her book Atlas Shrugged, as “not merely the greatest novel ever written, it is one of the very greatest books ever written, fiction or nonfiction.” It is in Rand’s hero John Galt that we find the roots of the libertarian belief that a great society is ruled by a class of Nietzschian supermen (the givers), and that most of the society (the takers) free rides on their work. “We have granted you everything you demanded of us, we who had always been the givers, but have only now understood it,” Galt lectures the “looters” and “moochers” who make up the populace. “We have no demands to present you, no terms to bargain about, no compromise to reach. You have nothing to offer us. We do not need you.”

Rand’s novel, cited by Charles Koch and many other libertarians as the book that changed their lives, was the basis for a new philosophy, Objectivism, that shunned both religion and the Lockean liberal politics of the Founders for a new view that man’s sole purpose is to pursue his own self-interest. But by 1958, long before he was hired by Koch, Rothbard had begun to go beyond Objectivism into a philosophy that he named “anarcho-capitalism”. Rothbard considered that government was the greatest danger to liberty and the state “was nothing but a gang of thieves writ large.” The solution was to get rid of the state: anarchism. Rothbard wrote, “Capitalism is the fullest expression of anarchism, and anarchism is the fullest expression of capitalism.” He argued that taxation represents coercive theft on a grand scale, and “a compulsory monopoly of force” prohibiting the more efficient voluntary procurement of defense and judicial services from competing suppliers. For Charles Koch this was a philosophy that fit perfectly with his view that the government was the one force impeding the growth of his businesses, many of which were “plagued” by the Environmental Protection Agency for polluting the water and air. As to how the society would enforce order without a government the anarcho-capitalists had a solution as well. Competing insurance companies would have private security forces that would protect the property of their customers. Rothbard argued this would lower prices for police services because of private market competition. Just how two competing “Insurance Militias” might resolve a property dispute was never specified.

Rothbard never hid is anarchist beliefs and his contemporary libertarian followers continue to use the anarcho-capitalist moniker. Rothbard’s partner at Cato, Ed Crane eventually managed to tone down the anarchic rhetoric at Cato and in the early 1980’s Rothbard resigned. But Crane’s caution was not to the Koch’s liking and in March of 2012 they filed suit to get control of Cato away from Crane, who told the press that it was an attempt to turn Cato “into some auxiliary of the G.O.P.” Although the Koch’s are smart enough not to use the anarchist terminology, their views are still formed by Rothbard’s philosophy of the government as a “gang of thieves”. But we should be clear that the rhetoric of the Rothbard also lies at the heart of Mitt Romney’s campaign for President. His recent speech before the NRA National Convention, could have been written by Ayn Rand or Murray Rothbard.

The American economy is fueled by freedom. Free people and their free enterprises are what drive our economic vitality.

The President’s assault on economic freedom begins with his tax hikes.

By their very nature, taxes reduce our freedom… Freedom is the victim of unbounded government appetite – and so is economic growth, job growth, and wage growth. As government takes more and more, there is less and less incentive to take risk, to invest, to innovate, and to hire.

Have we decided that freedom trumps all other principles in our society? The Supreme Court certainly made that decision in the Citizens United case. The Koch Brothers freedom to use millions of dollars in negative advertising to influence the 2012 election flows directly from the anarcho-capitalist creed I just quoted. This is a radical change in America. Think how far we have traveled from Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

And ended up at Murray Rothbard’s Society and The State.

Anarchists oppose the State because it has its very being in such aggression, namely, the expropriation of private property through taxation, the coercive exclusion of other providers of defense service from its territory, and all of the other depredations and coercions that are built upon these twin foci of invasions of individual rights.

The easy thing would be to dismiss the anarcho-capitalists as harmless extremists, but that would be a mistake. Unlike earlier American anarchists like Emma Goldman, they have both money and power. Think of the millions of dollars flowing into Grover Norquist’s pockets to advance the goal “to shrink government to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub.” These libertarians believe this is the formula for America’s greatness.

Money + Freedom=Free Speech

My sense is that the Founders would recoil in horror at this formula. If Jefferson believed “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men”, the New Anarchists hold no such views. Here is their patron saint Ayn Rand, from The Virtue of Selfishness.

Instead of being a protector of man’s rights, the government is becoming their most dangerous violator; instead of guarding freedom, the government is establishing slavery; instead of protecting men from the initiators of physical force, the government is initiating physical force and coercion in any manner and issue it pleases.

This is not Timothy McVeigh or some White Power survivalist speaking, but the idol of Allen Greenspan, Charles Koch and Paul Ryan who recently noted, “It’s so important that we go back to our roots to look at Ayn Rand’s vision, her writings, to see what our girding, under-grounding [sic] principles are.”

All of you who have been on this blog for a while have heard this anarcho-capitalist rhetoric from the Libertarians.–“government is nothing but a gang of theives. Taxation is theft”. What I’m not sure of is what is Charles Koch’s endgame: Anarchy or the inevitable fascism which would come right after the anarchy? In Rand’s Atlas Shrugged the endgame is clear.

The world’s billionaires – the Ted Turners and Donald Trumps – go on strike in protest against the “insane regulations” and “exorbitant tax” handed down from Washington D.C. The country quickly regresses into anarchy, with businesses collapsing, food distribution networks falling apart, and America becoming a wasteland – until finally the grateful populace welcomes back their economic Overlords and promises to never again pester them with wild notions like taxation or regulation.

Maybe Charlie Koch really does want to live out his Randian fantasy.

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148 Responses to Charles Koch; Anarcho-Capitalist

  1. Anne says:

    Excellent essay. Thanks for shedding light on a very murky situation.

  2. len says:

    Good start, Jon.

    Look at the writing of Thomas Sowell. He has become the patron saint of the TPers who believe his credentials as a professor and fellow give credibility to their claim that his is the most “brilliant” analysis of modern economics. His work on “originalism” is a Tea Party fundamental belief about the “intent of the founders”. Their favorite phrase is “the founders would roll over in their graves” and “any educated person would know this”.

    The harsh problem is I’m not too sure many analytical thinkers believe the Rand school as much as it gives them pseudo intellectual cover in an argument when the use of Christianity fails (one set of arguments for intellectuals and another for the faithful hoping they don’t have to argue with anyone who is both). So they weld two incompatible philosophies together and resort to one or the other depending on the argument and the contestants. Between those poles they can shut down all but the most erudite and persistent.

    Their endgame is not to win the argument; it is to wear down the opponent so they will retire from the debate and fail to vote. It’s working.

  3. woodnsoul says:

    It is basically an overwhelming sense of personal entitlement – it is that simple. What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine…

    Greed is good???

  4. Fentex says:

    Anarchists inanity annoys me for they don’t know we do and always have lived in anarchy.

    There is no external force compelling us to organize, what we have is what anarchy looks like, what people shape their relationships into among the competing pressures and actions of individuals tugging on one another.

    What we debate is how best to get along in the anarchy that is existence.

    Rothbard considered that government was the greatest danger to liberty

    In that he is correct. Our governments are constantly the greatest threat to our liberties. Just as my car, which I use often and with great utility also happens to be the greatest single danger to my life.

    The observation is not an argument against government, it is an argument for the proper restraint of governance and the reason people a few centuries ago began to devise better systems of accountability in their governments.

    A wealthy anarchist is just someone irked at fetters placed on them by their prey, a poor anarchist is an idiot or a thug looking to empower their fists.

  5. Jon Taplin says:

    @Fentex-I love that last line. I’m afraid there are more than enough of both types.

  6. John Papola says:

    “But we should be clear that the rhetoric of the Rothbard also lies at the heart of Mitt Romney’s campaign for President.”

    Is this a joke? Seriously. Where’s the evidence to support any conception of Mitt Romney as being an anarchist, free market or otherwise? This is a truly out-there claim. Sigh. I can’t help but take this post as little more than a dolled up strategic hit piece against the Obama administration’s favorite boogiemen, the Kochs. I can’t see how one could connect Mitt Romney to Murray Rothbard without a purely partisan strategic agenda driving the fib.

  7. John Papola says:

    Ironically, Lisa and I watched “The Koch Brothers Exposed” last night. Your post is better than that movie. It has more content. It’s better researched. It actually quotes real things and thoughts. That’s not much of a compliment by the way. The “movie” is shockingly awful. But the agenda is equally partisan.

  8. Alex Bowles says:

    @John Papola That quote you pulled refers to the Romney campaign, not the man himself. There’s a big difference between those things. You understand that, right?

  9. John Papola says:

    Which federal agencies has the Romney campaign proposed eliminating? How mud time has the Romney campaign spent on sound money and ending the Fed?

    It’s a giant, dishonest, leap from small government rhetoric coming from a former governor who imposed higher taxes and a healthcare mandate on his citizens to… His campaign has market anarchism in its heart. Give me a break.

    That quote from Romney could just as easily have come from Jefferson or Washington… And he’s no Jefferson nor Washington.

    “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” – George Washington

    “A government big enough to give you everything you need, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.” – Jefferson

    “the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground” – Jefferson

    Radical stuff. Romney’s not radical. He’s pandering. If that pandering is “the campaign” and not “the man”, it surely isn’t either’s “heart”. The campaign’s on “heart” is to win by hook or by crook (mostly the latter).

    Look, if this post didn’t have the plainly partisan attempt to associate Romney with anarchism, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. I find anarchism an interesting and compelling philosophical ideal, even as I acknowledge that it’s unlikely to ever occur on earth. The state is a pretty grotesque institution when you look at it plainly. It murders on a mass scale. It empowers the few to lord over the many.

    One quibble is that Jon conflates the “anarchism” of rothbard (or Noam Chompsky Or David Graeber for that matter) with “anarchy” as in “chaos” which, he claims, is the prelude to fascism. The philosophy of a stateless society from the left or right is not about chaos. It’s about emergent order. Activity does occur outside of government. Look at the emergence of black markets for needed goods in places like the soviet union or north Korea.

    People will help each other with being forced to do so, if they’re not prevented from doing so (see NYC and Philly banning the feeding of the homeless for the latest example of insanity by state). Now I’m off to work.

  10. JTMcPhee says:

    OMG, Taplin! You have been castigated , called out perfectly SKEWERED as being “merely
    partisan.” By One
    .of our little set of absolutist Partisans who pretend to plane along, high and far and thus far -seeing awareness of True Truth!!!!!

  11. len says:

    woodnsoul :</strongGreed is good???

    As I age I discover I can tolerate merely greedy over greedy and psychopathic. It isn’t that greed is good; it is that it can be a useful trait in middle managers if not amplified by insanity.

    Yesterday I bought my daughter a copy of Atlas Shrugged as an extra graduation present. I think every college freshman should have a copy. She told me she didn’t know when she would read it. I told her to put it on her bookshelf and if someone gets excited by it, that’s a sign.

  12. John Papola says:

    I’m ideologue, not a political partisan. Almost every one of Jon’s posts is about the election and he employs all of the Obama campaign talking points including this one attacking Charles Koch. that’s the “partisanship” I’m talking about. It’s not a good filter.

  13. morgan warstler says:

    Yawn. Jesus.


    The Freedom FROM stuff – not the right TO anything.

    By the time that Rothbard and Rand and every other libertarian gets to talking about HOW BAD GOVT IS, it is because:

    Guys like Jon Taplin have taken the government that provides Freedom From stuff, and turned it into:

    No more light bulbs!

    You can’t have sugar drinks!

    Half your income for other people’s medical care!


    Jon, you do a dis-service to your team as you build walls rather than come to terms with what is coming.

    Our founding fathers were libertarians.

    They would be disgusted at your society of rules.

    Our founding fathers would HATE YOU Jon for ruining the limited Federal Govt. system they built to allow states to operate freely.

    They’d cheer for your tight to turn California into what you want to do to America./

    The whole of the American ideal is based on PEOPLE MOVING and MONEY MOVING to the states that best run themselves based upon the ideals of that state’s peoples and leaders.

    Denying that and turning it into a US against the anarcho-capitalists is a LIE.

  14. len says:

    Our founding fathers were libertarians.

    Another bit of originalism? Our founding fathers were deists. Try Hegel next time. Objectivism is Hegel strangled by Rand’s lascivious lifestyle so stuck in the second leg of the triad.

    The fun of arguing with the Christian Objectivists is they refuse to notice objectivism asserts that rights are not voted on; they are rights and the majority cannot take away the rights of a minority by voting. So the Tea Partiers and the hardcore anti-same-sex marriage folks who run to Rand for their daily dose of anti-intellectualism are simply SOL. Christianity and Objectivism are fundamentally incompatible. The cognitive dissonance must be deafening.

    Rules? Where we are going we don’t need…. rules.

  15. morgan warstler says:

    len, I’m not straddling anything here, I’m stating facts:

    1. The founding fathers were attempting to form UNITED STATES, not a strong Central Federal entity to push citizens and states around.

    None of them were trying to provide entitlements. And I’m sure many of them were willing to consider it for their OWN STATE.

    2. Whenever Jon deviates from selling New federalism to liberals, so that power and tax dollars stay at the state level, he really loses any meaningful weight.

    THAT is a big giant idea, one that liberals are gong to need to accept more and more and more.

    It isn’t about anarcho-capitalism vs. Obama

    It is about states crafting the will of their people, and people and their money moving – shopping with their feet.

    States Rights is the free market form of Democracy, our country is made stronger by many different politically innovative local efforts at problem solving.

    And liberals should UNDERSTAND THIS because when you play for all the marbles at the national level, you tend to lose personal pleasures you could have won at the local level.

    Distributed power = greater levels of human happiness

  16. Anonymous says:

    The founding father were attempting to create a new generation of free men…away from all the atavisms, a new race.

  17. len says:

    It is about states crafting the will of their people, and people and their money moving – shopping with their feet.


    o Arizona and Alabama are within their states’ rights to control illegal immigration.

    o California and Colorado is within its rights to dispense marijuana.

    o States are within their rights to refuse to recognize same sex marriages and to jail consenting adults who engage in homosexual acts.

    Wow. 1 and 3 do seem to contradict everything Rand advocated.

  18. John Papola says:


    Since when is “deist” incompatible or counter to libertarian? I don’t understand the argument there. Also, I don’t know any significant libertarians who are opposed to rules. The question is by what process do we arrive at our rules, what spheres of life do and don’t those rules apply, and how consistently and universally are/can those rules be applied. You may recall that the metadebate is ultimately about rule of law vs. rule of leader aka general rules vs. discretion debate. The “left” was on the side of discretion (Paul Samuelson, and similar types) vs. the “right” on the side of rules (Milton Friedman, F. A. Hayek, James Buchanan and similar).

    To say that “government” = “rules” isn’t a logical equivalent.

  19. John Papola says:

    ps… Alabama’s immigration law makes me want to cry. It’s so horrible and illiberal. grrr…

  20. morgan warstler says:


    1. If you want to make dealing with illegal immigrants a Federal case, you must EXPECT that that means all 50 states will be jailing. You can’t assume the side you like or don’t like is dominant.

    My suggesting is each state make their own call, for precisely that reason.

    Current law is headed this way: The Federal Govt. has an obligation to secure the border. Period the End. If it fails to do so, the states will be allowed to do it.

    Frankly, I’d rather let some states essentially open their doors wide open – but I don’t want it enough that I’d force states to both let them in AND pay for them.

    2. Drugs like health is entirely a state function.

    3. States are able to pass laws on marriage. Frankly, the govt. of any kind has no business getting involved in a religious institution called marriage.

    As to states wanting to confirm some special status on man / woman or same sex or anything else that is a stats right issue.

    If you are gay couple in Alabama and you want to not only get universal health care but also have it for your partner, than you should be moving to a state that provides those things.

    len, the alternative is THIS, constant bickering and fighting over every little thing, where you are not sure that your side will prevail.

    The goal here is competition that forces states to recognize what works and what doesn’t SOONER and ORGANICALLY with less strife.

    States Rights is how you’ve seen the gay marriage play out, and it has evolved very, very quickly.

    I’m suggesting once again, that you get faster evolution, faster progress, when each state is free to better serve the collected interests of the people who CHOOSE to live there.

    Moving your feet and taking your money and talent with you is better for all 50 states in the long run.

  21. Alex Bowles says:

    “We have no demands to present you, no terms to bargain about, no compromise to reach. You have nothing to offer us. We do not need you.”

    And that’s the Randian ethos epitomized – freedom without responsibility, rights without obligations. Indeed, creating an intellectual framework for severing those connections is the entire point of objectivist “philosophy.”

    Here’s the essay in which she frames her argument most clearly. Of course, she never says what she’s actually doing. Instead, she tries to make the case for a set of assumptions from which the desired detachment becomes the inevitable, if unspoken conclusion.

    Careful observers will note that several pivotal assertions are easily falsified. Indeed, some are contradicted elsewhere in the argument itself. Then there’s the awkward set of problems posed by the implications she carefully avoids. In terms of analytic rigor, this thing is a hot flaming mess. And not in a good way.

    I won’t spoil the fun for you. I’ll just say this essay is a litmus test in political philosophy departments everywhere. The C students can see nothing wrong, and are likely to accept is as gospel. The A students have a field day with all the fallacies while developing a healthy distrust of anyone taken by the hustle and an even healthier distrust of anyone who should know better, but promotes this stuff anyway.

    Fentex nailed this distinction as well.

  22. len says:

    The reason I mention deists is because libertarian was not a concept they were familiar with as far as I know and even Adams refuted the notion that the US was founded as a Christian nation. The numbers made that inevitable for the two centuries that followed and even today, it is still the outstanding majority even as those who want more freedoms or rights find themselves in bed with those who want to make war on the church. It’s a coalition headed for the rocks of history but it’s time to break up the barge that rove built so let it roll.

    As I recall, the founding fathers wanted democracy but feared mob rule and after Shay’s Rebellion realized they had been wrong about democracy (the tyranny of the majority) which is why instead of the Articles of Confederation we now have a representative republic under a constitution which the president is sworn to defend from all enemies foreign AND domestic.

    It is the appeal to the founding fathers that is slippery. The founding fathers learned by tough experience that they were wrong and had to adapt. Sowell is a great token but not much of a historian in the sense that originalism fails as soon as one actually looks at the record. It is evident that states rights and balancing them against federal power expanding given the prominent role of the merchant class who were the most indignant about shays rebellion: the boston merchants when their european suppliers demanded hard currency which they then demanded from the locals who demanded it from the farmers who then picked up their guns and went merchant hunting as their farms were being sold to pay the taxes. Sounds like current times minus the shootouts in the meadows. However, note the result was not a weaker Federal government but a noticely stronger one with a system deliberately crafted to make it difficult to change the Federal rules (ie, the Constitution).

    The kicker: the immigration law in Alabama has been rewritten to mitigate the Federal demands and it is likely to now stand up to the DoJ protests. Oddly, it is also working. As for gay marriage, even here in righty tighty land, the majority on FB shout down anyone who is against it. I think it is on the list of “oh crap, just get on with it” issues and few really have a dog in the hunt.

    The three items I provided show where the edges of libertarian and objectivist philosophies fray if one attempts to mix incompatible life philosophies and then has to cope with reality challenges on rights. As I said, objectivism falls apart fast when it confronts social issues tinged with belief systems. Hegel is better; not perfect, but a step past Rand.

  23. morgan warstler says:

    alex, the only thing you explain is why you are not allowed to be anyone’s boss.

    In any war with other, you lose. You are losing.

    The only war is taxes. And people’s personal willingness to pay them to have government.

    The social issues are meaningless. They are a yawner. They are short shelf life things that work themselves out…. as states issues.

    But the fiscal side, well dude you are screwed. The money all got spent on things you disagree with, and the people got trained to both hate govt. and not believe in high taxes.

    As such, on the one thing that really matters – TAXES, the best play for rich Blue states is to keep their money at home, and prove the way.

    The Federal Game is not a home turf for progressives on Fiscal issues – the Congress, the Senate, SCOTUS, and the Fed…

    The institutions themselves have thwarted you.

    BUT, if you went whole hog on states rights, and kept say 50% of income tax money at home, than California could be far further down the line on becoming a European Country.

    I WANT you to get to try your vision Alex! I really do!

    But if you insist I try it – well you’re probably not going to get to try it yourself. You’ll just be doing mine.


  24. len says:

    The edge cases are the fascinating ones. Where do the states rights begin and end with regards to the groups that can claim them. When should the Federal government step in?

    From CNN:

    Georgia has been participating in the Adopt-A-Highway program for more than 20 years. The program provides advertising for sponsors who agree to clean a stretch of road on a sign posted along the stretch.

    “Any civic-minded organization, business, individual, family, city, county, state, or federal agency is welcome to volunteer in the Georgia Adopt-A-Highway program,” the DOT website says.

    Chambers said the group is more than 100 strong. “We have a lot of support,” she said.

    “I don’t see why we can’t (adopt the stretch of highway),” she said. “Would it be any different if it was the Black Panthers or something? Someone always has some kind of race card.”

    On its website, the International Keystone Knights of the KKK says it is “fed up with the Federal tyranny and oppression of Reconstruction, and the time was ripe for Clandestine Armed Resistance.”

    The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, lists the KKK as “the most infamous — and oldest — of American hate groups.”

    “Over the years since it was formed in December 1865, the Klan has typically seen itself as a Christian organization, although in modern times Klan groups are motivated by a variety of theological and political ideologies,” the law center’s website says.

    Two points: 1) the Supreme Court passed on hearing a similar case in Missouri. The state had to let them do it but then when they didn’t, the state kicked them out of the program and renamed it the Rosa Parks Highway. Judo at it’s best. 2) The modern KKK was not founded in Dec 1865. That’s a myth. That organization disbanded. A new organization was founded and took the name. Just to keep history tidy because again, the problem with originalism is a) not knowing history and b) attempting to read the minds of the dead to provide guidance for the not-yet-born.

    The systems we have are best when treated as dynamic, not static systems. We are as is often pointed out at one of those bursty times of evolution and unless we want to pick up guns and go merchant hunting with the shays of the kkks, we need real leadership, which as Hegel points out, is what an evolving system ought to produce. If that is not happening, we are in worse trouble than we want to admit because the likely case is real leaders are being ignored in order to create the very conditions of anarchy that created a very strong Federal government, and this time may result in something worse. Even Hegel recognized that dictatorship is the sign that a culture failed to evolve.

  25. morgan warstler says:


    Social Change the kind that is profound, deep and meaningful happens fastest like this:

    1. Commercial Internet freely available without govt. oversight

    2. States doing whatever thing they want without ANY propping up from Federal Govt

    3. People and Capital travel freely

    In such a model, the KKK stuff evaporate faster. Talent leaves the backwater, lack of Federal Support weakens the smaller state, etc.

    I’m simply not concerned about the trauma of the 1960’s today. If someone wants to deny commercial service based on race, I simply want to publicize it, and shame anyone from hiring them.

    Imagine that you ONLY have an Internet to use to right injustice.

    Think about how that communication platform would need to be put to use – you aren’t going to take down Rush Limbaugh, but you can quickly destroy a lock tree cutting service that won’t serve Hispanic customers.

    I’m prepared to roll dice on this kind of set up, I get that at the edges there will be unfortunate happenings, but those are a fact of life under the current system.

    The difference is the current system is ALSO expensive.

    I’d rather get all the racists out in the open and make them CHOOSE to modify their behavior or starve.

    Show me a video of a restaurant denying blacks service, and let the hive mind figure out who their suppliers are, let them be tormented day and night, let their customers be exposed.

    But if I have to put up with Public Employee Unions dues in order to solve the problem the liberal way, then a far greater tragedy is occurring, than the confrontation in a restaurant.

  26. Rick Turner says:

    Ahh, and next we’ll have state’s militias declaring war on neighboring states…

    Hmmm, that happened already… Didn’t work out so well…

    “States rights” is just a bullshit phrase that should have died with the horse and buggy days. It’s all about local chauvinism…tribalism…me-ism. There are a lot of services that are better handled by even-handed, across state lines regulations. Fuck the old days of speed traps in redneck locations as you drive from North to South, for instance. I’ll gladly take the Interstate highway system. Give me a national smart power grid. The countries that have nationalized Internet distribution are miles ahead of us. Competition often begets cartels, not efficiency. And you’re not going to keep the rich from lawyering up and crushing the little guys.

  27. Fentex says:

    I’m curious…

    The reason I mention deists is because libertarian was not a concept they were familiar with as far as I know and even Adams refuted the notion that the US was founded as a Christian nation.

    Why are Libertarianism and U.S Christian Nationalism run together in this sentence? Is there a relationship between the two that has escaped me?

  28. Rick Turner says:

    Founding fathers who were “Christian” slave holders and who did not allow people without property nor women to vote could hardly be called “Libertarians”. And I think this whole idea that “The Constitution” is a holy document not to be tampered with is utter balderdash. They were working within their context, and some of it would prove either outright wrong or at best inadequate for future needs. Strict “constitutionalists” are a sorry lot with sticks up their butts.

  29. John Papola says:

    Since this post is so philosophical, I thought I’d point out that “Objectivism” and “Libertarianism” are not, in fact, interchangeable.

    Here’s Murray Rothbard skewering Rand and her “cult”:

    Neither Liberty Nor Reason

    There seems to be only one way to resolve the contradiction in the Randian strategic outlook of extreme sectarianism within the libertarian movement, coupled with extreme opportunism, and willingness to coalesce with slightly more conservative heads of State, in the outside world. That resolution, confirmed by the remainder of our analysis of the cult, holds that the guiding spirit of the Randian movement was not individual liberty – as it seemed to many young members – but rather personal power for Ayn Rand and her leading disciples. For power within the movement could be secured by totalitarian isolation and control of the minds and lives of every member; but such tactics could scarcely work outside the movement, where power could only hopefully be achieved by cozying up the President and his inner circles of dominion.

    Thus, power not liberty or reason, was the central thrust of the Randian movement. The major lesson of the history of the movement to libertarians is that It Can Happen Here, that libertarians, despite explicit devotion to reason and individuality, are not exempt from the mystical and totalitarian cultism that pervades other ideological as well as religious movements. Hopefully, libertarians, once bitten by the virus, may now prove immune.

    I’m a Murray fan, with some caveats. He’s not perfect. He can be too strident in his writings, tonally. And I’ve heard some pretty bad stuff about things he wrote in the nineties. But overall, he’s got spunk.

    I’m not expert in “objectivism”, but I find the full assault on “altruism” to be rhetorically and morally repulsive. There is no conflict between real altruism and a free society. In fact, I think a free society is ultimately built on trust, reciprocity and a culture that encourages and incentivizes private altruism. I also believe that the state is never altruism just as moral behavior can never be forced on anyone. Moral choices must be free choices. Worse, the state crowds out civil society and private social services, draining the reserve of cultural altruism and replacing it with bureaucracy. Hell, it even ruined the labor movement:

    On the other side of the tonal spectrum from Rand and Rothbard is one of my all time favorite modern libertarians, Sheldon Richman (who, yes, is also an anarchist). His essay on the “Libertarian Left” is worth reading for all of you:

    Here’s a particularly worthwhile passage:

    In other words, the twilight of feudalism and the dawn of capitalism did not find everyone poised at the starting line as equals—far from it. As the pro-market sociologist Franz Oppenheimer, who developed the conquest theory of the state, wrote in his book The State, it was not superior talent, ambition, thrift, or even luck that separated the property-holding minority from the propertyless proletarian majority—but legal plunder, to borrow Bastiat’s famous phrase.

    Here is something Marx got right. Indeed, Kevin Carson seconds Marx’s “eloquent passage”: “these new freedmen became sellers of themselves only after they had been robbed of all their own means of production, and of all the guarantees afforded by the old feudal arrangements. And the history of this, their expropriation, is written in the annals of mankind in letters of blood and fire.”

    This system of privilege and exploitation has had long-distorting effects that continue to afflict most people to this day, while benefiting the ruling elite; Carson calls it “the subsidy of history.” This is not to deny that living standards have generally risen in market-oriented mixed economies but rather to point out that living standards for average workers would be even higher—not to mention less debt-based—and wealth disparities less pronounced in a freed market.

    Sheldon also has an interesting context for Rothbard’s developments:

    In his 1965 classic and sweeping essay “Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty,” Rothbard identified “liberalism”—what is today called libertarianism—with the left as “the party of hope, of radicalism, of liberty, of the Industrial Revolution, of progress, of humanity.” The other great ideology to emerge after the French revolution “was conservatism, the party of reaction, the party that longed to restore the hierarchy, statism, theocracy, serfdom, and class exploitation of the Old Order.”

    When the New Left arose in the 1960s to oppose the Vietnam War, the military-industrial complex, and bureaucratic centralization, Rothbard easily made common cause with it. “The Left has changed greatly, and it is incumbent upon everyone interested in ideology to understand the change… . [T]he change marks a striking and splendid infusion of libertarianism into the ranks of the Left,” he wrote in “Liberty and the New Left.” His left-radicalism was clear in his interest in decentralization and participatory democracy, pro-peasant land reform in the feudal Third World, “black power,” and worker “homesteading” of American corporations whose profits came mainly from government contracts.

    But with the fading of New Left, Rothbard deemphasized these positions and moved strategically toward right-wing paleoconservatism. His left-libertarian colleague, the former Goldwater speechwriter Karl Hess (1923-1994), kept the torch burning.

    Something interesting to consider in recent times is that the Mises institute, surely the most Rothbardian organization on earth, was among the very few loud and consistent opponents to ALL of the post-9/11 warmongering and civil rights abuse. That left-libertarian DNA is still there, even if it’s rolled around in the hay with less liberal perspectives now and then. But compare that to, say, some of Cato’s writers during the post 9/11 frenzy and it’s no contest that Mises maintained truer to real liberalism. Give the state an inch and before you know it, you’re advocating war.

    It’s easy to use the term “anarchism” to attack these thinkers in front of a popular audience not accustomed to its use in this intellectual tradition. The term is fairly poisonous and easily used as weapon to smash the ideas, which is what Jon is mostly doing here.

    The easy summary of this post goes like this:

    “Charles Koch is an anarchist like Murray Rothbard. Anarchism is a crazy idea. It’s chaos. It’s the Weimar republic prior to the rise of hitler. Crazy. Koch is funding the right. The right is crazy. Romney is running on the right. The Romney campaign’s heart is anarchism. Vote for Obama.”

    That’s it. Jon dressed it up with quotes, but I think that was mostly just dressing. This post, like so many these days on the blog, is essentially part of the Obama campaign machine. It’s talking points in a faux academic-y tweed coat. There’s too little tolerance for ideas. Too much willingness to pander. Too much transparent echoing of vapid campaign strategy, especially Koch bashing.

    Meanwhile, don’t government employee unions dump more money into politics than the Kochs by a wide margin? Government has grown, not shrunk, along nearly every dimension over the past 40 years. So the libertarian movement with all of it’s Koch financing sure hasn’t moved the needle.

    You know where the needle HAS moved? Sweden and Canada. They’ve adopted substantial neo-liberal / libertarian reforms over the past 30 years. Did the Kochs spend money there? If not, why did those reforms happen?

    Anyway. With the help of Alex, I’m trying to be at my best here (that’s not a joke). Enjoy.

  30. Rick Turner says:

    If only “libertarians” could come up with a way to deal with human frailties without the solutions being put ’em on the ice floe or throw ’em under the bus, we could maybe get somewhere. I see a fundamental flaw of that philosophy being that there is an underlying assumption that everyone buys in at the same intellectual level, the same emotional level, and the same (if you will) spiritual level. Too bad we’re not all exactly the same, eh?

  31. Rick Turner says:

    Actually, Communism (with the capital “C”) would work pretty well if we all were the same, too. And it doesn’t…

  32. Morgan Warstler says:

    Rick it is the starting assumption that matters.

    Libertarians think almost everybody is able to exploit their personal strengths.

    And yes there is a minority of people, who are not able, or are infirm, and those people deserve to live a good life too, but the core engine of society should not be built around taking care of them.

    CARE now is routinely sacrificed to increase future care.

    When pushed to choose, the left chooses to have less technological progress in favor of the chance for less disparity.

  33. Morgan Warstler says:

    Rick, this is the end game of our arguent, maybe we can sort cut it…

    Assume a super rich guy who needs an organ transplant. He’s SUPER rich.

    Assume the current market for organs.

    The fear of conservatives is the exact moment a bunch of worthless public employees have an opinion that matters in the decision over who gets the organ.

    To rich people $ = life.

    So if you want to get them to give up the $, maybe you should guarantee them first dibs on new treatments.

  34. Fentex says:

    This system of privilege and exploitation has had long-distorting effects that continue to afflict most people to this day

    This often bothers me. That some people are from their conception disadvantaged by circumstances beyond their control and if lucky to be born healthy and hale may still be lack resources and opportunity is obvious.

    An observation that such disadvantages have been promulgated by abuse of past authority however often seems included in arguments meant to distract from future advantage some will enjoy over others.

    People don’t resist arguments about deregulation or freeing of individual authority because they support past fuedal rule but sometimes because they see particular dangers in giving rein to wealth to rule in the future.

  35. Jon Taplin says:

    @Fentex-which is of course exactly what has happened in America.

  36. len says:

    I’ll come back to the long read posts later. One comment: systems I paid into such as Social Security, pensions and a 401k are NOT entitlements. The politics of labeling and bundling to warp perceptions are too obvious to belabor.

    The Republicans have exactly one campaign strategy: destroy the economy, destroy lives and government and blame the Democrats. Why? Because they don’t know how to lead.

  37. John Papola says:

    Len, you’ve been lied to by the state. Social security was a welfare program from day one. How do we know this? Because there were seniors right from the get go who recieved benefits without paying into the system. Its not a forced savings program nor an “insurance” program. The agents of the government have intentionally abused those terms to trick the public, just as dishonest politicians and pundits today claim that there is a “trust fund”.

    Legally, the congress can change what you get at any time.

  38. len says:

    @morgan warstler

    Imagine that you ONLY have an Internet to use to right injustice.

    You mean like this?

    Fascinating example. The Judean Liberation Front? Talk about racism.

    Someone wants to have their servers attacked so they can triumphantly announce they are that important. The Internet as Savior Of Freedom is another one of those loudly touted myths believed only by those who don’t understand media and touted by those with a cynical goal of exploiting it to enrich themselves without regard to the harm they are doing. Very objective.

  39. len says:

    Fentex :I’m curious…
    Why are Libertarianism and U.S Christian Nationalism run together in this sentence? Is there a relationship between the two that has escaped me?

    Assuming you have been asleep for the last decade or so, start with a fellow named Karl Rove who completed the welding of these incompatible philosophies begun by Ronald Reagan supporters and perfected by Rove during the first run of G.W. Bush for the White House. The term applied is “multiplication by division”. Depending on which end of the axis applied in a given voting demographic, he managed to split moderates from both parties and align them with the growing evangelical movement. It was the resonance with the tincture of Calvinism in the evangelical megachurch communities that made it work despite the fact that a critical thinker knows these are incompatible philosophies.

    If you need to see it in action, watch a few episodes of Mike Huckaby on Fox. That’s the friendly face where Sean Hannity is the ugly face.

  40. len says:

    John Papola :@len Len, you’ve been lied to by the state. Social security was a welfare program from day one. How do we know this? Because there were seniors right from the get go who recieved benefits without paying into the system. Its not a forced savings program nor an “insurance” program. The agents of the government have intentionally abused those terms to trick the public, just as dishonest politicians and pundits today claim that there is a “trust fund”.
    Legally, the congress can change what you get at any time.

    I look at the deductions from my paycheck from the very first one I received and do the math. It’s my money. Same for my 401ks that disappeared into the pockets of Wall Street.

    Did Congress steal it? Well…. yes. Ronald Reagan led the raid. Now I am told that Mitt Romney is the new Ronald Reagan. Other than the fact that even as B-actor, Reagan was a more polished pirate than Romney, I’m prepared to accept that. I’m not prepared to not notice what Romney and his supporters have in mind to best Reagan.

  41. len says:

    To rich people $ = life.

    The poor assume it requires sex first.

  42. Roman says:


    “To rich people $ = life.

    The poor assume it requires sex first.”

    Today’s pearl. Well said.

  43. len says:

    Roman :@len
    “To rich people $ = life.
    The poor assume it requires sex first.”
    Today’s pearl. Well said.

    It appears we won’t get out of this thread without visiting Kant and hypothetical vs categorical imperatives.

  44. len says:

    Rick Turner :I see a fundamental flaw of that philosophy being that there is an underlying assumption that everyone buys in at the same intellectual level, the same emotional level, and the same (if you will) spiritual level.

    Rick’s point is well taken, although again, categorical vs hypothetical imperatives come to mind. Bundling is powerful. It is very important to pick the myth for the behaviors you want to shape after the audience commits to the myth. This is the utility of the motivating myth of a culture. For example, if you want to offset creationists you might propose that is one alternative to evolution is taught, you have to teach them all. Some propose teaching the stork myth. Alternatively, the panspermia myth (alien seeding) enables you to propose the myth then you get to teach genetic evolution as the after effect whereas with the stork you can only teach unnatural acts with beaks.

    For Fentex’s benefit, where I live we have the Christian Objectivists (classic bundling). An example is a married woman who asserts she can improve her sex life by redecorating the bedroom with perfectly hung pictures and affordable furniture without admitting these are actions she takes with her eyes tightly closed. They post articles saying the woman must submit to the authority of her husband while requiring him to take her to only the best restaurants so she can post food reviews to the owners in hopes of getting future discounts. She tells her friends about her perfect marriage and only child but spent her life hiding the fact that her husband is not the biological father because she raided the DNA of her friend’s husband to get the best child possible to meet her future goals for a presidential candidate. She isn’t trying to understand what she claims; she wants what she wants.

    I’m not saying we aren’t all hypocrites from time to time, but it is stupefying the level to which some people raise it to a cultural art form to get what they want without admitting it is what they want.

  45. morgan warstler says:

    I think we can get out of the thread if Rick is OK with $ being he deciding factor in who gets the good stuff first.

    The point is that the REAL NIGHTMARE of the right, is that “social justice” or some other public good thing, is used to keep the winners from having their prize.

    This is why I think you could easily get a universal public option healthcare plan AS LONG AS if only provided out of patent medicine, mostly student doctors, and older cheaper technology.

    THEN, you get a system that is still EFFECTIVE, just not quite as good, and you don’t create the fear that someone who can’t pay is using up the good stuff that someone who can pay wants for themselves.

  46. len says:

    morgan warstler :I think we can get out of the thread if Rick is OK with $ being he deciding factor in who gets the good stuff first.

    Marvelous, Morgan. Brutal and honest.

    You must read Kant though.

  47. morgan warstler says:

    len I’ve read Kant.

    The key to Kant isn’t always doing the “right” thing, the key is admitting you are going ahead and doing the wrong thing.

    Killing is always wrong. Sometimes you do it anyway.

  48. len says:

    Morgan, the part of kant that you and Pap want to pay attention to is the notion of constitutional law as a manifest means to enable the enforcement or realization of higher law. The debate becomes a matter of establishing a moral code or rules of the higher law and then the means afforded by the constitution, or “legal state”.

    Try to do that without appeals to originalism. James M. Buchanan’s writings might be illuminating.

  49. pzykr says:

    @Alex Bowles

    Alex, can you give the title of the essay to which you refer?
    Your link does not appear to work, at least for me…


  50. morgan warstler says:

    len, it really isn’t complicated.

    Look at the Bill of Rights.

    There is no “you get health care” “you get food” “you get shelter”

    There is no personal guarantee to ANYTHING except that nobody can take those things from you if you’re out there getting them for yourself.

    KANT is especially relevant to libertarian thought becuase it allows you to state clearly that taxation is theft.

    And now that we agree a theft is occurring it gives us a FAR HIGHER hurdle on when or for what we ought to commit theft.

    We’re going to do a wrong thing – we’re going to seize somebody else’s property with force – so lets make damn certain we do the least amount of it we have to do and do it for only the very truly compelling reasons with PROVABLE positive outcomes.

    That’s why we have a moral obligation to make govt. run as productively as the private market, after all we are STEALING WITH FORCE the funds to pay for those services.

  51. len says:

    The notion of the ‘legal state’ per Buchanan is that it is a dynamic set of rules that govern by adapting to current circumstances (that is, Sowell really is an idiot because originalism fails to account for the changing times, technologies etc.). Kant grounds his notion in the higher law and so far you only have appealed to the constitutional law or means. Taxation is not theft if it committed within the context of a higher law. In fact, Kant explicitly addresses the issue of the subjective law or one created purely to satisfy individual needs or wants.

    So far you have not risen above “she wants what she wants”. OTW, I might agree with the “do the least harm possible” as an efficiency constraint and concede that ideological teleological constraints are not optimum. Again, it is difficult in an “we vs me” argument to arrive at a higher law although in most cases most of the time the majority should not infringe on the few or the one without a really good case.

    It is this problem of agreeing on a really good case that bedevils the serious thinkers who are committed to consensus where possible because the agree that consensus is vital to establishing a legal state or constitutional economic. As for the Christian objectivist, it is obvious one is dealing with a merely selfish individual (there is no consistency in what they assert; only justification for actions they will take regardless of consequences for others. They admit no obligations except the ones they endorse so are in every way… randy.”

  52. Anonymous says:

    @pzykr It’s called “Common Good”. Here’s the link.

  53. Morgan Warstler says:

    len, taplin spoke for the founding fathers and then tore into rand

    and its just wrong.

    rick at least has the intellectual nuts to say “screw the founding fathers” because their instinct was very much libertarian – they were concerned solely with negative rights and distributed power.

  54. len says:


    If that is liberation, you can have it. That’s the most depressing notion I’ve come across as a way to view social norms. Whatta bummer.

    The common good sought in common finds common ground. That is all you have to know. Practice. The Randy Philosophy is a way to condemm before participating and convict without evidence of actions. However people are brought together of their own will to live and be well, it is well.

    And anyone who thinks it is only about individuals has never tried to get through the big glass doors at the entrance to an indoor rock concert.

    @morgan: sure, the plea to the founding fathers is a call for the dead to ratify a decision of the living. Fer shure… and it is wrong if the left or right (to be convenient) does it. I don’t consider freedom of speech to be a negative. I believe in distributed power(s). I understand that the danger of anarcho systems is not simply disruption but the same kind of capture as rand ascribed to the government except it is capture by psychopaths. If we stay on the path we’ve been on with a 1% ruling elite, we are living in a fascist state.

  55. morgan warstler says:

    len, you do have a choice.

    You can screw the 1%, but there is only ONE WAY to do it.

    You follow the tea PArty. The top 33% of Americans (minus the 1%) that OWN everything… the houses, the 200M guns, the entire small business sector, etc.

    They are 4-5X as wealthy as the 1%, and they are all likely voters.

    Yep, the guys who run the Kiwanis and lions club, the local community leaders, the Rotarians, the patriarchs of the families, the good old boys,e tc.

    They are A power.

    The 1% are the B power

    And the C power are the bottom 66% – no money, and about as many votes as the A power.

    China played as the C power through the Cold War by never siding with either the A or B exclusively.

    Your problem is that the C power – pretends they are in a A / B struggle where they are a primary player.

    They aren’t.

    The left ought to be cooking up tax policy proposals that the Tea Party LOVES and the 1% HATES.

    Like: no taxes on SMBs up to the first $50M in revenue. Or SMB revenue is all capital gains at 0-10%.

    Tea Party would kill Republicans if they didn’t do that deal.

    The 1% would FREAK OUT. The stock market would lose 20% in value.

    Here’s another:

    The cost of compliance on all business regulations will be born by the Fortune 1000. So Bubba’s Towing Yard pays zero for any EPA regulations, and Alcoa has to cover their bill.

    THEN SEE how many regulations Congress passes.

    The point here is Taplin’s crowd LIKES big business because it concentrates power and makes him feel more comfortable in DC-Wall Street arrangements

    If you really wanted to see the 1% eat it, you’d stop playing Revolucion! and just ask the Tea Party how you can help them pig-stick the 1% so they get to keep the juice.

    You have another play len, you just don’t like that one.

  56. len says:

    “You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them: you are inferior and all the improvements in your conditions which you simply take for granted you owe to the effort of men who are better than you.” Ludwig Von Mises to Ayn Rand

    “Everything positive, good and valuable that has been achieved in the world in the field of economics or culture is solely attributable to the importance of personality…. All the worldly goods we possess we owe to the struggle of the select few.” Adolph Hitler – Dusseldorf, 1934

    As for Jon’s crowd, some of the A-listers ain’t bad folks. Rich people aren’t evil for being rich; they are evil when they use their riches to get richer by stealing. That’s easy. Now it comes down to who owns property. As I said, I paid into social security. It isn’t an entitlement. I paid into my 401k. It isn’t a poker chip in another man’s poker game.

    As for taxes, the numbers say the country was more prosperous when the rich paid much higher taxes and had to pay a lot more attention to the American economy because they couldn’t create value out of the thin air of currency trading. I do agree the TPers and the OWSERS have more in common than they want to admit although if I want to pack heat I have to hang with the TPers because any OWSER brandishing a loaded weapon in NYC would very likely been murdered by Bloomberg’s Army.

    And that is a notable difference between them.

  57. John Papola says:

    If only “statists” could come up with a way to deal with human frailties without the solutions being to empower a tiny group of the most flawed among us to abuse the rest of us, we could maybe get somewhere. I see a fundamental flaw of that philosophy being that there is an underlying assumption that people aren’t just inherently good, but that the best of us will be attracted to political power and will remain uncorrupted by the absolute power to use legal force and compulsion instead of mutual consent and persuasion.

    The problem with statism is that it’s against real regulation to keep our many human failings at bay. Instead of devolving and limited power and regulating our behavior through a myriad of competitive, reputational, cultural and social forces, in strips nearly all of that regulation away and leaves a tiny group of the most power-hungry among us to get into positions where their power is barely checked at all except for the unlikely change that they will regulate themselves through their own personal fortitude.

    Of course, statists make claims to believe in “regulation” through democratic voting, but votes are so imprecise compared with the amazing scope of power “progressive” administrative government wields. Nobody gets to vote on the myriad of undemocratically dictated laws that are mislabeled as “regulations” put forward by our unitary executive. And even the phony “laws” our representatives pass are only very crudely regulated by the vote. How does a congressman or president know which policies are being rejected or approved by an electoral win or loss? How do they know which people approve or disapprove?

    Talk about unregulated human failings!

    The founders rooted the original, decentralized, structure of our government with its checks and balances and prohibitions and negative rights precisely on the assumption that man is a flawed creature and should not be trusted with the destructive ring of state power. They understood rightly that the worst would tend to get on top and thus tried to limit the damage such people could do. Pretty amazing considering so many of them went on to be presidents and do terrible things. It’s as if they knew that they would suck and tried to stop themselves as best they could in advance.

  58. len says:

    @JP: In the engineering world, configuration management that enables corrective and preventive measures given discrepancies from requirements relies on a baseline model. Regulations are fairly toothless or meaningless without such and can otherwise be actively harmful because of the belief that unexpected conditions and situations are being managed when in truth they are managing the system by fiat. In your world model, that baseline is set unreasonably low and I believe the people hired for the jobs are meeting those expectations precisely. There is no process owner per se responsible for ensuring corrective actions are applied. The customer can’t reject the product and whatever contracts they think they have with the suppliers aren’t being honored or noticed. Say “Fail”.

    Currently the Beltway is a flying dutchman manned by ghosts of the past and slightly insane newcomers in search of a harbor they will never find while inviting the living to join them on their voyage of eternal torment.

  59. JW says:

    “Just how two competing “Insurance Militias” might resolve a property dispute was never specified.”

    I stopped reading here. You’re either an idiot or willfully ignorant.

    This problem has been dealt with again and again, to the point of beating a whole army of dead horses, in anarcho-capitalist literature, debates and talks.

  60. len says:

    JW :“Just how two competing “Insurance Militias” might resolve a property dispute was never specified.”
    I stopped reading here. You’re either an idiot or willfully ignorant.
    This problem has been dealt with again and again, to the point of beating a whole army of dead horses, in anarcho-capitalist literature, debates and talks.

    Ok JW. How? Cases not instructions. Al Capone style? Robo-Cop style? And if they can’t? Hatfield and McCoy style? What about collusion? How are dispute resolutions recorded and who can see the resolutions?

    You’re either misinformed or lieing.

  61. Rick Turner says:

    This idea that a Libertarian world would have a level playing field for all is just absurd.

    Money is power. Power corrupts. And yeah, as Mr. Raines, my senior high school history teacher kept reminding us, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Case in point: the objects of this thread. Or try two other brothers, the Hunts.

    Unfortunately, though I believe in a number of the Libertarian principles, I also believe it to be a hopelessly naive philosophy…like Communism. Both present an unrealistic view of humanity that assumes we can all play by the same rules and that we will all play fair. Not!

    Conflict resolution goes to the powerful. Money is power…etc., etc.

    You want to see a nice example of Libertarian free market? Check out the Mexican drug wars…
    Government certainly is not affecting them much…and the only self-regulation seems to be through beheading.

  62. John Papola says:

    @Rick Turner

    First, money and power are NOT the same thing. Stalin wasn’t wealthy. But boy did he have power! Did Hitler buy his power with money? Now, of course, money does give one power and power can help you get money. They clearly correlate. But political power can be won without it.

    I would go deeper, though. I think the pursuit of power is a separate human desire from the pursuit of money or material wealth, and one that is much more insidious and socially destructive. Again, see Stalin.

    Classical liberalism (libertarianism) is not about expectations of a level playing field in some absolute sense. It’s a legal and political philosophy, Rick. It’s about the ethical merit and utilitarian benefit of having equality under the law. Why should we be equal under the law? Rights-based liberalism justifies it on the grounds that every human being has natural rights of self-ownership and self-determination. Since it’s quite obvious that all men are NOT created equal in terms of objective capabilities, the moral foundation of equality under the law must be sought in other spheres, such as our nature as social beings of our equality in spirit.

    But classical liberalism is a philosophy about rights and emergent order. It doesn’t provide a roadmap for creating a good society. It provides a set of rules in which that creative process is likely to emerge and can remain just. It’s evolutionary. It’s built on human diversity and seeks to unleash our diverse creativity.

    Communism is not philosophy in the same sense. Communism asserts that central planners CAN design society. It asserts that political agents, democratic or otherwise, should decide the ends for us all and that they can achieve those ends through central direction. Humanity is reduced to machinery for the exploitation of the planners. We all become cogs in a machine. Emergent order is actively destroyed by “scientific” design. It’s an engineer’s view of a world that is not engineered but organic and emergent.

    If you want to see an example of a real libertarian free market… look at ebay, not Mexico. Ebay is amazing. Anonymous people all around the world discover things of value, often in one-time transactions. And despite what surely must have been considered impossible by ivory tower academics and economists, they manage to transact in an environment with reasonably strong systems of accountability. Comments and user ratings enable reputation and social signals. Forums and third party services have emerged to fill out the ecosystem. It is dynamic. It is built on trust. It’s as imperfect as people are imperfect, yet it’s privately-developed and evolving rules direct millions of people toward fair play instead of fraud and easy swindles.

    THAT is the free market.

    The Mexican drug cartels exist for ONE reason: government prohibition. Period. If the US government legalized drugs tomorrow, the cartels would be destroyed rapidly as legitimate businesses quickly stole ALL of their business. Ever heard of a drive-by shooting over booze? Not since the last time government ruined things… the progressive prohibition of the 1920s. There is no justification for claiming that “Government certainly is not affecting [the drug cartels] much”. It created them, Rick.

  63. John Papola says:

    All this talk of militias and people going to war is quite interesting considering how many conflicts are resolved right now entirely outside of the legal system. Aren’t most lawsuits settled out of court? Aren’t most insurance claims and conflicts resolved outside of court? There’s no international court with real teeth, is there? How do international transactions between private parties take place?

    We have TONS of “regulations” by government today in every area of our activity. Yet, somehow, it has not delivered a perfectly “safe”, perfectly risk-free world. Claiming that more freedom is bad idea because it will allow for bad things to happen is ignoring the fact that bad things are happening and always do in every human enterprise.

    By forcing the debate to always be at the fringes and extreme examples, it ensures that we never really talk about what will deliver the most good for the most people compared with the alternatives.

  64. len says:

    By forcing the debate to always be at the fringes and extreme examples, it ensures that we never really talk about what will deliver the most good for the most people compared with the alternatives.

    Possibly true, but the edge cases tell us where expectations are tested.

    Remember, diseases from organic viruses are also examples of emergent order produced by systems regulated very low or nested deeply in the system. The reliance on a so-called natural order is one of the major flaws in objectivist thinking. In fact, some aspects of life, economies and systems are by-design. Two items of significance:

    1. If there is no baseline for measurements, then corrective actions are simply throwing things against the wall to see what sticks. While one should be leary of designing for processes one does not understand, to put away design is to put away governance.

    2. Our current dilemmas are not a failure of our current system directly. They are sabotage. For example, the combined effects of the failure of Bretton Woods enabling the current imbalance in property owned with the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court is the reason for the massive wealth to be fed back into the elections in such a way as to sabotage implicit or expected controls over undue influence. In effect, it has corrupted the open system of electing representative government.

    Libertarianism has been conscripted to defend this corruption much as Christianity was conscripted to give the objectivists a righteous patina despite the fact that Rand wrote extensively on her disdain for religion. You, me and a lot of others end up doing the dirty work for a very small elite that are corrupting both for the sake of their own power.

    Wealth may not be power but “that’s the way to bet”. For that reason, yes, there are aspects of the Constitutional state organized to control those effects and it is precisely those controls that the Republicans and their proxies in the US Supreme Court have been dismantling. I do not know what will deliver the most good for the most people. I am sure that it will not come from the Republican Party and uneasy that the Democrats don’t have a clue. Until the shit blizzard of campaign financing with the lobbying cartels polishing the turds is addressed, I’m not sure anyone can change our current situation for the better.

  65. morgan warstler says:

    GREAT ARTICLE makes Taplin look like a full bore retard:

    Doesn’t fit the leftist narrative, no worries – Jon will not apologize.

    “From the Minnesota Post’s Brian Lambert:

    Put down your coffee, it’s spit-take time. David Koch — that David Koch — is putting a political hit out on Minnesota legislators who supported the Vikings stadium….

    Citing a Minnesota Public Radio article, Lambert concludes his post:

    “Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen sided with corporate special interests and his policies are costing taxpayers,’ an example of the flier reads. It calls the Vikings stadium deal a ‘give away’ to corporate special interests.” This has to be some prankster’s brilliant, twisted joke.

    So, why is Lambert confused? Probably because he buys the Jane Mayer/Thomas Frank definition of the libertarian movement: a “pro-corporate movement,” as Mayer puts it.

    Who opposed TARP? Who opposed the Export-Import Bank reauthorization recently? Who stood against the Chamber of Commerce when the Chamber supported the stimulus? Libertarians.”


  66. Fentex says:

    I think the pursuit of power is a separate human desire from the pursuit of money or material wealth, and one that is much more insidious and socially destructive.

    A very point of many cynical of Libertarianism; dismantling a political system developed to restrain seekers of power by making them dependent on the governeds consent removes defences against fresh assaults by persuers of power.

    Democracy is a solution to past abuses by giving political power to populations, removing that power (an ambition apparent to many in Libertarian ideology) in favour of wealth that most people aren’t likely to gain in any superior proportion to their current positions raises fears it will reduce the political leverage of the general population making them increasingly vulnerable to predation.

  67. len says:

    To keep it honest, Papola’s position that objectivism and libertarianism are not the same gets support from Rand and Rand devotees:

    From Wikipedia: Responding to a question about the Libertarian Party in 1976, Rand said:

    “The trouble with the world today is philosophical: only the right philosophy can save us. But this party plagiarizes some of my ideas, mixes them with the exact opposite—with religionists, anarchists and every intellectual misfit and scum they can find—and call themselves libertarians and run for office.”

    From Rowlands who has strong distinctions between objectivists and libertarians:

    “The context determines the morality of the actions.”

    who also specifically disdains anarcho-capitalism:

    An objectivist group joined the Tea Party and then had to withdraw. Why? Rand was an atheist. Author who supports the TP in Minnesota discusses separation of church and state and emphasizes this does not mean there is no role for religion in politics.

    “It’s mixed up muddled up shook up world except for Lola.” The Kinks

  68. Beetle says:

    We need a strong government so we can have a functioning and affordable education and healthcare system.

    If the down side to that is the government will kill a few hundred thousand more foreigners and lock up more non violent people in prisons then that’s just the cost of society right?

    From the anarcho capitalist perspective, you’re the monster. There is nothing cold and heartless about believing people should be allowed to own what they earn and seek to improve their lives by the ways and means they see fit.

  69. John Papola says:

    “dismantling a political system developed to restrain seekers of power by making them dependent on the governeds consent removes defences against fresh assaults by persuers of power.”

    What system is this that’s restraining rent seekers? Big, interventionist government administered by technocrats is te very opposite system.

    As for democracy, it isn’t a guarantee of liberalism. It is a mechanism for collective choice, but not everything in the world belongs unde the domain belongs under that domain. We don’t want individual speech censored based on democratic vote. We don’t want religious choices defined by popular vote. Why clearly defined private property be subject to it?

    I’m no enemy of democracy. But it’s clear to me that most of life should be subject to majority rule.

  70. Fentex says:

    I’m no enemy of democracy. But it’s clear to me that most of life should be subject to majority rule.

    I figure you meant “it’s clear to me that most of life should NOT be subject to majority rule”, like any sane person who does not wish to bear the weight of tyranny by majority.

  71. Rick Turner says:

    A well educated majority would be one thing. But the right…and the Libertarians…don’t seem to want that. It’s much easier to manipulate an ill-educated populace… Just scare the shit out of them, and they’ll line up for the cliff jump like lemmings.

    Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 NewSpeak all over again, folks… Deja fu, if you will…

  72. John Papola says:

    Correct. Should “NOT”. iPhone typing.

  73. John Papola says:


    Could you please elaborate on your assertion that libertarians want people to be uneducated so that they can manipulate them? Because that sounds like The precise opposite of libertarianism to me. Engaging in a bit of doublespeak yourself?


  74. Jon Taplin says:

    @Papola-isn’t it much easier to “seek rents” if you have federal government protection (i.e. the best Washington lobbyists money can buy)?

  75. Jon Taplin says:

    @papola-re your rejoinder to Rick Turner, how else would ascribe the rise of Rupert Murdoch other than the ability to keep the middle class destracted with false issues while Rupert’s class takes home all the big paychecks? By pandering to libertarian issues while not believing them for a second (viz. phone hacking). You guys are the pawn in Romney’s lame play to the “freedom” (i.e. Ron Paul) vote. Romney is three times the crony capitalist that Obama could hope to be.

  76. Pingback: Weekly List Bookmarks (weekly) | Eccentric Eclectica @

  77. morgan warstler says:

    Jon, you are an old idiot.

    Entertainers and artists, journalists and lawyers are nice, but they are not the backbone of society. And as the automatically paid union dues are ended in state after state, you will SEE why this is.

    No MONEY. No PROPERTY. No Business Revenues.

    The backbone is business, and your only choice as someone who is NOT the backbone, is decide which of the two kinds of businessmen as best at any one time.

    You are the C power. You are JUST China during the Cold War – not one of the two central players.

    If you don’t grasp the world this way, you can’t play your hand the best way you can.

    But make o mistake there bub, FOX News is what happens when the the media gives the people what the the people WANT.

    Without Artifice

    Without Filter

    Without Shading

    Your Lame Stream Media, your MSNBC never gives the guy who owns 1/10 of the buildings in his small town downtown in Iowa or Ohio or Indiana or Texas what he WANTS.

    And Fox does.

    People who have employees and relatives asking for loans cannot watch MSNBC it makes them sick.

    So get this through your head Jon, the guys who DEFINE REALITY who set the tone of this country from the bottom up, they all watch Fox because it accurately describes theworld as they see it.

    And those guys are the most real guys alive Jon.

    You aren’t what America is about Jon Taplin. You are nice to have, you are icing, but you are not the backbone, the meat of this country.

    Please don’t forget that.

  78. John Papola says:

    @Jon Taplin

    how else would ascribe the rise of Rupert Murdoch other than the ability to keep the middle class destracted with false issues while Rupert’s class takes home all the big paychecks?

    #1. Rick was talking about libertarians. Fox News is NOT libertarian. Jesus, Jon. You write a post about anarcho-capitalism and then spew this kind of nonsense. The election has clearly fried your brain. I think the only reason you bothered quoting or doing any research for this post at all was to put up the veneer that you’re not just playing the role of unofficial (or is it?) Obama campaign surrogate.

    #2. Speaking of campaigns… why are you utterly incapable of engaging in any discussion about political economy without instantly dumbing it down to the crudest, most useless two-party election sloganeering garbage? Romney will be a crony. No shit. But to top Obama is to set a pretty high (or low?) bar. Obama is 100% pure cronyism at it’s most craven and destructive. Every single legislative action has been soaked in crony carve outs. If you’re excited about Obama because “Romney will be even worse”, that’s pathetic. You’re really getting sad with this stuff, Jon. It’s all boosterism, all the time. You could be a voice tempering the President’s horrendous governance. Instead, you’re a loyal foot soldier on this blog. What are you getting out of this? Something, I assume (and hope).

    #3. Since when is democracy and political action solely about the presidential election? That vote is next to meaningless. Truly. What REALLY matters is the broader tilt of popular opinion and understanding. Any president from either party can be better or worse based on the pressures they face politically from the people at large. The culture moves that. That’s why I’m doing the work I’m doing, rather than being a cheap campaign hack in some delusional quest to elect the lesser of two criminals.

    I am a pawn to NO ONE. You, on the other hand, seem to be playing lock-step to the Obama administration’s beat and have been for months on this blog. I’m sure that plays well in your regular circles, far better I’m guessing than New Federalism, which is (as I expected) essentially a dead idea that you only resurrect when it doesn’t conflict with party politics… So I’m going to bet that we’ll see a BIG resurgence of your desire for decentralism if Romney gets elected.

    I, for one, think the best scenario would be to have Obama get re-elected and the congress stay in opposition.

  79. John Papola says:

    @Jon Taplin

    isn’t it much easier to “seek rents” if you have federal government protection (i.e. the best Washington lobbyists money can buy)?

    You won’t seek so much rent if it’s not there for you to take, Jon. If it’s there, the biggest cronies will get it. Always have. Always will. Lobbying isn’t evil. It’s called “redressing grievances”. It’s call democracy.

    The enormous power of the government to make or break you and to do so using any of the rules baked into that 80,000+ page Federal register… most of whom were written by unelected bureaucrats who, surprise surprise, are often plucked from the very industries they are “regulating”. It’s a scam job.

    The only way to reduce corrupt cronyism is to shrink the state so that it doesn’t pay so well to become a crony and get connected. Big, interventionist, regulatory, discretionary government is the cause of massive cronyism. Just look at the levels of spending on lobbying by Microsoft or Google before the crooked DC mafia started intervening and after. All of that is a dead-weight loss on our society.

    And if you think that the very crooks who’ve rigged this system against the rest of us can somehow be trusted to pick and choose who gets to petition their government for redress of grievances through highly complex “campaign finance reform”, you’re fooling yourself. That shell game is run to protect the ultimate source of crony power: incumbents. Just look at the rate of incumbent re-election in this country. Did McCain-Feingold make a dent?

    American government today is the progressive vision fully realized. The executive branch has essentially totalitarian power. It can order the assassination of anyone. Go to war at any time. Mandate that we purchase products and dictate what those products are and how they’re made. Make or break everyone in America at will (everyone on this thread is probably an unknowing felon, so it’s easy picking when they set their sites). Over 2.5 million American civilians work in the executive branch… a branch whose total roles and power fit in just over 1000 words… LESS than this blog post.

    The only path toward less destructive crony corruption is smaller, more local government. That’s it.

  80. Bud Frawley says:

    There are somewhere around 30,000 cities and towns in the United States. The 30,000 people who own ten percent of those towns are the backbone of America. There are around 300,000,000 people in the U.S. so, about 3/1000ths of a %, or about .00003 of the American people are the backbone of the country, and for whom Fox News toils.


    Put that in your pipe and smoke it rather than the dope all you old idiots in Kalifornia smoke.

  81. Bud Frawley says:

    Charles Koch is a great American and a GREAT human being. He is part of the ruling class. He rules us. US. What part of rules don’t you understand? We should love our rulers. Except for the Muslim Kenyan who rules you old morons. Morgan Waster is a genious!

  82. morgan warstler says:

    33-35% of Americans spend part of their earning life in the top 20%.

    As likely voters they are half the electorate in any given election.

    The top 20% alone in a snapshot own 3x-4x what the top 1% do. They not only own their homes, they have prime rate mortgages, and oh by the way own 2000M guns.

    There are over 5M millionaire households and 90% of those have families.

    This is not about the 99% vs. the 1%.

    This about about 1/3 of America vs. the bottom 2/3.

    EXCEPT the bottom 2/3 only have half the votes, and they have no money.

    Without money to bring to bear, not just on elections, but on buying cultural products, American advertising and culture – our REALITY is the advertising and media story-line of businesses focusing on selling to the top 1/3.


    This just is, what it is.

    My point is that if the bottom 2/3 is going to strategize correctly, they need to stop buying into a rcih vs. poor narrative.

    INSTEAD it is the Tea Party vs. the 1%

    it is the top 1/3 vs. the top 1%

    And the bottom 1/3, the folks Jon cares about, they are just the C power.

    There is tons of political science and game theory on C power – its best strategy is always to play A and B against one another.

    JON’S PROBLEM is that he never wants to side with the Tea Party, so it ends up being some part of the 1% (limo liberals) and the bottom 2/3 always in lock step together.

    When union dues are no longer paid automatically, the $ will no longer be close to equal in politics, and FINALLY Jon will be forced as a progressive to find a strategy outside of the current false dynamic he is locked into.

    Progressives need to devolve power to the state and cities (where did that good Jon go?).

    And progressives need to start offering t support tax policies that increases taxes on the 1%, but decrease taxes on the SMB Tea Party main street – the folks in the top 1/3.

    Suddenly, the top 1% will actually EARN LESS, but instead of the government having it for income redistribution, the top 1/3 will have it and go shopping, get their nails and hair done, go see more movies, out to eat, etc.

    Distributism works.

    But to have distributism, the bottom 2/3 have to wake up and stop pretending the the top 1% can get shook for their change.

    Instead the bottom 2/3 have to FOLLOW the Tea Party into battle, and support Tea Party efforts to take down Wall Street.

    And the Kochs gave us a CLEAR show of going after politicians that do crony capitalism. And thats what we need more of.

    If I am going to have to deal with oligarchs, I prefer the Koch variety to the Soros variety.

    One of them is quintessentially American. The other is the guy Jon likes.

  83. Bud Frawley says:

    In Europe, in the 17th Century, 70% of the people controled 40% of the wealth. That led to the undiminished power of the 30% which led eventually to the discovery of television. Without television we would not have The Drug War and all the other IRRESPONSIBLE wars started by this Lockean traitor who the old hippies worship in their marijuana induced delusion. And the collapse in VALUES that has epitomized the tax and spend policies of the fascist regulators.

    The United States will eventually have to depopulate the rest of the world (and the coasts of America) in order to staunch the flow of ILLEGAL aliens that are robbing US of our profits, our morality, and our lifestyles. These aliens bring with them bad hygiene and low morals and are taking money that rightly belongs to American CITIZENS. Citizens of America, not these illegal bandits and drug lords from Mexico.

    Stop playing your childish music and get with the reality that Americans are supermen with superior moral underpinnings that are destined to conquer the every ego of the brutal savages that invade and besmirch our beautiful shores. This government was INVENTED by AnarchoCapitalists based on the ancient precepts of the Napolean Hat Inch. READ YOUR HISTORY. And never forget it.

    Morgan seems to be confused and grasping at straws, but he is one of the few Initiates, those who truly understand. Who have eyes to see. Of course he sounds deranged to all of you demented dopeheads out in Environmental Protection Land. You’ve got it EXACTLY backwards. WE are the NEW BREED. We love freedom. We will be coming for you soon.

    Get ready for The New Dark Ages!


    • Jon Taplin says:

      @Bud Frawley-You are truly an imbecile of the first order.

      Popola and Warstler-Can’t you get your little acolyte to shut up before he embarrasses you even more?

  84. John Papola says:

    The talk of income quintiles as if they are people instead of snapshot statistics is a very deep problem in this class-based marxist-like rhetoric.

    The “1%” is not a fix group of people. Neither is the top 10%, 20% or bottom 10% or 20%.

    As Morgan notes, a sizable percentage of the country spends some time in the top. The question is much more about WHEN than about WHO. We go through an income life cycle. People in the bottom 10% at age 21 don’t tend to stay there. By age 35 they’ve often moved into the median and by age 50 they’ve moved into the top 50% or higher. Then, as they slow down and retire, they fall back down the income earning quintiles, relying on savings and social security more and income less. Is a 75 year old millionaire that’s living off of interest on investments in a house they paid off really “poor” because they have no income? Clearly not. Yet this narrow marxism-lite statistical approach to income acts as if that’s the case.

    Dig deeper. The world isn’t static, even if these scam statistics present it as such. When you actually track real people living real, dynamic lives instead of treating statistical aggregates as if they’re people when they aren’t, the picture changes WILDLY.

  85. len says:

    In a world where the Bains can come in leverage your company, find the outstanding sociopaths in the company and promise them bonuses for the layoffs of the top leaders while taking their jobs, pack all the employees in like rats into cubes so they can rent out the remaining space to pay for the bribes, err bonuses,, raid the 401ks, give themselves the bonuses then sell the company overseas for a tidy profit that they distribute to themselves, what you are say is ridiculous Morgan Papola.

    You are shills for society locusts, the feet cleaners, the run get them another coke guys. You’ve not experienced a company taken over by the type of man you support in this election. I have. I don’t get to retire because everything I worked for was stolen by young folks like yourselves who didn’t want to work for the money and the elite class that educated them to steal controlled the BoDs that hired them to steal with a pen and an Excel spreadsheet.

    Anyone who votes Republican and is not already a millionaire is a fool. That describes a large enough percentage that Romney might win but he will not be able to govern. You think what the Republicans have done for the last three and half years was slick. If you haven’t figured it out, no matter who wins, the next four years will be a bloodbath economically and the Sea Peoples are coming to a gated community near you. Reserve your place in the cliff dwellings now before the best caves are taken.

  86. Bud Frawley says:

    Morgan and Papola are the only ones on here that have tracked real people living real lives for a sufficient amount of time to know the TRUE TRUTH. The rest of you are drug addled idiots living in your ivory towers of gold who know NOTHING of real life people who live real lives.

    Dig deeper, Vermin. Writing you obituaries now.

  87. John Papola says:

    @Bud Frawley

    I don’t know if I’ve got the true truth. I know that I’m making an honest effort. I suspect that most of the people here are as well, though, Bud. And even though we sling arrows at each other, let’s not sink to the level of calling others “idiots” or “vermin” just because we think they’re wrong. The REAL vermin are the knowingly dishonest politicians and their cronies who are hosing us down with populist lies while they raid the taxpayer and air-raid distant civilians.

  88. morgan warstler says:

    len, I’m pretty sure, but not positive, but pretty sure than retiring for anything more than the very last few years of life is not actually a viable for humans.

    The level of competition from what used to be the third world, the incredibly rapid diffusion of both knowledge and technology, it seems very unlikely that a sizable segment of ANY population can occur…

    Without that country starting to fall back compared other countries.

    And since letting any generation have a really good retirement life is a net negative relative to other countries, no generation should ever get to have it.

    If France does it, the future France suffers – so the fact that France does it is NOT an argument that the US should do it too.

    Europe id dying because they ate their seed corn, they ate their young.

    Bud, both Pappy and myself are here BECAUSE Taplin when he’s in a certain funk, sees the light and champions devolving power to the states and local governments.

    But he only talks like that when he is feeling like there is no chance his side can succeed.

    He is conflicted because LIKES OBAMA in the sort term, even though Obama is not going to devolve power back to California along with 50% of California’s income taxes.

    That’s the very best Jon Taplin there is – that’s an old capitalist hippie teaching a brand new modern progressive philosophy – and it is one that I can 100% support.

    But that Taplin won’t be around here unless Mitt Roney wins, and things start to go horribly wrong for Jon’s tribe.

    BUT if that happens, Jon is able to lead the Blue State liberals to the next stage of American developemnt – and that I think is Taplin’s calling… it is what he is meant to be.

  89. John Papola says:

    one more time, folks. Free markets didn’t shovel trillions into demonstrably failed people and institutions over the past 3 years. GOVERNMENTS DID. Taxpayer losses. Crony gains. That’s what big government ensures. Private market players were yanking their money out of these failures.

    So who is the shill for the 1% exactly? Those of us that wanted to see them get what they deserve, or those who continue to defend a system that bailed them all out repeatedly?

  90. Bud Frawley says:

    You have the TRUTH, and you wield it like a mighty sword. I admire you, but not as much as I admire Morgan who is not afraid to call people what they are: idiots and worse. Don’t quail from the TRUTH. We are supermen.

  91. John Papola says:

    @morgan warstler
    Ditto on the good Taplin. The good Taplin is very good.

  92. Bud Frawley says:

    Who cares? Rand’s life and family were destroyed by the Communists. Her mission was to rid the world of collective thought. The individual is ALL. It really just that simple. Morgan understands how simple it is.

  93. John Papola says:

    PS Len,

    RE private equity: Yeah.. it’s a much better world when a struggling company simply liquidates, isn’t it? What a great world THAT is. It’s so much better to have EVERYONE lose their job then to have someone willing to take risks make an effort to turn the place around (and of course profit if it succeeds).

    I’m in no position to judge Bain or any of it’s particular deals. I can’t only attempt to judge the general principle, given my ignorance of the particular cases.

    Now, when you sink down to call me a shill for this-or-that, you junk the shark, Len. Open your eyes. Look at the crony nightmare that is this current administration.

    Oh, and I’m not voting republican. I would have if Ron Paul got the nod. But oh well. Why is this so damn hard for some of you to understand. There aren’t just two choices in political life or intellectual discourse. Sheesh.

  94. Fentex says:

    I’m pretty sure, but not positive, but pretty sure than retiring for anything more than the very last few years of life is not actually a viable for humans.

    That could only be true if you accept the impossibility of both earning a surplus and in relatively safe long term investments.

    Saving through well spread investment a healthy proportion of a decent surplus from twenty to thirty (or even forty) years of productive effort should provide indefinite income for anyone.

    What might prevent this? Libertarians fret that tax will steal surplus and crony capitalism steal regulated investments, others that lack of regulation will allow capital owners to deprive people of surplus in the first place (and the more socially minded that lack of cooperation would increase many costs).

  95. JTMcPhee says:

    Wow, len! Do you still have any chips in your 401k pot? You are doing better than most of us. What a notion — purchase an actual fractional share of a running business, doing so because of preferences for its products or practices or just because it’s part of your sense of the future and your love of your culture as you believe it to be. Hang on or sell in part becfause you have a little power to disagree with or ratify the actions of C-suiters. Hope that the people running the Bourse and the folks who even the Runners agree are needed to “regulate” and protect against fraud and solenoids and double- and bottom-dealing and the rest. And then swallow your pride and wave goodbye to your “money,” that stuff you thought you had prudently put a bit aside to ease your old age, when the Runners say Sorry, chump, it’s all gone now, just like in the Crashes of Then and The Other Time and The Time Before That… And by the way, all the Rules and Practices you thought the System operated under are suddenly vitiated, voided, and whoops, never applied to people who matter in any event. Because after all, The System Is At Risk and Everybody Could Fail!!!All at once!!! OMG!!!

    There’s this thing about pictures being worth more than words (often, anyway.) The “libertarians,” whatever self-selected, self-describe, self-defined set of critters that moniker might actually and generically attach to) hide behind and strike from the cover of the positions of general decency that most folks adhere to, are masters of deceit and convenience. And worse.

    So Mr. Arbiyter-of-what’s-True Papola gets to squat behind the Worgonbulk and lay down some fire that is supposed to pink-mist off the heads of the rest of us. Are these the kind of folks one might consider turning to for advice and counsel on how to work out of a corner we have let them pait us into? Which one of these little examples from today’s Young People’s Tampa Bay Alternopaper Funnies do you think goes best with the imago of Worgon? Of Pappy? And now of “Butt Frawley,” whoever that might be?

    A couple acres of arable land, an artesian well, a small living structure, a few trustworthy friends, a modicum of education and selection of useful and TRUTHFULHONEST books. That’s all I need…

  96. John Papola says:


    Did you know that prior to the creation of the Fed, companies actually issued 100 year corporate bonds? There was enough monetary stability, even with the regulation-induced bank panics now and then, to feel confident in purchasing 100 year debt. Crazy.

    Fentex, in a world with sound money, you would actually gain a surplus simply by saving in CASH. Why? Because productivity would lead to good deflation (think computer prices over time). So even if you sat on cash, it would rise in value risklessly. The Fed stole that from our society and replaced it with a perpetual need to put more of your savings at risk than you might be comfortable doing in order to escape their erosion through inflation.

    Central Banks are the sick core of crony capitalism. Consider that Adam Smith and the scottish enlightenment was born during Scotland’s era of free, competitive banking. Oh… and those bankers didn’t have limited liability. If their bank went bust, they lost EVERYTHING. All of it. The creditors got everything. Today’s insane, evil mix of limited liability for banks and bankers, bank-protecting “deposit insurance”, lenders of last resort, and Keynesian fiscal nonsense are the root of our ills. All of that is government power giving cronies what they couldn’t get in a freer market.

    State “regulations” have NEVER been about counterbalancing corporate power. Never. It’s always been a crooked shell game.

    End the Fed, and you’ll see the single biggest source of our business cycles, wall street’s excessive growth, and our government infantile fiscal profligacy.

    A second best would be to strip the Fed down to bare bones where it can only do one thing: target nominal stability of spending or nominal GDP. It’ll suck at that, but it’ll suck less than it’s current regime.

  97. Fentex says:

    in a world with sound money, you would actually gain a surplus simply by saving in CASH. Why? Because productivity would lead to good deflation (think computer prices over time).

    I don’t address the debate about the Fed because, well, I’m not a U.S Citizen and are interested in more generic issues than that.

    I’m also not sure it’s true that ‘sound money’ leads to deflation, nor that ongoing deflation would be a beneficial ambition for I fear that would suppress investment.

    I get the logic that ‘sound money’ (typically meaning a gold backed standard) may lead to deflation, but I’m not sure it’s correct – and not only because the amount of gold in circulation will not remain fixed – because values of exchange can change independent of one another.

  98. len says:

    Wow, len! Do you still have any chips in your 401k pot? You are doing better than most of us.

    Like other investments, what is left is less than what I contributed. IOW, some folks got to keep and use my money and I seem to have paid them to do that. Not the deal I signed up for.

    I wonder what the economy would look like if The Congressional Budget Office projections were taken seriously enough that fiscal policy were actually managed accordingly. I mentioned the PID controller concept. It seems we measure, project and fire and forget. If we managed business this way (I mean, those of us who actually have customers instead of consumers and owners instead of contributors) we would go out of business. The only way a system of measures for controlling movement toward a goal works is if we actually base our decisions on them instead of imagining a Pangloss world where it always works out for us regardless of who else gets hurt.

    Then I look at high speed rail in Europe, China, Russia, etc. and look at our 50s/60s era systems and it becomes clearer that we are failing to compete and therefore, we are failing. I don’t mean compete in the financial sectors, but in the real basis for the “working” economy: infrastructure.

    @pap: My eyes are open. I do see it and I understand that our political parties are two sides of the same coin. I am operating under Rand’s rules: the Democrats helped me with health care, have been bringing troops home, made promises on education costs, and so on. The Republicans want to take that away, take more money from my class and give it to their masters, and then find yet another war. Sorry, but one has to be a fool to vote for them again. The evidence is too plain to ignore: they despise the middle class because they have to pay them to be in it, they prefer young, dumb, greedy and easy to swindle employees and they no longer have a concept of customers, just ownership. To hell with them.

    So we simply don’t get to retire. Fine. Burn, baby, burn.

  99. JTMcPhee says:

    The “experts” in the dark corners run the show, such as it is. len has an idea about the real nature of the operating system of Planet War. We are too stupid to understand how it all actually works and interacts, or really care since we make our “Expert” livings off knowing what happens at the edges and on the corners of the playing space. We humans are endlessly, increasingly and mutually vulnerable to one another, and asymmetry rules the play. Hence this notion, which could just as easily be possibly chimaerical false-flagging in any event,, just one among many, heir to the actual real strategies that depopulated “native” areas in favor of “superior White Folxx” Grimoire-openings that included inept or intentional innoculation with smallpox and syphillis and which, in various variations of the play that depend on empathies and similar commitments to “humanity,” have little or no apparent effect on the Warriors’ Willingness to fuck over everything in favor of some flag or bauble.

    “We” could do so much better. Too bad “we” won’t, because the folks who are playing dodgeball with us little kids are tossing mini-nukes laden with aflatoxins at our grinning faces, while catalzing and carrying on clandestine (emphasize
    “clan”) cyberterror to the tune of hosts of drone-humming bagpipes.

    Here’s Papola’s cue to do a Romney and try to switch the subject and innoculate the listeners against even a modicum of sense, common or otherwise, with fey and callow bits about “don’t be distracted by what Obam is going to say in his next speech…

  100. len says:

    Actually I’m just wondering who will play Charlotte Corday to Morgan’s Jean Paul Marat.

  101. len says:

    Too good not to share. Guerilla theatre lives!

    Beating the Tea Party Cheap!

  102. Jon Taplin says:

    @John Papola Papola, your notion that there is a lot of economic mobility in the US is just plain wrong.

  103. John Papola says:

    Great social media campaign. Maybe if the people who produced it put that same energy into promoting the crowd sourcing of a voluntary fund for the library, it would have worked just as well without doing all to rob other people by force of majority rule. Gross.

    I think Libraries are lovely but mostly an anarchronism today. Tax dollars would be better spent on subsidized ipads for poor schools than swanky libraries in RICH Troy michigan. The REAL deal is that Troy michigan is a fairly wealthy area. I have family near it. Those folks could surely afford to fund it without forcing people who don’t care. This is all about scaring mobs into forcing the hand of others.

    These creatives could have been entrepreneurial. It would have been so much more honorable to save the community center without increased taxes on other people.

  104. John Papola says:

    @Jon Taplin
    I provided a link. I can provide more. Where is your data to counter me?

  105. len says:

    Some times intelligence and wit win, John. Face it, the Republicans are going to get clobbered this fall. There are just too many clips of Romney on stage with people out to fleece us and put women in chains. It is soooo anti-intelligence that it’s becoming an aura of idiocy. Obama is going to get four more years and it is now really a question of will the religious imposters and other mobsters be allowed to put the GOP in deeper ruin and keep obstructing work in Washington or will common decency finally well up in their throats and they get to work.

    As far as Taplin’s crew goes, they have to swallow hard and smile at Hillary. Women are on top now (where they like to be) and will be the deciding vote for some time to come and the Republicans are lacking and the Progressive Left Wing shot their wad in 2008. I think this year the adults are coming to get both of you and smack you until you quit whining and get to fixing the economy.

    Congratulations to the People of China for their current mission on orbit. The US government may not be helping but it doesn’t keep the American people from applauding your success. Way to get it done!

  106. JTMcPhee says:

    @John Papola
    Gee Willikers, Pappy! You provided ONE WHOLE LINK! and “can provide more!” Is you back to the surly LiberProofdom Of Yore, where onceuponasetofYOURrules, failure to lay down a pithy if equally inapposite and arrogantly assertive link equals “being beaten out of the field!!!!”? by insupportable mulishness?

    @len, One can hope you are in full grok about Nov. I’ve seen too much Universal Dumbo ness over too many decades to have that kind of faith. And “women on top” does not, has not, and never will transmogrify to any kind or degree of real Better or even not so bad.

  107. Bud Frawley says:

    Yeah, John. Exactly. So he doesn’t provide any data to counter you because he doesn’t have any data to counter you. (Where ‘are’ your data, you know.). No way Taplin or his ilk can counter your link.

    Crowd source it, Taplin. Who cares what Taplin thinks? He is obsolete. Who pays any attention to him?

    Meanwhile, illegal aliens are taking away all the jobs Americans used to do before they got too fat.

  108. JTMcPhee says:

    @Bud Frawley so either this dude is a truly Promethian Snarko-Satirist,or he is where they go to acquire all the “ID” that’s so desperately needed to assemble one of our few remaining made-in-USA!USA! Products: IDiocy. A real growth industry, it appears.

  109. len says:

    @jtmc: Frawley is trolling. It accentuates the flaws of Morgan and Pap when their positions are taken to extremes. More guerilla theatre. Or they managed to attrack a psycho fan which is the real danger of punching the kind of buttons Morgan likes to punch. It’s like dressing up as Satan and preaching the power of hate on the street corner. Eventually they get an acolyte. See Lenin and Stalin.

    And no, I don’t know if things get better with O but I’m pretty sure they go into a deeper hell with Romney. Everything he says, everyone on stage with him, the whole garbanzo is Bush III. We really can’t afford the bastards anymore and they have corrupted too many too irretrievably. If America is to be a nation of the owners for the owners and by the owners, then let it burn or learn. Enough of trying to teach the unteachable.

  110. John Papola says:

    That one link happened to be a graph of bureau of labor statistics data. I’ve read numerous other approaches and arguments, as well as the ones saying that mobility has declined. The question is always whether the same people are being followed ala survey data or are we looking at statistical snapshots.

    Look, I’m as much a critic of America’s current institutional structure and it’s pro-crony distortions as anyone. I also think that the massive rise of occupational licensing at the state and local level has robbed many working class people of the job opportunities that used to be the first rung in the ladder.

    My data could be wrong. The bls could be wrong. But to come back without alternative data isn’t a comeback at all when you argument is entirely empirical.

  111. Fentex says:

    I’ve read numerous other approaches and arguments, as well as the ones saying that mobility has declined. The question is always whether the same people are being followed ala survey data or are we looking at statistical snapshots.

    Data could be wrong. The bls could be wrong.

    They don’t need to be to be measuring the wrong thing.

    When people talk about economic mobility they are not talking about the natural progression through a persons life of dependency on parents, poverty during education, repaying debts and forming a foundation on employment and later security through ongoing earning.

    They are talking about moving through classes; children of labourers becoming tradespeople, children of tradespeople becoming professionals, children of professionals succeeding as entrepenuers etc. This kind of mobility inversely correlates with income disparity.

    Income disparity is extreme and increasing in the U.S.

  112. Bud Frawley says:

    So you are either a troll or a psycho if you disagree with the dinosaurs on this board.

    Morgan Wastier is a HERO for taking all tha abuse he does from people he is only trying to enlighten.

    The Peace and Love Gneration. HA. The War and Hate Generation is more like it.

    I am a REALIST.

  113. len says:

    Income disparity is extreme and increasing in the U.S.

    I’d say it’s worldwide viewing the situation in Europe, but essentially correct. As the gap widens, the opportunities to move disappear because access to education and the elites spawned by the A-schools decreases dramatically. It’s a question of how long a society or culture can keep this up before the workers walk back into the jungle and leave the stone monuments of their former rulers to be swallowed back up by the jungle.

  114. John Papola says:


    When people talk about economic mobility they are not talking about the natural progression through a persons life… They are talking about moving through classes

    1. They’re using the same data and looking at distributions of income on a percentile basis, which means they conflate movements over time and age with people being born into and remaining in the same rough income group.

    2. What “classes”? This notion of “Class” is entirely an intellectual construct. I’m not arguing that there aren’t communities and cultures which are distinct. But this rigid notion that there are “classes” is something I just don’t see. I think you’re separating income groups and classes as two distinct things when many (most?) leftists see them as the same thing. Can you earn over 100k a year and be “lower class”? Can you earn 14k a year and be “upper class”? Classes are a statistical artifact, like income quintiles.

    Show me the progression of specific people. Explain what’s happening to them. Poor black kids in Newark, NJ are facing issues that are distinct from poor Appalachian white kids. Are their problems due to “class”? Are they in the same “class”? Even these finer-grained groupings are still garbage and subtly bigoted ways of looking at people. Everyone is different. There are brilliant kids in each case who can and will succeed. There are brilliant ones who won’t because of the situation they’re in and the failed institutions around them. There are slackers and freeloaders in all levels of society.

    Chopping people up into massive “class” aggregates is an enterprise I don’t see any value in other than as a rhetorical weapon for stoking populism of the worst sort.

  115. John Papola says:

    I don’t think anyone here is taking seriously just how destructive occupational licensing is to economic opportunity and mobility, especially for people who aren’t starting off with a straight shot through college guaranteed….

    Even MAKEUP artists are being screwed by the state and it’s crooked crony cartels. Again, this has risen DRAMATICALLY in the last 30 years. Business entry in many dimensions was far more free market in the 1960s.

  116. len says:

    There are brilliant kids in each case who can and will succeed.

    There are outliers on the graphs, yes, but fewer and fewer. The notion of the meritocracy is being replaced by access to the university and fewer are admitted based on merit which deprives them of the associations required in business. How many of the top tech companies in today’s popular list were not founded by graduates from A-list schools?

    Class is real enough but it is not a rigid thing one can hang a sign on. It’s a dynamic process and what is happening is the filters are narrowing while the controls are taking on a semi-permanent state. Obama holds himself up as proof that the meritocracy still exists. Romney holds himself up as the example that it doesn’t matter if you are born well and take the right jobs that your birth gives access to. The 1% don’t have to construct a glass ceiling. They are the glass ceiling.

  117. len says:

    I am a REALIST.

    If you had said “pragmatist”, you might onto something. A REALIST pretends to knowledge which doesn’t exist.

    Let me modify “psycho” although troll is probably accurate: you are a fanboy. Fine, but cheers jeers and painting yourself team colors are only practical at a sporting event. If you want to contribute to this conversation and others, from time to time you should show some expertise and/or do the required reading. As contentious as these conversations can become, it is acknowledged that people at this table are making a best faith effort to express themselves in such a way as to advance the understanding of others at the table. A few months here is equal to a university credit for some subjects if you do the homework.

    Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem.

  118. len says:

    Possibly old news for some, but the thesis is that equality of income and equality of condition are related and that as I said access into the elites (aka, upper upper classes) is required and the opportunities are diminishing at an accelerating rate.

    This blows through objectivism. IOW, the fantasy that they earned the wealth by hard work and innovation is exactly that in most cases: a fantasy. You can find exceptions but they are outliers. It is about social mobility of which there is increasingly little.

    The kids may be right about the zombie apocalypse. Talked to the Teavangelicals lately?

  119. Rick Turner says:

    Are there any historical examples of a true libertarian society working? And if not, why not? And if so, what happened?

    Seems to me that the best system so far has been benevolent dictatorship.

    Or democracy with no standing armed forces as per Costa Rica.

    And good luck seeing that in our lifetimes here…

  120. len says:

    My guess is it will be a Rand described: only possible in small numbers of like-mined insular individuals. That is the Castle Mentality or alternatively, the High Cliff Cave Dwellers seen both in the Mediterranean and the Southwest US. Gated neighborhoods to a weaker extent reflect that unenviable insularity.

    The society type is becoming less important except insofar as it enables use to cope with the limits imposed on us by a growing population with an increasing hunger for comfort or at least relief from anxiety. We are in a time of the emerging awareness that constancy is being replaced by duty. As a UN writer pointed out, we organized ourselves in a time when we could simply harvest. Then we began to mine. Now it seems we need to return to harvesting but given the expanded numbers and uses, we can’t without recognizing moral imperatives.

    Objectivism is failing spectacularly and predictably. The current economic inequality will not hold. It can’t and those aspiring to join the uber-wealthy class will discover that in most cases, they can’t, and those outliers that can won’t be able to stay. The wealth becomes meaningless.

    Will we experience a liminal moment, a transformative jolt from which there is no return, in which we are compelled to evolve or transition to a different social type? Or will we do what we have historically done: kill each other in numbers great enough to reduce the pressure and return to constancy? Can we become moral and act on the imperative to act dutifully?

  121. Alex Bowles says:

    @Rick Turner Well, Somalia is famously free of any central, bureaucratic governing authority. And the Somalis seem to prefer it that way. However, were it not for an economy that depends on piracy and the existence of bureaucratic states that provide things worth pirating, then it’s unlikely that their arrangements would continue to be so amenable.

    Incidentally, this doesn’t mean that Somalia is a libertarian paradise. Indeed, it’s quite the opposite. The individual liberty that is properly cherished by libertarians has little room to develop in a society governed by clans. The libertarian position realizes that that the much-hated state is the very (and, likely, the only) thing that can guarantee the individual freedom. This makes it a necessary evil, and the response it to limit it severely.

    If I’ve understood it correctly, the core libertarian argument has to do with what they regard as the the fundamentally unethical nature of taxation. Libraries are bad because they’re funded by money that is collected by people who can confiscate everything you own, jail you if you refuse to pay, and shoot you if you try to escape. This makes libraries (and, really, anything provided by a government that collects taxes) akin to the fruit of a poisoned tree. In the strict libertarian view, no good can possibly outweigh the horrific and terrible violence implicit in that good’s inception. As such, taxation – like inflation – is a crime against God, man, and nature all wrapped up in one nasty pack (I exaggerate, but only slightly).

    “Limited government” means on that exists only to adjudicate contract disputes, and, perhaps, to provide an army and police force that exists solely to defend persons and property. These systems are paid for by the people who use them directly, and everyone else is free to sink or swim on their own, secure in the knowledge that whatever else transpires, none of it has been tainted by the undying evil of taxation. Nor will any gains be subject to the equally insidious robbery that comes from the deliberate inflation of a fiat currency. No harm will be done to the essential premise that what’s mine is mine and will remain mine unless I say so, freely, and without coercion – and that includes credit for all that I’ve inherited from the society I was raised in, since society has no reality – it’s just a disembodied aggregate of relationships with no weight or bearing. Freedom is absolute, while responsibility is limited only to the terms of contracts I enter personally and willingly. Imposition of any further responsibility is an assault on my humanity. Or something like that.

    This, for me, is where it all falls apart. For most people, the idea that society is real, that it makes inviolable demands, and that people need to place its needs above their own seems self-evident, which is what puts so many people at odds with libertarian thought. And when I say “its needs” I don’t mean the salaries of its administrators. I mean the ability that society has to provide for not just peace but trust – without which, there can be no social cooperation whatsoever.

    Obviously, governments can get it hideously wrong. And not just because their good intentions go bad. Deliberate self-serving malfeasance is a serious problem. Indeed, the entire 20th century can be read as a case study in this issue exactly. But the answer isn’t to go the Grover Norquist way, and reduce government to a point where it can be easily murdered (his actual stated intention, I must remind you). It’s to focus on what measures and policies increase both peace and trust, and using these as the benchmark for good governance.

    An environment in which the golden rule becomes “every man for himself and let the winner take all” seems neither peaceful nor trustworthy. It should be just as clear that severe discrepancies in income – discrepancies that vastly outweigh any differences in risks taken, effort expended, or value produced – have a terrible effect on trust in general, and can lead to even more catastrophic harms to basic peace and security.

    Libertarians may not want these outcomes, but it’s easy to see why they’re seen as useful idiots by those who think they’re generally manageable and personally beneficial.

  122. Alex Bowles says:

    Just to be clear – I think the libertarians are right to promote the tremendous value that a society can derive from the freedom and dignity of its members, and that individual liberty in thought and action is a fine and beneficial thing.

    My issue with the libertarian line of thought is in the way that it treats individual liberty as an end in and of itself, while treating generalized social good as a byproduct of absolute personal liberty rather than the product of a design that partially restricts liberty for the greater good of individual and society alike.

    Getting the balance right is devilishly hard. It requires wisdom, judgement, and experience. Given the daunting challenges that good governance presents, I can see why the mental shortcuts and apparent ease of ideology can be so tempting. That doesn’t make them a smart choice. Far better, I think, to come to terms with uncertainty.

  123. len says:

    Let me offer something other than this or that philosophy:

    1. Resilience over efficiency: a city is a model of efficiency with the cost being increased interdependence through specialization. The migration to the cities illustrates a need for more security in the face of realized specialization. Resilience is shown in the ability to do many things, not all well but sufficiently well as to realize the benefits of independence or weaker couplings in social arrangements. The move out of the city reflects that thought.

    2. With the emphasis on efficiency, banks grow bigger, the interlocking corporations and boards gave rise to the elites and the concentration of wealth goes off the chart. At the same time, society has become more vulnerable because “too big to fail” increases risk taking and greed met incompetence like chocolate and peanut butter. Thus we propped up the banks because we couldn’t afford “inefficiency” and in so doing, robbed individuals except only the ones who could not defend themselves with force of any kind. Anyone up for Transaction Taxes as a means to regulate the greed?

    The libertarians will say no. The objectivists will say hell no but it is important to note that they are the builders of the too big to fail institutions and if they really were that dedicated to their philosophies they would be doing as Rand described and dropping out of society to form their own village cliques of supermen and stopping the engine of the world. Instead, they are using their wealth to rig an election through free speech purchased with borrowed tax dollars that they want to possess but refuse to lend back until and unless they get rid of the black guy.


  124. Fentex says:

    . What “classes”? This notion of “Class” is entirely an intellectual construct.

    As are negative numbers, names for colours and any arbitrary distinction we apply through language.

    I was careful to illustrate the classifications I referred to when speaking of labourers, tradespeople and professionals.

    I was replying to your observation that…

    The question is much more about WHEN than about WHO. We go through an income life cycle. People in the bottom 10% at age 21 don’t tend to stay there. By age 35 they’ve often moved into the median and by age 50 they’ve moved into the top 50% or higher.

    …with my own that people talking about concerns for economic mobility aren’t talking about everyone’s common experience of (generally, we hope) improving situations.

    They are talking about moving from one classification of economic grouping to another and the associated opportunities for descendants success – known in the colloquial as providing a better life for ones children.

    So statistics that observe peoples situations change over time can easily miss-measure the topic of interest, which I think would require measuring and comparing childrens economic movement relative to their parents.

    Which has been done and, if I recall correctly, indicates less economic mobility in the U.S than any desire.

  125. Fentex says:

    Seems to me that the best system so far has been benevolent dictatorship.

    There is no such thing.

    Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end…liberty is the only object which benefits all alike, and provokes no sincere opposition…The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to to govern. Every class is unfit to govern…Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    J.D Acton

  126. Fentex says:

    Getting the balance right is devilishly hard. It requires wisdom, judgement, and experience. Given the daunting challenges that good governance presents, I can see why the mental shortcuts and apparent ease of ideology can be so tempting.

    I contend it’s impossible for the same reason predicting honest share markets (without inside manipulation) is – no matter what system is employed it will be gamed and twisted by those vested in seeking wealth and power.

    These matters will always be a continuing evolution of attempts by populations to civilize – in the meaning of civilize that is ‘to live peacefully together’.

  127. Alex Bowles says:

    @Fentex This is precisely why I’ve become so interested in the mechanics of the vote, in the financing of campaigns, and with those who are hell-bent on making an already bad system worse.

    Democracy can’t make better decisions that other systems. Often, it does worse. But it’s unique in its ability to correct inevitable errors and, with any luck, survive them. In the long run, that gives it a tremendous advantage.

    By way of contrast, consider this account of Iran’s struggles with colonial British interests, and how a lack of democratic sovereignty produced a truly extreme response. Even more interesting is the continued failure to recognize the depth and legitimacy of the underlying grievance, and how this has resulted in policy that has entrenched the extremes instead of marginalizing them safely.

    California has recently instituted structural reforms that reject the profoundly flawed arrangements that govern most national representatives. These won’t produce change overnight, but I’m hopeful that they will set an example that helps people recognize how absolutely vital the mechanics of elections really are, how severely warped they’ve become, and how this very deliberate warping is absolutely central to the sustained failure of policy makers to deal with issues they’ve been handed.

    In the meantime, grit teeth and carry on.

  128. John Papola says:

    Alex, your comments hear are great. I am hitting the sack, but will endeavor to offer my alternative response tomorrow if I can carve out the time during lunch. I will say now that my take on liberty is rooted in appreciation for emergent order, the limits of our knowledge and the problems in imagining that we can “design” our society from the top down based on some sort of “wisdom”, especially given the nature of politics and the incentives politicians and especially unelected administrators face…. But more to come.

  129. John Papola says:

    @Bud Frawley

    Meanwhile, illegal aliens are taking away all the jobs Americans used to do before they got too fat.

    This is nonsense, Bud. There isn’t some fixed pool of “jobs” that can be “taken away” by immigrants. Immigrants are great. They are coming here, being productive and contributing their production to our supply of wealth. Consider that net immigration has actually stopped and yet we have high unemployment, yet we had big immigration in the 1990s with low unemployment.

    “Jobs” are about finding how to provide value to others at cost-covering prices. It’s about coordinating the skills that are needed to deliver the stuff people demand at wages that make it a viable enterprise. When unemployment will pay you not to work for 99 weeks and the law bans you from working for less than $7.25, of COURSE we’re going to have immigrants taking the opportunities that government has banned or disincentivized.

    Then there’s the problem that too many kids are going to school for nonsense degrees, in part because their K-12 didn’t prepare them well to be ambitious or wise. So we have big labor shortages in silicon valley and other sectors of the economy while kids are leaving their 5-year drinking binge with a degree in psychology or women’s studies or ancient poetry and wonder why they can’t get a job that pays more than 25k per year… Which will make it pretty hard to pay off that inflated student debt they incurred while boozing and sleeping through what should be some of the most productive years of their lives.

    My wife has struggled to find a domestic manufacturer for her cloth diaper business. Every one of them is too busy. Meanwhile, the veteran textile folks we consult say that this demand is only growing… Yet none of the kids coming out of school want to start up manufacturers. They all want to be designers. So there’s a real entrepreneurial opportunity for opening up domestic textile production… And our “education” system isn’t prepping our young people to take advantage of it.

    It’s no surprise that in silicon valley it’s a badge of honor to drop out of school and start a firm. School is dramatically less valuable (and less educational) then our culture or politics leads us to believe.

    As for immigrants…

    The best thing that could happen to America is a massive influx of young, productive people ready to work and contribute. It would help ease the burden of our increasingly lopsided retiree welfare state. And the more Mexicans, the better. They are a beautiful people with terrific values and strong families. Not all of course, but my anecdotal experience is nothing but splendid at all levels. I have a great affection and affinity for our southern neighbors.

  130. Rick Turner says:

    John, maybe you could move to Salinas or Watsonville and get our southern neighbors to stop killing one another. They do that rather regularly. But I guess gangs are one face of libertarian freedom…

  131. len says:

    According to the piece on CBS yesterday, the productive influx is coming from China in the largest numbers.

    As to the southern influx, here in Alabama where we have as noted a draconian law for handling illegals, so far the predicted surge in food prices has not happened. The predicted surge in housing costs has not happened. No church deacon has been dragged to jail for giving an illegal a ride. So far the only thing that has happened is legals who didn’t take the jobs before are. The price of chicken (local product) is about what it was. The price of a can of mixed nuts (non-local product) is soaring.

    I am also a fan of the Hispanic culture. It’s simply that so far the prognostications have not matched the results. As for textiles, Alabama was one of the major textile statesl; then NAFTA and the MoneyHoover took those jobs to…. Mexico.

    When unemployment will pay you not to work for 99 weeks ….

    You are kidding, right? I was on unemployment a year ago. It pays almost enough to buy one car enough gas to go to a few interviews and another trip to the gas station. Really. If you can’t add off-the-book income to that, you may as well follow the illegals back south of the border where they have jobs if the cartels like your gun handling skills. In fact, they will pay you to come back to the states and tend their off the books gardens.

  132. John Papola says:


    Let me quote Paul Krugman from his textbook, “Macroeconomics“:

    Public policy designed to help workers who lose their jobs can lead to structural unemployment as an unintended side effect. . . . In other countries, particularly in Europe, benefits are more generous and last longer. The drawback to this generosity is that it reduces a worker’s incentive to quickly find a new job. Generous unemployment benefits in some European countries are widely believed to be one of the main causes of “Eurosclerosis,” the persistent high unemployment that affects a number of European countries.

    So… neither I nor professor Krugman are saying that UI is sufficient to live well or above a basic prevention of privation. We’re both saying, and the international comparative evidence suggests that we’re right, that extended UI does induce higher structural unemployment. Look at French unemployment rates during the boom times as one example. We call those levels a recession. For France, it’s a boom.

    Now, compare Germany’s pre-reform structural unemployment rates with their current/post-reform rates. Here’s a summary from NPR:

    In 2002, Germany looked a lot like the United States does today: it had no economic growth, and its unemployment rate was 8.7 percent and climbing…

    Under what came to be known as the Hartz Reforms, a German who’s out of work for more than a year gets 364 euros a month (about $500). They also get subsidized rent and heat, and a job counselor.

    Before the Hartz commission, they’d get paid roughly 50 percent of their previous income for as long as they were unemployed….

    The number of people working in minijobs and other temporary employment has skyrocketed since 2005, when Hartz’s reforms became law. After an initial spike to 10 percent, Germany’s unemployment rate dropped, settling in at today’s 6.2 percent.”

    Now, Germany did other reforms such as create a mechanism for reducing effective minimum wages called “mini-jobs”. It’s hard to know which reform had the large effect on their successful end to eurosclerosis. Here’s Paul Krugman on minimum wages from the Milwaukee Sentinel:

    Stanford University economist Paul Krugman, however, said raising the minimum wage and lowering barriers to union organization would carry a trade-off — increased unemployment.

    He makes similar points in his textbook, and commonly understood by economists.

    Ancedotally, I know people who were on UI right up until it ran out and then suddenly settled for a job when it did. Similarly, when Clinton passed welfare reform, people proclaimed that it would lead to a big increase in unemployment. It didn’t people left welfare for work at wages that they previously didn’t find it worth it to take.

    None of this is a moral judgement. It’s totally understandable and rational to hold off on taking a job while you’re on UI if you think you can find something better, or would rather not work with the low income than work a terrible job for higher income.

    In short, higher/longer UI increases people’s “reserve wage”.

    But to claim that UI doesn’t make a difference not only rejects the basic principle that people respond to incentives (false) but also flies in the face of lots of comparative institutional evidence as well as very broad agreement by economists from Milton Friedman to Paul Krugman.

  133. John Papola says:

    ps… they called it a “painful” fix in the story. And for those people who lost benefits and had to go back to work, it surely was. But it’s hard to argue that the reforms didn’t work and that Germany isn’t a stronger economy with more robust protection from fiscal crisis vs. France, Spain or the USA as a result.

  134. len says:

    I accept that, John. I reject that it is a living wage. It was painful and I did accept a job that pays a lot less and has some other eerie risks (running out of the building yesterday when construction workers set fire to it given some of the things around me don’t like fire). We do what we must.

    I consider the extended UI currently in place, a stop gap. The assessment that people will stay unemployed has a Sowell tinge to it (his thesis that affirmative action creates a permanent black underclass). Some tactics should be limited in scope and schedule but aren’t precluded as a means to get through a rough patch.

  135. John Papola says:

    It’s not a living well wage, that’s for sure. I’ve been unemployed for several months scraping by on UI before and it sucks. But… it DOES appear to increase unemployment. It does, effectively, disincentivize work. Again, forget whatever moral judgements you’ve heard attached to this and look at the evidence and think about it. If I’m getting $1300 per month, that works out to $8.25/hour… but without taxes. So the effective hourly rate goes up to nearly $10 per hour.

    Who’s gonna go work a $12/hour job when they can NOT work for $10 and keep looking for something that might pay $20?

    There’s lots of reasons why settling for less is better than waiting too long for more. You make new connections that could open up other job opportunities. I think it’s easier to find a new job when you already have one because it’s a positive signal that someone else employs you (like getting hit on more frequently once you’re married).

    People are remarkably capable of adjusting to circumstances. This can be good. But it can also be bad. It can mean that a body at rest for too long will want to stay at rest even longer.

    Again, none of this is a moral judgement. It’s not about laziness. The German people didn’t go from being more lazy to less lazy between 2002 and today. People on welfare pre-reform didn’t suddenly become less lazy after reform. The incentives changed.

  136. JTMcPhee says:

    Yeah, no moral judgment — when YOU latch onto the Safety Net tit. After all, you Righteous “Deserving”are just getting back a social benefit you already (or your employer) already PAID FOR. As to all those lazy shiffles’ OTHERS, there’s TONS OF “yer just lazy as dirt” hypocritical moralizing and assignment of blame and imposition of imputed shame to go around.

    And the KleptoCapitalists like the kochs and Limbag and such just keep pounding the ancient tribal drums…

  137. len says:

    It is a moral judgement. It is always a moral judgement. That is precisely what we’ve failed to do. See Emily thread.

    Just because it is doable doesn’t make it inevitable. Again, Agent Orange and Land Mines. And just because others are doing it doesn’t mean we have to or should. That’s a lesson most of us learn at our mother’s knee.

    The rat bastard trap of the ascendance of technology was our culture of chasing money decided that moralizing was somehow an inferior form of thinking and the trendy judas goats led right into the slaughterhouse. I’m not talking this or that religion but it’s worth noting that the US Constitution does not read as often quoted

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”

    it is

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

    and that second part is as important as the first. Somewhere along the path we free thinking individuals have to pick something to believe and exercise or we degenerate into a pack of thieves because, well, we can.

  138. John Papola says:

    Sorry, it’s not a moral judgement to say that UI increases unemployment because it incentivizes people not to take work below $10/hour. It’s part of our current system. People are entitled to take advantage of it. The observations / evidence I’ve presented simply point to the fact that people respond to the incentives and rules in which they operate.

    If you want to judge that it’s immoral to take UI, go right ahead. An older generation of Americans surely felt that way on a larger scale than today. My grandparents were surely too proud to take any sort of hand out. In fact, it was this general cultural ethos that lead to FDR and the social security folks concocted it fraudulently as a “pension” or “insurance” scheme when it was clearly a wealth transfer / ponzi scheme from day one. By our grandfather’s generation wasn’t going to accept a straight-up welfare scheme. Today we do.

    People get taxed. When they time comes to benefit from the system they were taxed to fund, they take from it. That’s not immoral. It’s damn hard to figure out if you’re a net tax consumer or net tax payer. Well.. not really. America has the most progressive tax collection in the west. The top earners pay the overwhelming majority of the taxes, well in excess of their relative incomes to the whole.

    Still, moral judgements can only be made of individuals. So to make a moral judgment of a UI recipient, you’ve got to know that they are turning down work that they could take but would rather free-ride.


    I have no problems making moral judgements. I think the state is an immoral institution. I reject it first and foremost on moral grounds. It’s an entity whose existence is built solely on violence and aggression. I also happen to think that it doesn’t deliver the goods from a utilitarian point of view. But that’s complimentary to my moral judgement. It could turn out to be contradictory to it. The state could deliver and I could still oppose it on moral grounds. What does happen and what “should” happen are NOT necessarily the same thing. I think it’s important to try and understand when, how and why we are using these different justifications for our ideas.

  139. len says:

    It’s not immoral to take it. It was immoral for the ownership class to create conditions for their own benefit that led to many more having to take it, and criminal for them to perpetuate those conditions. Many of the people in the UI office were not there five years ago. Many of them performed their jobs flawlessly and without complaint. Then the vulture capitalists ate the seed corn, melted the companies and sold them for scrap prices.

    That is why I am tagging XML for the US Army, Pap. That is why my wife is working two jobs and sometimes three so my daughter can go to college. It is everything we can do to hold it together. There are plenty of the kids in the OWS protests who went to college, did the right things and now can’t find a job. I’ve seen the HUD maps. Whole sections of major cities are melting and those people are on the move probably to the poor side of town near you or me.

    Yes violence has been done. It wasn’t done by the government. It was done by well-heeled well-connected people who used position and money to enrich themselves while screwing over others. And that IS a moral decision. They have acted immorally. We have government to protect us from such but government has been chosen badly and corrupted by the same well-heeled well-connected people.

    And if something doesn’t change, Wall Street is going to burn. This isn’t something I cheer for but history is clear about this sort of thing. Then the jungle covers up the debris and the houses of the unholy. Immorality leads to certain ends even if it takes a route through the houses of pleasure and power.

    Is our bought and paid for army preparing? They are.

  140. John Papola says:


    The government, particularly the Federal Reserve, Fannie and Freddie, as well as a host of government interventions and policies such as mortgage-backed-security prioritization in basil bank rules, is at the very heart of this crises and recession.

    There’s signs all over our natural parks like Yellow Stone. They read “don’t feed the animals”. Why? Because if the animals become accustomed to getting their food from people, they’ll learn to seek that instead of getting their own food with their own resourcefulness. That is what our government did to the financial system. It fed the animals. It was called “the greenspan put” and “government sponsored enterprises”. The animals got trained to expect a helping hand when times got tough.

    And so, to use another nature analogy, we had a period of unnatural calm. The government efforts to prevent small brush fires (from continental illinois, to post LTCM liquidity injections to mexican peso crisis bailouts) ultimately allowed a brush build up so great that when lightning finally struck, the fire was unstoppable and devastating. So what did our arsonist overlords do? They made it worse. The bailed out some cronies while letting other go under. They dropped the ball on monetary stability, allowing fear and failures to cause a deflation (repeating the Fed’s depression-causing mistakes in the 1930s).

    This isn’t about the “ownership class”, a term that has no meaning at all because there is no one “class” of “owners”. It’s about the cronies and the true source of crony power, big government, wrecking the system with crony corporate socialism.

    Violence was done by the government just as true murderous military violence continues to be done by our government.

    Too many kids have been fed lies about the need to go to college, then suckered into into with loan-shark-like government backed college loans which they’ll spend decades trying to repay even as they wasted the time in majors that have little practical purpose from a career skills standpoint. College can be great. But it’s often a complete waste of time and money. It should be a surprise, given the structure of our educational system with its broken zip-code segregated government K-12 nightmare feeding into an over-inflated, debt-fueled college bubble.

    I agree that the corporate socialists have set us up for some dangerous times. It’s a crony nightmare with the hint of fascism under the surface. But don’t mistake which institution is at the heart of it: Big G.

  141. John Papola says:

    If you want to see who’s really ripping us all a new one… look no further than the bubble in our nation’s capital:

    While the rest of the US struggles, the DC class is living large in luxury limos. It’s insane.

    And while Obama and the rest talk about “stimulus” to restore economic prosperity, even Harvard researchers have found that so-called “stimulus” only ends up stimulating the government while it shrinks the private economy on which that government ultimately feeds:

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