Out of Weakness

It never fails but if I’m talking to someone, particularly someone who is or thinks she is older than me (this is not rare) and the conversation turns to politics, they say something like “oh, you’re for small government and negative liberties because you’re strong.  You’ve never experienced weakness.”

The funny thing is that there is no point to my explaining, because they won’t believe me, but not only am I not strong, but I am unusually weak.

I was born severely premature — I fit in my dad’s size eleven shoe.  Yes, that is my family: faced with a severely premature child they didn’t expect to live out the night, they could think of nothing better to but see if I fit dad’s shoe.  The strange thing is that I’m one of two sf fans in the family — in an unheated stone house round about the Cuban missile crisis. Until I was 12, I spent more time bedridden than standing on my own two feet.  You name it, I caught it, and I probably caught things that no one has caught since the middle ages and which, as they swept the village, never got a name because they were just “one of those things.”) I probably had the scrubbies, the gnats and the gurgling peas.  (Part of this is that we lived in close intimacy with animals and with sewage both human and animal.  As most humans have, for most of history.)

Granted, after 12 or so I didn’t get sick more than normal human beings, but I still have some deficits.  Part of my fear of driving is that I know I have never been good at physical things.  I can in fact screw up something that requires coordination and agility and which I’ve executed perfectly a million times simply by THINKING about it.  And I think too much.  I swear whoever put me together left out the instinct module.  There are things everyone else seems to know that I have to reason through, painfully.  And sometimes I get it better than other people seem to, and sometimes I screw it incalculably worse, and I can never TELL which.

Besides, to compensate for no longer being sickly, I decided I needed other kinds of handicaps, and so I got married abroad.  Not only abroad, but in one of the few places in the world in which neither mom or dad can claim relatives.  Sure, we now have a network, of sorts, but we’ve gone through vast portions of our life where if we (or we and the kids, later) died in our house, no one would ever find out.  Dan’s employer might get upset, but I don’t know if they’d have looked.  And the same for the kids school.  Chances are that eventually the house would get foreclosed and the new owners would get a surprise.

That type of isolation has its own weaknesses built in.  When the kids were little, this was mostly that there was no one to lend a hand.  Not even just the big important things, but for the little “all the time things.”  No matter what else was going on, kids needed to be taken care of, house needed to be at least minimally sanitary, food had to be put on the table.  And I suspect this is what some of the people who have argued with me think is “strength” but it is not.  It’s the direst weakness.  I had no give, I had no margin, I had to keep going till I got sick, and then I had to keep going when I was sick, because people depended on me.  My kids and my husband depended on me (these were mostly the early days when Dan was working often 16 hour days) to keep the house running in such a way they had food and a place to sleep and weren’t unduly disturbed.  And my husband depended on me to write, because when we got married he gave up his music and took a job that would take a lot of his time, so I could write, because my money was our retirement.  The only retirement we could hope for.  (I’m hoping for it, still.  I have hopes, now there’s Indie.)  Because though both of us intend to die with our fingers on the keyboard, we know old age means more of what my childhood was like: there will be times we can’t earn our keep no matter how we try.

So I know weakness.  And it is out of weakness that I believe government should be small, almost powerless, providing to individuals only that which needs coordination and cooperation of many: mutual defense, for instance.  I believe each of government’s actions should be overseen, watched for potential violations of liberty and cut back if there is a shadow of a doubt over its unintended consequences.

Usually in this part of the discussion, I get accused of wanting widows and orphans to starve in the dark.

Which is not just not the point, but is entirely beside the point.

Look, humans are tribal and therefore we identify with the weak and the needy in our group.  And our group can and sometimes does extend to all the world.

I think it’s no small part of the fact we are the dominant species in this world (after grass) and have conquered all types of habitats, that we DO look after the weak.  As far back as we go we find skeletons with the marks of injuries and illnesses they could not have survived without everyone rallying around.  Even some of our cousins, now extinct or absorbed, were like that.  This is probably because cousin Gugr, who broke his arm and can’t throw the spear, can sit around the cave long enough till he figures a way to make fire, or perhaps to make a new type of spear, or perhaps —  Human invention often comes out of enforced idleness, so such a scenario is at least plausible.

However, what we have to think about is two fold — charity is a wonderful thing.  Looking after the poor and the weak is a great thing but — Who should do it?  AND Should it be a right?

The who should do it is important.  The so called “positive liberties” which our current president is very fond of include some doozies.  I think — but someone can fill in here, since I only think so because I heard it from sympathizers — the Soviet Union guaranteed housing, food and a job.  At least that’s the sort of thing proponents of positive liberties here wish to grant everyone.  Oh, and health care, transportation and, for the more daring ones, the right to free entertainment.

We agree these are all lovely things.  Things we would all like to have.  H*ll if I didn’t spend half of my time worrying about money (I know, I know, but the boys will be out of college in two and a half years and off our payroll) imagine the art I could create.  (More on this later.)

But who should do that?  Who has the power to grant these “positive liberties?”  The only entity large enough is a powerful government.  In the US a federal government.

So a lot of people (including the current president) think that it is the duty of the government to do this.  Because you’re not truly free if you don’t have a car to drive wherever you want, or a place to live, or–

But the key word here is not freedom.  It’s liberty.  And liberty for what?  Life and the pursuit of happiness.

Let me back track: as beautiful as those ideas sound and as much as, as an idealistic 14 year old I’d have told you yes, yes, we need positive liberties, any adult who keeps on thinking they’re a bright idea is either not really an adult in mind, or is so thoroughly indoctrinated he never thought through the consequences.

When you say someone should have “housing and food, a car, entertainment, health care” you’re not saying that angels will come down from heaven and grant this.  Or if you are, you really should tell us how to summon these angels.  What you’re saying is “we should violate someone’s most basic and fundamental liberties so that someone else can be the equivalent of a trustfund baby with never a worry in the world.”

Whose liberties?  Well, builders and farmers, entertainers and doctors.  And while you might think those people can “give” you’re not thinking of scale.  If “everyone” is entitled to this what you’re saying is that these people have to work so that other people can have everything for free even without doing anything.

And if you say this is just a safety net, for when people fall through all the rest, you’re still missing the point that somewhere along the line you’re taking people’s labor and people’s goods to give to others, and since no human institution was ever free of fraud, and since that type of giving creates INCENTIVES for fraud, what you’re doing is taking from those who work to give to those who choose not to.  At which point I must ask, who died and made you god, precisely, that you would take from others their G-d given liberties, those that exist if no one violates them?

And if you make these things a “right” people WILL stop working (enough experiments with guaranteed minimum income show just that.  People can live on very little indeed, provided they have to do nothing for it and there’s no stigma attached to living from it.  Oh, they’ll agitate for more, and therefore empower the government to give more and more “rights” on the back of fewer and fewer people working until–

We have readers here who grew up in the Soviet Union. They can tell you how the end state of this is people doing less and less while demanding more and more, till everyone is living in dire poverty and bitching about deserving the stars.

But let’s leave aside the fact it doesn’t work on the macro-level: does it work on the micro-level.

Humans are scavengers.  This means we are instinctually designed to bring down (or more likely initially find) mammoth and then sit around and eat till mammoth all gone or too rotten to eat.  We’re not instinctually designed to run around killing more mammoth while we still have mammoth because animals that act that way deplete the food supply and starve.

I too have illusions.  One of my favorite games when stressed over money, is to buy a lottery ticket and spend a few days fantasizing about what I would do with 100 million or whatever.  And the first thing that comes to mind is “I’d write a lot.”  I might even do it.  I’m broken on the instinct front. But most people wouldn’t.  It doesn’t matter whom we’re talking about, someone always says “Yeah, he wrote those novels when he was paying a mortgage/putting his kids through college/paying off his divorce”  This is always and inevitably the writers’ best work.

Sure there are others, people of means who spent years perfecting the single, beautiful work they’re known for.  But they’re not nearly as many.

In the end that’s the worst thing.  Grant everyone “positive liberties” and you turn the country into a huge project.  No, I mean Cabrini Green type project.

Humans who don’t have to strive, and who by virtue of the system, don’t have the hope of getting much better, turn to the old human pastimes: fornication, fighting and mind-altering substances.  (Yes, I DID try to come up with an f.  No caffeine yet.)

You see it in the very wealthy throughout history, that sort of enui and a kind of “active despair”, the feeling that life is meaningless, and the appearance of all the vices of mankind.

The end of it is the destruction of the human, himself.  Humans are made to strive.  Remove the strife and we become less than human.  Apes, with too much time on our hands, and nothing to strive for.  When cousin Gugr was lying about in the cave with a broken arm, if he invented a new spear or a better way to preserve mammoth meat, he did it because he was conscious that without him the tribe was vulnerable, and he must find a way to compensate.

If you have no one dependent on you, nothing that you absolutely need to do, no matter how you feel, at best you go through life doing nothing and being nothing.  At worse, you find ways to introduce strife to your life.

I won’t say that I think we should eliminate all social programs.  I don’t say it, because I don’t think it’s achievable. Though with winter coming and the mess in the world, who knows?

And no, I don’t mean I want widows and orphans to starve.  I wouldn’t let any starve that came within my purview (and before you say something about the circles I move in, let me say you know nothing of them.  We spend almost as much on charity as we do on taxes, and beside that we give and help with stuff that isn’t official charity.  We’ve bought more computers of writers — sometimes with the money coming out of our food money — than I can count.  Literally.  If I try to count them I always forget some.) because it’s my duty as an able bodied human to look after other humans.  Even when I’m weak there are those who are weaker than I and need me.  Which keeps me from being too weak and therefore keeps me moving.

But I have no interest or need in supporting also a tribe of bureaucrats who eat the substance of that which would go to the poor.  And I have no interest in making the poor and needy feel these are permanent conditions, that they’re entitled to all care, and that no one, ever, should have to strive.  Because that’s denying them their essential humanity and the right to stand on their own two feet and find strength in their weakness.

Because I’m weak and because some days I’ve sat and wondered where the next meal was going to come from, I understand them perhaps better than most of the children of fortune addicted to “positive liberties.”  Give a man everything he wants and needs, and you’ve just destroyed him.  It would destroy me.

So because I’m weak, because I still have no idea what we’ll do for food or housing when we can no longer work, I say: leave us alone.  Leave us our negative liberties, those we have without your interference.  Don’t kill us, don’t imprison us, don’t take our stuff, allow us to struggle for what we want and need.

Because only then can we find strength.

406 responses to “Out of Weakness

  1. “oh, you’re for small government and negative liberties because you’re strong. You’ve never experienced weakness.”

    Yes, people who blithely assert an understanding of things when, if fact, they are demonstrating that they are suffering from complete and utter ignorance.

    • Merely the fact that they can categorize the ‘bill of rights’ as ‘negative liberty’ proves the wisdom of Orwell.

      • Ultimately, I agree. “Negative liberty” is a twisting of the the language. There are liberties – where you are free – and there are entitlements. An entitlement is not a “positive liberty”, it is something that the government takes from one group of people to give to others.

        • Have you noticed that the same folk demanding “positive” liberties also want to revoke the negative liberties as expressed in the Constitution, replacing them with licenses from government? You have the right to free speech, so long as you do not express hate speech (not the same thing as fighting words), you can keep and bear arms if you pass our exams?

        • I’m not playing the “negative liberty” game. Or the “non-hispanic white” game. Or the “Communists get to be blue” game.

  2. It never fails but if I’m talking to someone

    There’s your problem: talking to someone, especially in just random conversation. It is much safer to limit conversations to directed interactions, thus limiting the risk of another’s ignorance contaging your life.

    Where education once consisted of teaching people to think, they now focus on teaching how not to think and continued dialogue with such folk can impair your own thought processing, introducing such irrelevant extraneous elements as “How does this make me look” and “How do I feel about that” which can impair accurate thinking.

    • Yeah, I don’t like talking to most people these days either.

      What happens if you’re ambushed by idiots in the written scribblings in the margins of a book though? (NOOO! MY REFUGE!)

      Got a secondhand copy of Lee Harris’ Civilization and it’s Enemies off ‘net shopping, and while the description did say that there was some mild cover damage (coffee looks like it was spilled on it) and ‘some’ writing in the margins, the unfortunate reality is the description is closer to ‘writing on most margins and empty pages, and underlining lots of phrases and sentences the reader decided to argue against or bitch about.’

      Normally I wouldn’t mind this so much except that the writing in the margins is rather obviously by a leftist radfem socjus kool-aid drinker – How else would I describe someone who dismisses Jihadist attacks on the West with ‘they hate us because we disrespect them’ and under ‘then you must find men to…’ writes the symbol for ‘female’, as if it is remotely relevant to the rest of the paragraph. Also dismisses much of the first few pages as ‘fear mongering’ and ‘rhethoric’ – and I just flicked open the book to check on the condition!

      I am actually rather annoyed by this and does anyone have suggestions on how to erase the writing on the margins so my pleasure of reading isn’t spoiled? The bitchy lecturing and tone-policing is written in ballpen. Or is going to paint most of it over with a bottle of correction fluid the only way to go? One of the reasons I go read physical books is to avoid being hectored by radfem whining, and it’s really unpleasant to have encountered it in a book I was looking forward to reading.

      (I should’ve posted this comment here, now that I think about it, instead of the Sunday Vignettes. *sigh* Sorry, Sarah.)

      • You have a scanner? Try doing a scan for OCR – I have found that mine filters out most such stuff. Except for maybe where something has been underlined, but you can usually get rid of those in a word processor.

        Lot of extra work, I know, but might be slightly less than using white out (and you should still be able to walk in a straight line afterwards, too!)

        But that is an amazing comment. An SJW actually read a book to find the parts that are objectionable to them? That is a rarity…

      • Return the book to vendor, b/c “not as described”.

  3. I think it’s no small part of the fact we are the dominant species in this world (after grass) …

    I’m no entomologist, but I think there are a few bugs that can challenge us.

    Depending on where we draw the line in the microbial realm there are probably a few challengers there, too.

    Halp! Halp! I’m being microdigressed!

  4. WTF is “negative liberties”?

    • The idea of “negative liberties” is that they are liberties we have because the government doesn’t have to do anything for us to have them. Life, liberty, property, freedom of speech, the right to keep and bear arms, the right not to have seizures of property or searches of our papers without warrant. Etc.

      A “positive liberty” is a liberty that the government has to act on to secure. The right to health care, for example, or for schooling.

      I have noticed that when governments provide a “positive liberty”, they often destroy that which they seek to ensure.

      • Aye. Consider the Constitution of the United States. It’s mostly a very brief operating manual for the federal gov’t, with some added bits about what it must not do. There was once one bit that was added that told individuals what they could NOT do. That was also the only addition ever to be struck out.

        • Just because we now use laws to do that. Why should you need to change some old piece of paper for PROGRESS (TM)

          • It was recently pointed out to me that “the same laws now cannot be the same laws in 50-100 years”.

            https://westfargomusings.wordpress.com/2016/10/16/the-modern-liberal-mentality/

            • Uhh….my head hurts…

              They included the mechanism for changing the Constitution in the damned document! Ergo they saw that. But you gotta get people to agree!

              • Can’t be the same? Sure they can! Murder remains murder, doesn’t it? A theft is still a theft? A kiss is still a kiss? A sigh is still a sigh? The fundamental things apply as time goes by?

                Laws are actually very easy to change. All it takes is a legislative vote to repeal or amend, followed by an executive signature and Voila! Law’s changed. Doing it on the fly or by judicial jiu-jitsu is illegitimate and undermines respect for law and its authority. That would be a dumb thing to do just for some meagre efficiency. Shucks, the people who’d do that would have to be morons.

                Speaking of Judge Posner …

                • Found it! Here you go

                • Doing it on the fly or by judicial jiu-jitsu is illegitimate and undermines respect for law and its authority.

                  To have rewritten the laws from the bench is, in itself, the first act of doing so. Within The Constitution and the various state constitutions, where the people granted various authorities to their various governing bodies. Within them there are laws which dictate how laws may be made or altered. To my knowledge there is not a single one of these documents which grants legislation from the bench. Interpretation of law yes, well maybe, was granted to the courts, but legislation no, never. Here is where we have gotten into the mine field that we are in today. Over time various judges, being human and therefore subject to all the various human frailties, have interpreted the meaning of interpretation to all hell.

                • Won’t somebody please round up the usual suspects (rather than running them as presidential candidates)?

                • As you know, RES (sorry, couldn’t help myself), the SJWElite maintain (even though I’ve never seen it stated directly) that all laws must be interpreted in the current language, rather than going back to the meaning and intent of the time they were passed. Therefore, all laws change automagically as the language is adjusted over time.

      • More importantly, who decided to call it “Negative Liberty”? It makes it sound like people are discussing the opposite of liberty – which, come to think of it, might have been the rationale for the person who called it that in the first place.

      • The idea of “negative liberties” is that they are liberties we have because the government doesn’t have to do anything for us to have them.

        First, thanks for explaining; I appreciate it.

        Second: WTF do they think they’re on about? There isn’t anything that is constituted a ‘liberty’ that can’t be taken away or controlled by a government. That includes ‘the right to breathe’ and ‘think.’

        • It strikes me that another way of expressing “negative liberties” is that they pre-exist governments

          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, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government

          Emphasis added. Source: some old document I found on the internet.

          “Positive liberties” on the other hand, do not precede governments.

      • The source is probably negative rights — you have the right to life in that no one has the right to take it from you — and positive rights — as a minor child, you have the right to have your parents feed you.

        Note that I indicated who had the duty in the latter. “Positve rights” usually have no such indicator in SJW,which shows they are talking nonsense.

        • The source is probably negative rights — you have the right to life in that no one has the right to take it from you — and positive rights — as a minor child, you have the right to have your parents feed you.

          Correct. And note that the Left intends to treat you “as a minor child” — for as long as you live, which is a space of years they would choose for you.

        • Yep, the UN’s rights of men, which we now know was a Soviet ploy. Humans have these “rights” but no indication of who is to provide this.

          • Patrick Chester

            They really aren’t rights, just a way for progs to state what they wish to control and try to make you like it because they claim they are “protecting a right” when they do it.

    • The beginning of the article on negative liberty at Wiki:

      Negative liberty is freedom from interference by other people. Negative liberty is primarily concerned with freedom from external restraint and contrasts with positive liberty (the possession of the power and resources to fulfil one’s own potential). According to Thomas Hobbes, “a free man is he that in those things which by his strength and wit he is able to do is not hindered to do what he hath the will to do” (Leviathan, Part 2, Ch. XXI; thus alluding to liberty in its negative sense).

      (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_liberty)

      • “Freedom from interference” addresses inalienable rights, those rights which are inherent and may only be alienated by action of others. Included in our inalienable rights are the rights to object to such attempted alienation and to forcefully act to prevent it.

        So-called “positive rights” are rights which are inherently not inalienable, which are, in fact, the antithesis of inalienable and which may only be met by a) voluntary contributions of others (aka free exchange and charity) or b) involuntary contributions of others (aka theft, either done directly or via intermediaries such as taxation and Robin Hoodery.)

        Government action is legitimate when it serves to “insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Your freedom of speech may be constrained to ensure my peaceable enjoyment of my property, as anyone who has tried to sleep through a neighboring apartment’s thumping bass at 4 in the morning appreciates. There is an inherent conflict between some interpretations of promotion of the General Welfare (people are over-inclined to ignore that “General” modification) and securing the Blessings of Liberty, especially when people start redefining what types of Liberty are Blessed.

        • But you can elide the people who had to provide them for you by use of the passive voice.

          I have run across a woman online who insisted Obamacare was required to prevent slavery because otherwise she’d have to take a job to get insurance. No matter how often it was pointed out that she was demanding slavery, not objecting to it.

    • Right to life.
      Negative liberty: nobody can take your life away, directly or as an obvious side-effect of a lesser act.
      Positive liberty: you have a right to not die, and others must act to support this right. So if you will not work, you still have a right to food.

      • ….and I just figured out where the evergreen attempts to hijack “don’t kill babies, old people and the disabled” into “you have to support ever more welfare” might be rooted, besides tactics.

        If you assume that gov’t should provide positive rights, then getting healthcare is a “life issue”– as is getting food, even if you just destroyed the week’s worth of food you were handed yesterday.

        Positive rights are poison– they remove all duty from an equation, there’s only “what I am owed” rather than “what I owe.”

        • Yes. “What I am owed, (and don’t make me think about who has to work to get it for me) and I don’t owe anyone for what I take from others.”

        • Thought: the right to the PURSUIT of happiness has value only if you can pursue it in ways in which you might fail. Forcing it to be a “positive” right inevitably means you can only be happy in approved ways, those that can be guaranteed by someone else.

        • “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” has been tossed out in favor of “Let your country take care of you”. Particularly ironic since JFK is seen as a paragon of liberalism.

          • One of the worst posters I ever saw, was one in a library in New York State. It said, “Ask not what your country could do for you…well, ok, go ahead and ask.”

            The other one (in the same library) was instructions for a book that was too advanced for you: “pick a page in the book, and if you can’t understand five words, put the book back.” I’m much more inclined to say something like “ask someone to read it to you” or “read this with a dictionary nearby” rather than say “it’s too difficult for you! Don’t push yourself!” (Well, actually I just have mixed feelings about this poster, but I’m still somewhat annoyed by it…)

            • I read The Door Into Summer unabridged with one year of English. With a dictionary and pencil to mark down the words. Took me MONTHS. But the next book in English, unabridged, took me weeks. And the next…

            • On the other hand, there is a “pick a random page in the book” technique I’ve heard about that was truly useful. I think I heard about it in a comment thread at Mad Genius Club — a used bookstore owner talking about a frequent customer said, “This guy would pick out a book he didn’t know, flip it open to a random page, and check for spelling and grammar errors. If he found any, he would put the book back and not buy it. He was never wrong.” (Emphasis mine).

              I’m going to start doing that. Obviously, deliberate stylistic choices will be excluded, such as writing in the “voice” of an uneducated character who uses non-standard grammar. But if I find a spelling or grammar mistake on a random page, I’m going to put the book back on the bookstore (or library!) shelf and won’t take it home with me.

            • Hmmm. I think I saw a simliar poster. It also told you to put it back if you knew ’em all. two or three unknown words per page were recommended. And it was a sample to see if you could read it on your own.

              • This is an utilitarian view of reading. “Reading to learn” never reading for pleasure. They tried to get this through my sons’ heads and might have succeeded to some extent with younger son.

                • I find that I learn more when I enjoy what I’m reading.

                  Their goal is to make readng a chore so that we only do the minimal necessary, such as reading catechism Party Direktives.

                • I have “justified” reading for pleasure for many years by valuing both the learning from authors’ background/world-creating research and the improved retention of imagination, which may otherwise atophy, and which supports the creative aspects of design engineering.
                  Not that I wouldn’t find some other way to justify it if those didn’t work…

          • Oh, and I would add that I now disagree with JFK. Don’t worry about your country: ask what you could do to help the people around you, and your support of the country will naturally flow from that….

            • It sorta depends on whether you view “your country” as the government thereof or the polity that government oppresses represents, wouldn’t ya say?

              Reformulate the adage thusly:
              Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do to prevent your country from doing more of it.

        • That’s helpful in making my head hurt less. Thanks a lot, hon. ❤ I really appreciate it!

          *rubbing at aching head*

          • I’m glad for the verification that it makes some sense– I really didn’t like the “because they like hijacking powerful things” explanation, it works for some folks, but…

    • Right to property:
      Negative: people can’t take my stuff.
      Positive: I must be kept at X level of stuff.

    • Fearless Reader (of teleprompters . . . I refer to 0bama if you had not guessed) stated his beef with The Constitution was it was full of “Negative Rights”, stuff the Gov’t cannot do to you. He really does not like that, and wanted a whole passel of “positive Rights” added.
      He let slip what that really means when he ran into Joe The Plumber, who was then eviscerated for allowing a peak at the nekkid emperor.

  5. Strife in and of itself is not necessarily the destroyer of lives. It is allowing and saying that that strife shall be constant and unstoppable that makes nihilism a common mindset.

    • Strife is a necessary and essential quality for growth. Trees grown indoors, without the breezes to stress their fibers, are prone to rend themselves asunder for lack of ability to sustain their own weight. Individuals, grown in a stress free environment, lack ability to survive the inevitable onslaughts of reality and often find the kindness of strangers somewhat notable for its absence.

  6. Usually in this part of the discussion, I get accused of wanting widows and orphans to starve in the dark.

    Dear me no, not at all. I have seen too much that convinces me that government, however well meaning in its intentions, is a painfully lousy and inefficient way to address such problems.

    • At this point, ask the person, “Are you telling me that YOU wouldn’t help them.”

    • As my Dad said once, many years ago: “Having the government do most things is like getting a transfusion of blood from yourself, and spilling half of it on the way.”

      • That is one to be remembered and repeated.
        And, sadly, probably explained.

        It scares me that I’ve met some who are not scared by, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

  7. The so called “positive liberties” which our current president is very fond of include some doozies.

    Funny how often people such as our doofus in chief confuse liberties, the right to do certain types of things, with license, the right to demand certain things.

    People are prone to confuse rights and governmental duty toward those rights.

    Positive rights are those which compel others for their fulfillment. They are rights which are not, in themselves, complete. Having a right to “adequate” housing or minimal daily calories is useless if neither of those exists.

    Negative rights, OTOH, are those which require governmental restraint to prevent their infringement. They are self-fulfilling; I have the right to speak my own opinions, to defend myself, to freely meet with others of my thinking without the government having any duty to provide PA systems, weapons or meeting halls.

    The inability of people to distinguish between two such simple forms of rights has long since ceased to astound me and is a major contributor to my generally morose view of life. My right to pursue happiness does not require the government undertake programs to cheer me up, and such programs as would have that effect are not the sort our government seems inclined to pursue.

    • My right to pursue happiness does not require the government undertake programs to cheer me up, and such programs as would have that effect are not the sort our government seems inclined to pursue.

      What? But “Free [gun] Range Day” would be relatively inexpensive and – oh, wait.

      Never mind.

  8. Another horrible thing about a system of “positive liberties” such as the Soviet one is that it completely murders the idea of private charity, and more generally, of humans feeling responsible for one another.
    If everybody has a right to demand stuff from the government, and that government is supposed to provide, then why should I be bothered? I have absolutely no responsibility anymore. On the contrary, that neighbor of mine is now my competitor for government’s largesse. And the government creates nothing. As Marxists are fond of saying, it’s but an apparatus of violence.

    As an aside, the zero-sum game (or a dog eat dog world) is a fallacy the statists like to trot out against a capitalist society. Ironically, it is absolutely true for a collectivist one.

    • I think this ties into something that I’ve mentioned from time to time. During the 2012 election, someone over at HuffPo criticized Romney for personally removing a wasp nest from someone’s roof. According to the critic, Romney should have paid someone else to do it instead as the critic thought that would have been a more efficient (in a time=money sense) way of handling the matter.

      But doing so would have somewhat distanced Romney from the individual he was helping, and he likely wouldn’t have felt as responsible.

      • This also harks to the broken window fallacy: the belief that paying someone to remove the wasp nest will stimulate the economy, while ignoring the stimulation that was inevitably going to happen when Romney used that money to buy a new suit…

      • I would expect the PuffHo to demand Romney raise people’s taxes to establish a Department of Wasp Removal, possibly cabinet level with a director, three sub-directors, eighteen deputy sub-directors, two hundred-sixteen assistant deputy sub-directors, five-thousand one hundred eighty-four need assessment officers, one thousand eighty-six six hundred twenty-four developers for methodology/technology/compliance techniques and one wasp nest removal technician (retired.)

        Instead Romney stupidly demonstrated that this very powerful and important man cared enough about him to personally help with his problem. What would happen to this nation if everybody practiced such peculiar tenets?

    • With time it also seems that it murders private charity on purpose – you are no longer allowed to help. Because you are not certified to do whatever, and might also have some nefarious hidden agendas, who knows. And who is responsible if something happens? No, no, has to be left to the public authorities and specialists who know what they are doing.

      • Certainly, to murder private charity is a purpose – it grows the state, which is an objective.

      • Of course it’s done on purpose.
        Remember the Dear Leader trying to eliminate charitable contribution deductions a few years back? Same thing.
        We can’t have people NOT depend on the Benevolent Government. Can you be sure of always be the one calling the tune if you are not the one paying the piper?
        Also, if a person in need is helped by some private benefactor instead of the State, that person might get some wrong ideas about the whole class struggle issue.
        Can’t have that.

        • Besides, those private charities give aid and care according to their philosophies, not the governments. Why, do you realize that some Catholic charities, such as nuns’ orders, deny their members insurance provided birth control just because they’ve taken vows of chastity?

        • He did actually put a cap on the size of the deduction that could be claimed for donating, iirc, right after he took office.

          And then there’s the mess in one of the areas flooded by weather this year in which the government was claiming that it had to certify anyone who wanted to help in rescue efforts with their boat.

          • I thought that contribution cap was walked back after the outcry, but maybe I am misremembering things.

            • The cap was high enough that it was “only for rich people”. i.e. the only people who would *ever* have to worry about hitting it were rich people who were only being generous so that they could dodge a tax bracket.

              Ergo, bad selfish people who were only being generous to avoid paying their fair share.

              • Ergo, bad selfish people who were only being generous to avoid paying their fair share.
                Because only selfish folks want to give money to someone that will do actual good with it, as opposed to pissing away into the Federal Gov’t who will use it to pay ransom to the Iranians. (~_^)

  9. The idea that health care should be free is one of the most odious lies ever told, and it is ruining Canada.

    Health care is a SERVICE. Doctors are not a “national asset,” they are people who worked damn hard to get licensed, and they do not work for free. They are people smart enough and tough enough to walk away and start something else, too.

    • It’s the reinstituting of slavery. I’m aware of what it takes to become a doctor. It told older son is was a stupid path to take. He wouldn’t listen.
      He’s now almost halfway through his post graduate training. His undergrad, because entry is so competitive was five years and two degrees (biology and chemistry) and then one year of applications (which are so demanding they’re almost impossible to do while attending school.) He’s 25. If all goes well in two years he’ll be an intern. Internships, without specializing are another four years. If he specializes he’ll be in his early thirties, a third of his life gone before he earns his keep. (Interns get around $15 an hour right now.) And he’ll have a house worth of debt on his back.
      BUT idiots think he should be paid the same for all that as a high school teacher for four years of minimal effort.
      Our current president is one of those idiots.

      • Don’t worry, so long as he toes the bio-ethicist line and remembers he is an employee his needs will be taken care of. All that debt is just a convenient handle for the government to use to keep him biddable to their fashions and remind him that his conscience is a luxury he cannot afford.

        And he gets to enjoy the benefits of all employees — slacking off on the job, making only minimal effort to fulfill his obligations and freedom to feel no commitment to his work — just the sorts of attitudes we ought encourage in doctors.

        • Except the reason he put himself through this is not to do the minimal. The best I can put it and not the way he would put it himself (I have intuited it, though, from what he says) is that he views illness and human misery as an enemy to be slain. He is — was born to be, I think, as it seems to be a true vocation — a MILITANT healer, a follower of Raphael.
          Doing minimal effort and feeling no commitment to his work would destroy him.

          • I am surprised he made it through the screening process.

            Attitudes like his threaten the careers of Medical System Administrators. He needs to consider which is ultimately more important: saving the lives of people who will eventually die anyway or ensuring the smooth functioning of a modern medical system.


            “The episode began with a senior bureaucrat going on at great lengths about just how efficient this particular hospital was while the Minister read through a briefing note (FYI — there is nothing particularly brief about a briefing note).

            “Suddenly, the Minister looked up from reading with a confused look on his face and interrupted the bureaucrat by saying, ‘Good Lord — they have no patients!’

            “The bureaucrat said the Minister was correct; the hospital in question in fact had no patients. However it did lead all other hospitals in the system in the conservation of energy.

            “The Minister said, again, ‘but they have no patients.’ The bureaucrat was undaunted and went on explaining how the hospital in question had the lowest rate of overtime hours for nurses and the lowest overall cost of maintenance.

            “After a couple more minor protests about the apparently irrelevant problem of no patients, the Minister gave up and the show ended with the minister proudly presenting the hospital administrators with the well-earned award.

            “They where indeed the Most Efficient Hospital.”

            [SNIP]

            It must have been an interesting scene when the bureaucrats explained to [Ontario Health Minister Deb] Matthews that hospitals couldn’t possibly be funded entirely from fees for providing services. Goodness sakes, they would be forced to earn the money. Can’t have that!

            If the province stooped to the level of acting as if it were an insurer of health care (which it is) instead of a provider of health care (which it shouldn’t be), the kindly folks in the health care sector might have to — say it isn’t so — compete.

            Who could possibly want a health system in which the insurer set a price for a service and the hospitals competed for patients with — shock and horror — private sector clinics?

            Imagine a hospital having to tell its various unions that a price point couldn’t be exceeded. How revolting is that?

            Imagine hospitals being forced to compete with private sector clinics that cheat by offering patients service. No, really, service.
            torontosun[DOT]com/2012/03/23/yes-minister-hospitals-should-provide-services

            • One reason why rich Canadians are watching our current health system kerfuffle with such dread. If you can afford it, all national health systems have competition, fly to the US and pay as you go, or for Canadians just driver over the border.
              If the ACA, properly augmented by single payer once HRC has her fingers in it, becomes the standard they lose that option.
              Side note, I’ve heard from credible sources that Ghod help you if you get sick in the UK in the last couple months of the year. No doctors as they’ve all left on holiday having met their NHS quotas.

              • I have thought for several years now that, were I a wealthy well-financed doctor I would invest in building a medical clinic in the Caribbean, not in the US.

              • It’s not that different in the USA. Try getting an appointment after early November, much less surgery. Been there, done that.

                Even early and mid year scheduling is an issue. The average wait time in my area runs two to four weeks, with six or more not unusual for an orthopedic surgeon or cardiologist. Add to that the “referral-go-round” some insurance companies insist on, stretching each (essentially useless) step out a month or more.

                It keeps the doctors’ waiting rooms full, but it doesn’t help the patients any.

                • The reasons, however, are somewhat different. Basically, here you have to use up Health Savings Accounts by 12/31, and that’s also when deductibles and out of pocket limits on private insurance reset; by the end of the year, everyone who needs something wants to do it.

                  • Do you mean Flex Spending Accounts (FSA)? My HSA rolls over (and luckily I get matching from my employer up to $500/year. The FSA eligible coverages are Use it Or Lose it.

                    • FSA.

                    • I thought Obamadon’tcare had effectively eliminated HSAs?

                    • They attempted to do so, but I think they worried about what would happen if they tried what they wanted (stealing that money). What they ended up doing though was making a hash of the FSA. Less stuff qualifies.

                    • Oh, and they wanted to stop it being a pre-tax deduction, and whatnot, but really they feared a large watering of the Tree Of Liberty. I understand it polled really, really, badly for them.

                    • Even more of a BOHICA for Flexible Spending Accounts. A co-worker in my department was RAed – lucky for him he was retirement eligible, so pushed into retirement. 30 days notice to last working day. Was also informed that his FSA would expire on his last working day. This was in March, so the year’s contribution was already locked into the account.

                    • That is major suckage

                    • My company dropped the FSA as an option. I literally have no idea how I would have paid for my wife’s and son’s medications (since going to PPO instead of HMO, I have to hit the deductible before insurance starts paying on prescriptions. I generally hit the $3000 deductible mid-Feb) if I had not had inheritance money from my father passing away. I’ve spent the past year building up my HSA to cover that next year.

                    • but we were PROMISED that we could keep the plans we liked! Did someone lie again?

                    • I believe the current “truth” is that he never said that.

                    • video evidence not withstanding

                    • I believe the current truth is that he said that, but it only applied so far as your current plan remained available.

                      As anyone who has dealt with health insurance knows (except the willfully ignorant) such plans are revised periodically, usually annually, and if your provider no longer offers the old (non-conforming) plan it is not the president’s fault, and he has taken steps to ensure that any replacement plan offered is more complete, more comprehensive, with more chocolate jimmies on top.

                    • That was the unstated “out” from the promise, yes. And apparently Obama really cannot conceive that some people might not want, nor be able to afford, the most-comprehensive-with-chocolate-jimmies-on-top product.
                      Thus his vehement opposition to any “fix” that involves making some of the less-desired features optional.

                    • Eloquently expressed by Ramesh Ponnuru [Emphasis added]:

                      Little Common Ground on Obamacare

                      A number of liberal commentators have taken a recent column of mine to be blaming Obama for failing to work with Republicans to fix or at least improve Obamacare. They retort that Republicans aren’t interested in compromising with Obama on health care. Republicans haven’t proposed any improvements to Obamacare. Brian Beutler lays out this case.

                      They’re reading me wrong. My actual argument has two parts. First, liberals and conservatives have different views of what health insurance should do that are hard to reconcile. (See this follow-up to the column for more on this.) Second, Obama pretends that these differences do not exist in order to portray Republican opposition to his policies are unreasonable. So, for example, he suggests that conservatives should be pleased that Obamacare allows states to opt out of the law in favor of their own policies. But those state waivers apply only to policies that reflect liberal assumptions about health insurance.

                      My argument, in other words, isn’t that Obama has failed to find common ground. I’m not sure there’s much common ground to be found.

                      If you want our health-insurance system to rely much less heavily on federal regulation, very few of the “fixes” for Obamacare that liberals are suggesting are going to have any appeal—leaving aside any partisan desires to stick the Democrats with the flaws of Obamacare. So let’s stop pretending, as Obama does, that it’s only crazed partisanship that is stopping Republicans from working with him on those fixes.

                      My column closes with Obama’s analogy of Obamacare to a “starter home.” He says that people buy them expecting to make improvements. I note that sometimes people decide these homes aren’t working out for them and try to move somewhere else.

                      In case anyone still doesn’t get the point of that analogy, I’m not suggesting that Republicans improve Obamacare. I’m suggesting that they replace it.

                • Although, for really urgent stuff (including surgery), your doctor (at least, in the experience of a couple of friends) can see you, decide that yes it needs to be taken care of NOW, call the hospital and an ambulance, and have you tell your wife to meet you there.

                • It depends on where you are and what your surgical need is. Most surgeries in the area where I live are pretty easily scheduled. Here, it’s psychiatrists that are impossible to find taking new patients.

      • On the one hand, a lot of that effort is the result of State interference, placing all sorts restrictions and requirements; some of it justifiable, some of it not. (Indeed, I consider the refusal to certify new medical schools is unjustifiable!)

        On the other hand, the fact that we require such effort should be an indication that we should respect the freedom for doctors to set their own prices.

        Of course, government should get out of the way, end the stupid, anti-market Federal Student Loan program, and respect the right of people to set prices on everything they do!

        • Oh, yes. We’re throwing away many, many possible doctors. Robert beat out at least 500 people for his slot. And that’s artificial. Medschool entrance starts with “perfect grades” and “driven.” After that… it’s unnecessarily difficult.
          You know I agree with you that the government SHOULD get out of the fracking way.

        • A: “It looks like we have a shortage of doctors.”

          B: “Great! Let’s do what we can to keep our numbers down so we can charge more money.”

          • “Let’s do what we can to keep our numbers down so we can charge more money.”

            That assumes doctors are in charge of who gets into medical school. They are not.

            Through funding and other arcane means, federal and state bureaucrats are in charge of who gets in and how many. In Canada, a shortage of doctors is considered a -feature- by the government, who is, I must remind on and all, the SOLE payer for medical services.

            As the sole payer and also monopoly supplier, a doctor’s visit is a -cost- to the system. Less visits is better. Fewer doctors = less visits. More female doctors = less visits too, measured over an entire career. (Feminists can scream all they want, but it is still true.)

            Therefore, in a socialized system like Canada or Obamacare, a shortage of care is a desirable situation. It is essentially rationing, but without the ugly Big Brother ration cards.

            • The willingness of male doctors to work longer hours and more days per month is a form of unfair competition against female physicians who have a more realistic sense of work/life balance.

              The most basic economic fact which is largely ignored in all discussions of Health Care is that it must be rationed as demand will always exceed supply and the only real argument is over how it ought be rationed.

              Because if we acknowledged that we might find ourselves in a two-tiered system in which basic fundamental care — inoculation, health monitoring, treatment of simple injuries — might reasonably be handled by a universal health plan with supplemental plans required for catastrophic and/or boutique insurance plans available for those who want the option of organ replacement, cancer coverage, sex reassignment therapies …

              • Mooooommmmmm! RES is using logic again. It’s not faaaaaiiiiiiirrrrrr!

              • And then we get perennial arguments over how quickly various services should migrate from “catastrophic/boutique” to “basic” care.
                (Yes, people are greedy for themselves, and yes I’m a trifle cynical about any plan that depends on rational definitions that ignore greed.)

                • In some cases it is doctors who wish to move their concern out from catastrophic/boutique catagory. I know an oncologist who considers cancer’s continued existence an affront, the nation should be waging complete and total war upon it until it is completely defeated, nothing less is acceptable.

                  • Yep, personal greed. Not, in your example, for self as sole beneficiary – but wanting one’s own passion to be supported by everyone else is certainly a kind of greed.

              • That two-tiered system is exactly how Australian health care worked when I lived there. The biggest argument was typically where to draw the line between essential surgery and non-essential: having a gall bladder removed is not considered essential, but test positive for a fast-growing form of cancer and you’ll be bounced to the top of the queue so fast you leave a dust cloud.

                It sort of works – but Oz is actively importing doctors (and doing it right: they fund scholarships which cover fees in return for a set time period where you’re working in the government health system). At least one state funds its hospitals by lottery. And everyone tries to get as much private care as they can afford.

          • This is not the doctors. It’s the government doing it. What they actually want to do is import doctors, from say the Arab countries. (Hint, they’re already doing that.)
            The recognition of medschools is regulated.

    • Ah, but Obamacare or the ACA if you prefer, isn’t about health care at all. It’s about health insurance.
      Once upon a time insurance was a business and companies that engaged in the practice hired statisticians and actuarial experts to calculate the odds precisely to ensure themselves a small but dependable profit margin.
      Then starting long about WWII when wages were frozen by government edict employers started offering fringe benefits to get and retain the best employees. Things like paid vacations and health insurance. And what was once a commodity became a perk. And eventually because it discriminated by ability was deemed unfair to those who did not qualify for that benefit.
      But never fear, our government in its superior wisdom stepped in to fix everything as it always does, ie poorly, inefficiently, and at great cost.
      Given that under HRC the ACA will only continue to grow until it crashes and burns only to arise out of the flames as single payer, we shall likely see the same destruction of the American medical system as has happened in Canada and the UK.

      • Sorry, Uncle Lar, had to laugh at “small but dependable profit margin” 🙂 As I am one of those actuarial types – people don’t realize how often insurance companies go belly up – or that some of these “mergers” are actually – Company A going under. State Insurance Commissioner tells Company B – you buy Company A so people remain confident in the system.

        “Dependable” only means until some Judge rules some way to open a whole new type of damages – then all the actuarial projections go right out the window (like asbestos, lead paint, construction defect, etc)…

        Anyway, back off my personal soapbox… 🙂

        -John

        • Surely you don’t want a judge to think it is her job to follow the law rather than advance justice? Why, if such a philosophy took hold who knows how long it would be before legislators figured they could freely take bribes campaign contributions to pass laws favorable to special interests and leave achieving justice up to regulators, administrators and the courts?

          And of course it is necessary for Administrators such as your theoretical Insurance Commissioner to ensure confidence is maintained in the system, else people might start demanding inconvenient changes.

          Any negative repercussions of such forced mergers are easily dealt with. Why, just look at what happened with Wachovia, a well-managed bank induced to acquire Golden West Financial/World Savings Bank from Herbert & Marion Sandler* in 2006, at the peak of the US housing boom. Golden West specialized in option ARMs loans, marketed under the name “Pick-A-Pay.” These loans gave the borrower a choice of payment plans, including the option to defer paying a part of the interest owed, which was then added onto the balance of the loan. Absorbing Golden West Financial/World Savings Bank included accepting a large number of undisclosed mortgage package liabilities of the sort which nearly collapsed the US financial markets in 2008 and forced the sale of Wachovia to Wells Fargo, a move which has worked fabulously well (although opinions differ as to for whom.)

          *The Sandlers helped found and are among the largest benefactors of the Center for Responsible Lending, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization fighting predatory mortgage lending, payday loans, and other products that prey on consumers; the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank; ProPublica, an investigative reporting newsroom; and the American Asthma Foundation. In addition, the Sandlers or their foundation support organizations involved in medical research, the environment, human rights, and civil liberties.

          Information of Wachovia, GWF/WSB and the Sandlers culled from Wikipedia and memories of an observer, Wachovia being a local bank where I live.

          • Surely you don’t want a judge to think it is her job to follow the law rather than advance justice?
            —————————-

            I’ve read the biographies of two different US Supreme Court justices. The first was a biography of Earl Warren, written by someone who obviously liked the guy. As it turns out, Warren was pretty blatant about describing his “legal philosophy” as exactly what you snarked about. Or in other words, figure out a “fair” verdict first, and then twist the law into a pretzel in order to make it fit with the desired verdict.

            The other biography was about Byron R. “Wizzer” White. Based on the biography, I think I would have had a lot of respect for the guy.

          • Its not only donations – look at Continuing Education stuff – a little birdie told me about a “Continuing Education” conference that took place on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean with lectures between port stops – the Cruise was paid for by the Plaintiffs Bar, while Judges were allowed free passage as “public servants”.

        • John, you’ll note that I specified once upon a time, back in those ancient days when insurance companies and casino gambling depended entirely on numbers and percentages to make a profit. Short term luck could turn against them, but the numbers never lie, eventually the house always wins. Or did until our gubmint stepped in to make it “fair.” Fair meaning that the cost of insurance was no longer tied to individual risk, but rather to some arbitrary standard. So now those at low risk pay to subsidize those at high risk. Great deal for folks who would otherwise have been priced out of the market, but a ripoff for a healthy person who simply wanted to offset the small chance that catastrophe might strike.

  10. If “everyone” is entitled to this what you’re saying is that these people have to work so that other people can have everything for free even without doing anything.

    Ultimately everyone would have to be a possession of the state. From your birth to your death the state would decide what is best for you. You would trained by the state to fulfill the job which the state determined would be yours and you would do it (or suffer the consequences at the hands of the state). You would live in the housing the state assigned. You would wear the clothes and eat the food that the state supplied to you. You would be required to join in exercise groups and whatever else the state thought good for you. How you were entertained, what you read, listened to, or viewed would be provided to you by the state, as the state saw fit.

    It has been attempted and it has never worked.

    • Nonsense, back in the days of Royalty the Kings and Queens were sovereign and there was peace and tranquility in abundance. It is only when silly peasants got ideas above their station, about sovereignty being something held by individuals and only loaned to government to act as our agent on our behalf that things got out of control.

      If we all went back to minding our betters and knowing our places I am sure the superior wisdom of our enlightened rulers would make everything hunky-dory. It says so in all the best newspapers.

      • In honor of your micro-digression above, here: have a parody song about a king. (Well, three–Charles Martel, Pippin the Short, and Charlemagne, plus a Prince of the Church, but meh.)

      • Nonsense, back in the days of Royalty the Kings and Queens were sovereign and there was peace and tranquility in abundance.

        Not quite. Things started going to hell when kings came into the picture. When it was women in charge of everything, there was not only peace and tranquility, but Skittle-pooping unicorns for everyone.

    • The Chinese government is considering giving each “citizen” a numeric score, based on, well, things the Chinese government would score people on. Your number will determine everything about you, from schooling to marriage and employment, health care (and lack thereof) and so on.

      • We already have that; it’s how much money did you donate to Democrats. See Gibson Guitars vs Martin Guitars for how that works.

      • Isn’t that just good sense and responsible management? We can’t have the government expending scarce resources training people for jobs they aren’t capable of doing well, can we? People who are poor at math shouldn’t train to be engineers, people who are bad at logic shouldn’t fill up classes in computer programming. People who lack people skills shouldn’t be trained for upper management or party leadership roles, either. It is the primary duty of government and all citizens to ensure that societal resources are invested in the optimum efficient manner, for the good of all.

        That’s just common sense and the only reason anyone might have for opposing such efforts at responsible allocation would be greed, personal selfishness which should not be rewarded by access to those assets which must be used for the General Welfare.

        Yeah, in China, as in North Korea, sarcasm is impossible and illegal.

      • Feather Blade

        Are they going to kill off those with the lowest numbers immediately, or keep them in reserve as organ “donors”?

        • Combat infantry, organ donors, and I shudder to think what else. And what people will be willing to do to “improve their credit score” so to speak.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            I read a lot of contemporary Chinese fiction these days.

            I can tell you 1) what it will be used for in theory 2) how it will be implemented in practice 3) the Chinese will notice the difference between 1 and 2 4) it probably isn’t all that different from the status quo.

        • Soylent Green, coming soon to a slop shop near you

  11. I truly lament the demise of the formerly great USSR. What a wonderful example it was, once you penetrated past Pravda and got a good look at their reality.
    From each according to their ability.
    To each according to their need.
    What a wonderful philosophy indeed. Take from the producers and give to those in need. And all that is required in such a system is fair, kind, and all knowing administrators to oversee the transfer of wealth. And naturally, being so selfless and dedicates we must ensure that those care givers themselves receive enough such that they can focus on their duties and not have to worry about themselves or their families. Closed shops for their needs only, the humble Dacha by the lake for a well earned vacation, first pick of what imports are allowed into the country, all their due as they truly work so hard to oversee the magnificence of the state.
    Pogroms, gulags, doors crashed open in the middle of the night? Small price to pay for such bountiful peaceful harmony.

    • The funny thing is, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” is a *wonderful* motto for the dreaded Capitalist. In the hands of Individualists, it means I look at my strengths and abilities, and look at the needs of others, and then act accordingly.

      This is why Individualist societies do far better at providing for the needs of others than the strictest Collectivist regime.

      I have observed before that if Communists were true Communists, they’d be Capitalists; but the fact that the Frankfurt School could look at the prosperity of America and recognize that the prosperity is preventing Communist rule, and conclude that they needed to corrupt American culture in order to establish Communism, demonstrates that Communists aren’t seeking out their ideals — it proves that they are in it for the power that they expect to lord over others, once “Communism” has been established.

      • Or as Agatha Christie put it:

        “She also, to be quite frank, liked money. And to get money, one must hit upon a shortage.”

      • You’re assuming you are can accurately measure your abilities and accurately determine your needs. You may not be objective enough for that.

        And then what about wants? The philosophy doesn’t take wants into consideration, only needs. if you actually follow it, then you will never indulge in unnecessary desires.

        • You’re right about the issue of wants; however, luxuries of one generation have a tendency of becoming necessities for the next.

          When I first encountered this observation, I was amused by the “Oh, yeah, humans are always redefining what’s necessary”, but it just barely occurred to me that something like air conditioning — while, in some sense, is truly considered a luxury, because people were able to live for thousands of years without it — can literally save the lives of newborns, the elderly, and others who are susceptible to heat stroke.

          So I’m more than willing to include “wants” as a part of “needs”, because even the silly train set in the basement can provide needed entertainment, and a bit of relief from that stress that is trying to kill you…

          Good luck trying to convince a bureaucrat of your “need” for a train system! There are people starving in Africa, don’cha know?

  12. ” (Yes, I DID try to come up with an f. No caffeine yet.)” Freak-out substances, perhaps?

  13. It never fails but if I’m talking to someone, particularly someone who is or thinks she is older than me (this is not rare) and the conversation turns to politics, they say something like “oh, you’re for small government and negative liberties because you’re strong.  You’ve never experienced weakness.”

    But that only makes sense for anarchy or “private” enforcement– folks who are really vulnerable recognize that government isn’t a tool that’s always in your hand.

    You’ve got to have been at a disadvantage, but still strong enough to use it, to think that small gov’t and limited, objectively defensible defenses of rights (as opposed to unlimited, subjective and requiring action on the part of others) is a thing favored by the “strong” alone.

    Basically, you have to have never been in a situation where you realized government can be used against you. That’s pretty dang strong.

    *********************************

    Oddly enough, I think this is related to the “problem of evil”/”why does God value free will so much” argument.
    Theologically, people have a right to an incredible number of things– starting with two parents who are so much in love that they become one, and who love their child as a gift. You cannot force this to happen. It’s the right thing, and you can aim for it, but you can’t force it to happen– not even if you went all crazy-evil and picked three or four things that folks have a right to, and were willing to utterly violate every other right anybody has. Those rights are how it would be if everything was right.

  14. It never fails but if I’m talking to someone, particularly someone who is or thinks she is older than me (this is not rare) and the conversation turns to politics, they say something like “oh, you’re for small government and negative liberties because you’re strong. You’ve never experienced weakness.”

    Oh my goodness. Don’t they realize that the weak are the very ones that liberties help the most? Don’t they realize that was the whole point first of the Articles of Confederation and later the US Constitution? States wanted to limit the power of the federal government because they knew the states themselves would be weaker than a strong central government? More importantly, don’t they realize that the power to give is also the power to take away?

    Oh, the precious, blinkered, naivety of those who couch their arguments in the terms of “Don’t you want to help so and so?” Where, pray tell, is it written that a strong central government will always do these things? Do they supposed it was never done before the federal government stepped in?

    Do they not grasp that self-determination is the whole point of liberty, the ability to make decision both good and bad? Do they not know that only the slave is insulated from making bad decisions because they do not have authority to make any at all?

    Apparently not. And there rests the problem: They do not know the meaning of liberty, or what it means to be free. Like a bird hatched and raised in a coop, they do not know what it means to fly,

  15. ” I think — but someone can fill in here, since I only think so because I heard it from sympathizers — the Soviet Union guaranteed housing, food and a job.”

    Here are the actual guarantees from the Soviet Constitution of 1977:

    http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/russian/const/77cons02.html#chap07

  16. I know duty can’t be very well organized or enforced– you can get some bits around the edges, but you really can’t manage the substance, just hammer the guys who are really bad violators– and I can almost, almost sympathize with the attempt to remove it. A system built on “duty” will hurt, because there are always folks who are obviously not doing their duty– and it’s so, so easy to assume that the ones where you’re not sure are slackers, too. (There’s practical benefits to the “be charitable in your assumptions” thing in Christianity, and that’s one of ’em.)

    In the short run, the “everybody is FORCED to do some version of their duty” in a welfare state doesn’t hurt as much…but it can’t last, either. You can’t force more out of folks than they can give, so you have to set the standards at a level that’s generally achievable– and next to nobody is gonna give more than they have to, not when there’s all sorts of rules to stop you from helping those who really need it, rather than the ones that are next in line.

    • I’ve noticed something a bit sinister: when the State takes a duty, and turns it around and calls it a “right” (I consider it a duty to do your best to get food, shelter, medical care, education, etc) that must be provided by the State, then more often than not, they destroy that very thing they are trying to force people to fulfill.

      The best example of this that I can think of is Education. If an educated public is necessary for the health of the Republic, then it should be clear by now that we should abolish State-run schools.

      Another, less obvious example, is government-run health care. It’s my understanding that the Indians on the Reservations are well-aware that it’s better to get sick in the first half of the year, because there’s no funds to treat you in the second half; and I have seen enough encounters with the Veteran’s Administration’s idea of health care to wonder “what horrible things have our veterans done, to justify such terrible health care on them?”

      • The best example of this that I can think of is Education. If an educated public is necessary for the health of the Republic, then it should be clear by now that we should abolish State-run schools.

        I can’t agree with that– how about we compromise and go back to state run schools being an option, and if that doesn’t cause an improvement we get rid of any over-arching control above county level? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the double meaning as an intro.)

        When you start looking, the issue with “State run” stuff is usually because it violates subsidiarity. Which is a fancy way to say “the people in charge are too far away to know what the blazes they’re doing, and the people who have a clue don’t have any authority to do anything with it.”

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          If you have “government run” schools, they should be run by local governments not Federal or even States.

          • I can see some state influence to avoid some toxic local governments I’ve seen…yes, worse than “teach kids biological sex is a choice” junk.

            Sunlight is needed, and some areas are aweful shady. Better now that homeschooling is mostly legal.

            • State governments can be just as toxic and you have to move further to escape them.

              • Much, much harder for them to be as all controlling as would be required to make it so moving is the only option– and “make people move to escape” would encourage the corruption.

                • Except that corrupters without corruptees eventually wither.

                  More seriously, what do you do with a toxic state government (See CA)? Well, obviously you have to have another level above to rein them in. Just make sure that the corrupters never capture that level too. And that’s how we got where we are today.

                  Another reason for keeping it local is that it also makes it easier to fight back. You and your neighbors can better restrain a bureaucrat you don’t have to travel to shoot.

                  • No, they don’t eventually wither. Not unless you count “everyone dies eventually.”
                    There is a sameness of mind that is possible in local corruption which cannot happen with more people, and which encourages corruption.
                    “I can get rid of people I don’t like by just taking over the school and making it intollerable for them? And there isn’t even a state limit on what I can do? Win-win!”

                    • “Win-Win”

                      “BANG”. A bullet doesn’t care how important you are. And like I said, it’s easier to shoot bureaucrats living close by.

                    • Murder is not an accepable option for violation of rights that can easily be protected by non-deadly means.

                    • No, but having it in the back of everyone’s mind means that non-lethal means are more likely to be heeded by the petty tyrants.

                    • ….except that petty tyrants can do it, too.

                    • There generally being far fewer tyrants than victims, even very low odds of a lethal encounter arising from a tyrant/victim interaction add up a lot faster for the tyrants.

                    • Unless the tyrant has enforcers, in the same fashion as mob bosses, for deniability.

                    • Who ever said there were guarantees? For anything? Ultimately, there are only least awful options.

                    • From observing history, not so much. Especially not if the culture is stable enough to have a revulsion to murder.

                      One of the benefits of having power is that you can use it to “buy” support.

                      Everyone here should be able to think of a time they were in a group with a nice system laid out for dealing with stuff…and no enforcement mechanism beyond group pressure. In a small group, that gets captured pretty dang easily, and then the rules only get enforced when it’s handy for the capturer.

                      It takes work to strike a balance between big enough to be efficient at doing what they’re supposed to, but small enough to avoid people who are too far away making choices. The usual simplification is to have the choices done at a local level, with a (slow) chain of appeal going up. Bad stuff still happens, but it makes it hard for it to pile up.

                    • If they can be protected by non deadly means is the key phrase there.

                    • They obviously can, because they are.

                    • Oh, and you didn’t address the main point, which is that the further away from local control the more likely that government will grow.

                      Also, if there’s no one living in the corrupter’s jurisdiction, they either have no one to order, or if they leave, they at least start over and have to take the risk of failure.

                    • A dictatorship is a very small government. That doesn’t make it a good one.

                    • A dictatorship is NOT a small government. It’s a concentrated one. That’s not the same.

                    • It’s not a *limited* one– there’s some possible miscommunication involved on size-vs-scope, even though common use is that “small government” is about scope.

                    • I’m not sure the solution isn’t found in the other direction: If your local school district is corrupt, subdivide it. Not just to independent (private, charter, et al) schools not beholden to teach the craziness, and to home-schools, but also reduced-size public school districts that can experiment with different policies.
                      Voting with your feet is easier when it’s only a few blocks – you might not even have to move to another house. And you don’t usually have to reduce a school’s enrollment to zero to get attention that something needs to change.

                    • Who gets to decide to subdivide it if the system administrators (or whatever governing body is in charge of it) won’t let you?

                    • In the case of California, I believe the responsibility lies with Saint Andreas.

                    • Divide it by what authority?

                      Who will you appeal to if they say “no”?

                    • Good question; I was theorizing more on better end results than process to achieve them. I think, maybe, the answer in each case would depend on the administrators and their formal governing process.
                      I.e., if they’re well-meaning, wrong, but have enough honesty to follow process AND that process (embodied in charter, law, etc.) includes a way for the school’s area of responsibility to be re-formed, then all you need is a majority of electors, a reasonable but effective spokesperson, and a viable business plan. Granted, this may describe a minority of cases.
                      OR, if the administrators are self-righteous activists intent on keeping “their” students “for their own good” at all costs, and you haven’t a chance of taking over the local elected school board, then you may have to do battle: through whatever higher authority they SHOULD be recognizing (to give your argument moral authority) AND through means such as widespread removal of students to home, charter, or private schooling to reduce per-capita funding, or other ways of reducing both the power and the apparent legitimacy of the existing administration.

                      Just a couple of thoughts – I’m not all that good at political warfare!

                  • Another reason for keeping it local is that it also makes it easier to fight back. You and your neighbors can better restrain a bureaucrat you don’t have to travel to shoot.

                    Only once you reach a big enough “local.”

                    Relatively harmless example:
                    for years, the high school I went to had a habit of doing “fund raisers” where you could “volunteer” to do jobs offered by the community.
                    Amazingly, it just always turned out that the only ones approved for “volunteer jobs,” and approved every time, were for the family that has a lot of control in the valley. Which had influence over just about everyone– either folks worked for one of them, they were family (and willing to be very unpleasant), or similar issues. And it was for the sports teams, so even several of the not-local teachers would have bias about that– punishing levels of make-work if anyone didn’t go along.
                    There were folks who could avoid one or two of those, but not all of them…. until things got big enough that you had and ornery teacher (who had a standard package of make-work for when his English class would be emptied by sport events), several folks who were neither related to nor worked for those whose business was getting a ton of cheap labor, and someone who didn’t give a dead rat’s tail about high school social consequences. (*raises hand* What are they going to do, destroy my online social life?)

                    So I refused to “volunteer” to provide a day’s labor in return for $20 to the football team, the ornery teacher volunteered to do the “monitor those who don’t join in the school work day” and pointed out that he would be requiring all the other students to do exactly the same work as those who didn’t participate (with chapter and verse to back him up), and none of the teachers wanted to risk crossing my mom by retaliating at my grades. Now, the fund raiser is actually a fund raiser where people do things like bid on having two or three high school boys come rake their yard in return for $100 donated to the sports teams, etc, like it’s supposed to be.

                    The costs:
                    They reclassified the quiz team as a “sport,” and required the same physical and equipment fees as football. (The only thing the school provided for that was a coach and a van to get to meets, all equipment was from the 70s. Backfired– I was able to letter in a sport. 😀 ) Came to something like $100, I think, plus medical costs.

                    My siblings had some very uncomfortable social repercussions.

                    The teacher was eventually forced to retire early because he’s ornery. It also was involved in the alienation from his only child.

                    I was classified as a trouble-maker, which could have caused serious issues if anybody had dared take any steps beyond local levels. Things like I got in trouble for “fighting” when I got upset about a classmate tearing my homework in two in front of a teacher…which never made it to the level where there’d be repercussions for false reports.

                    If my parents hadn’t already been in bad graces with the jerks who were running the racket, their job would’ve been negatively impacted. (The guy who was fired after getting caught stealing calves, who my dad replaced, was a relative. So they already were doing all they could to annoy the ranch without harming themselves. )

                    That family didn’t own the only anything in the valley, which was a change from five years before, so they couldn’t do any harassment by that angle– well, not much harassment, anyways.

                    ****************
                    Fighting was simply not an option until things were big enough for there to be options.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Point

        • Destroying what they’re trying to fulfill: With respect to services, you’re right. Just imagine making the 2nd A a positive right with the government providing the service of running a practice range within every locale in the country … managed from DC! (Think DMV licensing offices with guns…).

          With respect to material goods — the state makes nothing, and would be terrible at it if it did, so it generally sucks at specifying, buying, and providing materiel unless the ‘customer’ is using it to satisfy what it thinks is a critical need and has the ability to push back. So, sometimes, they’re very good at provisioning: Paper for bureaucracies, quite a bit of the high-volume military goods, etc., seem to be functional and available when needed, although not always at the best price.

  17. Chemo lets you know precisely with your previous illusions of strength. In a little as 15 minutes.

    People, individually, are always weak. Combined, with a cause or effective religion can make power.

    I’m thinking the final Darkship/Good Men novel is some years ahead of us, so I’m willing to bend my schedule to the task…

  18. There is a reason 1984 had “Big Brother” and not “little sister.”

    Who will (not should, will) Big Government look after?
    Why, Big Government of course!

  19. Spoke with Mom yesterday, and we ended up discussing two teenage boys who seem to be infected by positive libertyitus. Boy 1, 14/15 yrs old, doesn’t attend high school. After missing all of last year, he’s been enrolled in some online courses with a certain amount of classroom time. He does attend that, but there’s no way to tell if he’s mentally there. He does nothing around the house (tends toward destructive behavior), but always has money for pot.

    His guardians are wimps. The man, as described by Mom, is a pansy who isn’t capable laying down the law. The woman is a bit better, but will crumble in the face of arguments. I’m convinced the boy’s on a fast track to jail/prison.

    Boy 2, 17/18 yrs old, needs a few more credits to graduate from high school, and has no plans to do that. No plans or ambition for life at all.

    Both of them seem to expect that things will simply,be given to them without any effort on their parts.

  20. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    I’ve been “weak” at the so-called “mercy” of people stronger than me.

    I can understand wanting “power over others”.

    I can understand accepting a good “strong man” to serve knowing that as long as I served him I’ll be protected and cared for.

    I can’t understand accepting somebody I don’t know (miles away) having power over me and my life in the “name of protecting & caring for me”.

    I really can’t understand accepting somebody I don’t know (miles away) having power over me and my life in the “name of protecting & caring for others”.

    Thanks to what I said in my first sentence, I understand the danger of having untrustworthy people in power and I’m convinced that too many people can’t be trusted with power.

    I think the people Sarah is talking about are either foolish in thinking that Those People can be trusted with near-absolute power or foolish in believing that they will be Part Of Those People. 😦

  21. The incoming caliphate migrants will remind people of what it means to be weak and vulnerable in the coming decade, I’m sure. I wonder what people will think of constitutional liberties then?

  22. richardmcenroe

    Interesting that the government that believes in Positive Rights implemented Cash for Clunkers to deny poor and working class people cars and materially impede their First Amendment rights of freedom of assembly and association.

  23. “The Soviet Union guaranteed housing, food and a job.”

    That last guarantee at least worked out equitably for all concerned. I believe the standard line was, “We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us.”

  24. “It never fails but if I’m talking to someone, particularly someone who is or thinks she is older than me (this is not rare) and the conversation turns to politics, they say something like ‘oh, you’re for small government and negative liberties because you’re strong. You’ve never experienced weakness.'”

    As a side note, by the way, someone who tells you that is often right, if not in the way they mean.
    What they mean is that you have what is usually recognized as power–money, authority, connections, etc. However, the fact is that none of these things really matter if you don’t have the mental and emotional strength to develop and use them. People like the hypothetical interlocutor tend to forget that.

    • If money authority and connections are power, I lack one and when I came to this country I lacked ALL.

      • Exactly. That was my point.

      • Allow me to further elaborate. When people like that talk about being “strong” they are referring to things that enhance strength that is already there. So in that sense, which is the sense they mean, they’re wrong.
        In the sense wherein you never quit, you’re not weak, and rarely have been.

      • With regards to networks and connections, I have found that as a Latter-day Saint, I have connections wherever I happen to end up. Having said that, I have also noticed that (1) those connections can’t always come to your aid, either because you’re too shy to ask for help, or because those connections don’t always have the resources to come to your aid to the extent that you’d like them to, and (2) there’s an inherent responsibility to help out with others when that help is needed.

        But, of course, having been born in one of the several Utah states of the United States (one of the rectangular states, indeed one of the rectangular states without a rectangular chunk taken out of it), and being a White Mormon Male yourself, I’m sure you’re well aware of such things!

        • I was not born in the US? confused….

          • I just figured that since you’re a White Mormon Male, you had to be from a “Utah” of some sort (and all those rectangular states look alike, so Colorado is close enough), and that you had to be born there.

            That you seem to have memories of being born and raised in Portugal, and speak with a Russian-like accent, may mean you were born back when Portugal was a colony of one of the Utah-ish-shaped States. (Most likely Montana, but I confess that my understanding of this history is a little fuzzy….probably having something to do with trying to understand the CHORF viewpoint on such things….)

  25. I can in fact screw up something that requires coordination and agility and which I’ve executed perfectly a million times simply by THINKING about it.

    Oh, my, yes. Even though I would be considered to be good at physical-coordination types of things, I do the same thing. In fact, it happens to me so much that I have identified a cycle:
    1) Begin learning something (I speed this up by concentrating on every single motion as I am learning).
    2) Practice until it becomes automatic.
    3) Perform activity many times, without really thinking about it.
    4) Start to wonder how certain parts of the process work.
    5) Start screwing up, and having to significantly slow down to do correctly.
    6) Have to relearn how to do process automatically again.

    USUALLY, this does not recur on the same activity, but it’s surprising how many things it has happened with.

    • Conscious thought is useful in learning an activity. An activity can be considered mastered when no conscious thought is required. Once an activity is mastered, conscious thought can only gum up the works.

      • I’m not sure if it was Estrabooks book Hypnosis or another text on the subject, but a line stuck with me. You can’t force (self)hypnosis, you can only “allow it to happen.” Seems many things are like that. You need to direct things, but cannot force them.

    • Golf…baseball swings…basketball free throws…

  26. HT: Power Line


    Now that’s a good campaign ad.

  27. Relevant to today’s post …

    https://www.prageru.com/courses/political-science/immigrants-dont-vote-what-you-fled
    “You didn’t come here for free stuff.
    “You came here for economic opportunity.”

  28. When next people make the argument that more government is needed because [reasons] keep in mind that the one thing bigger government won’t do is protect you from the lies of its advocates.

    Clip ‘n’ Save:

    Men and women aren’t doing the same work. For example, men are much more likely to take on dangerous or unpleasant jobs. They are thus almost 13 times more likely to be killed on the job than women. Yet nobody complains about the “death gap.”

    The 77-cent figure compares “full-time” work, defined as 35 hours per week or more, to full-time work. But on average full-time working men work longer hours than full-time working women. According to an analysis by economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth, if one compares women who work 35–39 hours to men who work the same hours, the women actually earn more.

    Women are more likely to come in and out of the work force than men. This practice, which is largely a result of women’s greater child-rearing duties, is hardly conducive to career advancement. Some might fault fathers for failing to take a greater role in rearing children. But that does not make employers guilty of sex discrimination because they promote employees with more experience over mothers with less experience. Interestingly, single, childless women in their twenties out-earn similar men. Nobody argues that this is because employers are discriminating against childless young men.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/441384/smoking-wage-gap-non-smokers-earn-more-smokers

    • Some might fault fathers for failing to take a greater role in rearing children.
      ———————

      Don’t worry. Your betters on the left are trying to “fix” this by requiring employers to provide paternity leave.

      • Our betters are trying, but one thing they’ve found in Scandinavia is that simply requiring employers to provide leave for fathers doesn’t actually cause men to take it.

    • Never trust the media…or anyone with an agenda. Payscale’s own reporting of their study was “The Gender Pay Gap Begins As Early As Age 5”, but if you follow the links you get to this “Today, the pay gap is smaller – 74 cents on the dollar, or 97 cents when we control for factors like occupation, experience, and skills, per PayScale’s report, Inside the Gender Pay Gap.”

      https://westfargomusings.wordpress.com/2015/11/07/ive-lost-all-respect-for-the-media/

    • You know, people complaining about the “wage gap” today hardly ever cite the study done back (IIRC) in the 70s which showed that when women were doing the hiring, they offered women even less money than men did.

      • That’s probably because of the Patriarchy, wanting all those pretty bodies in the workplace to do Patriarchy things (like, um, pay them less than they are worth, or something?) whereas women are practical, always concerned about the profitability of the business.

  29. On the topic of “positive” rights, be aware that it is a bottomless abyss. Example:

    World Health Organization Seeks to Define Singleness as a Form of Infertility
    By Paul Crookston — October 24, 2016

    What do you call people who are not reproducing because they do not have a sexual partner? Antiquarians may designate them “single,” but the World Health Organization (WHO) knows better. They are, we learn today, “infertile.” Henceforth, the organization intends to classify infertility (previously defined as the inability to get pregnant after twelve months of regular sexual intercourse) as a disability, and therefore to push the idea that having a family is a positive right that entitles “disabled” singles to in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

    This approach can have a profound effect on how governments regulate and administer health care. In the U.K., the NHS provides IVF to couples who have cannot have children because of biological handicaps. Will this have to change to accommodate the new definition?

    Its prima facie absurdity to one side, this move highlights how quickly negative rights are being substituted for positive rights. Negative rights entail an individual’s right to do as they please without government intervention: By this understanding, reproduction is a right that is only infringed upon by totalitarian acts like Communist China’s two-child policy. WHO wants to turn reproduction into a positive right provided by the government. David Adamson, who helped write the new standards, told the Telegraph, “The definition of infertility is now written in such a way that it includes the rights of all individuals to have a family, and that includes single men, single women, gay men, gay women.” This is progressive redefinition of family, not medical expertise.

    Similarly applied, the logic of positive rights would require the government to help everyone write well in order to uphold the First Amendment, or to provide everyone guns to uphold the Second. Thus nearly anything that administrators imagine could become a human right. Such absurd notions will eventually necessitate government without limits.
    — — —

    Visit comment for embedded links.

    • While the idea of IVF for gay male couples is rather silly, it’s probably just a distraction. A quick thought suggests to me that this could easily be used to enforce adoption rights for gay male couples (due to their inability to have kids of their own via the traditional means). And I suspect that’s not the only thing that the provided “explanation” is obscuring from view.

    • Here, neatly summarized, is the other face of that government coin:

      Thousands of California National Guardsmen Forced to Repay Reenlistment Bonuses
      [SNIP]
      If this sounds to you like an epic government screw up — you’d be right. First the Guard pressured guardsmen to reenlist, dangling tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of bonuses as incentive, then it improperly awarded the money. Now, a decade on, it wants the money back. The same money-no-object government that tolerates $140 billion in improper Medicaid payments has decided that they’ll wring money from combat veterans who, acting in good faith, signed reenlistment contracts.

      As a result, many guardsmen of been forced into collection; some have had their wages garnished.

      “The system paid everybody up front, and then we spent the next five years figuring out if they were eligible,” Colonel Michael S. Piazzoni, the California Guard official who oversaw the audits, told the LA Times.

      • Which is exactly the same logic they’re using on Obamacare subsidies: pay up front and then claw it back if your income improves.

        • It is also the logic exercised by the IRS: pay now and make the case for a refund later.

          Similarly, anyone wanting to fight the EPA in court …

          And they don’t usually include earned interest in your refund.

          • However– they expect to charge interest–

            • A good example factoid to use as a warning against ever accepting “free money from the government”

              • As recently discovered by too many members of the California NG. Now that the scam story is public I notice Congresscritters and Cabinet Secretaries tripping all over one another to promise this will be fixed.

                Just like they fixed the VA, I’ve no doubt.

                • It would be an improvement over the VA fixes for them to do their usual job of fixing it too late to prevent a rash of personal bankruptcies. Pity it’s so hard to sue the government for tortuous harm.

                • I think part of the VA issue may be individual baddies doing the least they can get away with– I keep hearing about VA housing loan inspections that are in a “backlog,” and when folks finally call it’s golly gee a shock, but they were just scheduled for tomorrow!

                  • Individual slackers, sure — but that’s what happens when nobody gets fired.

                    • Not just “nobody gets fired”– but it’s never their money.

                      We bought a foreclosed house and the stuff that they let contractors get away with, because it wasn’t their money…. (they got a cut of the sale no matter what, at no cost to themselves)

                    • Not their money? Geeze, if only some clever economist had offered a formulation on that, huh?


                      “There are four ways in which you can spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch! Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40% of our national income.”

                      Milton Friedman, in a Fox News interview in May 2004

                  • Which is why we tend to blame VA management: Either they tolerate really poor performance from the inspectors (unmanageable b/c you can’t fire ’em? BS – you give ’em something less tolerable than working harder, e.g. moving their desk to a broom closet), OR the workload actually is excessive for the number of employees, in which case they need to move budget from less mission-critical to more mission-critical job roles.
                    Ultimately, it’s probably that higher management is not using realistic metrics to decide if lower management is doing well, and failing to “manage by walking around” to see if the metrics are being subverted.

                    • Going off of the Navy, I’d guess the ones who do as little as possible have *perfect* bragsheets. Training, continuing education, paperwork, volunteering…. while those who put the job first are only around because of subverted metrics.

              • In this case it wasn’t free money– they gave several years of their lives to be in a war zone. Ummmmmm… because most of these people wouldn’t have reenlisted otherwise. Besides “critical MOS” changes all the time… I saw that when I was in. You think you aren’t and then you are, and then you aren’t… no servicemember can keep up with that stuff… when they are doing their job.

                • There might be (probably are) innocents caught, but according to folks who were in the Cali guard at the time– they were really corrupt. Bryan Suits at KFI says when he reported folks knowingly applying for and accepting bonuses they didn’t qualify for, he was told to shut up, ignore it, and specifically instructed not to talk about it at his day job. (radio)

                  It would take a special kind of idealist to keep reporting stuff when they get an implied threat in response to a FWA report.

    • The “right of single men to have children” seems like it would provide an interesting weapon in divorce custody battles, but over all, the UN must be destroyed.

    • If there is a “positive right” for any particular single man to have children, absent any woman who wants to have those children, then under their logic that requires government to force some particular woman to involuntarily bear those children.

      That is precisely what every positive right looks like: chattel slavery.

      Every. Single. Time.

      And you can bet that any single men found worthy of such enforcement will be those in that societies elite, and the women “tasked” with bearing those children will not be.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        Yeah. Why push such now? China has a surplus of single men, a culture that needs descendents to worship the ancestors, and probably wants an excuse to justify such against external criticism.

      • It’s the same with this “right to marry anyone you want” that they’ve invented: if you have the right to marry anyone you want, then no one can prevent you from doing so, not even the person you want.

        And, taken to its logical extension, the age, sex, marital status and personal preferences of the person you want cannot be allowed to interfere with the exercise of your right to marry that person.

        • When I was young I had an imaginary friend, Pookie. This ruling clearly seems to me, in accord with the SCOTUS decision in Lawrence v Texas, to involve “liberty of the person both in its spatial and more transcendent dimensions.” It is self-evident that by denying my right to marry Pookie and have imaginary children, and receive appropriate tax benefits for each, the Federal government is infringing my human rights as recognized by the World Community.

          Further, I am the sole support of Pookie’s imaginary parents, both of whom are, I imagine, quite old and sickly and incapable of surviving without my assistance. Therefore I am also entitled to claim them as dependents when filing my tax returns.

          In fact, for both those imaginary children and their imaginary grandparents I am due considerable sums in retroactive tax refunds from past years, as I have a very vivid imagination.

        • Sounds like “We”, a dystopian novel written by Evgeny Zamyatin that partially inspired “1984”. The protagonist was filed for by a woman he didn’t care for and wasn’t attracted to at all. Solves the problem of “rape culture” pretty well, right?

      • “their logic that requires government to force some particular woman to involuntarily bear those children.”

        And yet their justification for allowing abortion past viability is that women shouldn’t be forced to have any children they don’t want to. One of these things cannot continue if the other one is true.

    • (facepalm) As an religious single male who is also pretty Aspie… no, please, just no.
      The Aspie in me really doesn’t want to have kids- and would have a hard time living with another person (I can almost tolerate cats). The religious & moral part of me won’t allow some poor lady to raise my kid without my assistance.

      • *gets the giggles*

        You might enjoy this… according to at least one my doctors, I’m not “sexually active.”

        They’re an ob/gyn I was using for pregnancy care….

        It does actually make sense: I’m married, and not cheating, so only one partner in the past however long it was. They use the “sexually active” classification to indicate multiple partners, which is a really important thing for a lady’s reproductive health care clinic to be aware of; our “lifestyle choice” is one of the biggest ways to avoid serious health issues in that area. And it’s not like I was expecting a line that said something like “is the town bicycle, y/n?”

        But it still amuses me.

    • “…or to provide everyone guns to uphold the Second.” — could we make this a necessary condition for implementing “positive” rights in other areas?
      And since they’ve already implemented them in other areas, promote it as a “rights gap” in need of immediate redress?

  30. BobtheRegisterredFool

    DenBeste has passed away.

      • Thank you. But also, I’m selfishly glad you didn’t happen to put it up until after my break at work was over. I got home and saw this, and I was first stunned and then following links to all the Chizumatic blogfriends. And then I was bawling like a baby for about two hours, off and on. And then I was writing about it.

        So yeah, I’m really glad I didn’t know during my shift. And the good Lord really needs to stop taking all these people this October. (Unless He’s getting them home early because Bad Stuff is coming here, in which case I guess it’s silly to complain.But I’m more hopeful than that, so I’ll complain at least a little.)

  31. You might like Mark Manson’s ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’. He talks about how having something doesn’t make you happy, but striving for something does, especially a skill or long term goal. He also talks about entitlement. (Yes, I know he does a lot of relationship coaching stuff on his site – that advice is generally good too.)

  32. I swear whoever put me together left out the instinct module

    Sorry, but this line sent my Free Association brain cells back to elementary school for some trash talk…

    When God was giving out instincts, you thought he said N Sync and you said you didn’t like them…

  33. Yea– I am told that I have such strength– and yet, I deal with two chronic illnesses daily. I get fatigued a lot and I can’t seem to finish much. Also– I am a widow. I found through personal experience that the “government” does NOT take care of the widows or the disabled. And so– this positive liberty stuff being spewed by a certain group is just that — bullshit.

  34. Monopoly is when a legislature decides only one or two agencies or companies may offer a product or service. As a rule, monopoly produces high prices and bad service. There are no exceptions for police, courts, armies, roads, schools, telephones, electricity, fresh water, sewer, garbage pickup, package delivery, or anything else. Since government never lives up to the sales claims, why does the small government group still want it?

    • 1. exclusive control of a commodity or service in a particular market, or a control that makes possible the manipulation of prices.
      Compare duopoly, oligopoly.

      2. an exclusive privilege to carry on a business, traffic, or service, granted by a government.

      3. the exclusive possession or control of something.

      4. something that is the subject of such control, as a commodity or service.

      5. a company or group that has such control.

      6. the market condition that exists when there is only one seller.

      http://www.dictionary.com/browse/monopoly

      Only the second definition meets the one you proffer, and your definition included duopoly, oligopoly. A monopoly can also result from a dictator or executive license of exclusivity.

      Since you clearly don’t know such basic elements of what you are attempting to discuss, why should anyone here bother with you?

      As far as government never living up to the sales claims, that is an overly broad assertion and relies in part on the assumption that anyone not a fool believes all those claims. Government, like fire, is a useful servant and dangerous when unconstrained. Eschewing the benefits of fire, properly constrained, because it is destructive if left uncontrolled is akin to refusing to inhale oxygen because it causes rust.

    • As a rule, monopoly produces high prices and bad service.

      As a rule of thumb, artificial monopolies produce high prices and bad service.

      You can’t wave a magic wand and say “that’s a monopoly, so it sucks.”

      • Another thing about the types of monopolies listed: unlike corporate monopolies, consumers (citizens) can vote out the current management and vote in new management. Such benefit may be limited but it is not negligible. It is more significant the more limited the government.

        • Hell, we should probably be arguing on the point that it’s limited government, not small government, since they are different things… A government big enough to provide a micro-managing totalitarian experience in, oh, Great Britain wouldn’t be able to keep up with basic infrastructure in the US.

          (I freaked a guy out once by pointing out that yes, I did have an idea how big the UK is– it’s about one-third bigger than my home state, and the smallest of their four members is a little bit bigger than my home county. I think he was focused on population, which is like ten times that of Washington, and hadn’t really considered how much “empty” space there is….)

          • …and now I’m musing that the government of Ankh-Morpork is quite small, one guy making decisions is very much smaller than whatever part of the three branches you want to define as major decision makers…..

          • Yes.

            This is not just a reflection of the size of population or area that it governs, it is also the scope of what it undertakes. There is a world of difference between limited and small governments. I believe that the government should be limited, whatever its size.

          • Yeah, when talking to UK friends, or reading books set in the UK, I have to keep reminding myself that in terms of geographic size, it’s about the same as Minnesota.

            • Not exactly on topic, one more way in which where you live effects your thinking:

              The Daughter and I will day trip from the Piedmont of NC to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and we think nothing of it. One very hot humid summer midweek day in July we had fled to the mountains to refresh ourselves. A lot of people apparently had had the same idea. When lunch time came the picnic tables were filled. So we were sitting on a wall at an overlook at Craggy Gardens thoroughly enjoying the view and the breeze as we ate the lunch we had packed.

              The couple sitting next to us started a conversation. They were from England and staying Asheville, about 25 miles to the south, with friends. They asked where we came from. I told them. They asked how far it was. When I told them, they asked where we were staying. I said that, we had come up that day and, after spending the day on the Parkway, I would be driving home that night. They seemed quite surprised that anyone would do that much traveling in a single day.

              I wondered what they would think about what is considered as local and various travel distances as viewed by those living in rural areas of Texas.

              • They panic, sometimes.

                • ISTR reading a bit of doggerel from the time of early travel, a traveler’s lament, that went along the line of:

                  Another sunrise, another sunset
                  And we ain’t left Texas yet.

                  • It is 788 miles from Brownsville to Amarillo and there remains Texas to spare…

                    • I am thankful that my only drives through Texas have been through the panhandle via I-40 and the remnants of Route 66.

                    • Only 6 hours from Dallas to Amarillo. Nonstop I guess. Not including bathroom/meal/gas stops.

                    • It’d be a shorter trip to go to Dallas.

                    • Emily, I’d call it seven, with a bathroom break, and allowing 2 hrs to get from the outskirts (west) of the Metroplex to Dallas, assuming you time things wrong and get part of rush-hour. I can get to Wichita Falls in a shade under 3.5 hours, with a bathroom-break and leg stretch.

              • There’s an old saying (paraphrased) that Americans consider 100 miles to be a short distance, while Europeans consider 100 years to be a short time.

                • Since I’ve moved to the South, I consider distance in hours rather than in miles.

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    Some summer our family on vacation drove thru the mountains in the Eastern US and I remember noticing that the signs didn’t say “miles to wherever” but said “so many minutes/hours to wherever”.

                    • In the peninsula region of Virginia along I-64 and its beltways there are now electronic signs giving you the present estimated driving* time to various popular destinations.

                      *There are occasions when the given time indicates that you will not so much be driving as parking.

      • Common definitions of monopoly which suggest monopolies can arise without specific acts of government are incorrect. Monopoly is when government bans you from competing; monopoly is not about sole source, market power, or network effect. Microsoft, for instance, is not a monopoly; no policeman arrests you if you make a competing desktop operating system.

        There are no “natural” monopolies which arise without the policymaking act of a government; monopoly is a government policy action. For instance, around 1850 Lysander Spooner delivered letters faster and cheaper than the government post office. This embarrassed the government, and in response congress gave the post office a monopoly and banned Spooner from competing. The imposition of a monopoly is the recognition by legislators that the government service has better alternatives.

        • Not going to play the argument-by-special-definition game, Humpty Dumpty.

        • Common definitions of monopoly which suggest monopolies can arise without specific acts of government are incorrect.

          Back to making unsupported assertions, eh Mike? Ipse Dixit is not a valid logical argument.

          • It’s not Ipse Dixit, it’s brevity. The relevant parts of the libertarian literature do not fit in a few paragraphs. Here is a footnote: https://mises.org/library/fear-monopoly

            • No, you committed Ipse Dixit. As it is very simple to postulate a monopoly that does not rely on government, much less legislative authorization, your argument is invalid.

              Example: in America’s Western territories in the 1880s I own by right of possession the only reliable water hole in fifty miles, thus holding a monopoly on water in the region. What legislative act created that monopoly?

              If a legislative act grants me a current day monopoly on, for example, telephone service in a region, what effects that monopoly absent executive and judicial enforcement?

              Does your argument against legislatively enacted monopolies include patents, copyrights and other guardians of intellectual property?

              It is clear that you have read Mises without understanding Mises.

              • Example: in America’s Western territories in the 1880s I own by right of possession the only reliable water hole in fifty miles, thus holding a monopoly on water in the region. What legislative act created that monopoly?

                That’s not a monopoly. Anybody is free to compete with you by offering an alternative source of water however they can arrange, and no policeman arrests them. You are using a bogus definition of the word monopoly, invented I believe to obscure that the cause of monopolies is government.

                If a legislative act grants me a current day monopoly on, for example, telephone service in a region, what effects that monopoly absent executive and judicial enforcement?

                Effects? Affects? I don’t follow your question. The monopoly effects, appeared, came into existence, when the legislative bill was passed. If there is no law enforcement, then there is no government.

                Does your argument against legislatively enacted monopolies include patents, copyrights and other guardians of intellectual property?

                Trade secrets are valid, because you bargained to keep them secret in return for compensation. Patents are invalid, because they infringe the actions of third parties who have made no deals with the inventor. Copyrights: if the movie ticket stub was honest and said I was agreeing to pay the studio a nickel every time I remember their characters, whistle their songs, or made other derivative works, then I wouldn’t attend. Ticket stubs are lying contracts and so copyright is invalid as presently exists. Movie attendance contracts arranged as trade secrets are fine, but wouldn’t bind third parties who have not so agreed.

                Consider carefully the derivative work implications to things like Wagon Train to the Stars.

                • Monopoly: the exclusive possession or control of the supply or trade in a commodity or service.

                  Nothing about government there. It is your definition that is invalid. If you persist in using definitions not in common understanding you will continue to have difficulties communicating with other humans. No matter how often nor how loudly you insist yours is the only definition, you are engaging in Ipse Dixit fallacy.

                  Effect: cause (something) to happen; bring about

                  “What [brings about] that monopoly absent executive and judicial enforcement?”

                  Again, common usage of word meanings enhances communication.

                  Your arguments in regards to intellectual property are absurd and rebutting them would be overly tedious. Your ignorance of the concept of license for use does not constitute a valid basis for rejection of that concept. Your ignorance of the restrictions entailed under copyright law is particularly illuminating in its dimness.

                  • My central point is not that liberal media shouts the loudest about a word definition. Let’s label the concepts RES-monopoly and MM-monopoly. I claim RES-monopoly is not a “problem” which a legal system should attempt to remedy.

                    • I don’t think anybody here is greatly concerned over anything that “that liberal media shouts the loudest about.” We do prefer at least a passing nod to common understanding of a word’s meaning, without regard to what the MSM claims about such.

                      Nor do I believe anybody here argues that a natural monopoly is something which requires government action, and many would assert that many government-established monopolies are unnecessary, inappropriate, abuse of government’s legitimate authority and a conspiracy against the public weal.

                      You might try reading Darkship Thieves for an examination of how government established monopolies are often needless. You might also read Darkship Renegades for consideration of potential problems that can occur in such systems.

                    • many would assert that many government-established monopolies are unnecessary, inappropriate, abuse of government’s legitimate authority and a conspiracy against the public weal

                      Does “many” include police, courts, armies, currency, banking, education, roads, borders, retirement savings, medicine, insurance, abortion, firefighting, telecommunications, copyright, patents? “Leaving it ruthlessly alone” requires leaving all of those particular subject matter areas ruthlessly alone.

                    • You are aware the “leaving it ruthlessly alone” is after taking over, right? Or do you just fasten onto random sentences you catch to feed your anger?

                    • Ah, the old “if you aren’t in favor of large government you must be in favor of anarchy” fallacy.

                    • Ah, the old “if you aren’t in favor of large government you must be in favor of anarchy” fallacy.

                      Moving down to escape the wall.

                      There’s got to be a name for this funky totalitarian anarchy….

                    • There’s got to be a name for this funky totalitarian anarchy….

                      There is: Useful Idiot.

                    • Does “many” include police, courts, armies, currency, banking, education, roads, borders, retirement savings, medicine, insurance, abortion, firefighting, telecommunications, copyright, patents? “Leaving it ruthlessly alone” requires leaving all of those particular subject matter areas ruthlessly alone.

                      By… destroying them? And making sure they aren’t allowed to reform?

                      You have a strange idea of “leave it alone.”

                    • Let’s label the concepts RES-monopoly and MM-monopoly.

                      No, you don’t get to selectively define a word, make sweeping assertions, and when shown you’re wrong try to claim that the dictionary definitions which show your definition is at best selective is no just the definition of the person who provided the evidence.

                      You are notably lacking in counter-arguments, just lots of assertions.

    • I think “rent seeking” is the concept you’re after, here, rather than “monopoly” – i.e. when a company attempts to gain a monopoly position by obtaining exclusive government license to provide a product or service. Common under highly centralized governments.

    • I’m not going to argue with you; indeed, as a so-called anarcho-capitalist, I’m inclined to agree — and I don’t want to get into an argument here about why anarcho-capitalism isn’t necessary a bad thing. (Such arguments here can get very long and contentious, and it’s even largely “friendly fire”, because we all can agree that whatever size and scope government should be, it should be *much* smaller than it is right now!)

      It *does* help somewhat to keep the control local, so that it’s easier to vote out the people who are in charge, or move with your feet to a better place…

      And, to further complicate things, some of these are easier for everyone to see that private industry can do, than others.

      Having said all this, I would have to add: it’s funny how a certain class of people are completely opposed to monopoly, and will be able to list the litanies of why monopoly is bad…but then, in the next breath, say we need “single payer” health care, because government will be able to be more efficient!

      • I’m ruthlessly opposed to government monopolies AND to government breaking up what they think are monopolies.
        That said, Mike is wordy and headache-making, though I note getting less so every comment, so well done.

        • Free Range Oyster

          Hopefully he makes the transition. 🙂 We’ve gotten some great Huns that way. I’m a little disappointed we haven’t seen more of sfdumpsterfire: she was turning into an interesting member of the discussion rather than an apparent troll, and it’s not like she’d be the first to have started off on the wrong foot here. Civil and intelligent disagreement is nice to have, and I don’t get enough of it on subjects that matter lately.

        • Sort of agree, but about opposing government monopolies: “there’s an exception to every rule, including this one”…
          IF one can agree there may be services a community of people desire to pay for in common, rather than hiring them from the nearest or cheapest private provider (“common defense” comes to mind),
          AND IF we call the mechanism for apportioning and gathering the common payment and providing the service(s) “government”,
          THEN why would we not want “government” to have a monopoly on taxation, for instance? as well as, perhaps, on the commonly-funded service(s) IF the presence of competing private service(s) would reduce the effectiveness of the commonly-funded services for the rest of the community?

          I’m not saying government as currently constituted and historically operated does a good job of being as limited or as accountable as implied in the syllogism above, just testing the absolute opposition to government monopoly as a concept.

          And, yeah, I’m not well-read in libertarian theories. Maybe the question is answered therein.

          • Sigh. GOVERNMENT INSTALLED monopolies. Not stuff like army and coining (though some of it COULD be argued and is, hence state militias.) I mean stuff like “Only AT & T can provide phone service.”
            Sorry if I was semantically muddled.

  35. You name it, I caught it, and I probably caught things that no one has caught since the middle ages and which, as they swept the village, never got a name because they were just “one of those things.”) I probably had the scrubbies, the gnats and the gurgling peas. –Sarah.

    Joe Carter quoting Tom Wolfe: On visiting San Francisco in 1968, Tom Wolfe stumbled across what he describes as a “curious footnote to the hippie movement.” Doctors at the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic were treating diseases, Wolfe claims, that no living doctor had ever encountered before: “diseases that had disappeared so long ago they had never even picked up Latin names, diseases such as the mange, the grunge, the itch, the twitch, the thrush, the scroff, the rot.”

    The diseases returned, says Wolfe, because the hippies living in the communes wanted to sweep away “codes and restraints,” including those rules

    that said you shouldn’t use other people’s toothbrushes or sleep on other people’s mattresses without changing the sheets or, as was more likely, without using sheets at all, or that you and five other people shouldn’t drink from the same bottle of Shasta or take tokes from the same cigarette.
    By getting the mange, the grunge, the itch, the twitch, the thrush, the scroff, and the rot, the hippies were “relearning” the laws of hygiene.

  36. In your case, it was one Socialist revolution after another rediscovering the natural way of doing things.

    • No. Most of that was under the “good, stable” national socialist regime. One thing it does, as all socialism, is make everyone very poor. And poor people revert to living in from and like shit.

  37. This just in: Judge Posner is approaching Peak Moron.

    Posner Self-Immolation Watch
    By Ed Whelan — October 25, 2016

    From Above the Law, three excerpts from some recent comments from Seventh Circuit judge Richard Posner:

    1. I think the Supreme Court is awful. I think it’s reached a real nadir. Probably only a couple of the justices, Breyer and Ginsburg, are qualified. They’re okay, they’re not great.

    2. [I]f you look at the Supreme Court, for example, of the nine justices — I’m bringing Scalia back from the dead to have the standard number of justices — of those nine, one had been in a trial courtroom. It’s ridiculous to have an appellate judge who doesn’t have trial experience.

    3. The only two justices who are qualified are Ginsburg and Breyer. Their opinions are readable, and sometimes quite eloquent. The others, I wouldn’t waste my time reading their opinions.

    It would seem that Posner’s judgment continues to be demented by a severe case of SCOTUS envy. Just a few quick observations:

    1. Who knows what Posner means by “qualified”? If he means to incorporate a justice’s jurisprudence into the assessment, it’s strange that he would select Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg as the two best of a motley lot. Justice Kagan, for example, would seem closer to Ginsburg than Breyer is. (In a book eight years ago—which I negatively reviewed here—Posner called Justice Breyer a “bricoleur” and an “intermittent pragmatist whose pragmatism is heavily leavened with liberal political commitments.”)

    If you look at qualifications apart from jurisprudence, many of the current justices are, by any ordinary measure, very well qualified.

    2. With his characteristic sloppiness, Posner is wrong to say that only one of the current justices “had been in a trial courtroom.” Justice Alito was a United States Attorney for some 2-1/2 years, and Justice Sotomayor was an assistant district attorney for some five years and a federal district judge for six years.

    If it’s “ridiculous to have an appellate judge who doesn’t have trial experience,” Posner should never have accepted his seat. Posner evidently imagines that he has compensated for his deficiency by occasionally sitting by designation as a trial judge.

    3. I also find it strange that Posner regards only Ginsburg and Breyer opinions as “readable” and “sometimes quite elegant.” Limiting myself to the liberal side of the Court (lest I be thought to be indulging my ideological preferences), I think that Kagan’s opinions fare quite well compared to Ginsburg’s and Breyer’s.

    • Posner is very much a moron.

    • I’m not sure there is such a thing as Peak Moron, much as I would wish otherwise. He may be a moron for a person in the legal system, but I’ve met people who make him look merely average.

    • And to think, he made a decision recently that really made sense! (I can’t remember the issue at hand; I was just surprised that he came to the correct conclusion…)

      Just goes to show you that even a moron can come to the right conclusion every once in a while…

  38. “the Soviet Union guaranteed housing, food and a job.”

    So did slave owners.

    • Which means there was no difference. Just because the owner is “the state” it doesn’t make much difference.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        IMO that’s one of the worst forms of Slavery.

        If the Slave Master sees his slaves everyday, it’s more likely that he’s give them good care than if the Slave Masters are “people behind a desk” hundreds of mile away from their slaves. 😦

        Note, I’m against slavery of any type.

        A well-treated slave is still property and it is wrong to see humans as property.

      • Which is why the Democrats have ALWAYS been The Party of Slavery.

  39. Moved down from above.
    https://accordingtohoyt.com/2016/10/24/out-of-weakness/#comment-403075

    Alright, we’ve had a few fights here where some flavors of libertarian argued for basically “you can do anything you want except for make agreements that my system says are unacceptable” and I think even some attempts to figure out a way for the system to be stable– don’t want to fight it again, can’t remember any good coming out of it– but what the heck is the name for the type of anarchy where they assume there’s some kind of a power that’s stopping people from joining together and protecting basic rights?

    It’s only happened every freaking time with people– you can only have the free-for-all, biggest strong individual wins setup for as long as it takes the weaker to figure out they don’t have to come at you one at a time.

    If you start going after kids, it takes one hell of a lot less time. Or any other vulnerable group.
    Cut down all the rules, and it makes it a lot more likely someone will just bash your head in rather than let you be a malicious prick that might eventually strike at them when they’re weak.

    • I should have put up that famous scene between Roper and Sir Thomas More, but at that point ol’ Foghorn seemed a more apt spokesrooster.

    • Yep. Old tropes, found in lots of fiction and history, as to the ways a tyrant (’cause that, not pure communism, IS what naturally arises from anarchy) can be brought down. If nothing else: “you’ve got to sleep sometime…”

      • Most of the “anarchists” I’ve argued with expect stable anarchy— there’s anarchy, and that’s it. Nothing ever forms.

        They also tend to think “anarchy means no restrictions on me.
        Which is rather annoying when the only thing keeping you from smacking them upside the head are ingrained manners and the legal system…..

        • If you think about it, a stable anarchy requires universal modesty and humility, to prevent anyone from deciding to control others. And near-infinite wisdom, to recognize in the grey, edge cases of interaction, that you ARE attempting to control others. Otherwise, small authoritarian relationships will exist, become acceptable, and grow to ever-larger compass.

          I do not think the human condition includes such a universal character, whether it seems desirable or not.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Some supporters of “stable anarchy” talk about “enlightened self-interest” as making it stable.

            Yet, who defines “enlightened self-interest” and makes sure that everybody has the same idea of “enlightened self-interest”?

            There will always be differences of opinion on “what’s the best way to live or think”.

            Of course, people are “good” at behaving differently from the way they believe is the best way to behave.

          • You would suppose that anarchists would realize that human behaviour operates in a dynamic world in which people respond to present conditions by adapting to those modes which best foster their advantage. Thus anarchy is no more stable than any other system of governance.

            Of course, that would require we suppose anarchists to be rational, which is to say, not human.

            • The self-interest is fairly universal. The “enlightenment” seems to be on more of a multi-dimensional bell curve…
              If only there were a way to provide mutual governance of a society based on the median values of those bell curves, so that the largest number of people would be least harmed. Something like … voting by an informed populace in a democracy, with a general aversion to doing avoidable harm to minorities, perhaps?

              • An anarchic culture is easily subverted by the coordinated actions of a small cabal as there are no alternative power structures to counter them. (Read Darkship Renegades for exploration of this theme.)

                Thus it can be very much in the self-interest of a group to use the genuine libertarian impulses of a culture to seize control over a critical power center and leverage that to impose their preferences on the community. (See: Homeowners’ Associations)

                Because human society is dynamic, all forms of organization contain the seeds of their own destruction. (See: Thesis + Antithesis yield Synthesis.)

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                What’s an informed populace? 👿

                • The answer to that should be obvious: it is one which agrees with me, of course.

                  That Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, [Insert own list of prominent Liberals] cannot perceive the ironic mockery of such a statement pretty much says all that need be said about their character.

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    Yep.

                    One “interesting” person on the Bar was apparently serious about limiting the voters to 10% of the adult population of the US.

                    Needless to say, this “interesting” person had a very high opinion of himself. 😦

              • “Enlightened self interest” is one of those things where political philosophy gets accused of becoming religion, which is extremely unfair.

                Religion recognizes that prudential judgement is not standard. ‘Enlightened self interest’ has folks all reaching identical conclusions about what’s best to do.

                • Aha! – you speak of the variation in which it’s MY enlightenment about what I think YOUR self-interest should lead you to do.

    • And so many would-be anarchists somehow see themselves as being able to survive, just because they have a gun or two. usually a Mosin and an AK. They refuse to answer what will happen when they come to the first walled town, because its anarchy and no one will ever possible build a walled town.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        I once saw a line about some SF/F artist in which he said that he “love the barbarian” and apparently saw nothing wrong with the barbarians tearing down civilization.

        Even at the time I saw the line, I wondered how long he’d survived (let alone be an artist) if the barbarians tore down the civilization that he was part of. 😦

      • Re: walled towns – thing is, anarchy is you saying you’ll impose no rules on others. It can’t be, if you are an anarchist, you making everyone else have no rules.

        So the most probable outcome of a general breakdown is a few anarchists who are either soon dead, well hidden, or maybe strong enough to make people leave them alone for awhile; and many small bands of mutual support led by the local strongest person – which will look a lot like warbands led by warlords to everybody else.

        Tribes and tiny kingdoms are natural; civilization isn’t, and takes a lot of work to maintain.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Anarchies are unstable. 😉

          Once the “organized societies” break-down there will be people fighting to create replacements.

          Some of the replacement societies will be what most here would think as “good societies” but others will be “bad societies”.

          • Some of the replacement societies will be what most here would think as “good societies” but others will be “bad societies”.

            Probably most. And then we would have to begin the long, hard slog BACK to civilization. Let’s hope we can keep it from breaking down that far.

            • … and to support that hope, let’s add a good dose of practical, generalized “how things work” knowledge to whatever specialties we have to have to work in the current society.

  40. Re: The thought that a stable anarchy would require universal good character:

    I do not think the human condition includes such a universal character, whether it seems desirable or not.

    – THIS.

    Individual good character is desirable; it is not universal.