Grab That Gas With Both Hands

Winning an argument is not enough if you win it by conceding your opponent’s erroneous ideas. JTK illustrated this at the start of the recent invasion in Iraq:

This is the argument libertarians need to make, not that war is evil, but that it can never be moral to force others to participate. It will do no good to win the argument that a war is evil while implicitly accepting that it is legitimately a collective decision; that’s the wrong hill. The right hill is the one where we reject the collectivist premise first.

Recently, a blog post at The Last Free Voice posted a link to a letter. The Governor of Connecticut recently chided Chesapeake Energy for refusing to sell some of its natural gas, since Chesapeake would lose money. Cheapeake’s CEO responded with a letter outlining why the Governor was wrong. The Last Free Voice, which hosts the letter, said that the letter “explain[ed] all the ways in which Governor Rell was wrong.” I read the letter, and it was entertaining. But the letter did not explain all the ways that Governor Rell was wrong. In fact, although the letter may have won on its various arguments, it ultimately lost, because it conceded Governor Rell’s fundamental premise: that the State of Connecticut has any business telling Chesapeake what to do with the gas it drills.

And there’s the problem. Even when you win an argument, if you concede the wrong premises, you lose. Chesapeake nowhere argued that Connecticut has no business messing with its gas. Chesapeake, then, has implicitly conceded that Connecticut does have business messing with its gas. Chesapeake may win this battle, but it has already conceded the war.

Immigration Debate Flaring Up Again

Don Boudreaux’s column in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has restarted some of the libertarian immigration debate over at the LRC blog. One of the more interesting posts comes from Ryan McMaken:

Yes, we’ve established that many libertarians, including Rothbard and Mises favored controls on immigration, but as far as I can see neither of them offered specific policies either. I can’t imagine Rothbard supporting REAL ID or greater punishments for business owners, so what’s the answer? Mises speaks vaguely of controlling the borders, but what does that mean exactly? And perhaps Mises was wrong? Mises wants to keep out fifth columnists as quoted by Stephan below. Fine. But how? How exactly does Mises propose that be done? National ID cards? Secret police? What? And if we think national ID cards and secret police are necessary for a functioning society, then why are we libertarians?

Unsurprisingly, No Treason is ahead of its time:

My basic point is that preventing free immigration requires targeting peaceful individuals with deadly force. There is no other way to prevent what they oppose.

Those advocating such immigration control ought to be willing, in principle, to go down and patrol the Mexican border themselves and employ deadly force against a peaceful individual who wants to come mow my lawn.

Indeed. Controlling the borders of the state requires using force, potentially deadly force, against someone who is violating no one’s rights. Furthermore, McMaken is right: our rights will have to be violated in order to close the borders – more taxes, more programs, more agents. And of course, anyone here of Mexican descent becomes immediately suspect and ripe for harassment, both locally and federally.

So, what is the libertarian way to close the borders and enforce it?

Vox Constitution, Vox Dei?

From our old friends at the Lew Rockwell Blog comes a link to a Statement of Faith from Rep. Ron Paul published by Reconstructionist website In his Statement of Faith, Rep. Paul makes a rather stunning admission:

I am running for president to restore the rule of law and to stand up for our divinely inspired Constitution.

(emphasis mine)

Politicians are not known for their candor, but supposedly Rep. Paul is an exception to this rule. If he is as truthful as is claimed, then he believes that the Constitution comes from God. This should pose a serious problem to the libertarians behind him. No one needs to remind them of the long and nasty history of church-state relations, nor the reasons why Congress is forbidden from treating one religion differently than another.

It poses interesting theological questions, too. Why would God author a document which permitted slavery for 8 decades? How can mere men hope to improve it with amendments; certainly they do not know more than God, do they? Should politicians who do not follow the Constitution be excommunicated? Where does the Constitution even claim inspiration?

Although Rep. Paul will not win the nomination or a general election, it would be wise for his supporters to clarify exactly what he means. It would not make them look so good to be backing the Constitution’s righteous defender.

I Call, Show Your Hand

From Beck:

[Howard Dean] — and all like him — have been playing a game of studied ignorance ever since about three days after 9/11, in order to not grasp the facts and implications of a stridently anti-American Saddam’s Iraq in the wake of everything that made up 9/11. The fact that George Bush made a bloody hash out of the problem in his pre-war arguments as well as in having anything to do with post-Saddam Iraq politics does not relieve Howard Dean — or anybody else — of the responsibility to grasp the facts that added up to nothing but the imperative to destroy Saddam.

(emphasis his)

Let’s see those facts that made it an imperative for me to be compelled to assist in attacking Iraq.

The Sweet Science of Boxers

Beck is puppy-sitting his sister’s boxer. I laughed right out loud reading his first morning:

Let me only say that I am far from accustomed to waking up to a three year-old eighty-pound Boxer jumping-ass up in my bed and whining in my face. The horrible beast.


Look; I really have nothing against this animal. She’s really not bad at heart, at all. I just don’t understand why she has to be so… enthusiastic about everydamned thing. She hasn’t been taught how to be cool yet.

(emphasis his)

I have bad news for Uncle Billy. Boxers aren’t cool. They love life with unbridled passion. When you walk out to get the mail and come back, you will be greeted as if you were a long-lost brother. Every moment for them is TOTALLY FUCKING AWESOME!

I try to live that way, to make every moment TFA. Fortunately, for the sake of productivity, I’m still not flexible enough to lick my own balls.

A Quick Example

I work in a small town, where the municipal building and the post office are connected. I ran to the post office today for the second time, and, just like the first time, it felt really strange.

This time, though, I figured it out: the number of signs. I quickly counted the number of signs in the parking lot, which was 17. Then I counted the number of parking spaces, which was 49. That’s right, there was a sign for every three parking spaces: yield signs, stop signs, no parking signs, handicapped parking signs, and street signs (in a fucking parking lot). Worse yet, I was there on the lunch hour, and there were maybe a dozen cars in the lot, three signs for every two cars.

They don’t trust that you can figure your way around a parking lot the size of a small backyard. Do you think they’re going to trust you with your life, citizen?

Bastiat on Tabarrok on Cost-Benefit

Over at Marginal Revolution, Alex Tabarrok writes:

Tyler asks, following philosopher Alastair Norcross, whether it could ever satisfy a cost-benefit test for one person to die a terrible and tortured death in order to alleviate the headaches of billions of others by one second. Tyler begs off with “a mushy mish-mash of philosophic pluralism, quasi-lexical values” and moral conceit. I will have none of this. The answer, is yes.

Bastiat presciently commented:

The plans differ; the planners are all alike.

Ditto for “libertarian” planners.

Reed on Statemanship

In Peeing on Hydrants, Fred Reed writes:

What we call statesmanship is, emotionally and morally, indistinguishable from gang war in South Chicago. The scale is more imposing and, under some administrations, the grammar better. Aggressive males rise to power in heavily armed countries of many millions. Then they push and shove, bark and bow-wow at others like themselves in other countries. The tribal trappings remain, particularly among the warriors: Baubles and medals and patches and different hats, talk of honor and duty and valor. Nah. Males dogs in an alley.

Ratification Conventions – How were delegates chosen?

I’ve been searching for information about the selection of the delegates to the constitutional ratification conventions in the several states. I’ve spent about two hours on Google trying to find information, but instead I keep coming up with information about the actual votes by the conventions. I wanted to know how the delegates for each ratification convention were chosen, and, if possible, who was eligible to vote, and where.


Abortion and the Nearest Airlock

Libertarians cannot defend abortion on property rights grounds, and until they stop getting the abortion analogy wrong, they will continue to use the property rights grounds defence incorrectly. Prof. Block, in a recently-published paper, repeats these wrong analogies, leading him to continue to defend the horrific practice of abortion.

Block uses two analogies – realising the second is wrong, but not the first. He first cites the Violinist’s Kidneys. Suppose you wake up one day in the hospital sewn to a world-class violinist. The violinist’s kidneys were failing, and they sewed yours into the violinist’s system, so that you are both sharing your kidneys. The violinist didn’t request this or perform it; it was done by wicked doctors. The second case is the case of an airplane owner who invites a person onto his plane then, in mid-air, decides to invoke his property rights and pitch the invitee out of the plane.

Both of these analogies fail, and they fail because of the agency of the woman having sex. A woman who has sex (save rape) is consenting to an ejaculate. With that ejaculate comes a risk: a risk of pregnancy. That is, a woman who consents to sex consents to a risk that another person becomes dependent on her. And, if someone cause a person to become dependent, that person must take every reasonable means of preserving the dependent: if I shove a person into deep water, I have to take every measure I can to save that person from drowning. If I cause a person to rely on me and me alone for their life, care, and sustenance, I have to take every reasonable means of preserving that life.

In the violinist’s analogy, the analogy fails because the victim took no action that could put the violinist at risk of becoming dependent on the victim. The agency entirely rests with the doctors. Thus, this analogy fails. The airplane analogy fails, as Block notes, because of the implicit contract.

The correct analogy must acknowledge the woman’s assumption of risk. So, I propose a new one. The USS Enterprise is flying over the surface of the planet. It has a new gadget that performs some task, but as a side effect, it may accidently beam a person on the surface of the planet aboard the ship. Can that person be shoved out the nearest airlock on the captain’s whim? Absolutely not.

The gadget performs some non-beaming function, just as sex may: revenge, pleasure, etc. But just like sex, there is the assumed risk of bringing someone else aboard. Once aboard, of course, the ship is responsible for the welfare of the new passenger until that passenger can be safely off-loaded.

So, what about the health of the mother and rape?

In the health of the mother analogy, the only thing that changes is that, while aboard, the passenger unwillingly and unwittingly threatens the safety of the ship: the person puts off some sort of natural radiation that causes the engines to feedback. The first right of all is self-defense, and the ship’s crew has a right to kill the person or evict them in order to save the ship. In the same way, a person who shoots at you, albeit under mind control, may be killed in order to save yourself.

The rape case is much harder. Someone is unwillingly beamed aboard the ship, through neither the fault of the ship or the new passenger. The new passenger is undesired, and causes distress and embarassment to the ship’s crew, but is causing no harm (say, a Lwaxana Troi episode). Can the ship force the passenger out the nearest airlock? I don’t think so. Why? Because the property rights of the ship’s owner are less than the right to life of the person. People are worth more than property. “Property rights serve human values. They are recognized to that end, and are limited by it.” State v. Shack, 277 A.2d 369, 372 (N.J. 1971).

People will contend that a ship is not a person, and that the person has bodily integrity rights that a ship’s owner does not have. I agree with that, which is why rape is a harder case. But, ultimately, the life of the undesired passenger outweighs the shame and humiliation of the mother. Put another way, rape puts up bodily integrity & stigma vs. life, and the health of the mother puts up life vs. life. Life always wins.

Prof. Block argues that there is no right to life, because that would be a positive right. But abortion is about the ultimate negative right: the right not to be killed. If we are to support liberty, we must support life.

Libertarians cannot be pro-choice.

Who Would Stephen Cox Kill?

Over at LRC, yet another person has signed up to the anti-immigration platform. Prof. Cox goes on a long list of reasons to oppose immigration, most of which have already been torn apart on this very site. So let’s cut to the chase, Prof. Cox. You’re standing on the border. A family of Mexicans is running for the fence. You’ve got the rifle scope trained on a mother running with her son. Do you pull the trigger?

And if you can’t, are you really willing to “defend the borders”? Make no mistake about it, you’re going to have to kill people to keep them out of America. People want in.

So, Prof. Cox, who would you kill?

Libertarian Conspiracy in Full Swing

Liberal meathead Alan Wolfe writes in “Why Conservatives Can’t Govern”:

[R]ight-wing pundits are furiously blaming right-wing politicians for failing to adhere to right-wing convictions. Libertarians such as Bruce Bartlett fret that under Republican control, government has not shrunk, as conservatives prescribe, but has grown. Insiders like Peggy Noonan complain that Republicans have become–well, insiders; they are too focused on retaining power and too disconnected from the base whose anger pushed them into power. Idealistic younger conservatives bewail the care and feeding of the K Street beast. Paleocons Pat Buchanan and Robert Novak blame neocons William Kristol and Charles Krauthammer for the debacle that is Iraq.

All of which is true. But why is it that conservatives can’t govern? Simply, because they’re all nihilist libertarians:

Contemporary conservatism is first and foremost about shrinking the size and reach of the federal government. This mission, let us be clear, is an ideological one. It does not emerge out of an attempt to solve real-world problems, such as managing increasing deficits or finding revenue to pay for entitlements built into the structure of federal legislation. It stems, rather, from the libertarian conviction, repeated endlessly by George W. Bush, that the money government collects in order to carry out its business properly belongs to the people themselves. One thought, and one thought only, guided Bush and his Republican allies since they assumed power in the wake of Bush vs. Gore: taxes must be cut, and the more they are cut–especially in ways benefiting the rich–the better.

Ooh, you liberals are so smart. You caught us! That’s right, we sneaked a full-throated, red-blooded libertarian into the White House while you guys were laughing it up about his language blunders. And now he’s implementing the libertarian agenda: tax cuts for the rich and pork for the rich!

Despite the fact that Nixon, Reagan, Bush, and Bush the Younger have all presided over massive increases in federal spending, proposed and signed legislation expanding the welfare, warfare, and regulatory state, and played the Great Game in various regions of the world, the real problem is that they’re all closet libertarians. Call me crazy, but perhaps the problem is that conservatives don’t actually want smaller government, but want votes from those who do. You know, like the liberals who promise black people salvation through government while destroying their communities?

Conservatives have been walking and talking like big government people for a long time, with the occasional nod to tax cuts. Are liberals so dumb that they take conservative politicians at their (occasional) word?