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Obama plans to purge Republicans from federal jobs…excellent news

There is a fascinating post on Instapundit about the thinly disguised intention of the Obama administration to purge Republicans from federal government jobs… this is excellent news.

One of the best ways to get the next (eventual) Republican in the White House to support taking an axe to the public sector would be if there are as few Republicans apparatchiks as possible and the civil service is seen as a bastion of the Democratic Party (and thus there are few votes to be lost by bashing them hard and often).

More and faster please, Obama.

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63 comments to Obama plans to purge Republicans from federal jobs…excellent news

  • tdb

    Glenn Beck and his idiot fan club will likely react like morons, but this is good for the real lovers of liberty. It will help clean out the system.

    On the other hand, moderate Republicans (who are closer to libertarians on far more issues) may face the axe if Obama is not careful.

  • “..and the civil service is seen as a bastion of the Democratic Party…”

    Mmm, throw them to the hippos I say.

  • bekarlss

    I doubt the reason Republicans have not taken an axe to the public sector is because there is a critical mass of Republicans employed therein. There is hesitancy because a cut in the public sector is portrayed as starving old people and killing poor people by the press and the rest of the Democratic machine. The Republicans need to be more forceful about breaking the power of the public sector unions, who create nothing but waste and inefficiencies.

    i would caution against the belief that moderate Republicans are closer to libertarians on far more issues. Quite the opposite. It is always the “moderate” or liberal Republicans who break with the party and vote with the statist Left on massive spending bills, environmental bills, taxes, stimulus packages, and health care bills.

    Does anyone believe that Sens. Snowe and Collins would vote to abolish the Department of Education? Moderate Republicans are closer to libertarianism if by libertarianism you mean abortion or gay marriage and nothing else.

  • Mike James

    I’m not comfortable with this crowd seeking exclusive control of all offices, at all levels, of Leviathan. I too easily form an image in my mind of them dressed in Olive Drab, placing a Tokarev at the back of their enemies’ necks.

    Or maybe I’ve been paying too much attention to Glenn Beck.

  • tdb

    bekarlss: The reason I don’t want libertarianism associated with Republicans is precisely because of their social conservatism; that is doing damage to our once noble image. We’ve become too hyperfocused on economic freedom; it’s not enough. We need to reaffirm our commitment to gay rights, abortion rights, and scientific progress. We need to emphasize our way of doing things: from the bottom-up.

    For example, although Bush didn’t provide public funding to stem cell research, private research continued unabated. We also need to show our commitment to lowering health care costs by getting to the root of the problem: overly generous patents on new drugs; the fact you can’t carry insurance across state lines; that telecommunication companies are granted monopolies in certain rural areas; the particular regulations that favour companies at the expense of the public good. The examples could go on and on.

    Although American libertarianism was borne from the Old Right, with all the imperfections and downright sleaziness that implies, we have evolved since then. We diverge so much from Republicans, that they are no longer suitable fellow travellers. We can now stand on our own. We must stand on our own.

    The paleocons, the neocons, the right in general; they have become just as much our enemy as the left. We don’t need them any more, and they are like a monkey on our backs that just won’t go away.

  • tdb

    Mike James: Yes, drop Beck; he’s not good for your mental health. Take two doses of Hayek, and call me in the morning.

  • cjf

    How’s your hope and change coming along?

    Stupid issue is Hobama bowing to other leaders.
    BOHICA ?

    Not since Gerald Ford have we had a Pestident as clumsy.

  • tdb,

    While I have nearly as little love for Republicans as I have for the Democrats, you must have at least one of them, or else large numbers of both, as “fellow travelers.” Otherwise, you accomplish nothing. Democracy is like that.

    You might argue for the long game, and so forth, but the present dangers of statist onrush require an immediate response.

    Libertarianism is only secondarily about social freedoms. People are free to act as they wish only when the government is too weak to stop them. I do not view a totalitarian government that chooses to allow gay marriage to be a great achievement for libertarianism. Today, which party is more likely to promote such a tyranny?

  • tdb

    Mastiff,
    If we need fellow travellers, then we should side with different people on both sides; that’s how we’ll get things done. What we should do is stop leaning so heavily on the Republicans! Their social and scientific backwardness is costing us dearly.

    Second, I did not sign up for libertarianism to rank social freedom as second to economic freedom; I signed up because I saw both as equally valuable! I agree that a totalitarian government that allows gay marriage is no achievement because they are powerful enough to take that right away. Personally, I would want to see marriage reduced to a mere contract; that is a far more radical position to take than anything the left could imagine, and the right would view it as an attack on the institution of marriage (which it is).

    The long game strategy is what has allowed us to survive this long; it is what will save us now. I agree that we should fight for reforms whenever they match our interest, but we should side with reactionary idiots when they don’t.

    I thought we were about the rights of individuals above the collective; supporting gay marriage is part and parcel to that.

  • tdb

    Error: we [b]shouldn’t[/b] side with reactionary idiots when a goal matches our own. Further, let me clarify that we should be aloof from such matters when they occur.

  • bekarlss

    tbd: I just wanted to caution about viewing “moderate” Republicans as closer allies than your standard conservative Republican, since even on the social issues they’re likely to favor more state intervention in an effort to find some mythical “middle ground.”

    As for economic versus social issues, my only comment would be where is most of the action being taken by the state? When social conservative have power, they don’t do much on the social issue front compared to when non-conservatives are in office on the economic front. Is banning partial birth abortions or restating the law of the land on marriage comparable to taking over segments of the economy through bailouts or backdoor regulations?

    In fact, I’d say that social conservatives would be very open to a federalized libertarianism at the moment; one that pulls Washington out of social issues entirely BUT allows them to exist at the state and local level. For starters, they would be more successful on the abortion front and it would remove the fear that the Supreme Court nationalizing gay marriage and overturn their successes on the state level. And by localizing the social issues to the state level, you would allowing socially libertarian AND economic libertarian candidates and ideas to gain more traction and support.

  • tdb

    bekarlss,

    I beg to differ on how open social conservatives are on localized civil libertarianism; you might be able to take them as far as the idea of leaving as a state & local issue. But once the issue is broached at those levels, where do you think they’re going to throw their muscle? The socially conservative candidates! It wouldn’t matter how economically libertarian they were, the paleos and social conservatives will shut them down. They may not succeed, but they would inflict a lot of damage.

    In principle I support devolution; it would make it easier for activist groups to work and it would make people more involved in the running of their local affairs. What I don’t want is a social conservative in the White House! Because of the cult of the presidency, if a social conservative is in office, then any attempt to expand human freedom will be thwarted. Before we talk about devolution, we should focus on demythologizing the president, regardless of who is in power.

  • Laird

    “I did not sign up for libertarianism to rank social freedom as second to economic freedom; I signed up because I saw both as equally valuable!”

    Actually, I view them as one and the same thing; two sides of the same coin, as it were. In the long run, you can’t have (and keep) either without the other.

    As to the “localization” of libertarianism, I support it. Even if, in some jurisdications, the authoritian social conservatives should gain sway, one could escape to a different state with a different power structure. That’s the genius of a federal system (as the US is supposed to be) if it’s allowed to operate as one. Which, of course, is precisely why statists of all stripes are doing everything they can to eliminate it in all but name. We are being reduced to the lowest common denominator, where every state is as bad as every other.

  • Paul Marks

    I must demand my moron card from the fan club (after all I am admirer of Glenn Beck’s work – an an open one), and I do see Perry’s point (actually so would Mr Beck – because he has said much the same thing, although he does not trust the Republicans anyway).

    However, if elected to posts at the top of an administrative structure entirely made up of your sworn enemies, one my find that “governing” is turned into a matter of pulling levers and pushing buttons – levers and buttons that are not connected to anything.

    Much like Louis XVI King of France when the administration was dominated by dreams of a new society (or rather a system of government that did include a real King – or a distinction between the State and Civil Society).

    Louis XVI could give any order he liked – including orders to reduce government spending.

    But no one took the slightest notice of his orders.

    “But you say only applies to modest reform Paul – if one intends to sweep away the whole system it does not matter if the entire governing strucrture is made up of one’s sworn enemies, indeed it is a good thing”.

    Quite so – as long as one remembers that this “sweeping away” of the entire governing structure (because one can not work with anyone in it – in order to produce an orderly reduction in the size and scope of government) will likely mean fighting a Civil War. And winning that war.

    After all if option of peaceful reform is shut off (because the Civil Service is so politized as to make winning an election fruitless in terms of power) then what else is there?

    When Gramsci stressed gaining control of the institutions, he knew what he was about. It makes peacefully undoing the work of the left almost impossible – even if one wins an election by a landslide.

  • newrouter

    i fail too see how the history of abortion law in the last 30 years is libertarian. how can something not directly attributed to the federal gov’t in the constitution be taken over by the federal gov’t on the whim of “penumbra”. if you are really libertarian in the us you would support the overturn of roe v wade and let the states decide for themselves.

  • tdb

    newrouter: Do you support a woman’s right to choose? If not, then you aren’t a libertarian. Individual rights trump state rights. I’m not against devolution, but that doesn’t mean I treat the Constitution as a sacred document; the constitution isn’t merely a piece of paper, but it is a flawed document. Jefferson suggested that every generation we should tear it up and write a new one; I wish we took him up on that offer years ago.

    Right now, it’s too late to do so; there are too many special interests for that.

  • if you are really libertarian in the us you would support the overturn of roe v wade and let the states decide for themselves.

    The federal government has no business dictating laws on abortion… The state government also has no business dictating laws on abortion. It is an unanswerable moral question in my view, which is why I am agnostic on the issue, and why I support leaving it up to the woman to make the choice.

  • tdb

    Perry de Havilland: Exactly! “State’s rights” shouldn’t enter the equation; after all, the states can’t defy the Bill of Rights. Thus, states and counties SHOULD NOT be allowed to trespass on individual rights. Roe v. Wade was a victory for individual rights; we should champion it, not fight against it.

  • Sunfish

    From the Federal civil service to abortion in 13 posts.

    Would land-value taxation give the Executive greater control over the civil service?

  • Bod

    And Sunfish plays Samizdata’s very own version of Godwin’s Law.

    LVT. The thread is broken. We are undone.

  • tdb,

    “I did not sign up for libertarianism to rank social freedom as second to economic freedom; I signed up because I saw both as equally valuable!”

    Note that I said nothing about economic freedom; I was discussing state power, which comes before both.

  • Gabriel

    We don’t need them any more, and they are like a monkey on our backs that just won’t go away.

    Uhuh. That’s a pretty odd monkey to back ratio don’t you think? We don’t need you and that’s lucky because you’re sod all help in any case. Every country that embraces the empty sex, cultural ignorance ‘n’ baby murder lifestyle that liberals of all stripes advocate will inevitably end up with a bloated and incurable welfare state with all that that entails. There are many reasons why this is the case, but it’s not even worth citing them: anyone with even the faintest appreciation of the history of the West over the last 100 years knows it to be true. First libertinism, then tyranny, then bankruptcy. Enjoy it.

    Ron Paul, shit though he is, is pretty sound on these issues though.

    Postscript

    if by libertarianism you mean abortion or gay marriage and nothing else.

    Add drugs and porno and that’s a pretty accurate description of 90% of self-described Libertarians I’ve ever met. Sure they say they’re free market, but try discussing Austrian business cycle theory and they just state blankly for a few seconds before making yet more profoundly thoughtless, crass and historically inept comments about sex and sexuality.

  • Gabriel

    Just to be very clear about what I mean. Though I happen to agree with Libertarians on the overwhelming majority of issues, it is my observation that the only area where they have any practical whatoseverin the last century is helping the culural left along in advancing the decay of decent and civilized life in this country and across the western world in favour of modern the modern condition of existence, (described most ably by Theodore Dalyrymple). To take one example among millions, you helped to get section 28 repealed, but you were utterly powerless to do anything about the criminalisation of homophobic speech, the effective nationalisation of adoption agencies in the name of ‘gay rights’ or the further erosion of the fundamental right to refuse people access to one’s own property for the same reasons. Moreover, from where I’m standing, you didn’t even really try because you were too busy blathering on about gay *marriage* (perhaps the single most preposterous piece of pish the New Left ever came out with, indeed I half suspect it’s a sort of macabre joke where they test their power by coming up with ostentatiously absurd ideas and seeing how quickly they can implement them). You are, in short, a force for ill, albeit a relatively small one.

  • tdb

    Gabriel,

    That is because libertarians want freedom in all manners of life; unlike you, we don’t stop at politics and economics.

    We follow the logic to it’s final conclusion: if the government has no right to dictate how people spend their money or who they vote for, then the government has no business dictating morality or enforcing that myth of “common decency”. It should prosecute force and fraud, but not punish gays whose only crime is love and the desire to have a family.

    It should not punish the pornographer who’s only crime is being an entrepreneur; nor the drug user who’s only crime is making a bad decision. It shouldn’t condemn the illegal immigrant who’s only crime is wanting to seek a better life.

    Small? The Cato Institute holds a lot of sway my friend. We’ve been bruised a bit, but we’ll pick ourselves up soon enough.

    Libertarianism shall triumph; paleos, WE WILL BURY YOU!

    It is you who has the weird monkey-to-back ratio.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    I can’t find any hard data with a brief search, but I’m sure that most US federal civil servants are Democrats already. Getting rid of the few Republicans probably wouldn’t change things very much.

    This thread, incidentally, is an excellent example of why anyone wanting a political movement to prosper should immediately show anyone who wants to talk about abortion the door: once the subject’s introduced, it eats every other issue.

  • tdb

    PersonFromPorlock: It is an issue I am passionate about, and I see where you are coming from. But, should we sacrifice all principle for expediency? Do you know how much we’d have to sacrifice to do that? Virtually everything about libertarianism until there is nothing but a shell left.

    However, I’ll stay on topic in the future; I have no desire to be kicked out.

  • RRS

    Having lived in that world (but not part of it) I will ask these commentators: Regardless of how minimally, how should the necessary functions of the federal government be staffed?

    If on merit exams or qualifications, should previous condition of “political servitude” be a disqualification?

    If so, why.

  • Valerie

    With all due respect tdb, conservative Republicans espouse intact families, less divorce, drug use and other social ills far better and more consistently than Libertarians who are seen by most to be merely selfish bohemians. No one wants to be lectured to but at least they keep the public aware of how social ills cost us all and to MUCH greater effect.

  • It’s not a question of how the civil service should be staffed. It’s a question of how they should be *not* staffed.

    There was a time in Malaysia (or to be more precise, Malaya and British Borneo), for example, when the best and the brightest were expected to join the civil service. “Steady income”, one said. “Stable job, never get fired, low risk,” another declaimed. “Doing something useful for the country,” a third opined. Came from both the British as well as Chinese cultures (as you can tell, the Chinese retained ideals from the Imperial bureaucracy)

    That time is long gone. Never again will anybody join the civil service unless they are the dregs of society or have no hope of making it in the private sector. Or they want to suck off the rest of us. Which makes Malaysia no different from most of the world, I suspect.

    Remember that the libertarianism (or classical liberalism) as an ideology is fairly new. Most cultures are quite comfortable with authoritarianism, even the interplay between religious authority and secular authority.

    The only place where this was bucked, even if it was only for a comparatively short period of time, was in the USA.

    As a social and fiscal conservative, my take on the matter is that government should limit itself to law enforcement, legislation, national security, and I’d go as far as to admit governments need some form of income, so taxation may be necessary.

    Hence, the reduction in force (and in many cases, the disbanding) of bureaucracies is necessary; almost all of government outside of those key areas imo is deadwood.

  • tdb

    Valerie,

    I promised that I wouldn’t fly into a rage and go off topic. So I will say this once: I’d rather be a selfish bohemian than a square any day.

    Best regards,
    tdb

  • indigomyth

    newrouter,

    //if you are really libertarian in the us you would support the overturn of roe v wade and let the states decide for themselves.//

    I am not in the US, however I am a libertarian, and do not support the overturning of roe v wade, for much the same reason I do not support the overturning of Loving v Virginia, or Lawrence v Texas.

    Libertarianism is (as I embrace it) about individual freedom. A problem that can happen with decentralising power is that it simply results in Majoritarianism over a more confined geographical range. If people 1000 miles away have no right to take my money through force, via taxation, then what right do people 1 mile away have to do the same thing?

    Based on some arguments here, there is no such thing as a right to an individual freedom, but rather merely what the local majority wishes to grant you.

    Any of these proposals about the legality of abortion or gay marriage being devolved to an individual state level hang on the idea that some form of Majority has the right to either dictate what you can and cannot do with your own body, or what is or is not defined as marriage. This would seem to be fundamentally at odds with Libertarianism.

    One could equally say that Freedom of Speech is not an absolute, and devolve the legality of any particular form of speech to a state level. However, that would be saying that Free Speech is actually a privilege, granted by the grace of the Majority, rather than what it actually is, which is a fundamental right. The same points apply to things such as Marriage, Body Autonomy, etc etc.

  • indigomyth

    newrouter,

    //if you are really libertarian in the us you would support the overturn of roe v wade and let the states decide for themselves.//

    I am not in the US, however I am a libertarian, and do not support the overturning of roe v wade, for much the same reason I do not support the overturning of Loving v Virginia, or Lawrence v Texas.

    Libertarianism is (as I embrace it) about individual freedom. A problem that can happen with decentralising power is that it simply results in Majoritarianism over a more confined geographical range. If people 1000 miles away have no right to take my money through force, via taxation, then what right do people 1 mile away have to do the same thing?

    Based on some arguments here, there is no such thing as a right to an individual freedom, but rather merely what the local majority wishes to grant you.

    Any of these proposals about the legality of abortion or gay marriage being devolved to an individual state level hang on the idea that some form of Majority has the right to either dictate what you can and cannot do with your own body, or what is or is not defined as marriage. This would seem to be fundamentally at odds with Libertarianism.

    One could equally say that Freedom of Speech is not an absolute, and devolve the legality of any particular form of speech to a state level. However, that would be saying that Free Speech is actually a privilege, granted by the grace of the Majority, rather than what it actually is, which is a fundamental right. The same points apply to things such as Marriage, Body Autonomy, etc etc.

  • indigomyth

    I found this article at the Cato Institute helpful:

    http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=917&full=1

  • Sunfish

    Exactly! “State’s rights” shouldn’t enter the equation; after all, the states can’t defy the Bill of Rights.

    Before you go there:

    Prior to 1868, the BoR did NOT restrict state or local governments. There was an 1830 SCOTUS case on point, someone v. Baltimore, in which the Court ruled that the BoR constrained only the Federal government,

    What changed was the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868. We’ve been litigating the degree to which that restrains state governments ever since. But it’s a very unpopular amendment for may of a small-government or libertarian bent, out of a concern that it opened the door to Federal involvement in a whole mess of matters not previously considered Federal.[1]

    PersonFromPorlock: It is an issue I am passionate about, and I see where you are coming from. But, should we sacrifice all principle for expediency? Do you know how much we’d have to sacrifice to do that? Virtually everything about libertarianism until there is nothing but a shell left.

    How many battles have you purists won by staying pure?

    NONE.

    The purists have not won a goddamn thing, ever. Persistent infighting over “I’m not going to ally with him because he doesn’t support legalizing meth tomorrow and he things Ayn Rand is a shit writer” gave us nothing and got us nowhere while the enemy marched.

    So we lost the war but kept your souls. Thanks a fucking bunch.

    [1] I disagree, to an extent. Everything in life is a balancing act to one extent or another. Forcing cities and states of a more-fascist bent to meet at least some minimum standard of individual liberty is, IMHO, worth it.

  • tdb

    Sunfish: What about influencing public policy? I’m not interested in winning political offices, just influencing the zeitgeist in a more liberty friendly direction. That was what Hayek did; it is slow, tortuous, but sure. Instant victories disappear as quickly as they come. The small victories achieved by Hayek lasted a long time; it takes a long time to build things that last.

  • Sunfish

    What about influencing public policy? I’m not interested in winning political offices, just influencing the zeitgeist in a more liberty friendly direction. That was what Hayek did; it is slow, tortuous, but sure. Instant victories disappear as quickly as they come. The small victories achieved by Hayek lasted a long time; it takes a long time to build things that last.

    What small victories are those?

    What influence on public policy have the purists had?

  • tdb

    Let me see:
    -Margaret Thatcher derived intellectual support from Hayek’s masterwork, The Constitution of Liberty

    -Hayek’s influence on the development of ordoliberalism helped West Germany become a wealthy and powerful nation.

    -Milton Friedman’s work helped to end the draft and craft a policy for dealing with inflation.

    -Robert Nozick helped make libertarianism respectable in academia.

    -Cato Institute has helped shape public policy.

    Small. incremental successes; instant victory can only be achieved by oppressive means. We should focus on slow, but sure steps.

    That’s how you win in the long run, which is what really matters.

  • Sunfish

    I’m sorry. I must have missed the part where:

    The Selective Service Administration told me not to bother registering;

    West Germany could afford to pay for its own defense and maintain freedom of speech. And if you think US cops are heavy handed…

    US fiscal policy avoided inflation causes such as monetizing the Federal debt…

    And which laws or government policies were shaped by the Cato Institute? An answer more recent than 1987 would be welcome.

    While you’re at it, explain how any of this was done by libertarian purists who didn’t have to dirty their hands by cooperating with social conservatives. Which ISTR was the whole point of my question.

  • “We’ve become too hyperfocused on economic freedom; it’s not enough. We need to reaffirm our commitment to gay rights, abortion rights…”

    tdb:

    I don’t speak for anyone but myself, and I suggest you do the same; at least – I won’t have myself counted in your “we”.

    Sunfish has you licked – and it’s your footwork that’s at fault; I suggest you re-examine your premises.

  • Paul Marks

    My comment has not turned up – no matter, it was not a good comment anyway (I repented of the main thrust of it by the morning).

    I still do not like the Glen Beck bashing comment (Glenn Beck bashing seems to be all over the media right now – from Jon Stewart to Southpark and NEVER with any specific reference to charges that he has made – sorry mocking the messenger does not make the message false).

    On the civil service.

    Well the option of peaceful orderly reform is closed off – as orders by an elected government will just not be carried out (or will be subverted) by a Gramsci style administrative structure.

    So reform is not going to be “orderly” – as the first action of any new government serious about reform (in the sense of reducing government spending) is going to have to be fire the entire administrative structure and bring in their own people (who will not even know where the telephones are) to actually decide how to close down government departments and so on.

    Can this be peaceful?

    Can one close down the (by then entirely political) Civil Service and just (Andrew Jackson style) bring in one’s own people and try and make sense of even how to cut?

    Or will the whole thing collapse into chaos and civil war? Thus vindicating the Gramsci tactic of the “long march through the institutions” making them entirely political and, therefore, unworkable for a “reactionary” government.

    I do not know.

    First let us help real reformers win in 2010 and 2012 (not Bush clones) then we will find out.

  • Sunfish

    Let me expand on where I was going.

    I think we can all agree on at least a few broad items: that the state has too much power and intrudes too deeply into areas that should not be a matter of state concern.

    For instance, I suspect that we have an unspoken consensus on a few things. Example: that a person should be free to arm himself as he peaceably goes about his business. Some people will say “no restrictions at all.” Others (like me) will say to leave the “no guns while drunk” law or a very narrow prohibited-person law in place, while eliminating all licensing or registration or type-and-configuration restrictions. Or someone else might say to leave the US’ de facto registration (Form 4473) in place but repeal the machine-gun restrictions in NFA ’34.

    Worth fighting about? I don’t think so, not right now, anyway. We are long gone from the point where these differences of opinion are even relevant to anything in the real world. And I would respectfully suggest saving the pissing contest for the point that it pertains to anything in the outside world.

    I realize that trying to organize libertarians and classical liberals is like trying to herd cats[1] but that doesn’t mean having to act like a cross between the Maquis and a bunch of high school cheerleaders.

    Out of curiosity: what’s a “commitment to gay rights?” A notion of a right to not suffer violent assault for being gay? Or a “right” to some special legal-and-tax benefits granted to participants in a particular sort of interpersonal relationship?

    [1] ..which is actually quite easy if you have a $4 laser pointer…

  • indigomyth

    Sunfish,

    //Out of curiosity: what’s a “commitment to gay rights?” A notion of a right to not suffer violent assault for being gay? Or a “right” to some special legal-and-tax benefits granted to participants in a particular sort of interpersonal relationship?//

    I suppose it depends if you believe that it is commensurate with individual liberty to have the state attempt to coerce an individual into a particular form of interpersonal relationship, using tax breaks and legal benefits as bribes. Or, indeed, whether it is a governments right to impose a definition of marriage onto all religious communities.

  • indigomyth, on states powers (or lack thereof): of course you are right on the moral point, but the practical point is that the less centralized the government is, the easier it is for people to move to places more to their liking. You want to have an abortion but it’s illegal in your state – move to the state next door where it is legal. Or vice versa. The big problem now is that there really is nowhere to move, anywhere.

  • indigomyth

    Alisa,

    Yes, I agree that the decentralising is practical. However, it does seem rather, I don’t know, empty to say that the only essential freedom that people have (or should have) is freedom of movement, to go somewhere they can speak freely, or marry freely, or believe freely. All these things are rights everywhere, so it does beg the question of why someone should move from place A, just because the majority of people at place A are infringing on the essential liberties of the minority.

    And, of course, the problem really escalates when the restriction of human liberty is universal, in all localities. This means that no matter where someone moves, they are bound to have their liberty infringed upon.

  • empty to say that the only essential freedom that people have (or should have) is freedom of movement

    It may seem so at first, but if you think about it, it is not empty at all. We can philosophize until the cows come home, but what counts at the end of the day is what happens to real people in real life. Once you stop and think about it in this terms of reality, freedom of movement is the one that ensures all other freedoms, even more so than freedom of speech. Just think what would have happened to the Soviet Union if people were free to leave whenever they felt like it.

  • Oh, and of course I am not saying that this is the only freedom people should have, only that it is the most essential one.

  • Alisa: I would take a different approach and say that there are several interlocking freedoms that don’t mean anything without the others.

    Thinking on this, freedom of movement means nothing without freedom of dissent, because what will it profit you if every other state/country/territory did things in exactly the same way? And freedom of dissent means nothing without freedom of the pocketbook, because what will it mean if I can argue against state-sponsored religion if I still have to pay taxes towards it? And none of these freedoms matter a lick without freedom of assembly and freedom to bear arms, because these are ultimately what guarantees my rights should the government (or a mob) decides to abrogate them.

  • Valerie

    Trb, And I’d rather you be intellectually honest enough to give due respect to those who point out what these social ills cost us-and I’m not talking in terms of taxation.

  • Greogory: again, this is true in theory. The thing is that I am analyzing this based on the premise that people eventually prefer situations in which they are free. Note that I am not saying that they necessarily prefer to be free, but that most of us want things that only all of these other freedoms can give us, and I am talking mostly about material wealth. The fact that many (most?) people don’t really understand that these freedoms are essential for their material wealth is irrelevant to my point, because once the environment is such that our pocketbooks are being constantly hit, we tend to go elsewhere. Why do you think the rest of the world wants to come to the US? For the most part it is not because they care much for freedom of speech or freedom of association.

  • indigomyth

    Alisa,

    //Why do you think the rest of the world wants to come to the US? For the most part it is not because they care much for freedom of speech or freedom of association.//

    Hmm, I had never really considered that. Certainly America is a very attractive place for those who wish to make their fortunes – certainly this seems true of many migrants from Mexico. However, I think that freedom of religion has also played a big role in the US’ attractiveness. All those Jews escaping persecution in Europe during WW2, and today with both Christians and Muslims escaping the repressive regimes in the Middle East. Even the Puritans who settled in America were escaping from tyranny in this country (UK).

  • Yes indigomyth, religion certainly played a major part too, although today less so. First off take Muslims: unlike the few Christians and Jews they are left in the ME, they not repressed there religiously. As to Jews: during WWII, and earlier, during the various pogroms, they did not seek freedom of speech or freedom of association, they sought to stay alive – which is just an extreme case of my ‘material wealth’ argument. And if we stay in the first part of the 20 century, or even earlier, what about all the Christian Italians, Germans, Irish etc. who came to the US in droves? What about the Chinese and the Japanese? I’m not saying that regular people don’t care about lofty ideas and principles in general, but these are usually secondary to the simple matter of survival and improvement of one’s and one’s family’s quality of life. Mobility is key to this.

  • indigomyth

    Alisa,

    //Mobility is key to this. //

    Agreed that it is. However, I am still uncertain as to how this supports the idea that alot of smaller governments (more localised ones) that are concerned with restricting liberty of local people, are preferable to one big one that only concerns itself with defending essential liberties in all localities?

    To take the case of, say abortion. If every locality (state) in the US made abortion illegal, where would that leave freedom of choice, or personal sovereignty? You would still have freedom of movement, but that would movement would not mean anything, because everywhere you move, there would be the same restrictions on liberty?

    Where I am coming from is that, I believe, that no quantity of people have the right to violate your life, liberty or property, be they a local majority, a national one, or even an international one. So I am not sure which should be the focus of libertarian aims: A national (federal) government that defends essential freedoms (like speech or association), or numerous small local governments (State) that restrict essential liberties?

    I can see a situation in which the federal government is reduced to such a level that every state is allowed to govern as it wants, and this resulting in a great increase in repression of essential liberties for the individual.

    But then, I understand that the pragmatic and practical problems concerned with defending liberties, as opposed to devolving government, means that libertarians are forced to accept the possibility of local restrictions of liberty. Seems a pity though.

  • indigomyth

    Alisa,

    //You want to have an abortion but it’s illegal in your state – move to the state next door where it is legal. Or vice versa.//

    I was just considering this, and wanted to highlight a point. When you say vice versa, you mean to say that those who think abortion is wrong should have the right to move to somewhere where abortion is illegal. However, my essential point is that making abortion illegal, in any locality, is wrong, because it denies a woman’s sovereignty over her own body. So, if someone believe that abortion is wrong could still live in a locality where abortion is legal, they could just not have an abortion. Or, they could move somewhere most women choose not to have an abortion, even though it is still legal.

    If we accept that human liberty is an essential right, then is it correct to permit localities (states) to restrict those rights, even if someone could move somewhere else? If we accept that another person does not have the right to restrict your freedom, then why should any state have the power to say that it is acceptable to restrict another person’s liberty?

    I am sorry if I am being dense, but what actually is the advantage of small local governments, that restrict liberty, over a large government that defends liberty in every locality? For example, if it was a choice between a large government that defended freedom of speech in every locality, or a local government that restricted speech in a small area, which would be the better government?

  • Laird

    indigomyth, the flaw in your argument is your “essential point … that making abortion illegal, in any locality, is wrong, because it denies a woman’s sovereignty over her own body.” You may consider that to be an absolute fact, but not everyone agrees, and therein lies the problem. There are those who feel every bit as strongly as you do that abortion denies the fetus “sovereignty over its own body”, or is simply murder. No one is irrefutably right and no one is irrefutably wrong in that argument. Perry is correct in his earlier statement that “it is an unanswerable moral question,” and for you or anyone else to assert that only yours is the correct answer is, in my mind, simply hubris. There has to be room for different people to reach different answers on this profoundly personal moral dilemma without having the answer forced upon him by someone else.

  • indigomyth, I’ll take Laird’s comment (with which I absolutely agree), and add something of my own: in my mind, what Perry said as quoted by Laird is theoretically true of any moral question, because there is no such thing as a universal morality (there are some aspects of various moral codes that are universal, such as ‘no murder’ and ‘no theft’ – but even these are not applicable in a universally uniform manner and under similar conditions). This is one of the reasons why I don’t like the concept of rights, and prefer to instead consider and discuss the concept of agreements/contracts. If you consider the matters you discussed in your comment in this light, you might reach some interesting conclusions – please let me know if it makes any difference.

    One more point:

    However, I am still uncertain as to how this supports the idea that alot of smaller governments (more localised ones) that are concerned with restricting liberty of local people, are preferable to one big one that only concerns itself with defending essential liberties in all localities?

    But that is not at all what I had in mind. Ideally I want no government at all, local, federal – none. Less ideally, ‘one big one that only concerns itself with defending essential liberties in all localities’ would be great, only problem is they don’t stay so limited in their functions for very long, as can be seen from the relatively short history of the US. Then, neither did I say that I prefer smaller local governments ‘that are concerned with restricting liberty of local people’. What I am saying is that all governments eventually tend to become oppressive. When that happens, then the smaller and more localized they are, the greater are the chances that their unfortunate subjects can physically escape their grip. I am not saying that this is ideal (no such thing in life anyway), just that it is less bad than the alternative.

  • indigomyth

    Alisa,

    //When that happens, then the smaller and more localized they are, the greater are the chances that their unfortunate subjects can physically escape their grip. I am not saying that this is ideal (no such thing in life anyway), just that it is less bad than the alternative.//

    Well I completely agree! A big government that is corrupt, and impinges on the liberty of people is obviously far worse than a small government that does the same.

    I have just found this article, which makes interesting reading

    http://www.cato.org/pubs/journal/cj15n2-3-8.html

    //I don’t like the concept of rights//

    Neither do I, which is why I prefer to talk of ‘Essential Freedoms’ – ‘rights’ tend to be described as things owed to people. Freedoms are just the idea of not being forced or coerced into doing things you do not want to.

    Laird,

    //There has to be room for different people to reach different answers on this profoundly personal moral dilemma without having the answer forced upon him by someone else.//

    Indeed, I completely agree. Which is why I believe making abortion illegal in any locality is wrong. By making something illegal, you take away the opportunity for an individual to reach their own conclusion, and make their own mistakes. However, my making it legal, you are not forcing people to have abortion, you are giving them the opportunity to make the mistake, or not to. Making something illegal forces everyone to not do something; making something legal allows those people who want to do something to do that thing, while allowing those people who do not want to do that thing, to not do that thing.

    Let us take drug usage, to avoid the issue of murder of a foetus. People who want to make drug use illegal are trying to deny the opportunity of others to make up their own mind about drugs. However, people that want to make drugs legal are not mandating that all people have to take drugs; they are, in fact, saying that individuals have the right to reach their own conclusions, and that the state has no right to intercede in that experience.

    You notice that Perry said that he did not believe it should be up to the federal OR state government to legislate on the issue of abortion, I presume because he feels (like me) that each individual women should be able to make up her own mind without coercion by the government (either local or national).

    //You may consider that to be an absolute fact, but not everyone agrees, and therein lies the problem. //

    But, I am not a relativist, I am a libertarian, and believe completely in individual autonomy, with the governments only role being to protect individuals from coercion and force by other people or groups of people.

    In order to accept the idea that state governments have the right to restrict drug use, I would have to agree that a person does not have absolute authority over their own body, and to do that would be to not be libertarian!

  • indigomyth, but abortion is in no way comparable to drug use: you are absolutely ignoring the life of the fetus. For people who oppose abortion (I am not necessarily one of them – count me as undecided for now) the fetus is no different from a baby, only it is still inside its mother. Like I said, I don’t necessarily share this view, but I can certainly see the logic. This is why I talk about different moral codes, and why simply talking about essential freedoms doesn’t cover some serious problems (what about the freedom of the fetus/baby to not be killed?): there are some issues that are simply never going to be agreed upon. People who hold these opposing views are best off if they simply part ways and surround themselves with like-minded people, entering into mutual agreements that conform to their world view.

  • indigomyth

    Alisa,

    Yes I realise the unique…difficulties… with the debate over abortion, which is why I switched to drug use.

    So if we take drug use, than my original points stand. That in any jurisdiction, or locality, state or country, the restriction of a persons freedom to do as they wish with their own body is beyond any other persons control (through force of law). So, there is no “right” for someone to live in a state or country that has made drug use illegal, because it is the right of any person within that area to use drugs, irrespective of what any other person believe. There is, in short, no authority to make drug use illegal, in ANY public space, and there is also no authority to make drug use illegal on privately owned property.

    If an area is under private control – in that case everyone choosing to live in that area would have to abide by the private owner/s. A state or county is not a private possession – it is not purchased or exchanged for anything.

  • I’m afraid that one of us may be missing the other’s point, indigomyth. What I have in mind is a collection of entities very similar to the current states in the US, but with severely limited federal power compared to what we have now – which would, in fact be something very similar to what the Founders envisioned. The difference is, I don’t think of them as states, but as groups of people who chose to live in the same area, because their world view is similar in most important areas of life. I also think of mutual agreements rather than of constitutions and laws. In this light, there is absolutely no concept of rights or freedoms, only obligations to abide by the willingly-entered-into agreement. In other words, morality does not even enter here beyond the extent of an individual entering into an agreement in accordance with his personal moral code.

  • indigomyth

    Alisa,

    I think I am beginning to understand! I apologise for my previous slowness, however what you are proposing is so far removed from what one usually considers, that it has been difficult to grasp.

    //I also think of mutual agreements rather than of constitutions and laws. In this light, there is absolutely no concept of rights or freedoms, only obligations to abide by the willingly-entered-into agreement. In other words, morality does not even enter here beyond the extent of an individual entering into an agreement in accordance with his personal moral code.//

    Hmm okay. But what of those people that do not wish to enter into the contracts put before them? Will the other people leave them alone, and let them get on with what they want? I do not see this happening.

    Let me take the issue of drug use once again. There are currently laws enacted which prevent people from taking certain drugs, whether or not they have agreed to those restrictions. In your system, the way things would work would be rather like having being part of a religious group, like the Catholics. They give you a set of rules that you voluntarily abide by, and if you step out of line, you are issued with things to do to rectify your situation. If you wish to leave the group, then you can. This leaving does not require you to move geographically, but rather to leave socially. So, for example, someone could sign a contract saying that they would not use drugs, but this would be a voluantary contract.

    The problem with laws as they currently are, is that they are not voluntarily submitted to, they are forced upon people by the majority. This is wrong. Now, one could construe living in a particular area as tacit consent to abide by the laws of that area, with the option to move out if you wish to not be confined by those rules.

    The problem is that laws being enacted on a universal basis, even at a local level, wouyld mean that moving would not mean escaping from repression.

    If, for example, gay marriage was illegal everywhere in the US, according to your position, that would be acceptable because everyone living in the US, by virtue of living there, would have tacitly consented to those restrictions. Or things like drug use, or religious belief.

    I am afraid I believe too strongly that people have a right to live where ever they can afford, and to do what they want in their own homes. I reject the notion of that by living in a particular area you give tacit consent to the restrictions that the majority have decided on.

  • indigomyth, you and I may believe that we have the right to do this and live there, but the physical reality is such that this belief of ours has no meaning outside of the social context. You can live either in a place where there are no humans, or live in a place where the majority set the rules. In the former case there are non-human restrictions (climate, wild animals – what have you). In the latter, there are also man-made restrictions. Luckily, men are easier to persuade than weather or wolves, but problem is that persuasion is not very effective once you begin talking about your rights, because they might either disagree or not care. What is far more effective is appealing to men’s self interest. This way you can show them why is it a good idea to have all these freedoms you think you have a right to. You cannot sell your point of view to others with subjective arguments, because all others want to know is what’s in it for them – and, needless to say, there is nothing wrong with that. Of course there will always be people who either don’t get it or don’t care. Life is never going to be easy, and we always have to be prepared to either give up and go elsewhere, or to use force to defend what we believe to be our rights/freedoms/homes, whatever.

  • indigomyth

    Alisa,

    Granted, that in the real world we may have to sacrifice moral reality for expediency.

    Thanks for the discourse. You have certainly shown me a different way of viewing things.

    It is also interesting to see how two people with the same ultimate objective can have such differing views on how to achieve that aim!