Wednesday’s Forum

May it be a good day,

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Bill says:
  2. MarkedMan says:

    Mu Yixiao, in another thread you said

    If I had to align myself with any political philosophy it would be libertarianism.

    I respect your comments here. You come from a different perspective than I do but I have no problem with that, in fact being exposed to different viewpoints was why I started reading this blog way back at the start of the gulf war. So I’m asking the following qjestion not as some kind of gotcha but as a serious inquiry: has any libertarian seriously dealt with the Kansas failure?

    For those not aware, the billionaire hobbyist libertarians (Kochs, Mercers) spent tens of millions of dollars over a multi year period to get like minded Kansas State legislatures elected at every level, and captured the legislative majority and the governorship under Sam Brownback, who famously said that if the economic policies they were enacted didn’t lead to prosperity he wouldn’t run again and even if he did voters should reject him. They slashed and burned, lowering taxes, gutting environmental legislation, slashing school and healthcare funding, basically making Kansas as “business friendly” as they could. It didn’t work. Although Kansas started on the recovery after 2008, they lagged behind the surrounding states and far behind states with a more progressive governance. Despite this, he ran again and squeaked out a victory. The schools and healthcare system became basket cases and an embarrassment and the low taxes and lax pollution controls failed to attract any significant number of new businesses or expansions of old ones. Midway through his second term, the legislature started to rebel, and some of them, including Brownback, were tossed out. Kansas lost a decade though, and has never made up the ground to its neighbors.

    When this played out I was interested to see what libertarians would say. I assumed it would be a “No True Scotsman” defense but instead… silence. I haven’t come across anything that even addresses the outcome there. In fairness, I don’t read libertarian leaning sites but I have asked every libertarian leaning person I’ve met if the can recommend a good analysis from a libertarian perspective. So, Yixiao, I’ll pose the same question to you?

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  3. Scott says:

    Everyday a piece of news comes along and makes us go hmmm. Although I work in defense, I didn’t take my thinking far enough on how a pandemic will impact national defense. Here is an example of a major weapon system, USS Theodore Roosevelt essentially being put out of action due to COVID-19.

    US Navy Evacuating Aircraft Carrier Infected by Coronavirus

    The carrier carries about 3000 personnel. But not just the carrier but the entire battle group is impacted.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    From ‘It is ungodly’: students react to Liberty University reopening

    Schama said Falwell’s decision compromises students who want to do the right thing without being insubordinate. She says students have been advised when speaking to the media to remember that Liberty students “are champions for Christ, we are all Christ’s children, and we need to promote ourselves in a godly way”. Schama empathizes with those principles, and believes students should respect authority. However, as a Christian, she feels she has a duty to speak out.

    I’m an atheist, pretty hard core one at that, but I try to respect people’s religious beliefs. I feel like life is hard to get thru, if having faith makes it a little bit easier, *I can find no fault with that.*

    But here’s what I don’t get about so many Christians today: How can one empathize with the principles/values of Jesus, and still respect authority? While being “subordinate”? If there is one thing Jesus was, above and beyond everything else, it is insubordinate. Jesus had no respect for the authority of his day. (and yes, I see the irony of her “speaking out now” as her Christian duty. But why doesn’t she see that as her duty every day?)

    ** what gets my dander up is when somebody tries pushing their religious values on me, tries to make me live by them. Especially under the rubric of “religious freedom.”

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  5. Sleeping Dog says:

    @MarkedMan:

    The other side of your question MM is, if unrestrained libertarianism would provide such great economic benefits, why are California, New York and Massachusetts among the most economically successful states? All are high taxed, with copious rules and regulations regarding environmental, social and labor concerns.

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  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Oh gawd, from Governors Fight Back Against Coronavirus Chaos: ‘It’s Like Being on eBay With 50 Other States’ (NYT)

    “President Trump has taken an unprecedented approach to communicating and working with our nation’s governors,” Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said in a statement when asked about the criticism of Mr. Hogan and others on Tuesday night. “During these difficult times, Americans are receiving comfort, hope and resources from their president, as well as their local officials, because this is an all-of-American effort.”

    It certainly has been an unprecedented approach Judd, I’ll give you that. But among the things we have received from trump, there has been very little comfort, hope or resources. There have however been an abundance of lies, damn lies, and gawd damned lies.

  7. Teve says:

    @Sleeping Dog: The hard-core libertarians I’ve known didn’t make practical or economic arguments for it, they made simplistic moral arguments. “My money is from my work and you have no right to forcibly take it from me because that is theft.”

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  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “I want them to be appreciative,” the president said. “We’ve done a great job.”

    And just once, just once, I’d like to hear a Governor say, “Fuck you Donald, you lying horse’s ass.”

  9. DrDaveT says:

    For anyone still thinking that the cure might be worse than the disease, here’s a new working paper from the most conservative imaginable institution, estimating that the economic value of social distancing in response to COVID-19 is $8 trillion.

  10. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve:

    and you have no right to

    I find that libertarians have a blind spot when it comes to the concept of rights. They seem to think there are certain innate or natural rights that take precedence over all else, with private property rights and the right to be left alone supreme among these. But “rights” are man made. There are no rights in nature other than the right to live under an eat or be eaten regime. All rights are constructs of society, and libertarians essentially say, “These are the rights I want society to guarantee me. F the rest of you, I don’t care what you want.” But since all societies rest on the consent of the governed, this attitude is doomed to failure.

  11. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I’m sure if the coronavirus could be appreciative, it would be.

  12. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan: They also ignore the fact that this isn’t Little House on the Prairie, you’re not out there chopping down trees and building your log cabin with your bare hands, you have that money you made in part because of the whole context of society and previous taxpayers paying for your schools and the government making sure your food wasn’t deadly and so on and so forth.

    Warren Buffett made an interesting point years ago saying that if he had been the exact same person with the same intelligence, the same drive, but born in a rural village in China, he wouldn’t have any billions of dollars. He was only able to make all that money because of the circumstances of the society and economy he was born into. So saying he made it all himself is nonsense.

    Amusingly, when he started saying that stuff, wingers started calling him a communist. 😀 😀 😀 😀

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  13. Kathy says:

    I’ve learned from this pandemic that you can impose social distancing, but you cannot people take it seriously.

    But the worst are the idiots who not only won’t take it seriously, but are amused by it. The idiot always laughs.

    Yesterday it looked like we would stay til around 11 pm. The idiot in question, call him Blanco, complained around 9 that he had a dinner engagement. I pointed out he shouldn’t be going out to meet people under the current conditions. He protested it was his girlfriend, her mother, and some close friends.

    Of course that doesn’t matter. How do you know what they’ve been exposed to? But he didn’t want to listen to that. Instead Blanco began to boast about going out every night, having people over, going to the outdoor market to eat. I suggested then he shouldn’t come to work. He began to mick me for being scared. And eh laughed a great deal.

    I really don’t wish Blanco to catch COVID-19 and die. But if he does, he’ll get no sympathy from me.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @DrDaveT: Lieberals.

  15. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Somethings that we will continue to see played out:

    Liberals : We need bigger lifeboats.
    Conservatives: We need to throw some people overboard.

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  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: I like to think of the corona virus as nature’s way of saying, “Fuck you Donald, you lying horse’s ass.”

  17. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve:Yeah, I think one Barack Obama said it very well:

    If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

    The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

    Interestingly, private fire companies are exactly what libertarians want and have succeeded in getting in some parts of the country. Can’t pay? They will literally let your house burn down. The most libertarian line from that article:

    Firefighters did eventually show up, but only to fight the fire on the neighboring property, whose owner had paid the fee.

    That’s the society that the most hardcore libertarians want, one where every service, every transaction has to be negotiated beforehand and you have to read every tittle and jot of every contract lest expensive lawyers find a loophole. No thanks, I don’t want that at all.

    [Edit: added “the most hardcore” in front of “libertarians”]

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  18. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: It felt strange upvoting that comment given it was about a horse’s ass. But you know what I mean.

  19. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan: I keep hearing references to Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia as the best book on libertarian philosophy, so I finally bought an e copy. (Although I’ve read he later at least partly repudiated it.) It’s next on my reading list, but I did read the third party Foreward and the first few pages. So far I’ve learned that Nozick writes as though he gets paid by the word (looks like this is going to be a slog) and been put off by Nozick’s first sentence being a tautology, “INDIVIDUALS have rights, and there are things no person or group may do to them (without violating their rights).” Just what you pointed out.

  20. Jay L Gischer says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Well, the Zealots, who were political revolutionaries, are mentioned in the Gospels, and Jesus was pointedly not one of them. There’s also the moment where he holds up a Roman made coin and says “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s”.

    So while you aren’t wrong about him being insubordinate, there was a limit to it.

    That said, it’s easy to observe over Christianity’s long history that Jesus has been something of an ink blot – people often see what they want to see in him.

  21. Kathy says:

    IMO, the closest ideology to Libertarianism is Communism.

    Oh, they are diametrical opposites explicitly, no question. But they are also very similar: 1) both rely on untested assumptions, 2) on a narrow, peculiar view of humanity’s character, 3) on an always-on rationality, 4) on an always-on long-term view, 5) and both sound plausible and really, really good when you hear about them, but both fail when tried in real life.

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  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Not to argue with you, but I read ZEALOT: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, and Aslan doesn’t exactly agree with you. It’s good, and he makes some relevant points, but yes, Jesus is an ink blot. So is Muhammad. And Abraham. And…

  23. Bill says:

    The science headline of the day-

    Moon bases could be built using astronaut urine

  24. @MarkedMan: Libertarians kicked the Kochs out of their Libertarian-direction party the USLP decades ago, and the Koch program, while having some nice things (cut taxes) has many anti-libertarian (not Green sensitive). They’re simply not following the Libertarian Program, or work with the Libertarian Program project, and are not formal libertarians/Libertarians by any means.

    You won’t find a Libertarian analysis because why analyze anti-/non-libertarian efforts? Many media and commenters attack what they don’t like as ‘Libertarian’ but never pay attention to what actual Libertarianism is doing.

    The Scots Libertarian party addresses true Scotsman queries. Warning: They’ll drink you under the table.

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  25. @MarkedMan: This discredited article again?

    This is simply untrue. ‘Unrestrained’ Libertarians propose purely private, commons, and commercial options without coercive taxation or regulations. A ‘commercial’ legalized monopoly is not Libertarian. It’s totalitarian socialist/fascist at worst and local corruption at best brought about by the ideas you apparently espouse. BTW, cities deny services to people who don’t pay taxes, talk about that.

    75% of US fire departments are privatized volunteer departments that serve everyone and typically supported by private contributions. That is a good commercial model. So that fire truck already left. For-profit ones generally aid non-users unless forbidden by law (as is the case with most of these reports) and pioneered many improvements all departments are using. Commons ones have benefited enormously from libertarian management programs that focus on prevention, and benefit from the libertarian campaign that deregulated and allowed private home fire measures like alarms and extinguishers. As a result, most of firefighter time is spent on education and prevention.

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  26. DrDaveT says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I find that libertarians have a blind spot when it comes to the concept of rights. They seem to think there are certain innate or natural rights that take precedence over all else, with private property rights and the right to be left alone supreme among these.

    To be fair, the early libertarian thinkers thought that if you made these rights primary, the resulting society would achieve the best balance between liberty and prosperity. The real failing of libertarianism is not that they thought this, but that when it became obvious that this is not true, later libertarians did not abandon libertarianism. (Setting aside for the moment the problem you already noted, which is that the only way to make property rights and the right to be left alone primary is for the government to enforce those rights, which requires having a rather intrusive amount of government… and now you’re well on your way down Hobbes’s path.)

  27. gVOR08 says:

    Richard Epstein, who said the experts are all wrong and we’d only see 500 coronavirus deaths, is continuing his self immolation. It’s turning into a soap opera. Here’s an interview he did for VOX. The thing is, I doubt this is hurting him at all on the right. This interview is largely gibberish. But they’ll see it as too deep for libtards to understand, and they’ll defend him from what they see as coordinated attack on a courageous conservative voice.

  28. DrDaveT says:

    @Robert the Libertarian:

    75% of US fire departments are privatized volunteer departments that serve everyone and typically supported by private contributions. That is a good commercial model.

    Perhaps, but it would not work in a libertarian society, where the community would not be able to afford to support a volunteer fire department that served free riders.

    Commons ones have benefited enormously from libertarian management programs that focus on prevention, and benefit from the libertarian campaign that deregulated and allowed private home fire measures like alarms and extinguishers.

    I am unfamiliar with this history. Could you point me at some references regarding how alarms and extinguishers were prohibited, but these restrictions were later relaxed?

  29. MarkedMan says:

    @Robert the Libertarian: heh. Ok, who is this really?

  30. Mister Bluster says:

    @Bill:..astronaut urine

    If you go where the astronauts go, don’t eat that yellow moon dust…
    Apologies to Frank Zappa RIP

    Cosmik Debris
    The Mothers of Invention with Jean-Luc Ponty

  31. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    75% of US fire departments are privatized volunteer departments that serve everyone and typically supported by private contributions.

    I doubt this. Every Volunteer FD, that I am aware of, relies primarily on local government funding, and are only aided by contributions.
    Do for-profit FD’s even exist? Hard to imagine that business model.
    Pro-tip…Libertarianism sounds absolutely terrific…right up until it is exposed to the real world.

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  32. MarkedMan says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I’m assuming Robert is attempting humor and forgot to put the /sarcasm flag on, because the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about. Libertarians are responsible for a rise in the use of fire extinguishers? Yeah, missing sarcasm flag.

  33. @Kathy: Thank you for the interesting question. I’ve been hearing this since first propounded by Communists in the 1970’s. This may help.

    IMO, the closest ideology to Libertarianism is Communism.

    1) both rely on untested assumptions,

    Totalitarian and ‘democratic’ communism/socialism have been thoroughly tested and proven an immoral and in practice back-firing mess. Not that Dosteyevsky and Oscar Wilde didn’t warn us.

    There’re 3 types of Libertarianism in civics.

    –Libertarian-oriented/liberal societies following the UDHR are doing OK, especially places like Switzerland. The private analogue is the peer-review process.
    –Libertarian-directionalism on model of Florida (no income/small-home tax, open records, direct democracy, etc.) and US Bill of Rights are doing very well. They would like that in least in all nations. Right now a big project is 1st Amendment and entrepreneurship seminars in Islamic Conference nations and China. Considering when libertarians went to work on Florida slavery was still on the law books (1969)and racism a serious issue, so far, so good.

    –‘Pure’ Libertarianism applies to eco-homes/-villages and the focus has been on legalizing and deregulating and often inventing) elements: the internet, LBGT+ and other tolerance initiatives, currency alternatives, Green policies, Gold ownership, ease of use of mutual funds, IRA’s, Basic Income models like Alaska’s, increased ballot access/direct democracy, credit unions/mutual insurance/personal hygiene (a big project of libertarians in the 1800’s), legalizing prepping and home schools/e-learning (suddenly a thing), bringing down the USSR/Iron Curtain and opening up low-cost travel, etc. These seem to be doing extremely well.

    Libertarianism smiles on all social systems so long as fairly voluntary. They’re big on moral reform, wanting to see more voluntary options and frankly disdaining regulation and taxation as currently done as glorified theft or at best, obsolete small-community technology used in the wrong place that typically backfires. Libertarian communist/socialist communes (think Amish, kibbutzim, many condominiums) are a thing. Libertarians work so they and other socio-economies can co-exist on a federal basis. Politically the senior ones are Bill of Rights militants. Again, looks like it tests well.

    2) on a narrow, peculiar view of humanity’s character,

    Libertarianism is explicitly intended to provide a method and constituency (this started 1969) for improvement based on reason and rights-respect for all reasoning creatures including people from other planets, so no. They adapt libertarian approaches to quasi-reasoning creatures. Libertarians in India are working on civil ‘quasi-rights’ of Dolphins and the Supreme Court there is agreeing with their arguments. My experience is that Libertarianism is the most proactive in addressing human variability.

    3) on an always-on rationality,

    Libertarian-oriented societies are intended for average people who ‘muddle through’…protective areas for tribes and the less capable a libertarian thing. But yes, better to be self-aware and reason than not know what’s happening.

    On the other hand I’ve met some very spacey informal small-l libertarian fans who get it and are lovely people who just go with the flow, you know?

    4) on an always-on long-term view,

    While libertarian tools have immediate benefits, it’s true Libertarians often involve extremely long-term views. Libertarians persuaded NASA to inaugurate a 100-year series of conferences on developing a faster-that-light colonization Starship. The Manhattan Beach project and its predecessors got professionals at work on mapping human genomes and studying life extension as a discipline. In 1969 they set a goal of bringing per-person pollution to pre-1790 levels and overall particle-levels the same by voluntary or voluntary-enough means, and it’s working.

    5) and both sound plausible and really, really good when you hear about them, but both fail when tried in real life.

    The current libertarians succeed the Gil-Lemos clan libertario knights that turned back the Islamic invasions in the 700’s and began to spread democratic garden cities dedicated to science and common welfare with core services. The clan in 1969 opened their salons to all persons and there’re now formal Libertarians and liberal fans in every country and most neighborhoods quietly using libertarian eco-tools to better their lives. I could be wrong, but I don’t think they’re stopping now. A libertarian joke is the world is obsessed with immigration control while libertarians have been emigrating to a neighborhood near you for centuries.

    Libertarians in China were first pointing out problems with viruses on their YahooGroup a year ago. Libertarian leaders have been talking about masks, stock market slides, and distancing since January. They revealed that the regulators had ignored their warnings years ago on high respirator and mask inventories being blocked by zany rules. Libertarian management consultants helped set o up a system in 2014 to better communication of officials, commerce, and health leaders to focus on the 20 that got 80% of the result, so for now the country has half the Coronavirus rates of the US and far lower than, say Italy. Libertarians are making or posting YouTubes on home-made masks to NIH specification while the CDC says don’t wear masks and Governors are restricting supplies of masks, medicines, etc !

    My experience is some L/libertarians sometimes look impractical because they’re ahead of the curve sniffing out dangers to us all. I remember when Libertarian Timothy Leary was preaching about the coming internet and getting deregulation so it was possible in the 1970’s. He got the same criticisms then. Others think Libertarians are conservatives because they will also defend traditional lifestyles as well as progressive ones so long as peaceful. If anything, they act more like social umpires. mediators and referees (and are often that literally in their fields) seeing that conservatives and progressives fight fair and better follow the rules of science and due process, and that minority/contrarian voices are heard. There’s a joke among large-L Libertarians: They’re the Umpire everyone want to kill but who see that there is even a game.

    Libertarians are interested in projects that are benign, voluntary and especially volunteer. Senior Libertarians take a pledge of reasoned study, non-coercion, avoiding punishments and promoting and rights-respect, and encourage others to do so as key to betterment of self and societies starting at home.

    I hope this helps…again, thanks for the question, got me thinking.

  34. Grumpy realist says:

    @gVOR08: As I’ve often said before, libertarians for the most part demonstrate little knowledge of history, even less of law, and negative understanding of human behaviour. If libertarianism were in fact the utopia and magic-problem-solver that its devotees have so often claimed it to be, wouldn’t there be at least ONE example of a country that had implemented it and had it last for a reasonable amount of time? (No, and something from 11th-century Iceland doesn’t count, guys. At least pick a country with a population bigger than present-day Chicago.)

    Also, you don’t get to state how wonderfully libertarian the U.S.A. was in the times of the Robber Barons without admitting that it was great only provided you were a) white b) male, and c) rich. Unless you’re willing to live today under the same legal rights (or lack thereof) as a poor black woman would have had in that period, shut your yap.

    The “property rights” that libertarians obsessively insist upon depend upon the existence of a strong police power to implement such rights. And I say “strong” because you do need such things as a legal system with authority and an implementation force to back up its rulings. The weaker and tinier the government, the more likely your “property rights” will be implemented at the whimsy of whoever takes over your power vacuum. Which WILL be warlords/mafia if nobody else occupies the place. It’s warlords or government, guys–that’s the choices.

  35. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Do for-profit FD’s even exist? Hard to imagine that business model.

    Not sure, but there were private fire brigades in ancient Rome. The one run by one Licinius Crassus was absolutely free! They even paid the people whose property burned. Really!

    See, the fire brigade would show up and say “Oh, your wooden building is burning down. What a shame. Say, I’ll put the fire out, if you sell it to me for 20% of its value. No? Oh, too bad. I guess we can talk price after you have a pile of smoldering cinders then.”

    Crassus was the richest Roman who ever lived, at least til that point. He then joined the first triumvirate with Pompeii and Caesar, and was killed in an attempt to wage successful war against Parthia.

  36. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Teve:

    The hard-core libertarians I’ve known didn’t can’t make practical…

    Fixed that for you Teve 😉

  37. sam says:
  38. MarkedMan says:

    @Robert the Libertarian: Wait. You’re serious?

  39. sam says:

    The most intellectually rigorous defense of libertarianism I know of is Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State and Utopia. I’ve seldom seen anyone, other than Julian Sanchez, ever so much as mention it. Probably because it is intellectually rigorous. Anyone who wants to genuinely critique libertarianism should become familiar with that work.

  40. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Kathy:
    The widest use of private FD’s seems to be by rich people in areas prone to wildfires. Kim Kardasians name comes up a lot. These so-called FD’s are really just employees of Insurance Companies. Like I said…terrific, right up until exposed to the real world. Sort of like Trump’s business acumen.

  41. grumpy realist says:

    @Robert the Libertarian: Ever heard of the tort of negligence? Have you ever even run a company that has to worry about the “duty of care” to your customers? If you were to ask multiple businesses, you would find out that a lot of them prefer regulations because the regs provide them with bright-line definitions of what they have to do to satisfy their duty of care. If they satisfy the regulations, then there’s a presumption that the duty of care has been satisfied. Otherwise, if there’s no regulations, they can easily get hauled into a long drawn-out lawsuit quibbling about what is exactly the “duty of care” required in their profession and whether it’s been broken.

    Don’t bitch about the existence of regulations unless you know exactly what you are insisting on opening businesses to the legal risk of. Don’t like it? Complain to England about their coming up with Common Law in the first place. And good luck getting the U.S. away from Common Law.

  42. Michael Reynolds says:

    Libertarianism, the political ideology of young males whose frontal lobes have not yet finished growing, guys with weird facial hair, survivalist nuts and perverts who think it means they can have sex with children.

    As @Grumpy Realist says: show us. Show us a single example of a successful Libertarian nation state. For that matter, show us the flip side: a single major successful nation state that lacks a strong government and a social safety net. Spoiler: there are no successful libertarian nations, and all major, successful nations have large governments with social safety nets.

    Indeed the statement: Managed Capitalism + Social Safety Net = Success is just about 100% true.

    So is the statement: Unmanaged Capitalism + No Social Safety Net = Congo.

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  43. @gVOR08: I salute you.

    My understanding is that the former head of the Libertarian international, Paul Gilson, asked Murray Bookchin, Heinlein, Nozick, Rawls, Ayn Rand, and Murray Rothbard to write treatises or novels on the philosophical foundations of the UN Declarations first 3 rights for societies without Libertarians (since they had not begun being recruited en masse). These thinkers were attendees at Gilson’s Libertarian International/Liberal salons which were a big thing for decades. They respectively made cases for a libertarian-informed communism, minimalist US democracy, a communitarian libertarian approach to law and ethical emergencies, Capitalism and US Constitutionalism, and a voluntary approach based on economics and natural rights without a preconceived government. I happen to know all this, common knowledge among Senior Libertarians, because I was there.

    Nozick writes in a particular style to address many potential FAQs used by analytical US academic philosophers. It takes some getting used to. Since they’re looking at the UN Rights Declaration, his starting point is this assumption, and not a tautology. It’s like starting a review on US Medical standards without libertarian management tools but trying to use them without libertarian consultants starting “There are health standards and if ignored, there’re bad consequences and an assault on dignity.”

    Some might view health as a social construct and not a natural matter, I know.

    Nozick is not very big among Libertarians because he is talking about a libertarian-bare world that no longer exists, but I slogged through it three times and to my mind he has many powerful insights and arguments. In fact, getting used to the style helped me better understand many other US philosophers. I also suggest the John Rawls (Theory of Justice) and Rothbard (Man, Economy, State) along with Bookchin’s ‘Libertarian Municipalism’ and Rand’s ‘Capitalism’ for quite an education. Heinlein’s riff on Plato’s Republic and a Rome-like world run by libertarian veterans trained by reading Spinoza, ‘Starship Troopers,’ was even a tolerable movie (the Spinoza part got dropped from the book, but his wife made sure it was in the movie). Plus read the UDHR, of course.

    Funny story. Rand could outdrink anybody including some of these thinkers except Gilson. Gilson was a heroic drinker who liberated Concentration camps and once drank both her and FDR at one of his salons into insensibility as they sang the Marseilllaise. The way FDR could hold his liquor, that was saying something according to people who were there. But FDR made a great martini supposedly, and I’ve always thought it was a pity Nozick who knew the story didn’t mention this somewhere. I definitely mixed a martini by Chapter 2!

    Good luck with your reading program!

  44. JohnSF says:

    The problem with Libertarianism, and it’s less “fundamentalist” predecessor old style liberalism, is it’s foundation in political philosophy.

    In particular the concepts of fundamental eternal, irrevocable, unassailable individual rights; derived at base from concepts of the “god given”, or of a “social contract”, or of “heritable rights” etc.
    My problem with that, from a conservative and historical and biological perspective is the entire magnificent edifice is built on sand: there was no foundational agreement of social organization, or absolute source of unequivocal rights.
    But rather a process of contingent but constrained evolution and historical developments.

    Maximising liberty as an ethical good is commendable, but subject to very severe limitations of scope due to competing goods, the realities of economies/ecologies (old fashioned political economy needs reviving), practical political arrangements, and the inertia of history.

    a.k.a “you can’t get there from here.”
    “Here” being actual reality.

    For the closest we have to an actual libertarian society, in our sadly flawed reality, I propose Somalia.

  45. Michael Cain says:

    @Robert the Libertarian:

    75% of US fire departments are privatized volunteer departments that serve everyone and typically supported by private contributions. That is a good commercial model.

    Even if I believed this — and a cite would go a long way towards convincing me — it leaves the question of the percentage of buildings with service provided by such fire departments. For example, pointing to a major city that has a private fire department would be useful.

  46. JohnSF says:

    @grumpy realist:
    Spot on.
    Adam Smith and other economists pointed this out early on.
    The rechtstaat (to use a non Smithian term) is an essential foundation for standards as basic as currency, weights and measures, product quality, contracts, limits on non-state coercion, regulation of “externalities”, fair markets and competition rules etc etc.
    Not to mention the economic and personal benefits of formalised military protection.

    Also, less fundamentally, that state provision has often been seen to be the most generally equitable means of providing various other public goods, services and structures, from sewage systems to superhighways, even if they do entail crow-barring coins out of certain pockets.
    “Ooh, wicked coercive force!” protest the libertarians.
    “Shut up and pay up” says everyone else.

  47. RE various comments:

    https://www.nvfc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Anniversary_Publication.pdf page 18 on current % of volunteer fire groups etc.

    Argentina has 80% says https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volunteer_fire_department#Argentina

    Libertarians don’t object to government funding. They object to forcible taxation (they suggest endowments or voluntary taxes) and imposed oligo-/monopolies usually accompanies by off-mission regulations that over-rule personal choice or Jury findings (i.e. You can ONLY have a commons or private fire department the officials permit).

    In the 1970’s many municipalities were standing in the way of home fire extinguishers and fire alarms, apparently looking for tax money. The later chair of the US Libertarian Party, himself a Volunteer firefighter, led several campaigns that broke the back of this practice.

    Commercial Fire Departments are indeed a thing:

    https://capstonefire.com/2018/03/3-things-to-know-about-private-fire-protection-companies/

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rural_Metro My memory is these guys pioneered Green high-visibility trucks, consumer education, getting fire-protection covered by discounted insurance, and other improvements.

    Hope this helps your research.

  48. MarkedMan says:

    @sam: @sam: I don’t actually want to critique libertarianism. As far as I can tell it hasn’t had a single real world success and so doesn’t merit any critique other than as a theoretical exercise and I’ve got better things to do with my time. The one question I asked was how do Libertarians explain the Kansas experiment, trumpeted as the first real libertarian effort in the US, given that it was a fairly spectacular failure? So far the only self identified libertarian (I’m slowly accepting the fact that he is expressing real beliefs and not trying to be sarcastic) who responded to this used the “No True Scotsman*” defense, which is about what I expected. No one else has responded.

    *The No True Scotsman Defense
    A: “No True Scotsman would ever do such a thing!”
    B: “Bet wee Bobbie Brown, born and raised in Edinburgh and counting a hundred generations back into the highlands, did just that.”
    A: “Doen’t matter. If he did that it proves he’s No True Scotsman!”

  49. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Cain: I gotta say, if someone believes volunteer fire departments in the US are primarily funded by donations, their credibility on anything is severely in question. I’ve lived in four towns that were serviced by VFD and the vast majority of operating expenses and capital came from government entities, although they liked to give the impression that the only thing that stood between them and dissolution was the envelopes we sent back every year. Hey, I don’t begrudge them that, because in several cases they really were the first responders and saved lives, but I suspect most of that money went to keep the firehouse bar stocked and a nice TV and cable package in there.

  50. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Robert the Libertarian:
    Nobody disputes the number of volunteer fire departments (or as we call them in New England, cellar-savers) only your claim that they are mostly privately funded. It is complete nonsense. And thus, is your argument.
    The private company you link to, Capstone, is owned by Bowman-Miller Co Inc. a manufacturer of fire suppression equipment. I bet if you could find their annual report you would find they are funded primarily by Insurance Companies servicing rich people in fire-prone areas.
    Libertarianism supported by the fact that Kim Kardashian can hire her own firemen?
    Hardly a private FD in the normal sense of a FD…more like mercenaries compared to the US Military.
    Rural-Metro…an outlier…that also relies on some municipal support.
    If I was trying to justify my belief in a political ideology, and I had to resort to extreme outliers to do it, I would question my belief in that political ideology.

  51. Tyrell says:

    We are in an information overload: saturation point reached. Just about every commercial on tv now relates to Carona.
    “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics” (Mark Twain)

    1
    3
  52. grumpy realist says:

    @JohnSF: I forget who it was who pointed out that “taxes are the price for living in a civilised society.”

    And the reason we have mandatory taxes and regulations is to avoid the free-rider problem. Which libertarians have never managed to avoid when they mutter about “voluntarianism”.

    I also find it ironic when people mention the “Little House on the Prairie” books. The land that such settlers claimed was one of the biggest land giveaways ever carried out by the U.S. government. (In fact, the land that the Ingalls family claimed during “Little House on the Prairie” was actually owned by the Osage and the Ingalls were squatters.) And if people actually read the real history behind the “Little House” family (and not the sweetened-up version produced by Rose about her mother), they would realise exactly how non-libertarian such communities acted when push came to shove and a storekeeper in fact tried to gouge his neighbours with his monopoly on seed corn at the end of winter.

  53. JohnSF says:

    @grumpy realist:
    Definitely, the American West (and other European settler expansions) are solid examples on the limits of non-state “liberty”. For instance determining competing claims of e.g. pioneer ranchers who seized effective ownership direct from Native Americans, or took over where they had been displaced, versus farmers who obtained formal ownership from the military clearances and assertion of dominion of the state.
    Also the plain desire of most settlers for legal authority and enforcement for both security and economic development.
    See similarly Australia, New Zealand etc.

    Compare that example of a relatively strong state with the nominally more empowered but practically weaker state found in early Russian Siberia or Spanish America or Medieval Baltic, reliant on using land grabbing aristocracies to control the colonial zone.

    Generally for the peasants and townsfolk, formal, direct, state authority, was vastly prefereable to being subject to various, and often feuding, baronial warlords.

    The only instance I can think of an arguably “state free” people of a zone of settlement, would be the Cossacks of south eastern Europe, for a time.
    And they were not known for being good neighbours, to put it mildly.

  54. Teve says:

    @grumpy realist: It’s not a perfect example, but I think it helped make my point just fine.

  55. Teve says:

    @grumpy realist:

    they would realise exactly how non-libertarian such communities acted when push came to shove and a storekeeper in fact tried to gouge his neighbours with his monopoly on seed corn at the end of winter.

    Oooooooo, tantalizing. I kinda wanna know what happened now. 😀

  56. Kathy says:

    Now for something completely irrelevant, do you think the phrase “went viral” will still be used once the COVID-19 pandemic is over?

    Already news on FB posts that have gained a large number of views are not described this way.

  57. DrDaveT says:

    @Robert the Libertarian:

    Libertarians don’t object to government funding. They object to […]

    …funding government?

  58. grumpy realist says:

    @Teve: My Google-fu is letting me down because I can’t find the article again which mentioned the episode, but Almanzo (Laura’s husband) and a bunch of the rest of the townspeople basically took over the store, immobilised the storekeeper, informed him that they were taking the seed corn and would pay him the ordinary average price–and that no, he had no alternative.

  59. Kathy says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Didn’t Michael Douglas do something like that in “Falling Down“?

    He did have a gun.

  60. MarkedMan says:

    @DrDaveT: Oh, well played sir, very well played….

  61. JohnSF says:

    @Teve:
    Similar to situations in pre-industrial England or Germany (examples I’m aware of) where, insofar as there was any exercise of an informal, extra-legal, popular will, it was emphatically NOT a respecter of absolute property rights and free markets.
    In some times and places the state also upheld customary rights against market absolutism.
    Even in post-Restoration England where the liberal-ish state generally aligned with property rights, magistrates in a poorly policed country often had more sense than to stand between the “mob” and food if the militia weren’t on hand.

  62. Teve says:

    @grumpy realist: socialism! 😀

  63. JohnSF says:

    @Kathy:
    In the absence of a gun, pitchforks and hedging billhooks can also be powerful persuaders.
    Even if a merchant or a magistrate had a flintlock, the thought “I might get one, then I’m dogmeat” would probably occur.

  64. OzarkHillbilly says:

    75% of US fire departments are privatized volunteer departments that serve everyone and typically supported by private contributions.

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: They certainly are around here.

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    (or as we call them in New England, cellar-savers)

    Exactly. If one’s house catches fire out here, it’s a goner.

  65. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tyrell:

    “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and everything trump says.”

    -OzarkHillbilly

  66. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Q: What do you call the time when trump begins his daily pandemic briefing?

    A: Time to take a break from the news.

  67. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Q: What do you call it when trump utters a truth?
    A: An accident.

  68. Mu Yixiao says:

    Geez… the one day I have to work all day, y’all start talking about me. 🙂

    @Marked Man, et.al.,

    I am not a Libertarian.
    I do not speak for anyone who is.
    I do not claim that libertarianism will lead to utopia

    I lean towards the libertarian philosophy–but I understand the real world.

    What does that mean to me?

    * A small, strong government that mostly stays out of the way
    * Primacy of individual rights (enforced by the government) over nebulous “for the good of the people” legislation
    * The 9th and 10th Amendments

    I have no problem with paying taxes–if they’re used properly and with fiscal responsibility. Building roads, schools, and ifrastructure is something government is good at. I’m in favor of the EPA (though not necessarily how it’s run), the military, and NASA. I’m also in favor of SpaceX, Blue Horizon, and Virgin Galactic–who are blowing NASA’s old way of doing things out of the water on progress in space exploration. And I understand the need for an international organization–paid for with tax dollars–to make sure that space doesn’t get so cluttered that we can’t get there anymore.

    I think the government has no business telling me what I can eat, drink, or smoke. But it’s entirely reasonable for them to set up basic standards of safety.

    I think the government has no business telling me who I can consensually do business with, have sex with, or marry. But it’s entirely reasonable for them to set up a minimum age for those things to help make sure it is consensual.

    I think the government has no business telling me whether or not I can braid someone’s hair, hand out food to the homeless, or have musicians record a song in my home.

    Just like Trump does not represent all conservatives, and Bernie doesn’t represent all liberals, the Ayn Rand-spouting “purists” you guys are talking about do not represent everyone who’s attracted to the ideas behind libertarianism.

  69. Mister Bluster says:

    In a recent post Tyrell said he was going out for “fire ant stuff” and later to the QT for coffee.
    The Wiki P page for Quick Trip lists Texas as a state where QT operates. Unless I am mistaken Texas is the only state on the QT list that is visited by fire ants.
    Nasty little fuckers that they are.
    So…anybody got any other clues about where Tyrell might call home?

  70. Mu Yixiao says:

    Regarding volunteer fire departments:

    On the one hand, I’m not sure what point Robert is trying to make. On the other hand saying they’re “paid for with tax dollars” also misses the point.

    Volunteer emergency services (FD, EMS… other?) are independent organizations who enter into negotiated contracts with one or more municipal government. They’re the same as the leasing company that provides copy machines and the janitorial service that cleans City Hall.

    Municipalities can renegotiate or even contract with a different service. The village down the road has done just that. They contracted with police from one city for a while, then went somewhere else when that contract ended. They’ve entered into 2 simultaneous contracts for EMS coverage–one with the service located in our city, and one with the service located in a larger city on the opposite side.

    Here, the EMS and FD enter into contracts with local organizations to provide coverage during major events (the city fair being the biggest). They also teach classes, provide training to business and organizations, rent out their facilities for meetings and events, and do consultation work.

    We, as a collection of communities (FD and EMS cover 3 & 4 municipalities respectively, and have reciprocity agreements with bunches more) have agreed to let our elected governments engage in collective bargaining with these services. And at least one of the communities has said “We don’t like the service we’re getting, find another one”.

  71. Mu Yixiao says:

    @MarkedMan:

    So I’m asking the following qjestion not as some kind of gotcha but as a serious inquiry: has any libertarian seriously dealt with the Kansas failure?

    I have no clue.

    And I can’t answer anything about it because I’ve never heard of it before, much less have any detailed information or insight on which to build an answer.

  72. Michael Reynolds says:

    At a point where we need much, much more national and international co-operation, it takes a special kind of stupid to be pushing libertarianism while people die because of weak governments.

  73. gVOR08 says:

    @Grumpy realist: Did you meant to address that to me? All I said was that I was going to read Nozick’s book.

  74. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    The other side of your question MM is, if unrestrained libertarianism would provide such great economic benefits, why are California, New York and Massachusetts among the most economically successful states?

    I’m not sure how you define “economically successful”, but…

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau:

    California had a debt of $151,715,007,000 in fiscal year 2015. The state debt per capita was $3,891. This ranked California first among the states in debt and 14th in per capita debt.

    New York had a debt of $137,369,089,000 in fiscal year 2015. The state debt per capita was $6,956. This ranked New York second among the states in debt and sixth in per capita debt.

    Massachusetts had a debt of $75,307,661,000 in fiscal year 2015. The state debt per capita was $11,100. This ranked Massachusetts third among the states in debt and first in per capita debt.

    Being $364.4 billion in debt is not what I call a “successful economy”.

  75. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’m not “pushing” anything.

    And nothing in what I’ve stated about my personal preferences in government precludes strong international cooperation.

    To quote from my own post: I believe in “A small, strong government”.

  76. Teve says:

    California had a debt of $151,715,007,000

    Against a GDP of 2.751 trillion. That’s a debt to GDP ratio of 5.5%. That’s like making $50,000 a year and only owing $2,750 on your mortgage.

  77. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Michael Reynolds: \

    I’m signing off for the night, but… Okay, I’ll bite:

    How does…

    * Requiring 1,500 hours of class and a license from the government to braid hair
    * Requiring a mortician’s license to build coffins
    * Requiring a taco truck to have 3 stainless steel sinks and hot running water
    * Requiring a license from the government to share diet recipes online
    * Prohibiting home-owners from planting vegetable gardens in their front yard
    * Prohibiting farmers from selling raw milk to amateur cheese-makers
    * Prohibiting charities from providing sandwiches to the homeless

    …prevent us from engaging in national and international cooperation in the fight against COVID-19?

    I’m on furlough this week, and rather than add to the burden of an already over-taxed unemployment insurance system, I’ve chosen to help out at the local grocery store. I won’t be back online until at least mid-afternoon tomorrow.

    Of course, I’ll first have to catch up on writing and editing articles for the small newspaper I publish (at a loss). And then I need to check in with the local bank and local food bank about the project I set up to get some of those stimulus checks that are going to rich families donated to the families that need basic necessities.

    Then I might have some time to read how more government will fix this.

    So take your time.

  78. Kathy says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    You know, I’ve found a much weaker desire to win the internet at all costs when I don’t take things personally. So this is not directed at you:

    Regarding regulations, there should be a tiered or progressive, if you will, approach. That is, smaller businesses should be regulated less stringently than bigger businesses, and they should be given more exceptions.

    I worked for a smallish company for years, and some of the regulations, from the way taxes are reported to safety issues, were hard and expensive to implement, and only occasionally made sense.

    Then I went to work for a large company, and the effort and relative expenses involved were completely different, even though this new company had to observe more regulations due to the business it was in. Also most of the regulations involved make sense most of the time.

  79. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    I wasn’t actually directing that at you.

    Licensing requirements are often silly. 10% silly is not an argument for 0%. It’s only an argument for -10%. But most of what you detailed doesn’t even rise to that level, because it’s either not government, or makes perfect sense.

    If there’s a problem growing veggies in your yard I’d talk to the homeowner’s association. And it’s simply nonsense to say we can’t share recipes online, I do it.

    However health requirements for food trucks make a great deal of sense, and I hope they are strictly enforced. Raw milk is a health risk, especially in a country with feedlot dairies, and I’m glad government restricts it. As for ‘prohibiting charities from providing sandwiches to the homeless,’ does the charity have a code kitchen? If not, are you going to pay for the ER visits from botulism and salmonella? Because the CDC estimates that each year 48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die.

    In fact, if that’s your best examples I’m not impressed.

    So yes, we need more government, not less. Because right now, with half-assed leadership and federalism we are leading the world in coronavirus infections. Our death rate is five times as high as South Korea, where quick government action saved many lives. Indeed it’s the reflexive American contempt for government that is going to end up killing a very large number of Americans. One volunteer with hepatitis can put a hell of a lot of homeless people in the hospital – at public expense.

    Incidentally: And then I need to check in with the local bank and local food bank about the project I set up to get some of those stimulus checks that are going to rich families donated to the families that need basic necessities. Is something I suggested right here a couple weeks back. It’s a worthy program, I wish you success.

  80. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: California is the 6th largest economy in the world. Not the US, not the western hemisphere, the world.

    That is what one calls a successful economy.

  81. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: yes but they have a silly rule about making sure food trucks don’t poison you. Therefore, the only sensible thing to do is disband the EPA and allow Duke Energy to dump heavy metals into the water supply, let Ted Kaczynski buy C4, eliminate social security… 😀

  82. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: Sadly yes, and now I have a headache from all the head/desking.

  83. DrDaveT says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    A small, strong government that mostly stays out of the way

    Let me start by saying that I used to lean libertarian myself, and even be annoying to others about it. It has been noted in the past that there is no zealot like a convert, so be patient with me.

    It seems to me that “strong” and “mostly stays out of the way” are not compatible. A government is strong only to the extent that it exerts influence; if it sits back and does not interfere, it is not strong (and will not retain the ability to exert influence). If it exerts influence on behalf of others, rather than of its own impetus, it is likewise not strong.

    That said, I don’t thing strong/weak is the right spectrum. The real question is not how strong a government should be, but rather which specific things it should interfere in. You were getting at that with your list of things you think government ought (not) to regulate.

    I think the government has no business telling me what I can eat, drink, or smoke. But it’s entirely reasonable for them to set up basic standards of safety.

    Again, there is a contradiction here. It is not safe for you to eat/drink/smoke many things you might want to. In a dog-eat-dog world, you would harm only yourself, so the government should have no say. Once we start providing public goods and establishing safety nets at public expense, there’s a moral hazard here. It’s easy to provide no healthcare for anyone. It’s hard to provide public-subsidized healthcare for everyone. It’s impossible to provide liver transplants only for people whose personal choices didn’t factor into their needs for liver transplants; the overhead eats too much of the benefit.

    I think the government has no business telling me who I can consensually do business with, have sex with, or marry. But it’s entirely reasonable for them to set up a minimum age for those things to help make sure it is consensual.

    Sounds right to me. When government does otherwise, it’s because of regulatory capture. More on that below. ETA: but the government does have a good reason to tell you who you can’t refuse to do business with, once you set up in business.

    I think the government has no business telling me whether or not I can braid someone’s hair, hand out food to the homeless, or have musicians record a song in my home.

    This is an interesting set of examples. Do you believe the government has any business telling you whether or not you can remove people’s tonsils, or clean their coronary arteries? The rest is a series of slippery slopes, where clear public interest lapses into regulatory capture by guilds. Barbers/hairstylists require licenses because the hair-do guild managed to convince the government that there is a public health issue here. Were they right? At the time, perhaps. Today? It’s hard to make the case.

    I would argue that regulatory capture — where the government makes rules that serve the interests of a particular special interest — is an example of weak government, not strong. A strong government would not bend to the will of special interests, be they commercial guilds or particular religions.

    This is a prime opportunity to end with a quote from Adam Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. From Book 1, Chapter 10:

    “Whenever the legislature attempts to regulate the differences between masters and their workmen, its counsellors are always the masters. When the regulation, therefore, is in favor of the workmen, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when it is in favour of the masters.”

  84. gVOR08 says:

    Guv DeSantis finally declared a state wide shutdown in FL. It’s kind of half assed. Partly because that’s just the sort of guy he is and partly because he’s trying to have it both ways, bowing to reality while trying not to piss off the Tea Party base. It’s targeted at individuals, no travel for non-essential reasons, but doesn’t order businesses closed except restaurants and gyms closed a few weeks ago. It doesn’t define essential. And he seems to be saying no state level enforcement. He’d much rather that onus fall on city and county officials.

  85. Kathy says:

    I’m royally pissed off. Several government agencies keep publishing invitations for proposals, and we keep attending them.

    We’re being exposed unnecessarily. Laws vary, but just about any government agency at any level can skip the open invitations if they have a reasonable justification. They can instead ask for price lists, which can be sent by email, and pick among a few suppliers. They can award a short-term contract to their existent supplier. All of them can do this, too, in case of emergency, like the current health emergency we’re living through.

    I’m angry I’m being exposed unnecessarily, but also the idiots at these agencies acquisition departments are exposing themselves.

    They’re not even cutting back on delivering samples or making visits to delivery places, which are mostly unnecessary. It’s literally insane.

    Ok. I’m done with this rant.

  86. grumpy realist says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Actually, one of the reasons hairdressers became licensed is because of the large number of chemicals they handle for dyeing hair, relaxing hair, perming hair, etc. You mix the wrong set of stuff together, Mr. I-watched-how-to-do-this-on-YouTube-and-that’s-enough-training, and you end up with asphyxiated customer if not poisoned customer.

    (There’s also the fact that you can injure someone’s neck if you don’t know how to hold his/her head properly over the sink. My neighbor was permanently injured by an incompetent chiropractitioner for a very similar reason.)

  87. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @DrDaveT:

    That is a good commercial model.

    For a town of about 3000 people who only need to have one truck. In cities closer to the population of mine (12,000) and larger, I suspect it doesn’t work as well–if for no other reason than that the station nearest to my house needs 3 trucks. Fortunately, we agreed to tax ourselves for a fire district so that we and people close to us who live in unincorporated areas between our town and the next one, don’t have to wonder whether the volunteers will arrive in time.

  88. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: No, merely the actions of a governmental body acting to impose reasonable limitations on advantage gained by speculation in a very Adam Smithian sense. 😛

  89. MarkedMan says:

    @Mu Yixiao: I would guess most people here agree with your sentiments in a broad sense. I know I do, and I consider myself a progressive. The devil is in the details, of course.

    It seems “libertarian” has evolved to be similar to “conservative” or “christian” for that matter: a label chosen by people of such disparate beliefs that it no longer means anything with respect to the original Libertarian Party’s beliefs.

  90. MarkedMan says:

    @Mister Bluster: I was definitely once bit by fire ants on a stoop in Atlanta

  91. MarkedMan says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Why? Who is more likely to be financially successful, someone with a million dollar mortgage on a two million dollar house or someone with a $250K mortgage interest a $300K house?

  92. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Mister Bluster: I believe he lives in North Carolina. Fire ants can be found in almost every state down this way.

  93. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Mister Bluster: Quick Trips are also over the Atlanta Metro area.

  94. Mu Yixiao says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Actually, one of the reasons hairdressers became licensed

    2 points:

    A) I wasn’t talking about cosmetologists. I was referring to people who braid hair–putting in extensions, mostly. They’re required to get a cosmetology degree in most states–when all they’re doing is braiding hair.

    B) Cosmetology degrees can require up to 1500 hours of class. The average EMT requires 150.