Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Quote of the Day

“The free man owns himself. He can damage himself with either eating or drinking; he can ruin himself with gambling. If he does he is certainly a damn fool, and he might possibly be a damned soul; but if he may not, he is not a free man any more than a dog.”

~G.K. Chesterton

HT: Matticus Rex


At 6/19/2012 9:35 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

So anything short of complete anarchy is slavery. Got it.

At 6/19/2012 9:48 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

So, leaving even the most personal and ordinary decisions to individuals is "anarchy" in the minds of leftist thugs.

Got it.

At 6/19/2012 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Language goes a long way to thinking properly about freedom. This is why I hate it when people use the language that the government let's people do things (like the government let's people keep part of their income), when the reality is that citizens let the government do things. We are a people with a government, not subjects with rulers.

At 6/19/2012 10:06 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

i'm with methinks.

personal choice does not abrogate personal rights.

good law comes down to 2 things:

do as you have promised.

do not harm others and their property.

so long as you do those 2 things, the rest ought to be up to you.

that is not anarchy. that's called liberty.

that fact that fellow like steve cannot see the difference is precisely why we keep winding up with jackbooted leftist thugs hijacking democracies "for their own good".

At 6/19/2012 10:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

methinks and morgan,

I think one of the main problems with people like Steve is that libertarians pretty much implicitly believe in property rights and the sovereignty of the individual. Without this being spelled out, Steve and others like him simply assume that libertarians are anarchists.

The other problem is the even when this is explicitly spelled out, people like Steve have a hard time understanding what property rights are and their implications.

In the first scenario, I have some sympathy with Steve, but ignorance can be corrected. In the second, I have very little because stupid can't be fixed.

At 6/19/2012 11:02 AM, Blogger morganovich said...


in many cases, i think it goes further into a deep paternalism.

WE know what is best for YOU and feel entitled to use force to impose our views upon you for you own good.

they don't even see it as evil or tyrannical or even wrong. they see it as doing you a favor for which you should be grateful.

i had a series of debates about this over the weekend with a good friend who is a very smart guy, was top in his law school and works for the UN.

he is simply unable to conceive that liberty ought to trump "best interest paternalism". he believes, deep down, in subjective public policy about what is good for us and that some choices (like heroin) simply should not be allowed. of course, he can come up with no objective standard to determine these things and falls back on "enlightened democracy and leaders" as a valid source of "public policy". ironically, he freely accepts that such limits ought not apply to speech.

i found his arguments tangled, contradictory, and inconsistent. i have never heard any valid first principles argument for why the state OUGHT to have the power to limit my choices when they do not harm others.

"Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."
George Washington

At 6/19/2012 11:09 AM, Blogger morganovich said...



i fear folks like my friend most in many ways.

he is well meaning, reasonable, and intelligent. but he also has some switch flipped i his head that ever shall make him believe that government not only has the right to but SHOULD take away my liberty for my own good in many cases subjectively determined by enlightened government.

the whole point of rights is to defend us from the carnival misrule of a tyrannical majority, even a well intentioned one.

the scariest tyrant is one who does not even know he is doing it as he insidiously captures public agencies and sleeps well at night feeling he has done good.

he's reasonable and measured, but provides the slippery slope upon which future outrages come sliding down at you.

we mandate seat-belts because it seems like an obvious good idea. i think wearing a seatbelt is a great idea. i always do so. but it's a terrible law.

it provides the precedent for banning sodas, or violent sports, or whatever. it makes my behavior subject to subjective democratic will for my own good.

it's one thing to stop me from harming another, but if, as the quote in mark's piece states, i own myself, then my personal harm is up to me.

At 6/19/2012 11:50 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

Ken, you make good points, but I'm with Morganovich on this one.

I guess you could make this a property rights issue, but only if you believe that human beings can ever be property. In that scenario, Steve Hamlin believes that some human beings are the property of an elite minority of human beings. The way dogs are :)

Given the quote, I think Morganovich is right that it's an issue of paternalism. Not quite ownership of another person, but the right of an elite to impose its fascist ideas on an individual. In that scenario, Steve Hamlin believes that anything that hampers radical authoritarianism (anything less than the most complete autocracy) is anarchy.

At least this is the only conclusion I can reasonably draw from his comment. And, to be honest, from the comments of a lot of the crunchy granolas from what I consider my American hometown.

At 6/19/2012 12:48 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Quite a bit of attacking. The GKC quote is absolutist in that any curtailment of personal choice results in man living like a dog.

My point, and my belief, is that is not so. That doesn't mean the only other scenario is "radical authoritarianism". Come down off that ledge...

I'm glad that commonly-hired folks test my drinking water to ensure it's safe. I'm happy that my freedom to unknowingly breathe and eat lead is limited.

I also think Mayor Bloomberg's soda ban is ridiculous. Does that contradiction make your head explode?

Philosophical question for methinks, morganovich, Ken, et al: what does your use of libertarian mean, if it is different that government=NULL? Are there any mandatory rules that are enforced by some large portion of society? Isn't that not_liberty, then?

My original point was simply pointing out the absolutist position inherent in GKC's quote.

At 6/19/2012 1:12 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

First of all, Steve, to have clean drinking water available is quite different than actively preventing a man from lapping up water from the nearest puddle if he so chooses. Do you see the difference?

Your opposition to Herr Bloomberg seems to imply that you do. Your original quote implies that you don't.

Second, government is not required to "commonly hire" people to ensure the safety of water or prevent you from rolling around in lead paint chips. Whatever one's favoured level of government is, it is not required to perform the functions you noted.

You just have a hard time imagining a world where your betters aren't leading you around by the nose.

At 6/19/2012 1:13 PM, Blogger Mike said...


If you actually listened as much as you talked, you wouldn't have written your last post. In this case, there are only 9 comments and you didn't even take the time to consider what people were saying before inserting yourself again.

Morganovich wrote:
"good law comes down to 2 things:
do as you have promised.
do not harm others and their property."

Dirty water and air from someone else harms you and your property. I won't speak for him, but he'd have a hard time being consistent if he didn't think that some protections by the government weren't needed/wanted in at least some cases.

What part of that incredibly simple philosophy makes your head explode? Why does someone like you get to be a "contradiction" but find it necessary to take simple quotes as absolutist when they come from others? If I had to guess, I'd say that sense of superiority is exactly what makes you think you can dictate to people what they can and can't do.

At 6/19/2012 2:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm glad that commonly-hired folks test my drinking water to ensure it's safe.

You're assuming that anything done in the private sector will just be done without any concerns for safety? Are you really saying that without regulation, any water supplied to me is suspect or at least more suspect than that supplied to me by government?

The main fallacious assumption you and your ilk make is that if the free markets fail, government won't. This is not logical. Government officials, without fail, have less information than local actors in nearly all free market transactions, yet your assumption is that government will make a better decision? Ha!

I'm happy that my freedom to unknowingly breathe and eat lead is limited.

This is pure and simple ignorance. Government environmental law can lay claim to very little, if any, improvements to clean air. The rate at which pollution levels were dropping were not changed at all with the passage of the Clean Air Act regulations, regulations that went into affect in 1970, 1977, and 1990.

what does your use of libertarian mean, if it is different that government=NULL

At the national level, national defense and to prevent the different states from treating residents of other states the way the federal government treats foreign born people, and a judiciary to deal with federal laws and interstate conflicts. At the state and local level, to provide for a police force and fire department, as well as a judiciary to provide for an unbiased third party during disputes.

At the federal level, the constitution provides a pretty solid guide for what the federal government can do (read the 10th amendment if you're unfamiliar with what the constitution authorizes the federal government to do and powers it doesn't authorize it to do). Most state constitutions do a fine job as well. The main problem is that legislators and executives routinely ignore the restraints of these documents and are encouraged by people like to do just that.

At 6/19/2012 2:37 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

to amplify mikes point:

selling leaded water violates both my rules in all likelihood.

first off, anyone who failed to define what "water" meant before they bought it is a fool. you'd demand X in chemical levels. having it full of lead breaks a promise.

second, that breach causes harm. that said, i think you SHOULD be free to buy water with lead in it if you want to. you should not be able to serve it to me without telling me, but hey, if you want to drink it, knock yourself out.

the fact that you cannot see that "good idea" and "what you want" is not the same as "good law" and "what everyone wants" is precisely why you are missing the meat of this issue.

you make the jump from "i want" to "i am going to force you" without seeming to notice you have done it.

At 6/19/2012 2:47 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

I think one of the main problems with people like Steve is that libertarians pretty much implicitly believe in property rights and the sovereignty of the individual. Without this being spelled out, Steve and others like him simply assume that libertarians are anarchists.

But that is what anarchistsof 'our kind', as Jeff Rigenbach would put it, believe in. The individual is sovereign. Property rights are absolute.

There is nothing wrong with that type of anarchy. Most people get confused because they think of anarchists as the European version of big-whiskered leftist thugs who throw bombs. To them a true anarchist is someone who thinks and acts like Johann Most. To some of us a much better representative would be someone like Murray Rothbard.


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