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Comment Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score 1) 701

The US badly needs something like the Swiss referendum and initiative, where the population can overturn pretty much any government decision, although the executive ones are harder to get at because it goes indirectly. I think that'd shut up the "sole arbiter" complaints (disclosure: I'm Swiss). And if you then also increase transparency and accountability of the government agencies, the whole Libertarian Party starts to look as silly as it would if we had one over here.


If there is any transparency and accountability left in the US federal government, it is fading very fast. I mean, Obama recently appointed a former Monsanto executive as Commissioner of Foods for the Food and Drug Administration, and Tom Wheeler, a powerful lobbyist for the big cable and wireless corporations, was appointed head of the Federal Communications Commission. And, of course, even the most mundane documents from these bureaucracies is categorized as "classified", and of course Edward Snowden is now in hiding for revealing the collaborations between the NSA, AT&T, Verizon, and Israeli technology companies.

And all this corruption is why libertarian ideas are becoming more popular in the US.

Comment Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score 1) 701

You must have missed the 1920s and 1930s in American history.

Ah, yes. "Trust busting"? The fact is, Standard Oil was already LOSING market share before a government bureaucrat decided that he could satisfy his ambition by attacking them. And, of course, back then we had books like "The Jungle" to get people all afraid and beg to give up their rights for protection from the government - they do that these days with CNN and Nightline. And of course, those problems were solved with private citizens banding together and forming unions, not with government intervention. That's the whole "informed society" and responsibility of the populace piece that all free societies require to function properly.

The problem with benevolent governments is that when they get powerful enough there is no incentive for them to be benevolent any more.

Comment Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score 1) 701

I'm amazed at all the ridiculous straw men that people come up with to justify the police-state / nanny-state / overbearing government activity. Playing loud music at 3AM is nothing like a natural right exercised without imposing on others - it is a clear over-the-line case, as in one person violating someone else's rights (the "quiet enjoyment" part of natural property rights). As the saying goes, your right to swing your fist ends at my nose.

At least in your case you didn't try to conflate libertarianism with anarchy, like many others. I'll give you a real-world example with a little less clarity. What if I want to grow vegetables in my front lawn, but the local government has passed a zoning rule that says I can't. And they enforce it by imposing a fine every day that passes that I have not ripped up the vegetable garden and planted "approved" flora. This is happening in many places right now. What do you think, should the collective, that want to require certain "standards" for residential property, be able to impose that kind of rule on the individual's right to use his own personal property as he sees fit, when it violates the rights of no other person, but only the "ideal" drawn up by a few local representatives?

Comment Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score 1) 701

So you would prefer to remove government from the equation and leave society to the direct control of the wealthy and well-connected families and individuals at the top?

Straw man. I suppose you would prefer to remove private enterprise from the equation and have the government confiscate all property and means of production, to be ruled by well-connected families and individuals at the top?

Comment Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score 1) 701

We'll agree that the USA doesn't get it right nowadays, but that simply means we should fix the government, not aim for perpetual anarchy and right of strength.

No need for the anarchy straw man. I'll just prop up my totalitarian state straw man and tell you we should fix the government, not aim for total government control over all rights and property.

Comment Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score 2) 701

1. What is an overall tax rate that does not qualify as "overly burdensome"?

Wrong question, as you know. The burden has nothing to do with the rate, but with the code. If you're middle income, you work from 1/3 - 1/2 of your time for the government. If you're wealthy, you can pay no taxes at all, or get tax credits for NOT growing crops on the 1200 acre estate you had no intention of growing crops on, hire tax accountants to take advantage of other benefits, or if you're really well-connected you can get a lot of funding from the treasury to create jobs in other countries.

2. Your claim that "we had all of that before 1913" seems questionable:

And yet it's true, so you simply tried moving the goal posts. Most of the "solutions" you mention after 1913 were to address problems that didn't exist before then, and speculating that the federal government HAD to have 20% of all the private income to address them is pure speculation. There was plenty of welfare before the welfare state, but it was done VOLUNTARILY (and much more efficiently) by philanthropists. Your default assumption is that every problem requires government to solve it. Mine is that most problems are a result of government, including much of the pollution problem (the vast majority of EPA super-sites military bases). We even had plenty of pure scientific research, but you seem to think that requires a government committee. Social Security was a government solution to a problem created by government. The Federal Reserve was created in 1913, and it bankrupted the country by 1929. The VA still does a lousy job of taking care of veterans, but it solved the problem of the actual military services being burdened with caring for servicemen, like they should have done. Don't even get me started on Lyndon Johnson's horrible policy decisions. You seem fond of SS, but entirely forgiving of Johnson for raiding it. And OSHA is nothing but another tool for targeting political opponents, like the IRS has now admitted to being. What did they do for me when I was unable to work do to RSI? Nothing. Useless waste of money that I contributed to for 20 years and then told me "tough shit".

We were much better off before people started relying on the benevolence of faceless bureaucracies.

Comment Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score 2) 701

No, I mean 1913. The 1861 tax was temporary (it was repealed the following year), a failure for revenue generation (it was allowed to expire in favor of tariffs, which generated revenues more reliably), and in 1895 SCOTUS declared the provisions taxing income from property were illegal. Also, it didn't pay for any of the things the OP mentioned - it was a temporary tax used only for killing 700,000 Americans.

So taxing income from anything except wages was actually illegal until the 16th Amendment was ratified. The people went along with ratification because it would "always only affect the very wealthy".

Comment Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score 1) 701

That's what the warlords told their slaves, and what the kings told their serfs, what the Aztecs told the parents of the children they sacrificed. It's the old argument from tyrants that it's for the "good of the people" that people must suffer. The suffering is never for the rulers, of course.

How amusing that the changes you seek would destroy social mobility and send us right back to the days of feudalism that you're so desperate to avoid, where the poor live only at the charity of the rich. Your sig is well-earned.

It's telling that you think that, because it is entirely wrong. Social mobility has been declining in the US in direct correlation with the size and power of the federal government. We are living in a subtle form of elitist control, a collaboration between big business and government implemented by wealthy and well-connected families and individuals at the top of both the corporate boards and the government bureaucracy. THAT system is what is returning us to the days of feudalism, and the only way to counter that is to reduce the size and scope of the federal government.

Comment Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score 1) 701

We had all of that before 1913, when the income tax was implemented. I never said I opposed taxation, and I don't. I do oppose overly burdensome taxation, and that is what we have now. Our current tax system is not based on generating revenue for the things you listed, it's designed for social engineering of the people, for promoting wars, providing privileges to certain corporations and industries, and general control of the populace.

Comment Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score 2, Insightful) 701

In the USA, 99% of the means of production is owned by 0.1% of the population. Can't see why that is a priory any better.

And 92% of all statistics are made-up, including this one. Production in the US is still primarily driven by small business, not large corporations. The more regulations from Washington pile up, however, the easier it is for corporations to shut out any competition.

Comment Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score 3, Insightful) 701

#1 - What do you say to the phrase "Taxation is the price we pay for civilized society"?

That's what the warlords told their slaves, and what the kings told their serfs, what the Aztecs told the parents of the children they sacrificed. It's the old argument from tyrants that it's for the "good of the people" that people must suffer. The suffering is never for the rulers, of course.

Ezra Klein is disingenuously being deceptive. He quotes a Hayek passage that saying that a "comprehensive system of social insurance" can be supported as if Hayek was talking about health insurance, which is of course laughably false. He was talking about a limited safety net and government support for victims of natural disasters and the like. It's just BS. Hayek's grudging nod to the necessity of a bare-minimum welfare mechanism for the very neediest in society was not an endorsement of the kind of welfare state currently in evidence, with the IRS enforcing pages of Cadillac health benefits for any "qualifying" insurance, and taxing every implementation of any health provider or consumer up and down the line.

#3 - What other forms of liberty deserve protection? The right to vote? The right to participate in society? The right to have your money, and not your skin color or gender or sexual preference, determine whether or not you can patronize a business?

Individual liberties all deserve protection, collectivist liberties are justifications for tyrannical leadership. Voting, having a say in governance, and other "participation" in society is a necessary duty of individuals for any free society. The current overly burdensome government is a result of too little participation by too few. In the "society" that you seem to be advocating, that "money" isn't even "yours" - it's just an allowance from your ruling overlords.

Note that racism and other forms of discrimination was institutionalized by the very same government that you seem so willing to put in place as the sole arbiter of fairness. It was the moral and religious institutions in the United States that fought for the end to slavery and championed civil rights for all races, and they were opposed at every step by the federal government and the Democratic party. Governments do not have morals, and when they enforce the morals that the most vocal and powerful participants in the political process it's not always a good thing. I happen to think that even were it legal, no business in the US could survive today openly discriminating against people because of race or sexual orientation. And that's the way it should be. The people have the real power, after all, and government is simply a coercive force. They can force businesses to do things you like today, just as they forced liberty-minded people in the 19th century to return slaves to their owners.

Comment Re:"Liberty-Minded"? (Score 3, Interesting) 701

Taxation to support a social safety net is not a violation of liberty. For an argument why, you might consider reading F.A. Hayek.

This is the same argument that has been going on for 400 years: collectivism vs. individual rights. Hayek was a Collectivist. He viewed the State as the ultimate authority, and preservation of the collective as the ultimate goal, even if individuals must suffer to preserve it. But that's a disastrous policy, because when rights of the collective are elevated above the rights of individuals, there are no barriers to tyranny. Ultimately, the opposing arguments (notably by John Locke) emphasized consent on the part of the governed, and preservation of each individual's natural rights. Governments must either respect and preserve the natural rights of the individual, or they are illegitimate and to be ignored or replaced.

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