"Give Me A Break!" -- John Stossel is a Massive Tool

Guys-- thanks for taking my little thread and turning it into a masterpiece of discussion Robear, I wish I was as knowledgeable and eloquent as you have been in this thread. You say what I want to say, only do it much better

LilCodger wrote:

In both instances, I question what was actually accomplished. What is gained by forcing yourself into the midst of a group that does not want you?

I guess I was just raised with a different set of mores. What is gained is a fulfillment of the "all men created equal" part of our declaration. What is gained is the social honesty to break down prejudice and stupidity and replace it with a system that refuses to accept injustice based on discrimination. This kind of discussion makes me wonder where our nation is heading when we find ourselves arguing against those who would re-institute racism, sexism and bigotry.

We get it... people should have the freedom to choose almost all aspects of their lives. But as a society, we have collectively evolved to the point where we are recognizing more and more that government's main role is to protect the individual from the majority, not the other way around. It wasn't majority rule that decided "separate but equal" was fundamentally flawed... it was a tiny group who compared our existing law to what our nation strives for and hammered out one of the kinks. Most of the anarcho-capitalists that I debate with seem to keep insist that government is all about empowering the majority, when it really is nothing of the kind. Well, at least the government we should be putting into office should be nothing like that... but that's another debate.

I'm tired... so please pardon my babbling.

I brought up the fishing issue because there are lots of things that can't be quantified and sold. Clean air, the fish in our oceans and social equality are just a few examples. The failure to define who owns the air above our homes is a clear indication that there are certain situations where the market cannot define or model. This failure can lead to exploitation, and government is a natural buffer to prevent financial exploitation due to shabby market models. Yes, government can be a horrible thing if left unchecked, but so can certain capitalistic ventures. Some fish popuations will never rebuild or become prevalent again. We cannot fix what has been done. Sometimes laws are here to catch those problems before they blossom... and try to save quality of life for our people. It's not about malevolence or control... it's about preserving our resources so that we'll have access to them in the future.

Jesus... I need sleep.

Despite LilCoger being much, much more eloquent than I, I'm just going to aim for the heart of it, and see if I can't clarify what I was getting at.

Our legal system is f*cked with a capital F. Trusting something as finiky and annoying as this to a deeply screwed system is like handing a toddler a loaded gun. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, or how the story goes.

Really, the problem is that deregulation does not instantly make it an epidemic. (Look at the repeal of prohibition, for example. Banning it made it worse, and removing the ban helped to sort things out.) Nor does the regulation of something instantly (or even over time) remove it. Hasn't drug use gone up? (I'll drop the war on drugs here, that's an entirely different, interesting and complicated debate.)

My family has a long (and to me, painful) history of nasty racism. It's part of the reason I can't stand them (and them me, but that again, is a tale for another post.). However, there are great degrees of racisim. The f*cked up, backwards-assed brain-broken thinking that my "relatives" employ is entirely different from the much milder forms of some family friends (Though that still frequently makes me cringe. And tell him to stfu often.).

Part of the problem is that I deeply and truly believe that everyone is equal. Rich, poor, black, white, paisley, I dun care. If someone's an asshat, I will treat them thusly. Problem is, you end up defending real asshats most of the time. This is one of those times. I cannot personally tolerate racism. Every time I hear someone use the n word, it takes every fiber of my being to prevent me from flying into a gigantic rant that would even humble Chiggie. (Yes, this even carries for the "thugs" that do little more than perpetuate the negative stereotypes everyone else works so hard to crush.) I've fought hard for the rights of people around me.

The horrible thing about that, of course, is that even racism is someone's belief. And my the same token that I believe everyone has the fundamental right to their opinion, that's covered. Now, I'll flake out, and tell them it's stupid, much like I would other decidedly iffy beliefs... but little more. Business owners have the right to refuse service to anyone. (Trust me, I've been on the off side of that one before too.) It's their property, their business, their stupidity if they want to alienate customers. You may not believe in the "free market"s ability to deal with things quickly... but I've got quite a few case studies on that.

First one:
One qwik shop here, in a fairly rich neighborhood, wouldn't hire any black people. And frequently refused service to black people. He lasted... a week, I believe, after the news came out. And this was in a mainly white neighborhood, even.

Second one:
A smaller grocery store wouldn't serve any people that dressed... differently. One of the many places I've been kicked out of because of how I dress. (Tripp pants and a band shirt or smartass shirt, if you're curious.) A month later, after a few complaints got around, he was closing his doors.

Third one:
Well respected contractor, beloved by most people that know him (He has 15 employees, last I checked. All on the upper end of their trade skills. Dunno the terminology, but upwards of journeyman) Statistically, he's not complying with affirmative action. A black employee applied, and was turned down. (For perfectly logical reasons. Lack of quality trade skills, and a horrible work history.) He still has customers day in and out, though he's being dragged through the mud, court battles galore, and is just being made miserable. (Yes, I know him personally. He's an awesome guy too. He's more pissed that they think he's, and I quote, "One of those bass-ackward brain-f*cked racist motherf*ckers.")

It's not just that the market will out. The _community_ will out. Stupid people have the right to be stupid. They also have the right to be smacked down for their stupid. You can't legislate morality. It always ends badly. Always.

weswilson wrote:
LilCodger wrote:

In both instances, I question what was actually accomplished. What is gained by forcing yourself into the midst of a group that does not want you?

I guess I was just raised with a different set of mores. What is gained is a fulfillment of the "all men created equal" part of our declaration. What is gained is the social honesty to break down prejudice and stupidity and replace it with a system that refuses to accept injustice based on discrimination. This kind of discussion makes me wonder where our nation is heading when we find ourselves arguing against those who would re-institute racism, sexism and bigotry.

Uh, no one is arguing for re-instituting these things. And there's no "re-instituting" anyway; these things exist today in all sorts of places, as Kannon so eloquently pointed out.

It's not about malevolence or control... it's about preserving our resources so that we'll have access to them in the future.

Government IS malevolence. Government power is based on raw, physical violence, and its goal is control. You don't need it to preserve resources, or live your life, with a few (major) exceptions, like national defense. You are automatically assuming that "collective action by a society" is completely defined by "making and enforcing a government law". Government should be the last resort, not the first.

Government IS malevolence. Government power is based on raw, physical violence, and its goal is control. You don't need it to preserve resources, or live your life, with a few (major) exceptions, like national defense. You are automatically assuming that "collective action by a society" is completely defined by "making and enforcing a government law". Government should be the last resort, not the first.

I think you are conflating the rule of law with dictatorship. But in any case, your position is now formally anarchic. You've left Libertarian way behind.

Given that, I can see how we differ.

WesWilson wrote:

But as a society, we have collectively evolved to the point where we are recognizing more and more that government's main role is to protect the individual from the majority, not the other way around.

Maybe I'm misreading, but this is not how we have evolved. In our current situation, we have a situation of the government taking sides in a private matter between two individuals. Unless you believe the majority are prejudiced bastards.

I wouldn't call myself an anarcho-capitalist. My view is that the federal government really shouldn't have the power to institute every whim of the majority. It's primary function is to protect individual rights. My difficulty in this discussion is the assignment of rights. We're legislating gray areas, and tossing business owner rights. Why would I want to go work for/with a group of people who hate me? The argument will be that maybe I don't have another choice, but that's a tough sell. You almost always have another choice.

Two scenarios come to mind.

1) I own a business, and desperately need to hire someone critical to core business function. One very qualified candidate is a very pregnant woman, who admits she will use all twelve weeks of FMLA. Missing this employee for three months will cripple my business, potentially putting me and all my other employees out of work. Not hiring the pregnant woman is illegal. So do I break the law and get sued to oblivion, or do I hire her and head there anyway?

2) I own a small maid service servicing upscale clients. I hire a qualified black woman. Ninety percent of my customers express concerns over allowing a black woman in their home, and threaten to fire my company. I can keep her, and put us all out of work, or I can fire her. Neither solution actually punishes the prejudiced.

Sure, there are things that need federal regulation. The problem is that federal regulation is a very large brush with which to paint. What does it matter what New Yorkers think about the water quality of a lake in Wyoming, etc... Keep local problems local, state problems state, and only truly national issues federal.

Robear wrote:
Government IS malevolence. Government power is based on raw, physical violence, and its goal is control. You don't need it to preserve resources, or live your life, with a few (major) exceptions, like national defense. You are automatically assuming that "collective action by a society" is completely defined by "making and enforcing a government law". Government should be the last resort, not the first.

I think you are conflating the rule of law with dictatorship. But in any case, your position is now formally anarchic. You've left Libertarian way behind.

Given that, I can see how we differ.

He's not wrong though. Even if you want to pussyfoot around and say "well it's just a law", what happens when you violate it? The government can seize your assets. If you don't relinquish, or have no assets, the government will seize you. Eventually, the government will forcibly enforce the will of the majority on you in some cases. I am not willing to use that power over someone's "right to work at that particular company".

He's not saying that there should be no government, he's saying that you don't need an aircraft carrier every time you want to go fishing.

Kannon wrote:

Really, the problem is that deregulation does not instantly make it an epidemic.

At this point, you can't repeal anti-discrimination laws. As Robear pointed out, this particular log has already been cast onto the fire of majority will. Repealing the law would indeed be seen as license to discriminate.

What we need to do is more heavily scrutinize what we are protecting, and how we are protecting it. We have too many instances of trial lawyers playing with statistics.

EDIT:

Kannon wrote:

Despite LilCoger being much, much more eloquent than I

You flatter me. I read my writing with a certain shame that I'm sure is shared by my old English teachers. My communication skills have certainly gone downhill in the last decade.

It doesn't help that I have few opportunities to refine my arguments. Most folks in my neck of the woods vote a straight blue ticket because their union told them to. (sigh)

Kannon... almost every argument you make about government and the legal system, I could make about capitalism and the free market. The market has shown time and time again that it has no real tools for handling certain situations. And while one can certainly point to individual instances where logic is stymied by governmental behavior, the ability of capitalistic markets to shoot themselves in the foot is well known. Many major corporations have sold off their infrastructure to gain temporary stock benefits. The pattern is clear that companies would rather dissolve than face hard times and run lean. The foresight of the market to deal with hard times is getting shorter and shorter... and these short-term gains are paid for by the fragile markets my children will inherit. Logic is not the proponent of business or government... so the key is to use each tool for what it can best be used for, and try to find the balance.

I can certainly find anecdotal examples to easily counter what you have described here. I live in the south, and my parents are friends with some of the big movers-and-shakers of two large cities down here. Racism is alive and well, and if these jokers had their way, every black person would be off TV, into a ghetto, and onto their assembly lines. For these three tales of unfortunate businesses that are demonized by the haunting racism, I can find you a dozen tales of just, good people being given equality where none was previously offered. For each of these stories where the law creates a gray area, I can show you a dozen where light has been thrown upon scoundrels and abusers of the misfortune inherent in social bigotry. These anecdotes are good examples of how we should work to fix our laws, not how we should undermine them when they are finally achieving their goals.

Anti-discrimination laws are a patch on an old, leaky pipe. Yes, we can patch one place or another, but other leaks are bound to spring up once the pressure is equalized. Eventually, with enough patches, we'll find ourselves with a system no longer in need of patching.. and then we can look into replacing the entire pipe... but that day is not today. Institutionalized racism is NOT a thing of the past... it is alive and well... and needs to be stopped. Removing the patches may not "re-institute" the holes... the holes are already there. Removing the patches merely lets the existing racism act has it was previously acting. Most people find that violates our constitutional requirements for equality...and we fight against it.

As a society, the majority has rarely stood up for the minority. But, thanks to the Constitution, we have a rule of thumb that is sometimes too resonate to ignore. The thumping baseline of equality keeps this nation eternally looking for people who are exploited by the majority and demanding change. Freeing the slaves wasn't performed by a majority. Opposing Jim Crow laws was a minority affair. Demanding women have voting rights was accelerated by a minority, not a majority. Next on the table is gay rights, which have been firmly opposed by the majority for centuries. Providing safeguards to individuals so that they can be fairly treated fairly is not about protecting the majority, no matter how much you talk about laws being all about comfort for the >50%. The truth is that the majority passes these laws to their own detriment... often because they see where the nation will head if we begin denying sections of the Constitution.

So while all these talk of Force and Malevolence and Siezure of Property sounds awfully inspiring ( in the same ways that anti-discrimination laws are inspiring ), the idea that our government is inherently evil is not pragmatic or realistic. Throughout history, unions of common-minded people have gathered together to oppose exploitation to the great benefit of society. Without these unions of force, we'd still be under feudal warlords, working in sweatshops besides slaves, owning nothing but what we could carry. We fought for freedom by coming together and dictating what we expect in a free society, demanding it be implemented, and fighting against exploitation and bigotry. To insinuate this is inherently malevolent is to deny our history of protest.

That being said, I believe we head down a perilous course. I do support smaller government. I do support checks-and-balances in government. I demand transparency in its workings, and a level of accountability from public servants. I reject the consolidation of power we have been seeing, as of late, and I push for a new era of government with Perot's recognition of government service as servitude. The partisan politics of the past 20 years is archaic and needs to be dismantled. The continued effort to gain and maintain a 51% control for the purpose of pushing through legislation is a blight on our history.

But these are things that will be patched... as long as we keep our eyes on the prize.

Robear wrote:
Government IS malevolence. Government power is based on raw, physical violence, and its goal is control. You don't need it to preserve resources, or live your life, with a few (major) exceptions, like national defense. You are automatically assuming that "collective action by a society" is completely defined by "making and enforcing a government law". Government should be the last resort, not the first.

I think you are conflating the rule of law with dictatorship. But in any case, your position is now formally anarchic. You've left Libertarian way behind.

Given that, I can see how we differ.

Anarchy:

1. a state of society without government or law.

Where did I advocate anarchy? Show me one instance where government is not ultimately backed by force. Every law is backed by the threat of force. Every fine, every jail sentence, every tax is backed, in the end, by force. There is no other basis for governmental power. It is the 12-pound sledgehammer of problem-solving. Usually, you don't need it - but when you do, it comes in very handy. And there are times when you need it, such as national defense, which is an endeavor in which force is particularly and directly useful. There are also times when you don't need it, such as people choosing who they want to hire for their private business. In those cases, it does more harm than good. We have become a society where the 12-pound sledge is used on every nail that sticks up. It doesn't make sense.

Here's what you said:

Government IS malevolence. Government power is based on raw, physical violence, and its goal is control. You don't need it to preserve resources, or live your life, with a few (major) exceptions, like national defense. You are automatically assuming that "collective action by a society" is completely defined by "making and enforcing a government law". Government should be the last resort, not the first.

This is not an argument for government being too powerful, but rather a blanket statement that government is put in place for the purpose of controlling the population and it's enforced by raw, physical violence. You say "You don't need it" except for a few exceptions.

This is as close to anarchy as one can get without actually using the word. There's a difference between government being *backed* by force, and claims that it's purpose is the malevolent use of raw violence to establish control of the population. That's all I'm saying here. If you trust your government to hold enough force to protect you from outside enemies, then you can't claim that you are against government having that force to "back it up". And frankly try enforcing the rule of law without raw, physical violence. If you are against government having that power, then you are against government, period.

I just think your rhetoric went past what you meant to say.

Well, he is right in the sense that modern government is a near-monopoly on the use of physical coercion to enforce the social contract. It's ultimately the threat of arms that backs those laws. As Mao said, all political power comes ultimately from a gun barrel.

Robear wrote:

Here's what you said:

Government IS malevolence. Government power is based on raw, physical violence, and its goal is control. You don't need it to preserve resources, or live your life, with a few (major) exceptions, like national defense. You are automatically assuming that "collective action by a society" is completely defined by "making and enforcing a government law". Government should be the last resort, not the first.

This is not an argument for government being too powerful, but rather a blanket statement that government is put in place for the purpose of controlling the population and it's enforced by raw, physical violence. You say "You don't need it" except for a few exceptions.

All correct except the first statement. It *is* an argument that government is too powerful, particularly these days. What purpose does the government have besides control? How else are laws ultimately enforced?

This is as close to anarchy as one can get without actually using the word. There's a difference between government being *backed* by force, and claims that it's purpose is the malevolent use of raw violence to establish control of the population.

And what, exactly, is that difference? Pointing a gun is pointing a gun - you had better be willing to shoot to kill. And I didn't say that government's purpose was malevolent; I said that it uses malevolence to achieve its purpose, said purpose being control of the population, to prevent them from doing things that violate the law.

malevolent:

1 : having, showing, or arising from intense often vicious ill will, spite, or hatred
2 : productive of harm or evil

Specifically, using meaning (2) - productive of harm or evil. Forcing people to do things at gunpoint is definitely harmful and evil - the only question is whether or not it is necessary. I believe the answer should almost always be no, except in very specific circumstances. Our current society's answer is almost always yes, and that is, in my view, a very, very serious problem.

That's all I'm saying here. If you trust your government to hold enough force to protect you from outside enemies, then you can't claim that you are against government having that force to "back it up". And frankly try enforcing the rule of law without raw, physical violence. If you are against government having that power, then you are against government, period.

No, I'm against government having power beyond the minimum necessary to do its job. I don't trust the government. At all. One bit. Anyone in a position of power by definition cannot be trusted, because power corrupts. The more power you hand over, the more the corruption becomes part of the system. That's the entire reason why our government was designed the way it was - to combat and/or avoid the corruption inherent in government.

I just think your rhetoric went past what you meant to say.

I don't know how to be clearer than that. Sorry.

Hey guys great thread, but I was reading it all and I see where Robear is having issues. It his definition of business.

Robear wrote:

So explain why government's interests are more restrictive than the public's, for whom government works? That's the crux, to me. If publicly funded government should not do it, then corporations that employ and serve the public should not either, as a general principle. I should not have to go to a government facility to get fair treatment; it should be available to me in any public venue I enter, or any workplace.

Business is not in business to serve the public, it is simply there to make money for whoever owns it. The ONLY time you need regulation on a business is to prevent it from harming other people, ie dumping toxic chemicals and other crazy stuff like that. Other than that they should be able to hire ANYONE they want. If they are hiring nothing but gangsta-thug type people and make the business hostile to normal people to shop in they will change their hiring practices or go under.

The government on the other hand is made to serve the people, not to make money. So fair hiring practices do apply, but should they trump competency? No. Other wise the entire government will sink into California DMV type place.

I would like to see all applications for government jobs have the names of the applicant removed and assigned a number, until the final hiring process occurs I.E. interview time. This would be fair, currently government jobs are "balanced" so that there is an equal number of races in a job, despite the fact that there is not a even balance of race population. For instance around Houston I find that a VAST majority of black people work government jobs, is that fair?

Also for a interesting side note, my dad had to put race quotas on a manager of one of his stores because the Girl in charge started to hire nothing but the same race that she was. Not because anyone gave a damn but because she was passing over very good workers to hire lazy bastards. See business can regulate itself, because it is all about the bottom line, in government there is no bottom line except to allow one group get power over another.

As Mao said, all political power comes ultimately from a gun barrel.

But what he *meant* was "screw the people - whoever has the guns, has control". That's very different from what happens in a healthy democracy; different because of the rule of law, which applies to the rulers as well as the ruled.

All correct except the first statement. It *is* an argument that government is too powerful, particularly these days. What purpose does the government have besides control? How else are laws ultimately enforced?

What purpose does the government have besides control? I assume you've read the Constitution, and reject it? Otherwise, how do you square that question with any acceptance at all of government?

The enforcement of the rule of law requires power. Your claim here seems to be that that power has become all-encompassing, that there's no other governmental mission than the retention of that power. Classic anarchist claim, whether you intend it that way or not.

And what, exactly, is that difference? Pointing a gun is pointing a gun - you had better be willing to shoot to kill. And I didn't say that "government's purpose was malevolent; I said that it uses malevolence to achieve its purpose, said purpose being control of the population, to prevent them from doing things that violate the law.

So even qualified, you have the rule of law as "malevolent", which certainly fits with your expressed distaste for any but the most necessary protections of the citizenry. What I'm (hopefully gently) trying to figure out is how there's any position for any respect of government in your analysis. The Constitution certainly is the *opposite* of malevolence, but your take on the US government is that it's "malevolent" - that is, evil, threatening, however you mean that.

That's very different from just disliking some aspects of laws or regulations. You *seem* to be very close to rejecting the idea of government itself; at least, you use the rhetoric of those who do.

No, I'm against government having power beyond the minimum necessary to do its job. I don't trust the government. At all. One bit. Anyone in a position of power by definition cannot be trusted, because power corrupts. The more power you hand over, the more the corruption becomes part of the system. That's the entire reason why our government was designed the way it was - to combat and/or avoid the corruption inherent in government.

Well, I stand corrected - I believe your position is, actually, anarchic. The rejection of government, if not law. After all, how can you trust any government, no matter how it's designed, to root out corruption inherent in the institution of government? Logically, that makes no sense, unless you have some special case government that you *do* trust.

I agree that you're clear, I'm just not sure you've followed your line of thought to the end. You may not realize it, but your position is classically anarchic.

“Anarchism, really stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion; the liberation of the human body from the dominion of property; liberation from the shackles and restraint of government.” - Emma Goldman

“So many able writers have shown that the unjust institutions which work so much misery and suffering to the masses have their root in governments, and owe their whole existence to the power derived from government we cannot help but believe that were every law, every title deed, every court, and every police officer or soldier abolished tomorrow with one sweep, we would be better off than now.” - Lucy Parsons

"The liberty of man consists solely in this: that he obeys natural laws because he has himself recognized them as such, and not because they have been externally imposed upon him by any extrinsic will whatever, divine or human, collective or individual." --Mikhail Bakunin

In a word, we reject all legislation, all authority, and all privileged, licensed, official, and legal influence, even though arising from universal suffrage, convinced that it can turn only to the advantage of a dominant minority of exploiters against the interests of the immense majority in subjection to them." --Mikhail Bakunin

With no disrespect intended, I put it to you that you've replicated significant arguments from the classical late 19th century anarchists movement. Hence my confusion. (And yes, I still have my "No matter who you vote for, the government gets in" button from the days when I was into this stuff. It's not like I've never run into it; to the contrary, there was a time when I would have been nodding my head with your argument.) In many ways, your position is Bakuninite.

Business is not in business to serve the public, it is simply there to make money for whoever owns it. The ONLY time you need regulation on a business is to prevent it from harming other people, ie dumping toxic chemicals and other crazy stuff like that. Other than that they should be able to hire ANYONE they want. If they are hiring nothing but gangsta-thug type people and make the business hostile to normal people to shop in they will change their hiring practices or go under.

My description was not the sole function of business, but rather a recognition of any business' responsibilities to it's community. A business is an individual under the law, and it's also embedded in communities. It cannot ignore that role, and most don't, getting involved in charities, community outreach and other programs that are not directly related to making money. So I don't buy the argument that the only responsibility of a business is to just do no harm. They must also in some way do beneficial things for the community, whether it's simply in providing needed services and goods at affordable prices, or in more involved philanthropy.

The government on the other hand is made to serve the people, not to make money. So fair hiring practices do apply, but should they trump competency? No. Other wise the entire government will sink into California DMV type place.

Right. And there's no reason for private businesses to function differently. Capitalism is not the stereotyped Social Darwinist environment that many conservatives assume it is. Businesses, like government, have responsibilities to those in their communities proportional to their impact (and potentially profits.)

I would like to see all applications for government jobs have the names of the applicant removed and assigned a number, until the final hiring process occurs I.E. interview time. This would be fair, currently government jobs are "balanced" so that there is an equal number of races in a job, despite the fact that there is not a even balance of race population. For instance around Houston I find that a VAST majority of black people work government jobs, is that fair?

I think that would be great. And no, I don't think that's fair - but the argument here is that it doesn't *need* to be fair, right? My argument is that in this regard, business and government should be held to the same standard, because the *reason* for that standard of equality goes to one of the deepest understandings of our society - equal opportunity for all.

Also for a interesting side note, my dad had to put race quotas on a manager of one of his stores because the Girl in charge started to hire nothing but the same race that she was. Not because anyone gave a damn but because she was passing over very good workers to hire lazy bastards. See business can regulate itself, because it is all about the bottom line, in government there is no bottom line except to allow one group get power over another.

I never said it couldn't. I merely object to the idea that that sort of regulation should not exist in the law, because of it's important and relevance to all citizens. Remember, a lot of this discussion comes from the ping-ponging of the argument between extremes. I'm not arguing for extreme government interventions and regulation, instead I'm arguing that equal opportunity in hiring is the *opposite* of extreme, onerous regulations, because it reaches right down into the amended Constitution for it's justification. Aetius, on the other hand, feels that it's too extreme and should not be put into the law. (And then he justified it with remarks that were interesting for another reason, as I've stated.)

Make sense? You and I are a lot closer than you might think on this, Phara, because we don't actually reject government as inevitably corrupt, evil and abusive, which is Aetius' stated position.

I suspect that probably any government past a certain size will eventually go toxic.

Robear wrote:
As Mao said, all political power comes ultimately from a gun barrel.

But what he *meant* was "screw the people - whoever has the guns, has control". That's very different from what happens in a healthy democracy; different because of the rule of law, which applies to the rulers as well as the ruled.

It is no different in a healthy democracy. The rule of law is ultimately enforced by the threat or use of violence. You seem to think that we are somehow different, that somehow our rule of law is not ultimately backed by a guy with a gun. I challenge you to present one instance where that is not the case, where the government would not ultimately rely on the police or the military if resisted. The only thing a healthy democracy or republic adds is a somewhat reasonable method to change rulers without civil war, assassination, or the other various tools that have been used in the past. That's a hugely significant change, but it doesn't affect the basic exercise of power.

And clearly, in our government, today, the rule of law does not apply to the rulers, so where does that put us?

It is no different in a healthy democracy. The rule of law is ultimately enforced by the threat or use of violence. You seem to think that we are somehow different, that somehow our rule of law is not ultimately backed by a guy with a gun. I challenge you to present one instance where that is not the case, where the government would not ultimately rely on the police or the military if resisted. The only thing a healthy democracy or republic adds is a somewhat reasonable method to change rulers without civil war, assassination, or the other various tools that have been used in the past. That's a hugely significant change, but it doesn't affect the basic exercise of power.

I just have to disagree. While the rule of law is ultimately enforced by the threat of violence, that does not make it equivalent to a state where "might makes right". A state that acts arbitrarily at the whims of it's ruler, with no recourse of the people to a uniform system of laws, fits what you are describing. The US does not.

Despite the fact that some politicians manage to evade charges, that does not mean that the system is broken or even poorly run. We are not a dictatorship and noting that both the US and dictatorships back their decisions by force does not make them the same.

You are arguing yet another classic argument against government itself - because it uses force to back itself up, it's necessarily abusing that force.

How do you feel about Bakunin's statement below? Taken from "The Paris Commune and the Idea of the State".

I am a fanatic lover of liberty, considering it as the unique condition under which intelligence, dignity and human happiness can develop and grow; not the purely formal liberty conceded, measured out and regulated by the State, an eternal lie which in reality represents nothing more than the privilege of some founded on the slavery of the rest; not the individualistic, egoistic, shabby, and fictitious liberty extolled by the School of J.-J. Rousseau and other schools of bourgeois liberalism, which considers the would-be rights of all men, represented by the State which limits the rights of each---an idea that leads inevitably to the reduction of the rights of each to zero. No, I mean the only kind of liberty that is worthy of the name, liberty that consists in the full development of all the material, intellectual and moral powers that are latent in each person; liberty that recognizes no restrictions other than those determined by the laws of our own individual nature, which cannot properly be regarded as restrictions since these laws are not imposed by any outside legislator beside or above us, but are immanent and inherent, forming the very basis of our material, intellectual and moral being---they do not limit us but are the real and immediate conditions of our freedom.
Robear wrote:

What purpose does the government have besides control? I assume you've read the Constitution, and reject it? Otherwise, how do you square that question with any acceptance at all of government?

Quite the contrary - the Constitution was written by men who had a complete and fundamental understanding of what it actually means to have government, what its power is based on, and how to control it. A finer document on the evils of government has yet to be produced. You think there are three branches of government because they thought that would be cool? No. The Constitution lays out a plan for protecting a people from the government, while recognizing that some government was necessary. The preamble is a layout of the exact things that a government is necessary for, and no more. And I couldn't agree more.

The enforcement of the rule of law requires power. Your claim here seems to be that that power has become all-encompassing, that there's no other governmental mission than the retention of that power. Classic anarchist claim, whether you intend it that way or not.

No. My claim is that we are using government power far too casually; that our first response is that "there ought to be a law"; that our citizens are too comfortable with an extremeful powerful government, as long as they get their handout; and that we are risking everything in the name of "security".

So even qualified, you have the rule of law as "malevolent", which certainly fits with your expressed distaste for any but the most necessary protections of the citizenry. What I'm (hopefully gently) trying to figure out is how there's any position for any respect of government in your analysis. The Constitution certainly is the *opposite* of malevolence, but your take on the US government is that it's "malevolent" - that is, evil, threatening, however you mean that.

In its current form, it is without a doubt threatening. The only thing holding it back are the balances and checks built into the Constitution. This is why it is so important when politicians decide that they are going to ignore the Constitution - it is a direct attack on the rule of law and the last remaining protections we have against a totalitarian state.

Government's use is for the things outlined in the Constitution. Nothing more.

That's very different from just disliking some aspects of laws or regulations. You *seem* to be very close to rejecting the idea of government itself; at least, you use the rhetoric of those who do.

I object to all laws and regulations that are not sourced from the Constitution. I reject the idea that the Fourth Amendment is something that we can ignore. I reject the idea that the rule of law does not apply to some people in the world based on what one branch of government thinks. I reject the idea that there ought to be a law for everything. I reject the idea that government is the first stop when attempting to solve a problem in a society.

Well, I stand corrected - I believe your position is, actually, anarchic. The rejection of government, if not law. After all, how can you trust any government, no matter how it's designed, to root out corruption inherent in the institution of government? Logically, that makes no sense, unless you have some special case government that you *do* trust.

I don't reject government. It's a necessary evil. But that doesn't mean I have to trust it.

Thomas Jefferson wrote:

Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.

John Adams wrote:

There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.

Thomas Reed wrote:

One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope that the evils in this world are to be cured by legislation.

George Washington wrote:

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

Robert Heinlein wrote:

There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.

Thomas Jefferson wrote:

A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.

Henry George wrote:

It is not the business of government to make men virtuous or religious, or to preserve the fool from the consequences of his own folly. Government should be repressive no further than is necessary to secure liberty by protecting the equal rights of each from aggression on the part of others, and the moment governmental prohibitions extend beyond this line they are in danger of defeating the very ends they are intended to serve.

Thomas Paine wrote:

Government at its best is a necessary evil, and at its worst, an intolerant one.

Thomas Sowell wrote:

What is ominous is the ease with which some people go from saying that they don't like something to saying that the government should forbid it. When you go down that road, don't expect freedom to survive very long.

With no disrespect intended, I put it to you that you've replicated significant arguments from the classical late 19th century anarchists movement. Hence my confusion. (And yes, I still have my "No matter who you vote for, the government gets in" button from the days when I was into this stuff. It's not like I've never run into it; to the contrary, there was a time when I would have been nodding my head with your argument.) In many ways, your position is Bakuninite.

I'm replicating the arguments of the men who created our country.

Quite the contrary - the Constitution was written by men who had a complete and fundamental understanding of what it actually means to have government, what its power is based on, and how to control it. A finer document on the evils of government has yet to be produced. You think there are three branches of government because they thought that would be cool? No. The Constitution lays out a plan for protecting a people from the government, while recognizing that some government was necessary. The preamble is a layout of the exact things that a government is necessary for, and no more. And I couldn't agree more.

I'm very surprised to see you argue this, because you strongly disagree with our government, and you seem to argue that any government is bad.

No. My claim is that we are using government power far too casually; that our first response is that "there ought to be a law"; that our citizens are too comfortable with an extremeful powerful government, as long as they get their handout; and that we are risking everything in the name of "security".

And you argue this by saying that government itself is evil because it depends on the use of power? I agree with what you just said here, but I think your rhetoric above is far more sweeping.

In its current form, it is without a doubt threatening. The only thing holding it back are the balances and checks built into the Constitution. This is why it is so important when politicians decide that they are going to ignore the Constitution - it is a direct attack on the rule of law and the last remaining protections we have against a totalitarian state.

Agreed. However, these problems tend to be fixed, on the whole.

Government's use is for the things outlined in the Constitution. Nothing more.

I disagree, since there is plenty of evidence the Constitution was meant to be mutable. There's a mechanism for it. So this to me is too narrow. This is the main argument for the Living Constitution, I think.

I object to all laws and regulations that are not sourced from the Constitution. I reject the idea that the Fourth Amendment is something that we can ignore. I reject the idea that the rule of law does not apply to some people in the world based on what one branch of government thinks. I reject the idea that there ought to be a law for everything. I reject the idea that government is the first stop when attempting to solve a problem in a society.

I agree with all of those. I think maybe though you need to consider the argument that there are things that are *appropriate* for regulation by government, and that those are the things that directly relate to the Constitution. One of those is the guarantee of equality of opportunity, which is why I think your position on business's rights needs to accept some limits. But only those directly tied to Constitutional guarantees.

I don't reject government. It's a necessary evil. But that doesn't mean I have to trust it.

I agree. But your rhetoric earlier went way past that.

BTW, Sowell didn't create our country, and if you follow my posts, you know I am well aware of the Constitutional debates and the various positions of the actual founders. (Luckily, Sowell merely reduces the collective intelligence and integrity of the country by the small number of people he influences.) But look at the Henry George quote you gave:

It is not the business of government to make men virtuous or religious, or to preserve the fool from the consequences of his own folly. Government should be repressive no further than is necessary to secure liberty by protecting the equal rights of each from aggression on the part of others, and the moment governmental prohibitions extend beyond this line they are in danger of defeating the very ends they are intended to serve.

How is preventing a class of people who are fully qualified to do a job, from taking it, because the owner does not care for them not preventing them from aggression? Denial of work is a form of aggression, repression, whatever word you prefer, and fits fully with the Constitution, whether the denier is government or business.

I'm replicating the arguments of the men who created our country.

Earlier, you were going way past that. I understand it the way you put it above - much more standard Libertarian - but I was quite surprised. Still, anarchy is born of Idealism and you certainly have some Idealist positions.

So to sum up, I hold that preventing discrimination in hiring of qualified individuals is directly related to the Constitutional guarantees of equality, which are in George's terms protections against aggression by others. If there's one thing to respond to in my argument, that's it.

Robear wrote:
Quite the contrary - the Constitution was written by men who had a complete and fundamental understanding of what it actually means to have government, what its power is based on, and how to control it. A finer document on the evils of government has yet to be produced. You think there are three branches of government because they thought that would be cool? No. The Constitution lays out a plan for protecting a people from the government, while recognizing that some government was necessary. The preamble is a layout of the exact things that a government is necessary for, and no more. And I couldn't agree more.

I'm very surprised to see you argue this, because you strongly disagree with our government, and you seem to argue that any government is bad.

I do strongly disagree with our government. And yes, government is bad. Sometimes it must be tolerated to protect basic rights. That is all.

And you argue this by saying that government itself is evil because it depends on the use of power? I agree with what you just said here, but I think your rhetoric above is far more sweeping.

Yes, of course. Using force to compel people to do things is the absolute last resort. Government is evil, but necessary, because the alternative is rule by strength (the anarchy to which you are ascribing me).

Robear wrote:
In its current form, it is without a doubt threatening. The only thing holding it back are the balances and checks built into the Constitution. This is why it is so important when politicians decide that they are going to ignore the Constitution - it is a direct attack on the rule of law and the last remaining protections we have against a totalitarian state.

Agreed. However, these problems tend to be fixed, on the whole.

Yes - by the people. You cannot rely on government to fix itself.

Robear wrote:
Government's use is for the things outlined in the Constitution. Nothing more.

I disagree, since there is plenty of evidence the Constitution was meant to be mutable. There's a mechanism for it. So this to me is too narrow. This is the main argument for the Living Constitution, I think.

Yes, there's a mechanism. When was the last Constitutional Amendment passed? Right. The Constitution can be changed. But our government is changing in a way that ignores that mechanism entirely.

Robear wrote:
I object to all laws and regulations that are not sourced from the Constitution. I reject the idea that the Fourth Amendment is something that we can ignore. I reject the idea that the rule of law does not apply to some people in the world based on what one branch of government thinks. I reject the idea that there ought to be a law for everything. I reject the idea that government is the first stop when attempting to solve a problem in a society.

I agree with all of those. I think maybe though you need to consider the argument that there are things that are *appropriate* for regulation by government, and that those are the things that directly relate to the Constitution. One of those is the guarantee of equality of opportunity, which is why I think your position on business's rights needs to accept some limits. But only those directly tied to Constitutional guarantees.

How is preventing a class of people who are fully qualified to do a job, from taking it, because the owner does not care for them not preventing them from aggression? Denial of work is a form of aggression, repression, whatever word you prefer, and fits fully with the Constitution, whether the denier is government or business.

So to sum up, I hold that preventing discrimination in hiring of qualified individuals is directly related to the Constitutional guarantees of equality, which are in George's terms protections against aggression by others. If there's one thing to respond to in my argument, that's it.

Denial of work is a form of aggression? Am I punching someone in the nose by not hiring them? There is no aggression involved in refusing to hire someone. An entity is not threatening an applicant's life or limb by not hiring them. If there were, what about all the other applicants who were also qualified? I guess the company was aggressing them by not hiring them either. Maybe they should charge the employer with assault for denying them work. It's illogical, it doesn't make sense.

Show me in the Constitution where it outlines the equality of opportunity. There is no such thing - that's a socialist ideal. Life, liberty, property, and due process/equal treatment under the law - that's what is guaranteed. No right to work. No right to eat. No right to have a place to live. No right, definitely no right, to "equal opportunity".

Of course it isn't right to discriminate in hiring based on race, or sex, or age, or whatever. But you are arguing that this must be addressed with force - and that is something that I cannot and will not agree with. There are many, many other ways to deal with fools who think people's quality has something to do with the color of their skin.

Yes - by the people. You cannot rely on government to fix itself.

And yet American government has indeed fixed itself, many times. Look at the establishment of the bureaucracy you hate, and the reasons for that, as the first big example. But there are many other examples of government working to change itself into something more useful for the times.

It's also the case that the government is inextricably tied to the People, so it's often hard to tell where change comes from.

Yes, there's a mechanism. When was the last Constitutional Amendment passed? Right. The Constitution can be changed. But our government is changing in a way that ignores that mechanism entirely.

I agree, and that's deeply wrong. But I have confidence that most of the change will be reversed with time.

Denial of work is a form of aggression? Am I punching someone in the nose by not hiring them? There is no aggression involved in refusing to hire someone.

Much worse than that - if you deny a job for which they are qualified based on a malicious belief (ie, that the person is inferior to you and should not be offered the opportunity) you've done much more damage than just a punch in the nose.

An entity is not threatening an applicant's life or limb by not hiring them. If there were, what about all the other applicants who were also qualified? I guess the company was aggressing them by not hiring them either. Maybe they should charge the employer with assault for denying them work. It's illogical, it doesn't make sense.

There are many forms of harm, right? Not just physical threats to life or limb. And this is reflected in the Constitution and in the law. I think your definition of possible harm is too narrow by far.

This kind of aggression could completely destroy your life without harming a hair on your head. Look at blacklisting if you want a different example. It's the same thing - a persistant denial of work to a person who is otherwise qualified, but is opposed by employers for reasons not related to competence or other workplace factors.

Show me in the Constitution where it outlines the equality of opportunity. There is no such thing - that's a socialist ideal. Life, liberty, property, and due process/equal treatment under the law - that's what is guaranteed. No right to work. No right to eat. No right to have a place to live. No right, definitely no right, to "equal opportunity".

Here we differ. The Constitution exists so that We, the People, can establish justice, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. It is just to forbid discrimination based on things like race, sex and other artificial standards. It promotes the general welfare, both socially and economically. And the chance to earn a job without fearing being turned down because one has the wrong accent or comes from the wrong class or has the wrong skin color is certainly a blessing of liberty. Far from being socialist, this is what the Constitution is *for*. Anti-discrimination is one of the basic applications of the Constitution, in my opinion (and in the eyes of the law.)

You can claim many areas where government has run amok, but in this case, it's clear that the ability to get a job without being arbitrarily banned is one of the core beliefs that underlie the very ideals of the country. Note also the IXth Amendment, where it explicitly says "Hey, the Constitution doesn't list all the rights the People hold". Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Note that under English Common Law, anti-discrimination was an accepted part of the body of law. For example, innkeepers could not refuse service or alter charges based on anything other than reasonable grounds. They could not eject patrons without cause. What you suggest is a violation of principles that were not only accepted by the Founders, but which predate the Constitution and our legal system, as well as underly them both.

So I have to continue to believe that your interpretation is not actually one that the Founders would accept as an over-reach of government.

BTW, I may be away from the Web this week, depends on connectivity at the hotel I'm visiting. So don't take silence as dismissal or the like. I've enjoyed this debate, it's a new one, which is relatively unusual these days, and I hope you've not found it frustrating.