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The Key Failures of Libertarianism

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Mist425, Apr 4, 2012.

  1. #1 Mist425, Apr 4, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 4, 2012
    I think the two biggest failures of libertarianism are the facts that 1) its proponents fail to recognize the consensus on the popularity of many programs/actions paid for through public funds and 2) supporters have not yet demonstrated to others that they can offer an alternative system that supplies these things without taxation.

    Social security, Medicaid, and other entitlement programs, limited national security (defense), and public infrastructure projects are decidedly popular - so popular, in fact, that it is unlikely that any democratic US in the conceivable future will opt to abandon such causes. I don't think this is without reason. People desire the freedom to act in their day to day lives without needing to concern themselves with such matters as to how they'll get to work if the interstate crumbles overnight, for example. This unburdening of a populace allows them to focus on their work, including their actual employment and the raising of their children - things that are undoubtedly good for society's long-run prospects.

    The common libertarian response is that where the government steps out, the free market must naturally step in. Basic economic theory does not support this. In some situations, doubtlessly, capitalism would do its bit in efficiently allocating resources; if the US government had previously nationalized the fishing industry and then relinquished control, you can bet some fishermen would strike out on their own and that void would be filled. But what of the public projects that no sustainable business could possibly engage in, like the provision of little/no-cost services to the nation's impoverished, or the maintenance of our rural infrastructure? While donations to nonprofits would likely increase given a decreased tax burden, again, there is little evidence that this increased giving would be enough to fill the void.

    Until these questions are answered adequately, true libertarianism will never truly be in a position to compete with our current political system.

  2. Isn't the only Tax that Libertarianism looks at as unconstitutional.. The income tax?

    Pretty sure that the idea of Libertarianism isn't to completely ELIMINATE the govt but shrink it to its itended size.
  3. "Intended" is an awfully subjective word, don't you think?

    The programs/services that I described could not be supported by a tax on the purchase of goods alone, not even close, not without making these goods unaffordable to a huge swath of the population.
  4. Da roads who will build da roads aahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!
  5. The failures of statism could fill volumes.

    Libertarianism wins.
  6. #6 Arteezy, Apr 4, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 4, 2012
    Let me start at the end. Libertarianism isn't in a position to compete because it's too ethically/morally sound. It's based far too much on sound, logical, rational ethics for it to be accepted into a system where most of the people are advocates of 'the ends justify the means' and have very few ethical qualms about stealing from their neighbor (and advocating a whole host of other deplorable acts including the imprisonment of their fellow man for non-violent offenses) as long as they have some perceived benefit.

    The ends never justify the means.

    Oh, we recognize the popularity of the bolded. We just point out how unethical the system is.

    Libertarians, generally, favor arguments from an ethical standpoint in that they point how taxation under the current system simply isn't ethical by any reasonable standard.

    I would simply respond to this claim by saying, "where there's a will, there's a way." ;)

    What things do you think are impossible to provide without taxation? I will point you towards the proper reading materials; however, you really should be able to do this kind of research for yourself, especially considering how long you've been pushing this line on this forum. It's not exactly hard to find reading materials on how a libertarian society can provide things like security, justice, R&D, welfare, etc.

    The main difference between a taxation-based system and a libertarian system would be the voluntary aspect of the exchanges. Instead of initiating aggression against people just because they live and work in a certain area, people would voluntarily exchange their money/goods/services for things (goods/services) that they wanted.

    Yes, this is basic economic theory. If there is a demand, there is an incentive for entrepreneurs to step in and provide the service/good demanded (through voluntary exchange).

    Actually it does (see just above). I recommend, "Economics in One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt if you're still having trouble with this. It's available for free online.


    EDIT: Aggression is defined as violence, fraud or threats thereof.

  7. I think libertarians know the majority is ignorant, that's why we generally oppose Democracy. I'm waiting it out, greater access to free information (internet) is allowing libertarianism to grow.

    As a libertarian I see the Constitution as a means of protecting myself from the consensus of a majority not greater than 2/3rds of legislative and 3/4ths of the state.

    If that doesn't work I should always have the right to secession.

    Personally I only oppose personal income taxes.

  8. No, not really.

    In America Intended size = within the Constitution (it was written for a reason)

    You seem like you still have a lot of learning to do. What % of the Income tax do you think goes to any of the things you listed? Well good old president Regan had a commission put together to find out about Gov. waste called the Grace commission. The Grace Commission - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Here is the fun part The report said:

    "that one-third of all income taxes is consumed by waste and inefficiency in the federal government, and another one-third escapes collection owing to the underground economy. “With two thirds of everyone's personal income taxes wasted or not collected, 100 percent of what is collected is absorbed solely by interest on the federal debt and by federal government contributions to transfer payments. In other words, all individual income tax revenues are gone before one nickel is spent on the services [that] taxpayers expect from their government."-Grace Report page 12.

    Libertarians are not for abolishing every single tax. Just the unconstitutional ones like FEDERAL INCOME tax. States are very much allowed to have an income tax for all those sorts of programs, federal Gov, not so much.
  9. Fail post. The entire premise is that you can justify theft if "enough" people say it's OK.

    I can stand on the corner with KStigs and Aaronman and the three of us could vote that anyone passing by should give us $50. Just because we have a 3:1 majority doesn't make it right. Even if we give it to starving children in Ethiopia.
  10. Isn't ethical by any reasonable standard? We live in a democracy. Yes, there are barriers to true representation, but if a significant majority of the population stood on one side of a particular issue it would only be a matter of time for the inertia to build up to sufficient levels to change laws. This hasn't happened with taxation. Why is that? Clearly the vast majority of the populace consents (if begrudgingly) to the system of taxation under which we currently operate. The fact that there may be a minority that doesn't consent to the current scheme of things isn't sufficient in proving that an income tax system like that which we currently operate under "isn't ethical by any reasonable standard." Where is the duress, the aggression keeping individuals who dislike the system beholden to it? The US does not bar people from leaving the country. Where is the coercion then?

    I don't think you fully appreciate the notion of a free rider problem. A company is not likely to opt to pave a road between its production and distribution center on account of all its other competitors who will derive benefit from that investment while bearing none of the cost.

    Why would a wealthy individual, say, voluntarily offer dollars to the government to be used for programs benefiting the poor, a socioeconomic group that neither that particular individual, nor their family members, nor their progeny is likely to fall into. Altruism may guide some, but hardly enough to fund social programs on a wide scale.

    Taking this free rider argument to its logical conclusion, one can understand why leaving it up to the states to institute or abandon these programs would inevitably result in failure. Let's say all this power is returned to the states and pretend for a moment that only two states exist, California and Texas. California decides to institute extensive poverty-alleviation programs aimed at addressing the needs of the state's most destitute residents. Texas, perhaps adopting the stance that the poor just have it too good under welfare to have sufficient motivation to improve their lives :)rolleyes:), decides to eliminate its welfare programs entirely.Assuming relatively unconstrained travel, where do you think the poor are going to go? California, of course! So you essentially have an exodus of all the poor from Texas into California. It is not very likely that California would therefore be able to keep up its social programs with this new burden of all these additional poor individuals. The net result is that, at best, social support programs would become inferior as programs belonging to states that still instituted them would become overburdened as a result of the cessation of these programs among other states
  11. One last comment: you are incorrect here. The existence of an incentive does not necessarily mean the free market will step in to supply that demand. For example, if people demand a certain fruit during the winter season at certain prices but there is no way to supply said fruit at or below those prices, economic activity will not take place.

    If you generally oppose democracy, what form of government do you generally support?

    Please refer to my previous post for the response to this tired, oh-so-tired argument. Remaining a citizen of a country and screaming "theft" when you are taxed under its laws is as ridiculous as my entering into a boxing match and screaming "assault" when a punch is thrown.
  12. #12 Arteezy, Apr 4, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 4, 2012
    Right. You're not entitled to have a service provided to you.

    What the majority thinks is right doesn't always reflect what is actually right.

    Argumentum ad populum. Basing what is legally acceptable on what the majority thinks is acceptable is incredibly dangerous.

    People don't consent to taxes. They're taken through violence, fraud or threats thereof.

    If any other group tried to 'tax' someone, it'd be considered theft. Why is the government any different? Hint: Just get to the social contract bullshit so I can mutilate it for umpteenth time.

    I never said that it was. Straw man.

    The US can and does bar many people from leaving the country and even extradites them (from foreign countries) if they fail to pay taxes (after already emigrating from the United States). Honestly, if you can't see how the US government is coercive, you're simply not looking at all. Your blinders must be comfortable.

    Just because I can leave the country, doesn't mean taxes are voluntary. Non-sequitur.
    Just because I walk into a shady alley, doesn't mean I consent to sex with a stranger, giving them my wallet, etc.
    Just because I live in the United States, doesn't mean I consent to a social contract (that doesn't exist in the material world which means it's not really a contract by any reasonable standard).

    I don't think you fully appreciate the notions of self-ownership, non-aggression, universally preferable behavior, logic, empirical evidence, rational analysis, etc.

    As long as we're making assumptions about the other person, I thought I'd throw my assumptions into the ring. I would love to be proven wrong.

    You said this:
    This is absolutely correct, but it assumes a great deal, which is why, even assuming this is true, your conclusion doesn't follow (read: non-sequitur).

    A company could easily charge people to use the road. There are dozens of solutions that would allow them to do this.

    The free-rider problem isn't an effective argument against a libertarian society.


    No, the best result is that people realize that the government is coercive and they stop placing stock in the idea of a state.

    Your argument relies on the ends justifying the means, which they never do. From an ethical standpoint, there are logical flaws in advocating a government as governments exist today.

    The initiation of aggression is never ethical where aggression is defined as violence, fraud or threats thereof.

    For further reading: Universally Preferable Behavior: A Rational Proof of Secular Ethics - Freedomain Radio - Free Philosophy Books

  13. Yeah, it's ridiculous if you believe that government owns the land and everyone who lives here is renting it from them. You may be comfortable living in servitude but some of us think for ourselves and prefer it that way.
  14. #14 gedio, Apr 4, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2012
    So do it voluntarily. If you can't get enough people to pay in voluntarily rather tha coercively then it was never actually popular in the first place and the point is moot.

    Have any central pool of money upheld by voluntary donations and contributions. Again, if this won't stay afloat voluntarily it's because not enough people actually want it.

    Isn't it outlined fairly straightforwardly in America's constitution?

    If you're so worried send a chequeue to the treasury.

  15. You seem like an intelligent individual but like I said in my earlier post, you have a lot to learn.

    First off we don't live in a Democracy. We live in a Democratic Republic. If we lived in a Democracy like you claim and a majority consensus among the populous was reached then laws would change like you claim right? Read up on the country's support of legalization\decriminalization\MMJ and whens the last time the Feds changed the laws on those?

    Secondly your free ride theory is not a very stable argument. The ppl who build the road can charge its competitors if they want to use such said road, boom problem solved.

    As for the Texas Vs CA. You go against your original assumption that we live in a Democracy. A majority of ppl are either middle or lower class. We will agree the rich are not the majority right? Well once again if this was a Democracy the majority would be the ppl needing those services so why would they vote to get rid of them? But realistically the poor folks would have to figure something out. I don't have the answer but they couldn't just up and move to CA to get the benefits. You need to be a resident of a state to receive benefits in that state. Just moving to a state doesn't grant you residency(at least not all states).

    And you are right, ppl are free to leave the USA if they want. BUT, if they make any money while out of the USA the good old IRS will forcefully make you give part of that money to them if they find out about it. "You don't have to stay, but you do have to pay".
  16. I never said what the majority thinks is right is necessarily what is actually right, just that it's obvious what popular opinion is and is not in regards to the issue of taxation.

    STRAWMAN hurrr :p just playing

    There is no fraud in the agreement of citizenship. With the exception of those who are under the age of 18, the threshold at which an individual is typically considered an adult, a person is more or less free to be a citizen of what nations they please (granted, for many fucked up reasons it isn't quite so easy from developing --> developed countries, especially the US, but let's limit the discussion to the situation that would most affect libertarians today).

    There is only one real rule: consent to the law of the land and you are entitled to the protections of one's rights afforded by the state. Note, before you all flip your shit, I'm not saying that governments give citizens their 'natural rights', because frankly, I think 'natural rights' do not exist. I am not entitled to anything by merit of the fact that I exist. All that a human is considered to be entitled to is that which society agrees he/she is entitled to. Obviously, I'm all for human rights, and I'm all for the rights espoused in the US Constitution. However, whereas some of the framers believed the rights they wrote of were endowed by God, as someone that does not believe in the Christian God, I cannot be in accord with any understanding of rights other than those that we as humans have agreed should be afforded to others.

    In short, you do not have the right to be absolutely free from the intrusion of a third party into your life. There is nothing written into the code of the universe, into your DNA, that says you are entitled to this. Rather, the lengths or limits to which this intrusion can legally occur is, naturally, determined by the code of law created by the members of the society in which you reside. I find it very surprising that libertarians can drone on and on about the entitlements of the impoverished while a central foundation of their political viewpoint rests on a much deeper sense of entitlement - very hypocritical.

    The United States has its own particular set of laws that its people have developed over the years. In these laws, and obviously, in the Constitution and Bill of Rights that outlined some of the most basic ones, the rights of its citizenry is outlined. You are right that laws being on the books does not necessarily make them 'right' in a sort of ethical sense, but again, I never claimed that. All I'm claiming is that a system of taxation is something that the populace consents to, and furthermore, that it is something that does not explicitly violate the rights of the citizenry as outlined in our legal doctrine.

    Your cries of "theft", therefore, are misguided. You choose to be an American citizen every day that you remain in this country. It seems obvious that you wish that you could relinquish that title yet remain within the boundaries of the US. It's fair enough to hold that opinion, but you're not entitled to have your wish realized.

    I'm curious, do you believe in a higher power or some supernatural force that grants humans these rights of which you speak? Does this apply to other animals as well? If not, why not?
    I'm trying to understand why you should have this very strong assumption about these inherent rights of humans, external of any accord reached by human society or a collection of humans.

    I beg to differ. The assumption being that you can leave the country, this means that you can choose which country to be a citizen of (or I suppose you could just live on international waters or Antarctica if the whole human-society thing wasn't really for you). Choosing to be a citizen of a country means consenting to the rules of that society, as I outlined above as one of the most basic rules of citizenship. You choose to be a US citizen, therefore you choose to abide by its laws, therefore you choose to be a part of the tax system. You can dislike it all you want but that doesn't have anything to do with the basic consent that you give by remaining a US citizen.

    It's very ironic that you shit all over social contracts due to their being a theoretical construct, while in the same breath praising natural rights, another theoretical construct.

    I'll address the other points later but for now I've got to go
  17. #17 Mist425, Apr 4, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 4, 2012
    This is true, and I should have been more specific in my original post: majority consensus needs to occur among the population of citizens that choose to vote. Oftentimes you'll see gallup polls and whatnot talking about record-high support of marijuana decriminalization/legalization, but these polls are conducted by surveying 'likely voters' and do not necessarily (as one can see from the imperfect track record of marijuana legalization efforts) reflect the opinions of voters.

    It is accurate to say that there are market solutions to some free rider problems, but they can only go so far. Major interstates could feasibly be maintained by firms that turn them into toll roads; this is economically possible because such roadways receive enough traffic (and therefore generate enough toll revenue) to pay for the maintenance. However, what of roadways that serve a smaller population, as in rural areas? It is unlikely many firms would have a particular economic interest in seeing those roads maintained, and it is also unlikely that residents would be able to pool their resources to meet the costs of maintaining them; the road/person ratio is just too high.

    This issue need not be limited to roads but could extend to any utilities. As an electricity provider, if the only funds I have at my disposal come from revenues I gain from charging people for their electricity (i.e. no public support), I am going to behave in a way that is profit-maximizing. There could be a multitude of towns for which, despite demand for electricity being just as high there as in other towns, the start-up costs of installing the power lines might not be compensated by the additional revenue gained from charging for those services. In such a case, there is a distinct danger of those utilities not being accessible to the people.

    I respectfully reject your claim that I go against my original assumption that we live in a (pseudo) democracy in my Texas vs. CA example. I stated that the laws in practice typically reflect the will of the voting public, not, as some have falsely attributed to me, that what is on the books is "right" in an ethical sense or even "right" in a self-interest sense. To put it clearly, people do not always vote with their best interests in mind; religion, partisanship, passions, etc. can be allowed to dominate reason. Thus, it's entirely feasible that Texans could, as a state, vote to get rid of such programs. They vote for abstinence-only education presently, for example, and we all know how well that's working out for them.

    The poor would not be able to gain immediate citizenship in California, that is true, but at least in that state you simply need to reside there for a year to become a citizen, more or less. The long-term trend, then, would be the movement of poor Texans to California. Again, in the long-run, I believe this would lead to overburdened public support services in California - or at least increase the likelihood that the quality of programs would suffer.

    The process may be somewhat convoluted, but it is very much possible to legally renounce one's US citizenship. You are right, though, in suggesting that leaving the US does not immediately end one's legal obligations to pay taxes.
  18. #18 Arteezy, Apr 5, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 5, 2012
    No arguments there. I wasn't saying that you said that either.

    When I called straw man, you had actually quoted a piece of my writing and placed it into a different context.

    There is no agreement of citizenship. The agreement is non-existent. So yea, it'd be hard to find fraud within something that doesn't actually exist.

    These 'rights' afforded by the state tend to change on a whim, making them privileges. Furthermore, I never consented to the law of the land. Simply being here doesn't imply consent. The government doesn't own all the land.

    You don't have a right to intrude on my life and property. Note that this contradicts the quoted statement.

    This goes back to self-ownership, the non-aggression principle and the homesteading principle as the foundation for property rights.

    Ethics can be logically derived from a small set of assumptions. I posted a link above to Molyneux's proof.

    It's not entitlement, it's just ethics.

    If you want to talk about hypocrisy, let's take a look at the United States' history in contrast to the US Constitution. Can you find one decade where the US didn't violate its social contract? Please start by defining what is actually in this contract, since I've never seen it.

    If the populace consented to being slaves, would you still defend it?

    I don't choose to be an American citizen. I choose to live here as opposed to another human farm that you would call 'nations'. There's a difference.

    Just because I remain in an area that is rampant with theft, doesn't mean I consent to being stolen from.

    No one's entitled to anything. Ethics aren't mandatory.
    No to the first question. Yes to a degree for the second question. The animal question is a little more difficult because I don't think that say a mouse that's in my house destroying things has the same amount of rights as a domesticated dog that wandered onto my property. The dog deserves a degree of care while I really couldn't care less if the property owner wants to kill the mouse.

    In short, animals have rights, just not the same ones that humans have.

    All of the countries are human farms (see: slave plantations with less restrictions) and the two options in parentheses aren't really feasible if I wanted to survive.

    You have not outlined this. Not even close. You've yet to describe what the agreement entails and how I agreed to it. Simply being/living in an area doesn't imply consent.

    No, I shit on them because even if you believe they're a theoretical construct, the other side doesn't hold up their end of the implied bargain, so why the fuck is it a legitimate agreement when one side doesn't have to fulfill their supposed obligations?


    Force is defined as violence, fraud or threats thereof.

    The state is the only institution that is allowed to initiate force. The initiation of force is not ethical in any circumstance because to be in favor of the initiation of force would be contradictory as you would want someone to attack you for no good reason. Therefore, the state is a criminal institution.

    The state holds normative power largely due to indoctrination, but when one starts analyzing their actions from an objective standpoint*, one can easily tell that they are not different from any other gang/terrorist organization except perhaps in the scale of their operations.

    * An objective standpoint would be similar to what is employed within science and mathematics. One would use logic, rational analysis, empirical evidence, universality, etc. to prove hypotheses.

  19. 1. If its popular consensus to run these programs, then you should have no problem allowing it to happen voluntarily. Since its so popular, people won't have to be stolen from, they will just participate.

    2. The same system that provides services for us now exists without government. Literally all government does is act as a middle man with the legal right to control and steal from interactions. Without government facilitating these things to people and controlling who does what, people will be forced to learn to provide these things for themselves, and to each other ( oh the horror of self reliance) which is the goal in the first place isn't it?
  20. Ah, I can count with my fingers the number of times I've stated this exact same thing only to be rejected or ignored.

    Wait a minute..


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