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Had a long talk with a Libertarian yesterday.....

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politicat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 02:09 PM
Original message
Had a long talk with a Libertarian yesterday.....
He's running for local office, and was invited to our freethinkers' meeting because he's trying to agitate the local Lib party to join us on our pet project for the next two years (we're trying to get the public school use of Corporal punishment entirely banned within the state of Colorado.)

We got into economics, and he said something to the effect of "So, you really don't mind redistributing wealth as long as it goes the way you want it to go?"

well, yeah.... duh.

Background - we were discussing people who can't take care of themselves, for whatever reason - because they're physically, mentally or educationally incapable. That because these people didn't a) ask to be in this state of not being able to care for themselves or b) we can't regulate luck, I posit that for the common good, we must take care of those who cannot take care of themselves, either in a short term, giving a helping hand situation, or b) in a longer term, permanent dignity and care situation.

He stated that because we've been a welfare state for so long, that people don't give to charities, but if we got rid of the welfare state, after a while (and I'm assuming, after people died of exposure and starvation and their bodies started littering the streets, because we wouldn't have social services to take care of disposal) that charitable giving would go way up and that would take care of that.

I laughed.

I didn't mean to, but it was so ridiculous. I mean, is it just me and my post-modern cynicism that thinks, "Okay, 75,000 homeless people already die because they can't get into shelters during the winter now; 450 people die every summer in Phoenix because they get turned out of the shelters at 5:30 to go do the Manpower wait and can't get back in until 8 pm and nobody's doing a damn think to help them? Why should that change if we get rid of government and privatize the whole she-bang?"

Is it just me, or do they seem far too idealistic? Mr. Politicat and I talked about it driving home, talked about the idea that to us, the Libertarians seem to have far too much faith in the generosity of human beings; the Neo-Cons don't care about people at all unless those people are themselves; and then there's us Dems, looking at the situation and saying "Okay, people won't do this on their own so we have to do it for them."

How do you talk to Libertarians, and have you ever convinced one that in their way lies destruction of society?

I tried to bring up the point that we've already done a few decades of laissez-faire, where everything was on the back of private charities, and that it worked very badly - I'm referring to the 1870-1910 period of American History - and that people died and were abused by the system quite nicely, thankyouverymuch, but he claimed that that was still the problem of government abberation and etc...



Okay, that's off my chest.

Pcat
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Commie Pinko Dirtbag Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 02:12 PM
Response to Original message
1. And I thought Communism was the only ideology...
...that placed excessive trust in human nature. Libertarians utterly outnave them.
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GOPisEvil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 02:13 PM
Response to Original message
2. The worst thing for a Libertarian would be:
sentenced to live in their own Utopia.
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phillybri Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 02:44 PM
Response to Reply #2
13. I've heard you say that before and you're dead on...
Good point...
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shoelace414 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 02:17 PM
Response to Original message
3. I consider libertarians
Republicans that have no concept of the real world.
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mac56 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 02:19 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. I consider libertarians
Edited on Mon Jul-19-04 02:30 PM by mac56
Republicans that smoke pot.
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livetohike Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 02:21 PM
Original message
Twenty four years of friendship with a Libertarian and
we still debate the same issues. He says Libertarians are "economic conservatives and social liberals". However, he can't name one social issue that he is liberal on.

He believes we should only be taxed for "the common defense" of the nation. We should write checks for everything else. When I ask him what do we do with those who refuse to "pay their fair share", he has no answer.

It's hopeless, but we enjoy arguing. He's a native Coloradoan. Is there something in the water there :shrug: .

Keep smiling :-) .
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livetohike Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 02:21 PM
Response to Original message
5. delete - dupe
Edited on Mon Jul-19-04 02:22 PM by livetohike
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XNASA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 02:26 PM
Response to Original message
6. Why is it Libertarians and Repubs only bring up 'Social Welfare'..
Why don't they ever want to talk about Corporate Welfare??
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rfranklin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 02:27 PM
Response to Original message
7. All the great strides in sanitation and vaccinations, etc....
did not come from the private sector--they couldn't make a quick buck off longer lives and healthier workers. It came because we had government programs to enforce health rules and vaccinations and so forth. The private sector also did not run out and build a nation-wide system of highways. They didn't provide us with clean water or sanitation rules to prevent the spread of really disgusting and painful diseases. They didn't provide for the care of the poor and sick. So what the fuck is this asshole talking about?
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politicat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 02:30 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Exactly. I don't understand this mindset - is it willful or just ignorance
I don't understand how someone who seems otherwise bright and able to think can see that the private sector and the individual cannot be depended upon to look out for the common good - people are not that altruistic.

Sigh....

Pcat
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LoZoccolo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 02:37 PM
Response to Reply #9
12. I think it's a euphoria about free-market theory.
I think free markets are kind-of neat in theory and can do some interesting things, and I get interested in game theory myself but I know that these sorts of models for running things are often concieved of too simply to be applied whole-hog. I think these people pick up on some of this and get carried away with it and try to apply it to all sorts of things - kind of like that old adage that if all you have is a hammer you see every problem as a nail.
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DinahMoeHum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 02:32 PM
Response to Reply #7
11. . . .or the roads and bridges. . .
n/t
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LoZoccolo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 02:28 PM
Response to Original message
8. Nothing is stopping people from giving to charities now.
If they wanted to promote their philosophy without harming people, they would be pushing this rather than a "take it away and people will fill in the gap" strategy.
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politicat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 02:31 PM
Response to Reply #8
10. Ah, but in Lib voice, Taxes are preventing it. If they had more money....
they'd give it away.

As I laugh in derision....

(This from someone who is supporting not one but two people who cannot take care of themselves and helping them develop their skills and abilities so that someday they may be self-supporting. And they're not family members, either.)

Pcat
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phillybri Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 02:46 PM
Response to Original message
14. Libertarian Babes!!! (also known as homely closet-Repubs)
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Blue-Jay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 02:50 PM
Response to Original message
15. Libertarians are worse whores than Repukes.
They want NONE of their own money going anywhere but their own pockets. They don't give a shit about their fellow man nor about their country.

True, many (if not most) Libertarians are for legalization of pot, but only because they realize that the "War On Drugs" costs THEM money. True, they're generally against restrictions on gay marriage, but that's only because fewer laws equal fewer dollars out of their pockets.

NOTHING that these bozos advocate are out of altruism, rather their whole belief system is based on the almighty dollar. They like to say that "charities" will come to the rescue of the unfortunate, but they'll only personally donate if they get another big tax break.

Basically, they're the worst of the worst selfish money-grubbing bastards. Even worse than your average Republican. The dollar is God to these weasels. Nothing else matters. Don't be fooled by their willingness to support a few of the same causes as Liberals, as their reasoning for their support is selfishness.

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denverbill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 03:08 PM
Response to Reply #15
19. I disagree.
I used to be a Libertarian 10-15 years ago. It's a very compelling philosophy, because at first glance, it appears so straightforward. Maximum freedom is just about the only law.

The reason it makes sense is that greed is natural, so an economic philosophy that relies on greed should succeed. Unfortunately, as with any pure philosophy, it breaks down when you specifics.

After all, when John D Rockefeller buy up competitors, uses monopolistic practices to ruin others and put the screws to his own customers, that isn't in the best interests of 99.9999999999% of the population. So you need laws to regulate monopolies and agencies to enforce those laws.

I don't think Libertarians are necessarily more 'evil' than Republicans. Personally, I think they just aren't educated fully.
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Blue-Jay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 03:33 PM
Response to Reply #19
21. You'll note that I didn't say "evil".
I'm friends with several people who consider themselves to be Libertarians, and I don't consider them to be "evil" at all. Just selfish and short-sighted money-grubbers.


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denverbill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 03:01 PM
Response to Original message
16. Ask him to examine some actual cases.
The problem with charity is that what it's most needed is when it's least available. During a recession, charitable giving drops, but more people need charity then than need it when the economy is doing well.

You don't have that problem with govt. If there is a recession, the govt just borrows a bit of money to cover the increased need for benefits. You don't see private individuals borrowing money to donate to charity.

The other problem with his hypothesis is that he thinks people will increase their giving if taxes are cut. We've had two major tax cuts in the last 4 years. Ask him if giving has increased?

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Cats Against Frist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 03:02 PM
Response to Original message
17. This is a very interesting topic
Because it is something with which I've been flirting a lot, lately -- going back to read Rothbund, Rand, Mises, Friedman -- some others. The problem with libertarianism is three fold;

1. The utiopian libertarian vision cannot be made piecemeal -- in other words, your friend's pronouncement that if you simply stop feeding the poor, all our problems will be solved, is stupid and short-sighted. Libertarianism's solution to getting rid of government is decentralization -- but it's really too late for that. A huge breakdown of society would have to happen, before this could be accomplished. The libertarian asks "what if..." but the answer is already there. You can't un-do McDonald's, you can't un-do the fact that consumers are stupid. In other words, if people had stuck to libertarianism from the beginning, the guy might have an argument. At this point, I would guess that NO, people would not suddenly give to charity, because we're all trained to be terminator-like consumers, who will spend every last dollar of disposable income on matching towels or something.

2. You can't trust libertarians -- because they don't trust each other. The party is mainly a mish-mash of misunderstood separatists, Christian Right advocates who don't want to pay their taxes, and kids who want to see marijuana legalized. Each of these groups have taken "libertarian" concepts and applied them to their particular worldview. There is libertarian philosophy, which mainly revolves around three things: property, freedom and peace -- but they still have the same arguments as to what extent the governemnt should be involved in disputes, and what level this "decentralized" government should exist on -- city or town? County? State? The GOP takes as much from libertarian philosophy as the Libertarians, the only difference is that the GOP is more forthcoming about its attempts to morally legislate. I personally think that the necessity of a libertarian party was because people wanted an "alternative GOP," one either without big government or without religion. That's why the official Libertarian party so closely parallels the GOP -- it's kind of an idealistic GOP.

3. Libertarianism doesn't provide an answer to the question: What happens, when, because wealth isn't distributed more evenly, that the wealthy BECOME the government -- like a ruling class, etc? It is at this point that you have to let altruism or communalism into society -- and introduce some principles that we live by, as a whole. Of course, in the libertarian dream, the rich don't become the governemnt, because the "perfect consumer" has "perfect knowledge" and would neither buy, nor support anything that would harm his or her environment or community. In other words -- there are no nine-year-old girls puking their guts out to look like Britney Spears, and people wouldn't buy products that outsource their own jobs.

Like all philosophies, libertarianism is just as idealistic and absurd as the "workers' paradise," and just as insane as the Christian Theocracy. Libertarians do serve to remind us, too, however, that society should be a lot more free than it is. But what to do about it now?

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NewYorkerfromMass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 03:05 PM
Response to Original message
18. That was too long then.
:)
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 03:31 PM
Response to Original message
20. I don't know if they're naive or dishonest.
Often I think it's the latter, that they really don't give a shit about those who slip through the cracks. They want their utopia and if they think they can sell it by faking faith in the goodness of human hearts, that's what they'll do.
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cprise Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 03:55 PM
Response to Original message
22. In a Libertarian utopia
...everyone has equal opportunity for success despite many being unschooled or disease-ridden because, like, they just do. And of course, this all has nothing to do with how much money one's parents have.

In reality, it is vital to provide services like health and education to everyone so that abundant opportunities are available... and so the rich have to compete against ambitious newcomers to justify their status. The rich, in turn, are served in ever more ingenious ways (instead of being despised by a vast sea of ignorant and desperate people).

In reality, capitalism alone becomes flighty and unreliable to say the least when uncertainty and fear enter the equation. The half-baked philosophy of Libertarianism refuses to take this unpleasantry into account, and the resulting laissez-faire money culture quickly recoils into a pattern of hoarding, police states, or both as the ultra-wealthy demand absolute protection of their investments from social and political instability (terrorism, etc).

In reality, the concept of 100% personal responsibility is a failure because it is extremist. Social responsibility is also necessary, and since private/church charities aren't accountable, pleading for the elimination of public services is really asking for the elimination of all responsibility for those who inherit the lion's share of available resources. Eventually, they prefer to foster a sense of collective responsibility that is associated with no one in particular (a Supreme Being) and the public increasingly become dependant on a system of alms.

In reality, ownership and properties must not become absolutes. Money and possessions did not create the universe, nor should they dominate our value system. Hundreds of millions of people work long hours every day to ensure that the lion's share of assets held by 5% of the population are worth anything at all. We get a say on what is done with those resources, and the vehicle for doing so is democratic government. That said, the term "wealth redistribution" is patently false.

Libertarian and communist societies don't exist because they don't work, and countries that move toward these extremes are robbing their children of valuable economic mechanisms required for a vibrant, stable society.

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