Campus personalities present and past Rebecca C. Brown and Tommaso Sciortino tackle the issues. This week on a very special CalJunket: Rebecca learns not to chew with her mouth open and Tommaso finds out his best friend is addicted to no-doze.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Global warming consequencesA while back during a discussion on Environmentalism, BAD took the brave and original position that global warming wasn’t a big deal even if it did happen. He even argued that it could be beneficial because as certain places became to hot for productive farming, other places would be thawing out. So brave and different from the conservative orthodoxy was this that no less than Dennis Miller took a similar “Hey, if it gets 1 degree warmer every 50 years, big deal” position on the daily show while conservative New York Times editorialist John Tierney argued that global warming could help polar bears.
We really do have to hand it to these brave souls fighting against the evil liberal hierarchy while respectfully disagreeing with the conservative spin. Sure, they end up supporting the same policies as Republicans but they do so not with the same old crap we’re fed everyday on TV and radio, but with all new, different crap, which is so stupid that no one has bothered to refute it yet. This allows me to be the very first person to try to debunk the “replacement farms” argument. It’s not a very good argument, but I get to debunk it all on my own.
Forget for a second that the world is spherical and not tube-shaped. Forget for a moment the actual distribution of land on the surface of that spherical earth and how a lot more of it lies where we farm now than where we would be able to farm when it got hotter. Let’s focus merely on the portion of the earth where our country lies.
Wouldn’t that be bad for our national interests? Would BAD really want to have to buy wheat from
Of course, there’s a lot of uncertainty, but why is BAD willing to risk the employment and industries of his fellow Americans? I can guess at an answer: The only other option is to agree with a liberal. And that is worse than all the beetles eating all the forests in all of
I think that’s what South Park Republicanism is all about: You don’t have to adopt the Republican position to be accepted, you just have to be hate Liberals. If you absolutely must hold a position similar to that of a liberal like accepting gays, pretend it’s a libertarian position even if they don’t really care too much about it.
Hi TS. I'm about to drive back up to Berkeley from Socal, so I'll keep this short for now.
This seems to be the latest in a series of posts where you bash libertarians. I have to ask, why the animosity? Why target us when we have such a tiny influence on Republican politics when compared to the social conservatives? I would assume that you share much more in common with the South Park Republican wing of the party than with the Jerry Falwell Wing. If I were a liberal, I would cheer the South Park Republican movement on as a step in the right direction (at least on some social issues).
Also, do you really think that "hating liberals" is what drives our views? Could it be that we arrive at our conclusions because we hold a mindset that is separate from both liberals and conservatives? Isn't it possible that you can arrive at the same conclusion for different reasons? For example, liberals are against anti-homosexual laws because people should be accepting of differences. On the other hand, libertarians are against these laws because they don't think government should have the authority over such matters. The reasoning behind our views is what sets us apart, ideologically.
I'll leave the global warming debate to you and Beetle.
As I've mentioned before, your opinion on this issue is hardly liberal, TS.
I'm not willing to risk anything. As you may have noticed, I have no power over the issue.
I'm not arguing that we need to encourage global warming because global warming will make the world better. I don't know if that's true. I'm arguing that we need to consider the possibility that global warming could make the world better, and I'm glad to see that some people are studying it.
More generally, though, we may have to accept it, regardless of whether it's better or not. Can we stop global warming? It's not immediately clear that by not doing the things that caused the problem, we'll see the problem go away.
we dont need stupid shiT like kyoto cuz global warming is a good ting s0n. lots of places benefit from it getting warmer.
in fact i wants more global warming, SF is still to cold in da winter.
You pose a good question patr: Why do I dislike libertarians more than the religious right? I think the answer is that libertarianism is just more transparently morally wrong in my eyes. As much as the religious right rejects all the lessons Jesus taught and tries to turn morality into Talmudic law, their views don’t just nakedly advance their own interests. Libertarians benefit from society, attend public schools, drive on public roads, take advantage of progress made by American society in general, but hold that they shouldn’t pay the taxes that make these things possible. Sure, it may be cheaper to do it that way, (economies of scale and all) but it’s a moral stance: Taxation is slavery after all.
And again, I should be clear here: When I say libertarian I don't just mean someone who wants smaller government. That’s a silly definition. Of course you want smaller government. I want smaller government. Everyone but the communists wants smaller government. When I say libertarian, I mean those who take the decisions about how we structure our society and change it from a question of efficiency (in which case government would rightly almost always lose to the free market) and turn it into a moral question where the efficiency of one system over the other is irrelevant.
Libertarianism, though it continually claims to be an insignificant force, functions as the public philosophy of the business wing of the Republican Party. When big business wants to get out of its social responsibilities they can’t just say so. Instead, Libertarianism is called upon to provide “public reasons”. They are trotted out to talk about how this or that tax is immoral, how this or that regulation goes against the natural rights of man, how this or that environmental responsibility is unbearable. When big business wants something the libertarians can’t argue for they are silent as a mouse. Did I miss all those libertarian efforts to stop the Medicare bill? Maybe they just weren’t covered on TV. Or maybe they only have problems with government programs when liberals are in charge. It would certainly explain why libertarians can never find a bad word to say about the military.
Libertarianism is the only philosophy that I believe is really capable of bringing America down. If in the future America is no longer the land of opportunity, it will be because libertarians shut the public schools down (and then argued vouchers were “naked redistribution”). If in the future American business is mired in inefficient monopolies and oligopolies, it will because libertarians got rid of the anti-trust legislation (limits of people’s right to contract). If in the future collective bargaining only happens when big business collectively sets the wages which its employees must accept, it’ll be because libertarians too. If in the future the environment is a wasteland it’ll be because libertarians argued against any limits on property rights.
The religious right is looking to do something which government is bad at doing: turn back the cultural clock. Libertarians and big business wants to government to do something it’s good at: fail. That’s pretty much my take on it.
I don't know where you've been hearing the libertarian reasons for the things you listed. I don't hear them. I always hear "high taxes will damage the economy, environmental regulations will cripple the ability of business to do such and such" and so on.
And while you criticize libertarians for advancing their own interests, you claim that "efficiency is the important thing, and morality shouldn't trump it," which really just sounds like yet another "advancing their own interests" argument. At least the libertarians are also concerned with the morality of government action.
I think you'd get more mileage out of your 'silly definition' of libertarians, because it actually applies to people who aren't nuts. You can find many people who don't trust the government, don't want the government getting involved in many things, yet still happily pay their taxes and function under government rule. They actually choose to weigh their concern with the immorality of government action and the necessities of functioning society. And many of these people call themselves 'libertarians.'
And yes, these people support a military, because it is necessary. They do not support universal health care, because it is not.
If people hate liberals, might it not possibly be because liberals have in a number of important ways fucked up? Blaming everything on the evil Republican conspiracy which tricks voters into thinking that the opposite of their best interest is in fact their best interest just isn't enough at the explanatory level. The intellectual poverty of today's left may be even greater than that of today's right.
As for global warming: yes, it's worrisome. But then so are a lot of other things, such as the fact that we'll all end up dead one of these days. Or haven't you noticed that yet...?
”[your argument] really just sounds like yet another "advancing their own interests" argument. At least the libertarians are also concerned with the morality of government action.”
I thought my remarks were clear but let me clarify further: Of course we’re all out to make the world better for ourselves to a certain extent. From what I’ve seen, libertarians advocate advancing their self interest without taking head of the expense to everyone else’s. They seem to assume that this behavior always is the best for society and when you present them with situations to the contrary (like global warming) their attention spans shrink to that of a 3 year old. See Anonymous’ “we’re all going to die anyway” response. Liberals, though there is lively debate on the specifics, seek to expand freedom and opportunity for everybody even if, on special occasions, that requires asking people to shoulder new responsibilities.
“the immorality of government action”
Well that pretty much sums up my point, doesn’t it? Libertarians, as much as they want to talk about “high taxes damage the economy, blah blah blah” always come back to their own view that the American government (and all government) is basically immoral. How can Libertarians pretend to weigh an immoral action (using government force) against morally ambiguous goals like ensuring that roads are built and run efficiently? It’s silly. Of course immoral government action shouldn’t be used for that!
That’s why as much as you try to claim that your conclusions are based on pragmatics and logic, they aren’t really. Any discussion that (for example) concluded that environmental laws would pay for themselves in lower healthcare costs would be preempted by the fact that “the world doesn’t owe you a healthy environment.” Sure, it’d be nice to be able to breath, but it isn’t a right, so how can an otherwise immoral (government) action be justified? Much like Intellegent Design advocates, libertarians assume the facts are in their favor because their gospel tells them it is.
“And yes, these people support a military, because it is necessary.”
How are public schools necessary? How are public roads? The national integrity of the United States was never seriously threatened by trusts and monopolies, so then how is anti-trust legislation necessary? How about child labor laws? They aren’t necessary. And unless you have a good reason why they are, then I’ll just have to assume that you believe that they are morally wrong. What with using immoral government action.
“They [people] do not support universal health care.”
I’ll leave you with this:
“An extensive ABCNEWS/Washington Post poll conducted in 2003, found that Americans prefer a universal health insurance program by a 2-1 margin over the current employer-based system.”
Oh, but I know what you’re going to say: “If only they had polled Americans about a health insurance system where everybody looked out for themselves with no government protections”. Yeah, I bet they would have liked that so much.
I have no idea which people you are talking about. Seriously. The people you are talking about bear very little resemblance to actual libertarians I know.
'Libertarianism' is based on a philosophy which considers acts of aggression to be wrong, and taxation and other government impositions to be acts of aggression. The people who actually live by that philosophy are indeed nuts, but that tends to be true of most people who actually live by a moral philosophy. Most libertarians use that philosophy as a loose guide to morality.
"From what I've seen, libertarians advocate advancing their self interest without taking he[e]d of the expense to everyone else's."
This is where you're confounding the Cult of Rand with normal libertarians.
"They seem to assume that this behavior always is the best for society and when you present them with situations to the contrary (like global warming) their attention spans shrink to that of a 3 year old."
As you mention elsewhere, they make no such assumption. The nutty libertarians are concerned with the morality of actions, not with whether they are best for society. The normals, however, also consider what is best for society.
"How can Libertarians pretend to weigh an immoral action (using government force) against morally ambiguous goals like ensuring that roads are built and run efficiently? It's silly. Of course immoral government action shouldn't be used for that!"
Here, again, I have no idea who you're talking about. Sometimes the moral is not practical. Some people actually do try to wade through the moral ambiguity of these situations. They'll accept that government action is sometimes necessary. Like all moral philosophies, libertariansim does't 'work,' but that doesn't mean it should thus be dismissed as a moral guide.
Balancing the needs of society with the 'right' to not be attacked is a difficult issue. It's not one where you can simply sit back and pick a side. Libertarianism is the defense of that right, and the group of people commonly called 'libertarians' are those who usually end up speaking in defense of that right. But if it makes it easier to understand, think of it like a scale, where some people are 'more libertarian' than others.
Going back to your first reply:
When big business wants something the libertarians can’t argue for they are silent as a mouse. Did I miss all those libertarian efforts to stop the Medicare bill? Maybe they just weren’t covered on TV. Or maybe they only have problems with government programs when liberals are in charge. It would certainly explain why libertarians can never find a bad word to say about the military.
Yes, you did miss out on all these efforts. I'm just guessing here, but I probably check out the libertarian/conservative media more often than you. When Bush pushed his Medicare plan, there was considerable dissent from one many right-wing blogs and forums. Bush was compared to FDR and LBJ; not good things for a "conservative" to be compared to. But Bush got what he wanted anyway because what I said is true: libertarians, or even fiscal conservatives, are not in control. You could use your hands to count how many of them there are in Congress, and still be left with a few fingers to spare.
You also seem to think the interests of big business and libertarians go hand in hand. This is a common fallacy that many on the left believe in. When business wants tariffs or subsidies, who is most vehemently opposed? When business wanted the power of eminent domain, who argued against this in front of the Supreme Court (whose left wing gave big business a big win)? Big business is its own interest, and libertarians are not allied in everything that businesses may want.
Oh yeah, libertarians are also not all united in favor of the military and its actions. This is one of the big divisions. Some libertarians are the most anti-war people you'll ever meet. Some are more hawkish than most neocons.
If you're looking for a group to hate, then at least learn a little more about them so your attacks will be somewhat accurate.
If you can’t support public schools, public roads, anti-trust laws, or child labor laws I see little to distinguish you from those in the “Cult of Rand”. You claim that government is allowed to do things only if “it’s necessary” not if “it’s better that way*”. How is that not a moral statement? You even questioned whether “efficiency is a government goal”.
I suppose we can pretend that libertarian doesn’t mean what libertarian philosophers think it means. But if you define it as “prefers small government unless there’s a really good reason not to” I don’t see how that distinguishes libertarian from plain old conservative.
Or is “Libertarian” just a label for people who don’t want to admit that they’re conservative?
*Or even, “the citizens of that government think it’s better that way”.
Um, yes, that is a moral statement. Most moral philosophy involves moral statements.Post a Comment
And you're correct, nothing clearly distinguishes libertarians from normal conservatives (or liberals, for that matter). People disagree on what counts as "a really good reason." Some people have high standards for what counts as such a reason. These people are commonly called "libertarians." Of course, 'high' is a pretty imprecise term. As a result, so is 'libertarian.'