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Online Comics => Escape From Terra => Topic started by: Jtuxyan on July 31, 2009, 12:54:20 pm

Title: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: Jtuxyan on July 31, 2009, 12:54:20 pm
Hey, long time reader, first time poster.

I should preface this by saying I'm not a Libertarian of any stripe -- but I find Escape from Terra pretty enjoyable. The world is interesting, the characters are sympathetic, etc. One of it's big selling points for me though is that it's a political comic that doesn't sound overly preachy. The author *shows* us his views instead of *telling* us his views -- and implies they are right by how well this world works, instead of telling us that he's right.

These latest comics though, seem to reverse that trend. The genetically engineered food line was a bit...exposition'y, but tolerable because it is a cool idea and governments banning genetically engineered foods for silly reasons is realistic (hell, it's real). This teleporter bit though steps over the line. People don't exactly seem to be desperate to leave Terra -- even if many would likely choose to do so, it would not unseat the government. Not to mention the *horrific* dangers associated with practical teleportation. It this device can be blocked -- it's useless because Terra's government will just jam it worldwide. If it can't be blocked, then anyone can teleport bombs, bioweapons, warships, etc, about however they want. Society wouldn't radically change for the better, it would *collapse*. And not into the productive kind of Anarchy we see in the belt -- into the people eating eachother, Somalia style violent anarchy.

The heavy handed exposition, somewhat preachy tone, and serious problems with the technology he's describing that are totally overlooked kind of ruin these last few comics for me. This storyline started great, but seems to have taken a sharp turn downhill since.

I'm curious for others thoughts on this matter.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: pchkoreff on July 31, 2009, 01:21:53 pm

This teleporter bit though steps over the line. People don't exactly seem to be desperate to leave Terra -- even if many would likely choose to do so, it would not unseat the government. Not to mention the *horrific* dangers associated with practical teleportation. It this device can be blocked -- it's useless because Terra's government will just jam it worldwide. If it can't be blocked, then anyone can teleport bombs, bioweapons, warships, etc, about however they want.


Oh well, I'll just have to adapt.  First thing I'll do is avoid confrontations with psychopaths who possess serious bombs.  Come to think of it, I already make it a point to do that.



 Society wouldn't radically change for the better, it would *collapse*. And not into the productive kind of Anarchy we see in the belt -- into the people eating each other, Somalia style violent anarchy.


The history of the 20th century clearly illustrates that society is already in a violent, murderous, and degenerate state.  Anarchy had nothing to do with it.  On the contrary:  the culprit was centralized coercive power.

Somalia is a perfect example of what happens when you try to force government into a society which has no need for it:

http://mises.org/story/2066

Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: SandySandfort on July 31, 2009, 02:26:17 pm
Hey, long time reader, first time poster.

I should preface this by saying I'm not a Libertarian of any stripe -- but I find Escape from Terra pretty enjoyable. The world is interesting, the characters are sympathetic, etc. One of it's big selling points for me though is that it's a political comic that doesn't sound overly preachy. The author *shows* us his views instead of *telling* us his views -- and implies they are right by how well this world works, instead of telling us that he's right.

Welcome aboard! You certainly do not have to be a libertarian to enjoy EFT. Personally, I only say I am a libertarian as a starting point in discussion. In fact, I have moved beyond that label to the more radical, Agorist. (see, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agorism ) I'm glad you have enjoyed EFT, at least up to this point. More below.

...This teleporter bit though steps over the line. People don't exactly seem to be desperate to leave Terra -- even if many would likely choose to do so, it would not unseat the government.

Oh I disagree. If such technology were to become available cheaply enough, only a handful of people might leave, but having an open frontier available, empowers the stay-at-homes and makes them demand more freedom at home. Governments have to become more compliant or lose their subjects. How long do you think Cuba would remain as coercive as it is, if Cubans could just up and leave? 

Not to mention the *horrific* dangers associated with practical teleportation. It this device can be blocked -- it's useless because Terra's government will just jam it worldwide. If it can't be blocked, then anyone can teleport bombs, bioweapons, warships, etc, about however they want. Society wouldn't radically change for the better, it would *collapse*. And not into the productive kind of Anarchy we see in the belt -- into the people eating eachother, Somalia style violent anarchy.

First, because it is based on Information Mechanics, it cannot be blocked in the way you suggest. You cannot stop someone from leaving. However, there are ways to interfere with uninvited quests. Metaphorically, "barrage balloons" could stop intruders. As for nukes and bio-weapons, Well, you don't need instantaneous travel technology to deliver them now.

BTW, this not Star Trek teleportation. You don't get in a magic phone booth and get your subatomic particles blasted somewhere. It is a vehicle you get in and "redefine" your location in the universe.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: Jtuxyan on July 31, 2009, 02:46:10 pm
Quote
Oh well, I'll just have to adapt.  First thing I'll do is avoid confrontations with psychopaths who possess serious bombs.  Come to think of it, I already make it a point to do that.

Because there is no record in our society of people blowing up random targets due to their own mental instability or just for murderous giggles.

Quote
The history of the 20th century clearly illustrates that society is already in a violent, murderous, and degenerate state.  Anarchy had nothing to do with it.  On the contrary:  the culprit was centralized coercive power.

Somalia is a perfect example of what happens when you try to force government into a society which has no need for it:

Right now, the number of people who -- if they wanted -- could drop a nuclear weapon on my head is countable on one hand. While I may not have very much faith in how they run their governments, I am reasonably certain they will not throw away everything they have now for the sake of watching me turn to atomic dust. People with less armaments -- IE, chemical explosives, toxic gas, deadly deases, etc, face problems of dissemination and law enforcement.

Your societal commentary does nothing to dismiss the fact that I am reasonably certain I will not be killed between now and the end of the year by terrorist actions. I would be much less certain of this in a society will free teleporters. Therefore, this society is more murderous and degenerate then the one we have now.

Quote
Oh I disagree. If such technology were to become available cheaply enough, only a handful of people might leave, but having an open frontier available, empowers the stay-at-homes and makes them demand more freedom at home. Governments have to become more compliant or lose their subjects. How long do you think Cuba would remain as coercive as it is, if Cubans could just up and leave?

Ah, but that is meerly making the government less controlling. Not causing it's collapse.

Quote
First, because it is based on Information Mechanics, it cannot be blocked in the way you suggest. You cannot stop someone from leaving. However, there are ways to interfere with uninvited quests. Metaphorically, "barrage balloons" could stop intruders. As for nukes and bio-weapons, Well, you don't need instantaneous travel technology to deliver them now.

BTW, this not Star Trek teleportation. You don't get in a magic phone booth and get your subatomic particles blasted somewhere. It is a vehicle you get in and "redefine" your location in the universe.

How is your first point supported by the comic? That doesn't appear anywhere in the exposition. If this technology works off the same method as the Tanglenet, which has been stated to be completely unblockable coming or going, why would this teleporter be any different?  And if it's a vehicle or a magic booth is irrelevant. Either way, some nutcaste -- or just a psychopath who decides he'd be a little richer if his competitors city suddenly exploded -- has the power to tracelessly deliver an explosive device from the other side of the solar system.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: SandySandfort on July 31, 2009, 06:21:18 pm
Quote
Oh I disagree. If such technology were to become available cheaply enough, only a handful of people might leave, but having an open frontier available, empowers the stay-at-homes and makes them demand more freedom at home. Governments have to become more compliant or lose their subjects. How long do you think Cuba would remain as coercive as it is, if Cubans could just up and leave?

Ah, but that is meerly making the government less controlling. Not causing it's collapse.

Making the government less controlling is hardly a "merely." In any case, collapse could be a possible outcome depending on the state of the government when such technology becomes available. If the country is on the verge of financial collapse, like the current US, the sudden ability of the productive class to pull out of an oppressive tax system, could easily be the straw that broke the camels back.

Quote
First, because it is based on Information Mechanics, it cannot be blocked in the way you suggest. You cannot stop someone from leaving. However, there are ways to interfere with uninvited quests. Metaphorically, "barrage balloons" could stop intruders. As for nukes and bio-weapons, Well, you don't need instantaneous travel technology to deliver them now.

BTW, this not Star Trek teleportation. You don't get in a magic phone booth and get your subatomic particles blasted somewhere. It is a vehicle you get in and "redefine" your location in the universe.

How is your first point supported by the comic? That doesn't appear anywhere in the exposition.

As a writer, I cannot write everything about a subject. I will only mention wallpaper if it creates a mood or explains something vital to moving the story forward. So it is with the details surrounding instantaneous transportation.

If this technology works off the same method as the Tanglenet, which has been stated to be completely unblockable coming or going, why would this teleporter be any different? 

Because information and matter have different natures. Information takes up no physical space, matter does. You cannot just pop up anywhere. Basically, you can't go anywhere that has matter in it (at least matter than cannot be pushed out of the way. You simply stay where you are.

Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: Rocketman on July 31, 2009, 06:59:52 pm
One point that hasn't been brought up yet is that the people who leave usually leave for a good reason.  Someone who sits around all day watching TV in his underwear, drinking beer and waiting for his government share of the graft (usually called unemployment) is usually content to stay just where he is.  The people who leave are the ones that realize that if they go somewhere else they will be a lot better off, both financially and safer from those who want what they have and are will to kill or imprison to the workers to get it.  :'(
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: Sean Roach on July 31, 2009, 08:02:58 pm
Consider also.  How big does the ship have to be?  Is it detectable on entering or exiting?  Can it be made comfortably non-detectable?

Imagine your hometown is located over 100 miles from the nearest other town of equivalent size and variety?  So, with little competition, they institute rather heavy sales taxes.  No competition from other towns, and all those social programs the city elders want, but few actually would value enough to pay for, (golf course for instance.)
Or, they institute blue laws, confident people won't go elsewhere for beer on Sunday, as there isn't any other place to buy anything beyond the edge of town.

Now, with sudden access to any town, anywhere, how much sales tax revenue can the town expect?  People just pile in their car, still in the garage, and teleport away to another town to do their shopping.  Sunday?  They teleport to another town for the things that can't be had on Sunday at home.
It democratizes that which geography has made a practical oligarchy.  If a town wants to survive, it must now compete in prices, selection, and regulations, with every other town, anywhere else.
This goes for governments too.  A government can tell you what you may have, and how you may use it because it is at least impractical to go to another country for even an afternoon exemption.  You can't have a gun?  No government can prevent you from teleporting to the belt to buy one.  Goes for anything else.  People can actually live  ON EARTH and ignore the government, as they go beyond the governments area of control to do their shopping.  Once this happens, the government, seeing their regulations completely unenforceable, (and no stigma associateable with ignoring the regulations,) they either roll back their restrictions and taxes or lose MARKET SHARE to competing governments.

People may actually not leave.  Just commute to where the government has no control.  As they continue to commute, the government would actually LOSE effective control closer to home, either voluntarily to hang on to more of it longer, or by default as people decide to just make the move.

The story stated how you couldn't get a fusion reactor for "love or money" on earth, unless you're part of the elite, but they're a regular consumer product on Mars.  If the earthers could teleport to mars for a shopping excursion, what is to prevent them from buying a reactor anyway, and grey-market wiring it into their house?  Or, even moving to mars, where the things are legal and common, and commuting to earth for work, until the boss decides to relocate to the more business friendly environs of mars?
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: Rocketman on August 01, 2009, 09:09:38 am
Sean: your argument is logical and rational however your totally leaving out the government in the equation.  Lets assume that the transporter is about twice the size of a phone booth and can't be detected entering or leaving.  What a tyrannical government will do in the case that you outlined would be to start a "fink" line.  For a reward your neighbor, co-worker or "friend" will report to the government that you have imported a fusion reactor and one night when your asleep they would bust in the door and arrest you and your family.  2) Since a law was secretly passed that made possession of fusion reactors a death sentence to "Protect the public" your all put to death.  Given that how many more people are going to risk death by importing any kind of goods that are banned?  Government ALWAYS has the advantage in that case.  They can pass any kind of law pretty much anytime that they want too.  Of course you and your family can leave any time you want to but here's something to consider.  Right now if you leave the US, renouncing your citizenship and immigrate to another country, Amerika still expects you to pay them an additional ten years worth of taxes for the "privliege" of once living here and being one of it's citizens.   Believe it or not some in congress are not even satisfied with 10 years and want to make it the rest of your life.  And history has shown that as time goes by it's only going to get worse.   :P
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: pchkoreff on August 01, 2009, 09:11:13 am

Your societal commentary does nothing to dismiss the fact that I am reasonably certain I will not be killed between now and the end of the year by terrorist actions. I would be much less certain of this in a society will free teleporters. Therefore, this society is more murderous and degenerate then the one we have now.


OK right.  Assume no defensive technology exists.  I know you mentioned the point earlier about whether the teleportation could be blocked or not.  Assume that it cannot, and there is no way to block someone from transporting a live bomb into your bed at night.  Unfortunately the reduced transportation costs associated with teleportation have made it economically feasible for the murderer to target you.  If you were chosen randomly, you are also the victim of monumentally bad luck.

But that is precisely why I want teleportation technology to evolve:  the reduced transportation costs!  Imagine the profound wealth unlocked by such an innovation.

By far most violent crimes are committed by a very small percentage of the population.  Teleportation could indeed facilitate their practice of committing murder and theft.  At the same time, the overwhelming majority of people on earth would become enormously wealthy and healthy in very short order.  (The correlation between wealth and health is very strong.)

That is the nature of a tool:  that it serves the purpose of the one who wields it, either for good or for evil.  Eliminate the tool, and you eliminate the good as well as the evil.

So on the subject of teleportation I say bring it on.  But also bring on defensive technology while you're at it.  Keep in mind that having an effective defense does not necessarily imply that a few people in a city near the Potomac river would have the means to "jam" teleportation entirely across the entire globe or universe.  That would probably be silly on the face of it, something like proposing an ability to "jam" all metabolic processes in animals in an entire 3.5 million square mile area (roughly the area of the United States).  That doesn't jibe well with my intuition of physics.  I would expect it to behave in a more scalable and sensible manner, in accordance with known properties of energy and possibly even distance.  I wonder what Richard Feynman would say.

Of course all this talk of teleportation also suggests a related technology:  the ability to constitute any physical object using only two inputs:  1. A complete informational description of the object and 2. Energy.  Naturally you can either focus on the most diabolically evil application of this tool, or the immensely good applications.

Now maybe extremely far-fetched technologies like these will never come.  But other seemingly far-fetched technologies will and have come, and their applications for good and evil will be enormous.  I welcome the opportunities and challenges.



Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: Azure Priest on August 01, 2009, 10:07:07 am
 It definitely is an intriguing concept, to say the least.  At the very least, instantaneous travel is a dream of every Carl Sagan wannabe. My understanding of physics is very limited, but the biggest drawbacks I see are either...

Relativistic motion (movement very close to the speed of light) and its associated problems (and there are many).

Or these ships, to either "fold" space, or generate wormholes, requires, at least temporarily, generating MASSIVE gravitational fields. A nuke would feel like a flyswatter compared to the kind of explosive energies which would occur if something went wrong in that scenario. In fact, the EARTH or whatever body the ship was near could cease to exist and be replaced by a quantum singularity. A murderous jihadist would absolutely like nothing more than sending the whole world and himself to ALLAH or whatever "god" he thinks will take him to paradise. Such technology, in good conscience, should (like nuclear arms) not be handed to the general population until some excellent safeguards are found.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: SandySandfort on August 01, 2009, 08:51:35 pm
...but the biggest drawbacks I see are either...

Relativistic motion (movement very close to the speed of light) and its associated problems (and there are many).

There is no motion, relativistic or otherwise, so no such problems. Location is simply redefined.

Or these ships, to either "fold" space, or generate wormholes, requires, at least temporarily, generating MASSIVE gravitational fields. A nuke would feel like a flyswatter compared to the kind of explosive energies which would occur if something went wrong in that scenario. In fact, the EARTH or whatever body the ship was near could cease to exist and be replaced by a quantum singularity. A murderous jihadist would absolutely like nothing more than sending the whole world and himself to ALLAH or whatever "god" he thinks will take him to paradise. Such technology, in good conscience, should (like nuclear arms) not be handed to the general population until some excellent safeguards are found.

There is no warping, broaching or other break in the space-time continuum, so no massive energy needed (as long as your departure and arrival point are at the same gravitational potential).
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: terry_freeman on August 02, 2009, 10:21:12 pm
Many people - particularly governments - greatly over-estimate the desire of people to commit acts of mass mayhem. Consider a line of thought which I read in John Taylor Gatto's Underground History of Education: gasoline is cheap, widely available, and very dangerous. When mixed with air in the appropriate ratio, it is highly explosive.

Anyone can purchase or convey this terribly dangerous material, without being screened by the government. In some states, people are actually permitted to pump it into their own vehicles; in others ( such as New Jersey ), the average person is deemed incapable of mastering that difficult task.

What stops people from pouring gasoline all over their neighbors - or random strangers - and lighting them up?

Is it the scarcity of matches? Or is there something about human nature which causes the incidence of really crazy-ass mayhem to be extraordinarily low, percentage-wise?

All this by way of asking, would the world really become uninhabitable simply because transportation is cheaper? To the extent that mass murder is more common now than it was in ( for example ) the 19th Century, is that due to crazy individuals qua individuals taking advantage of cheaper transportation and more powerful weaponry, or is it due to the crazy behavior of governments? Totting up the numbers, it is governments, not freelance criminals, which used technology to kill hundreds of millions of people in the 20th century.  So who is the greater risk to peace?
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: Azure Priest on August 03, 2009, 01:02:21 am
There is something about the human psyche that USUALLY keeps people from doing mass mayhem.

1.) The inherent belief in some higher power watching, God, state, police, etc.

2.) Fear of punishment.

When that belief is shaken either through lack of enforcement (no punishment) or the debunking of the authority (there is no god, the state is nothing but corrupt crooks/ can't stop me), people DO engage in whatever miscreant behavior they believe they can get away with.

I speak from first hand experience working retail, and I can tell you that since it's now almost criminal to stop a shoplifter and chasing a crook out the door can (at best) get you fired or even KILLED, people are brazen in their shoplifting. Having a friend "reshelf" an item to a different part of the shelf, then "finding" that item at the lower price and trying to browbeat the clerk into honoring the lower price. Opening packages and taking items, but putting the package back. "Taste testing" food items then putting them back on the shelf obviously opened/ damaged, some are even so brazen as to simply walk out of the store item in hand without even stopping at the cashier to pay! I've had that happen to me TWICE, and I don't dare chase them out because it could get me killed.

So as for your theory that people OVER estimate the human capacity for mayhem, I say people UNDER estimate the human capacity for mayhem. People don't generally douse each other in gasoline and light matches because Risk/ reward ratio is unfavorable, not because they don't have a desire to do so.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: pchkoreff on August 03, 2009, 10:30:42 am
So as for your theory that people OVER estimate the human capacity for mayhem, I say people UNDER estimate the human capacity for mayhem. People don't generally douse each other in gasoline and light matches because Risk/ reward ratio is unfavorable, not because they don't have a desire to do so.

You are correct.  I avoid burning humans alive because the risk/reward ratio is unfavorable to me.  Of course, the reward to me is negative, so the "risk" side of the ratio is irrelevant.  Other humans are valuable to me:  in fact, they are necessary for my survival and happiness.




Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: quadibloc on August 04, 2009, 08:28:37 pm
Right now if you leave the US, renouncing your citizenship and immigrate to another country, Amerika still expects you to pay them an additional ten years worth of taxes for the "privliege" of once living here and being one of it's citizens.   Believe it or not some in congress are not even satisfied with 10 years and want to make it the rest of your life.

At least, unlike Italy, they have reciprocal tax treaties with most other countries, which means that as long as the other country's taxes are higher than U.S. taxes, you won't owe Uncle Sam a cent. So this is an improvement on Italy (remember the news item on the imprisonment of Sophia Loren?), sad though it is.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: terry_freeman on August 04, 2009, 09:05:42 pm
Granted that there are brazen shoplifters, that does not make everyone a shoplifter. What are the usual losses, percentage-wise? I used to hear figures such as 1-3% - significant, enough to hurt profits, but not evidence of universal custom.

I'd disagree with the "higher being" and "fear of government-induced punishment" being the only two reasons to avoid atrocious behavior. There is the "I ain't your victim"-induced punishment, to start with -- one reason the murder rate is lower in states which do not rabidly restrict the right of people to defend themselves. There's also the matter of plain old self-respect. I don't steal because I don't want to live in a society where people steal. It's unfortunate that some do, but I'm sure not going to contribute to that. One time I was shopping with my kid brother. Purchased a rotary saw blade. As we were walking to the car, I noticed that two packages had stuck together; I had paid for only one. I turned around and returned the extra. My bro asked why I did that; he knows I am an atheist. I answered, "I don't want to be the kind of person who takes what's not his."

It is foolish to generalize from shoplifting to more atrocious conduct. Most people have a scale of acceptable vs unacceptable behavior. If one is high enough in the government, mass murder may be considered "acceptable;" it's what governments do. If one is not so conditioned, mass murder is beyond the pale. A little bit of serial murder would define one as a psychopath, outside the usual norms, but not qualified to be a General or Commander in Chief. A bit of shoplifting might qualify one as a petty tax collector or bureaucrat. A very large number of people have no desire to personally appropriate other people's property, but might delude themselves to accept a bit of tax-funded "help", if the government acts as their bag man. And some few of us are honest enough to reject the immoral use of coercion even by officially-approved government agents - these are the libertarians.


Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: Sean Roach on August 04, 2009, 10:34:25 pm
Two points.
One.  Even without fear of repercussions, there's empathy.  I do not do to others because it'd bother me if someone did it to me.
Two.  There's an old quote, and I'm probably going to mangle it.  "one death is a tragedy, a thousand is a statistic."  Doing To someone, whom you can see, requires you override your natural tendency not to harm others.  Doing to a spreadsheet doesn't cause that pang.  Militants have long attempted to demonize their opposition.  Make them inhuman in the eyes of their soldiers so they could kill more easily.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: SandySandfort on August 04, 2009, 11:35:41 pm
Two points.
One.  Even without fear of repercussions, there's empathy.  I do not do to others because it'd bother me if someone did it to me.
Two.  There's an old quote, and I'm probably going to mangle it.  "one death is a tragedy, a thousand is a statistic."  Doing To someone, whom you can see, requires you override your natural tendency not to harm others.  Doing to a spreadsheet doesn't cause that pang.  Militants have long attempted to demonize their opposition.  Make them inhuman in the eyes of their soldiers so they could kill more easily.

Close. Josef Stalin said "One death is a tragedy, A million just statistics."
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: quadibloc on August 05, 2009, 12:14:58 am
I speak from first hand experience working retail, and I can tell you that since it's now almost criminal to stop a shoplifter and chasing a crook out the door can (at best) get you fired or even KILLED, people are brazen in their shoplifting.

All this proves is that those people who are dishonest are brazen in their dishonesty.

Some people can be honest because they believe in right and wrong without having to believe in the supernatural.

But I will grant you that, in general, people only tend to respect the rights of those they regard as their fellows. They will kill to defend their country if it is attacked - and, often, participate in wars of aggression as well, without all that much pushing. So, if they're alienated enough to regard anyone rich enough to own a store, or shares in a retail chain, as the enemy, then they may well only be kept from shoplifting by force.

The very earliest civilizations had to deal with the problem of keeping people originally from different tribes together in one state that was intended to function as if it was a single much bigger tribe. All sorts of bizarre customs, from the Babylonian custom of "blood money" to the Islamic law on rape, are consequences of trying to keep internal peace, even at some cost in justice, in order that the state can remain united and therefore strong in the face of its neighbors.

So the problem of having alienated groups within a society is one that's been around for a long time, small comfort though that is.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: Dunfalach on August 19, 2009, 07:02:34 am
While individuals with a view of right or wrong may not be religious, general societal views of right and wrong, particularly in the US, have a foundational origin in religion. Many of us accept or reject particular parts of those views, and society as a whole may accept or reject the views of religions that once held sway over it, but the whole original concept of right and wrong were initially defined in terms of pleasing or angering divinity. In the US, of course, the societal values of right and wrong were intially based on Christianity, since most of the early immigrants were either Christian themselves or from the nominally Christian societies of Europe, whether Catholic or Protestant. In the 20th century and into the 21st, there has of course been a major move in the US away from Christian views of morality and into a sort of mix and match personal morality where each person (even many nominal Christians and nominally Christian churches) considers themselves their own authority on right and wrong rather than looking to a divine authority to define it. When a society generally holds a religious view of right and wrong, even the majority of those with no personal belief in that god will conform their outward conduct to its expectations to avoid social backlash as well as absorb at least a significant portion of its tenets into their own personal views of right and wrong simply by being saturated in it.


Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: Frank B. on August 19, 2009, 07:40:51 pm
... When a society generally holds a religious view of right and wrong, even the majority of those with no personal belief in that god will conform their outward conduct to its expectations to avoid social backlash as well as absorb at least a significant portion of its tenets into their own personal views of right and wrong simply by being saturated in it.

Or to rationalize acceptance of social rules we don't agree with.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: quadibloc on August 20, 2009, 04:18:20 am
general societal views of right and wrong, particularly in the US, have a foundational origin in religion.

Yes, but the views of right and wrong embodied in any given religion did not all originate de novo with the religion. Thus, the prohibitions on murder and theft reflect a very old social consensus, and thus I don't think it would be possible to make a case that the Libertarian generalization from those prohibitions to one on the initiation of force is as inherently suspect, having a "religious" origin, as a prohibition on blasphemy.

It is true that absent mathematical rigor, one is still starting from a set of propositions that "sound reasonable", and peoples' standards of what is reasonable are shaped by their culture, of which religion is an element. It is not clear how much can be done about that, although Ayn Rand certainly tried...
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: Norfolk_Boy on September 03, 2009, 04:51:05 am
While individuals with a view of right or wrong may not be religious, general societal views of right and wrong, particularly in the US, have a foundational origin in religion.

I'd strongly challange this, a simple reading of the Religious Scriptures of any major religion will produce some laws and moral views that are distinctly not what most people today would consider moral. The moral views of right and wrong certainly are influenced by religion, but usually, religion is the thing against which the progression of morals is set. We certainly would not consider it moral to stone to death disobedient children, or to put people to death for sex outside of marriage.

Morality instead comes from the expectations and demands that a society places upon it's members, that religions share these is because the society produces religions, and not that the religion originates the society's morals, and that's why, over time, some of the views expressed in religious texts are outdated.

Sorry to have a first post that's kind of a rant, I was motivated to post because of a desire to applaud and echo terry_freeman's comment.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: dough560 on September 08, 2009, 01:33:07 am
A person's ability to pick-up and move, is a basic right.  Governments try to restrict this right through laws and regulations.  However; smart governments leave a safety valve, where determined individuals move as they decide.  Governments who believe they have nothing to fear, eliminate individual choice and safety valves.  People who would have moved to an area with more perceived freedom, will revolt.  The shape this revolt takes will depend on perceptions.  Many assume a revolt by the general population or a small minority will result in individuals and the militia being defeated by the military and the police.  John Ross, "Unintended Consequences", brings forth the theory;  people will remove political figures who instigate abusive laws, and the enforcement agents.  He definitely makes the point, they have to go home sometime.  At that point they are vulnerable to attack.  Many of the laws we endure, teach a contempt for government.  Resulting in widespread distrust.  The faith people once had in government, no longer exists.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: quadibloc on September 08, 2009, 07:02:35 am
A person's ability to pick-up and move, is a basic right.

Ah, but while everyone agrees it was wrong of East Germany to build a wall to keep its people from moving out, don't communities have a right to decide who gets to move in?
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: Brugle on September 08, 2009, 11:26:02 am
don't communities have a right to decide who gets to move in?

No.  You have no right to control peaceful people that move onto your neighbor's property (with her permission).

You may not like something that a newcomer does, just as you might not like something that an old-timer does.  Deal with it the same way.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: SandySandfort on September 08, 2009, 11:37:07 am
don't communities have a right to decide who gets to move in?

No.  You have no right to control peaceful people that move onto your neighbor's property (with her permission).

You may not like something that a newcomer does, just as you might not like something that an old-timer does.  Deal with it the same way.

More precisely, "communities" are intellectual fictions. They cannot have rights. Only people have rights. Ditto for "cultures" and "governments." If you have no right to interfere with whomever your neighbor admits, no collective can have such a power/right either.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: J Thomas on September 08, 2009, 12:10:49 pm
A person's ability to pick-up and move, is a basic right.

Ah, but while everyone agrees it was wrong of East Germany to build a wall to keep its people from moving out, don't communities have a right to decide who gets to move in?

Whether or not they have the right, they will enforce that right.

Imagine the following: A rich retired government contractor from earth comes to ceres. He has a massive ship with  a great big engine, and he doesn't understand much about where to aim his exhaust plume. He doesn't understand much about docking without causing damage or casualties. He doesn't understand much about the consequences of scattering mine tailings at high delta-V.

Everybody *could* just wait for market forces to outcompete him. They *could* hope that when he crashes it will be into somebody else. They *could* hope that the debris of his final accident will not get in their way.

Or they could one way or another arrange to have a safer environment for themselves....

They could suggest he hire a pilot. They could suggest he learn the ropes. And if he says "Hey, thanks for the suggestion but I know what I'm doing. I got a degree in this stuff from Yale before I came out here, and also I'm an expert on being a libertarian. I'll take care of myself and you can take care of yourself."....?

Some individual is going to protect himself and his community, one way or another. And he isn't going to do something drastic until he's got a strong sense that the community is pretty much agreed about it.

Because if he was the sort of person who went out and did drastic things without paying attention to the community, he'd be like the hypothetical earthie immigrant. And people like that would tend not to last very long.

So, who do they boot out? Public dangers, obviously. Anybody else? Yes, whoever their community standards do not tolerate. They might not tolerate people who continually preach to them about why they need a strong government. They might not tolerate slave-owners. They might not tolerate people who do science experiments that sound like they might be dangerous. You can't really predict just how community standards will turn out.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: Brugle on September 08, 2009, 07:38:51 pm
they will enforce that right.
Perhaps, but the example you give is not convincing.  I expect that essentially the same action would be taken against anyone who acts like your rich contractor, whether he's from Ceres or from Earth.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: J Thomas on September 08, 2009, 11:05:55 pm
they will enforce that right.
Perhaps, but the example you give is not convincing.  I expect that essentially the same action would be taken against anyone who acts like your rich contractor, whether he's from Ceres or from Earth.

I agree. People who depend on everybody around them to be sensible, people who have a lot of neighbors that use big complicated machines that could kill a lot of people by accident, can't afford too much laissez faire. They will find ways to take the power to do great harm away from anybody they don't trust with it.

I would be interested to see how a society based strongly on individual responsibility rationalised out that contradiction.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: NotDebonair on September 09, 2009, 01:07:30 am
If you are prepared to assume that an adult male stranger who has materialized in your ten-year-old daughter's bedroom at 2:00 AM is a case of mistaken navigation rather than criminal intent, you are ready for the age of Libertarian teleporters.  Even recognizing that in some substantial majority of cases it will in fact be an honest wrong number, I am not ready to make that assumption.  Sorry.  You're dead.

Interesting....  It just crossed my mind that in a teleporter society, it would likely become customary for a whole family to sleep in the same bedroom.  When the time for protecting little ones passes, the time for protecting the world from your teenagers begins.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: Rocketman on September 09, 2009, 02:55:23 am
Or, at the very least have "panic buttons" in different parts of the room so that your no farther than one step away from one of them.  Needless to say, many people would also want a pistol or two on their belt.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: KBCraig on September 09, 2009, 03:49:01 am
Ah, but while everyone agrees it was wrong of East Germany to build a wall to keep its people from moving out, don't communities have a right to decide who gets to move in?

"Communities" don't have rights. They might have power, but they never have rights. Only individuals have rights.

That said, if you don't want "them" moving into your community (whoever "they" might be), you can either buy every square inch of your community, or contract with your neighbors to not sell to "them".

Ownership is the ultimate, and only legitimate, form of zoning.

Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: NotDebonair on September 09, 2009, 06:31:23 am
That said, if you don't want "them" moving into your community (whoever "they" might be), you can either buy every square inch of your community, or contract with your neighbors to not sell to "them".

Ownership is the ultimate, and only legitimate, form of zoning.

In the late 1950's, my father refused a tenured professorial post in one university because he could not find a house to buy in the town that did not come with an attached  covenantal agreement not to sell to "them".  He refused for the best Libertarian reason, that if the house was truly his he would sell to whomever he pleased.  In the mid 1990s, a co-worker was hospitalized for two months after neighbors saw him showing his "for sale" house to "them" and objected violently.

Quote
"Communities" don't have rights. They might have power, but they never have rights. Only individuals have rights.

Power makes rights.  Escape from Terra is a fantasy of the convergence of situation and technology to give power (all sorts) to individuals beyond that nowdays occurring in the real world for anyone not posessed of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: Brugle on September 09, 2009, 12:17:37 pm
People who depend on everybody around them to be sensible, people who have a lot of neighbors that use big complicated machines that could kill a lot of people by accident, can't afford too much laissez faire.
Actually, the opposite is true.

I have a lot of neighbors who use big complicated machines that could kill a lot of people by accident.  (Well, by "a lot" I mean enough killing to make the national news, not "a lot" by government standards.)  The only reason that I feel reasonably safe (in that regard) is that most people are (to some extent) considered responsible for their actions.

Would one of my neighbors break into another's house, confine the people he found there in a cage, and kill them if they tried to defend themselves, just because they were ingesting something he didn't like?  No, that would be highly unlikely, because he would be responsible for his actions.  However, since we don't live under laissez-faire, a neighbor could vote for a politician who promises to appoint a bureaucrat to hire a thug to do those things.  I'd guess that some of my neighbors would do that, since they wouldn't be considered responsible.

They will find ways to take the power to do great harm away from anybody they don't trust with it.
Communities often try to do that.  In some situations, they might slightly reduce one potential risk.  But, when trying to do that, they typically give the power to do much greater harm to those who enjoy using that power.

Escape from Terra is a fantasy of the convergence of situation and technology to give power (all sorts) to individuals beyond that nowdays occurring in the real world for anyone not posessed of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Not all sorts.  Political power (legal aggression) is conspicuously absent.  That's one reason that ordinary people have the power to do so much that they want to do.  Maybe "the convergence of situation and technology" is also required.  If so, I hope it happens, and that my great-great-grandchildren (if any) can enjoy it.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: monsieur_horse on September 09, 2009, 04:55:47 pm
Sup bros - first post, love the comic.

Regarding the vote - I want to answer no, but not because I'm worried about bombs appearing in my house.  Rather, I believe that the fact that the c speed limit is what will eventually free people (who want to be free).

Just now, there's nowhere on Earth you can go to in order to escape governments - the planet's just too small.  I think that if teleportation (as in EFT: instantaneous between any 2 points) were a reality, the government could extend its reach to anywhere in the universe.  Which means, you can hide, but you can't run.

On the other hand, with c as the ultimate speed limit - even the solar system is far too big for any government to maintain control.  Dozens of minutes of communications delays, and months of transit times, coupled with the ultra-low energy cost or relocating (and the high cost of someone finding you again!) would render the solar system a frontier for longer than I could imagine.  And then you have to consider those brave souls who decide to go onwards to the nearest stars...

Yeah anyway just wanted to share my fantasy and reason why I'm happy that FTL travel is impossible.  Great to see a comic mixing sci-fi and libertarianism, my favourite topics ;-)
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: SandySandfort on September 09, 2009, 08:48:46 pm
... Yeah anyway just wanted to share my fantasy and reason why I'm happy that FTL travel is impossible. 

We didn't say that. Maybe it is possible. Tobi is still investigating the possibility.

Great to see a comic mixing sci-fi and libertarianism, my favourite topics ;-)

Ours too! And thanks for the concept of the speed of light being a good thing. Food for thought.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: Sean Roach on September 09, 2009, 11:42:49 pm
I disagree.
Let's map your situation onto a current one.  Living in the big city versus living in a rural area.  Both are under onerous regulation, but the rural area is less so.  Why don't people flock to the country?  Same reason immigration to North America didn't relieve population pressures in Europe.  The majority are stuck, a few "lucky" individuals can face hardship, and possibly death, on a chance of a better life, (or a life at all in some cases.)
In this case, it's not the speed limit that keeps people from moving out of cities, but rather economic necessity.  That's where the jobs are.  Still, people are stuck in, or much to near, areas they'd rather not live.

Now, on the other hand, ubiquitous long distance teleportation is akin to new competition in a "socially necessary" industry.
When Ma Bell was fractured, (a government act, but it was government that set them up as a monopoly in the first place, if I remember my history right,) the sudden competition drove phone service prices down.  Teleportation would allow the job consumer, that is the worker, freedom of selection of living arrangements without giving up their career.  It also makes enforcement of regulation much harder.  Ma Bell didn't like modems.  Ma Bell didn't like other things tied to the phone system, even a rubber cup to make using the handset easier.  The cable companies considered mutiple televisions on a line theft.  Now, with competition, AT&T wireless is perfectly willing to let you link your unlocked cell phone to their service, and Time-Warner is glad to tout that you can connect as many televisions as you want to a cable line, as opposed to a mini-dish system, which needs a separate circuit for each set, if not a whole separate box.
Suddenly not being able to restrict peoples home-life, (they all moved to Mars and are commuting to NYC,) the government would be compelled to either disenfranchise and outlaw them, or loosen the restrictions to entice them to move back to earth.  If the ones that move away include a large percentage of critical skills, they won't be inclined to ban their return or employment.

I do agree, though, that if you have teleportation technology, you need some way of blocking teleportation in small volumes.  However, ideally that method would be quite feasible for a single family, but cost prohibitive for governments to manage on a large scale.  Barring that, you need some way of masking your location from other teleporters or location-finding technologies, and use your own to fetch guests.  If they can't record their position, they can't visit uninvited.  A hidden retreat can be as good as a citidel, in this case.

Quite frankly, I think houses with smallish rooms and lots of mobile furniture would be popular.  Do you teleport in, or did they move the dining room table again?
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: terry_freeman on September 10, 2009, 01:33:40 am
Regarding restrictive covenants, they were required by federal policy as a condition for receiving FHA loans. Organized racism, brought to you by FDR and his agents. When left alone, markets seldom lead to such absurd policies. People don't invent this nonsense of themselves. Same for "back of the bus" laws -- the transportation companies hated the laws, which reduced the effective capacity of their buses, and deputized their drivers as agents of the law.

Regarding ten year old girls and universal transporters: my ten year old children would have a deadly weapon at hand, and would know how to use it instantly against any would-be rapist.

Lysander Spooner made a comment in an argument against alcohol prohibition. He observed that ( in his era ) the age of consent was ten. If a girl may consent at that age, she must be able to say no and make it stick. His point was that if a girl can say no, a grown man can say no to a bottle of "demon rum".

In that day, she probably could make it stick -- people were not infantilized as much as they are now.

Watching very young children ride real horses ( as opposed to tame ponies ) was something of an education for me. Imagine a very athletic creature, 1000 lbs of raw muscle, perfectly capable of knocking over a stout barn, under the very capable control of a seven year old child.

Now, I'd be interested to know, how would property be protected against universal transporters? Your coins, art, inventory, etc might be lifted by thieves ... how would you protect agaisnt this? Whatever technology is used for inanimate objects would also apply to protecting one's children.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: SandySandfort on September 10, 2009, 07:48:47 am
Now, I'd be interested to know, how would property be protected against universal transporters? Your coins, art, inventory, etc might be lifted by thieves ... how would you protect agaisnt this? Whatever technology is used for inanimate objects would also apply to protecting one's children.

It clearly would depend on what is meant by teleportation and how it would work. If it required the energy output of a sun to transport a peanut, it is out of a question. Does it only work in "flat" space away from a gravity well? How does it handle teleporting into solid matter? Liquids? Gases? If you don't know where you are going, how are you going to get there? Many possibilities.

By-the-by, if Tobi does crack the problem, I guarantee the solution will not permit bombs or strangers to be transported to your home. Why? I don't find this line of inquiry sufficiently interesting to write about. At least not in the context of EFT. It's a good forum topic, but deadly boring (IMO) for story telling.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: Sean Roach on September 10, 2009, 02:06:29 pm
I figure if the teleporter is a vehicle, and if it travels blind, small rooms and movable furniture, frequently rearranged, would be stronger a defense than cardboard core doors with cheap locks and plate glass windows nearby.

I figure even if it has some means of scoping out a landing point in advance, (a go/no-go indicator on target coordinates, for instance,) small, well anchored containers would provide sufficient defense against teleport equipped thieves.  Larger wheeled objects, rolled into the vault to fill the pathway, would allow larger volumes to be secured.

If the teleporter, however, is not a vehicle, and operates more on the Star Trek method, where you can scan wherever you are going to teleport, then some part of the teleporter would be needed as a jamming device.  Houses would be equipped with a teleporter, in all likelihood, and when it wasn't actually being used to ferry the family around, (arranging with origin and destination teleporters for either clearance or cooperative function,) it'd be partially active to scramble other teleporters being used to see into the space or drop people off.
The drawback of this is simple.  If you're transmitting, the fact of that can be determined even if the content of the transmission is unclear.  Teleporter equipped homes would be obvious to someone with a teleporter themselves.  If the government reserved that right to themselves, they could easily scan for homes that were in violation.  The solution would be to keep the teleporter off government controlled soil, and use a terrestrial home only as an access foyer to a solar-orbit residence.

Security would be
A. have an unknown, and unrevealed, location, doing all ferrying in and out with your own equipment
B. have solid objects in the path of likely teleport, (presuming a vehicle, blind teleport, or both)
C. have the teleporter charged up to block lock-on by other teleporters, (assuming a fixed location teleporter, or some means of scanning the location prior to teleport.)
D. have a sidearm in case this doesn't work.

Alternately, if you have a StarTrek type teleporter, (or Probability broach wormhole generator,) having a teleporter watch for unauthorized teleports and re-teleporting the offending matter to a safe location would be possible.
Two guys in black teleport into your home with a dozen black canvas bags and a full set of screwdrivers and a ratchet set.
Two guys in black see your living room for a brief instant before they find themselves in space.  Not orbit, just at that altitude, (and falling rapidly).
At that point it doesn't matter much if they were burglars or "investigators".
The same would work for bombs, and it's the case of weapons why I wouldn't tune the thing to drop trespassing matter in the back-40 or a prepared cage.  It might not be far away enough.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: J Thomas on September 10, 2009, 03:19:20 pm

They will find ways to take the power to do great harm away from anybody they don't trust with it.

Communities often try to do that.  In some situations, they might slightly reduce one potential risk.  But, when trying to do that, they typically give the power to do much greater harm to those who enjoy using that power.

Unfortunately, yes. Communities give lots of power to people they trust, and often that trust is misplaced.

A society that learns to distrust any collective action might get away from that, only to be dominated by whatever groups cooperate anyway.

Note the story of Samuel, in the OT. Samuel had a lot of influence as a trusted priest. A lot of people came to him because they wanted a king and they wanted Samuel to choose a king for them. Samuel told them it was a bad idea. A king would conscript their sons into his army and put their daughters into his harem. He'd collect taxes. He'd re-allocate land. But they wanted a king anyway, maybe because invading armies already did a lot without their approval. Samuel finally broke down and gave them a king. He chose a tall, stupid-looking younger son from a poor family. He loaded him down with geases and curses to help restrain him. Saul lasted 20 years or so before an invading army did him in and replaced him with a mercenary to be the new puppet-king. The new king started collecting citizens to sell as foreign slaves, but after the people expressed sufficient displeasure he announced they would only be indentured servants and would be allowed to come home after their terms were up, with skills! and money! and so on.

There are no easy solutions. Communities full of cooperative, kind-hearted, smart and capable citizens will tend to do better than assemblies of people where any one of those qualities is in short supply. But that doesn't help much more than "Buy low, sell high.".
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: terry_freeman on September 11, 2009, 02:32:47 am
Bear in mind that the Jews had a very anarchic community where "everyone did what was right in their own eyes" for hundreds of years, and it worked fairly well. That they eventually elected a king and rediscovered the problems the hard way does not serve as an argument against that form of organization; it merely underscores the need for perpetual vigilance. Frankly, any form of voluntary organization which persists for hundreds of years is quite impressive.

A similar period in Iceland history is documented by David Friedman, the son of Milton and Rose Friedman. Murray Rothbard wrote about a similar period in Ireland. Both lasted for hundreds of years, until destabilized by external forces.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: NotDebonair on September 11, 2009, 05:38:32 am
A similar period in Iceland history is documented by David Friedman, the son of Milton and Rose Friedman. Murray Rothbard wrote about a similar period in Ireland. Both lasted for hundreds of years, until destabilized by external forces.

Iceland was destabilized by internal forces.  Politics, free markets and dynastic marriages concentrated economic and political power in the hands of a very few people.  The smallholders finally agreed as a group to submit themselves to the King of Norway rather than yield to a local tyrant.  This is grimly humorous in view of the fact that Iceland was originally settled by congenitally independent people who had refused to submit to that same monarchy when it was first formed three centuries before.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: J Thomas on September 11, 2009, 06:47:20 am
Bear in mind that the Jews had a very anarchic community where "everyone did what was right in their own eyes" for hundreds of years, and it worked fairly well.

Many of them got dominated by their neighbors. The story of Samson paints that pretty vividly. The philistines did not let israelites in their area have blacksmiths for fear they'd make weapons. And Samson, big, strong, ignorant, and highly opinionated behaved very much as a "bad nigger".

Quote
That they eventually elected a king and rediscovered the problems the hard way does not serve as an argument against that form of organization; it merely underscores the need for perpetual vigilance. Frankly, any form of voluntary organization which persists for hundreds of years is quite impressive.

Agreed.

Quote
A similar period in Iceland history is documented by David Friedman, the son of Milton and Rose Friedman. Murray Rothbard wrote about a similar period in Ireland. Both lasted for hundreds of years, until destabilized by external forces.

Iceland was dominated from the first by the first settlers who got the only good land. By the time of Gisli things had already deteriorated to the point that a few rich men controlled the legal system. Read the story of how Gisli tricked one of them into teaching him the proper way to cite a man for a crime. You couldn't have somebody indicted unless you knew exactly the right legal formula, and the judge could simply rule that you had done it wrong and dismiss the case. So Gisli posed as an ignorant hick who was very impressed by the rich man, and he laughed at the man's jokes and flattered him, and the man taught him precisely the words to say and Gisli tried and tried and kept having trouble getting it until the rich man told him he had it perfect. And then he delivered the summons.

After Gisli was declared an outlaw, once he fell asleep in the woods and a bunch of peasants caught him. None of them would take the initiative to hang him on the spot so they called for the rich man. The rich man's wife came. She asked Gisli why he was robbing and stealing and killing and causing a commotion on her land with her peasants. "Well, I have to be somewhere."

Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: quadibloc on September 11, 2009, 08:30:43 am
Power makes rights.

Power determines whether or not you can safely exercise your rights.

People have rights because they are people, in the same way that an electron has a spin of 1/2 because it is an electron. Thus, although the Jews of Europe did not have the power to prevent or escape the Holocaust, what Hitler had done to them was still wrong, because he acted in violation of their rights. Therefore, it was legitimate to use force to stop Hitler.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: dough560 on September 12, 2009, 05:59:17 pm
 ;)  Implied self-interest is a strong motivating force.  People co-operate when  their interests align, for no society operates without rules.  Right behavior becomes Custom, Custom becomes Law.  Laws develop from two perspectives.  Natural Law identifies activities causing harm to another;  Murder, Rape, Robbery, etc.  Situational Law deals with behavior of the individual;  Drug Use, Firearms Ownership and Use, Prostitution, Property Ownership, etc.  Then you have those who use Situational Law to gain power.  They initiate laws restricting competition and civil rights.  Such laws are designed to enhance a position and ensure societal control.  These laws are driven by fear, greed and the Socialist Belief a group has the right to remove or limit an individual's civil rights.
 
We labor under the fictions of Imminent Domain and the State being the Crime Victim.  (Crime being defined as actions restricted by law.)  Imminent Domain in the form of Zoning Laws restrict property utilization.  With these fictions, we pay extortion to the state in property taxes, only to have our property stolen and given to another who will pay a higher rate of extortion.  The more extortion paid, the bigger the government.  Criminal Law is concerned with control and punishment, not restitution.  The actual crime victim is not returned to their former state.  The government "Fines" "Unlawful" behavior, acquiring more wealth, allowing bigger government.  Additionally people are confined,  usually at their expense.  Confinement expenses and operating costs are billed to the criminal subject.  These actions also enable government growth and increase societal control.

As the government grows larger and larger,  people are treated as children.  Individuals, believed to be incompetent and unable to make decisions without government control or guidance.  Eventually, individuals come to believe this fiction.  With the rise of the "Nanny State" there is no incentive to develop as responsible adolescents and adults.  With the rise of the 'Nanny State" Individual responsibility is penalized.  Productivity is taxed to provide services to the now helpless population.  The more productive you are, the higher the taxation rate.  A  goal of the Socialist Dream, where the Elite control ignorant masses.

With government control of the schools, Ignorance is rampant and often accompanied with arrogance.  Pride in willful ignorance, ignoring any knowledge disturbing their beliefs.  It can be cruel to the willfully ignorant, challenging their beliefs with facts.  Mostly they won't believe you.  Watch them whine and cry, screaming all the way, when you don't back down to their "Feelings" and "Beliefs".  William W. Johnstone identifies such people as "Hankie Stompers".  A key part of their belief system is the learned distrust and fear of what another person could do, if they had access to uncontrolled, unlimited materials and technologies.  In a world of open access and opportunity, there would be little danger from another person's actions.  People act from implied self-interest.  Working for the betterment of their situation and environment.  Our problem today, is how to get there from here.  How do we grow as individuals and as a people.  Where we are not a danger to ourselves and others.  Where we have the confidence to treat others as we want to be treated.  I'm starting see a glimmer of hope, with the lessening of firearms prohibitions and spreading acceptance of open and concealed carry.  Of course the Elite, recognize the danger to their goals of this acceptance.  They are acting accordingly.  Currently the United Nations is meeting behind closed doors, hammering out a treaty prohibiting private ownership of firearms.  That treaty could see us living in "Interesting Times" in the Chinese sense of the word.   ::)
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: quadibloc on September 12, 2009, 08:34:40 pm
A key part of their belief system is the learned distrust and fear of what another person could do, if they had access to uncontrolled, unlimited materials and technologies.  In a world of open access and opportunity, there would be little danger from another person's actions.  People act from implied self-interest.  Working for the betterment of their situation and environment.  Our problem today, is how to get there from here.  How do we grow as individuals and as a people.  Where we are not a danger to ourselves and others.  Where we have the confidence to treat others as we want to be treated.

I could spend time going through where Eminent Domain came from, and why Hammurabi had to do something about family feuds in ancient Babylon. But I think the points quoted above are more directly germane.

In large, anonymous, urban areas, gun control is not inherently unreasonable. And it you have a large, alienated, minority contributing to the crime statistics, that just makes it more reasonable.

While most people will act rationally to advance their own self-interest, there are always a few crazy and violent people... being able to buy the materials for a hydrogen bomb at your local hardware store doesn't need very many crazy and violent people to lead to bad consequences.

So the road to "there" from "here" would take a level of quality control of the human population that could only be carried out under totalitarian, not Libertarian, conditions.

While I think of anarcho-libertarianism as an unattainable ideal, though, going back to the kind of government that the United States had when it was true to the ideals of the Founding Fathers does not seem unattainable. The national government is allowed to levy taxes, but only for a restricted set of legitimate purposes. If more government is needed than the Federal Government can supply, the State governments are less constrained - but they're limited, because people can vote with their feet against ambitious schemes of wealth redistribution.

If you want to assign blame to who broke it, who made "States' Rights" a dirty word, it seems to me that those who were responsible for imposing Jim Crow are more fitting culprits than those who worked to bring about legal equality for all Americans.

In a democracy, at least one gets to vote for the government. If power in the hands of the government is likely to be abused, how much more likely to be abused is uncontrolled power in the hands of any and all of my neighbors?
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: J Thomas on September 12, 2009, 09:18:32 pm
In a democracy, at least one gets to vote for the government. If power in the hands of the government is likely to be abused, how much more likely to be abused is uncontrolled power in the hands of any and all of my neighbors?

Honey attracts bears and raccoons etc. Once a hive has honey they have to fight for it.

So when there is concentration of power, the people who want to mis-use power will try to get access to it so they can mis-use it. Government concentrates power.

It would be about as bad to have a few libertarians with a lot of concentrated power. Which I guess we do. So, if you don't like the way the Rockefeller family or the Dupont family uses their power, you're welcome to go into business and outcompete them and then you'll have the money and they wont. That would be just as true in a libertarian society as the present one.   :o  On the other hand, with a democratic government you get one vote and Bill Gates gets one vote. What could be fairer? See, Bill Gates has no more power over the US government than you do! What a wonderful system!

The overwhelming problem is concentration of power. Without that, if you and Bill Gates had some dispute and you couldn't arrange a fair settlement, you could have a shootout and if you were better with a gun you'd win. He'd usually do better to let you alone than face those odds. But when the power is highly concentrated then you lose whatever the details of the system.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: wdg3rd on September 13, 2009, 08:19:32 pm

By-the-by, if Tobi does crack the problem, I guarantee the solution will not permit bombs or strangers to be transported to your home. Why? I don't find this line of inquiry sufficiently interesting to write about. At least not in the context of EFT. It's a good forum topic, but deadly boring (IMO) for story telling.

Plus, the subject has already been covered by Alfred Bester and Larry Niven, among others.  (Not that any of that prevented Commander Data from jumping into a prepubescent girl's bedroom during one episode of ST_TNG).
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: terry_freeman on September 14, 2009, 12:38:30 am
Gun control in urban areas is not "reasonable" - it is both an invasion of one's rights to self-defense, and stupid. Such stupid laws actually increase the risk of violent confrontations.

I grew up in Pittsburgh, which is a large urban area. Some while ago, the state adopted "shall issue" CCW laws; it is one of about 40 to do so. California is one of the holdouts. The District of Columbia is notorious for their draconian and absurd gun control laws. ( In D. of C., an ordinary semi-auto pistol is legally defined as the equivalent of a full-auto "machine gun" - simply because it has a detachable magazine. )

So explain to me why, when I ( who stand 6'3" and weigh 250+ ) was walking in D.C. with my 6-foot friend in broad daylight, we were given directions - by two young black men - to detour around a certain block because "it was a bad neighborhood"?

In Pittsburgh - where one can legally carry concealed weapons - I never had to curtail my walk in any neighborhood during the day. At night, one used common sense and avoided some places - but in any event, Pittsburgh - and many other cities where CCW is freely available - has lower murder rates than D.C.

So I ask you, which urban area has the more reasonable laws? The one where people are left free to defend themselves against criminals, or the one where that right is denied by the government?

As a young fellow recently explained to inquiring reporters, "I carry a gun because I can't carry a cop", or as someone else put it "when seconds count, 911 is only minutes away," Where there are more people - such as urban areas - it is far more reasonable to permit people free to defend themselves.

The infamous Sullivan Act of NYC was instituted because too many citizens were defending themselves from those nice respectable muggers in Sullivan's Red Hook district; it was a matter of worker safety for him.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: J Thomas on September 14, 2009, 07:52:25 pm

So explain to me why, when I ( who stand 6'3" and weigh 250+ ) was walking in D.C. with my 6-foot friend in broad daylight, we were given directions - by two young black men - to detour around a certain block because "it was a bad neighborhood"?

Because, for whatever reason, they did not want you there. And they thought the warning might persuade you to stay away.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: terry_freeman on September 14, 2009, 11:34:30 pm
They did not want me there? Let's just assume for the sake of argument, that your fascinating speculations explain that particular anecdote -- how do you explain the much higher murder rates in D.C.?

More to the point, how is is that urban areas in about 40 states have decided that the gun control myth is a piece of crock, if it is such a "reasonable" idea? I will admit that I favored "reasonable" gun control at one time in my youth - which changed when I spent a week in research for a debate, where I had to be prepared to argue either side.

The revelation which knocked me back was the sheer numbers of guns in America - hundreds of millions. By now, most of us except for the most ardent worshipers of the government admit that the Drug War is a total failure - we cannot even keep drugs out of prisons. Guns last just about forever; they are not consumed ( but ammo is ). With such a vast supply, it is totally unreasonable to believe that the government has the power to prevent criminals from owning guns.

So who is hindered by gun control laws? By and large, people who try to be law-abiding. In general, gun control harms victims, it does not deter crimes. Furthermore, gun use does deter crimes - about one million times per year. If you've been brainwashed by Hollywood, you might think that one million defensive uses means one million dead bodies, or even more -- Hollywood loves shoot-em-ups with lots of bodies, it makes for great drama! - but in reality, no shots are fired in most defensive uses of firearms. When shots are fired, not all of them result in a dead body. In most cases, defensive uses never make it to the news. Even fewer make it to national news.

In short, gun control Does Not Work -- and if it does not work, it can not be considered "reasonable" by any rational definition of that word. 
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: quadibloc on September 15, 2009, 06:17:10 am
we cannot even keep drugs out of prisons.

Surely that is not a physical limitation, and is simply a consequence of not really trying.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: Rocketman on September 15, 2009, 10:23:29 am
we cannot even keep drugs out of prisons.

Surely that is not a physical limitation, and is simply a consequence of not really trying.

Define "really trying".  If drugs can be brought into a prison then it has to be one of three ways.  One, the guards bring them in and sell them to the prisoners. Two, friends of the prisoners bring them in concealed and the guards don't catch them.  Three, guards are bribed and friends of the prisoners bring them in.  Two is the only reason that meets your definition.  If somehow every gun in America except for the police and military disappeared tomorrow, I know exactly what would happen.  There would be a run on metal working lathes and anyone with machine shop experience would begin manufacturing guns to sell for a substanal profit to their friends and family.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: quadibloc on September 15, 2009, 10:34:40 pm
Two is the only reason that meets your definition.

Part of really trying does include not trusting the guards.

And I quite agree that the right to own a milling machine is a valuable one. After all, in a peaceful society, one might not usually need a gun that much.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: J Thomas on September 15, 2009, 11:15:07 pm
If somehow every gun in America except for the police and military disappeared tomorrow, I know exactly what would happen.  There would be a run on metal working lathes and anyone with machine shop experience would begin manufacturing guns to sell for a substanal profit to their friends and family.

Worse than that. Firearms are a 19th century technology that have kind of fossilized. Innovations are fairly rare and typically minor, not counting things like laser sights and the coevolution between personal armor and bullets that can punch through it.

If the established brands were gone, there would be lots and lots of innovation. Like:

Your attacker gets stuck with a relatively slow-moving needle.
"What the hell!"
"You're infected now. Come with me to a hospital and we'll stand in front of the security guard and I'll tell you which antibiotic can cure you."

Maybe flechettes that can make a tight pattern or spread out, it's the default unless you have time to choose....

Similarly, bullets that can hold together to hit like a slug, or break apart into a thousand needle-sharp pieces that can't miss, the range determined by air resistance.

Lots of variations fueled by legislation. Note how the pharmaceutical companies keep coming up with "narcotics" that take time to become illegal. We'd get gun-equlvalents that would be technically legal until the legislature closed each new loophole.

With traditional 19th-century firearms everybody knows what to expect. There's the hole the bullet comes out of, and there's the trigger, and a bunch of stuff that isn't of immediate concern, and maybe there's a laser glowing on your heart. Easy to understand. Known quantities. Get a whole lot of things that maybe kind of look like guns, and it's anybody's guess what's going on.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: terry_freeman on September 16, 2009, 12:49:37 am
So the argument goes, if we want to keep drugs out of prisons, we'd have to try really hard - including not trusting the guards. Then we'd have to not trust those who watch the guards, and we'd have to watch those watchers, and so on ad infinitum. Wow, that's sounds like the sort of society we'd be just delighted to have, just to eliminate drugs and - of course - guns, since that's where the conversation started.

You know what? If you want to live in such a society, give the warden of Leavenworth a call, see if you can wangle an invitation to stay for a while. As for the rest of us, we'd like to live in something which does not approximate a maximum security prison. I'm just sayin', that's all.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: J Thomas on September 16, 2009, 07:36:22 am
If you want to live in such a society, give the warden of Leavenworth a call, see if you can wangle an invitation to stay for a while. As for the rest of us, we'd like to live in something which does not approximate a maximum security prison. I'm just sayin', that's all.

I agree with you in practice, though not in priniciple.

in Singapore you can get into somewhat-serious trouble for dropping a piece of gum on the sidewalk. Most of the public doesn't seem to mind.

If the vast majority of honest citizens felt they didn't need guns, then it would be no particular problem to make them illegal. Then criminals could be arrested if they're found with guns, and that inconveniences criminals, and nobody else minds much.

But we have a lot of honest citizens who do want guns. For a collection, for a hobby, maybe a lot of them like to fantasize about shooting people who deserve it but they don't actually do it. If guns were illegal it would seriously inconvenience *them*. So it isn't worth doing.

I would take the same stand on child pornography if the numbers came out different. If we had a large number of honest citizens who wanted child pornography, who did not actually accost children or do anything really bad, then the society would and should accomodate them. But we don't, so it's OK to make the stuff illegal since a lot of people want it that way.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: Sean Roach on September 16, 2009, 11:04:04 am
Then criminals could be arrested if they're found with guns, and that inconveniences criminals, and nobody else minds much.
Right now, a person who has been convicted of a crime can not legally own a gun, and gun dealers can not legally sell to them.  There is already the paperwork in place to prevent this.
If a person who is a known former criminal is discovered to have a gun, he's in violation and goes back to prison for having an illegal gun.

Repeat criminals still use guns.

I would take the same stand on child pornography if the numbers came out different. If we had a large number of honest citizens who wanted child pornography, who did not actually accost children or do anything really bad, then the society would and should accomodate them. But we don't, so it's OK to make the stuff illegal since a lot of people want it that way.

The difference with child pornography, (nice attempt to kill the thread, by the way, but we've all heard the "for the children" argument so many times we get fed up when we hear variants on it,) is the subject is considered to be the first victim because he or she was TOO YOUNG to intelligently consent.  A crime was committed in the manufacture.  The other argument is that the possession of child porn gives the person the idea that having sex with children must be okay, and that argument is indifferent to whether or not the image was taken with a kodak or produced entirely in photoshop. 
The same is not true of guns.  HAVING a gun doesn't promote violence.  I can name a lot of other things that do, (do you want a videography?  list of violent video games?  how about songs on the subject of killing?), but the tool does not encourage murder.  A better comparison would be perhaps banning cameras because they're used in child porn.

Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: Brugle on September 16, 2009, 12:34:46 pm
it's OK to make the stuff illegal since a lot of people want it that way.
This seems to say that if a lot of people want something then it's OK.  For example, if a lot of people wanted anyone who criticized Dear Leader to be tortured to death, then that would be OK.  Do you really think that?
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: pendothrax on September 16, 2009, 04:55:50 pm
As often as "for the children" is used as a straw man arguement for people without a valid point to make, the so called effects of violent video games, music with whatever lyrics, roleplaying games, ect are also a straw man or just plain scapegoat used for whoever feels that what you think needs to be regulated for the "common good".  Growing up as a geek, I have been subjected to every variation of these nonsensical arguments quite often.  While i tend to tune them out by now, it just seems incredibly silly to see the "for the children" line of bs shot down by refering to another line of bs and one that is used to justify  a considerable amount of censorship.  I believe censorship is a little nonsensible for anyone looking to a libertarian point of view ;)  Just my two cents. 
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: J Thomas on September 16, 2009, 07:21:41 pm
Then criminals could be arrested if they're found with guns, and that inconveniences criminals, and nobody else minds much.
Right now, a person who has been convicted of a crime can not legally own a gun, and gun dealers can not legally sell to them.  There is already the paperwork in place to prevent this.
If a person who is a known former criminal is discovered to have a gun, he's in violation and goes back to prison for having an illegal gun.

Repeat criminals still use guns.

I'm arguing a counterfactual, something that does not actually exist. There is no way for me to show that i'm right about it, and I might not be. My claim is that IF the mass of the population had no interest in owning guns, and made gun-ownership illegal, THEN IN THAT CASE it would be much harder for criminals to get guns and harder for them to keep guns. That includes criminals who have not yet been convicted of a felony.

I've known two felons who did keep guns because their lifestyle required them to. One was my downstairs neighbor, who ran into random troubles every couple of months. Like, I heard shots downstairs, and somebody was pounding on his door telling him to open up. He flung his door open and stuck his gun in the guy's face and asked him what was going on. It turned out the guy had the wrong address and he apologised and left. We heard shots next door and the guy yelling.... I never had any problems except a druggee collapsed on my landing once, which was an advantage of being upstairs. I found a better place to live, and I'm sure my neighbor would have left too if he could afford it.

The other was a former neighbor who kept in touch. He'd been involved in a wildcat strike and perhaps due to that was arrested for receiving stolen property, auto mechanic's tools. He got a job doing vehicle maintenance for the county. His exwife got a job with the police department and started dating policemen. The police department went to the county and told them he was a felon, and his supervisor said he did great work and would not be fired. He was fired a month later. One night some guys started shooting into his trailer. He sneaked out the back window and crawled under it and started shooting at their feet. One of them yelled "Dammit Dan, you said he didn't have a gun!" About a month later he was reported to have committed suicide. I doubted that and my wife's father, a postal inspector, offered to contact the police and find out what happened. When we next saw him my wife asked what he found. "Don't ask, you don't want to know."

I feel like some felons get an undue hardship by getting punished for having guns. But the society doesn't agree with me about that.

I would take the same stand on child pornography if the numbers came out different. If we had a large number of honest citizens who wanted child pornography, who did not actually accost children or do anything really bad, then the society would and should accomodate them. But we don't, so it's OK to make the stuff illegal since a lot of people want it that way.

Quote
The difference with child pornography, (nice attempt to kill the thread, by the way, but we've all heard the "for the children" argument so many times we get fed up when we hear variants on it,) is the subject is considered to be the first victim because he or she was TOO YOUNG to intelligently consent.  A crime was committed in the manufacture.

That's one of the ways that the child pornography argument is different from the gun control argument. There are of course lots of other differences. Not like the situations are mostly parallel.

Quote
The other argument is that the possession of child porn gives the person the idea that having sex with children must be okay, and that argument is indifferent to whether or not the image was taken with a kodak or produced entirely in photoshop. 
The same is not true of guns.  HAVING a gun doesn't promote violence.  I can name a lot of other things that do, (do you want a videography?  list of violent video games?  how about songs on the subject of killing?), but the tool does not encourage murder.  A better comparison would be perhaps banning cameras because they're used in child porn.

I'd say the argument that pornography causes sex crimes is pretty much unsupported. To  make the claim that guns promote violence ... that's hard because there are so many guns and so little violence. Compare the amount of legal pornography with the amount of coercive sex crimes....

I say that in either case it's what the mass of ignorant people believe that matters. There are enough gun owners to protect themselves politically. There are not enough people who like child pornography to protect themselves politically or legally. So the one group is safe and the other group is not.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: J Thomas on September 16, 2009, 07:54:35 pm
it's OK to make the stuff illegal since a lot of people want it that way.
This seems to say that if a lot of people want something then it's OK.  For example, if a lot of people wanted anyone who criticized Dear Leader to be tortured to death, then that would be OK.  Do you really think that?

I disapprove. But when a large fraction of the population firmly believes something and I disagree along with a few others, it's the large fraction of the population that wins. I can oppose them and it won't have much effect -- except for the consequences I suffer.

I expect that will tend to be true whatever the society.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: Sean Roach on September 16, 2009, 09:21:11 pm
Actually, I believe pornography desensitizes the user.  Not toward rape, but rather toward sleeping around.  And yes, I believe violence in media is a contributing factor towards violence in society.  Do I want to ban it?  No, but I wouldn't mind a boycott.

Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: quadibloc on September 16, 2009, 10:25:40 pm
I disapprove. But when a large fraction of the population firmly believes something and I disagree along with a few others, it's the large fraction of the population that wins. I can oppose them and it won't have much effect -- except for the consequences I suffer.

I expect that will tend to be true whatever the society.

This is true enough, but I'm not sure what your point is, given that this is a discussion about what the majority should choose. Should the majority choose to limit the powers of government, so that the government can only outlaw violence and coercion - and cannot engage in violence and coercion on its own account, whether to ban things that people feel are "immoral" that don't inflict harm, or to collect taxes?

If they choose this, they can have it, and if they don't choose it, they can have something else.

I generally support trying to maximize and protect individual freedom.

Communists were criticized for assuming people would be willing to work hard if better quality work was not rewarded with more money. This criticism related to their theoretical ideas, not their real practice. But it was a valid criticism, if a minor one, and I think the same one applies to Libertarians who assume people will always voluntarily pitch in as much as necessary to deal with common problems. A system based on unrealistic assumptions about human nature will fail.

Inflexible ideology, which does not adapt to practical circumstances, is another thing that they were criticized for. Again, that is a bad thing on any side of the political spectrum.

Of course, what the Communists, like the Nazis, should really be criticized for the most is their cruelty and brutality. This is the problem that Libertarianism does not have, and this is the most important thing. But even minor mistakes are to be avoided and pointed out.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: Brugle on September 16, 2009, 11:05:08 pm
Libertarians who assume people will always voluntarily pitch in as much as necessary to deal with common problems
I haven't heard of any libertarian who assumes that.  While voluntarily cooperating people are quite good at solving common problems, every libertarian that I know would agree that some problems would not be solved optimally (whatever that means).  However, most libertarians that I know would also agree that giving a group of people power (to kill, enslave, take, and destroy) and then hoping that they use that power to solve common problems is much less likely to produce good results.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: terry_freeman on September 17, 2009, 06:34:05 am
It used to be the custom that, when one got out of jail, all of one's personal effects were returned -- including one's weapon and holster. Nowadays, we criminalize everything under the sun ... smoking ancient herbal remedies, for example - and slap so-called "felons" with the no-guns-for-life penalty as well.

I am of the opinion that, if you cannot trust a person with guns, you should do one of two things. Either kill him, or bury him in a pit for life. If he has done the time and is considered "safe" to be in society, it is unreasonable to believe that he won't have access to a great variety of weapons, including guns.

I can't buy the "bunches of people vote against X, so X should be illegal" argument. It makes a lot more sense to use the jury nullification argument -- if just one person out of twelve says X should not be grounds for taking a person's life, liberty, or property, then X should not be illegal. A lot of things have been made "illegal" by legislators - drinking wine; helping slaves and other "undesirables" to escape.

On a totally different slant - Singapore criminalizes a lot of conduct, but there's an interesting twist. Singapore has universal service; everyone must spend a certain amount of time working for the military or the police. A friend tells me that he was required to serve as a policeman one week every year until age 40. I wonder if everyone thinks of himself as a policeman, to some degree?
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: terry_freeman on September 17, 2009, 06:47:58 am
As for what sort of society would constrain the power of the majority to outlaw this and that on whatever grounds ... one such society would be a free society, without a state monopoly on law. There are two contemporary examples. The Amish do not turn to the law to settle disputes; they have their own internal forms of dispute resolution. Their faith prohibits the use of violence to settle disputes; if one really "goes beyond the pale", then one is shunned, excluded from the society.

There are also some Jewish people who do not rely upon the State. A large part of the diamond trade is carried on a small group of Jews who share the same customs. They have evolved a body of law and custom to settle disputes; it is enforced only by custom. They deal with millions of dollars of goods, and if a ruling says party A should pay party B a million dollars, it happens ... otherwise party A loses reputation and is no longer able to trade.

Whether one has a state or not, the old principle of jury nullification serves to limit the powers of the state. If one person out of twelve disputes the law, it becomes null and void for that case; if this happens often, the law becomes unenforceable. This has happened in cases of fugitive slaves, in draft cases, and in drug cases. The right of freedom of speech began with a jury nullification of a case against William Penn, who was charged with preaching without a license.
( He was a Quaker, and such licenses were only available to those of the established Church. )

Actually, there's a third example. Much of our commercial law actually arose from private dispute resolution, and to this day, private arbitration is preferred in many inter-firm disputes, especially those which cross national boundaries.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: quadibloc on September 17, 2009, 08:12:02 am
However, most libertarians that I know would also agree that giving a group of people power (to kill, enslave, take, and destroy) and then hoping that they use that power to solve common problems is much less likely to produce good results.

And non-Libertarians agree, except for one thing: if the "group of people" is everybody, then the main cause of the danger is removed. So if you can reliably keep the government under the control of the people, giving it a limited power to tax and pass laws beyond those which prohibit crimes with clear victims has benefits which outweigh the dangers.

Canadian politics might illustrate, though, how that can be a mistake. Many Canadians feel that while at one time those Canadians whose first language was French instead of English were discriminated against, now the government shows favoritism towards them. If the government didn't have lots of tax money to hand out, if the civil service wasn't a major employer, there wouidn't be a pork barrel to fight over.

And this, of course, is also part of the reason why it is felt that Libertarianism also means one doesn't need controls over immigration.

Given that most ordinary working-class people basically "know it in their bones" that their only hope of a decent life is to artificially inflate the value of their labor through immigration controls, high tariffs, and labor unions, it's going to be a really tough sell to convince them that, no, they will be better off because now they can work for themselves without having to pay for a business license and the like.

On top of that, most ordinary people live in rented accomodations, and thus visibly benefit from laws which restrict rent from being raised.

It is imagined that what a transition to Libertarianism will do is to make property rights absolute, and thus those who feel they don't own that much property find it hard to see how it will benefit them instead of harming them.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: terry_freeman on September 17, 2009, 08:48:55 pm
Sorry, bud, that rent control argument is a dog that won't hunt. In every city where rent control has been tried, for hundreds and hundreds of years, rent control laws have served to reduce the quantity and/or quality of space available for rent.  The only thing more deadly to the interests of renters would be a bomb.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: J Thomas on September 18, 2009, 01:11:57 am
Sorry, bud, that rent control argument is a dog that won't hunt. In every city where rent control has been tried, for hundreds and hundreds of years, rent control laws have served to reduce the quantity and/or quality of space available for rent.  The only thing more deadly to the interests of renters would be a bomb.

You are right in the long run. But rent control is like insurance, poison in the long run but in the short run you feel like you have to have it. Under rent control the quality of housing goes down, and so does the quantity, and the places that aren't rent-controlled turn extra expensive, so people grab rent-controlled places if they possibly can get them.

Like so many other things, create an artificial scarcity and then people value the guy who can provide a little inadequate amount of what's scarce.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: terry_freeman on September 18, 2009, 08:15:32 am
J Thomas, are you arguing for or against rent control? In the long run, rent control never goes away. It imposes an artificial blight upon the land. One may gain short-term benefits, just as it feels good to be drunk in the short term, but the hangover is quite a blight - and in this case, it doesn't go away with the next dose, it just gets worse and worse. In NYC, landlords walk away from buildings because of rent control; they can't economically justify the maintenance. This reduces the supply of rentals.

Politics is all about coercion, which is all about reducing choice. You're minding your own business, and a politician ( or his agent ) points a gun at you and says "you can't do that" - which reduces your freedom of action. Now, in rare cases ( such as prohibitions against rape, murder, and theft ), you shouldn't be doing that anyhow. But so-called "regulation" of markets deprives people of the right to make voluntary transactions which would be mutually beneficial. This deprives people of benefits; it makes people - including renters - poorer than they otherwise would be.

Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: J Thomas on September 19, 2009, 04:01:44 am
J Thomas, are you arguing for or against rent control? In the long run, rent control never goes away. It imposes an artificial blight upon the land. One may gain short-term benefits, just as it feels good to be drunk in the short term, but the hangover is quite a blight - and in this case, it doesn't go away with the next dose, it just gets worse and worse. In NYC, landlords walk away from buildings because of rent control; they can't economically justify the maintenance. This reduces the supply of rentals.

Quadibloc thought that people will feel like they need rent control. I agree with him, people who have trouble with rent will think they need rent control.

You argue that rent control has very bad results in the long run. I agree with you too.

Quote
Politics is all about coercion, which is all about reducing choice. You're minding your own business, and a politician ( or his agent ) points a gun at you and says "you can't do that" - which reduces your freedom of action. Now, in rare cases ( such as prohibitions against rape, murder, and theft ), you shouldn't be doing that anyhow. But so-called "regulation" of markets deprives people of the right to make voluntary transactions which would be mutually beneficial. This deprives people of benefits; it makes people - including renters - poorer than they otherwise would be.

Sometimes government redistributes assets. This might or might not be good for the people who receive the assets. It might or might not be good for the society as a whole. It kind of depends on what the alternative would be, which is something we can only guess at.

There was a time when the big majority of americans were farmers. If you work your own land and you make a lot of your stuff for yourself, then it matters how good your land is and it matters a whole lot what you choose to do with it and how hard you work. By WWII the majority was not farmers, and now that's something less than 3%. You do whatever work you fall into, and you buy stuff with the money you get paid. It might easily be true that the reason we had a middle class after WWIi was because of our government's choices, that without those we would have fallen into a third-world income distribution with a few rich people and a whole lot of urban peasants. Or maybe that isn't true. There's room for a lot of disagreement about what actually did happen, and there's room for infinite disagreement about what would have invitably happened otherwise....

But Quadibloc is right that a lot of people feel like the government does them good and they think they need it. Before they thirst for liberty they need reason to think that they could thrive that way. How could they thrive if it turned out that a few rich people wound up owning pretty much everything and hired others at rates determined by supply and demand?
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: terry_freeman on September 21, 2009, 04:04:09 am
In my experience, rich people become rich in two ways: through voluntary exchanges or through the support of the government. Folks who were around during the era of Prohibition say that the Mafia in America was "a dying man; Prohibition was like a transfusion of life's blood for them" -- the Kennedy family was one of many beneficiaries of a protected market. Today, the drug war serves the same purpose: it boosts profits for criminal firms. There are other, more "legal" firms which use the force or government to redistribute wealth to their advantage.

In short, if you think that government is a device which equalizes opportunity, you seem to be arguing against the facts of history.

Let us take a subject where the myth of government-imposed equality is 180 degrees from the reality. Prior to 1860, no state in America had compulsory attendance laws; people were free to decide how much education they needed. Alexis de Toqueville travelled extensively, and was amazed at the world-class education which was prevalent. Senator Kennedy's office reports that literacy in Massachusetts was in the high 90-percent range; it has never been as high since. Supposedly, governement intervention would improve educational equality. in a very perverse way, we have a sort of equal mediocrity; even Harvard graduates are now as dumb as stones when it comes to matters of economics and history.  Contrast this with the outcomes of home schoolers; research shows that a) home schooled students score about 30 percentile points above their peers; b) parental socioeconomic status makes almost no difference for home schoolers; c) parental education makes almost no difference for home schoolers. For those taught in government-regulated schools, on the other hand, socioeconomic status makes a huge difference, and the average level of attainment is terrible. Since 88% of Americans learn their "history" and "economics" and "political science" from government institutions, which have a vested interest in promoting more dependence upon the government, large numbers of Americans know less than nothing about these topics; they are trained to believe in myths.

Or let us consider self-defense. When one relies only upon government protection, the world is a very unequal place - the wealthy have better police services than the poor. The wealthy hire licensed bodyguards to provide 24x7 protection. In a libertarian society, for a small price, you can afford to be your own 24x7 protection. It's easier to carry a pistol than to carry a policeman. A 99 lb woman can kill a would-be rapist twice her size. There's a good reason Colt was sold as "the great equalizer."

In short, all those who look to government to make the world a "more equal place" are talking nonsense. Ask anyone who lived in South America about the vast inequalities in their country; they'll tell you that Latin America is ruled by caudillos, "strong men" who use government power to enrich some at the expense of others. The landowners did not obtain land through voluntary exchange; they confiscated it by force.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: J Thomas on September 21, 2009, 10:37:44 am
In short, if you think that government is a device which equalizes opportunity, you seem to be arguing against the facts of history.

I tend to agree. However, government has also traditionally provided a sort of safety valve for the protests of the poor. In athens they set up the government so that the rich (who were proportionately not so rich as in later societies) mostly ran things but the poor had some say. In rome the poor nearly had a revolt, and they got up a system with tribunes to represent them -- the tribunes got a veto. And that headed off the revolt.

When government fails too severely we get things like the french revolution and the russian revolution. The poor take over, and at least usually a new government quickly arises which is even worse but without its previous parasites.

It is not uncommon for the poor to believe that the government helps protect them from the worst depredations of somebody else. In the late medieval times, there was a common theory that the king protected the peasants from the nobility. And sometimes he did, a little -- but he was far away and the local lord was nearby.

It's easy to argue that the government makes us poorer. I'll do it -- let's suppose for the moment that  lot of our military expenditures are not needed. Then the steel we use for unneeded military stuff, and the plastic, and the oil, and the lives of soldiers who could be doing something productive, is all wasted.

To argue in favor of our military you have to say we need it for insurance. If a giant threat comes up we'll need a miltary that's ready now, with traditions and experience. And then once we have it and don't need it at the moment, we might as well use it for trivial purposes rather than let it go to waste and anyway the soldiers need the experience. So we invade the Dominican Republic again or something.

So OK, we get rid of the government and all the resources the government uses are freed up, ready to be used for something better. What happens if it turns out that those resources are owned by rich people who choose not to use them?

Rich man: "We need to conserve oil so it won't run out so fast, so let's just not pump as much of it. It's worth more in the ground than it is sold today. And we need nature preserves more than we need lumber. We sure don't need so many TV sets, let's just make fewer of them."

Me: "But what about all the middle-class people who want to buy those things. Don't you want to make a profit off of them?"

Rich man: "Excuse me? We just shut down a whole lot of stuff and those people are looking for work, they aren't a profitable market. We'll give them charity but we sure can't make a profit at it."

People aren't going to support a big change unless they feel like they can do OK in the new system. What good is it to have a libertarian society if you wind up homeless and competing for jobs that aren't there?

A libertarian society with a few super-rich people is a libertarian society that exists on the sufferance of those people. If you can't get rid of the super-rich people then you're stuck.

And it doesn't matter what combination of ethical horse-trading and unethical coercion they used to get rich. They're in control, and many poor people still feel like the government is their best chance at restraining them, weak though it is. Without the government they can do anything they want and nobody will stop them. With the government it's practically the same way but they try to be discreet.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: terry_freeman on September 21, 2009, 08:29:01 pm
I would say that with the government, the rich use the government to make themselves richer. Consider the recent financial crisis. Who got the bailouts? The rich, including Warren Buffet, who gained at least $10 billion. Did the homeowners get any bailouts? No, they did not. This is the way government works. It is not the ideal "public servant" which we are told about in the government-run schools. It is a servant of the rich, for the rich. Voting and welfare programs are just a sideshow meant to entertain the masses.
Title: Re: Latest comics a bit author-tract
Post by: Rocketman on September 22, 2009, 10:55:11 am
Nicely said Terry.  It's really no different from the bread and circuses of the roman empire.  And will likely end up the same way.  :'(