Teleporter: Good or bad?

Good! People must be free!
13 (65%)
Bad! I like knowing that bombs won't appear in my house one day.
7 (35%)

Total Members Voted: 19

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?

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. 

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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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?

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.