That word….

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. – Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

Liberty.

The Tea Party just loves that word.

To them it is the epitome of democracy.  To them it means being allowed to do any damn thing they want to, with no one to tell them “No you can’t”.

Except… that isn’t what Liberty is. That is instead the definition of Anarchy.

Totally different thing….

See, with anarchy there are no rules, no authority telling you “No”. The problem with anarchy is that it means that everyone else can do whatever they want too. Which sounds OK, until you realize that it also means that people far more powerful than yourself are included in that “everyone else”.

Actually, that isn’t a problem, as long as you and the bully want the same things.

Ooooo, wait, let me rephrase that. ‘Cause that is exactly when it is a problem. Hmm, how about “as long as you and the bully want the bully to have the same things”. There we go, muuuuch better.

Rules make better freedom. 

A level playing field means you get the same fair shot that everyone else gets at getting your needs met.  A level playing field ensures a better democracy – one person, one vote.  No one gets extra freedom because they have extra power or extra money.  And rules are the basis for a level playing field.

Without rules, you have no Liberty.

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5 Responses to “That word….”

  1. Justin Oliver Says:

    Without rules, you have no Liberty.

    Agreed, but not just any rules will do. After all, some rules restrict people’s liberty.

    I think the way to ensure equal liberty for all while simultaneously not limiting the liberty of some is by restricting those rules to the defense of people’s liberty.

    • politicallyme Says:

      Hard to argue against that, at least in theory. The problem with that argument, though, is where does your liberty stop, and mine begin?

      Where does your liberty to do whatever the heck you want with, for example, your property – you own land and you want to exercise your right to exploit the mineral wealth within it – interfere with my right, as your neighbor, to live without being poisoned by your economic activity?

      Where does your right to say what you want and cry out “Fire!” in a crowded theater outweigh my right not to be trampled to death by the ensuing panic?

      Where does your right to earn a living as you choose outweigh my right not to be sold Facebook stock without having you disclose that you know it to be crap? (No I didn’t buy any)

      When does your right to earn a living as you wish allow you to crash the financial markets and cause a worldwide recession/depression, hurting millions or billions of people?

      When do “innovative financial solutions’ become “creative accounting”?

      There has to be a balance between rights and responsibilities, rules and freedom. Without rules, there is no freedom. Without responsibilities, there are no rights. Without rules to enforce those responsibilities, there are people who will refuse to be responsible, because they see it as being in their short-term interest to be all id and get what they want and get it RIGHT NOW, with no one to tell them “No”.

      In a perfect world, these people would be shunned by society and no one would take heed of them. In the real world, they run gangs, companies and political machines.

      The real world needs rules to work.

      Don’t believe me? Pull out a Monopoly game and try playing with NO rules. Or Candyland. Or Chutes & Ladders. Or cards.

      • Justin Oliver Says:

        Where does your liberty to do whatever the heck you want with, for example, your property – you own land and you want to exercise your right to exploit the mineral wealth within it – interfere with my right, as your neighbor, to live without being poisoned by your economic activity?

        I don’t think that is much of a problem to determine. There is no such thing as the right to infringe upon the rights others. If you think it might help, I can explain why that is.

        Think of the existing paradigm. Instead of protecting people’s rights, the government sells permits to pollute other people’s property.

        Where does your right to say what you want and cry out “Fire!” in a crowded theater outweigh my right not to be trampled to death by the ensuing panic?

        That is not so much of a free speech issue as it is a property rights issue. In that light, I don’t think that is not much of a problem to determine either.

        Where does your right to earn a living as you choose outweigh my right not to be sold Facebook stock without having you disclose that you know it to be crap? (No I didn’t buy any)

        If fraud was committed, the government should investigate and bring charges against the offenders.

        Too reiterate, I agree that there should be rules, the purpose of which is to defend people’s right to be free from the (direct or indirect) physical force of others.

        Anyhow, thanks for the discussion. Take care.

      • politicallyme Says:

        Any of these obvious situations I posit, that are so easy to determine, are determinable (or more importantly, enforcably determinable) because of the laws that the conservatives and pseudo-libertarians would have us dismantle.

        To take my Monopoly offer further, if you went in without rules, you could make a land grab upon opening the box. Or you could say that the $100 bills were only worth $1 – except when you use them, when they are worth $1,000. The denominations on the bills are themselves rules. Without rules there is chaos and anarchy. Rather than restricting our freedom, rules ensure it.

        Which is not to say, that this doesn’t get abused.

        Think of the existing paradigm. Instead of protecting people’s rights, the government sells permits to pollute other people’s property.

        Indeed. To get around the laws that protect our rights not to be polluted, an evasion at the behest of those who think the laws are restricting their freedoms. The laws that the Tea Party objects to ar ethe vey laws that are supposed to protect those rights from those who would sell them for greenbacks.

        The complexity of the laws and regulations that the conservatives complain about is a direct result of the conservatives’ attempts to weaken and dismantle them.

        The original Clean Air law says, essentially, “Don’t screw it up.” The Clear Skies law passed this past decade said “Except… except… except… roll this back partially, roll that back all the way”. When you have hundreds or thousands of pages that consist of tweaking this or that to carve out exceptions, yeah, that is a regulatory burden indeed. Just bring it back to “Don’t”.

      • Justin Oliver Says:

        To take my Monopoly offer further …

        I know we discussed this already, but I said I agree that there should be rules. To simplify my point, the ultimate rule (and any necessary subsidiary rules) that the government enforces should be to ensure that people do not violate the rights of others, which would include the example of fraud if people did not consent to the terms of exchange described in the hypothetical. I also support associations of people forming their own rules that the members of that association have consented to (so long the rules do not violate the rights of non-members). So I am very clearly a supporter of the enforcement of rules. I just want to make sure the rules enforced do not violate the rights of anyone.

        To get around the laws that protect our rights not to be polluted, an evasion at the behest of those who think the laws are restricting their freedoms.

        As I stated, people do not have the right to violate the rights of others. If that is the case, then restricting someone from violating my rights is not a restriction of his right to freedom.

        The original Clean Air law says, essentially, “Don’t screw it up.” The Clear Skies law passed this past decade said “Except… except… except… roll this back partially, roll that back all the way”.

        I think there is some truth to that, but I think regulatory capture (which serves the interest of big businesses to avoid the liability costs of pollution and to drive out competition from small competitors) offers a more fundamental reason for the complexity of environmental regulations.

        That is all I have to contribute, but I have really enjoyed the discussion. Best of luck on your site!

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