April 2, 2016

"Liberty is the idea that our minds and bodies belong to ourselves.... Liberty cannot be extinguished... through laws; it can only be unjustly punished."

The Libertarian Debate was on TV last night, as I'm noticing this morning, reading my son John's live-blogging of it, which begins:
9:03 — Gary Johnson uses his opening statement to talk about his "wonderful family," including his grandchildren and his fiance, with whom he shares "a passion for health and wellness." "It's great to be in love, and I'm in love!" He talks about starting a successful "handyman business," then selling it in 1999 — "nobody lost their job." He also points out that he got elected governor in a state that's 2 to 1 Democratic, New Mexico. And he's adventurous: "I climbed the tallest mountain in each of the seven continents!"

9:05 — John McAfee's opening statement strikes a different tone — philosophical, not personal: "Libertarianism is grounded in the concept of liberty. What is liberty? Liberty is the idea that our minds and bodies belong to ourselves. . . . Liberty cannot be extinguished . . . through laws; it can only be unjustly punished."

9:06 — Austin Petersen sketches his biography to highlight how he's learned the value of liberty. He grew up on a horse farm near a town called Liberty, Missouri. He learned about "economic liberty" as a kid, when his parents sent him to sell chrysanthemums. He learned about "personal liberty" from "the Golden Rule." "I may be the youngest candidate in this race, but I'm the oldest in libertarian years!"
Funny that 2 of them were so personal and one was so abstract. It's the excessive abstraction that scares me about libertarians, so maybe I should be wary of McAfee, even though I loved his quote and immediately chose it for the post title.

Anyway, the whole live-blog is well worth reading. Ah,  yes, here's some more about McAfee, perhaps explanatory of why he, unlike Johnson and Peterson, declined to make his opening statement a Song of Myself:
9:38 — McAfee is asked about his shady alleged activities in Belize and Guatemala. "You're still technically a fugitive!" He was also arrested for driving on Xanax. McAfee says . . . well, he's never been charged with murder! (That's reassuring.) He admits his DUI was "the stupidest thing I've ever done."
I like this Peterson-Johnson engagement with the iconic issue of our day, forced cake decoration:
9:42 — Petersen challenges Johnson on his support for requiring bakeries to make cakes for same-sex weddings. "Should a Jewish baker be forced to bake a Nazi wedding cake?" Johnson says: "Yes!" Petersen accuses Johnson of not understanding the free market. Petersen frames his argument as pro-gay: "Let the bigots out themselves!"
That's 2 damned different forms of libertarian. The libertarian position should be Petersen's, don't you think? Petersen is only 35, by the way. Asked about it, he said, "I'm 35, so I'm constitutionally eligible.... Don't hate me because I'm young and pretty!"


rhhardin said...

I'm going through this week's Munk Debate Youtube on accepting all comers as refugees, with Mark Steyn.

Among other developments, all the weekly Derbyshire radio derbs are archived at Vdare.com, a series that began in 2004 under various auspices.

Epstein would put liberty as freedom to contract and freedom from fraud, the state being there to make both enforceable and thus possible.

MaxedOutMama said...

Maybe if I did some LSD I could grok a libertarian who thinks government should be forcing anyone to bake any type of cake for anyone.

But maybe that's why I don't do LSD - so that my perception of the world is not so infinitely malleable that I can believe for one minute that the man has any sort of beliefs grounded on personal liberty.

One thing I have noticed about libertarians - if they are not intellectually rigid to the Aspergerish level, something about the human psyche converts their philosophy into "The government shouldn't mess with me, but it should mess with anyone of whom I don't approve." If you want real liberty, you have to look at other political philosophies. I would guess that not more than 1 in 20 human beings is psychologically healthy enough to embrace this philosophy without becoming a social demon.

wildswan said...

Johnson took a test on political positions and found he agreed with himself only 90% of the time. I like that. Or was it Peterson? Two of them supported forcing Christians to bake gay wedding cakes - not a libertarian outlook. Two supported abortion but would they allow Planned Parenthood's domination of Title X funding to continue? Two would abolish foreign aid; we have forced governments to have a population plan in order to get foreign aid. So this would have a knock-on effect - other countries could stop spending precious health dollars on "reproductive health" thus ruining their birth rate. This would be good - we see in Europe what happens to countries that ruin their birth rate. They don't have a lower carbon footprint - they just have to import migrants of an alien culture and spend money policing formerly safe streets. They have to keep their birth rate or their immigration or migration rate up to keep the welfare state. But stop - you are ranting.

Anyhow I liked the libertarians - I think my values would be better off under them. Abortion and eugenics would not be getting a push from government money; PC would not be possible; nor the star chamber proceedings against men who kiss. but for some reason the libertarians seemed a bit like the "monster raving loony party" i supported at a distance in the sxtys

Michael K said...

Libertarians have to assume that rules and laws apply to everyone equally.

That's my problem with Big L Libertarians.

The cake thing is ridiculous.

BDNYC said...

"Epstein would put liberty as freedom to contract and freedom from fraud, the state being there to make both enforceable and thus possible."

I think Epstein would also include freedom from force and coercion.

M Jordan said...

Years ago when I called myself a big L Libertarian I forced myself not to follow the core logic to its end. I knew that end was anarchy and I didn't want to think about that. Then I had occasion to teach Ayn Rand's novelette, "Anthem." It's the only book of hers I could finish. Her grand climax was "Ego." Ego was the meaning of everything. Ego was her anthem.

That's when I moved away from the big L Libertarians. Unfettered ego is not the god I wish to worship. Anarchy is not the society I cherish to live in.

Laslo Spatula said...

The majority of People today cannot comprehend Liberty.

The majority of People today do not want to be Free.

They need Government to tell them what to do, and -- more important --they want Government to tell Other People what to do.

A nation of fucking crybabies and tattletales.

I am Laslo.

mikeyes said...

There was a Libertarian debate? On FBN? Sorry, I didn't see it as I don't have that on my Sling account. Looking at the picture of the debate it appears that anyone who was interested was already there.

tim maguire said...

The government sees you and I as slaves, as property for them to regulate and restrict as they see fit. The Democrats and Republicans differ ony in how they woud discharge the duties of slavemaster. Only the libertarian sees you as a free person with the right to run your life.

But, yeah, talk to one long enough and the nuttiness will out.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I'm sure the Libertarian candidates all have a position on how many carrier battle groups the U.S. should maintain.

rhhardin said...

I think Epstein would also include freedom from force and coercion.

Force and coercion that leaves you worse off. Some force and coercion prevents you from queering a project by being a holdout, a project that leaves you better off but not as well off as as a holdout.

tim maguire said...

Blogger BDNYC said:
I think Epstein would also include freedom from force and coercion.

Freedom from coercion is the anarchist position. Which is related to the libertarian position, but is as concerned with private coercion as with public.

Big Mike said...

John McAfee may not excite your hormones, Madam Professor, but he's a remarkable person who founded one of the first -- maybe the first cybersecurity companies offering an anti-virus software package.

Instead of the Libertarian debate last night (we don't subscribe to cable) the wife and I watched John McAfee on the Russia Today network (which is a free antenna channel here in Northern Virginia). A full transcript has not been posted, but McAfee's comments on the difficulty, that is to say the lack thereof, in cracking an iPhone can be found here.

For those of you who can't be bothered to follow the link, the money quote from McAfee is:

"The FBI needs to get its act together and tell the truth: 'We need it, because we want to spy on Americans!' Cool, let’s talk about that, but please don’t try to deceive us by pretending we are idiots. We aren’t."

Actually, I have to disagree with McAfee -- I'm not an idiot and he's not an idiot, but if there weren't a lot of idiots in America would the Democrats ever win an election?

Moneyrunner said...

Just as you thought you grasped the concept of Libertarianism, some "official" Libertarian open his mouth.

Bay Area Guy said...

The Libertarians do wrestle with important ideas, not personalities, so in that respect they deserve a lot of credit.

However, since politics require so much compromise, turf battles, and personality clashes, Libertarians don't fare too well in the endeavor.

Rick said...

While Petersen says he's personally not afraid of the word "open borders," he will say that he believes "the president should obey the Constitution and law" and thus wouldn't willy-nilly try to nullify any existing immigration laws.

This is Petersen's immigration position, which strikes me as both intelligent and smart positioning. More legal immigration subject to rules and restrictions people think are reasonable and no illegal immigration. He does limit deportation to "only violent crime" but since that's an increase from the current circumstance even that's a move in the right direction.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Listening to the Libertarian Presidential Debate now on YouTube. Yeah, some strange Libertarian positions.

Still, excepting Cruz as a candidate, Hammond will be pulling the "L" lever in November - with some comfort in the knowledge that the Party will not win.

Libertarian candidates have a lot of maturing to do to attract voters. Dem and Repubs candidates have a lot of maturing to do to avoid repulsing voters.

Phil 3:14 said...

Something exceedingly odd about libertarians running for President.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Sounds like a really serious and important debate you felt a need to post about there.

William Chadwick said...

"Liberty is the idea that our minds and bodies belong to ourselves." Ungrateful, disrepsctful and rebellious serf! Hasn't Obama and David Brooks taught you anything?

mccullough said...

Gary Johnson lost last time as a libertarian candidate and is running again because his life is boring and he has no imagination.

jr565 said...

The issue is really the whole idea of businesses that are considered public accomodations. that distinction is really being abused by those pushing gay marriage wedding cakes.
If they were a private club, or there business wasn't considered a public accommodation, the argument goes, they COULD in fact discriminate.
(this is the argument as to why, in some cases businesses are allowed to discriminate and in other times not). but the opinions are all over the place.
When it was people asking a gay friendly establishment to bake a cake that says "marriage is one man one woman" many refused. And the argument then was "Ah, but thats' speech. The goal post is endlessly moved to allow for one business to deny a cake, while the other business must bake it or go out of business.
THis argument is so tiresome at this point, its pointless.
A politician should simply argue that a business can formulate around a religious based distinction, so it would not be a public accommodation, in certain cases. And more like a private club. OR, businesses that say they will only do cakes for non gay weddings should say if you want a wedding cake you have to go through a specified church. and perhapse the baker has a list of churches which who he will do business with. And if the church will marry you, and the baker is in league with the church then the baker will make you the cake. Otherwise, find someone else.

Simply provide that as an opportunity to build a business around. Otherwise, the public accommodation laws will always be abused by those pushing the agenda.

jr565 said...

"Liberty is the idea that our minds and bodies belong to ourselves.... Liberty cannot be extinguished... through laws; it can only be unjustly punished."

This is a true statement. However, it's not an absolute. ANd laws certainly can dictate what you do with your own body.
For example, can you smoke cigarettes if you are 8 years old? Well, govt will certainly pass a law and punish a business if they sell you a cigarette.
However, if you are 8 year old and find a pack of cigarettes and no one is around, can you smoke it? I suppose so. No one is there to stop you.

But there are countless laws in place saying what you can or can't do with your body.

n.n said...

Pro-transgender? Is that the limit of his imagination? What a dull, bigoted mind that embraced the pro-choice religion.

The American liberals needs to explain how they reconcile the divisive character of their rainbow paradigm with equal rights. The liberal or variable explanation is increasingly inadequate.

Jonathan Graehl said...

Agreed - Johnson is unserious.