PDA

View Full Version : Libertarian Islands


AClockworkMelon
08-16-2011, 02:20 PM
Story here. (http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/silicon-valley-billionaire-funding-creation-artificial-libertarian-islands-140840896.html)

Apparently they're trying to build artificial islands on which to found new nations. New nations featuring "no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons."

"There are quite a lot of people who think it's not possible," Thiel said at a Seasteading Institute Conference in 2009, according to Details. (His first donation was in 2008, for $500,000.) "That's a good thing. We don't need to really worry about those people very much, because since they don't think it's possible they won't take us very seriously. And they will not actually try to stop us until it's too late."

The first comment made me chuckle. "I think they made a game like this called Bioshock. Everyone dies..."

Any predictions?

Whack-a-Mole
08-16-2011, 02:31 PM
Story here. (http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/silicon-valley-billionaire-funding-creation-artificial-libertarian-islands-140840896.html)

Apparently they're trying to build artificial islands on which to found new nations. New nations featuring "no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons."



The first comment made me chuckle. "I think they made a game like this called Bioshock. Everyone dies..."

Any predictions?

I'm going with the Bioshock reference.

Even uber wealthy Libertarian Island needs maids and plumbers and sewer workers and gardeners and nannies and shop clerks and so on. Where do those people live?

True Libertarianism is a fools game. It is no more workable than true communism is. They will devolve into the same partisan bickering and favoritism as anywhere else and their laws will start looking as restrictive as anyone else's.

Der Trihs
08-16-2011, 02:43 PM
True Libertarianism is a fools game. It is no more workable than true communism is. They will devolve into the same partisan bickering and favoritism as anywhere else and their laws will start looking as restrictive as anyone else's.That's the good ending to this scenario. The bad is lots of people die because of the lack of regulations*, or the place dissolves into tyranny or bloody chaos. Or all three.



* As one of the more recent comments said:

"looser building codes" Just what I would be looking for on a platform built on the sea. Sign me up now.They could easily all die when their poorly built paradise collapses into the ocean.

Czarcasm
08-16-2011, 02:47 PM
I'm betting the building of this "Libertarian paradise" is going to be tightly regulated.

John Mace
08-16-2011, 02:52 PM
I predict this will turn into yet another libertarian bashing thread.

hajario
08-16-2011, 02:54 PM
I can't wait for the first major storm to devastate the place. I hope that they don't count on the navy of a huge nation to assist with the rescue.

Finagle
08-16-2011, 02:58 PM
The first comment made me chuckle. "I think they made a game like this called Bioshock. Everyone dies..."

Any predictions?

I think they made a country like this called Somalia. Everyone dies. Except the pirates. Most of them die.

Czarcasm
08-16-2011, 02:59 PM
I predict this will turn into yet another libertarian bashing thread.And I think that if you had anything substantive to say in defense of this wack-a-doo idea you would have posted it.

madmonk28
08-16-2011, 03:06 PM
I could see these 'nations' become the headquarters for a lot of corporations so that they can skirt environmental and/or tax laws.

Der Trihs
08-16-2011, 03:06 PM
I predict this will turn into yet another libertarian bashing thread.But they're soooo bashable!

John Mace
08-16-2011, 03:09 PM
And I think that if you had anything substantive to say in defense of this wack-a-doo idea you would have posted it.

I think it's great that there are people out there willing to experiment with alternative systems. The linked article gives no real information about what they are actually going to do, so it's not really possible to make predictions, other than the one I made. So far, I've been right. It was stupid of me to miss the prediction about "Somalia", though.

chorpler
08-16-2011, 03:31 PM
I think Greg Egan had a book along these lines.... Teranesia, maybe? And maybe Steven Gould too.

If it's feasible, I say let them go for it (as long as people are free to leave and they aren't polluting the ocean and whatnot, of course). If nothing else, it would be an interesting experiment on libertarianism. Much better than the Free State Project.

Sam Stone
08-16-2011, 03:49 PM
I've always thought that these 'libertarian islands' and other attempts to create restricted libertarian enclaves like the 'Freedom Ship' were incredibly misguided. The big problem is that tightly enclosed environments in harsh environments are exactly the wrong environments for libertarianism. You need rigid order on a ship or on a small artificial island, because almost all activities are intertwined and it's impossible to avoid interfering with others when just carrying our your daily activities. They are also tightly constrained in resources, making development difficult.

I suspect that these ideas are driven more by developers and entrepreneurs looking to find a way to extract wealthy libertarians from their money.

But the general idea of finding an area and giving it freedom from regulation, taxes, and other big government is not a 'wackadoodle' idea. There is a long history of this. In 1241, the city of Lübeck was given a special dispensation from the king, allowing it to trade freely with other nations and to avoid other regulations. It was also given property rights so it could profit from trade. The result was the start of the Hanseatic League (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanseatic_League) of free city-states, which eventually wound up protecting each other in mutual pacts and protecting their own trade routes. The league worked to expand free trade and to be exempted from tolls normally extracted from trade by the kings of the time. The result was an explosion of trade and a rapid rise in the wealth of the members of the Hanseatic league and the people they traded with.

More recently, Hong Kong was a British experiment in self-governance. Colonial administrator John Cowperthwaite took an explicitly Laissez-Faire approach to Hong Kong administration, refusing to engage in any industrial policy at all. Taxes were kept low, the region was left to determine its own form of governance, and business regulations next to nonexistent. Even today, you can open a business in Hong Kong by filling out a one-page form and turning it in. Then go rent a space and start your business.

China has created prosperity zones freed from state management, and those zones have exploded in wealth.

Paul Romer, husband of Ex-Obama chief economist Christina Romer and a very influential economist himself, has proposed similar ideas to kick-start wealth and trade in the third world: Charter Cities (http://chartercities.org/). Explicitly referencing the Hong Kong model, Romer wants countries to find areas of land that are currently not used but which are suitable for development, and zone them off for the development of charter cities. These cities would be exempt from tariffs, regulations, government planning, and taxes. The property would be sold to private investors to build cities. Central planning in the city would be kept to a minimum: things like rules of the road and public sanitation regulations would be determined by the city government, but there would be no explicit zoning or control over business development.

In short, these are very close to the 'libertarian island' idea, and very similar to the old Hanseatic League cities in that they would be an enclave of free trade and self-governance inside other countries.

This is an idea that's being taken very seriously.

Here's a Q&A With Romer about the idea (http://www.freakonomics.com/2009/09/29/can-charter-cities-change-the-world-a-qa-with-paul-romer/).

This Page (http://www.chartercities.org/video) has links to more information, including Romer's popular TED talk on the subject.

CapnPitt
08-16-2011, 03:50 PM
I'm thinking that if this is workable (but I don't think it is because I don't think there are really that many working class libertarians), the first thing you'd see is a "tragedy of the commons" type situation where you don't need plumbers or sewer workers....just dump it into the ocean.

Der Trihs
08-16-2011, 03:51 PM
China has created prosperity zones freed from state management, and those zones have exploded in wealth. And in pollution. And the occasional literal explosion.

emacknight
08-16-2011, 03:52 PM
Forget cowbell, we need more threads about libertarianism.

For those playing liberty bingo at home, so far we've got:
everyone dies
a reference to Somalia
and a comparison with communism

emacknight
08-16-2011, 03:53 PM
And in pollution. And the occasional literal explosion.

Completely unlike the rest of China, proof that excessive government control will reduce pollution and explosions. Great example.

Der Trihs
08-16-2011, 03:54 PM
I'm thinking that if this is workable (but I don't think it is because I don't think there are really that many working class libertarians)And there are probably even fewer who would stay libertarian when they got the chance to be in a libertarian society and discovered that they weren't going to get to be the rich guy on top.

Der Trihs
08-16-2011, 03:57 PM
Forget cowbell, we need more threads about libertarianism.

For those playing liberty bingo at home, so far we've got:
everyone dies
a reference to Somalia
and a comparison with communismAll fair things to say about libertarianism. People die in large numbers with lax or nonexistent regulations, Somalia is an example of what you get with a really weak state (and I've heard it spoken of with approval by libertarians), and libertarianism like Communism is a horribly impractical utopian ideology that can't help but be a disaster if someone tries to implement it.

emacknight
08-16-2011, 03:58 PM
I'm thinking that if this is workable (but I don't think it is because I don't think there are really that many working class libertarians), the first thing you'd see is a "tragedy of the commons" type situation where you don't need plumbers or sewer workers....just dump it into the ocean.

Where do you think human waste is currently dumped? Correct me if I'm wrong but most coastal towns send their sewage into the ocean. I know my home town only recently put in a treatment plant.

Currently, lax state and federal laws allow cruise ships to dump untreated sewage from toilets once the ships are three miles from shore. (http://na.oceana.org/en/our-work/stop-ocean-pollution/cruise-ship-pollution/overview)

So once again we have a thread about libertarianism that predicts a bunch of stuff that currently happens. Are you guys living under rocks? Or have you simply never left the US?

robert_columbia
08-16-2011, 04:00 PM
I recommend the novel "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein. This book involves a bunch of rebels that try to set up a libertarian society on the Moon, but it doesn't work as well as they had hoped due to the practicalities of maintaining an orderly and functioning society.

Vinyl Turnip
08-16-2011, 04:01 PM
Completely unlike the rest of China, proof that excessive government control will reduce pollution and explosions. Great example.

Remind me--- does China's "excessive government control" historically include strict environmental regulation? Because if it does and it didn't help, you'd have a point.

emacknight
08-16-2011, 04:02 PM
All fair things to say about libertarianism. People die in large numbers with lax or nonexistent regulations, Somalia is an example of what you get with a really weak state (and I've heard it spoken of with approval by libertarians), and libertarianism like Communism is a horribly impractical utopian ideology that can't help but be a disaster if someone tries to implement it.

And once again we're going to tell you that libertarianism is not anarchy.

Ah hell, might as well tell you again
libertarianism is not anarchy

Did you get it that time? Just in case:
libertarianism is not anarchy

Somalia's problems aren't because of lax or nonexistent regulations, and has nothing to do with libertarianism. Why? Because libertarianism is not anarchy. The point is not to have a weak government. Libertarianism still has laws, and those laws have to be upheld, otherwise you have anarchy, and libertarianism is not anarchy.

China is hardly lacking in regulations, in fact they have way more regulations than the US. Which is why your plea for more regulations is such a joke. Regulations are meaningless without the ability or desire to enforce them.

Czarcasm
08-16-2011, 04:05 PM
China is hardly lacking in regulations, in fact they have way more regulations than the US. Environmental regulations?

Der Trihs
08-16-2011, 04:08 PM
And once again we're going to tell you that libertarianism is not anarchy. No, libertarianism isn't anarchy; it's more like feudalism. Where the lords can do as they like and the serfs suffer.

Sam Stone
08-16-2011, 04:11 PM
I recommend the novel "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein. This book involves a bunch of rebels that try to set up a libertarian society on the Moon, but it doesn't work as well as they had hoped due to the practicalities of maintaining an orderly and functioning society.

I think you need to re-read that book. First of all, they didn't 'try to set up a libertarian society on the Moon'. They were members of a penal colony. They had no choice in the matter.

Second, they did build a libertarian society, because the penal colony governor didn't care about them so let them run their own society. It worked very well, and the people were happy and built up institutions to replace govermment. For example, line and clan marriages became the mechanism for taking care of retirement, protecting people from loss of income due to injury or illness, and caring for the education of children.

*** Spoiler Alert if you haven't read the book ***

Where it went wrong was when the lunar authority, the central government, interfered with the grain market and forced grain farmers to meet quotas for shipping grain to earth - quotas that were unsustainable and which were bleeding the moon of its raw resources without proper compensation.

The fix for that in the book was for the colonists to declare independence, then negotiate with Earth under a condition of free trade so they could make sure that their grain only went to earth in exchange for raw materials that would keep the lunar farming system sustainable.

The big worry at the end of the book was that once the colonists had managed to gain their freedom from the lunar authority, the same kinds of power-hungry politicians and bureaucrats and do-gooders would seize the new government's levers of power and create yet another tiresome big government attempting to manage other people's lives.

emacknight
08-16-2011, 04:11 PM
Remind me--- does China's "excessive government control" historically include strict environmental regulation? Because if it does and it didn't help, you'd have a point.

...according to Wang, the rate of China's environmental laws and regulations that are actually enforced is estimated to be barely 10 percent.For instance, he notes, China's criminal law that includes clear stipulations on crimes of serious environmental accidents took effect in 1997. In the following five years the country recorded at least 50 serious environmental accidents a year based on official estimation, but to date no more than 20 people have been held accountable. (http://www.chinese-embassy.org.uk/eng/zt/Features/t214565.htm)

Keep in mind, punishment for these crimes is often execution.

This stands as a great contrast of what is happening on Wall Street with AIG, Goldman Sachs and other financial institutions that bought, sold and made great profits from scam insurance derivatives known as Credit Swaps. In China -justices comes swiftly and severely with corporate greed.Among those to be executed are Mr. Zhang Yujun, and Geng Jinping for their part in lacing poison into the milk supply for baby formula some of which was sold in North American stores. (http://www.politicolnews.com/china-executes-greedy/)

China has plenty of laws and plenty of regulations, where failure to comply results in death.

Again, the point we keep trying to get through to you guys is that there isn't any point to a regulation if you can't or won't enforce it. Regulations in China fail because it's too easy to bribe the officials. Good thing that never happens in the US.

Whack-a-Mole
08-16-2011, 04:13 PM
Did you get it that time? Just in case:
libertarianism is not anarchy

Somalia's problems aren't because of lax or nonexistent regulations, and has nothing to do with libertarianism. Why? Because libertarianism is not anarchy. The point is not to have a weak government. Libertarianism still has laws, and those laws have to be upheld, otherwise you have anarchy, and libertarianism is not anarchy.


And here is where Libertarianism falls apart.

Precisely what laws are appropriate?

If you get 100 Libertarians together you are going to get different answers.

If you have LIbertarian Island sooner or later one will want a special tax break or zoning loosened. Sooner or later one Libertarian will step on another Libertarian's toes and the aggrieved party will want it fixed so that doesn't happen again (maybe the crazy cat lady living in the apartment next door makes your place smell like a porta-potty on a hot day in Juarez). And so it goes. In time you will have a mish-mosh of laws and regulations and it is no longer Libertarian land.

emacknight
08-16-2011, 04:15 PM
No, libertarianism isn't anarchy; it's more like feudalism. Where the lords can do as they like and the serfs suffer.

So I trust this means you'll stop posting that same shit again right? You've now admitted that libertarianism is not anarchy, so comparing it to Somalia is pretty stupid.

Now, the only way this can be like feudalism is if the surfs are not free to leave. You see, it's pretty hard to be a lord if all your subjects bugger off to a neighbouring hamlet. Otherwise what you have is slavery, and that requires the US government.

Sam Stone
08-16-2011, 04:18 PM
Environmental regulations?

Do you have any evidence that the pollution in the prosperity zones is any worse per dollar of GDP output than it is anywhere else in China?

Seriously, you all should go read the information at Paul Romer's site, and especially watch his TED talks. The arguments here are addressed, and he makes a lot of damned good points. He's no wild-eyed libertarian: He was a professor of economics at Stanford, he was offered the job as head of the World Bank, and he's one of the more respected economists in America. He's not even a libertarian - he's more of a neo-liberal like Clinton. TIME magazine named him one of America's 25 most influential people.

TED Talk - Paul Romer on Charter Cities (http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_romer.html)

Charter Cities (http://chartercities.org/)

CapnPitt
08-16-2011, 04:21 PM
Where do you think human waste is currently dumped? Correct me if I'm wrong but most coastal towns send their sewage into the ocean. I know my home town only recently put in a treatment plant.

Currently, lax state and federal laws allow cruise ships to dump untreated sewage from toilets once the ships are three miles from shore. (http://na.oceana.org/en/our-work/stop-ocean-pollution/cruise-ship-pollution/overview)

So once again we have a thread about libertarianism that predicts a bunch of stuff that currently happens. Are you guys living under rocks? Or have you simply never left the US?

Well, I've left the U.S., but everywhere I've lived has had some sort of sewage treatment. Either via regulations on septic systems or actual sewer and treatment centers.

What I did forget to mention was solid waste. Hard to make a landfill on water.

Der Trihs
08-16-2011, 04:23 PM
No, libertarianism isn't anarchy; it's more like feudalism. Where the lords can do as they like and the serfs suffer.

So I trust this means you'll stop posting that same shit again right? You've now admitted that libertarianism is not anarchy, so comparing it to Somalia is pretty stupid.You mean Somalia, with its warlords?

Otherwise what you have is slavery, and that requires the US government.:rolleyes: No it doesn't.

emacknight
08-16-2011, 04:24 PM
Environmental regulations?

Your internet seems to work, have you been to www.google.com lately?

Over the last three years, the Chinese government has punished 33 multinational corporations for violating the nation’s environmental laws and regulations, according to Ma Jun, director of the nongovernmental Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs. Ma’s announcement in September came as a surprise to many, as the Chinese public has tended to assume that multinational companies abide more strictly by the law than some in fact do in this heavily polluted country.The exposed companies include subsidiaries of world-renowned corporations such as American Standard, Panasonic, Pepsi, Nestle, and 3M. They were punished mainly for discharges of substandard waste water and for unauthorized construction activities that occurred in the absence of proper environmental impact assessments. (http://www.worldwatch.org/node/4764)

Whack-a-Mole
08-16-2011, 04:27 PM
Otherwise what you have is slavery, and that requires the US government.

FYI: Slavery existed in what was to become the United States in the early 1600's. My history is a little rusty but pretty sure there was no United States back then.

emacknight
08-16-2011, 04:30 PM
Well, I've left the U.S., but everywhere I've lived has had some sort of sewage treatment. Either via regulations on septic systems or actual sewer and treatment centers.

I seriously doubt you know what you're talking about, as just one example:
http://www.rense.com/general28/raw.htm

Remember, the reason I'm bringing this up is to counter the fallacy that without government regulations raw sewage will be dumped into the sea. Because it is WITH government that raw sewage flows into the sea. It is flowing through government pipes.

Czarcasm
08-16-2011, 04:32 PM
Your internet seems to work, have you been to www.google.com lately?

Over the last three years, the Chinese government has punished 33 multinational corporations for violating the nation’s environmental laws and regulations, according to Ma Jun, director of the nongovernmental Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs. Ma’s announcement in September came as a surprise to many, as the Chinese public has tended to assume that multinational companies abide more strictly by the law than some in fact do in this heavily polluted country.The exposed companies include subsidiaries of world-renowned corporations such as American Standard, Panasonic, Pepsi, Nestle, and 3M. They were punished mainly for discharges of substandard waste water and for unauthorized construction activities that occurred in the absence of proper environmental impact assessments. (http://www.worldwatch.org/node/4764)When left to their own devices, corporations cannot be trusted to police themselves, so strong regulations from a strong central government are necessary for the sake of the populace. I agree with this. Laxity when it comes to regulations just doesn't work.

Sam Stone
08-16-2011, 04:33 PM
Der Trihs: You have been told time and time again that Libertarians believe in a strong police force and the rule of law. If Somalia was a libertarian country, there would be an army and police forces rounding up the pirates and warlords and throwing them in jail, just like we would here.

On matters of law and order there is NO DIFFERENCE between libertarians and liberals. We differ on what things should be illegal, but for those things that are (and that includes all forms of coercion including theft, fraud, murder, extortion, graft, etc), libertarians would do exactly what Canada, the U.S., France, or any other country with a strong police force would do - stop the miscreants and arrest or kill them to protect people's rights.

Some libertarians think that a suitably regulated free market security force could do this, but they're a small minority. The mainstream of libertarian thought says that the proper role of government is as follows:

1. Maintenance of a military to protect citizens from external aggression.
2. Maintenance of police forces to protect citizens from internal aggression.
3. Maintenance of courts of law to adjudicate disputes among citizens from an objective standpoint.

To meet the costs of these requirements, libertarians recognize that taxes need to be raised - either excise taxes, or income taxes, or sales taxes. Whatever is necessary to pay for these core functions of government.

Again, this is BY FAR the mainstream libertarian view of government. So, your references to Somalia are ignorant and wrong. Consider yourself educated. If you persist in making this comparison, everyone should conclude that you are simply attempting to poke the bear and engage in sophistry by attempting to smear libertarians with the actions of criminals. It's a despicable form of debate.

emacknight
08-16-2011, 04:34 PM
FYI: Slavery existed in what was to become the United States in the early 1600's. My history is a little rusty but pretty sure there was no United States back then.

Nope, before 1776 the US was a colony of the British government.

And to help you your US history, slavery continued until 1865 thanks to laws and regulations put in place and enforced by the US government.

CapnPitt
08-16-2011, 04:40 PM
I seriously doubt you know what you're talking about, as just one example:
http://www.rense.com/general28/raw.htm

Remember, the reason I'm bringing this up is to counter the fallacy that without government regulations raw sewage will be dumped into the sea. Because it is WITH government that raw sewage flows into the sea. It is flowing through government pipes.

Ok, I'm not going to say you're not right, but the root site for this cite is dubious. But also later in that cite it says:
"Under pressure from the EPA, Cincinnati's sewer district has agreed to spend $43 million to eliminate 17 of its worst overflows. The deal will keep 100 million gallons of raw sewage from being dumped into waterways each year."

So it seems like federal enforcement is/was working to correct this.

Vinyl Turnip
08-16-2011, 05:02 PM
When left to their own devices, corporations cannot be trusted to police themselves, so strong regulations from a strong central government are necessary for the sake of the populace. I agree with this. Laxity when it comes to regulations just doesn't work.

Yeah, I'm having a bit of trouble following emacknight's argument--- government shouldn't bother regulating pollution because there's still gonna be pollution if they don't enforce the regulations? Isn't it actually a rock-solid argument for stricter regulation?

Whack-a-Mole
08-16-2011, 05:05 PM
Nope, before 1776 the US was a colony of the British government.



Which, by my reckoning, makes them not the United States.

SmithCommaJohn
08-16-2011, 05:21 PM
I can't wait for the first major storm to devastate the place. I hope that they don't count on the navy of a huge nation to assist with the rescue.

"Help me! I'm drowning!"

"Pull yourself out of the water by your bootstraps!"

Bosstone
08-16-2011, 05:25 PM
Yeah, I'm having a bit of trouble following emacknight's argument--- government shouldn't bother regulating pollution because there's still gonna be pollution if they don't enforce the regulations? Isn't it actually a rock-solid argument for stricter regulation?The general thrust of his argument seems to be "They suck at it, so we might as well not have it and save ourselves the money."

Responding more generally to the OP, I would love to see an exercise in creating a first-world libertarian nation. I'd even happily cede a large swath of US land to the project if I had the power, on the condition that if the new nation can't meet some reasonable benchmarks by the end of a reasonable period the land reverts back to the US and libertarians agree to shut the hell up.

If it works, well knock me over with a feather.

SeldomSeen
08-16-2011, 07:16 PM
Quote, Sam StoneI've always thought that these 'libertarian islands' and other attempts to create restricted libertarian enclaves like the 'Freedom Ship' were incredibly misguided. The big problem is that tightly enclosed environments in harsh environments are exactly the wrong environments for libertarianism. You need rigid order on a ship or on a small artificial island, because almost all activities are intertwined and it's impossible to avoid interfering with others when just carrying our your daily activities. They are also tightly constrained in resources, making development difficult.

I suspect that these ideas are driven more by developers and entrepreneurs looking to find a way to extract wealthy libertarians from their money.
Sam Stone makes a very astute point here. If a thoroughly libertarian society can be viable at all (and I am not convinced that it can remain viable for any length of time) it could only be workable in an uncrowded and unspoiled environment. Our concept of a libertarian world springs from the Jeffersonian vision of a nation of independent freeholders spread thinly over a limitless frontier, with each small village or family unit harvesting what they need from the land and trading such incidental overproduction as they might happen to have. What even Jefferson failed to realize was that the frontier was not limitless, but the potential population was.

A laissez faire system is wasteful and inefficient, with constant duplication of effort and incompatible expectations. To continue the frontier analogy; the freeholder can thrive for a time, hunting wildlife that roams his acres, maybe digging a bit of coal or lead (for heating and bullets) from a handy outcrop on his hillside, disposing of his human and animal waste in the little creek that flows by his back door, where it is conveniently swept out of his life. However....in time his family grows, the deer learn to avoid his property and he must go further afield to hunt, perhaps on his neighbor's farm....and why not? don't the deer belong to anyone who can shoot one?

In time too, the load of waste in the creek will become too large for the riparian vegetation to filter and the downstream neighbor (who also draws water from the creek) may become ill. In time, the pit from which he digs his coal will become too deep to be worked by his individual efforts. To continue to heat his home he must develope and use technology....maybe a windlass and headframe, or some tram rail, and he needs some hired help to shoulder some of the burden.

And so it goes. At some point our rugged individualist must either a) forcefully encroach on his neighbor in order to maintain his lifestyle, or b) abandon his homestead and move further onto the frontier where he can start over in an unsettled territory (assuming there is any) or c) learn to work cooperatively and interdependently with his neighbor and with society at large. Establish a hierarchy of needs, a division of labor, some common goals and common-sense rules. Most people choose (c), and in this way societies grow and mature. And in this way the limited and limiting libertarian idealism is supplanted by a larger vision and a more sustainable society.

For a actual application of the "libertarian Island" concept, see the Principality of Sealand (http://sealandgov.org/About.html).
In late June of 2006, the island suffered a devastating fire which destroyed much of the country's administrative center and main power generation facility.....the disaster has compromised significantly the quality of life and the continued developement of the island's economic and social growth.One wonders if a common system of fire protection was considered too "socialistic" for this libertarian utopia.
SS

waterj2
08-16-2011, 10:40 PM
Paul Romer, husband of Ex-Obama chief economist Christina Romer and a very influential economist himself, has proposed similar ideas to kick-start wealth and trade in the third world: Charter Cities (http://chartercities.org/).Christina Romer's husband is the economist David Romer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Romer). Paul Romer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Romer) is, as best I can tell, of no relation. And I think the “very influential economist” label applies better to David, though I'm not in the best position to judge.

Grumman
08-16-2011, 10:45 PM
One wonders if a common system of fire protection was considered too "socialistic" for this libertarian utopia.
It's not:

Firstly, you have a responsibility not to set fire to other people's property, through negligence or malice. Therefore it is not unreasonable to require that people take precautions to mitigate any damage they may cause to other people.

Second, like criminals, enemy armies and contagious diseases, fire is an enemy to all that grows stronger if left to fester. Therefore a fire department is justified by the same line of reasoning that justifies a police force, army or vaccine - because a particular fire is a threat to everyone, even if it hasn't got to you yet.

Whack-a-Mole
08-16-2011, 10:50 PM
For a actual application of the "libertarian Island" concept, see the Principality of Sealand (http://sealandgov.org/About.html).
One wonders if a common system of fire protection was considered too "socialistic" for this libertarian utopia.
SS

It's not:

Firstly, you have a responsibility not to set fire to other people's property, through negligence or malice. Therefore it is not unreasonable to require that people take precautions to mitigate any damage they may cause to other people.

Nah...Libs should love firemen!

One of the richest men in all of history (literally) was Marcus Licinius Crassus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Licinius_Crassus) of Rome (old Rome circa 70BC). He made a good deal of his fortune in firefighting. If your house was on fire he'd show up and offer to buy it from you at a pittance. If you said no you'd have nothing so most people accepted (he was under no obligation to put it out). If you sold he'd put out the fire and own the land on the cheap. If you said no you lost everything.

Libertarian utopia!

Sam Stone
08-16-2011, 11:03 PM
Christina Romer's husband is the economist David Romer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Romer). Paul Romer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Romer) is, as best I can tell, of no relation. And I think the “very influential economist” label applies better to David, though I'm not in the best position to judge.

Wow, thanks for pointing that out. I'm familiar with David Romer, but for some reason I never realized they weren't the same person. For some reason I never connected on the first name difference. My bad.

Here's his bio from Wikipedia:
Paul Michael Romer (born 1955) is an American economist, entrepreneur, and activist. He is currently the Henry Kaufman Visiting Professor at New York University Stern School of Business and will be joining NYU as a full time professor beginning in 2011.[1] Prior to that, Romer was a Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Center for International Development and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Center for Global Development. He is an expert on endogenous growth theory.

Romer earned a B.S. in physics in 1977 and a Ph.D. in economics in 1983, both from the University of Chicago. He taught at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Chicago, and the University of Rochester. He was named one of America's 25 most influential people by Time Magazine in 1997, [2] and in 2000 started the online educational company Aplia, which was purchased in 2007 by Cengage Learning. Romer has been awarded the Horst Claus Recktenwald Prize in Economics in Nuremberg, Germany. He is the son of former Colorado Governor Roy Romer.[3]

So everything else I said about him was accurate. He's just not Christina Romer's husband.

tomndebb
08-16-2011, 11:19 PM
No, libertarianism isn't anarchy; it's more like feudalism. Where the lords can do as they like and the serfs suffer.OK. You have inserted your standard snide comment.

Now, unless you have a specific comment that addresses an actual libertarian principle or action, (without attributing "libertarian" actions to entities that were not libertarian, such as nineteenth century U.S. or U.K.), do not further hijack this thread.

[ /Moderating ]

Der Trihs
08-17-2011, 12:00 AM
OK. You have inserted your standard snide comment.

Now, unless you have a specific comment that addresses an actual libertarian principle or action, (without attributing "libertarian" actions to entities that were not libertarian, such as nineteenth century U.S. or U.K.), do not further hijack this thread.

[ /Moderating ]Well. Their historic lack of electability means that there aren't many "officially" libertarian actions to discuss in the first place. And there's a lot of disagreement on what is an "actual libertarian principle". So I don't really know what is left to talk about.

Measure for Measure
08-17-2011, 01:26 AM
In short, these are very close to the 'libertarian island' idea, and very similar to the old Hanseatic League cities in that they would be an enclave of free trade and self-governance inside other countries. There's nothing necessarily market fundamentalist about free trade and self-governance. Paul Romer is not a libertarian (as you noted). Your post is interesting (and sincere thanks, btw), but misleading. From the Charter City FAQs: Q: Would housing in a charter city be constructed according to building codes?
A: Possibly. The people who rent apartments can’t verify after the fact that the building where they will live was constructed to be safe. Building codes are one way to solve the informational asymmetry. Efficient building codes can ensure safety without restricting the supply of small, low cost apartments.

Q: Would a charter city have a master plan devised by the government?
A: Some aspects of planning inevitably fall to the government. For example, the government needs to decide whether vehicles drive on the right or the left and enforce that rule. Other planning activities are better left to private actors. For example, the government clearly shouldn’t tell firms what to produce.

Setting up a new city does not mean that the spatial location of economic activity needs to be centrally planned either. The city’s charter is a foundational legal document, not an exhaustive plan. The world can support a range of urban development strategies. Some cities might follow a more planning intensive strategy similar to that of Haussmann’s rebuilding of Paris in the 19th century. Others might opt to do away with zoning restrictions or to rely more on the decentralized process of individual decisions celebrated by Jane Jacobs. I added emphasis, because this to me is what makes the idea exciting. But it's not especially libertarian. Host and guarantor nations won't want to establish rules that will put a environmental cesspool in their backyard. They may or may not want a drug paradise or any other sort of so-called intrusive governmental regulation. Again though: I like experimentation. Too bad the billionaire in the OP doesn't align himself with Paul Romer.
-----

Re: 1. The OP. I always thought the Western Sahara was a good place for libertarianism. Sort of a Somalia-lite. Somalia demonstrates that the establishment of property rights and the rule of law (one aspect of libertarianism) is 10,000x + more relevant to prosperity and human development than low low taxes.

2. The success of any charter city will be inversely proportional to the share of strictly libertarian settlers. Methinks that even a group of religious fanatics would show more flexibility and staying power.

Sam Stone
08-17-2011, 01:41 AM
I actually made the same points you just did. I said that he specifically called for some planning, and specifically mentioned road rules and public sanitation.

The basically principle though is to provide a haven against taxes, tariffs, corruption and other features of 3rd world countries that hold back development. I think the comparison to the Hanseatic league is fair - they weren't libertarian, but they were able to conduct their own affairs without interference from monarchs, and they were given specific property rights so they didn't have to worry about some local Baron or functionary stepping in to take away the fruits of trade after it had been earned.

Whack-a-Mole
08-17-2011, 01:51 AM
OK. You have inserted your standard snide comment.

Now, unless you have a specific comment that addresses an actual libertarian principle or action, (without attributing "libertarian" actions to entities that were not libertarian, such as nineteenth century U.S. or U.K.), do not further hijack this thread.

[ /Moderating ]

I agree Libertarianism is not anarchy.

I would like Libertarians to spell out what laws, in their lawful society, are ok and what laws they would eschew.

They are distinctly mute on this topic. Instead they prefer something more akin to religious zealotry in their politics.

If they want a Libertarian elected then it is incumbent on them to say what their world will look like and how it would work.

Whack-a-Mole
08-17-2011, 01:59 AM
The basically principle though is to provide a haven against taxes, tariffs, corruption and other features of 3rd world countries that hold back development. I think the comparison to the Hanseatic league is fair - they weren't libertarian, but they were able to conduct their own affairs without interference from monarchs, and they were given specific property rights so they didn't have to worry about some local Baron or functionary stepping in to take away the fruits of trade after it had been earned.

I think I asked before...

...What has the EPA done to make the world a worse place?

Be specific please.

I have no doubt the EPA runs companies off to China.

The companies merely moved to places that don't give a shit about pollution. I have provided cites for the hell the pollution is creating in China.

Yeah the jobs go there. Do you want the jobs here (North America) if only we allowed such pollution to go unchecked?

China is starting to learn the mess they have allowed. They are starting to address it. But it is a colossal problem and they do not want to slow economic growth. These two desires are incompatible. China is only recently addressing the pollution because it has reached epic proportions and is unavoidable.

Measure for Measure
08-17-2011, 02:10 AM
I actually made the same points you just did. I said that he specifically called for some planning, and specifically mentioned road rules and public sanitation.

The basically principle though is to provide a haven against taxes, tariffs, corruption and other features of 3rd world countries that hold back development. ...except high taxes are not a feature of 3rd world countries: tax revenue as a share of GDP tends to be lower, I suspect due to weak rule of law. Substitute "regulation" for "taxes, tariffs" and I might agree though: in too many 3rd world countries, regulations form the basis of much corruption, as bribery becomes accepted and possibly necessary to run a business. But really, parachuting in a demonstrably functional system of laws and governance, with all its inefficiencies and welfare loss triangles, would be the best way of thinking about it. Brazil is anything but a libertarian paradise, but its legal institutions work better than Haiti's, which is why Romer thinks such a partnership might work.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_tax_revenue_as_percentage_of_GDP

Measure for Measure
08-17-2011, 02:12 AM
I agree Libertarianism is not anarchy.

I would like Libertarians to spell out what laws, in their lawful society, are ok and what laws they would eschew.

They are distinctly mute on this topic. Instead they prefer something more akin to religious zealotry in their politics.

If they want a Libertarian elected then it is incumbent on them to say what their world will look like and how it would work. Smart business conservatives should eschew the bracing concept of liberty for the more practical virtue of skepticism.

Grumman
08-17-2011, 02:31 AM
I would like Libertarians to spell out what laws, in their lawful society, are ok and what laws they would eschew.
What, all of them? Why should we go to all that trouble when you have shown not the slightest willingness to discuss our position in good faith?

They are distinctly mute on this topic.
Really? I thought I just told you what I as a libertarian thought on half a dozen areas of government influence and why.

Whack-a-Mole
08-17-2011, 02:37 AM
What, all of them? Why should we go to all that trouble when you have shown not the slightest willingness to discuss our position in good faith?

You want to revamp society and the laws that govern them and ask me why you should go to the trouble of telling me what your plan is?

Really?


Really? I thought I just told you what I as a libertarian thought on half a dozen areas of government influence and why.

No you didn't.

Devil is in the details.

Chronos
08-17-2011, 12:57 PM
Quoth Grumman:
It's not:

Firstly, you have a responsibility not to set fire to other people's property, through negligence or malice. Therefore it is not unreasonable to require that people take precautions to mitigate any damage they may cause to other people.

Second, like criminals, enemy armies and contagious diseases, fire is an enemy to all that grows stronger if left to fester. Therefore a fire department is justified by the same line of reasoning that justifies a police force, army or vaccine - because a particular fire is a threat to everyone, even if it hasn't got to you yet. And yet, we see that when people do actually try to implement what they would describe as libertarian ideals, public firefighting is one of the things that gets the axe. Remember that story about a year ago about the firefighters in Tennessee who stood by and watched a guy's house burn to the ground, because he hadn't contracted with them? It rings hollow to say "that's not real libertarianism" when that's what real libertarians actually do.

Robb
08-17-2011, 02:09 PM
I've watched the Principality of New Utopia (http://principalityofnewutopia.com/) over the Internet for years. I don't think it is strictly libertarian, but I'd like to see it built just to see what happens.

Grumman
08-17-2011, 02:28 PM
It rings hollow to say "that's not real libertarianism" when that's what real libertarians actually do.
Do you have the slightest bit of proof that the men responsible (for example, Jeff Vowell) are actually libertarians, or are you just continuing the SDMB tradition of throwing whatever shit you can find at libertarians in the hope that something sticks?

Bryan Ekers
08-17-2011, 02:43 PM
I'm kinda reminded of the green utopia described in Ernest Callenbach's 1975 book Ecotopia, in which Oregon, Washington state and northern California secede in 1979, to be explored and extensively described by an American reporter in 1999. Ecotopia has done away with all corporations and nearly-all internal combustion vehicles and virtually all polluting industries. Thing is, in the real world "Ecotopia" (and San Francisco, one of its largest cities) was hit in 1989 by the 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake. Without heavy industry and vehicles, that city would still be rubble ten years later.

Even the philosophical opposite of Ecotopia, a Libertopia, would be comparably vulnerable to mass disaster - with some sections being rebuilt if their owners can afford it and others allowed to decay into uselessness because no-one can profitably restore them. I expect a major disaster would give some random segment of the population massive opportunity to price-gouge for goods or charge absurd rents for temporary lodging. The ability of the afflicted to rebuild drops sharply since they have to cough up a lot of wealth for short-term survival, leading to a possibly permanent underclass which can never recover.

Bosstone
08-17-2011, 02:46 PM
Do you have the slightest bit of proof that the men responsible (for example, Jeff Vowell) are actually libertarians, or are you just continuing the SDMB tradition of throwing whatever shit you can find at libertarians in the hope that something sticks?Regardless of an individual's leanings, that individual contracting of fire services is certainly libertarian. It's privatizing a service that is currently being taxed. Why should I, a hard-working citizen who's intelligent enough not to leave his stove on all night, have to pay taxes to support some bonehead down the street who set off firecrackers on his lawn?

If you'd argue (general you) that of course fire service needs to be spread among society and is acceptable to tax, well, that just proves you do think there are some things government is better at than the private sector. At that point we know what you are, we're just haggling over the price.

emacknight
08-17-2011, 05:17 PM
The general thrust of his argument seems to be "They suck at it, so we might as well not have it and save ourselves the money."

Yeah, I'm having a bit of trouble following emacknight's argument--- government shouldn't bother regulating pollution because there's still gonna be pollution if they don't enforce the regulations?

It was Der Tris that brought up pollution in reference to China and the assumption this island would dump waste into the sea.

Note that CURRENTLY ships dump waste into the sea, and only seem to have to be 3 miles off shore. That is the current state of affairs, meaning that if the whole world went libertarian over night, that aspect wouldn't change. Does that make sense to you guys yet? So a libertarian island that dumps into the sea wouldn't be a change, it would be status quo.

Second, I presented the factual information that China does have environmental regulations, with some pretty strict enforcement. Wouldn't you guys love to see BP execs face execution for the Gulf oil spill?

In all of these absurd libertarian threads there are a lot of dire predictions that manage to completely ignore the current reality. Such as the fact that CURRENTLY there are cities that dump raw sewage (Canadian cities are particularly bad for this).

Isn't it actually a rock-solid argument for stricter regulation?

They only way to achieve a clean environment is if people both want it and are willing to pay for it. So it doesn't matter if it's a libertarian or an authoritarian system, both will achieve a clean environment. Case in point: the Blue Flag system in Costa Rica
http://www.govisitcostarica.com/sustainability/article.asp?atid=41

The government didn't go around and enforce pollution regulations, it simply presented an information system, letting tourists know if an area was clean or not. Vast amounts of money then flowed into the Blue Flag areas and away from the areas without, because people made the conscious choice to spend money at the cleaner beaches. This encouraged dirty areas to clean up so that they could get some of that sweet action.

Right now, people don't give a shit about coal fired power plants, so they happily enjoy lower power bills while ignoring the environmental impact. They don't care about industrial farm run off, because they'd rather cheaper ground beef. Destroying the environment is profitable because people are willing to buy those products. If consumers demanded environmental protections it could be achieved as simply as the Blue Flag program by having the government let people know how much a particular company pollutes.

The problem isn't with libertarianism, it's with people, people suck.

emacknight
08-17-2011, 05:19 PM
I can't wait for the first major storm to devastate the place. I hope that they don't count on the navy of a huge nation to assist with the rescue.

Are you seriously so callus that you'd wish death on a group of people you disagree with?

emacknight
08-17-2011, 05:37 PM
A laissez faire system is wasteful and inefficient, with constant duplication of effort and incompatible expectations.

There is a lot wrong with your post, but this one jumps out at me. The point isn't to be less wasteful or more efficient. I'm not sure why you thought it was.

And besides, the opposite of laissez faire isn't necessarily going to be any less wasteful or more efficient. As an example, consider garbage collection: if left to private companies you end up with a lot of overlap, multiple trucks collecting on the same street, driving past each other. But competition will push them each individually to be more efficient and less wasteful.

If assigned to the government (or single monopoly) you get lethargy. There is no incentive to reduce wastefulness or to improve efficiency. It's much harder for the government to make capital investments such as newer trucks (at least in my opinion).

The actual optimum isn't achievable by either group.

In time too, the load of waste in the creek will become too large for the riparian vegetation to filter and the downstream neighbor (who also draws water from the creek) may become ill.

Not sure how many times this has been mentioned, but in a libertarian system you are NOT allowed to make people sick, nor can you murder, nor can you steal. Why is that so complicated to understand? Just like today, I am not allowed to dump arsenic in your well. In a libertarian system you would not be allowed to dump shit onto my property, or poison a stream that runs through my property.

Whack-a-Mole
08-17-2011, 05:47 PM
Not sure how many times this has been mentioned, but in a libertarian system you are NOT allowed to make people sick, nor can you murder, nor can you steal. Why is that so complicated to understand? Just like today, I am not allowed to dump arsenic in your well. In a libertarian system you would not be allowed to dump shit onto my property, or poison a stream that runs through my property.

So, you are saying Libertarian Island has the equivalent of the EPA which regulates people and business?

Czarcasm
08-17-2011, 05:50 PM
Not sure how many times this has been mentioned, but in a libertarian system you are NOT allowed to make people sick, nor can you murder, nor can you steal. Why is that so complicated to understand? Just like today, I am not allowed to dump arsenic in your well. In a libertarian system you would not be allowed to dump shit onto my property, or poison a stream that runs through my property.Can I dump toxic shit on my property and/or pollute my air, and pretend that an invisible property line will stop the crap from spilling over onto my neighbor's property?

Sam Stone
08-17-2011, 05:56 PM
...except high taxes are not a feature of 3rd world countries: tax revenue as a share of GDP tends to be lower, I suspect due to weak rule of law. Substitute "regulation" for "taxes, tariffs" and I might agree though: in too many 3rd world countries, regulations form the basis of much corruption, as bribery becomes accepted and possibly necessary to run a business. But really, parachuting in a demonstrably functional system of laws and governance, with all its inefficiencies and welfare loss triangles, would be the best way of thinking about it. Brazil is anything but a libertarian paradise, but its legal institutions work better than Haiti's, which is why Romer thinks such a partnership might work.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_tax_revenue_as_percentage_of_GDP

I suspect we're splitting hairs and are in general agreement. 'Taxes' may be low, but how do you characterize a government that technically allows free enterprise, but if your little shack gets too successful government thugs will come by and beat you and burn down your shack because you're gaining a little too much power for their liking? Or perhaps a regional administrator will come by and assess a levy for some arbitrary reason and take half your earnings?

It's not just corruption by local officials - it can also be pernacious bigotry, paranoid control over the economy that causes government to whack the heads of people who rise a little higher than the average, and other features unique to these despotic regimes.

The biggest problem I have with 'charter cities' is that I don't know how they avoid becoming targets if they are too successful - targets not just of the government, but of zealots and grassroots movements outside the zone that seek to confiscate their wealth. I know these cities are supposed to have first-world sponsors, but are those sponsors ready to go to war to protect them?

Dr. Strangelove
08-17-2011, 06:02 PM
So, you are saying Libertarian Island has the equivalent of the EPA which regulates people and business?

There's no need for an EPA if the court system works sufficiently well. Someone dumps arsenic on my property, I sue them for damages.

There are some open questions, like what happens if a pollutant stored on someone's property migrates naturally to someone else's. But these can be solved through case law, with again no need to for a public regulatory agency.

Limited liability corporations present another problem in that they make it easier to get out of paying damages. But these are themselves a construct of the state, and there's no reason they have to exist in a libertarian system. The courts could then go after the executives/employees/investors individually.

Dr. Strangelove
08-17-2011, 06:09 PM
Can I dump toxic shit on my property and/or pollute my air, and pretend that an invisible property line will stop the crap from spilling over onto my neighbor's property?

If you store your waste in well-protected containers, your neighbor has no grounds to sue. If you dump it in the ground and it migrates over through the groundwater, then the neighbor does have grounds to sue (assuming that's what the case law converges on).

I don't see the difficulty here. It's not any different from a homeowner having a tree on his property. It's only an issue if the tree falls over and smashes his neighbor's house. No one gets to pretend that there are invisible lines, or that the fallen tree is somehow the neighbor's problem since it's now on his property.

Bryan Ekers
08-17-2011, 06:10 PM
Do all such matters have to be processed by courts? There's no shorthand method of saying "you did this, here's your fine" ? I could imagine the plantiff's legal costs being more than he can reasonably expect to recover in damages, especially if an arsenic-dumper has the time and resources to drag the process out.

Sam Stone
08-17-2011, 06:14 PM
I agree Libertarianism is not anarchy.

I would like Libertarians to spell out what laws, in their lawful society, are ok and what laws they would eschew.

I know for a fact that you have been a participant in any number of debates about libertarianism on this board - debates where the actual beliefs of libertarians have been spelled out in detail, over and over again. They always get ignored, or the response is to find one crazy idea by one person claiming to be a libertarian and then attacking that rather than the long, heavily cited, substantive explanations of libertarianism that many of us have offered. Why should anyone go to the trouble of doing it again?

emacknight
08-17-2011, 06:17 PM
Do all such matters have to be processed by courts? There's no shorthand method of saying "you did this, here's your fine" ? I could imagine the plantiff's legal costs being more than he can reasonably expect to recover in damages, especially if an arsenic-dumper has the time and resources to drag the process out.

You're trying to have it both ways.

First you suggest we have a fine, then you switch over to an expensive court case involving arsenic.

If the latter statement is true, the defendant could just as easily pay the fine without any consequence. I forget off hand, but this issue came up in a few European countries where they wanted to make fines in proportion to wealth, because they realized that to a rich person a speeding ticket is just an extra fee to drive fast.

So what would be the fine for poisoning people? And what's to stop, again, the same guy from fighting that in court, now against the government instead of the neighbour?

We don't currently have fines for murder, nor do we regulate against it, or require civil suits (although I think they are allowed eg OJ Simpson). If you poison someone you are tried in court.

Lobohan
08-17-2011, 06:18 PM
I know for a fact that you have been a participant in any number of debates about libertarianism on this board - debates where the actual beliefs of libertarians have been spelled out in detail, over and over again. They always get ignored, or the response is to find one crazy idea by one person claiming to be a libertarian and then attacking that rather than the long, heavily cited, substantive explanations of libertarianism that many of us have offered. Why should anyone go to the trouble of doing it again?If you know this for a fact, you should be able to cite where it has happened?

Specifically?

Wesley Clark
08-17-2011, 06:22 PM
Who could afford to live there? With most of us, we live where we are born. But to get into this enclave you really have to plan, be ideologically in favor of it and work at it. That is nothing like how a normal civilization works where people of all stripes are born into a society and make the best of it.

They can try, but where are they going to get all the service workers? Where will their economic output come from? Given the choice, will workers choose to live in an island state with lax building codes built in the middle of the ocean, knowing it was designed to give the wealthy all the power (no labor laws, environmental laws, minimum wages, etc)?

Unless they import people from a developing nation and offer them $1/hr. I could see it working then. But it seems like it'll consist of rich people, libertarian idealogues and poor people from the developing world. I would like to see how that turns out.

Bryan Ekers
08-17-2011, 06:29 PM
You're trying to have it both ways.

I'm not trying to have it any way, I'm trying to figure out how they'd have it their way.

First you suggest we have a fine, then you switch over to an expensive court case involving arsenic.

Well, the example at hand is someone dumping (or at least accused of dumping) arsenic on their own property which eventually traveled to and was detected by a neighbor on his property. Is the only action taken against the dumper that of the potential court action brought by the neighbor?

If the latter statement is true, the defendant could just as easily pay the fine without any consequence. I forget off hand, but this issue came up in a few European countries where they wanted to make fines in proportion to wealth, because they realized that to a rich person a speeding ticket is just an extra fee to drive fast.

Well, I guess if the citizens of Libertopia are okay with that, I don't see a problem.

So what would be the fine for poisoning people? And what's to stop, again, the same guy from fighting that in court, now against the government instead of the neighbour?

We don't currently have fines for murder, nor do we regulate against it, or require civil suits (although I think they are allowed eg OJ Simpson). If you poison someone you are tried in court.

I wasn't talking about poisoning (let along killing) people, just a pollution dispute currently (in the U.S.) handled by the EPA and, eventually, the civil courts.

Dr. Strangelove
08-17-2011, 06:37 PM
Do all such matters have to be processed by courts? There's no shorthand method of saying "you did this, here's your fine" ? I could imagine the plantiff's legal costs being more than he can reasonably expect to recover in damages, especially if an arsenic-dumper has the time and resources to drag the process out.

Yes, in a libertarian system, the courts would handle far more. And they would have to account for asymmetry in power (individual vs. big corp). But this is already a problem, and we have some means of correcting it (anti-SLAPP statutes, for instance). There's no reason to think that a libertarian state wouldn't have the same thing.

There would, presumably, be more private certification organizations than there are now (such as UL and ANSI). While not a guaranteed defense, they might be an ameliorating factor in damages--if you store your waste in containers approved by a respected organization, you might be subject to less damages than if you had simply dumped your waste in a pit and hoped for the best.

The fact that there's no quick-and-easy "pay your fine" method is a good thing, IMHO. It means that damage done by one party on another is taken more seriously than a simple cost of business. It means that the fine is more likely to reflect the actual damage caused (since the courts will have to decide this based on the evidence). And it means that actions which cause no actual harm do not cost anything.

Sam Stone
08-17-2011, 06:38 PM
If you know this for a fact, you should be able to cite where it has happened?

Specifically?

Move your little mouse pointer to the box called 'Search'. Click on it. When the little dropdown opens, type "libertarianism" and press your enter key. You will be inundated with page after page of threads on this topic.

Open any one of those threads, and read. I just did that at random, and almost every one of them I looked at contains long messages from people like me, John Mace, xtisme and others giving very patient, very detailed explanations of libertarian philosophy and practice. You've been present in most of them. If you can't remember or don't bother to read them, I have no idea why I should be compelled to write it again for you or go to the work of sifting out links for you to follow.

Or, you could do what I suggested in another thread (and got mocked for): You could try reading a book or watching the video series called "Free To Choose", which is available for free streaming on the web. Google it.

But you don't really want to know these things, do you? You don't honestly care about understanding libertarian beliefs. You're just looking for ammunition, or doing what you're doing now, which is to demand that your opponents work their asses off to spoon-feed you information which you aren't going to read anyway, or if you do you'll skim it looking for some nugget you can throw back like a grenade to derail the conversation until the next time this comes up, at which point you'll demand more cites again.

In the meantime, you almost never bring anything substantive to the table yourself. Just snipes and jibes at your enemies - people who are expending great effort in good faith, with the goal of having a reasonable discussion about differing points of view.

Bryan Ekers
08-17-2011, 06:42 PM
Well, until somebody goes ahead and tries it (which I'd kinda like to see, just out of curiosity), it remains hypothetical.

Der Trihs
08-17-2011, 06:44 PM
There's no need for an EPA if the court system works sufficiently well. Someone dumps arsenic on my property, I sue them for damages. And what make you sure that you'd automatically even know they are poisoning you? Plenty of toxins are invisible. What's the benefit of suing them when you are already dying or your children are already born with birth defects? What about all the pollution that can't be traced to a specific source, like acid rain? What about the companies that will decide that the price of the lawsuits is worth it?

Lobohan
08-17-2011, 06:56 PM
Move your little mouse pointer to the box called 'Search'. Click on it. When the little dropdown opens, type "libertarianism" and press your enter key. You will be inundated with page after page of threads on this topic.So you don't specifically know where I can see specific libertarian beliefs? Because unless you tell me exactly what they are, I suspect you'll simply declare any one that's criticized a not really libertarian idea.

Honestly, I wonder if anyone at all is actually a Scottsman.

Open any one of those threads, and read. I just did that at random, and almost every one of them I looked at contains long messages from people like me, John Mace, xtisme and others giving very patient, very detailed explanations of libertarian philosophy and practice. You've been present in most of them. If you can't remember or don't bother to read them, I have no idea why I should be compelled to write it again for you or go to the work of sifting out links for you to follow.It seems to me, that the board libertarians sometimes advocate nonsense that would never work in reality. And when called on it, they backtrack or ignore it.

But you're the one who made the assertion, shall I assume you're retracting it?

Or, you could do what I suggested in another thread (and got mocked for): You could try reading a book or watching the video series called "Free To Choose", which is available for free streaming on the web. Google it.I'm not going to watch a video series so I can understand where you get the nonsense you believe. I don't want to know why you decided to devote yourself to a rigid ideology, I want to understand what, in your opinion, that ideology is.

But you don't really want to know these things, do you? You don't honestly care about understanding libertarian beliefs. You're just looking for ammunition, or doing what you're doing now, which is to demand that your opponents work their asses off to spoon-feed you information which you aren't going to read anyway, or if you do you'll skim it looking for some nugget you can throw back like a grenade to derail the conversation until the next time this comes up, at which point you'll demand more cites again.You are long on ideals and short on actual ideas. Specifically what are you advocating? What is libertarian? By being fuzzy about your beliefs you grant yourself space to hide when those beliefs are criticized.

In the meantime, you almost never bring anything substantive to the table yourself. Just snipes and jibes at your enemies - people who are expending great effort in good faith, with the goal of having a reasonable discussion about differing points of view.What is your point of view again? Specifically?

If I snipe, it's because your point is a little flitting bird, and thus hard to hit.

Lobohan
08-17-2011, 07:14 PM
Ontopic: The Libertarian Islands are far too stupid to actually ever exist, but if they did, I'd laugh at their utter failure. Until they sank of course. Then, I'd be sad.

Dr. Strangelove
08-17-2011, 07:33 PM
And what make you sure that you'd automatically even know they are poisoning you? Plenty of toxins are invisible. What's the benefit of suing them when you are already dying or your children are already born with birth defects? What about all the pollution that can't be traced to a specific source, like acid rain? What about the companies that will decide that the price of the lawsuits is worth it?

The hope is that after a few expensive cases, companies would learn that dumping toxins is unprofitable.

Beyond that, there would undoubtedly be an army of lawyers running around with testing kits and offering free tests to anyone near a factory.

And besides, it's not like this isn't *already* a problem in other ways. The EPA isn't everywhere at once. The problem simply needs to be manageable.

Pollution that can't be traced to a specific source, or that doesn't have specific victims, is problematic. The EPA doesn't really have a great history here either, with their slowness in dealing with acid rain and greenhouse gases. One might imagine a massive tobacco-style lawsuit that ultimately concludes with huge settlements and contract-enforced concessions. Frankly, I don't think there are any optimal solutions here, other than "supreme enlightened dictator of the world". A libertarian system would have to plod its way to improvement, just as we do now.

As for "the price of lawsuits being worth it"; well, it depends on the specifics of what we're talking about. There's no de facto reason to believe that it would be a *worse* situation than it is today, where fines may be seen as a cost of business. And court-imposed damages are likely to be higher than the equivalent fines (since they would include court costs, extra damages from willful negligence, and wouldn't be subject to legal upper bounds).

The idea isn't necessarily a problem, anyway. Suppose some company allows chemicals to leak onto adjacent residential properties, but that the problem is caught before anyone becomes sick. The residents sue the company, recover the lost property value, and move away. Not a big deal.

ZPG Zealot
08-17-2011, 09:57 PM
Are you seriously so callus that you'd wish death on a group of people you disagree with?

When those people are seriously so callous toward their fellow citizens as to abandon their communities and build their own isolationist colony because they don't want to pay taxes to provide community resources, it's called poetic justice when the lack of those very same community resources results in their demise.

SeldomSeen
08-17-2011, 10:24 PM
There is a lot wrong with your post, but this one jumps out at me. The point isn't to be less wasteful or more efficient.

I'm sure you could find many things "wrong" with the post....it wasn't intended to be anecdotal, just illustrative. But wait - if a libertarian system can't claim to be less wasteful or inefficient than others then what makes it more desirable than other systems? It certainly can't claim to be more equitable, on the contrary it distinctly benefits certain elites that happen to have the money or power to do as they please. The reason for libertarian resistance to regulation seems to be that it places a burden on business and introduces inefficiencies into the system. You are correct in saying that "the opposite of laissez faire isn't necessarily going to be any less wasteful or more efficient", if by opposite you mean some sort of collectivism. But no one's advocating that either. It doesn't have to be either/or, all or nothing. As I pointed out, there is a middle ground between the dog-eat-dog world of laissez faire libertarianism and the inertia of collectivism. A participatory democracy, where ambition and lethergy are balanced, by reasonable rules and sensible regulation. We can - and should - argue about the degree of regulation and the specific rules that apply.

Not sure how many times this has been mentioned, but in a libertarian system you are NOT allowed to make people sick, nor can you murder, nor can you steal. Why is that so complicated to understand? Just like today, I am not allowed to dump arsenic in your well. In a libertarian system you would not be allowed to dump shit onto my property, or poison a stream that runs through my property.

Really? and in the absence of the regulatory entities that you claim to despise, how do you propose to enforce that? If your successful business model includes dumping shit onto your neighbors property, wouldn't it be an undue burden on you, an unfair "taking" of your hard-earned money to force you to install a sewage-treatment facility? And how could said neighbor force you stop dumping? Come after you with a gun? What if you could afford a bigger gun than he could? Of course, he's quite free, in this utopian society, to pack up and move....re-establish himself elsewhere, on another stream, where hopefully he'd find less-shitty neighbors. On the other hand, if you establish governing agencies to oversee sewage disposal, arsenic storage, etc. then you are veering away from your libertarian model.

Grumman
08-17-2011, 11:08 PM
Regardless of an individual's leanings, that individual contracting of fire services is certainly libertarian. It's privatizing a service that is currently being taxed.
Actually, it was a privatization of a service that was not previously being provided - the fee was a way to fund the expansion of the neighboring city's fire department's sphere of influence. The problem wasn't that the city was selling its services to people living outside the city, it was that they did it stupid - making their work harder and putting that fire truck out of commission for longer because they didn't want to give out a freebie. The phrase "cutting off your nose to spite your face" comes to mind.

Czarcasm
08-18-2011, 12:34 AM
It seems to me that I could dump arsenic down my own well all the live-long day, and people would be hard pressed to prove that it was my arsenic that was poisoning their land and/or water supply.

China Guy
08-18-2011, 12:51 AM
More recently, Hong Kong was a British experiment in self-governance. Colonial administrator John Cowperthwaite took an explicitly Laissez-Faire approach to Hong Kong administration, refusing to engage in any industrial policy at all. Taxes were kept low, the region was left to determine its own form of governance, and business regulations next to nonexistent. Even today, you can open a business in Hong Kong by filling out a one-page form and turning it in. Then go rent a space and start your business.

China has created prosperity zones freed from state management, and those zones have exploded in wealth. Sam, I suggest you actually research these claims on HK and the Special Economic Zones. It isn't the picture you paint and never was in either place.

Measure for Measure
08-18-2011, 01:09 AM
I suspect we're splitting hairs and are in general agreement. Quite possibly. 'Taxes' may be low, but how do you characterize a government that technically allows free enterprise, but if your little shack gets too successful government thugs will come by and beat you and burn down your shack because you're gaining a little too much power for their liking? I'd characterize it as lacking rule of law. The biggest problem I have with 'charter cities' is that I don't know how they avoid becoming targets if they are too successful - targets not just of the government, but of zealots and grassroots movements outside the zone that seek to confiscate their wealth. I know these cities are supposed to have first-world sponsors, but are those sponsors ready to go to war to protect them? If those inside the city want to tax themselves for more public services, I don't have a problem. If those outside the city want a piece of the action and decide to start charging tariffs or income taxes, that's politics baby. Canadians for example renegotiate all the time (I'm not being a wise guy here, btw, Canada does an above average job of handling tribalism without bloodshed).

If another Baby Doc actually invades the principality, then that's a problem -- I suspect that the sponsor could establish a police force and maybe a Swat team. But if it came to open warfare, the principality loses. Hm. This plan won't work in Zimbabwe. But I suspect that there instances where it could work -- India comes to mind. After all, I suspect there are plenty of people there who are sick of the License Raj.

Grumman
08-18-2011, 01:09 AM
It seems to me that I could dump arsenic down my own well all the live-long day, and people would be hard pressed to prove that it was my arsenic that was poisoning their land and/or water supply.
Then your problem isn't with libertarians, it's that the police aren't omniscient.

Miller
08-18-2011, 01:21 AM
Firstly, you have a responsibility not to set fire to other people's property, through negligence or malice. Therefore it is not unreasonable to require that people take precautions to mitigate any damage they may cause to other people.

Honest question, from someone who doesn't much participate in these debates, but I was under the impression that building codes were one of the things that libertarians were generally very much against? If people in a libertarian society aren't taking precautions to mitigate the damage of other people's property, what's the recourse? How do you detect this failure, and rectify it, absent some sort of coercive government agency?

Right now, people don't give a shit about coal fired power plants, so they happily enjoy lower power bills while ignoring the environmental impact. They don't care about industrial farm run off, because they'd rather cheaper ground beef. Destroying the environment is profitable because people are willing to buy those products. If consumers demanded environmental protections it could be achieved as simply as the Blue Flag program by having the government let people know how much a particular company pollutes.

The problem isn't with libertarianism, it's with people, people suck.

People do indeed suck. But if libertarianism is proposed as the best way to organize a society, and because of the nature of people, libertarianism leads to objectively worse outcomes than other approaches, that seems to me to be very much a problem with libertarianism. I mean, any form of government can be shown to be the best way to rule people, if you presuppose an essential alteration to the human character.

I'm also confused, in general, by your examples of Chinese government action against corporate polluters. Certainly, these examples point to widespread corruption in Chinese society, but that seems to be an issue entirely separate from the benefits or drawbacks of libertarianism. I mean, I can bribe a judge just as easily as I can bribe a building code inspector. What is it, inherent to libertarianism, that guarantees it will be free of these sorts of corruption problems?

Czarcasm
08-18-2011, 01:22 AM
Then your problem isn't with libertarians, it's that the police aren't omniscient.No-the problem is that in a libertarian society I am free to do whatever I want on my land unless someone can prove that I am directly causing harm to their land, and without land-use regulation there is nothing stopping me from permanently damaging my land. Now, I suppose there might be the off chance that someone could come up with a way to prove that what I do directly harms specific others, and i could be fined for it-but my land, and the surrounding area, will still be screwed up for a long time.
I pay my fine and move away.
The person who gets my money uses it to move away.
What happens with the useless property...and what stops this from happening again?

Euphonious Polemic
08-18-2011, 01:33 AM
There's no need for an EPA if the court system works sufficiently well. Someone dumps arsenic on my property, I sue them for damages.

There are some open questions, like what happens if a pollutant stored on someone's property migrates naturally to someone else's. But these can be solved through case law, with again no need to for a public regulatory agency.

One thing about libertarian solutions to problems like these is that they are reactive rather than proactive. I would far rather prevent crap from being put into my water or air in the first place, rather than have to rely on suing somone after the fact to mitigate damage. It is quite hard to mitigate environmental damage anyway; The cat is out of the bag, so to speak, and it's frequently very hard (if not impossible) to get an environmental system back to the way it was before the pollution event.

I would rather have a set of well defined regulations that spell out what a person or company is not allowed to put into the public air or water. Case law in environmental pollution cases is notoriously open to interpretation, and is would not give crystal clear directions PRIOR to the pollution event about what can or cannot be done.



Limited liability corporations present another problem in that they make it easier to get out of paying damages. But these are themselves a construct of the state, and there's no reason they have to exist in a libertarian system. The courts could then go after the executives/employees/investors individually.

Yes, and not only that, corporations have deep pockets and many lawyers, and often get out of paying appropriate damages. This happens NOW (Exxon Valdez anyone), and I don't think it would get better under a libertarian system. And if your solution involved the destruction of the corporation model.... good luck with that. I"d love to see individual executives held responsible for environmental damage - not gonna happen though.

appleciders
08-18-2011, 01:53 AM
I recommend the novel "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein. This book involves a bunch of rebels that try to set up a libertarian society on the Moon, but it doesn't work as well as they had hoped due to the practicalities of maintaining an orderly and functioning society.

As Sam Stone noted: Have you actually read the book? That's a really lousy synopsis. It's mostly a political revolution book, with a few lengthy passages in which RAH sets out an idealized libertarian society that works great because it's, you know, fiction.

Dr. Strangelove
08-18-2011, 03:07 AM
One thing about libertarian solutions to problems like these is that they are reactive rather than proactive.

How is the current system not also reactive? It's not like the EPA has someone standing around constantly at every possible source of pollution. Sure, they do inspections, but for the most part their power is in levying fines after the fact.

It is quite hard to mitigate environmental damage anyway; The cat is out of the bag, so to speak, and it's frequently very hard (if not impossible) to get an environmental system back to the way it was before the pollution event.

All true, but again, how is that much different from what we have now? Environmental disasters still happen, and the worst ones seem to happen because of incompetence, which sadly is a bit out of the EPA's league.

I would rather have a set of well defined regulations that spell out what a person or company is not allowed to put into the public air or water. Case law in environmental pollution cases is notoriously open to interpretation, and is would not give crystal clear directions PRIOR to the pollution event about what can or cannot be done.

I see that almost as as outright negative. EPA regulations are far from perfect; they contain loopholes, and they are slow to respond to new pollutants. A company may well exploit these loopholes and then claim innocence due to following the existing regulations to the letter.

The plaintiff doesn't care how the pollutant got on his property; only that he is compensated properly. In this sense, regulations seem redundant.

What about companies that genuinely want to avoid pollution (either because they think it's the "right thing" or because they think the financial risk is too great otherwise)? Do they need the EPA to tell them how to behave? No; they can use environmental consultation companies to tell them how to store their waste properly, and so on. These companies already exist, of course.

Yes, and not only that, corporations have deep pockets and many lawyers, and often get out of paying appropriate damages. This happens NOW (Exxon Valdez anyone), and I don't think it would get better under a libertarian system. And if your solution involved the destruction of the corporation model.... good luck with that. I"d love to see individual executives held responsible for environmental damage - not gonna happen though.

Well--if we are inventing a "Libertopia" from scratch, there's no reason we can't build limits on limited liability into the constitution. It's what I would do if designing one, at any rate (and I'm not even particularly anti-corporate).

In any case, all else being equal, there's no reason a libertarian country would be better or worse than existing models in this regard. It's an orthogonal problem.

Der Trihs
08-18-2011, 03:15 AM
How is the current system not also reactive? It's not like the EPA has someone standing around constantly at every possible source of pollution. Sure, they do inspections, but for the most part their power is in levying fines after the fact.They also impose regulations ahead of time, which is more pro-active than hoping for the theoretical possibility that someone at some point might file a lawsuit.

All true, but again, how is that much different from what we have now? Environmental disasters still happen, and the worst ones seem to happen because of incompetence, which sadly is a bit out of the EPA's league.But far less than there used to be; the present system is working. It has produced large and measurable improvements. And when the EPA passes regulations on such things as how to dispose of waste they are to a degree trying to mitigate the effects of incompetence.

Measure for Measure
08-18-2011, 03:55 AM
Longer article on OP:
http://www.details.com/culture-trends/critical-eye/201109/peter-thiel-billionaire-paypal-facebook-internet-success#ixzz1VCNep352

"Architectural plans for a prototype involve a movable, diesel-powered, 12,000-ton structure with room for 270 residents, with the idea that dozens—perhaps even hundreds—of these could be linked together."

They are planning on installing the first mothership off the waters of San Francisco. Would it be more than 200 miles off US shores? If not, methinks the residents would be liable for US and California taxes. If so, then I wonder what their military policy would be: they would certainly fall under the US's security umbrella. There may also be emission issues, though they could easily be finessed by the original planners of this floating condo.

I like the charter city concept better, because of its pragmatism and because it addresses an actual failure of governance, as opposed to an inability to persuade your countrymen that you are not a loon. Still, it's easy to imagine an offshore village of 1-60 pioneers or rather a couple of rich families, plus staff.

Dr. Strangelove
08-18-2011, 04:05 AM
They also impose regulations ahead of time, which is more pro-active than hoping for the theoretical possibility that someone at some point might file a lawsuit.

Only very slightly. A lawsuit seems virtually guaranteed if there is an actual negative effect on someone. If there is no actual negative effect... should it have been regulated in the first place?

But far less than there used to be; the present system is working. It has produced large and measurable improvements. And when the EPA passes regulations on such things as how to dispose of waste they are to a degree trying to mitigate the effects of incompetence.

I don't deny that the EPA is a net improvement over what we had, given the other constraints. I simply question whether it is necessary if one makes it easier for plaintiffs to sue for damages over pollution.

Quickly perusing their history, it appears that most of their acts are reactions to obvious sources of pollution: sulfur compounds in the air, toxic substances in groundwater, dumping sewage in rivers/lakes, etc.

I am genuinely confused as to why these problems didn't generate huge lawsuits at the time. What was clear to the EPA should have been clear to the courts as well. If there was some flaw in the system which prevented cases from going through, it seems that that is what should have been fixed.

For what it's worth, I will grant that an "EPA-lite" at the least is necessary to control widely-dispersed forms of pollution, such as from cars. A reverse-class-action lawsuit against every car owner would be untenable.

Nava
08-18-2011, 04:18 AM
Paul Romer, husband of Ex-Obama chief economist Christina Romer and a very influential economist himself, has proposed similar ideas to kick-start wealth and trade in the third world: Charter Cities (http://chartercities.org/). Explicitly referencing the Hong Kong model, Romer wants countries to find areas of land that are currently not used but which are suitable for development, and zone them off for the development of charter cities.

One of the models under which new towns were founded in what's now Spain and Portugal during the Middle Ages was similar; they had "temporary charters" to help them get started (usually involving something like tax exemptions for certain crops or other types of businesses the king/count wanted to see in that area) but were expected to eventually come up with their own local laws. It worked quite well within the intended parameters: bringing in skilled immigrants, moving travelers to Santiago inland (going by boat used to be most common), populating no-man's lands...

Whack-a-Mole
08-18-2011, 05:26 AM
Only very slightly. A lawsuit seems virtually guaranteed if there is an actual negative effect on someone. If there is no actual negative effect... should it have been regulated in the first place?

I don't deny that the EPA is a net improvement over what we had, given the other constraints. I simply question whether it is necessary if one makes it easier for plaintiffs to sue for damages over pollution.


Who has standing to sue under your regime?

Only people directly harmed? What if I do not drink water from a lake but I like taking the family to the lake on weekends for recreation. If some manufacturers pollute the lake so as to be unusable isn't everyone in Libertopia harmed?

Further, I am curious about making lawsuits "easier". What does that mean? How does that work? A common complaint these days is that lawsuits against corporations are already too easy and lucrative. In the Exxon Valdez lawsuit the Supreme Court limited the initial damage award to compensatory damages I think (not to mention it took 20 years to litigate).

Far from making lawsuits easier the conservative mantra is to make them harder.

It is quite possible, and I believe it has happened, for companies to coldly calculate that it is cheaper to settle lawsuits than it is to fix the actual problem. Nevermind that people are seriously injured or die.

Further, the people making a decision to pollute are insulated from responsibility. They are motivated by profits today and not some potential lawsuit ten years from now. I believe today if someone willingly violated EPA regulations in pursuit of profits they could face criminal sanction as an individual. In your world the company and shareholders take the hit, the employee has already collected their salary and bonuses and they walk away.

Whack-a-Mole
08-18-2011, 05:31 AM
I know for a fact that you have been a participant in any number of debates about libertarianism on this board - debates where the actual beliefs of libertarians have been spelled out in detail, over and over again. They always get ignored, or the response is to find one crazy idea by one person claiming to be a libertarian and then attacking that rather than the long, heavily cited, substantive explanations of libertarianism that many of us have offered. Why should anyone go to the trouble of doing it again?

You could point them out to me if you have anything on this.

Personally my recollection is the Libertarian assertions tend to be vague and more matters of principle than concrete actions. Doubtless some have suggested actual changes but it is scattershot and not really in any coherent form.

Also, I have noticed if you get ten Libertarians together they will give you eleven different opinions on what Libertopia should look like. They may agree on principles but differ broadly on how those principles are to be achieved.

In the end I cannot recall anything like an actual model for a working Libertopia.

If I have forgotten doubtless someone here will point it out for me and my apologies.

Dr. Strangelove
08-18-2011, 06:02 AM
Who has standing to sue under your regime?

It would have to be worked out in detail--just as it is today. For instance, Sierra Club v. Morton (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sierra_Club_v._Morton) was just one such case, which ruled whether the SC had standing. They didn't, as it turned out, but any individual with an interest did. So although they lost the case, it ended up as a rather big win.

Only people directly harmed? What if I do not drink water from a lake but I like taking the family to the lake on weekends for recreation. If some manufacturers pollute the lake so as to be unusable isn't everyone in Libertopia harmed?

The devil is in the details, of course. Who owns the lake? If it is public, then by the standards in Sierra Club v. Morton, then anyone with an interest in the lake would have standing. If private--well, then it's up to the owner.

Further, I am curious about making lawsuits "easier". What does that mean? How does that work?

Widening the reach of standing would be one way. Another might give extra protections to individuals vs. organizations. Another might be to invent novel forms of lawsuit, along the lines of class-action but more tuned to environmental issues. I'm sure there are hundreds of ideas here.

A common complaint these days is that lawsuits against corporations are already too easy and lucrative. In the Exxon Valdez lawsuit the Supreme Court limited the initial damage award to compensatory damages I think (not to mention it took 20 years to litigate).

Who is complaining about this? Libertarians? All of them?

Far from making lawsuits easier the conservative mantra is to make them harder.

What do conservatives have to do with this discussion?

It is quite possible, and I believe it has happened, for companies to coldly calculate that it is cheaper to settle lawsuits than it is to fix the actual problem. Nevermind that people are seriously injured or die.

Indeed it has. This problem would not be unique to Libertopia. I'm sure one can find numerous examples of companies flouting EPA regulations, and considering fines as a cost of business.

The only solution, and it is still only a partial one, is to increase these costs. It is very likely that court-imposed damages will be higher than EPA fines, IMO.

Further, the people making a decision to pollute are insulated from responsibility. They are motivated by profits today and not some potential lawsuit ten years from now. I believe today if someone willingly violated EPA regulations in pursuit of profits they could face criminal sanction as an individual. In your world the company and shareholders take the hit, the employee has already collected their salary and bonuses and they walk away.

Actually, I already said that individuals should not be protected from sanctions. And yes, I'd think this could include criminal charges. LLCs pose a problem both in Libertopia and the current system.

Dr. Strangelove
08-18-2011, 06:11 AM
In the end I cannot recall anything like an actual model for a working Libertopia.

No one has one, of course. But the same could be said of any number of political models. The only way to know if a complicated system like this works is to try it--exactly the point of the original story. The worst that happens is that it just doesn't work out, and everyone returns home a little poorer. The best-case scenario is that it engenders a wave of novel, competing political systems, and that they iterate until they have something better than we have now. Either way, it will be fun to watch.

Der Trihs
08-18-2011, 06:21 AM
Only very slightly. A lawsuit seems virtually guaranteed if there is an actual negative effect on someone. If there is no actual negative effect... should it have been regulated in the first place?Quite often yes. Quite often individuals are too fearful, short sighted or just clueless to know when legal action is to be taken. And without oversight all sorts of extremely destructive things could happen that no one would learn about until long after a lawsuit become meaningless. What good is a lawsuit going to do when you find that a long defunct company secretly buried poison under its property and only now is it leaching out and rendering your entire town uninhabitable?

I don't deny that the EPA is a net improvement over what we had, given the other constraints. I simply question whether it is necessary if one makes it easier for plaintiffs to sue for damages over pollution.Since organizations and wealthy people have a huge edge over ordinary individuals yes.

It is quite possible, and I believe it has happened, for companies to coldly calculate that it is cheaper to settle lawsuits than it is to fix the actual problem. Nevermind that people are seriously injured or die.Yes; the infamous Ford Pinto Memo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Pinto#Allegations_and_lawsuits) is an example of that.

Whack-a-Mole
08-18-2011, 07:07 AM
No one has one, of course. But the same could be said of any number of political models. The only way to know if a complicated system like this works is to try it--exactly the point of the original story. The worst that happens is that it just doesn't work out, and everyone returns home a little poorer. The best-case scenario is that it engenders a wave of novel, competing political systems, and that they iterate until they have something better than we have now. Either way, it will be fun to watch.

I'm surprised no one has one.

I understand that asking for one here is asking for more than can be done on a message board. For the SDMB detail of some basic features would be good though. Basically the constitution for Libertopia. Our constitution is not all that long and would be doable by any individual with a few hours of work (in terms of length...obviously thinking it all through is quite a task).

So, imagine you were given, say, Australia and you were Supreme Ruler and wanted to setup Libertopia. You certainly would have to sit down and start writing out how the government works and the courts work and all the other fiddly bits.

You'd think some libertarian sort would have done something like that by now. Instead they seem to talk in grand, sweeping generalizations that amount to a philosophy. A philosophy of government is a good start but the devil is in the details and I rarely see details on this.

To be sure it would always be a work in progress and you would add to it and tweak it as time went on but you'd still need a basic plan, a constitution for Libertopia.

The laws and the rest follow from that.

Whack-a-Mole
08-18-2011, 07:17 AM
What do conservatives have to do with this discussion?

Libertarians, from what I have read, are a distinctly broad group. There seems to be a serious split among Libertarians. Specifically European Libertarians seem to be non-propetarian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propertarianism) which is a more liberal view. American Libertarians are propetarians and distinctly conservative in their views of government.

Are you suggesting that Libertarians in the US cannot be regarded as "conservatives"? Obviously some differences on social policy exist but in that Libertarians are little different from conservatives as a whole. There is disagreement in the ranks about appropriate social policy.


The only solution, and it is still only a partial one, is to increase these costs. It is very likely that court-imposed damages will be higher than EPA fines, IMO.

EPA fines, under the current system, do not preclude someone from suing a company for damages. So, in our system, the company faces fines and lawsuits. In yours just lawsuits. Further, I think the EPA can do more than levy fines and can compel behavior. In your system the only compulsion a company faces is a fiscal one (e.g. they behave because it is cheaper to behave). As noted it is possible for a company to find non-compliance cheaper than compliance even if they are slapped with lawsuits.

Acid Lamp
08-18-2011, 08:01 AM
Practical questions I'd like some answers to from those supporting this idea... I'm not snarking or asking gotcha questions here, I view myself as a liberal pragmatist, so I'm actually interested hearing how these very real issues would be rectified:

Considering very loose building codes, how are these islands going to support themselves without reliance on international trade for basic goods like food?, toilet paper, etc. Agriculture requires a significant physical space to be productive in, (modern efficiencies taken into consideration) and has specific requirements that i don't see being adequately met if people can build willy-nilly everywhere.

The same goes for protein foods. Currently the most productive fishing grounds are near-shore operations, and the open seas in the arctic/antarctic zones. I don't see the us sharing our fishing rights with separatists, nor do I see long haul trips to productive neutral waters working well without a take big enough for export.

Assuming that they CAN maintain a fishing fleet, where do the fisherman live? Same goes for the servant, merchant, and domestic class.

If you live on an artificial island, what particular need is there for weapons stockpiling? What are you going to shoot? Further, I'm fairly certain that if libertopia is built off the us shoreline, we aren't going to tolerate their possession of any serious weaponry for very long. Frankly a country that seems to be operating on a limited economic model, run by a wealthy elite, and geographically isolated, is a perfect haven for pirates and terrorists. If they don't just show up, such a place is certain to produce them.

Czarcasm
08-18-2011, 08:26 AM
I seems to me that international trade would require somewhat strict regulations when it comes to manufacturing. Am I wrong?

Euphonious Polemic
08-18-2011, 01:24 PM
How is the current system not also reactive? It's not like the EPA has someone standing around constantly at every possible source of pollution. Sure, they do inspections, but for the most part their power is in levying fines after the fact.


They set regulations based on scientific reasoning and lab work. They are not just a bunch of inspectors. The point is that the regulations are set before hand. Everyone is clear on what they are. It is not simply a system of fixing things after they screw up.



I see that almost as as outright negative. EPA regulations are far from perfect; they contain loopholes, and they are slow to respond to new pollutants. A company may well exploit these loopholes and then claim innocence due to following the existing regulations to the letter.

So once again we're at the argument of "If regulations cannot be made perfect, it is better to throw them out entirely"


The plaintiff doesn't care how the pollutant got on his property; only that he is compensated properly. In this sense, regulations seem redundant.

The point is that compensation after the damage is done is frequently inadequate or impossible. It's very hard to restore an ecosystem. $$ does not cut it.

Euphonious Polemic
08-18-2011, 01:55 PM
Here’s how I see environmental problems being handled in a possible “Libertopia” scenario. It’s hard to do, since it seems if there are 100 Libertarians in a room, there will be 100 different opinions on what “Libertopia’ would look like.

So it will be easy for someone to step in and say “but MY Libertopia would not be like that”.

However….
Company A is mining a Techronium deposit. Very valuable – The investors are happy, and Techronium is produced. The tailings go into a pond near the mine. There are no regulations about how to dispose of Techronium tailings because… well no regulations. Regulations just stifle new industry.

Some years later, the residents of Townville just downstream from the mine start to see an increase in cancers. It’s not like everyone is dropping dead, but the cancer rate seems to be very high. Folks start to suspect something is wrong. Unfortunately, there is no centralized Centre for Disease control to conduct epidemiological studies. No problem though! The town contracts for a private epidemiological study. The study shows that the cancer rate is indeed high, and implicates runoff from the Techronium tailings upstream.

Now, the company is worried. Profits will be impacted. They contract ANOTHER epidemiological company and surprise! They find there is no problem. It's very difficult to prove a causal relationship here. It often is with environmental problems. It's complex. There is disagreement.

A couple of years pass while these two epidemiological companies disagree. Cancer rates increase. The problem is really serious now. Some more folks in the town get together to pool their money and hire a law firm. They sue the Techronium company. The company hires a really powerful law firm. They stall. They get expert opinion that Techronium waste is good for you. Much paper goes back and forth between the law firms. More years pass. More people die.

The Techronium company continues to make large profits, which they pump into Public Relations. A “grass roots” group springs up; “Friends of clean Techronium” . This group badmouths the original citizens who launched the lawsuit, calling them idiots who are against progress and jobs.

The original epidemiological company is bought out by a larger one, and now refuses to work for the citizen group. They have to start again with a new study. The citizen group runs out of money as members quit due to being harassed by “Friends of Clean Techronium” Years pass. More people die.

Techronium profits are up again! The mine expands!

Now in the lake some 100 miles distant, the entire fish stock collapses, and a fishing community is decimated. Techronium is though to be the culprit. What do you suppose will happen now?

Bosstone
08-18-2011, 02:29 PM
Then your problem isn't with libertarians, it's that the police aren't omniscient.Well, yes. Lack of omniscience in humans is one significant problem with libertarianism.

Whack-a-Mole
08-18-2011, 02:42 PM
Here’s how I see environmental problems being handled in a possible “Libertopia” scenario. It’s hard to do, since it seems if there are 100 Libertarians in a room, there will be 100 different opinions on what “Libertopia’ would look like.

So it will be easy for someone to step in and say “but MY Libertopia would not be like that”.

However….
Company A is mining a Techronium deposit. Very valuable – The investors are happy, and Techronium is produced. The tailings go into a pond near the mine. There are no regulations about how to dispose of Techronium tailings because… well no regulations. Regulations just stifle new industry.

Some years later, the residents of Townville just downstream from the mine start to see an increase in cancers. It’s not like everyone is dropping dead, but the cancer rate seems to be very high. Folks start to suspect something is wrong. Unfortunately, there is no centralized Centre for Disease control to conduct epidemiological studies. No problem though! The town contracts for a private epidemiological study. The study shows that the cancer rate is indeed high, and implicates runoff from the Techronium tailings upstream.


Something much like this has happened.

Read about the Love Canal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Canal#Health_problems.2C_activism.2C_and_site_cleanup) mess.

A few tidbits from that link:

In the following years, Gibbs led an effort to investigate community concerns about the health of its residents; she and other residents made repeated complaints of strange odors and "substances" that surfaced in their yards. In Gibbs' neighborhood, there was a high rate of unexplained illnesses, miscarriages, and mental retardation.[16] Furthermore, basements were often covered with a thick, black substance, and vegetation was also dying. In many yards, the only vegetation that grew were shrubby grasses.[18] Although city officials were asked to investigate the area, they did not act to solve the problem.

<snip>

However, when Eckhardt C. Beck (EPA Administrator for Region 2, 1977–1979) visited Love Canal in the late 1970s, he discerned the presence of toxic substances in the community:
“ I visited the canal area at that time. Corroding waste-disposal drums could be seen breaking up through the grounds of backyards. Trees and gardens were turning black and dying. One entire swimming pool had been popped up from its foundation, afloat now on a small sea of chemicals. Puddles of noxious substances were pointed out to me by the residents. Some of these puddles were in their yards, some were in their basements, others yet were on the school grounds. Everywhere the air had a faint, choking smell. Children returned from play with burns on their hands and faces.[19]

Robert Whalen, New York's Health Commissioner, also visited Love Canal and believed that the Canal constituted an emergency, stating: "Love Canal Chemical Waste Landfill constitutes a public nuisance and an extremely serious threat and danger to the health, safety and welfare of those using it, living near it or exposed to the conditions emanating from it, consisting among other things, of chemical wastes lying exposed on the surface in numerous places pervasive, pernicious and obnoxious chemical vapors and fumes affecting both the ambient air and the homes of certain residents living near such sites."[21] Whalen also instructed people to avoid going into their basements as well as to avoid fruits and vegetables grown in their gardens. People became very worried because many had consumed produce from their gardens for several years.[22] Whalen urged that all pregnant women and children under the age of two be removed from Love Canal as soon as possible.

However, local politicians were all but indifferent if not trying to mask the problem. The Mayor of Niagara Falls, Michael C. O'Laughlin, went so far as to say "There's nothing wrong here [in Love Canal]!" in order to address the irate residents of the area.

<snip>

Eventually, the government relocated more than 800 families and reimbursed them for their homes, and the United States Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), or the Superfund Act, that holds polluters accountable for their damages. In 1994, Federal District Judge John Curtin ruled that Hooker/Occidental had been negligent, but not reckless, in its handling of the waste and sale of the land to the Niagara Falls School Board. [this all started in 1976]

Bosstone
08-18-2011, 03:19 PM
However, local politicians were all but indifferent if not trying to mask the problem. The Mayor of Niagara Falls, Michael C. O'Laughlin, went so far as to say "There's nothing wrong here [in Love Canal]!" in order to address the irate residents of the area.A stirring argument in favor of small-town local government over soulless federal oversight.

Euphonious Polemic
08-18-2011, 03:34 PM
Something much like this has happened.

Read about the Love Canal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Canal#Health_problems.2C_activism.2C_and_site_cleanup) mess.

A few tidbits from that link:

And yet some would have that we eliminate the regulations and let the corporations have total control.

It's the old "some corporations ignore environmental regulations, so we should get rid of the regulations and then the corporations will somehow do the right thing."



A stirring argument in favor of small-town local government over soulless federal oversight.

This I just don't get. The federal agency was not "soulless", they were powerless. I really cannot see how a small-town local government would have more power, and fare better against corporations with huge financial assets behind them. Also, what is to stop the corporation from just doing it again in the next small town?

It's about the power balance.

Right now, corporations have great advantages, and are even powerful enough to stymie federal agencies' regulations. The solution to that is not to give them even more power.

Sam Stone
08-18-2011, 03:40 PM
Libertarians are not against the idea of environmental regulation, or any regulations that prevent externalities from harming 3rd parties.

The core principle of libertarianism is that people do not have the right to initiate force against others. Transactions should be voluntary, and individual liberty held as the highest moral cause.

Therefore, it is against libertarian philosophy for two people to come to an agreement which results in damages to a third person not party to that agreement. Two people can't legally contract with each other to steal a third person's car and split the proceeds.

In the case of the environment, two people cannot contract with each other to engage in an activity which puts effluviant into the drinking water of a third person. This is an externality cost being borne by someone who did not agree to it, and therefore it falls under the same heading as fraud, theft, extortion, and other behaviors that libertarians consider illegal and which warrant state intervention.

Now, before someone goes off and finds a quote from a libertarian saying that environmental regulations are anti-libertarian, I'll point out that the simple principle, like all simple principles, can be difficult to apply to the real world in consistent fashion. Everyone imposes externalities on other people. By just breathing I'm putting CO2 into the air. If I build a house in front of a park, someone's view of the park is obscured. So there are legitimate questions as to how much intervention should be allowed by the government, and just what types of externalities we are going to subject to regulation.

The libertarian answer here is that government intervention should be the last resort, not the first. If market mechanisms can be found to solve the problem, they are preferable to government edict.

Let me give you an example: Public roads are a common good. However, when roads get crowded, every car that enters the road creates an externality for everyone else in the form of additional congestion. If I make a decision to enter a crowded freeway, I have just imposed a small additional cost in time and gas on everyone else.

So what's the solution?

The big government, interventionist solution might be to mandate smaller cars, or raise taxes to pay for additional road construction, or to build high-speed trains, or to force everyone into buses or light-rail transit, or to set up zoning laws that prevent businesses or houses from being built in areas that would lead to more usage of the congested road.

A libertarian would say that the problem is that people aren't paying for the externality. So long as we can make everyone internalize the cost of congestion, the problem will go away on its own. We don't know HOW it will go away - the market will find a solution. Our job is to simply make sure that people pay the real costs of using the road.

So a valid libertarian solution might be congestion charges. If you can calculate the cost imposed by using a congested road, you simply charge people more for using the road when it's busy. Once we've done that, the market can figure out how to efficiently allocate a scarce resource. For example, if it costs more to drive to work from 8 AM to 9 AM, some companies at the end of congested roads may move to a start time of 9 to 10. Telecommuting may have more value. New companies will have an incentive to build in areas where there is spare road capacity instead of in business parks served by congested roads. More people might take the bus. Maybe the market will devise another solution we haven't thought of yet. Perhaps private roads will spring up around the public one if the congestion charges make new roads profitable.

The point is that libertarians aren't interested in telling you what to do. They don't care how you solve the economic problem of using congested roads. They're confident that free people can sort that out themselves, once the cost of congestion is transferred back to the people causing it.

There's your example of a very practical libertarian solution to real world problems today. Note that there's still a government involved, because to be practical we have to accept that government exists. And I'm sure you can find libertarians that will srceam, "No! No government! Privatize all roads!" - just as you can find 'liberals' who think that government should nationalize the oil industry and other liberals who disagree.

The important point to take from this is that libertarians do not want to control behavior. To the extent that we need government, it should only be as a referee, to make sure that people aren't coerced and that they pay for what they use. In practice, that can result in a fairly large government because society is complex. But there is a bright line between being a referee and being a nanny. Government should not attempt to shape society. It should not try to micro-manage our affairs. It should not force specific solutions on the people. It should not be activist. It has no business taxing people to pay for other people's retirement. The tax code should not bias one choice against another (for example, giving tax credits for having children, while applying punitive taxes on luxuries). Government should not be the controller or director of society, using the power of force to push people around in ways that central planners deem to be 'better'.

Libertarians recognize that markets can fail. They can fail not just because of externalities, but because of information asymmetries, natural limitations such as there being room for only one road out of town. The libertarian answer to failed markets is that the government has a role to play to keep markets working properly. Again, there's a bright line here: A regulation which corrects a defect in the market so that market-based choices work again is fine. A regulation which replaces the market with government edict is not. Nor are regulations which distort markets to produce outcomes that central planners think are better, such as subsidizing specific choices or taxing specific behaviors to achieve some larger social goal.

And most emphatically, libertarians do not believe in 'collective' rights. They do not believe you can have a right to the output of someone else's work. Thus there can be no 'right' to health care, no 'right' to a living wage, no 'right' to shelter. None of these things can exist unless someone else provides them. For example, the only way you can assure someone's 'right' to health care is to stomp on a doctor's right to choose who he or she wishes to treat. In libertarian philosophy, this is immoral.

And needless to say, wealth distribution through taxation is anathema to libertarians.

Whack-a-Mole
08-18-2011, 03:56 PM
This I just don't get. The federal agency was not "soulless", they were powerless. I really cannot see how a small-town local government would have more power, and fare better against corporations with huge financial assets behind them. Also, what is to stop the corporation from just doing it again in the next small town?


I think he was being facetious.

Whack-a-Mole
08-18-2011, 04:09 PM
And most emphatically, libertarians do not believe in 'collective' rights. They do not believe you can have a right to the output of someone else's work. Thus there can be no 'right' to health care, no 'right' to a living wage, no 'right' to shelter. None of these things can exist unless someone else provides them. For example, the only way you can assure someone's 'right' to health care is to stomp on a doctor's right to choose who he or she wishes to treat. In libertarian philosophy, this is immoral.

And needless to say, wealth distribution through taxation is anathema to libertarians.

We've seen what this produces in the early 1900's in the United States.

It was characterized by a small class of exceptionally wealthy people, profound corruption among those in power and crushing poverty for a wide swath of society. Wage slavery was rampant. (Something we seem to be running back to currently)

I know, in Libertopia this is all somehow magically avoided. As with most wishful thinking it ignores very real human nature and abundant examples that this Utopian vision is anything more than a fantasy.

Oddly society prospered as progressive taxation and social safety nets came into being. Far from robbing the rich and giving to the poor the rich propsered too and made even more money.

Go figure...

Dr. Strangelove
08-18-2011, 04:14 PM
Are you suggesting that Libertarians in the US cannot be regarded as "conservatives"? Obviously some differences on social policy exist but in that Libertarians are little different from conservatives as a whole. There is disagreement in the ranks about appropriate social policy.

Correct--I would not regard libertarians as conservative. Someone with conservative social beliefs is not a libertarian, IMO--except perhaps for abortion, where the primary question is when personhood is gained.

Even on the economics side, libertarians are quite distinct from conservatives. Conservatives are, generally speaking, pro-business, whereas libertarians are pro-free-market. The distinction is important.

EPA fines, under the current system, do not preclude someone from suing a company for damages. So, in our system, the company faces fines and lawsuits.

I wonder about this. It seems like "following EPA regs" would be a very good defense in areas that the EPA covers (we agree that for areas that the EPA doesn't cover, both models work the same). Can you provide a cite for a case where, for instance, a company emitted a pollutant but within regulated levels, and nevertheless lost a separate lawsuit?

Bosstone
08-18-2011, 04:17 PM
I think he was being facetious.Quite sarcastic, in fact.

Moderate libertarians tend to advocate for crippling federal power and returning power to the states, or even better to individual communities. But Love Canal shows that the neighborhood in question had zero power despite their active attempts to figure out what was happening, and the city government sided with the chemical company. It took federal and state intervention to do anything about it, and by then it was too late to do anything other than relocate.

Dr. Strangelove
08-18-2011, 04:32 PM
What good is a lawsuit going to do when you find that a long defunct company secretly buried poison under its property and only now is it leaching out and rendering your entire town uninhabitable?

How defunct? If the executives are still around, I'd favor going after them.

And yet again, I ask how is that any different from today? All the EPA regulations in the world won't stop a company from secretly burying toxic waste on their property. Most likely, it's only found out until the damage has been done.

Yes; the infamous Ford Pinto Memo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Pinto#Allegations_and_lawsuits) is an example of that.

A famous one. But I have to wonder how that is any different from the millions of similar decisions made when constructing any dangerous artifact.

Take any low-cost car. Someone, somewhere must have made a decision on which brake system, or tires, or whatever to add. At some point there was a choice--do we spend an extra $10 on the brakes and decrease stopping distances by 5 feet? And if they had bothered to do the math, they'd probably find that some dozens of lives would be saved with the improved brakes; not on a low-speed rear-ending, of course, but on those edge cases where a person's spine only barely fractured, and a change of a few miles per hour would have made an enormous difference.

The only difference with the Pinto is that people were appalled that someone had gone through with the math, and specifically that the cost was so cheap ($11). Statistically, though, the car was no more dangerous than similar cars at the time. Other vehicles must have similar, but perhaps less obvious tradeoffs.

Do you think the Pinto case is fundamentally different, and if so, why?

Dr. Strangelove
08-18-2011, 04:41 PM
Read about the Love Canal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Canal#Health_problems.2C_activism.2C_and_site_cleanup) mess.

I think these parts are important:
Hooker Chemical had sold the site to the Niagara Falls School Board in 1953 for $1, with a deed explicitly detailing the presence of the waste,[1] and including a liability limitation clause about the contamination.

The Niagara Falls City School District needed land to build new schools, and attempted to purchase the property from Hooker Chemical that had been used to bury toxic waste. The corporation refused to sell, citing safety concerns, and took members of the school board to the canal and drilled several bore holes to demonstrate that there were toxic chemicals below the surface. However, the board refused to capitulate.[1] Eventually, faced with the property being condemned and/or expropriated, Hooker Chemical agreed to sell on the condition that the board buy the entire property for one dollar.

It appears to me that the school district is utterly at fault here. Buried waste is not a problem as long as it is isolated. But the school, knowing full well about the waste, essentially forced Hooker Chemical to sell. Perhaps you can explain why you think the corporation is at fault.

Whack-a-Mole
08-18-2011, 04:44 PM
Correct--I would not regard libertarians as conservative. Someone with conservative social beliefs is not a libertarian, IMO--except perhaps for abortion, where the primary question is when personhood is gained.

Even on the economics side, libertarians are quite distinct from conservatives. Conservatives are, generally speaking, pro-business, whereas libertarians are pro-free-market. The distinction is important.


"Free markets" are a bad idea. Capitalism in its purest form (unregulated markets, let business sort it out) inevitably leads to a monopoly/oligopoly. Again, we saw this in the early 1900's in the United States. You end up with markets that are anything but free. Innovation is stifled, prices soar, most everyone is screwed.

So, does Libertopia have anti-trust regulations? Now you are regulating the markets.

Do you have an SEC that stomps on things like insider trading and people trying to corner markets and such? Whoops...more regulation.

You can keep this up for a long time. In the end you end up with something much like we have and not Libertopia.


I wonder about this. It seems like "following EPA regs" would be a very good defense in areas that the EPA covers (we agree that for areas that the EPA doesn't cover, both models work the same). Can you provide a cite for a case where, for instance, a company emitted a pollutant but within regulated levels, and nevertheless lost a separate lawsuit?

I agree it would be difficult to pursue a lawsuit if the polluter followed all the EPA guidelines. Perhaps not impossible but it'd be an uphill battle and that seems about right to me. If a business owner complies with regulations they should not be punished.

emacknight
08-18-2011, 05:14 PM
It seems to me that I could dump arsenic down my own well all the live-long day, and people would be hard pressed to prove that it was my arsenic that was poisoning their land and/or water supply.

What would you drink?

In other words, yes, you could shoot yourself in the head all you want. And it's true that a stray bullet may injure someone else. But can you not see the problem with what you posted? Do you have no vested interest in an arsenic-free well?

As a semi-interesting anecdote, my in-laws live in rural Goa, India. They have a well, chickens, a few pigs, and a machine shop where they make wrote-iron metal gates.

I don't know whether or not India has an EPA or environmental regulations, but they certainly weren't followed on this property. Eventually one of the workers washed a bunch of stuff with a toxic substance that killed all their animals. Now they practice a rather strict self-imposed set of regulations to keep from poisoning themselves. Avoiding death tends to be a pretty powerful motivator.

What should be highlighted here is the need for information. People often do things simply without knowing the consequences, and once corrected they may self correct. Smoking is not one of those things.

Czarcasm
08-18-2011, 05:25 PM
What would you drink?Bottled water. Running a corporation, I can afford to have it shipped in. In other words, yes, you could shoot yourself in the head all you want. And it's true that a stray bullet may injure someone else. But can you not see the problem with what you posted? Do you have no vested interest in an arsenic-free well?Not really. Dumping it down the well is a lot cheaper than hauling it out, I'm only using the land to build factories on so who gives a crap about whether plants will ever grow on it again, and I can always abandon it if it becomes entirely useless and buy another plot of land elsewhere.

emacknight
08-18-2011, 05:27 PM
asked and answered

Bosstone
08-18-2011, 05:27 PM
I don't know whether or not India has an EPA or environmental regulations, but they certainly weren't followed on this property. Eventually one of the workers washed a bunch of stuff with a toxic substance that killed all their animals. Now they practice a rather strict self-imposed set of regulations to keep from poisoning themselves. Avoiding death tends to be a pretty powerful motivator.Yet you only have to fail once. What if that toxic substance had killed all the humans on the property as well? They don't get an option to try again after that.

emacknight
08-18-2011, 05:40 PM
Bottled water.

How do you know it doesn't have arsenic in it???

I'm only using the land to build factories on

This is an entirely different discussion that what was occurring with respect to neighbours living next to each other. Is that really what you consider to be an honest discussion?

So to answer your specific question, even though Dr Strangelove has already done so several times, if your factory is poisoning anyone that is a crime. You are not allowed to do things that harm me. If you dumping in your well kills my livestock, you have caused me financial harm. The result plays out the same as it would today. Except instead of a regulation that says, "don't pollute" we have a law that says, "you can't kill someone else's livestock or poison their family."

What is it about this that confuses you still?

Dumping it down the well is a lot cheaper than hauling it out,

Which is actually a CURRENT problem, not a new issue with libertarianism. Right now factory farms allow huge amounts of toxic run off, most notably into the Mississippi. This happens because consumers are either too stupid or too cheap to care.

But your question could just as easily be, "Why should i buy the land when I could just shoot you and move in?" If you don't know the answer you haven't been paying any attention at all. If you do know the answer I'm not sure why you would have posted the question you posed.

so who gives a crap about whether plants will ever grow on it again, and I can always abandon it if it becomes entirely useless and buy another plot of land elsewhere.

You could if you didn't ever plan to sell it. Which is also a current problem, especially since there are lots of legal ways to destroy your property and ruin its value.

Just so this is clear: I don't give a fuck what you do to yourself or your personal property. If you want to salt the land, marry a dude, smoke some weed, then shoot yourself in the head, be my guest. But you are not allowed to harm me, or my property. It's that simple.

emacknight
08-18-2011, 05:42 PM
Yet you only have to fail once. What if that toxic substance had killed all the humans on the property as well? They don't get an option to try again after that.

Sure, and what if there had been regulations that they ignored?

Czarcasm
08-18-2011, 05:48 PM
Just so this is clear: I don't give a fuck what you do to yourself or your personal property. If you want to salt the land, marry a dude, smoke some weed, then shoot yourself in the head, be my guest. But you are not allowed to harm me, or my property. It's that simple.If I "salt the land" as you put it-use it up, screw it up and toss it away...who's land is it to fix(if it can be fixed, that is)? How many properties do I get to screw up and over-as many as I can afford?
Have you ever heard of the term "Ecosystem"?

Bosstone
08-18-2011, 05:49 PM
Sure, and what if there had been regulations that they ignored?:confused:

They would still have died.

You seem dead set on trying to prove that regulations aren't a perfect defense. Of course they're not. But they drastically reduce the need for every homestead or every company to go through the same potentially lethal trial-and-error.

Whack-a-Mole
08-18-2011, 05:54 PM
Just so this is clear: I don't give a fuck what you do to yourself or your personal property. If you want to salt the land, marry a dude, smoke some weed, then shoot yourself in the head, be my guest. But you are not allowed to harm me, or my property. It's that simple.

What if Czarcasm runs a coal burning power plant a few miles away.

How much air pollution is it ok for him to spew into the air? Even a little bit is harmful and some is unavoidable but having electricity is important too and he is the only guy who makes it.

He is harming you. No two ways about it. Who decides how much is too much air pollution? You? The guy with asthma? Your grandma who is on oxygen?

Cheshire Human
08-18-2011, 06:13 PM
I think Greg Egan had a book along these lines.... Teranesia, maybe? And maybe Steven Gould too.

Also Larry Niven and Steven Barnes, in Saturn's Race (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003J5UIMI/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0812580109&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=007JK037HXNK1YENH3FR), published in 2001

Euphonious Polemic
08-18-2011, 07:00 PM
So to answer your specific question, even though Dr Strangelove has already done so several times, if your factory is poisoning anyone that is a crime. You are not allowed to do things that harm me. If you dumping in your well kills my livestock, you have caused me financial harm. The result plays out the same as it would today. Except instead of a regulation that says, "don't pollute" we have a law that says, "you can't kill someone else's livestock or poison their family."


Fine. Then prove it was me who got arsenic in the water supply. Prove it was MY arsenic and not someone else's. Or naturally occuring. And by the way, I have a very large law firm on retainer, as well as a very large public relations firm that will be asking some very pointed questions about you in the media.

And there is now a grass-roots movement started, called "Friends of emacnight's town water" And they don't take very kindly to your accusations, sir.

Euphonious Polemic
08-18-2011, 07:03 PM
You seem dead set on trying to prove that regulations aren't a perfect defense. Of course they're not. But they drastically reduce the need for every homestead or every company to go through the same potentially lethal trial-and-error.

We have a winner! QFT.

Breaking down the country into separate little areas of control (no Federal regulations) would lead to effective control by larger and larger corporations to do what they damn well pleased.

straight man
08-18-2011, 08:42 PM
General comment: Michael Sandel has an interesting argument about what he calls "free market triumphalism" (self-explanatory term). Using market manipulation to discourage problems, he argues, changes the nature of those problems from moral to economic. Moral impediments (including laws) discourage acts beyond the actual material penalties they incur; if those impediments are changed to mere fees, they cease to have the same effect. The minor example he uses is that of a daycare that started charging parents a tidy sum ($50, I think) if they arrived late to pick up their children, hoping to eliminate the problem. Instead, people started being late more often. Anyway, there's more to it than that, and if you can get a copy of his Reith lectures, they're worth a listen (unfortunately, AFAIK they are no longer available in the podcast form that I heard them in, or I would give a link.)

More specific (slightly off-topic) comment:

Let me give you an example: Public roads are a common good. However, when roads get crowded, every car that enters the road creates an externality for everyone else in the form of additional congestion. If I make a decision to enter a crowded freeway, I have just imposed a small additional cost in time and gas on everyone else.

You actually picked an odd example. In the case of congestion, the externality is not an externality; it is felt only by others who use the good, so it causes exactly no market distortion. Anti-congestion measures like bus lanes, bike lanes, mass transit, etc., are generally a good idea precisely because they are a subsidy to businesses; they let workers and consumers get in and out of a populated area more smoothly. If the government charges a fee to use a road, it merely indicates that the good in question is now scarce, and the government sees fit to at (often only partially) recuperate their subsidy; if private corporations step in, it presumably indicates that the subsidy has been entirely recuperated.

Chronos
08-18-2011, 08:47 PM
Without regulations: I have three neighbors all dumping arsenic on their properties, and some of it's leaking onto my property. If I sue the one to the east of me, he just claims that it can't be his arsenic, it must be the guy to my west, because the water table drainage runs west-to-east. If I sue the one to my west, he claims that the water table drainage runs east-to-west. If the guy two properties over to my east tries to sue my neighbor, he turns around and says that the drainage runs east-to-west. A hydrologist gets involved (how? Who hires him?) and says that in his professional opinion, he can't tell which way the water table drains, and doesn't know whom I should sue.

With regulations: I have three neighbors who dump arsenic on their properties. I report all three to the regulatory agency, and the agency tells all three to knock it off. It might also fine all of them, and disburse the fines to all the folks who are suffering from arsenic leaks, no matter where they are. If there's need for a hydrologist, the regulatory agency is the one who hires him, but they might not even need to at all, since no matter which way the arsenic is flowing, all of the dumpers are still at fault.

Which system works better at preventing my neighbors from harming me?

gatorslap
08-19-2011, 02:58 AM
Only very slightly. A lawsuit seems virtually guaranteed if there is an actual negative effect on someone. If there is no actual negative effect... should it have been regulated in the first place?

In an alternate history with no regulatory agencies and no Montreal Protocol, who is the plaintiff in a suit over CFCs causing ozone depletion? Or do we just let that continue to happen?

emacknight
08-20-2011, 11:56 AM
Fine. Then prove it was me who got arsenic in the water supply. Prove it was MY arsenic and not someone else's. Or naturally occuring. And by the way, I have a very large law firm on retainer, as well as a very large public relations firm that will be asking some very pointed questions about you in the media.

And there is now a grass-roots movement started, called "Friends of emacnight's town water" And they don't take very kindly to your accusations, sir.

This isn't an argument against Libertarianism, how do you not realize this?

So again, here it is for you, are you ready?

Even with regulations, all the regulations you can imagine, and then some, even the most perfect of all regulations, how is the government/regulator going to *prove* it was your arsenic in the water?

And if they try, you've got lots of money, and lots of lawyers, while the government/regulator has a fixed fund.

Even if your regulatory agency gets through all that, the limited liability you gave to the company means they can go bankrupt and pay nothing. The execs start a new company and the whole mess starts again. Right NOW General Motors is fighting to claim it was the *previous* GM (no relation to the current GM) that killed people, so can't be at fault.

Do you see how the system you hate so much isn't any different than the system you love?

This is what I said earlier about trying to have it both ways. All the things that make it difficult for me to sue my polluting neighbour make it just as hard for the government to enforce regulations. And the harder it is for me the harder it is for the government.

Yet, I could easily have more resources than the government. Why should I have to wait for the slow wheels of government to grind along? Why should I have to make repeated calls to the EPA for them to get off their asses? How long will it take for them to get around to my problem? And what's to say this super rich arsenic company isn't a key contributor to the current government and a major employer in the area, and providing most of the tax revenue that funds the very regulators that are supposed to shut it down?

Euphonious Polemic
08-20-2011, 12:06 PM
This isn't an argument against Libertarianism, how do you not realize this?

So again, here it is for you, are you ready?

Even with regulations, all the regulations you can imagine, and then some, even the most perfect of all regulations, how is the government/regulator going to *prove* it was your arsenic in the water?

See post #136: Moral impediments vs. fixed fees. Laws and regulations will tend to stop people from doing acts that society has deemed as "Bad". If you make those same acts purely a financial decision, then it becomes easier to justify.

Also, the regulations don't have to prove that the arsenic you put down the well is polluting someone else's land. The regulations prevent you from putting the arsenic down your own well, full stop. It's very difficult to show where a chemical came from when it can move 100's of miles and still pollute water. It's much easier to show that you have arsenic, and you are not properly disposing of it according to regulations.

Do you not see this? The problem is that pollution travels. And it is very hard to show where it has come from once it is out in the big world.

emacknight
08-20-2011, 12:08 PM
Where I grew up government regulations prevented Sunday shopping, I assume to save lives and prevent arsenic poisoning.

The city became a stopping point for cruise ships which was a huge boom for the tourist industry along the water. Problem was that the cruise ships arrived on either Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

One of the shop keepers realized that he could make way more money if he stayed open on Sunday, and then paid the fine. Law abiding shop keepers missed out and suffered as a result.

While this was happening, a very popular produce store realized that there were a couple of loopholes in the regulations based on size. These loopholes were to allow farmer's markets and flea markets to operate on Sunday. I guess those don't poison people with arsenic. This shop realized that having the 5 cash registers all in one place (like a normal store) made them one store. But if they spread out the 5 registers, and called each section a different store, they could open on Sunday.

Can anyone tell me who Sunday shopping hurts?

emacknight
08-20-2011, 12:12 PM
Do you not see this? The problem is that pollution travels. And it is very hard to show where it has come from once it is out in the big world.

Yes, I know this, which is why I know regulations fail and arsenic can still end up in drinking water.

You seem to think of arsenic as bad, and the government as having the ability to regulate it. Do you know what else contains arsenic? Cigarettes.

Can you tell me why cigarettes are still legally sold and smoked? I've asked a few times now.

ETA "Also, the regulations don't have to prove that the arsenic you put down the well is polluting someone else's land. The regulations prevent you from putting the arsenic down your own well, full stop."

And this is where the corruption and incompetence of a government comes into play. If the arsenic isn't going any where, or hurting anyone, what's the point of the rule? And if you can't "prove it" as you said, right there, the regulations don't have to prove anything, it's pretty easy to go after small levels of arsenic that aren't hurting anyone.

Euphonious Polemic
08-20-2011, 12:28 PM
Yes, I know this, which is why I know regulations fail and arsenic can still end up in drinking water.


Your argument boils down to "regulations can't stop anything so why have them."

By this logic, we should also eliminate laws that say you can't murder anyone. After all, these laws don't stop murderers. Murders still happen all the time. So we might as well eliminate the laws, and just have the heirs of murdered people take the murderers to civil court.

emacknight
08-20-2011, 12:36 PM
If you'd argue (general you) that of course fire service needs to be spread among society and is acceptable to tax, well, that just proves you do think there are some things government is better at than the private sector. At that point we know what you are, we're just haggling over the price.

:confused:

They would still have died.

You seem dead set on trying to prove that regulations aren't a perfect defense. Of course they're not. But they drastically reduce the need for every homestead or every company to go through the same potentially lethal trial-and-error.

I'm not sure if you're aware or not, but the legal system in the US is based on "innocent until proven guilty." We leave the burden of proof on the accuser, not the accused. It is up to the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed a crime.

In a court of law, there is a test performed to see if an innocent person is found innocent, and a guilty person found guilty.

Each of those test cases has an error associated with it: innocent person sent to jail, guilty person set free. To try and reduce the rate of one means increasing the rate of the other.

Libertarianism is based on the idea that regulations (and government interference) are bad unless proven beyond a reasonable doubt that they'll do more good than harm.

The alternative is to assume that regulations are good, and those that fail can be fixed with more regulations.

This thread, Distilling For Personal Use (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=619828) is a very good example of a regulation that fails to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it's delivering on its claim. Same goes for rules against Sunday shopping. But once of the books, once an innocent man is found guilty, it becomes increasingly difficult for him to then prove innocents. But for a guilty man to be free, there is plenty of opportunity for the prosecutor to continue building a case.

What's funny about you guys bitching about environmental laws is that it took a huge push to get the government to do something, meanwhile coal fired plants continue to spew toxins into the air, but now below the government prescribed levels. Factory farms continue to allow run off into local rivers.

That same effort by those same people could also work without regulations. Right now in your grocery store you can *choose* between regular vs organic produce. There are those that believe regular is fine, and those that think it's covered in poison. The result being that organic, local, sustainable has extremely profitable. The market has spoken.

Wearing sunscreen is a good way to avoid skin cancer. It's the same safety concern as seat belts and helmets. But the government isn't forcing people to wear it. Why is that? Skin cancer kills about 12,000 a year.

emacknight
08-20-2011, 12:55 PM
Your argument boils down to "regulations can't stop anything so why have them."

By this logic, we should also eliminate laws that say you can't murder anyone. After all, these laws don't stop murderers. Murders still happen all the time. So we might as well eliminate the laws, and just have the heirs of murdered people take the murderers to civil court.

And here we see you don't understand the difference between a law and a regulation.

You realize that having the law against murder doesn't stop it, why not have more regulations? Can't we regulate our way to have fewer murders?

Psychopaths will kill, and very little will stop them. So why treat us all has psychopaths and subject has all to an endless series of meaningless rules?

Look at the progression of regulations trying to stop drunk driving. If a car crash kills, why does it matter so much if the driver was drunk? But seems to matter less if the person was old, or incompetent, or just shitty at driving?

We as a society have started to recognize that drinking while drunk increases the chances that you'll kill, so we've put in more and more regulations to try and prevent it. But each regulation moves further along the chain:

start: drunk driver that has killed someone (which is bad, so we want to stop it)
-> drunk driver that might kill someone
-> drunk that might drive
-> driver that might be drunk
-> person that might become drunk

When the initial regulation fails, the push is for more. So we ramp up the penalty, but that doesn't work. So we move further down the chain, which means further from an actual criminal. We now stop people at random check points and demand they prove they aren't drunk. Even on this message board there have been calls to make everyone have a starter interrupt device. And we still have the teetotalers that don't want anyone to drink and use these deaths to further their cause. I've even seen calls for the police to be stationed outside of bars.

Notice still the arbitrary use of the 0.08 blood alcohol limit. Which doesn't seem to work so people want to push it lower and lower. Some areas have a 0.05 limit where they stop you from driving. Most graduated systems say no alcohol at all.

But in spite of all of this, there has been a gradual shift in society away from driving drunk, just as more and more people wear their seat belts and put on sunscreen. Meanwhile, those intent on driving drunk tend to be way over the limit, and caught after the accident.

And more to the point, insurance companies have their own rules, and have recognized the cost to them if drivers are drunk.

Czarcasm
08-20-2011, 01:08 PM
Where I grew up government regulations prevented Sunday shopping, I assume to save lives and prevent arsenic poisoning.If you are not going to argue in good faith, why should we bother to respond?

Euphonious Polemic
08-20-2011, 01:21 PM
Your points about laws vs. regulations really make little sense, and are merely an exercise in moving definitions around the chess board. Your attempt at painting a slippery slope example with drunk driving does not really work either.

Call them laws, rules, regulations, whatever. The point is that societies by and large have decided that the require these in order to give the citizens a sense of what is allowed and what is not allowed. There is no society that I'm aware of that does not codify a set of rules (call them what you will).

What you are really missing here is that we live in a complex, interconnected natural world. Let's call it an "ecosystem". This means that your actions do not stop at your property boundries. The things that you do have an impact on others that may live next door, or indeed may live hundreds of miles away.

That is why we have decided that you cannot do whatever the fuck you please on your land and then maybe suffer some consequences later if and when someone is able to prove a direct causal relationship to the harm they have suffered.

This was true many years ago; Even the Romans had laws about where you could toss your sewage. It is even more true today, when the pollutants that modern industry creates are able to cause impacts thousands of miles away.

Your land is not an isolated box. Do you get this?

When we know that Chemical "A" causes harm, and that Chemical "A" can travel many miles away from its origin on your land, then as a society we have decided to codify a set of rules (regulations, laws, take your pick) that identifies that you cannot spew Chemical "A" on your land. This has the effect, for the most part (except for rule breakers) of preventing people or companies from spewing Chemical A on their land. Of course there are exceptions, but now those who do it KNOW they are breaking a law, rule, regulation and can face a known punishment.

We don't have to prove the ecosystem was harmed - we know it was, because Chemical A was put into the ecosystem. Your land is also part of the ecosystem. This is the part you don't get or don't care about. It's a CONNECTED, COMPLEX SYSTEM.

Czarcasm
08-20-2011, 02:12 PM
Now, if each Libertopian resident lived in a sealed biodome...

Euphonious Polemic
08-20-2011, 02:27 PM
Here's an example of how environmental regulations (laws, rules, guidelines, whatever) work - one I have personal knowledge of.

There's a forestry regulation that says you cannot harvest trees on a slope that exceeds a certain percentage on the west coast where in rains a lot. This is based on hydrological and forestry studies, as well as previous experience. This regulation is true even for privately owned land.

A particular large landowner and corporation figured "Fuck it, these regulations are bogus. We're in the boondocks and nobody will care what we do. We're going to cut these valuable trees down on the land we own."

A small company downslope owned the rights to seed and harvest clams on the sandy foreshore. Great clam habitat - fairly rare beach for this particular area. They made about 100k a year off this beach. They noticed the logging going on uphill and thought "What in holy hell are they doing?" They reported the company to the officials responsible for enforcing the rule/regulation/law/request. The company was contacted and told to cease and desist immediately or face a large fine. In the face of this regulation and the certain financial hit, and the knowledge they were being watched - they stopped work.

Later that year when the rains hit, the logged slope collapsed, sending tons of rock, trees and rubble down onto the beach below, rendering about 10% of it useless for clam production for the forseeable future (probably several decades minimum until the beach can build up again). Remediation of the beach was logistically and financially impossible due to the remote nature of the location,and the fact that environmental damage is near impossible to fix.

The small clam company did manage after many, many years in the courts to get some compensation out of the large forestry company for the 10% of the beach that was ruined. Luckily though, they were able to remain in business because 90% of the beach was OK. This was because the large forestry company was stopped by the bureaucrats and their regulations.

Under emacknights system, the large company would be free to do whatever they pleased, even if it was stupid in terms of good environmental forestry practice. They would have ruined 100% of the other guys beach, and made a tidy profit. The whole beach would have been damaged for decades rather than a portion. The small company would have gone out of business. Lawsuit? Perhaps. Years later they might have gotten some money. But the beach would be gone, the damage done.

Whack-a-Mole
08-20-2011, 04:45 PM
Now, if each Libertopian resident lived in a sealed biodome...

I think conservatives and especially libertarians have an inbuilt Somebody Else's Problem Field (SEP) as envisioned by Douglas Adams:

An S.E.P or 'Somebody Else's Problem field' is a cheap, easy, and staggeringly useful way of safely protecting something from unwanted eyes. It can run almost indefinitely on a flashlight battery, and is able to do so because it utilizes a person's natural tendency to ignore things they don't easily accept, like, for example, aliens at a cricket match. Any object around which an S.E.P is applied will cease to be noticed, because any problems one may have understanding it (and therefore accepting its existence) become Somebody Else's. An object becomes not so much invisible as unnoticed.

An S.E.P can work in much the same way in dangerous or uninhabitable environments. Any problems which may present itself to a person inside an S.E.P will become Somebody Else's.

SOURCE: http://hitchhikers.wikia.com/wiki/Somebody_Else%27s_Problem_field


Reading that again I think I am only half-joking here.

SeldomSeen
08-20-2011, 06:42 PM
What's funny about you guys bitching about environmental laws is that it took a huge push to get the government to do something, meanwhile coal fired plants continue to spew toxins into the air, but now below the government prescribed levels. Factory farms continue to allow run off into local rivers.

That same effort by those same people could also work without regulations. Right now in your grocery store you can *choose* between regular vs organic produce. There are those that believe regular is fine, and those that think it's covered in poison. The result being that organic, local, sustainable has extremely profitable. The market has spoken.

Not to derail the thread, but some of your examples beg for rebuttal. In the matter of coal fired power plants, the fact that emissions are below prescribed levels is a definite improvement over the status quo of 20 - 30 years ago. This is almost entirely due to environmental regulations that have been put in place over the years. Demand for electric power is mostly inelastic, which means the market can have very little direct effect in controlling the utilitie's emissions. It takes public (i.e. government) action to accomplish this. The Clean Air Act, which libertarians decried as government overreach and utilities said would bankrupt them, has actually been quite successful. The charts and graphs on this page (http://www.epa.gov/airtrends/aqtrends.html) detail air quality improvements over the last 30 years, although they do not directly detail the effects of coal-burning. Note, none of this is to say there are not further improvements to be made.

Regarding your statement:Factory farms continue to allow run off into local rivers This is something I've had quite a bit of personal experience with. I served for ten years as chairman of a local irrigation district, with responsibility for return (drainage) water quality. As such, I was representative to a larger working group which dealt with Clean Water Act implementation in the middle Snake River Basin or Oregon & Idaho. We had regarded the act with some trepedition, thinking it burdensome on individual farmers, but this turned out not to be the case. The EPA had set the basic maximum allowable toxin levels (known as TMDL's) for the river and its tributaries, but left the process up to state and local agencies, with grants-in-aid available and a generous time frame to come into compliance. Ours was one of the last regions in the country to have the CWA implemented and we had ample experience from other regions to draw from. The point is, factory farms and CAFO's are not allowed to continue polluting; the problem is being addressed, and the results are becoming apparant. The process is ongoing, the situation is not perfect, but it took government action, the regulatory action that you despise to bring it about.

I would also take issue (briefly) with your statement:The result being that organic, local, sustainable has extremely profitable. The market has spoken. Organically-grown food is strictly a niche market. As I've pointed out elsewhere on this forum, it is not especially profitable to the producer, it requires high inputs and is expensive to produce. Likewise, it is not very profitable to the retailer, since first cost is higher, requiring a lower markup in order to be competative, and because of its greater cost is not readily available to everyone, especially those with a limited food budget.

It's been shown, in this thread that libertarianism is probably not workable on a microcosmic scale such as "libertarian islands". Even on a macro scale, it is not really practical, except perhaps under primitive conditions. And no matter how much we may like to romanticize a simpler more primitive world, very few people would care to return to living that way. This, I think, is the primary argument against the libertarian ideal. Libertarians wish to turn back the social order to a more primitive world, that may only exist in their imaginations; a world that few really desire and which would not function well at any rate.
SS

emacknight
08-20-2011, 07:08 PM
If you are not going to argue in good faith, why should we bother to respond?

Do you seriously think you've been arguing in good faith, throughout any of these threads?

If you can't tell me what lives are saved by banning Sunday shopping, or why the government allows toxic cigarettes to be sold, why should anyone listen to the rest of your little quips about regulations?

We get it, libertarians scare you, move on.

emacknight
08-20-2011, 07:10 PM
In terms of the free market moving faster than the EPA, consider the chemical BPA found the coating used in water bottles. While the EPA is still deliberating manufacturers have started offering BPA-free bottles. By the time the EPA comes out with a ruling it's unlikely the substance will even be available.

emacknight
08-20-2011, 07:24 PM
Here's an example of how environmental regulations (laws, rules, guidelines, whatever) work - one I have personal knowledge of.

There's a forestry regulation that says you cannot harvest trees on a slope that exceeds a certain percentage on the west coast where in rains a lot. This is based on hydrological and forestry studies, as well as previous experience. This regulation is true even for privately owned land.

A particular large landowner and corporation figured "Fuck it, these regulations are bogus. We're in the boondocks and nobody will care what we do. We're going to cut these valuable trees down on the land we own."

A small company downslope owned the rights to seed and harvest clams on the sandy foreshore. Great clam habitat - fairly rare beach for this particular area. They made about 100k a year off this beach. They noticed the logging going on uphill and thought "What in holy hell are they doing?" They reported the company to the officials responsible for enforcing the rule/regulation/law/request. The company was contacted and told to cease and desist immediately or face a large fine. In the face of this regulation and the certain financial hit, and the knowledge they were being watched - they stopped work.

Later that year when the rains hit, the logged slope collapsed, sending tons of rock, trees and rubble down onto the beach below, rendering about 10% of it useless for clam production for the forseeable future (probably several decades minimum until the beach can build up again). Remediation of the beach was logistically and financially impossible due to the remote nature of the location,and the fact that environmental damage is near impossible to fix.

The small clam company did manage after many, many years in the courts to get some compensation out of the large forestry company for the 10% of the beach that was ruined. Luckily though, they were able to remain in business because 90% of the beach was OK. This was because the large forestry company was stopped by the bureaucrats and their regulations.

Under emacknights system, the large company would be free to do whatever they pleased, even if it was stupid in terms of good environmental forestry practice. They would have ruined 100% of the other guys beach, and made a tidy profit. The whole beach would have been damaged for decades rather than a portion. The small company would have gone out of business. Lawsuit? Perhaps. Years later they might have gotten some money. But the beach would be gone, the damage done.

This does nothing to show you know what the fuck you're talking about.

Notice that the government would have done nothing, at all, even after the guys logged the shit out of it. The government failed to regulate. And even with the regulations a huge section of the beach area was ruined.

Stop attacking "emacknights system" when you can't even address your own god damn world you currently live in and claim to have personal knowledge of.

In your current situation, that you described, and claimed to have personal knowledge of, what happens if the company had logged the shit out of that slope? Notice that the regulation did nothing to stop them.

So the company makes a bunch of quick money, pays their execs, then the slope gives way and destroyed the beach and kills a bunch of orphans.

Great, so the government fights them in courts for several years, maybe decades, before the company declares bankruptcy letting the execs walk away to start a new logging company.

Meanwhile, the beach is still ruined, and the fisherman is broker. Your regulations did nothing except make it more expensive for good loggers.

And as you've been told, repeatedly, but chosen to ignore, the fisherman would be entitled to seek damages. Just like in the current system, which he'll probably have to do anyways.

You are so completely blind to your partisan ideology that no regulation can fail, government can't do wrong. The clammer still had to seek an injunction to get it stopped. Which is how an libertarian system would work. You are not allowed to harm other people, what about that don't you get? The current system let's people hide behind corporate legalities. The regulator system let's the process get dragged out. And in the end the beach was still destroyed.

emacknight
08-20-2011, 07:59 PM
Your points about laws vs. regulations really make little sense, and are merely an exercise in moving definitions around the chess board. Your attempt at painting a slippery slope example with drunk driving does not really work either.

Bullshit, that you don't know the difference isn't my problem.

Call them laws, rules, regulations, whatever.

No, words have meanings. If you want to blur it all together as "rules" the discussion is meaningless. Libertarians aren't against laws, or rules, or order, or even some regulations for that matter. You've been told this countless times yet you continue to push forward beating a dead straw man.

The point is that societies by and large have decided that the require these in order to give the citizens a sense of what is allowed and what is not allowed. There is no society that I'm aware of that does not codify a set of rules (call them what you will).

Yup, wanna pick a few as examples? How about societies that don't let women show their faces? That's a pretty common one. How about eating pork? Or meat on Fridays? Or buy alcohol on Sundays? Or use an oven on a Saturday?

For all the rules that worked, how many have to be horrible failures that persist for decades after?

What you are really missing here is that we live in a complex, interconnected natural world.

No, that is the problem. The world is complex. Creating a rule to solve one problem usually leads to causing another, some call this the law of unintended consequences, but you can call it a rule if that helps you.

Even that example about logging brings up the same issue. What is the correct angle? Are their other factors? If the angle is set at X, the issue is complex, meaning that there will be areas <X that cause landslides, and areas that are >X that could be logged.

Just as there are people intoxicated at 0.07 and fine at 0.09. The world is complex.

Let's call it an "ecosystem". This means that your actions do not stop at your property boundries. The things that you do have an impact on others that may live next door, or indeed may live hundreds of miles away.

No one is denying that fact. And it's even been told to you a few times now that when the problem gets wide spread enough there is a need for government involvement.

That's right, Libertarianism includes government involvement, laws, rules, regulations. You know this, because you've been told this. Yet you love your little straw man so much you can't let it go.

That is why we have decided that you cannot do whatever the fuck you please on your land and then maybe suffer some consequences later if and when someone is able to prove a direct causal relationship to the harm they have suffered.

Is it too much that you bother to prove a direct causal relationship? What is the direct causal relationship that hurts people when two dudes get married? Or even, gasp, someone buys alcohol on a Sunday? See, those are regulations too.

This was true many years ago; Even the Romans had laws about where you could toss your sewage. It is even more true today, when the pollutants that modern industry creates are able to cause impacts thousands of miles away.

Yet, as you say this raw sewage flows from Canada into the US, and smog flows from the US into Canada. Where is the political will to correct that? I'd love to see the reaction if the EPA said it was going to shut down a factory because it was causing pollution in Canada.

Your land is not an isolated box. Do you get this?

Everyone gets this.

Libertarianism is not anarchy, do you get that yet?

When we know that Chemical "A" causes harm, and that Chemical "A" can travel many miles away from its origin on your land, then as a society we have decided to codify a set of rules (regulations, laws, take your pick) that identifies that you cannot spew Chemical "A" on your land.

Bullshit. Again look at the issue of BPA. Look at cigarettes. Look how long it takes the government to act. It was the US government that happily set of a series of atomic weapons, not evil faceless corporations.

This has the effect, for the most part (except for rule breakers) of preventing people or companies from spewing Chemical A on their land. Of course there are exceptions, but now those who do it KNOW they are breaking a law, rule, regulation and can face a known punishment.

And we're back to the punishment issue. In China the punishment for breaking an government regulation can be death. In the US it might be a fine. So what happens if the company sees it as more profitable to pay the fine than change their dumping practices?

And what's to say the government will get the regulation right? What happens when there is a conflict of interest?

Should we spray for mosquitoes or let people die from West Nile or Malaria? Should we allow pesticide use or accept widespread crop failure? Should we allow a river to be diverted for irrigation, or let crops die so that fish down stream aren't impacted.

Most of the examples you use speak more to an issue of information, that is to say, it takes time before people realize chemical A causes effect B. Most of the time people respond positively to the information by altering their behaviour. Fewer women smoke or drink during pregnancy. More people buckle their seat belts.

Even the regulation concerning logging is often met positively from companies that don't want to destroy the land, and simply needed the information made available.

Essentially, give people good information, and let them make their own decisions, and let them face the consequences of those actions. Instead, the situation you so badly want is to have the government play the role of mom in our society. Thank you, but I know to tie my shoe laces and where a hat when it's cold.

We don't have to prove the ecosystem was harmed - we know it was, because Chemical A was put into the ecosystem. Your land is also part of the ecosystem. This is the part you don't get or don't care about. It's a CONNECTED, COMPLEX SYSTEM.

Yes, most people know this because it was already pointed out to you. Libertarianism is not anarchy, it is not absent rules, laws, or regulations. It recognizes the world is complex, and acknowledges that often the world is so complex that the government trying to meddle makes things worse.

Euphonious Polemic
08-21-2011, 12:15 AM
This does nothing to show you know what the fuck you're talking about.

Notice that the government would have done nothing, at all, even after the guys logged the shit out of it. The government failed to regulate. And even with the regulations a huge section of the beach area was ruined.



Did you even read what I wrote? Go back and read it again, you didn't seem to comprehend.

The government did put in logging regulations. The company attempted to flout them. They were caught after they had only logged 10% of the area. They were told that they were on notice as being in non-compliance and continued logging would net them huge fines, in excess of the profits they stood to make. They stopped. 90% of the beach was saved. This is factual, it happened, and is an example of what properly enforced regulations do all the time.

In your system, a bankrupt clam farm would have been required to sue a multinational corporation that had just caused irreparable damage to the environment. Ya, I'm sure that would have turned out just great. And the other 90% of the beach would have been destroyed.

Euphonious Polemic
08-21-2011, 12:18 AM
You are so completely blind to your partisan ideology that no regulation can fail, government can't do wrong. The clammer still had to seek an injunction to get it stopped. Which is how an libertarian system would work. You are not allowed to harm other people, what about that don't you get? The current system let's people hide behind corporate legalities. The regulator system let's the process get dragged out. And in the end the beach was still destroyed.

Regulations can fail, and do so all the time. In this case, however, the clam farm did not have to go to court to seek an injunction. They reported to the regulatory body, who then contacted the forestry firm and told them they were in non compliance. You can read, can't you?

In the end, the beach was not destroyed. Please read before responding.

Euphonious Polemic
08-21-2011, 02:00 PM
Just thought I'd post this nugget from the What Texas got right (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=621232) Thread.


Originally Posted by emacknight
Laws, regulations, and rules are essential for a society to operate. Should seem obvious but some people have trouble with obvious.

And in this case, laws, rules and regulations that protect the environment from being destroyed for profit are essential for our society to operate.

emacknight
08-21-2011, 03:02 PM
Just thought I'd post this nugget from the What Texas got right (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=621232) Thread.

And in this case, laws, rules and regulations that protect the environment from being destroyed for profit are essential for our society to operate.

Read the thread, you missed a lot.

If the regulation actually works, that's great. But like you said, "Regulations can fail, and do so all the time." And what's the solution? More regulation. When those fail? More regulation.

The case in Texas shows how simple and effective a regulation can be, without the need for a massive Glass Steagall type act, or the Dodd one that followed.

But in the end, it all could have been avoided if people took it upon themselves to put equity into their houses.

Regulations only work if the people writing and enforcing them are capable of doing so.

Euphonious Polemic
08-21-2011, 03:47 PM
Read the thread, you missed a lot.

If the regulation actually works, that's great. But like you said, "Regulations can fail, and do so all the time." And what's the solution? More regulation. When those fail? More regulation.

No, the solution is to fix the regulation so that it works, not to put more ineffective regulations in place.


Regulations only work if the people writing and enforcing them are capable of doing so.

This is probably where we differ. You see the majority of regulations as being stupid and useless and written by idiots, with some being OK and in need of keeping.

I see the majority as being useful and workable, and written by people who know what they're doing (eg civil servants with expertise, not career politicians), with some being stupid and in need of re-writing or tossing.

Chronos
08-21-2011, 06:43 PM
Quoth emacknight:
Even with regulations, all the regulations you can imagine, and then some, even the most perfect of all regulations, how is the government/regulator going to *prove* it was your arsenic in the water? That's the point: Either way, they can't, but with the regulations, they don't have to. You're dumping arsenic? You get in trouble for it, whether it's seeping onto your neighbors' property or not.

And what do Sunday business laws have to do with anything? Even if we stipulate that that's a stupid regulation, so what? Just because one regulation is stupid doesn't mean they all are.

emacknight
08-27-2011, 04:32 PM
Did you even read what I wrote? Go back and read it again, you didn't seem to comprehend.

I'm going to walk you through your little story to show you all the things that had to happen for that regulation to keep sand out of your clam:

A small company downslope owned the rights to seed and harvest clams on the sandy foreshore. Great clam habitat - fairly rare beach for this particular area. They made about 100k a year off this beach. They noticed the logging going on uphill and thought "What in holy hell are they doing?" They reported the company to the officials responsible for enforcing the rule/regulation/law/request.

First, someone has to notice that the regulation is being violated. This is the busybody factor. And in this case the clammer had to know the logger wasn't supposed to be there. Otherwise you need little government agents roaming the hillsides checking the slope of every logging operation. Notice here that it might not have been the clammers that reported it, but instead a rival logging company. And note also that regulation might not have been violated. If you are a rival logger, or a pissed off clammer, regulations are a great way to screw with your competition. California tried this by having people call in to report drunk drivers, instead people called in to report people that pissed them off.

There's a forestry regulation that says you cannot harvest trees on a slope that exceeds a certain percentage

How sure are we that percentage is correct? Specialists say one number, environmentalists say another, logging industry says a third. Government law makers have to pick something that strikes a balance. Is 21 really the best age to start drinking? Is 55mph really the safest speed for a stretch of road? Did a group of geniuses get together and decide that Sunday was the best day to ban shopping and alcohol purchases?

The slope in question might have been below the regulation and still caused a slide, then what?

A particular large landowner and corporation figured "Fuck it, these regulations are bogus.

Here's the most crucial point. We get some fat monocle wearing, cigar smoking, overpaid CEO, sitting in his corner office, thousands of miles away. He looks at the balance sheets and decides to ignore the regulation, so he passes that down the chain. Everyone below him, all the way down to the guy with the chainsaw, also has to violate the regulation. Notice that in your story, everyone was okay with . No one had the integrity to walk off the job, or report to the regulatory authority. To them, a pay check was more important than the environment, but how many of them are held accountable?

We're in the boondocks and nobody will care what we do. We're going to cut these valuable trees down on the land we own."

In the face of this regulation and the certain financial hit, and the knowledge they were being watched - they stopped work.

Theses statements are at odds with each other. And notice that it's simply luck that the "financial hit" was high enough to stop them. Otherwise they might have just logged it anyways and paid the fine. That what retailers in Toronto did when they wanted to open on boxing day. The profit potential far out weighed the regulatory downside.

Later that year when the rains hit, the logged slope collapsed, sending tons of rock, trees and rubble down onto the beach below, rendering about 10% of it useless

Okay, so going forward, 10% loss is considered a functioning and acceptable regulation. So if the beach was used by sunbathers, 10% could die. 10% of bridges can fall. 10% of terrorists can get through security. 10% of wells can be poisoned. That's the gold standard you've set. So when bitching and complaining about what might happen without regulations, you'll need to show that it will actually be worse than 10% failure.

for clam production for the forseeable future (probably several decades minimum until the beach can build up again). Remediation of the beach was logistically and financially impossible due to the remote nature of the location,and the fact that environmental damage is near impossible to fix.

Impossible to fix. Like death, and bridges, you treat these regulations as if they're 100% effective, knowing full well they aren't, they are only 90%. That section of beach is ruined, and your regulations allowed that to happen. Instead of bothering with an effective system, you chose the half-assed version that that let 10% of the beach get destroyed, and a company get fined. Congrats, maybe stop helping.

Luckily though, they were able to remain in business because 90% of the beach was OK. This was because the large forestry company was stopped by the bureaucrats and their regulations.

Stopped for now. Was the company shut down? Was the CEO executed? Did the loggers lose their license to log? Or was it simply a fine?

Now, without regulations, this can play out three ways:

1. A busybody notices that action A might lead to effect B, so they go to a judge and ask for an injunction until it can be decided the area should be logged. And just like in your scenario this is what happens:

The company was contacted and told to cease and desist immediately or face a large fine.

2. The company logs the shit out of the area and destroys the entire beach, ruining the other guy's business. He goes to court and:

The small clam company did manage after many, many years in the courts to get some compensation out of the large forestry company for the 10% of the beach that was ruined.

But if the CEO and various employees can't hide behind corporate personhood, they are a lot more likely to take things like this seriously. For each logger involved, the possibility that he might face criminal actions would hopefully be enough to keep him from participating.

3. One of the loggers falls in love with one of the clammers, and together they launch a military campaign to save the sacred beach. Turns out to be box office gold.

emacknight
08-27-2011, 04:36 PM
Quoth emacknight:That's the point: Either way, they can't, but with the regulations, they don't have to. You're dumping arsenic? You get in trouble for it, whether it's seeping onto your neighbors' property or not.

You missed the point. How do you prove that they dumped arsenic? And what happens when the revenue the government makes from the arsenic dumper is so high that they're okay with a few people getting poisoned? You do know there is arsenic in cigarettes right? And the government loves the tax revenue.

And what do Sunday business laws have to do with anything? Even if we stipulate that that's a stupid regulation, so what? Just because one regulation is stupid doesn't mean they all are.

And just because one regulation is good doesn't mean they all are. Sunday business laws have everything to do with any discussion on regulation because it shows that the government isn't looking out for your well being, unless people get poisoned while shopping on Sundays.

But that's a law on the books that is hell to get removed. As is a drinking age of 21, and all the bullshit surrounding the war on drugs.

It looks more like the government is a blind squirrel that eventually finds a nut. And you guys are so happy with that nut you forget how many rocks it brought back.

Bryan Ekers
08-27-2011, 04:49 PM
3. One of the loggers falls in love with one of the clammers, and together they launch a military campaign to save the sacred beach. Turns out to be box office gold.

With a suitable title using the words "wood" and "clam", it can't miss!

Chronos
08-28-2011, 02:10 PM
You do know there is arsenic in cigarettes right?Of course I know that. There's everything in everything. Now, care to make a statement about quantities? Because I'm pretty sure that you'll find that there are regulations that list a maximum amount of arsenic allowable in cigarettes.

Not that it really matters that much, mind you, since it's insignificant compared to the nicotine and other poisons that are also in cigarettes.

Bryan Ekers
08-29-2011, 12:09 AM
So if the Libertarian Island happened to be off the east coast and is now in hurricane-smashed and flood-inundated ruins, what happens?

SeldomSeen
08-29-2011, 12:58 PM
So if the Libertarian Island happened to be off the east coast and is now in hurricane-smashed and flood-inundated ruins, what happens?

They pull themselves out of the mud by their bootstraps, each and every one. None o' this socialistic community organizing or guvmint aid for the likes of them!