Why America is in Trouble

87

OK, America is in trouble for a lot of reasons, but I recently had an on-line discussion that made clear a fundamental flaw in the way many Americans think. The flaw is so profound that it may be impossible to restore freedom in the country without a major program of reeducation.

Anyone who has read my author bio knows I’m a distance runner, thus I frequent websites related to the sport. One of these sites, Letsrun.com (LRC), has a very active message board, one of the busiest on the net. Obviously many of the posts are about running, but half are on other subjects, often politics. The board allows anonymous posting, thus civility and discretion go right out the window. The posts at LRC are blatantly and rawly honest, allowing some insight into how people think.

The week before Festivus (or if you prefer, Christmas) a poster who calls himself “Mundus” started a thread griping because he is not allowed to buy catastrophic insurance under Obamacare. Now, Mundus voted for Obama (twice!) and likes the Affordable Care Act, especially the individual mandate, but he’s not happy with how it affects him personally. Usually I’d just laugh at his self-inflicted problem, but he made a statement that I couldn’t let go – “I support the individual mandate for health insurance but would prefer a free market solution” (meaning he wants to be able to buy a catastrophic plan, NOT get rid of the mandate).

So I replied (Blowing Rock Master is my name on LRC) leading to the following exchange:

Blowing Rock Master: “Mandate” means force, “free market” means NO force. Your statement contradicts itself.

Mundus: I really feel sorry for folks like you. You have let the facts of day and night prevent you from ever enjoying the dusk.

Blowing Rock Master: So facts are meaningless?

Mundus: Not at all. But, I am just sorry that you can’t see the grey.

Blowing Rock Master: There wasn’t any gray in your statement. It was nonsensical. If I’m forced to buy something then freedom has been removed from the equation, thus it’s not a free market.

Mundus: Wow. I dont (sic) what to say. You live in a world where free markets are that black and white? Is the market free if there is any regulation? Because there is no such thing. Free markets have always had controls. Why am I arguing with someone who refuses to see anything but black and white.

(Another poster attempted to educate Mundus before I could respond, but I couldn’t hold back at this point …. OK, I was enjoying getting under his skin)

Blowing Rock Master: This has already been answered for you but I’ll reiterate – a free market does NOT have regulation. And your statement that “free markets have always had controls” is not only untrue, but illogical. Free is a word with an absolute meaning, you don’t have varying degrees of freedom. Either you’re free or you aren’t. When you compel someone to engage in an economic exchange, as with the insurance mandate, you’ve taken away his freedom, thus you can’t have a free market with a mandate.

Mundus: I am trying to ignore you but you are making it hard.Freedom doesn’t exist outside of control just like “there ain’t no dark til somethin’ shines.”You seriously have no idea what you are talking about. Just stop please.

Blowing Rock Master: Freedom doesn’t exist outside of control? So slaves are free? Prisoners are free? North Koreans are free? Here’s how Merriam Webster defines the word – “the quality or state of being free: as the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.” Where in the definition do you find the word “regulate”? Are you truly so blinded by your ideology that you will insist a word means the opposite of its definition?

Mundus: This is my last reply to you. You have no idea what you are talking about. I have never insisted that a word meant the opposite of its defintion. I implied that opposites work synergistically. This is a well proven maxim in serveral disciplines (philosophy, linguistics, economics) which you are obviously not familiar. By the way, why don’t you read the other definitions provided by Merriam as in “liberation from restraint.” Notice that in this usage, there can be no freedom without the restraint. Once again, you have no idea what you are talking about.

Blowing Rock Master: So I’m free if I’m restrained? Am I alive if I’m dead? Am I in the dark when a light shines on me? Am I a winner if I lose?

Mundus refused to respond to me after this. I realize that by the end of the exchange he he was trying to say something cannot exist without comparing it to its opposite, but I ignored that, both because it’s not true (what’s the opposite of a giraffe?) and because he was originally arguing that something can only exist in conjunction with its opposite. He implied, and then explicitly stated that “free” markets must be regulated.

What does this say about America? If Mundus was a lone wolf making this ridiculous claim the answer would be, “not much.” But multiple posters jumped in to support his assertion, one even told me it is impossible for a “free” market to exist as I define it. On the other hand, hardly anyone backed my position that you can’t be “free” if you are being told what to do. LRC is a site that attracts highly motivated, self-disciplined, intelligent people, the kind of people who eventually end up running things. The majority of these people think like Mundus – you can only be free if you are restrained.

Letsrun.com is a microcosm of America. The prevailing opinion among its users seems to be that true freedom, i.e. the absence of restraint, is bad or impossible. You can’t be a free person unless the government is telling you what you can and can’t do. Another LRC poster summed it up when he sarcastically chimed in with, “Obama is forcing you to be free.”

We are in big trouble.

About Author

Wayne Middlesteadt

Wayne Middlesteadt is a 1986 graduate of Georgia Tech and has an MBA from Georgia State University. Currently working as a financial writer and track and field historian, his latest book is Five Ways To Beat The Market.

  • Adam Feller

    Perhaps he was a disciple of Mitt Romney: “You can’t have a free market without regulation.” Or of George Bush: “I am abandoning free market principles to save the free market system.”

    Either way, the age of Orwellian doublespeak is in full swing, and the term “freedom” is ripe for the picking (kind of like “liberal” from decades ago). For example, I cannot count the number of times I have come across variations of this argument: can someone be free when they are poor and starving? No! So by insisting on redistribution of wealth, we are actually maximizing freedom!

    • Angela Heslip

      It will come at you from both sides because they as in some politicians are paid off by the same people, which are Big Corporations and Bankers. This is not new news people have to get to the root of the corruption. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but all yu have to do is read and think… Who never seems to suffer when the rest of us do….. BANKS, FEDERAL RESERVE, and CORRUPT POLITICIANS! Both sides of the aisle have been padded for generations with corrupt economic interest. Look to history for your answers to todays situations it’s all there in black and white. Look to our ties with Isreal and the current and past wars in the Middle east..look at who benefitted by those engagements and then look at who controls and makes our money. It is all there…

    • Steven

      You agree with the illogical definition of freedom because it can’t exist this way in the world. It’s like absolute zero. it’s theoretically possible, but it can’t happen in real life. The truth of freedom is that it comes with responsibility. If you want to eat, you have to work for it. It’s your right to work, but you don’t have to.

  • Eddie Austin

    I live in NH and we see a Free Market up here all the time. My mother has an extensive garden that could probably be defined as a small farm, she grows certain things and barters for other things with other growers. A voluntary trade agreement where both parties agree on the value of what is being traded…. I say that’s about as free as a market can get.

  • Angela Heslip

    To Mundus,
    So freedom cannot exist if some are not enslaved..is that his premise? I feel dumber having read his statements. How do you argue with the clinically insane. He says the same as Obummer that “it’s good for them, but not for me” He likes obamacare then let him have it that is what I say…His stupid monologue is just that..moronic, socialist, elitest, hubdrub. it’s also absolutly lacking in anything remotly intelligent or…what did he say.. i had to stand in the light..or there’s a gray area in Freedom…can you tell me what it is precisely? For all of the crap that you said I still am unclear as to what the hell your point is…More regulation = more freedom? Can’t have freedom without regulation (control)? Can’t have good without bad? You are what is wrong with this country….try being a part of the solution instead of the problem.

  • SandyRavage

    There’s no such thing as a true free market. As you point out yourself, legal restrictions and “mandates” are inherently incompatible with the “free market” as you define it. But the logical consequence of this is that private property rights and contracts that can be legally enforced all go against the “free market” Making it illegal to forcefully take the fruits of another person’s labor is government intervention in the economy.

    • Wayne Middlesteadt

      The enforcement mechanism of a contract is part of the contract. If you have freely agreed to do x, and if you don’t do x then y will happen, how have you given up your freedom? Also, freedom does not imply force. What you’re describing is theft, not a free exchange.

      • SandyRavage

        The concept of theft is meaningless without a state to prohibit it.

        • Karl Schipul

          No dictionary I know of mentions the state when defining ‘theft’

          • SandyRavage

            The dictionary defines “theft” as the act of stealing. “Stealing” is defined as taking somebody’s property against the law. Thus, without government to make or enforce laws, there’s no such thing as theft, because there’s no such thing laws or a legal right to property.

          • Karl Schipul

            I suppose you never heard of private security.

          • SandyRavage

            I have. But that doesn’t resolve your problem. With private security, you still don’t have a legal right to property, your property is protected simply because you have the force to protect it from others. You also have the force to take property from others. Property only belongs to whoever has the ability to take and keep it at the moment.

          • Karl Schipul

            Well now you agree that property is not reliant on the state, but merely on whoever has the current ability to own it, with or without violent means.

          • Wayne Middlesteadt

            Karl, I believe what Sandy is saying is that all your “rights” derive from the government. Let’s take this to its logical conclusion. Without government I can’t have any rights because then there would be no laws to protect my rights. Without laws defining what is mine by right, I have nothing. This includes the right to live. Thus, if it wasn’t for government you, me, and Sandy wouldn’t exist because we wouldn’t have the right to.

          • Karl Schipul

            I find it simpler to talk to people on their own terms. Rothbard/Spooner stuff sometimes goes over people’s heads.

          • SandyRavage

            Rothbard goes over people’s heads the way that alchemy goes over the heads of modern scientists.

          • Karl Schipul

            how many of his works have you read?

          • SandyRavage

            I had the misfortune of read Praxeology: The Method of Austrian economics. I wanted to understand why academia scorns his work. Reading Praxeology helped me understand why.

          • SandyRavage

            Karl, I believe what Sandy is saying is that all your “rights” derive from the government. Let’s take this to its logical conclusion. Without government I can’t have any rights because then there would be no laws to protect my rights. Without laws defining what is mine by right, I have nothing.

            This argument makes no sense. If a lived in a society without property rights. I could still posses property, but somebody could walk up and take it from me at any time. If I lived in a society where there was no legal right to life. I could still posses my life, somebody could just deprive it of me at any time.

          • Karl Schipul

            maybe if you were completely disabled and was absolutely unable to pull a trigger. but then again, you are using a keyboard (but then again, you could be just like Stephen Hawking for all I know)

          • SandyRavage

            Again, what you’re point here?

          • SandyRavage

            No I don’t, I’m doing a reductio ad absurdum. I’m taking your argument to its logical conclusion. Without a state to protect private property rights, free trade is impossible because there’s nothing stopping people from just taking whatever they want from whomever they can. In this world, nobody has any “right” to property. And without “Rights” to property, one can take whatever they want from whomever they want. That’s absolute freedom.

          • Karl Schipul

            *facepalm*

            I thought we agreed that private security exists, even in todays world.

            Also, average joes have stopped criminals numerous times with personal firearms and other weapons.

          • SandyRavage

            None of that means anything. Unless you’re saying that only people who can afford private security or are strong enough to protect their property have a right to it.

          • Karl Schipul

            the police don’t give a fuck about defending the poor. a poor man is better off with a shotgun

          • SandyRavage

            do you have any sources for that?

          • Karl Schipul

            numerous judges have declared in court that the police have no obligation to protect you. so right there, your idea that police officers are magical wizards who can fix all wrongs goes right out the window. hell, they don’t even get in trouble if they fail to do anything on your behalf.

            also, neighborhoods and cities with looser gun laws have less burglary and other theft type crime. those with stricter gun laws or those which outlaw private possession entirely have rises in crime

          • SandyRavage

            numerous judges have declared in court that the police have no obligation to protect you

            Source?

            your idea that police officers are magical wizards who can fix all wrongs goes right out the window. hell, they don’t even get in trouble if they fail to do anything on your behalf.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

            also, neighborhoods and cities with looser gun laws have less burglary and other theft type crime. those with stricter gun laws or those which outlaw private possession entirely have rises in crime

            Why are you telling me this? What does this have to do with where rights come from? Do people with guns have more of a right to their possessions than those who don’t?

          • Karl Schipul

            numerous judges have declared in court that the police have no obligation to protect you

            Source?”

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_v._District_of_Columbia

            http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/28/politics/28scotus.html?_r=0

          • Karl Schipul

            “Why are you telling me this? What does this have to do with where rights come from? Do people with guns have more of a right to their possessions than those who don’t?”

            First tell me whether you are trying to argue from a moral perspective or a utilitarian perspective, because I can’t figure that out with you.

          • SandyRavage

            Utilitarianism is theory of morality. What kind of distinction are you trying to make here?

          • Karl Schipul

            Utilitarianism is about getting effects you like or think you need.

            Morality is about good and evil.

            They do not seem like the same to me.

          • SandyRavage

            No, utilitarianism is a branch of consequentialism, moral philosophy that holds that the morality of an action is predicated upon its effects. Utilitarianism holds that the measure of an actions morality is its effect on maximizing happiness, while minimizing suffering.

          • Karl Schipul

            your first sentence only means to me that I replace the ‘u’ word with the ‘c’ word, but everything else stays the same.

            now, considering that people with PhD’s in economics and political science argue about what will happen if policy x or y will happen or if government program x or y or z will happen or be removed, etc., it is therefore quite pretentious for anyone else to act like they can predict the future.

            So you can’t base morality off of some future predictions. Even people who have been doing it for decades end up being proven wrong.

            But this is the leftist mentality – “we must do program x because this is the greatest good because my economists say that we will get effect y!”

          • SandyRavage

            your first sentence only means to me that I replace the ‘u’ word with the ‘c’ word, but everything else stays the same.

            Because everything was right the first time. I just hoped that I could dumb it down a little so you’d understand here, read the “simple english” wikipedia article on utilitarianism.

            http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utilitarianism

            Stop misusing the word now.

          • Karl Schipul

            okay, listen, I am not going to get bogged down in this sub sub sub issue branchoff distraction. I did not come here for english class.

            Bottom line – you keep asserting that all rights come from the state. That is the issue I care about. Here is the problem with this argument – the state is nothing more than a concept. It is all people – rulers and the ruled. Since it is all people, and we accept that all people are pretty much equal when it comes to rights, it therefore makes no sense to say that some people should have special rights while others do not.

            Police officers are just men in blue costumes. Politicians are just weasels who are good at language and selling ideas. They are not magic.

          • SandyRavage

            If that’s the issue you care about so much, you should have provided an alternative. I asked where rights came from, and you couldn’t explain why they exist or where they come from.

          • Karl Schipul

            my comment that I replied with on that somehow did not make it. I just noticed that.

            rights are concepts created by people to justify to others why they feel they are entitled to something or those they love or ally with are entitled to x or y. sometimes rights are declared because someone feels that they entitled to not be attacked or stolen from.

            religious people have an easier time with this, because they can simply say that rights come from the creator or some angel or some other spooky thing. as a non-religious person myself, I have to try a bit harder.

            first, I think it makes sense to say that it should not be assumed that right x or right y exists until they can be demonstrated to either exist (like with clearly visible physical objects) or at least be proven to be a valid concept (like mathematics).

            On to intro of property rights (relax, I know the burden of proof is on me)

            The very basic argument of this is stemmed from self ownership. if there is anything legitimate to own, it might be our own bodies and thoughts. logically, then, we own our own deeds. I think it makes sense to include evil deeds as well as good or productive deeds. e.g., a murderer owns and is therefore responsible for the effects of murder. virtually everyone on earth has no problem with blaming a murder on the murderer. the same can be said to be true for theft, rape, etc.

            even a gangster or terrorist will credit a murderer with murder (assuming they have correct information)

            because it seems like virtually everyone on earth accepts that people own the effects of evil deeds, it then makes no sense that those who do good deeds should be excluded from the idea that people should be thought of as owners or credited with deeds they have done. if person A rescues person B from drowning, then person A is almost always credited, assuming that the creditors have correct information on the deed.

            why stop there? why not include a pioneer who moved to the prairie and built a farm on land no one else uses? if the pioneer farmer goes through the trouble of cutting down trees, building the farmhouse, building his house, irrigating the land and herding the animals, then why does someone who did none of those things get more of a right to this land than the farmer who went through all that trouble?

            this is the principle of homesteading.

            but on a more basic level, lets say someone made a drawing or some other piece of art. lets assume that the materials are not what are commonly thought of as stolen. is it not fair to say that the person who made the drawing should have the most right to that drawing?

          • SandyRavage

            The very basic argument of this is stemmed from self ownership. if there is anything legitimate to own, it might be our own bodies and thoughts.

            Well this is a flimsy premise. How do we know there’s anything legitimate to own in the first place?

          • Karl Schipul

            “Well this is a flimsy premise. How do we know there’s anything legitimate to own in the first place?”

            the logical conclusion of this is if you do not own anything, then you are also not responsible for anything because do not own them, including your own actions

          • SandyRavage

            And that’s entirely possible. If you don’t like that possibility, then you’ve got to explain why it’s not the case.

          • Karl Schipul

            Reality is not about what we like or dislike. For example, we might not like that we have cancer or the flu. But that has no bearing on whether or not we have cancer or the flu.

            Whether I like or dislike the concept of there being external morality existing/not existing or the concept of there being a consistent/universally preferable set of ethics or whether that is impossible is not relevant.

            I acknowledge all possibilities regarding this.

            I think it is valid to start from nihilism (because of the null hypothesis) and work from there.

            This does not prove anything conclusively about morality as a whole, but if you claim that no one owns anything, including the consequences or responsibilities of actions, then you can not claim that there is a good or evil of any sort.

            You also can not claim that there are morally universal rights of any sort.

            Or did I miss something?

          • SandyRavage

            You missed nothing. The problem is that you do seem to be claiming that there is some form of objective morality, and that something called “rights” exist and have an ontological dimension beyond inter-subjective agreement. How do move beyond our starting point of nihilism to a justified belief in morality and rights?

          • Karl Schipul

            I don’t have to necessarily provide an answer to a problem for me to validly point out the problem. For example, a doctor who tells you that you have cancer may also tell you that it is incurable. But no one throws a fit or gets defensive with that doctor.

            Another example is when some people ask “what caused the big bang?”

            As of January 2014, also without me being an astronomer, I think I can still say I am unaware of a decisively clear cause, simply varying and sometimes competing theories.

            With regard to morality, there is just so much self serving and religious bullshit out there. Even the more secular side has problems, like with relativism and wishy washiness.

            So it would make sense to think that one should be suspicious of moral claims to begin with. Whether any of it is more than just hogwash.

            The number of secular based moralists who have made attempts at a coherent, consistent, universally applied morality can be counted with one hand. But those folks do not top the pyramid of fame.

          • SandyRavage

            I’m plenty skeptical of your moral claims. That’s why I’m asking you for a justification for the ones you’ve made so far.

          • Karl Schipul

            which moral claims? the post I see right above yours talks about how about how a lot of moral claims are either probably total BS, or just wishy washy. I mentioned that there are a couple of philosophy systems which MIGHT be more or less valid, but I don’t remember specifying anything in particular.

          • SandyRavage

            You’re specifically calling things such as theft and murder immoral, yet you’re not giving any justification for saying that they are.

          • SandyRavage

            You also asserted the immorality of things like theft, assault, murder, and treated these if they were simple obvious facts.

          • Sean Tigert

            I grant them…at birth…continue.

          • SandyRavage

            That doesn’t answer my question unless you’re saying that rights come from you. Nor does that answer why rights exist in the first place.

          • Karl Schipul

            police don’t give a damn about the poor.

            a poor man is better off defending himself and his stuff with a shotgun

          • SandyRavage

            You just said that. Do you have any proof for it? I’ve seen poor people call 911 and have a prompt response many times before.

            you also haven’t explained why “creation” of property gives you any right to it.

          • Alec James

            No, taking by force is stealing. This is an easily understood ethical principal.

          • SandyRavage

            Appeal to popularity.

          • Alec James

            The act of stealing is not defined only by law. It has moral implications as well. To steal is to take property that has already been claimed by another. Now we could wax philosophical about the definition of “property” and that would lead to the definition of “perception” and so on and so forth until we’re all just floating around in cosmic dust, but on a real corporeal level stealing is simply taking what belongs to someone else.

          • SandyRavage

            that’s too subjective to be useful. A Somali warlord may feel he’s morally entitled to claim the foreign aid that was intended to be given to starving people. Without law, there’s no objective reason to say he can’t do that.

          • Alec James

            Sure, morality can be skewed by following different forms of inane logic, but law does not exist without a form of morality to guide the people who wrote it. Morality however can exist just fine without laws. I break laws everyday. I speed when I drive, I tried various different controlled substances when I was younger, I usually carry a gun, whether it’s legal where I am or not. Law does not dictate my behavior, hell it’s not even that hard to get away with murder in most states because they’re too poor to afford proper forensics, and yet I’ve only killed as many people as I’ve wanted to in the span of my life, which is zero.

            Law does little, (if anything,) to stop people from doing what they want, that’s why we have such a vastly overflowing prison system. So what really stops most of us from committing terrible atrocity out of self interest? Empathy…At some point the majority of people come to understand the concept of refraining from violence or theft because they know how it feels when someone perpetrates these acts against them. Even an atheist has some form of moral code that developed as a result of seeing the cause and effect of “immoral” action.

            Now of course you’re going to come back at me with something like: “Why bother having laws at all then? If laws don’t dictate behavior, and everyone has such a clear moral compass, then why did we ever need laws to begin with?” Truth is, we don’t. All other species of animal have survived just fine without law, but this is a chaotic and difficult existence, and thus why man created laws.

            True justice is intended to protect the innocent, not punish the guilty or change moral precepts. The only purpose of law is to separate from society those who follow a code that violates the liberty and freedom of others, nothing more, nothing less.

      • SandyRavage

        The enforcement mechanism of a contract is part of the contract. If you have freely agreed to do x, and if you don’t do x then y will happen

        why will “Y” happen? How is the contract “enforced” without the law? If you sign a contract saying that you’ll paint my house in exchange for 100 dollars, and I decide I don’t feel like paying you after you’re done, what happens?

    • Karl Schipul

      “But the logical consequence of this is that private property rights and contracts that can be legally enforced all go against the “free market” ”

      Wrong. Please read up on economics or even just browse a dictionary. A free market refers to one without government intervention. Contracts are a formalized agreement between 2 or more parties. Government is not a necessary part of this.

      • SandyRavage

        So if you sign a contract, and the other party decides to just take your money and run. What then?

        If you’re selling an apple for 50 cents, and somebody decides that it’s only worth 25 cents, and takes it from you in return for a quarter, what then?

        • Karl Schipul

          This is a different issue. You are talking about possible bad effects. If you want to talk about this, that is fine. But it would have no bearing on the correct definition of the term “free market”.

          • SandyRavage

            It’s not at all a different issue. Without laws, you have no special right to that apple.

          • Karl Schipul

            This is a misunderstanding of rights. Rights are not created by the ability to enforce them.

          • SandyRavage

            What are they created by then?

          • Karl Schipul

            creation of the object, like with a painting, or if you grew it, like a vegetable. with land, if you homestead it. also, if you buy said object from someone else. also, your own body counts too.

          • SandyRavage

            Why?

          • Karl Schipul

            why should someone else morally have a greater right to something that you created or discovered?

          • SandyRavage

            The real question is why does anyone have rights at all? Moral or otherwise?

        • Karl Schipul

          breach of contract – great question. I am sold on the idea of Dispute resolution organizations.

          as for the apple, I would say no way – 50 cents or no apple

          • SandyRavage

            You don’t get to choose. He just takes it from you. that’s the point. Without a third party to enforce the rules, no fair exchanges can be made, because there’s no reason to treat people fairly.

          • Karl Schipul

            In case I was not clear, I thought I addressed the 3rd party issue with the concept of Dispute Resolution Organizations.

            Second, I get the impression you are a liberal. Or a cripple. Because the idea of you defending yourself seems quite alien to you.

          • SandyRavage

            The idea of defending oneself is trivial here. The issue is that that’s all you have to fall back on when there’s no state. But you bring up a good point. Is a crippled person not entitled to property in your ideal society? He or she has no way to defend themselves against others. How do you expect them to resolve disputes against a person with greater strength who wants to take something from them?

            Also just saying “dispute resolution organizations” doesn’t mean anything on its own. It’s a theoretical concept that you haven’t shown the applicability of here.

          • Karl Schipul

            The difference between a government and a dispute resolution organization is simply that a government forces itself upon you while the dispute resolution organization is purely optional, much like insurance companies or cable tv companies.

            I’ll take the ability to choose, thanks.

          • SandyRavage

            Right, and I’ll choose to ignore the dispute resolution organization and just take all your stuff at gunpoint. I have an entire militia at my command and you don’t.

          • Karl Schipul

            #1. you don’t have a militia. if you did, you would not be spending time arguing over the internet with strangers

            #2. most militias in history have been for self defense

            #3. you assume that DRO’s would not arm themselves against thugs. strange presumption

          • SandyRavage

            #1. You’ve never heard of a hypothetical situation before?
            #2. citation needed.
            #3. No, you did. You said that there’s no element of coercion involved in a DRO. If I decide to renege on my deal, forcing me to adhere to it is still coercion.

          • Karl Schipul

            1. you can’t really rely too heavily on a hypothetical situation as an argument, especially if such a likely situation is decades or more down the road. This is because there are so many factors that are impossible to comprehend that many years before.

            2. the only non defensive militia attacks I found were those against government forces or for religious reasons

            3. arming oneself or members of an organization is not coercion. even actively defending oneself with said weapons would also not be coercion. assaulting (outside of cases of extreme self defense) or threats to do so would be

          • SandyRavage

            1. That’s irrelevant. The issue here has nothing to do with future events.
            2. Ok? So give me concrete numbers. How many militias are there, and how many don’t engage in offensive actions against other individuals/groups?
            3. That’s not what I’m saying. If you made a contract to pay a guy 25 dollars for painting your house, and then refused to pay him upon completion of the task, how is he going to get his money?

          • Karl Schipul

            “It’s a theoretical concept that you haven’t shown the applicability of here.”

            There are real world examples, past and present:

            Present:

            American Arbitration Association
            https://www.aaau.org/

            WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center
            http://www.wipo.int/amc/en/

            Internet Bar Association
            http://www.internetbar.org/resources/online-dispute-resolution/

            Online Arbitration.net
            http://www.onlinearbitration.net/

            Seal Security Texas (residential private security)
            http://personalliberty.com/2013/10/22/crime-falls-after-houston-neighborhood-ditches-police-hires-private-security/

            Pinkerton Government Services (general private security)
            http://www.pinkertons.com/

            Historical:

            Icelandic Commonwealth:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icelandic_Commonwealth

  • Arduino Galileo

    This is an interesting debate. I think it would be worth clarifying for both sides that there is an important difference between laws that protect an individual’s rights versus regulations that restrict behaviors. A free market doesn’t mean a market that operates outside any laws – this is where using the definition of “free” from the dictionary actually caused some confusion in my opinion. For instance a law against fraud or counterfeiting does not restrain or inhibit a free market or one’s individual rights or freedom whereas a regulation that says one must have insurance or pay a fine clearly violates any concept of freedom as you have correcly argued.

    Perhaps Mundus thought you meant that the absence of law is also required to be completely “free”. It boils down to the fact that you can’t have freedom unless you uphold one’s individual rights. Laws that uphold individual rights cannot be discussed as if they are some kind of “regulation” or “restraint” to freedom or free markets. A law against slavery is not some free trade restraint foisted on someone who believes that they should be able to buy/sell people. Perhaps this clarity would have helped keep the polarization down a bit – one can only hope.

  • Christian

    Hit them with. “Doesn’t all regulation fund someone? Isn’t the world a giant human farm?” See what they say then.

  • fuckface mcfuckerstein

    what are you, retarded? mandating that you need to buy insurance from somewhere doesn’t preclude you from selecting whatever policy you want from the marketplace. i can go buy catastrophic insurance because i can afford it. the mandate just shields the insurance industry from a world where people only buy insurance when they get sick. which would not work, economically. you’re talking in abstract ideals, he’s talking about his personal reality, and you guys are arguing two different things because you’re not actually listening to each other, you’re just pushing your anger around. quit shitting up the internet.

    • Karl Schipul

      A ridiculous name like yours is bound to make people take you seriously.

  • SanityMatters

    It seems to me that Mundus is confusing two different concepts entirely–the importance of opposites in understanding concepts vs. definitions of words reflecting the actual meaning of the word. True, we often understand concepts best when mirrored by their opposites (i.e. light vs. dark), but that does not mean that a person who has never seen or experienced light cannot experience darkness (i.e. a blind person). Their awareness of darkness, or their interaction with same, may differ from someone with sight. Sounds to me like Mundus took Philosophy 101 one day and then forgot to learn how to apply it. (Or could he ‘forget’ something he never knew about? Hmm…let’s ask Mundus.)

  • Karl Schipul

    I think Stefan Molyneux and sometimes Doug Casey explain the mentality of these people quite well. To make a long story short, people like this are brought up to believe that contradictions are the highest good for anything important.

    They just don’t think. They prefer to dwell in popular prejudices. I try to phase people like this out of my life. Life is too short to argue with them. People like this need to learn the hard way.

  • Alec James

    This is just sad. Mundus seems like a fairly intelligent person, or at least a cut above all the hipster kids who think liberal policy is about equality, peace, and love. Yet he displays this classic “double-think” perception that seems all too common on the left. A little piece of me always dies when I see someone who is too busy outsmarting themselves to think for themselves.

  • matthew cosgrove

    freedom is the willingness to pay for the consequences of your actions. excellent article, i enjoyed reading it.