Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Libertarian Party can no longer be ignored

Montana Race Shows Libertarians Can’t Be Ignored | The American Conservative - Carla Howell:

May 26, 2017 - "Libertarian Mark Wicks won 6 percent of the vote in Montana’s special election for the state’s only U.S. House seat on May 25, demonstrating, once again, that America’s third largest political party is routinely in play in key elections.

"Wicks’ vote fell shy of beating Republican Greg Gianforte’s seven-point lead over Democrat Rob Quist. But the fact that Libertarians are regularly pushing up against, or exceeding, margins of victory in U.S. Senate, U.S. House, gubernatorial, and even presidential races makes their proposals and their voters impossible to ignore.

"Gov. Gary Johnson, the 2016 Libertarian nominee for president, won 3.3 percent of the vote, beating the 2.1 percent difference in popular votes between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.

"Fourteen Libertarians running for House seats against both a Democrat and a Republican won over 5 percent of the vote last November, up from eight who did the same in 2014.

"More and more Americans are taking note that a vote for either of the old parties produces the same bad results: fewer jobs, endless wars, and ominous government intrusions in all areas of life. Voters continue to hand both the Democratic and Republican parties and their candidates low approval ratings. And now they’re putting their money where their mouth is: They’re voting for an alternative.

"Their votes are more than just a rejection of the old parties. They’re a demand for meaningful changes in government policy that can remedy the fear and suffering so many Americans experience today....

"Libertarians don’t even need to win elections to make these changes possible. The Socialist Party has elected only two candidates to Congress, yet managed to co-opt both the Democratic and Republican parties, both of which have embraced much of their statist agenda.

"Growing Libertarian vote totals — and their impact — cannot be ignored. They will force Democrats and Republicans to move in a libertarian direction while making it possible to elect small-government candidates to high levels of government. This is the surest path to bringing the scourge of big government to an end."

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GOP the gang that can't govern straight

ELAM: GOP majority can’t pass a legislation - Odessa American - Dennis Elam:

May 7, 2017 - "Congressional Republicans can finally lay claim to creating a single, unifying event. Just today Karl Rove (American Crossroads), Rich Lowry (National Review), Dan Henninger (Wall Street Journal) and Ann Coulter (Author of “In Trump We Trust”) all agree on one thing: The Republicans are the gang that can’t govern straight. Indeed, after explaining why Trump should be president, Ann has dropped her Trump book from the list of publications on her own website!

"Harry Browne, former Libertarian candidate for president, observed that if one party were to disappear, it would be the Republicans, not the Democrats. As he put it, Democrats are all about telling someone else what to do, and there is always a market for that. Republicans, however are for, well, what? After campaigning non-stop since 2010 for repeal and replacing Obamacare, a second vote today on a replacement plan remains in jeopardy. The minority Democrats managed to eliminate budget funds for Trump’s wall and Planned Parenthood remains funded. Game, set, match, anyone?

"Dissatisfaction with endless Republican promises and resulting non-performance catapulted the unlikely Trump candidacy into the White House. But after begging for re-control of the House, the Senate and then the White House, all boxes are checked and yet stalemate prevails.

"Electing the ultimate outsider (previously Trump was a Democrat) has its problems. No one in Congress owes him anything. Passing legislation is a team effort, saying 'you’re fired' accomplishes nothing. Last week in Pennsylvania he attacked the press. Instead, rallying the audience to call congress and demand health care action might have gotten some wavering votes onto the table.

"Cal Thomas observed that when Democrats get power, they know how to use it. We can’t say that about Republicans."

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Income tax, rent, and coercion

by George J. Dance:

May 30, 2017 - Recently I have been reading the online works of progressive Matt Bruenig, a Washington, D.C., lawyer and sometime internet troll, who has written a great deal about libertarians. Last week I wrote on his "Grab World" scenario, but that leaves many of his articles to be looked at. Today's installment deals with a 2013 article, "Libertarians are Huge Fans of Economic Coercion."

Bruenig's article defines "coercion" by quoting economist and lawyer Robert Lee Hale: "coercion occurs when there are 'background constraints on the universe of socially available choices from which an individual might "freely" choose.'"

Based on that definition, Bruenig argues that income taxes are coercive: "Imagine I am thinking of getting a job. I have the following options in the status quo: 1. Get a job and pay income taxes on the income from that job. 2. Do not get a job." Theoretically people have a third option – get a job and do not pay income taxes – but "the state – through violent, physical coercion – has prevented them from having this option." As Bruenig points out, Libertarians would agree with him on this.

However, Bruenig also argues that rent is equally coercive: "Imagine I am looking to find housing to live in. I am presented, in the status quo, with the following choices: 1. Pay a landlord rent to live in some building; 2. Be homeless." Once again, there is a theoretical option 3 – "to move into a building and sleep in it without paying anyone anything" – however, "landlords may call [the state] on the phone and have it violently remove me from the building if I chose option three. That is, the state has – through violent, physical coercion – restricted the options that are available to me."

Since libertarians do not oppose the collection of rent, Bruenig concludes, they do not oppose, but support, "economic coercion." QED

However, in the rent example, option 3 actually consists of two different options: 3a) move into a building, and unilaterally decide to not pay rent; and 3b) move into a building, and do not pay rent, with the owner's agreement. Bruenig shows that the state forecloses option 3a; but he does not show that it has foreclosed option 3b.

In fact, the state has not foreclosed 3b. Many people live in other people's homes and pay nothing, with the owner's agreement. Some live in their parents', children's, other family members', or friends' homes. Others live in Salvation Army or other hostels. Landlords let their superintendents live rent-free. I have even heard of superintendents allowing the homeless to sleep for free in apartment boiler rooms. In all these cases, the state does not intervene at all, much less "violently" – it intervenes only in the case of 3a, when one of the parties affected does not agree, and complains to it. Which is why libertarians would "describe my choice to pay rent as non-coerced and voluntary": whether or not rent must be paid for accommodation depends solely on the voluntary agreement of the parties involved.

In Bruenig's first example, the state also forecloses option 3a. If I unilaterally decide my employer cannot deduct income tax from my paycheque, and try to take the money he deducted from the till, he could fire me, and call "the state" to remove me if I then refuse to leave. But what about option 3b, where both I and my employer agree that I can work and not pay income tax?

Employers and employees choose 3b every day. Many people work 'under the table', with their employers' agreement, and never even report that income to the state, much less pay income tax on it. In this case, though, the state does not simply let those voluntary arrangements happen; on the contrary, if its agents discovered such an arrangement, it would declare both the employee and employer to be criminals, and use "violent, physical coercion" on both of them.

Which is why libertarians would call taxes coercive, and rents non-coercive. In both cases, I have three options: 1. pay rent or taxes; 2. go without a job or a home; and 3. get a job or a home, and pay no rent or taxes, by voluntary agreement of everyone affected. In the case of rent, the state does not interfere with my choosing that third option. However, in the case of taxes, it would interfere with "violent, physical coercion" if I chose the third option. Both I and my employer are threatened with coercion if we agree to choose it.

Bruenig deals with that difference solely by ignoring it. But his ignoring it does not make it disappear. The choice to pay rent is voluntary in a way that the choice to pay taxes is not; and the choice to pay taxes is coerced in a way that the choice to pay rent is not. Therefore his argument by analogy fails.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Moen offers Bernier Libertarian leadership (video)

by George J. Dance

May 29, 2017 - Tim Moen, leader of the Libertarian Party of Canada (LPC), has offered his job to defeated Conservative Party leadership contender Maxime Bernier.

Bernier is the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Quebec riding of Beauce and a self-described libertarian. The front-runner in the race to succeed Stephen Harper as Conservative leader, he lost that race on Saturday, with 49% of the vote in the 13th voting round, to social conservative MP Andrew Scheer.

On Sunday, Josh Sigurdson of World Alternative Media reported that Moen had offered to step down in favor of Bernier. Moen's offer reportedly also included calling a snap LPC convention to elect Bernier as leader and adopt his election platform.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

How Portugal deals with drugs

Portugal’s Example: What Happened After It Decriminalized All Drugs, From Weed to Heroin | VICE News - Samuel Oakford:

April 19, 2016 - "16 years ago, Portugal took a leap and decriminalized the possession of all drugs — everything from marijuana to heroin. By most measures, the move has paid off.

"Today, Portuguese authorities don't arrest anyone found holding what's considered less than a 10-day supply of an illicit drug — a gram of heroin, ecstasy, or amphetamine, two grams of cocaine, or 25 grams of cannabis. Instead, drug offenders receive a citation and are ordered to appear before so-called 'dissuasion panels' made up of legal, social, and psychological experts. Most cases are simply suspended. Individuals who repeatedly come before the panels may be prescribed treatment, ranging from motivational counseling to opiate substitution therapy.

"'We had a lot of criticism at first," recalled [João] Goulão, a physician specializing in addiction treatment whose work led Portugal to reform its drug laws in 2000, and who is today its national drug coordinator.... 'Now things have changed completely,' he went on. 'We are pointed to as an example of best practices'....

 "The rate of new HIV infections in Portugal has fallen precipitously since 2001, the year its law took effect, declining from 1,016 cases to only 56 in 2012. Overdose deaths decreased from 80 the year that decriminalization was enacted to only 16 in 2012. In the US, by comparison, more than 14,000 people died in 2014 from prescription opioid overdoses alone. Portugal's current drug-induced death rate, three per million residents, is more than five times lower than the European Union's average of 17.3, according to EU figures.

"When Portugal decided to decriminalize in 2000, many skeptics assumed that the number of users would skyrocket. That did not happen. With some exceptions, including a marginal increase among adolescents, drug use has fallen over the past 15 years.... Portuguese officials estimate that by the late 1990s roughly one percent of Portugal's population, around 100,000 people, were heroin users. Today, 'we estimate that we have 50,000, most of them under substitution treatment,' said Goulão....

"Drugs are still illegal in Portugal, drug dealers and traffickers are still sent to jail, and the country has carefully kept itself within the confines of the UN's drug convention system that inform national drug laws....

"Though heroin use is often highlighted to show the efficacy of Portugal's model, today most users that come before panels are in fact caught with either hashish or cannabis, said Nuno Capaz, a sociologist who serves on Lisbon's dissuasion panel. Between 80 to 85 percent of all people who report to the panels are first-time offenders and deemed to be recreational users, meaning their cases are suspended. For those who have been repeatedly caught or are identified as addicts, the panels can order sanctions or treatment. Recreational users may face fines or be ordered to provide community service....

"Goulão cautioned that countries had to consider their own domestic environments first ... 'but in my view ...'to have it out of the penal system is a clear improvement. It was really important for our society because it allowed us to drop the stigma.'"

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Grab World

Grab World - George J. Dance, Nolan Chart:

May 26, 2017 - "Anti-libertarians have come up with many ingenious arguments to try to discredit libertarianism. Matt Bruenig’s 'Grab World' is certainly one of the most ingenious.

"Grab World (aka Grab-what-you-can World) is an imaginary world – a thought experiment – that Bruenig claims to have “first discussed here at Demos” back in January 2014; though a glance at the January article reveals that he actually grabbed the idea from libertarian philosopher Roderick Long. Here is how Long describes Grab World:
Imagine a world in which people freely expropriate other people’s possessions; nobody initiates force directly against another person’s body, but subject to that constraint, people regularly grab any external resource they can get their hands on, regardless of who has made or been using the resource. Any conception of aggression according to which the world so described is free of aggression is not a plausible one.”[6]
"Bruenig accepts all of Long’s account but the last sentence (which he omits). On the contrary, he insists that, “the grab-what-you-can world satisifes the non-aggression principle and no other world does.”[4]

"Hence the use of Grab World to refute libertarianism. The non-aggression principle (NAP) is basic to libertarianism; to Bruenig, Grab World is the only world that satisfies NAP; therefore, he concludes, to reject Grab World is to reject NAP, and with it libertarianism.

"Bruenig illustrates his point with what he calls a “reductio ad absurdum” argument.... While that explains what Bruenig wants to accomplish, it is not a knockdown reductio ad absurdum argument. It is not even a reductio ad absurdum argument, or much of an argument at all....

"Bruenig does say something that resembles an argument: 'It’s simple: 1) grabbing pieces of the world does not, by itself, involve initiating force against other people (if it did, then all resource use would be considered aggression), and 2) attacking someone for grabbing up a piece of the world does involve initiating force against other people.'

 "But neither point passes logical muster. 1) contains a quantification fallacy; it proves only that some acts of grabbing are not aggression, but concludes that no acts of grabbing are aggression; while 2) does not even try to prove, but simply assumes, that all attempts to stop someone else from grabbing things must involve 'attacking.'

"None of Bruenig’s repetitions, stipulations, definitions, or arguments show that Grab World, and only Grab World, follows from NAP. Of course, their failure to do so does not show that it doesn’t, either. To resolve that question, we will have to pay a visit to Grab World itself.

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Aetna to pull out of Obamacare exchanges

Aetna Ditches Obamacare Because the Health Law Is Broken - Hit & Run : - Peter Suderman:

May 11, 2017 - "Insurance giant Aetna announced yesterday that it would cease selling health coverage in Obamacare's insurance exchanges entirely.

"The reason, according to a statement from the company, was the projection of continued massive financial losses, and the poorly designed structure of Obamacare's exchanges. The company, which had already announced plans to scale back participation in the law, said it was projecting losses of about $200 million this year, and that 'those losses are the result of marketplace structural issues that have led to co-op failures and carrier exits, and subsequent risk pool deterioration.' The individual market created by Obamacare relies on the participation of both individuals and insurers. But Aetna, at least, is arguing that the market is fundamentally flawed — and refusing to participate as a result.

"Aetna's exit is yet another reminder of the growing instability that exists within the individual market system created under Obamacare.... Most of the non-profit insurers created under the law have failed and shut down. Beyond Aetna, most of the nation's major insurance companies have scaled back participation in the exchanges. In states such as Maryland, Virginia, and Connecticut, health insurers have already put in requests for large rate hikes during the coming year. In much of the country, there is only one insurer selling plans under the health care law.

"Whether or not Obamacare's exchanges are in a death spiral, technically speaking, it's clear that there is a tremendous amount of volatility in the system. That volatility is likely to result in widespread disruption to individual health coverage arrangements, whether through higher rates or lost coverage and forced plan switching. What that means is that Obamacare is almost certainly not sustainable in its current form, because the politics of health care revolve — arguably more than anything else — around the disruption of health coverage and services. If current levels of instability persist, public dissatisfaction will almost certainly force change on the system.

"This is one reason why the House GOP's legislation, which would rewrite Obamacare while leaving the core structure of its individual market mechanisms in place at the federal level, is so problematic. Its reforms would do little to quell Obamacare's instability. It might even exacerbate the health law's existing problems. And it would do so in a way that addresses few if any of the deeper structural issues with the American health care system."

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Vermont governor vetoes cannabis legalization

Vermont governor vetoes marijuana legalization | TheHill - Reid Wilson:

May 24, 2017 - "Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) has vetoed legislation that would have legalized marijuana for recreational use.... Scott told reporters during a press conference Wednesday that ... he would ask the legislature to make changes to the bill.

"'I’m not philosophically opposed to ending the prohibition on marijuana,' Scott said, according to local news outlets.

"Vermont legislators are unlikely to override Scott’s veto of the measure, which passed by only a narrow margin.

"Legalization advocates took solace in Scott’s comments, which they said could lead to a new bill as early as July.

"'We are disappointed by the governor’s decision to veto this widely supported legislation, but we are very encouraged by the governor’s offer to work with legislators to pass a legalization bill during the summer veto session,' said Matt Simon, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project. 'Lawmakers have an opportunity to address the governor’s concerns and pass a revised bill this summer, and we are excited about its prospects.'

"The Vermont legislature's passage of the bill was a landmark moment in the growing trend toward loosening marijuana laws. The state's lawmakers were the first in the nation to send a bill legalizing pot to a governor’s desk. The other eight states where marijuana is legal all passed their measures through citizen initiatives."

"'The fact that a bill even ended up on the governor's desk signals a new phase of the marijuana legalization movement,' said Tom Angell, founder of the pro-legalization group Marijuana Majority. 'Our momentum has now reached a point where the issue has become so popular with voters at the ballot box that more politicians are feeling comfortable enough to grapple with it themselves.'"

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Cuban Libertarian Party spokesman disappeared

Spokesman of the Cuban Libertarian Party Kidnapped by State Police | The Liberty Conservative - Diego Rivera, Liberty Conservative:

May 24, 2017 - "Cuban Libertarian Party spokesman Nelson Rodriguez Chartrand was kidnapped by the Cuban Police ... State Security shows he is not in the records. Chartrand will either be held hostage or sent to the gulag. According to Mises Cuba, 'Chartrand was scheduled to meet up at the Benjamin Franklin Libertarian Library but never made it.'  This is not uncommon and is actually a norm for the state’s treatment of political prisoners.

"In fact, the Cuban Libertarian Party (Partido Libertario Cubano - Jose Marti) was founded after two members of Mises Cuba were arrested for promoting free markets, small governments, and freedom. According to Tho Bishop, Director of Social Media Marketing at the Mises Institute:

"''[Ubaldo Herrera] Hernandez, who also oversees the Benjamin Franklin Libertarian Library project, was charged with the crime of [assault], a common charge for political opponents. According to Mises Cuba and the PanAmPost, Hernandez was arrested after refusing to show ID to an undercover officer working for state security forces.'

"The Chair of the Libertarian National Committee has come out in defense of the two activists and said: 'Hernandez and Velazquez are political prisoners whose actions have harmed no one and damaged no property. We stand in solidarity with our fellow freedom fighters in Cuba.'

"A further message from the Libertarian Party states: 'The Libertarian National Committee of the United States condemns the arrest and detention of political dissidents Ubaldo Herrera Hernandez and Manuel Velazquez, who have been detained by the Cuban government since their arrest on February 2'....

"You can message the Cancilleria de Cuba on Facebook or tweet them at @CubaMINREX. Right now letting them know that the world is watching could potentially help. Often it is public exposure that can stop the abuse of civil liberties or actually save lives."

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Rand Paul wants Senate vote on arming Saudis

Rand Paul to press for Senate vote on Saudi arms deal - Travis J. Tritten, Washington Examiner:

May 23, 2017 - "Sen. Rand Paul will attempt to force a Senate vote on the $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia announced over the weekend ... according to Senate staff.

"The Republican Kentucky senator could file a motion on the vote either Tuesday or Wednesday.

"A Senate vote could throw the massive decade-long deal with the Saudis into uncertainty after the Trump administration touted it as new evidence of a tight alliance.

"Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Saturday that the arms deal will allow the kingdom to keep up military pressure on Yemen rebels as part of Saudi Arabia's proxy war there with Iran."

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Arizona Rep. opposes compulsory school laws

Rep. Paul Mosley on lawmaker cousins and repealing compulsory education – Arizona Capitol Times - Hank Stephenson:

May 1, 2017 - "Freshman Republican Rep. Paul Mosley of Lake Havasu City.... What’d you think of your first hundred days?
"I love every bit of this political environment. I love working votes, and killing bad bills, and working with the 90 legislators. It’s fun.... But at the same time I need to respect why I was elected, which is to shrink the size of government, to repeal more legislation than we pass, which I found is pretty much impossible.

"I used to always ask candidates, If you could repeal one law, what would it be? And they usually gave me a blank stare.
"The bill that I passed is a repeal. It repeals the isobutanol limit in gasoline. It’s an additive in fuels. All of our fuels have ethanol in them. And what isobutanol does, it makes it so the ethanol is less harmful to an engine. Ethanol eats car parts, it’s bad for cars to sit with ethanol in the tank. So people with classic cars want this isobutanol.

What else would you like to repeal?
"The number one thing I would like to repeal is the law on compulsory education.  And let me explain to make it very clear why I want to repeal this.... When my son was five in kindergarten, he missed 18 days. My son is a very brilliant kid, he gets straight As. The truancy officer called....  I was actually pretty upset about getting a call from a policeman, because if I remember correctly, it’s a $400 fine and a misdemeanor for the parent. Whether the absences are excused or not.... The schools get their funding on daily attendance. This is why I believe the law is not a good law. Because education used to be a privilege. People used to believe getting an education was something you had to be privileged to get, that you had to work hard to get. Now we basically force it down everybody’s throats..... I believe education is still a privilege, and the kids who don’t want to be there are a larger distraction to the kids who do want to be there. We’re telling kids they have to go to school, and we put fences around the schools to protect them now, and we give them a meal or two and sometimes send a backpack of food home with them. So now schools are not only tasked with educating our children, but also feeding our children. What happened to the personal responsibility of a parent to feed and educate their kids?"

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

How a reductio ad absurdum does not work

by George J. Dance

Ever heard of Grab World? Matt Bruenig, an attorney who used to troll libertarians on progressive website Demos until he was fired for Twitter trolling, once used the idea of Grab World (a thought experiment invented by libertarian philosopher Roderick Long) to allegedly show how ridiculous the non-aggression principle is. When challenged by some libertarians, who in his words "couldn't handle this," Bruenig wrote a follow-up column on his own blog  "as a learning opportunity to help people understand how the reductio ad absurdum works."

He began by explaining that "A reductio is a type of argument in which you accept a premise and use it to generate a conclusion that strikes people as absurd," and then gave the argument form:
  1. If X, then Y.
  2. Y is totally absurd.
  3. Therefore X is not true.
Next he fleshed out the form with his Grab World example: "the premise was justice requires that we follow the non-aggression principle and the conclusion was people can come into the house you live in and grab up the stuff and you cannot use force to prevent that. So we plug it in.
  1. If justice requires that we follow the non-aggression principle, then people can come into the house you live in and grab up the stuff and you cannot use force to prevent that.
  2. It is totally absurd to say that 'people can come into the house you live in and grab up the stuff and you cannot use force to prevent that.'
  3. Therefore it is not true that justice requires that we follow the non-aggression principle."
Almost every part of Bruenig's explanation is wrong. First, that is not "how the reductio ad absurdum works". His argument form is not even a reductio ad absurdum (RAA). An RAA, or indirect proof, works by positing an assumption (or supposition), and then proving it false by showing logically that it leads to a contradiction.

Second, Bruenig is confused about what premises and conclusions are. The premises in his argument are steps 1 and 2, and the conclusion is step 3. What he calls "the premise" and "the conclusion" are actually called the antecedent and consequent of a conditional. Third, what he calls "the premise" does not "generate" what he calls "the conclusion" - he merely asserts both together, as two halves of one unproven premise (step 1). 

Fourth, the above is not even a valid argument form (although it looks like one: modus tollens, or denying the consequent). It does not logically follow, from "If X, then Y" and "Y is totally absurd," that "X is not true" - all that would follow is "X is totally absurd," whatever Bruenig means by that. (He does not mean what logicians mean by "absurd," being contradictory or logically impossible.) 

Fifth, even if Bruenig's argument were valid, it would not be sound. A sound argument is a valid one with all true premises, which proves that its conclusion is true. There is no reason to think that either of Bruenig's premises is true. Almost every libertarian would deny the truth of his premise 1. Premise 2 looks a bit more plausible, but there is no reason to think it is true, either. (What if the "people [coming] into the house you live in" were bailiffs - or police seizing stolen goods - or even movers?)

In conclusion, let me show how an RAA argument really works:
  1. Someone who knows logic would know what a valid argument is, and what the terms premise, conclusion, and reductio ad absurdum mean. (premise; see any logic text)
  2. Assume Matt Bruenig is someone who knows logic. (assumption; beginning of RAA)
  3. Then Matt Bruenig knows what a valid argument is, and what the terms premise, conclusion, and reductio ad absurdum mean. (1,2 hypothetical syllogism)
  4. But Matt Bruenig does not know any of that. (premise; see above)
  5. Therefore, Matt Bruenig is not someone who knows logic, (2-4 RAA)
I hope that readers find that argument instructive.

All that Bruenig's argument proves, on the other hand, is that he can pontificate on subjects about which he knows little or nothing: something that readers might find useful to keep in mind when reading his criticisms of libertarianism. 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

dbzer0 on the NAP

dbzer0 on the NAP - George J. Dance, Nolan Chart:

May 15, 2017 - "Last week I wrote an article dealing with two claims that the non-aggression principle (or NAP) was useless. In return I received not one but two requests to deal with another such claim: this one on an anonymous blog called A Division by Zer0, which also argues that 'the Non-Aggression principle is useless as a moral guideline.'

"The blog author (dbzer0 for short) defines NAP as the principle that 'no human should aggress over another human. This is meant to mean the initial use of coercive force as well as the threat of such'.... This is fine, as long as 'aggress over another human' is interpreted as 'initiate force against other people or their property' (which does not say anything about what property is, or if there is any, much less who owns what property, so no question is begged).

"Using this principle, a libertarian can derive moral axioms (like 'Rape is wrong, because rape is aggression' or 'It is not wrong to forcibly prevent a rape, because forcibly preventing aggression is not aggression') and make moral judgments (like 'I shouldn’t rape Mary' or 'I should stop John from raping Mary'). That looks pretty useful to me; so why does dbzer0 claim it is useless?

Is NAP unnecessary?
dbzer0’s first argument is that it is unnecessary to have NAP as a rule, because 'other moral systems … already encompass such rules (with stipulation) as a natural consequence of their suggestions.' But one cannot simply follow 'other moral systems' in general instead of NAP; moral systems disagree both in 'rules' and 'stipulations', and where they do disagree one would have to follow one or another. That means either deciding which system to follow, or deciding on a principle that tells one which system to follow in which case. How does one decide that?

dbzer0 claims that every non-libertarian moral system ('anything else') is distinguished 'by the absence of the NAP,' but gives no reason to think that must be. Logically, a moral system can either (1) contain or 'encompass' NAP; (2) partly contain NAP, or (3) not contain NAP at all. Following NAP might indeed be useless if following any one of those systems resulted in making the exact same moral judgments as following NAP. But ... systems that would result in the same judgments would be type (1) systems; but how would following a type (1) system not be following NAP?

To make this clear, let us look at the specific alternatives dbZer0 discusses. One is Christianity, which as he points out has NAP-like rules such as 'Thou shalt not kill'. But, as he also points out, 'Thou shalt not kill' 'can lead to worse results (such as foregoing killing in self-defence)', precisely the result that NAP does not lead to. So that example is no evidence that NAP is useless, but the opposite: that NAP is a better rule than some alternatives."

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Friday, May 19, 2017

David Horowitz rag slimes Justin Amash

by George J. Dance

"Today I was browsing the news, looking for a column, when this headline caught my eye:
"JUSTIN AMASH THREATENS TRUMP W/IMPEACHMENT" (caps and bold in original). The article, by Daniel Greenfield, appeared in Frontpage magazine, a publication of the "DAVID HOROWITZ FREEDOM SCHOOL FOR POLITICAL WARFARE" (caps in original).  Here's a bit from the article:

"Justin Amash, Al Qaeda's favorite Republican, is ... making his agenda painfully clear.
"Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) on Wednesday said if the reports about Trump's pressure on Comey are true, it would merit impeachment.
"The Hill is spinning this as some sort of major development. But it's just Amash pushing his very predictable agenda.... Amash is an amnesty support and anti-war politician who gets to pass as a conservative for entirely incomprehensible reasons. Now he is once again showing his true colors."
Read more:

There were links in the article, but none to the source. However, I was able to find the source article and read the alleged "threat":

"Amash spoke a day after The New York Times on Tuesday reported that Trump tried to pressure Comey to stop investigating Flynn ... According to a memo written by Comey....
"Asked by The Hill if the details in the memo would merit impeachment if they're true, Amash replied: 'Yes.'
"'But everybody gets a fair trial in this country,' Amash added as he left a House GOP conference meeting."
Read more:

It's "painfully clear" that Frontpage is doing even more "spin" than what they were complaining about, and also why they're doing it.

Amash has been primaried in the past, in a campaign that used the very same "Al Qaeda's favorite Republican" soundbite as Frontpage; but that didn't go very well. This year, though, Trump has already threatened once to support a primary challenger against Amash in 2018.

It looks "painfully clear" that Frontpage is running misleading stuff like this in the hope of getting Trump to follow through on his threat, which may be enough to entice another primary challenger to creep out of the woodwork.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Just say no to drug war escalation

Editorial: Just say no to expanded drug war - Detroit News:

May 17, 2017 - "Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reverting to a tried-and-failed tactic for combating drug use and trafficking: If a war bogs down, escalate.

"It’s a temptation America has succumbed to for 40 years. The idea that harsher penalties and more vigorous law enforcement will deter the population from buying and selling illegal drugs makes sense in theory, but has been a miserable failure in application.

"Last week, Sessions sent a memo to federal prosecutors nationwide telling them to charge defendants in drug cases with the most serious crimes allowable under the law.... Sessions’ action signals a return to the mindset that all it takes to prevail over the scourge of drugs is more aggressive law enforcement.

"That was the approach ... for a long time. And it didn’t work. Drug use continued unfazed no matter how much more firepower federal and state governments brought to the battle.

"All policies such as the one Sessions advocates accomplish is filling the nation’s prison cells, breaking apart families and wrecking communities....

"Federal and state efforts in the drug war cost $80 billion a year. What’s that money buying? Not much in terms of deterrence. Since 2002, the number of Americans using drugs has risen to 9.4 percent of the population from 8.3 percent. The climb continued through eras of both intense and more relaxed law enforcement.

"Nearly 1 in 10 Americans using drugs would seem alarming. But break the number down and the overwhelming drug of choice is marijuana, which is now legal in some form in many states, including Michigan, where it is permitted for medicinal purposes. Pot is followed by prescription drugs, a problem that requires a solution that goes well beyond cops and courts.

"After that, just about 3 percent of Americans use a serious narcotic such as cocaine or heroin that is involved in the illegal drug trade. More people are getting high off inhalants derived from common household products than from heroin, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

"And as difficult as it is for the hard liners to accept, not everyone who uses drugs recreationally is an addict. That’s particularly true of pot users....

"The nation at last needs a rational drug policy that focuses on cutting demand by getting help to those who abuse drugs. We know from experience that what Sessions is implementing won’t work."

Read more:

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Don't invite the alt.right, LP Judicial Committee chair warns state parties

Chuck Moulton: ‘LP conventions, avoid alt-right / white supremacist event speakers’ | Independent Political Report, Wang Tang-Fu :

May 17, 2017 - "Libertarian leaders,

"Some friends ... have asked me to spread this information around.... CONVENTION AND EVENT ORGANIZERS SHOULD AVOID ALT-RIGHT SPEAKERS.

"We had a fiasco in Pennsylvania recently with a 'liberty festival' loosely associated with the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania state convention.... Because of [one invited] speaker a local ANTIFA (Anti-Fascist Action) group threatened the venue with violence. That led to the venue canceling the event contract and the event being last minute re-located. There were a lot of local news stories about this, which associated Libertarians with the alt-right and white supremacists....
  1. Even if the event is separate from the party convention and called something else, all of the media will say it was part of a Libertarian Party convention.
  2. Even if a speaker is invited to debate a topic and let people 'hear both sides', all of the media will say Libertarians are alt-right and the speaker represents Libertarians.
  3. ANTIFA groups regularly call venues and threaten violence to get events canceled.
  4. When ANTIFA groups get events canceled, the media reports on it and ties the inviting group to the alt-right.
  5. The last few times this has happened, it was not established ANTIFA groups that called in the threats. Instead, the groups had formed literally just a few days before.
  6. It is entirely possible (perhaps even likely) that the alt-right is creating fake ANTIFA groups to get their own events canceled because it generates media.
  7. Getting events shut down also allows the alt-right to play the victim and get sympathy from libertarians who value free speech.
  8. When an event is canceled or moved or rescheduled, it can cause significant logistical headaches and financial hardship for the event organizer — or the state party.
  9. The alt-right would rather have a bunch of free media associating Libertarians with the alt-right and getting them exposure than actually speak at any event.
  10. Inviting an alt-right speaker to a Libertarian state convention or an event even remotely associated with a Libertarian state convention will probably lead to a lot of media associating Libertarians with the alt-right and white supremacists....
"I’m a big supporter of the first amendment. I’m a believer in hearing all sides of an issue to be better informed. But.... AVOID INVITING THE ALT-RIGHT TO LIBERTARIAN EVENTS.... Thank you.

"Chuck Moulton
"Chair, LP Judicial Committee"

Read more:
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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

An argument for self-ownership

by George J. Dance

Last week I posted a column about three rather silly arguments against the concept of self-ownership that I had found on the interwebs. After writing that, I went on to write the best argument I could for the concept; which I didn't print because of length. Here is that argument; criticisms welcome.

An argument for self-ownership

My own conclusion from reading Aaron's arguments is that some people could profit from learning more about both self-ownership and logic. The best way I can see of doing both is to present an argument for self-ownership in logical form:

1. To own something is to have a just claim to control the use of that thing. (definition)
2. Either people are owned, or they are not owned. (Av~A)
3. If people are owned, they are either owned by themselves, or by other people. (Av~A)
4. For one person to claim ownership of another person is slavery. (definition)
5. Slavery is unjust. (premise)
6. Therefore, people cannot be not owned by other people. (1,4,5)
7. Therefore, either people own themselves, or they are not owned. (2,3,6)
8. Assume people are unowned. (Assumption)
9. Either it is wrong for people to use things no one owns, or it is not wrong. (Av~A)
10. Then either it is wrong for adults to use other adults' unowned bodies, or it is not wrong. (8,9)
11. Assume that it is not wrong for adults to use other adults' bodies. (Assumption)
12. Then it is not wrong for a man to use a woman's body for sex.
13. Then it is not wrong for a man to use a woman's body for sex, if the woman does not agree.
14. But it is wrong for a man to use a woman's body for sex, if the woman does not agree. (premise)
15. Then, if people's bodies are unowned, it must be wrong for adults to use other adults' bodies. (11-14; Assumption discharged)
16. Now assume that it is wrong for adults to use other adults' bodies. (Assumption)
17. Then it is wrong for a man to use a woman's body for sex.
18. Then it is wrong for a man to use a woman's body for sex, even if the woman agrees.
19. But it is not wrong for a man to use a woman's body for sex, if the woman agrees. (premise)
20. Then, if people's bodies are unowned, it must not be wrong for adults to use other adult's bodies. (16-19; Assumption discharged)
21. Then, if people's bodies are unowned, it must be both wrong and not wrong to use other adults' bodies for sex. (15,20)
22. Therefore, people are not unowned. (8-21; Assumption discharged)
23. Therefore, people own themselves. (7,22)

The validity of any step can be challenged. So can the truth of any of the 3 explicit premises: that slavery is unjust, that it is wrong for a man to use a woman's body for sex if the woman does not agree, and that it is not wrong for a man to use a woman's body for sex if the woman does agree.

We could stop right there - the above argument is complete as is - but it may be useful to see what the conclusion implies; so let me add a few more steps, purely for the sake of illustration:

24. It is wrong to use an owned resource if the owner does not agree. (1)
25. It is not wrong to use an owned resource if the owner does agree. (1)
26. It is wrong for a man to use a woman's body for sex, if the woman does not agree. (23,24)
27. It is not wrong for a man to use a woman's body for sex, if the woman does agree. (23,25)

The fact that these conclusions (#26 and #27) are the same as the earlier premises (#14 and #19) is not circular, since those conclusions are not deduced from those premises. My only reason for including these steps was to show that #26 and #27 did not contradict #14 and #19; if they did, then the conclusion that people are self-owners would be absurd, too. An argument by reductio ad absurdum  could prove a conclusion by showing that the other alternatives are absurd, but in practice that would be of little use if that conclusion were equally absurd.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Pope misunderstands libertarians and dangers

Pope Francis's attack on "libertarian individualism" not about libertarians - Father Robert A. Sirico:

May 5, 2017 - "In a recent message by Pope Francis to the Pontifical Academy of Social Science he outlines some moral concerns about a phenomenon he sees as invading (his term) 'high levels of culture and education in both universities and in schools,' namely 'libertarian individualism'....

"When the pope speaks of libertarian individualism, he has in mind something which he says 'exalts the selfish ideal,' whereby … it is 'only the individual who decides what is good and what is bad.' [The] result is a belief in 'self-causation,' which I take to mean the denial of any givenness in human nature in favor of a radical autonomy in which morality is ... simply a matter of whatever I will it to be.

"All of this, the pope contends (and I agree), 'denies the common good.' One could add that it also denies the entire tradition of natural law via an exaltation of subjectivity and the detachment of conscience from the truths knowable via faith and reason.... He also seems to be critiquing any ethical system that sees freedom, in the sense of absence of constraint, as its own end and finality. For Catholics and other Christians, liberty is more than just negative freedom or the capacity to will X rather than Y....

"All this is standard Catholic teaching. The question that remains is whether the pope is offering a fair or accurate definition of 'libertarianism'

"Consider, for example, that there are many schools of libertarianism.... As interesting as it might be to examine the differences between these positions, I think it is more productive to outline some concepts to which I suspect all serious believers could subscribe....

"Human beings are not simply individuals, even if we colloquially employ this word to describe people. Certainly, human beings enjoy ... legitimate liberty.... Even the Vatican II’s Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes speaks of private property as conferring 'on everyone a sphere wholly necessary for the autonomy of the person and the family, and it should be regarded as an extension of human freedom'.

"The social reality of persons to persons is what constitutes a human community. This is a bond - one which certainly comes with some constraints, but one which can’t be reduced to constraints.... Power is a form of constraint external to the person ... forced upon a person without regard to that person’s free will, such as an act of violence to conform another’s behavior. Authority, on the other hand, is a form of constraint interior to the person, some overarching code that the person himself believes in....

"From this standpoint, we start to see that many of the debates engaged in by people of all political persuasions - including self-described libertarians - concern when a bond has become an illegitimate constraint; or where a constraint, however necessary, is mistaken for a bond; or when societies are relying too heavily on constraints to do the work of what is normally undertaken by bonds. These are the questions which are, and should be, engaged in by societies that seek to take liberty, justice, and the common good seriously....

"The irony, however, is that we live in a time when a concern for liberty ... far from invading our cultures, is under siege ... threatened by the type of populism that has done so much damage in Pope Francis’s Latin America (and is presently destroying Venezuela) [and] strangled by the bureaucracies which rule European social democracies. Then there is the jihadism that is destroying the freedom of many, and literally killing thousands of Christians every year.

"So while the pope’s warnings against the radical individualism against which the Catholic Church has always cautioned are important, let’s hope that his words don’t distract attention from some of the profound violations of freedom occurring across the world."

'via Blog this'

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Non-Aggression and Entitlement

Non-Aggression and Entitlement - George J. Dance, Nolan Chart:

May 6, 2017 - "Some non-libertarians, and even some libertarians, claim that the non-aggression principle is useless. So let us see how one can argue without it.

The non-aggression principle – the principle that it is wrong to initiate force against other people or their property – has long been considered a basic principle of libertarian political theory. John Locke, for example, founded his theory on the principle that, 'Being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.' Herbert Spencer took, as his fundamental principle, that: 'Every man is free to do that which he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man.” (stress added). Many contemporary libertarians rely on the principle as well. Ron Paul, for example, claims that:
The core of libertarianism is respect for the life, liberty and property rights of each individual. This means that no one may initiate force against another, as that violates those natural rights. While many claim adherence to this principle, only libertarians apply the non-aggression axiom to the state.
Given the prominence of the non-aggression principle (NAP) in libertarian argument, it is not surprising that anti-libertarians reject it. However, nowadays it is common to find even libertarians who reject the principle, as well.

Not surprisingly, few if any directly reject NAP, by arguing that aggression is not wrong. 'For most individuals believe, and fervently so,' as Walter Block notes, 'that it is wrong to invade other people or their property. Who, after all, favors theft, murder or rape?' What one encounters instead are attempts to deny that NAP is meaningful; that it actually says anything substantive.

For example, anti-libertarian Matt Bruenig, a well-known internet troll, has dismissed NAP as simply useless in resolving any dispute. According to him, 'Non-aggression never does any argumentative work at any time'.... 

"If Breunig’s point were simply that the non-aggression principle is not sufficient by itself to resolve all disputes, because one also has to know who is entitled to what, then he would have a point; but he would be attacking a strawman. Block, in the article already cited, made the very same point....

 "Which brings us to libertarian scholar Matt Zwolinski; for the idea that people can so agree without relying on the NAP, simply by agreeing on a theory of entitlement, is exactly what Zwolinski argues."

Read more:
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Friday, May 12, 2017

Vermont House passes cannabis legalization bill

Vermont May Become 9th Recreational Marijuana State If Gov. Phil Scott Signs Bill - Janice Williams, Newsweek: 

May 11, 2017 - "Vermont’s House of Representatives has passed a measure that would legalize recreational marijuana. If Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, signs the law, Vermont would become the ninth state to legalize adult use of marijuana.

"The passing of the bill, which was approved in a 79-66 vote Wednesday, according to Reuters, marks the first recreational marijuana measure to be approved by a state’s legislature. The other eight recreational pot states—Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, Alaska— plus Washington D.C., introduced legal marijuana programs following public votes.

"If Scott doesn’t veto the bill, starting July 2018 adults in Vermont will not only be able to consume marijuana legally but people 21 and older would be allowed to grow up to two mature marijuana plants at a time. Possession of up to one ounce of marijuana would also be legal.

"A nine-person team of researchers also is commissioned to conduct a study to determine the best ways to regulate and tax sales of the plant, as well.

However, it is unclear if Scott will sign the bill. The governor has been vocal about his stance on marijuana, telling reporters in 2016 that 'right now' wasn’t the time for Vermont to be legalizing recreational pot. A spokeswoman for Scott, Rebecca Kelley, told Reuters in a statement that the governor wanted to make sure public safety and health concerns are addressed before singing [sic] the bill into law....

"'The Legislature has taken a crucial step toward ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition. There is no rational reason to continue punishing adults for consuming a substance that is safer than alcohol,' Matt Simon, political director of the New England chapter of pro-legalization group Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), said in a statement issued to Newsweek....

"Vermont would be the third East Coast state to pass recreational marijuana legislation, if Scott signs off on the law. However, nearby in Connecticut and Rhode Island, legislators also are considering adopting similar adult-use laws. In April, lawmakers in Rhode Island had their first legislative meeting on the topic of legalizing recreational pot while Connecticut’s Senate Judiciary Committee also hosted a public hearing regarding a bill that made adult use legal back in March."

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Another NH legislator joins Libertarian Party

Keene Democrat State Rep. Joseph Stallcop Flips to Libertarian, Making History! | Free Keene - Ian Freeman:

May 11, 2017 - "In February of this year, Republican state representative from Pelham, Caleb Dyer became the only sitting state rep in the United States to join the Libertarian Party.* Now, just three months later, New Hampshire is making libertarian political history again as Keene Democrat representing Ward One, Joseph Stallcop, today announced at a press conference at Concord’s state house, that he is also flipping to Libertarian!...

"Not only does New Hampshire now have more sitting state reps than the other 49 states combined, but Dyer and Stallcop, both 21 years old, are forming what is likely the youngest political caucus in the history of the United States....

"Former state reps Eric Eastman and Joe Lachance also recently revealed they have flipped from Republican to join the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire....

"At this morning’s press conference, Stallcop gave an excellent speech that revealed the command-and-control structure in the NH Democratic party, which echoed Dyer’s experience in the Republican party. Thinking for one’s self when in the major parties is apparently discouraged and voting his conscience resulted in his Democratic colleagues lying to and looking down on him....

"He called out the democrats’ hypocrisy, saying, 'they claim to be against casinos for fear of addiction, yet ignore the lottery’s grasp on the poor. They claim to be for criminal justice, though many turned away from a bill that would close the asset forfeiture loophole. They claim to be for the protection of transgender rights, yet didn’t even mark that bill as a caucus priority'....

"Stallcop recently surprised many by attending the 420 rally at the state house, not only toking up with the crowd of civil disobedients, but also giving a great speech. Rumors began flying that he was considering joining the libertarians, a particularly exciting prospect as it flies in the face of the common misconception that libertarians come from the right, politically....

"New Hampshire has proven how unique it is. There are 101 reasons why thousands liberty-loving activists have been moving here, and that list just keeps getting longer and more attractive as we continue to have success after success."

Read more:
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*This claim is in error. Nebraska state senator Laura Ebke has been sitting in the legislature as a Libertarian since June, 2016. - GD

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Silly arguments against self-ownership

by George J. Dance:

May 10, 2017 - Libertarians often talk about "self-ownership." What is it? To quote an encyclopedia definition: "Self-ownership (or sovereignty of the individual, individual sovereignty or individual autonomy) is the concept of property in one's own person, expressed as the moral or natural right of a person to have bodily integrity, and be the exclusive controller of her or his own body and life."

I am no fan of the term. "Ownership" over one's own body and life is different, in crucial ways, from "ownership" of external things, like a car, and using the same term for both blurs those differences. One has to act to acquire a car; while one has "self-ownership" simply by existing. One can sell a car to another person, meaning that the other person now owns it; but I cannot imagine how anyone could rightfully come to own another person. Finally, ownership, and possession and control, of oneself are indistinguishable – some libertarians even ground self-ownership on the metaphysical fact that people do possess and control their own bodies – while it is perfectly sensible to imagine a car being owned by one person, but possessed and controlled by someone else.

So I would prefer to use a different term, like the ones the encyclopedia offers: individual sovereignty or individual autonomy. However, I have no trouble with the concept as properly understood. Anti-propertarians, on the other hand, do seem to have trouble with the concept; perhaps because of the problems with the term noted above. In any case, on the web one often encounters people arguing against the very idea of self-ownership.

One popular argument that I often run into is "Three Refutations of Self-Ownership," published on an anarchist discussion forum years ago. It consists of three arguments meant to show that self-ownership is  (i) an oxymoron, (ii) immoral and unjust, and (iii) metaphysically impossible; posted with the invitation to "Please critique freely". Being a sucker for logical arguments, I had to respond to the invitation.

A Refutation of Self-Ownership #1 (With No Consideration of Cartesian Dualism)

1. Ownership requires a thing A that owns and a thing B that is owned.
2. Self-ownership requires that one A owns one’s body B.
3. If A and B were the same – i.e. if one and one’s body were one and the same thing – then A and B would both own and be owned.
4. Ownership implies an ability to control, direct, dominate, dispose of, defend, manage, and rent a thing.
5. If A and B were the same, then A would be controlling B, and B would be controlling A, and so forth, ad absurdum, so that true ownership would not really exist.
6. Therefore, if A and B are the same, then self-ownership is an oxymoron.

The false premise here is 5. If A and B were two different people, then it would be absurd for A to control B and for B to control A at the same time (precisely what makes the democratic idea of the citizens controlling a government that controls them absurd). What would happen if A and B disagreed? A would have to give in to B, and B would have to give in to A; in what sense, then, would either of them be in control?

However, the assumption is that A and B are the same person. So let us make that identity clear, by using just the one symbol, and rewriting premise 5 as:
5. If A and A were the same thing, then A would be controlling A, and A would be controlling A, and so forth, ad absurdum, so that true ownership would not really exist.
No absurdity there. Since premise 5 is false, the argument is unsound.

A Refutation of Self-Ownership #2 (With Consideration of Cartesian Dualism)

1. Ownership requires a thing A that owns and a thing B that is owned.
2. Self-ownership requires that one A owns one’s body B.
3. If A and B were not the same – i.e. if one’s mind/will and one’s body were not one and the same thing – then A would be a mind/will and B would be a living human body.
4. It is immoral and unjust to claim ownership of a living human body.
5. Therefore, self-ownership is immoral and unjust.

Premise 4 looks like the false one here. It might indeed always be "immoral or unjust to claim ownership of a living human body;" but why think it is? Perhaps the author was thinking about slavery, and reasoning implicity:
4a) Claiming ownership of a living human body is slavery.
4b) Slavery is immoral and unjust.
4c) Therefore, claiming ownership of a living human body is immoral and unjust.
But the definition of slavery in 4a) is misstated. Slavery is claimed ownership of someone else's living body. So all that this argument, if sound, would prove is that claiming ownership of someone else's living body is immoral and unjust; and of course claiming self-ownership is not claiming that. Since premise 4 is false, the argument is again unsound.

A Refutation of Self-Ownership #3 (With Consideration of Cartesian Dualism)

1. Ownership requires a thing A that owns and a thing B that is owned.
2. Self-ownership requires that one A owns one’s body B.
3. If A and B were not the same – i.e. if one’s mind/will and one’s body were not one and the same thing – then A would be a mind/will and B would be a living human body.
4. If the mind exists outside of the living human body – i.e. if the mind is a separate, non-physical entity – then the mind is intangible, whereas the human body is tangible.
5. It is not possible for a thing without physical tangibility to act upon a thing with physical
6. Therefore, self-ownership is metaphysically impossible.

In this case, the premises are all true, but the conclusion is a non-sequitur. Premise 4 contains
an assumption – "If the mind exists outside of the living body" etc. – that is not discharged in the conclusion. So to be valid the conclusion would have to be stated as:
6'. "Therefore, if the mind exists outside of the living body – i.e. if the mind is a separate, non-physical entity – then self-ownership is metaphysically impossible."
 –  Which would refute any libertarians who do argue that their minds are non-physical things that exist outside their bodies. But what libertarians do that? Since the conclusion does not follow from the premises, the argument is invalid.

Also read: An argument for self-ownership

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Libertarian Party founded in Cuba

Cuba's Very First Libertarian Party Is Born - Nelson Rodríguez Chartrand, Pan-Am Post:

May 8, 2017 - "On Sunday, May 7, 2017, a milestone was set in Cuban history, as well as for lovers and defenders of freedom worldwide: the Cuban Libertarian Party “José Martí” was founded.

The event was held at the headquarters of the Libertarian Library “Benjamin Franklin”.... This organization is an extension of the objectives that were first proposed by the Cuban Anarchocapitalist Club and, later, the Mises Cuba Institute. The Libertarian Library “Benjamin Franklin”, founded last December 24, will be the source of the philosophy it defends....

"The new party will have, among others, the supreme purpose of defending freedom, human and civil rights of the people, promoting and proposing the reduction of the prevailing collectivism in society and the excessive paternalism of the public administrations, affirming and strengthening individual sovereignty in all areas of life, minimizing the volume and interference of the state and supporting the establishment of a spontaneous social and economic order.

"In addition, the Cuban Libertarian Party will seek to reduce government interference in culture, education, solidarity and ethical issues, as well as establish a legal system emanating from the free will of the citizens that effectively guarantees the aforementioned goals.

“It is curious and interesting that the activity was carried out without an overshadow, at least perceivable of State Security agents”, commented one of the participants, since until now several members have been arrested (one was even burned with a cigarette in prison) and threatened. A few days ago, state security agents went to the headquarters of the library ... and took a member forcefully in order to induce fear....

"But we will not be overcome by fear. As the Greek saying goes: 'Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.' We do not fear reprisals.... We do not dear any attacks against our bodies, because our ideas will transcend and achieve freedom."

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Monday, May 8, 2017

BC Libertarian Michael Cambridge interviewed

BC Libertarian candidate calls for less government regulation - Melanie Green, Squamish Chief:

May 3,2017 - "One more contender is joining the provincial race to represent the West Vancouver-Sea to Sky riding. Michael Cambridge, a Squamish resident, is the BC Libertarian Party candidate....

Q: Can you explain what you – as a member of the BC Libertarian Party – stand for in regards to government?  A: Essentially, we believe that no individual or group has a right to initiate force on another individual, that we own the fruits of our labour and that we are personally responsible for our actions. All are pretty easy to agree with on the surface, but the implications can lead to some challenging conclusions, for sure....

Q: How would you deal with affordability in Squamish?  A: Removing artificial barriers, eliminate the obstacles to finding and/or renting a home and allow supply to meet demand. Government puts up artificial barriers in the name of sustainable growth and safety, but ultimately this leads to a lack of affordable homes for residents.... Over 80 per cent of the land in Vancouver is zoned for single-family residential only. We would work with municipalities to reduce development costs, streamline building permit processes and simplify and accelerate rezoning.

Q: What is your position on education?  A: Parents have a right to choose where their kids go to school and how they are educated. I know that there isn’t one method of schooling that will work for every child. We have a platform that aims to empower parents to choose what they feel is right for their children....

Q: Do you support regional transit? If so, how would that work for Squamish and where would the cost be?  A: I think we need to eliminate government monopoly on public transportation. Allowing individuals to use apps like Uber and Lyft would be a step in the right direction. We should make it easier for private companies and individuals to compete in this area. Our party believes competition leads to efficiency and lower prices for consumers."

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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Pope warns of "invasion" of the libertarians

A Response to Pope Francis' Attack on "Invading" Libertarians - The Dollar Vigilante - Jeff Berwick:

May 1, 2017 -"Pope Francis came out last week with a scathing assault on libertarians. 'I cannot fail to speak of the grave risks associated with the invasion of the positions of libertarian individualism at high strata of culture and in school and university education,' the Pope said in an message sent to members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences meeting in the Vatican....

"That’s news to me. I know libertarianism is getting fairly popular … but 99% of schools I’ve seen are dominated by liberals, leftists and Marxists. The same goes for 'culture' where Hollywood is infested with the same type of communist mindset. I just returned from UC Berkeley where I was pepper sprayed and tear gassed by the communist students who were fighting against free speech, as just one example!...

"Pope Francis ...  went on to say, 'A common characteristic of this fallacious paradigm is that it minimizes the common good,' and continued to call it a 'selfish ideal.'

"Libertarianism doesn’t 'minimize the common good.' How can you minimize the common good by not stealing from or killing your neighbors?

"Someone else had a catchy little thing about that. I think it was Jesus who said, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.' They call it the Golden Rule. And that is essentially the same motto of the libertarians/anarchists and their non-aggression principle (NAP) worded another way....

"The Pope  ... has called countless times over the years for global communism which countries like Venezuela and Cuba are currently enjoying. Libertarians are against theft. It’s actually one of the commandments…. Meanwhile, the Pope is calling for a global system of theft via communism… just like Jesus would have done, right?

"Surely we all remember ... where Jesus said, 'And send forth armed men to extort and rob all in order to give unto those who are in need after the King and his bureaucracy taketh their share'....

"What might be the funniest thing about the Pope attacking libertarians is the fact that he lives one of the most libertarian lives on Earth. He has his own private tax free compound where he hordes tonnes of guns and gold. He is living the libertarian dream ... while he admonishes people to give to the poor from his golden throne."

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Saturday, May 6, 2017

The non-ideological Trump presidency

Trump Isn’t a Pragmatist. He Doesn’t Understand Ideology - Jonathan Chait, New York magazine:

May 3, 2017 - "Amid a flurry of strange statements by President Trump, an especially peculiar one he made recently largely passed by unnoticed. Asked about his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, Trump told Bloomberg News, 'Bannon’s more of a libertarian than anything else, if you want to know the truth.'

"That is a bizarre description. While certain libertarian-friendly notions — lower taxes, spending, regulation — serve as baseline-level beliefs shared by every Republican, Bannon might be the least libertarian member of the party of any stature. The ideas that excite Bannon the most are opposition to immigration and trade, on which he is pushing positions diametrically opposed to libertarianism. He has excitedly proposed a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. He has publicly criticized the party for its fealty to libertarianism. ('The Republicans, it’s all this theoretical Cato Institute, Austrian economics, limited government — which just doesn’t have any depth to it. They’re not living in the real world,' he told Robert Draper recently.) And libertarians generally distrust Bannon in return.

"Trump has no clear motive to miscategorize his chief strategist. Several more attractive, and also more plausible, terms are available: conservative, populist, nationalist. Trump simply does not grasp either Bannon’s thinking or libertarianism.....

"Trump — whose political profile over the decades has vacillated from liberal to conservative to moderate to populist, and supported and opposed abortion rights, higher taxes on the rich, and universal health care — does not care very much about political ideas.... The president also does not know very much about political ideas.... He does not understand which kinds of ideas imply support for which kinds of policies, nor why political figures tend to believe what they do, nor why they agree or disagree with one another. He is capable of forming strongly held beliefs about people in politics, but he does so in entirely personal terms....

"Many Americans share Trump’s lack of ideological sophistication. High-information voters tend to clump at the ends of the political spectrum. They may not have sophisticated beliefs, but their identification with one of the party coalitions is a tool they use to make sense of individual issues. Low-information voters tend to have a weak understanding of what the political parties stand for and how those positions relate to each other. These voters can be roughly categorized as 'centrist' because they don’t line up neatly with one party platform or the other. But, rather than a consistently moderate outlook, they share a mishmash of extreme and frequently uninformed beliefs. Because they don’t understand the philosophical basis for disagreements, they assume the two parties ought to naturally cooperate, and tend to see partisan bickering as a failure and an indication of personal fault by politicians.

"Trump thinks about politics like a low-information voter, which enabled him to speak their language naturally. His stated belief during the campaign that he could expertly craft a series of popular deals — 'it’s going to be so easy' — appealed to low-information voters because it earnestly described the political world as they see it....

"Politics is a strange institution that forces committed professionals who have coherent philosophical beliefs to persuade voters who mostly do not.... Trump accomplishes it in lowbrow style, by literally not understanding the source of the disagreement."

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Friday, May 5, 2017

R. Lee Wrights (1958-2017)

R. Lee Wrights | Libertarianism Wiki | Fandom powered by Wikia:

May 5, 2017 - "Roger Lee Wrights (June 8, 1958 - May 4, 2017) was an American politician, activist and political consultant. He was the founder, editor, and publisher of the online libertarian newsletter Liberty For All. He was the National Vice Chair of the Libertarian National Committee, serving several different times in that role. Wrights was an unsuccessful contender for the 2012 presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party, finishing as first runner-up to the eventual nominee Gary Johnson....

"Wrights was born on June 8, 1958 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He graduated from West Forsyth High School in Clemmons, North Carolina in 1976. Afterwards he enlisted in the United States Air Force.... Wrights earned a degree from Willmar College in Willmar, Minnesota where he majored in history and journalism. After college, he was a contributing editor for the Eagle News, a monthly political news and commentary newspaper in Forsyth County....

"Wrights founded Liberty For All with J. Michael Bragg in 2000, a free speech publication with the motto "Let Your Voice Be Heard" which claims "no one is turned away and no one is censored". In 2001 Wrights began work as an editor of the Free Market Daily, an e-mail newsletter distributed by After shut down in 2002, Wrights joined a group that began the Rational Review News Digest, a daily web and email-based news and commentary roundup....From 2005 to 2008, Wrights worked as editor of the Choice Channel for the International Society for Individual Liberty....

"Wrights was active in local, state and national Libertarian Party organizations since 2000 and was a lifetime member of the Libertarian Party. He served as secretary and chair of the Libertarian Party of Forsyth County, N.C. and was vice chair of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina (LPNC) for seven years.... In 2008, Wrights was campaign manager for the Mary Ruwart for President Committee....

"On April 16, 2011, Wrights officially announced his candidacy for the Libertarian presidential nomination in the election of 2012. The stated focus of his campaign was to 'stop all war', referring not only to war with foreign nations, but also to war on the American people and their civil liberties waged by the U.S. government.... Wrights also advocated abolition of the national income tax and added that he would 'replace it with...nothing.'

"At the 2012 Libertarian National Convention, Wrights was defeated for the LP presidential nomination by former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, finishing second in the balloting with 25% of the delegate votes. Following the defeat, Wrights expressed support for Johnson in his general election campaign. He was then nominated as a candidate for the LP vice-presidential slot. Wrights was defeated for that nomination by retired California Superior Court Judge Jim Gray, finishing second in the balloting with 38% of the delegate votes.

Wrights died on May 4, 2017, after a lengthy illness, at the age of 58.

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Libertarian Wicks impresses In Montana debate

Libertarian Candidate Mark Wicks Impresses Panelists In Montana Congressional Debate - Being Libertarian:

May 2, 2017 - "Libertarian Party candidate Mark Wicks appeared in a televised debate with Republican Greg Gianforte and Democrat Rob Quist Saturday for Montana’s at-large congressional district election occurring May 25th.

"Wicks has been a virtual unknown in the race, with the media focusing almost entirely on the major party candidates. News coverage of the race has mentioned the libertarian as an afterthought, or not at all. Wicks would have been excluded from Saturday’s debate as well were it not for the committed work of libertarian activists and the national Libertarian Party.

"On Monday, April 24, Wicks received an email from Jon Stepanek, the News Director of KTVQ (Q2 News). Stepanek and other MTN News Directors had decided that “the one hour timeframe allotted for the debate will best be used between [Quist and Gianforte],” and that Wicks would not be invited to participate. Soon after, Wicks posted the email to his Facebook page.

"Responding to an action alert from The Feldman Foundation, Libertarian activists from Montana and across the country began commenting on KTVQ and other MTN stations’ social media pages. After being asked what criteria had been used to exclude Wicks, Q2 News responded via Facebook, 'When choosing candidates for the debate, we applied the same news standards we have used in the past for other political debates. Those standards include polling at 5% and actively campaigning.'

"However, of the very few polls for this race, one poll by Emerson College showed that Wicks had indeed attained 5%. Another poll by Gravis Marketing had Wicks at 3%, but with a margin of error of ±2.9%. Several Google Consumer Surveys polls showed Wicks receiving as much as 11% of the vote. And Wicks was indeed actively campaigning.

"The Feldman Foundation prepared to file a complaint with the FEC, on the grounds that MTN’s exclusion of Wicks constituted unreported campaign contributions to the Democratic and Republican candidates. The New Libertarian put out a call to action: members were asked to publicize MTN’s exclusion of Wicks, to contact Q2 News and other MTN affiliates, and to “make the voice of liberty heard.” At the same time, national Libertarian Party chair Nicholas Sarwark sent in the artillery – the party’s legal counsel....

"On Saturday, ... Wicks impressed the debate panelists, and many Montanans learned for the first time that they have an authentic alternative to the major parties.

"When asked who was the winner of the debate, Mike Dennison, MTN’s Chief Political Reporter, responded, 'I think a clear winner had to be Mark Wicks, the Libertarian. Not only because he got some great exposure statewide, probably for the first time in the campaign, but also because he answered the questions really well and directly. He was articulate, he was funny, he didn’t dodge anything; he did a great job of differentiating himself from the other two candidates throughout the entire debate.'

"Tim McGonigal, MTN Anchor/Producer said of Wicks, 'He was refreshing, he had the sound bites of the night.'"

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

It's illegal to protest on your own property, Pennsylvania pipeline opponents told

Huntingdon County judge grants Sunoco authority to have protesting landowners arrested | StateImpact Pennsylvania - Susan Phillips:

April 28, 2017 - "Huntingdon County residents protesting the construction of Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 pipeline across their land now face arrest on their own property due to a rarely imposed court order known as a 'writ of possession.' Common Pleas Court judge George Zanic signed the order last week, which Sunoco had sought as an 'emergency measure' in response to the landowners tree-sitting on their property. Ellen and Stephen Gerhart in Huntingdon, Pa., along with their daughter Elyse, have become outspoken critics of the pipeline and the use of eminent domain by the company to take possession of land along the 350 mile route.

"Charges against Ellen Gerhart were dropped after she was arrested last year for trespass on her own property. But with this new writ, Sunoco can enlist law enforcement to arrest anyone within the easement, including the actual property owners....

"Gerhart says the tree-sitting began in early February, after Sunoco secured the permits from the Department of Environmental Protection to begin construction. She would not say how many people were participating in the protest, but said she herself had been up in the trees. Although the Gerharts’ challenge to the eminent domain takings are making their way through the appeals courts, the company can begin building. Recent efforts to seek a stay in construction failed.

"'We’re seriously looking at going to jail,' said Elyse Gerhart. 'I’m not the type of person who lets injustice go unchallenged, and neither is my mother. What we’re doing makes [Sunoco] show their true face.'

"Sunoco’s parent company, Energy Transfer Partners, is the same company that battled with Native American protesters over the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota, where a private security company used pepper spray and dogs on protestors....

"The Gerharts have refused to voluntarily grant an easement on their property, which includes a 50 foot wide right-of-way along with an additional 25 foot staging area. The Gerharts live on 27 acres of woods and wetlands in Huntingdon County."

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

BC Libertarian Josh Steffler optimistic (video) - CANDIDATE PROFILE: Libertarian voices optimism for chances in Esquimalt-Metchosin - Joel Tansey:

April 29, 2017 - "When asked how far away the province is from having a representative from the BC Libertarian Party in the legislature, Esquimalt-Metchosin candidate Josh Steffler – one of 30 candidates for the party in the May 9 election – isn’t shy about his answer.

"'I think we’ll get one this time around. We’ve got 30 chances to get one MLA and I think I’ll be the one,' he said. 'We’re where the Green Party was five or maybe 10 years ago … It only takes one member to get elected to really bring legitimacy to that idea and it takes off.'

"While he grew up in Langford, Steffler now lives in Esquimalt with his wife and three children.... When not working as a baker at Country Grocer or producing Freedom Free For All, a local cable access show he puts together with friends that features a news and interview format, Steffler shares many of the same hobbies as others in the Capital Region, including hiking and kayaking.

"Steffler says it was American politician Ron Paul who awakened him to the idea of Libertarianism. '(He) cured me of my socialism,' he added.

"The MLA hopeful believes in smaller government and advocates for privatization of some health care and education services to create competition. But he also believes police, fire and court services should remain publicly funded. As for BC Ferries, he sees a need for a private competitor on that front, as well."

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