Scott Horton Interviews Bruce Schneier

Scott Horton, April 11, 2008

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Bruce Schneier, cryptographer, computer security specialist, writer, and author, discusses the Justice Department’s bogus prosecutions of barely-terrorists in the JFK, Ft. Dix, Lackawanna, Miami and other cases, the increasing danger to Americans’ liberties due to the large numbers of new Joint Terrorism Task Forces across the country and their temptation to entrap the innocent, the rise of the domestic security industrial complex, the economics of airline security, information as the answer to the problem of consolidated power, the government’s data mining programs and the death of the Real ID.

MP3 here. (39:01)

Bruce Schneier is an American cryptographer, computer security specialist, writer, and author. He is the author of several books on computer security and cryptography including Applied Cryptography and Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World. He is the founder and chief technology officer of BT Counterpane.

57 Responses to “Bruce Schneier”

  1. This was so heartbreaking. I’m a big fan of Schneier’s book “Applied Cryptography.” Didn’t realize how thorough his misconceptions were about libertarianism and economics and the role of the government in exactly the things about corporations that seem to concern him so much.

  2. He sounds like a lot of the people that I worked with during the height of the dot.com bubble… They had answers for everything except why their companies weren’t making any $.

  3. What a complete fool! First, he speaks of the problems involved in governments prosecuting for headlines – trading resources for publicity. This, in itself, is an example of why governments are inefficient at what they do. The only job the government has that it needs to achieve is to look like they’re prosecuting and winning. To do this, they pick easy targets, entrap them, and calculate it as a win. Private companies cannot do this, as the costs involved are too high to do it – something governments do not care about.

    As far as the “marksman not pilots” bit, oh wow… Wow… That just killed me. Strategically speaking, the goal is to have defense as close as possible to the prospective prize.

    His reply, “lock the doors,” was quite rich as well. How does he think the September 11th attacks went down? The guys convinced the pilots to crash into the buildings?

    As for his failed attempts at economics, bringing up the “national” aspect is useless. As long as the costs of losing a plane, law suits from the families of the victims, and oh yeah, all future prospective business are high enough to give incentives for adequate protection – they are – then the internalization of security works fine.

    His logic is so arse-backwards! Yes, airport security was once contracted to private companies, but the September 11th attacks were not carried out through gadgets and gizmos that would have ever otherwise been detected. The hijackers attacked the pilots – breaking down their locked doors, even! – with their bodies and a few box-cutters – hardly anything to pick up on.

    Lock in, in products? Buying government when you vote? The costs of switching? Oh man… What a complete moron! Never return him; black ball him.

  4. Props to Scott for taking Mr. Schneier to task. It’s not really ‘Corporate good, Government bad.’ It’s more of Corporate effective, Gov’t ineffective (generally speaking). Someone please correct me if I am wrong, but I thought box cutters were NOT restricted items at the time, so the security in place did what they were supposed to.
    Airline insurance companies (and, of course, airlines themselves) have a strong financial interest in making sure those very expensive planes stay in the sky, and would offer lower premiums to airlines who took the necessary steps to keep their planes, passengers, and crew in the sky. Airports also have a vested interest in making sure they provide their customers (the airlines and their passengers) a safe and efficient method of boarding. All of this incentive appears to have been removed with the TSA takeover.
    The American Airlines fiasco will certainly effect them in the long run; a lot of customers may never fly them again. JetBlue is still trying to dig out of the mess they created by locking passengers on planes for hours several months ago. The market does work.
    And phone contracts? That is a contract. You signed it and agreed to the terms. But you didn’t have to go that route. You could have gone with a pay-as-you-go arrangement (Virgin, Go Phones, MetroPCS). There are almost always options.

    Peace be with you.

  5. Of course, being wrong about one thing (ok, several things) doesn’t mean his other points on bogus prosecutions have no validity.

  6. What a douchebag. The difference between government failure and corporate failure is that we all pay for government failure, and we keep paying and paying because when they fail, they grow. Then they blame it on us and stomp on liberty.

    When corporations fail, there is loss, but it gets liquidated and strengthens the competitors.

    Yes, his points that he had a clue about were fine, but he should skip the lecture on economics.

  7. Thought this was a very interesting interview. You should invite him back and have a debate on private versus public security.

  8. I don’t even see why they should return him.

    If Scott raised a point, this guy just said, “well now you’re just getting into the crazy stuff.”

    What good is a debate when the opponent just dismisses everything that the other person says as loony?

  9. Advocate for a cause or explorer for ideas? The former has an agenda while the latter is free to judiciously question and weigh the other’s viewpoints.

    Keep up the good work!

  10. It seems patently clear to me that a man so confused and dismissive of the facts of government failure and abuse at every level, probably doesn’t think very clearly about electronic security, cryptography, etc. These types are omnipresent in the “security” world. They’re fairly clever at sorting out a small, local computer problem or solving a puzzle. They are completely myopic, however, when trying to see an overall picture. — Just as a general rule — whenever I hear “externalities” repeatedly used in a concrete discussion of facts (outside a lecture on economics or philosophy), I start looking where I’m stepping.

    There’s a very good chance that BS is everywhere.

  11. You guys all sound like someone just pissed into your Internet Echo Chamber. Getting not out much, are you all? Schneier makes pretty much sense to me, and he’s in no sense beholden to subscribe to whatever ideology his listeners subscribe to. Did the title of the interview say “Schneier affirms having the correct opinion on everything?” No it didn’t, so stop the dissing.

    “probably doesn’t think very clearly about electronic security, cryptography”…

    Blah blah blah… Jesus talk about the arrogance of ignorance.

    Oh btw, the Brits have a similar “Id” problem right now: http://www.no2id.net/

  12. Scott got pwned!!!

    Good interview — you finally found someone who was actually willing to engage Scott’s kneejerk libertarian dogma. My fave: Scott’s grudging acknowledgement of the existence of externalities in airline security. Oops!

    I’ve got no beef with libertarianism, but Scott’s automatonic “gub’mint bad” comments get stale and shallow and in a hurry.

    Sheesh — just read the preceeding comments, and you libertarians are certainly a defensive bunch! The man merely set out a cogent argument of why the free market isn’t effective in providing security against terrorism on airplanes. Why are you people so afraid of admitting that there might be some tasks that the government ought to perform?

  13. I’m following antiwar.com regularly – good selections and it gives me other points of views (I’m not a libertarian, and antiwar.com isn’t convincing me to become one).

    That said, I have to side with Schneir about governments. It’s not that governments are bad. It’s that bad governments are bad. The notion that the private sector is inherently better is also bogus. What happened with the privatisation of electricity in the US? Go read on California.

    As for economics, I’d invite you to read “Bad Samaritans” by Ha-Joon Chang for a glimpse at what made countries prosper (hint: government intervention)… I’d like to see Ha-Joon Chang as a guest on Antiwar radio!

    Cheers,

  14. The second amendment says the federal government can’t get in the way of your defense against externalities, the violent ones at least. Though, incorporation compromises all kinds of things.

    ———-

    Vox, don’t confuse avoiding getting an entire interview bogged down on a topic unrelated to the reason Schneier was on the show and a lack of arguments against some of Schneier was saying.

    Also, I don’t see the big deal about acknowledging externalities. It’s why stores have loss prevention programs and why web sites add security to avoid being hacked. The demand for dealing with externalities has even been met by other businesses supplying security cameras, alarm systems, etc. and a large segment of the insurance industry exists specifically to insure people, businesses, and corporations against externalities – violent, fraud related, and environmental alike. The government telling someone it will handle the externalities is like telling them to pretend they live in a vacuum. To just accept that would be irresponsible, but nonacceptance usually comes with fines, property leans, and/or other retaliations (where are the industries that help defend against those externalities?).

  15. Scott’s grudging acknowledgement of the existence of externalities in airline security. Oops!

    Que? I had never denied “externalities” and certainly didn’t grudgingly admit that anything he said was a convincing argument for government interference. My habit is to bring up basic objections to the statist assumptions of my guests and then let them off the hook and get back to what we’re talking about rather than getting too bogged down.

    Did you think Gravel convinced me to grudgingly accept world government since I changed the subject? Or Churnus that “we” are more important than individual rights?

    “What happened with the privatisation of electricity in the US? Go read on California.”

    Uh… When you repeal 3 regulations and leave a million billion, this does not a free market make. You go read about California. Those Enron criminals were not violating the law. They were following the regulations exactly as they were created – to screw regular people.

  16. Some things are so obvious they are hard to see…

    First off: Government created this whole problem of terrorism in the first place and the airline industry wouldnt have this problem were it not for the murderous government in the first place. I think the argument stops there…

    Second: As someone pointed out, this idea of talking about corporations and being “locked in” and not applying this to government takes A LOT OF EFFORT TO NOT SEE.

    FREE MARKET LOCK IN WITH CELL SERVICE: I first can do research on the different cell phone carriers…i could do pay as you go, or i can choose to “lock in” at a better rate per minute by signing a contract for as long as is mutually beneficial to both parties (remember we are dealing in reality, both sides have to find it beneficial). I can break the agreement but there is a penalty that i agreed to which with my carrier is $220. Neither of us can change the agreement after signing unless we both agree to change it. After the term expires, im free to go to any other carrier.

    FEDERAL GOVERNMENT LOCK IN: Pay what we say and follow whatever laws we make or else you go to jail…but they get 1/3 of your earnings year in year out(or more if the government decides) and they make so many rules it would take several life times to read (literally). Oh yeah, and you are one in many millions of people who get to vote for a few people who are the many who are deciding on all this…. thats your feedback you get to give…dont you feel better?

    Someone take a guess as to which one is being locked in? We can see the results of government right now as they take us to war, steal more of our money, spy on us, send us to jail to make their organization better, as the guest discusses.

    AND NOW TO THE MAIN POINT THAT WE ARE DANCING AROUND BUT WILL BE BRUSHED ASIDE…government IS bad because IT IS AGGRESSION. Just as it is immoral for a mobster to take protection money from me because i live in a certain area, its immoral for government to do the same. This is regardless of what services they are providing. The mobster can offer you services too, but the main point is that next time try saying “no thank you, im not interested in your services anymore” and the result will be the same in both cases. Violence or Jail.

    I can hear the gears turning in your heads how you can get around this…hmmm. but..but…but….um…social contract theory…..

    How many more millions have to die at the hands of their own “customers” before people start to catch on to this.. 20th century it was 200 million? or so…

    until someone shows me otherwise “GUB’MNT IS BAD”…just a a mobster is bad….

    Id love to hear your comments though… for more i personally love http://www.freedomainradio.com itll get you thinking

  17. Scott sez: “They were following the regulations exactly as they were created – to screw regular people.”

    Things got worst with the privatization, hence public sector *CAN* be more effective.

    We shall agree to disagree (I find blogs a bad place to have meaningful discussions),

    I do invite you to check “Bad Samaritans”. Most economic booms came about with government involvement… USA included. And by all means, please invite the author and take him to task.

  18. Goran sez: “Government created this whole problem of terrorism”

    Wrong. It’s the imperialistic policies of *A* government. It doesn’t follow that any kind of government is bad.

    Goran sez: ” in the first place and the airline industry wouldnt have this problem were it not for the murderous government in the first place”

    Hmmm, would the airline industry even exist without government subsidies?

    I’ll say this though: a government is bound to fail when the voters don’t get involved. If the voters don’t get involved, then the special interest groups get their way. In the US (and Canada where I am), voters don’t get involved politically. I do find that always complaining about the government in the 3rd person is an easy way out. It’s easier than to get involved and make the government work. The government is us, and if we do not make it work, it is our failing. Getting rid of governments isn’t going to fix the major problem of a lack of implication by the citizens.

    On that, best regards, and looking forward to hear Scott interview the author of “Bad Samaritans”.

  19. “THE GOVERNMENT IS US. If we do not make it work, it is our failing”

    So those in the Holocaust: those 7 million in ovens their lives and everything they had stolen from them…”sounds like suicide to me,” you say? Okay, not suicide, but they are to blame, of course.

    There are millions upon millions of examples of this same type of events where people were killed by people in governments, stolen from by these people, jailed by these people and i find it ridiculous to explain this as killing themselves, or stealing from themselves, or jailing themselves.

    NO SUCH THING AS GOOD GOVERNMENT

    I have my money taken by these people (I know exactly who they are) and they tell me that if i dont give it to them they will send me to jail…and this is MY FAULT??? This is me stealing from myself? You are speaking in meaningless metaphors we are taught in school and this is not reality.

    Government at every level is initiation of violence or the THREAT of violence by definition. If i say “no thank you”, i go to jail. If i resist as i would any other person who is trying to take my money or kidnap me, at a certain point, they will KILL me. Special moral rules dont apply because someone calls themselves “government.” Every government is evil because of this violence.

    Government gives certain people special privelges of forcing people to do things. The “free market” as we call it, is the inability to force people to do things.
    Mao said, “Government power flows from the barrel of a gun.” he was just being honest.

    Government has produced HUNDREDS of millions of its own citizens murdered bodies piled upon each other. Government, I.E. VIOLENCE is not the way to organize. For better explanations, go to http://www.freedomainradio.com this guys better than i am at explaining all this.

    ”””””
    Would the airline industry exist without government subsidies? I dont know… I suspect probably, but if it didnt then people didnt percieve it as the best use of those scarce resources.

  20. Goran sez: “So those in the Holocaust: those 7 million in ovens their lives and everything they had stolen from them…”sounds like suicide to me,” you say? Okay, not suicide, but they are to blame, of course.”

    Goran, you are really being argumentative. If you are paying attention to what I wrote, you’ll note that I’ve already said that government CAN be bad. But you refuse to address my point that people don’t get involved. Looks like the only contribution you have to make is “let’s get rid of government”. Everything’s gonna fix itself thanks to the forces of free market.

    As for the income tax paid, I pay it in Canada, that money goes to fund services such as medicare, municipal infrastructures and a host of other things. It’s also true that there’s waste, and in the US it is very dramatic due to the war. I wouldn’t trade the health care system in Canada for the one in the US.

    Again, I really would like Scott to invite the author of “Bad Samaritans”, so that you guys can get a different perspective on “free market”.

    Cheers,

  21. Yes i suppose i am being argumentative…this is an argument and you are side stepping issues of mass theft and mass murder. This is not abstract debating about platos theory of the forms. This is the attempt to justify the organization that has stolen incalculable amounts of money and murdered hundreds of millions of people.

    I have payed attention to what you have said. You said that “we are the government” and that there is “good government.” I said both ideas are irrational and you have come back at me with no argument at all.

    I have addressed both of your points and you have not responded to my points. Please tell me how theft and murder are moral? You can say, “there is no other way so we need to allow this theft…” but at least admit that this is the very nature of the organization you are advocating. If not explain, because i dont see any rational way that its not theft and murder.

    To be clear, I have not brought up how things would work if we got rid of government. I have only addressed the morality.

    Please reread my posts and address those issues.

    I understand that most people do not see this as being the reality of the situation, but i believe that is testament to the amount of corruption that takes place from our childhood on to have us think this way.

    If you are genuinely interested in the topic, which most people are not, visit http://www.freedomainradio.com This site is a treat to the truly curious who are seeking the truth, no matter how unpopular that truth may be.

    Lastly, in a sense, there is no such thing as the “free market”. as i alluded to earlier, this is what many people have termed the voluntary interaction of people. People can lie, make bad mistakes etc. and no doubt the results of these interactions will never be “perfect” because people are not perfect. But its not about perfection. It is about people coming together without anyone pointing or threatening to point guns at each other.

    When the ability to use violence in human intereaction enters the equation (ie government) the results are always theft and murder of an unimaginable scale. Humans should not sanction the use of force in their dealing because it will always end up this way. At the very least, we must admit it is immoral but we should not be surprised in the slightest when the people who have the guns use them to THEIR advantage, and NOT the the advantage of US, the ones who on the wrong end of the guns.

    THanks for everyone taking the time to read this…

  22. How do you like being called a “nut” Scott? I was surprised that you held your tongue. Maybe you are growing up a bit? Once your juvenile agenda is filtered out, your interviews hold real value. I hope you are learning something from your guests.

  23. Goran sez: “this is an argument and you are side stepping issues of mass theft and mass murder”

    What kind of intelligent discussion can there be when what you have to say is something along the lines of: “There is no such thing as a good government, as proven by the nazi”. This is about on par with “The sun is bad, as proven by the cancer that people get, and those who have been blinded by looking at eclipses”.

    My point about the government being “us” is a counter point to those of you referring to the governments in the 3rd person. If the government doesn’t reflect your values, then make it reflect your values. Not everything is going to be as you’d like because we live in a society, and compromises have to be made so that we all get along, but it is “crazy” and “nutty” to simply put your head in the sand by claming the all governments are bad.

    I’ll take the canadian health care system over anything you guys have in the us. I’ll take hydro-quebec over california’s privatised electricity. I’d like to pay no tax, but I also realize that living in a society, we have to help those in needs, and that requires taking money out of the pockets of those who have it.

    The US government is in a pretty bad state right now. In Canada it’s not rosy, but it’s better. We can agree on that, maybe.

    But it is futile, childish, nutty, crazy to call for the end of governments when the political/social activism in north america is abysmal, as if ditching the government is going to help anything… If you get rid of governments, then other power centers will emerge. What’s needed is not to change one power center for another. What’s needed is to make the power center work in our interest. That requires involvement.

    Feel free to e-mail me at iw68@hotmail.com if you want to continue this discussion. But if all you have to offer is “*ALL* governments are bad as shown by hitler and bush”, then it’s probably not worth e-mailing me.

    In the meantime, I hope that Scott *WILL* invite Ha-Joon Chang on the show.

    Regards,

  24. Okay, should i address each of your points AGAIN?!

    All governments are IMMORAL (BAD) because THEY ALL STEAL, and some murder, and when they start murdering their own people they do it on such a massive scale SEVERAL MILLION DEATHS IS A ROUNDING ERROR. (you have not addressed the issue of theft or murder)

    Canada is less immoral, IMO, because although they STEAL about the same (i think???) they generally havent murdered AS many (but they are in Afghanistan, were in 1st Gulf War, Vietnam, etc.?correct me if im wrong). But ALL government are immoral because THEY ALL STEAL, at the very least. This goes from my local government, all they way up to the federal. It includes every government that has ever been in existence because by definition, governments TAX, ie STEAL. (calling its something else does not change its nature). Please read my last few posts….

    Oh yeah, and i forgot…to make my argument more compelling i should call yours “futile, childing, nutty” and whatever else people say because they arent addressing the points or are doing so weakly.

    Actually this seems to be working…i can feel my argument getting stronger…your argument is like poopy….ka ka… pee pee….

    I will not be responding if you do not HONESTLY address the issues that i bring up…i debated with myself if i should get involved in these comments and as i thought from the beginning, it has so far been a waste of time…

  25. Goran sez: “I will not be responding if you do not HONESTLY address the issues”

    The discussion with you roughly goes as follows:

    Goran: All governments are bad (e.g. holocaust)

    Steph: not so simple. Consider xyz

    Goran: All governments are bad (e.g. iraq war)

    Steph: but not so simple. Consider abc

    Goran: Look, I will not be responding if you are not going to honestly address the issues. All governments are bad.

    etc.

    Look Goran, you see everything as black and white, and no matter what, you will not see the shades of gray that I present.

    It is futile, nutty, etc to see the world as black and white and make statements like “all governments are bad” because:

    1) You immediately lose the attention of those that you are trying to convince that changes are needed

    2) If you haven’t lost people’s attention, you still are trying to convince people of something to which there are counter arguments (e.g. the shades of gray I offered you), so you are essentially check mating yourself.

    3) In the end, it’s a self fulfilling prophecy. People (such as yourself) refuse to have anything to do with governments – i.e. refuse to get involved in the political life of society, and the lack of people’s involvement leads governments to pay attention to the select few who do get involved in the political life (e.g. the israel lobby).

    I would think that libertarianism is a means to an end, the end being a better world to live in. And even if you were correct that all governments are bad, you aren’t achieving your end by seeing complex things as black and white.

    Cheers,

  26. “Once your juvenile agenda is filtered out, your interviews hold real value.”

    There is nothing juvenile about hating cops.

  27. Steph, just a couple things (and I will try to get the book you recommend):

    “Things got worst with the privatization, hence public sector *CAN* be more effective.”

    But this is just comparing socialism with fascism. Any libertarian who defended what happened in California – did any? – must have simply been ignorant Republicans calling themselves that.

    There is no doubt whatsoever that having the state repeal the caps on wholesale electricity while keeping them on the retail side and the myriad other ways in which the power of the state was being applied in that case made matters worse. It was a huge crisis. It cost lives and bazillions of dollars.

    A rough paraphrase from a movie I saw about Enron: “Geez, it seems like what we’re doing here should be illegal…”

    It’s just that this is no more “privatization” than Blackwater, Bush’s failed fascist Social Security scheme or the freaking Apollo program.

    “Hmmm, would the airline industry even exist without government subsidies?”

    If not, screw ‘em. Why should poor people who never travel be forced to subsidize the rich who fly around all the time? I’m willing to bet that in a free market, there would be airlines and they’d be a hell of a lot better for knowing there’s no bailout coming. But again, if that’s wrong, that’s just tough for the corporate executives, stock holders and the people who ride airplanes at non-flyers’ expense.

    Best,

  28. By the way, I have great respect for Bruce Schneier and the vast majority of leftists, rightists, liberals, conservatives, moderates and other people with whom I disagree on many things. Being a socialist on airport security doesn’t make one worth dismissing by a long shot. So let’s all get along and fight the War Party.

  29. Steph,

    here is what you have not addressed and told me where im wrong and i will try to make it as simple as possible:

    Taxation is Theft.

    Theft is immoral (bad).

    Governments tax.

    THEREFORE GOVERNMENTS ARE BAD.

    ****PLEASE TELL ME HERE WHERE I AM WRONG****

    After you strip away all of the “complexities” you call them… the metaphors and B.S. THIS is what you are left with. It is so simple a 5 year old could undestand it, and also so simple that a Phd at Harvard couldnt.

    If i come into your house and take your stuff, it is wrong, even if i go and to give it to poor people. If this is not the case, then please give me your address and i will relieve you of your belongings and make some poor people happy. But naturally, ill have to take my cut for my work :) Sound familiar. But remember, we cant make special moral rules for different people. Calling someone “government” does NOT give them any special moral standing. Voting does not make theft moral either. If i have a few of your neighbors vote in favor of taking your stuff does that make it moral????????

    Regardless of whatever peoples attention is directed at, this is the REALITY of the situation. I am interested in sharing the TRUTH. That is why im typing this.

    Consider that during slavery in the US there were many that said how complex it was blah blah blah., “It may not always be pretty but the economy would fall apart if it were abolished, and there just needed to be more benevolent masters.” BUT A SLAVE IS STILL A SLAVE. Those in the abolishment movement told everyone else that it was PLAIN WRONG and we cannot worry about the economy…slavery is an abomination and is inhumane. we must stop regardless of if there is a great cost. we wil deal with that later. (that being said, there are many solutions post-government of which would require a longer discussion)

    We are slaves just the same as blacks in the US were, albeit to a lesser degree. It is immoral to make a man a slave, and that is what we do, day in day out.

    So AGAIN…please answer me…HOW IS TAXATION NOT THEFT??? And please take into account all the things i have said so i do not have to repeat myself.

  30. Steph, im not trying to harsh, and i suppose i shouldnt since i once had the same views as you. I guess all i have to say is to keep an open mind, always keep learning and never give in to social pressure no matter how slight, as it will always corrupt. But most important be honest to yourself, as it is so difficult.

    I do not see where im wrong about the immorality of the state and I feel very passionately about this. Its is not just about the immorality, as i have touched on. It is about the huge amount of theft and more importantly hundreds of millions dead all based on the legitimacy of the state.

    The state is mostly held back by opportunity in how much it can steal and kills. Who is Canada going to invade, the US? Who is anyone going to invade with the US being the hegemon? The US gov is a mafia boss with the world as its turf. THe US started out as the most free and peaceful (domestic and foreign policy wise) the world had ever seen. Two generally peaceful neighbors to the north and south. but as its citizens gained more wealth the parasite of government did the same. It stole more and more from its own citizens and therefore made itself so powerful militarily it went abroad to murder and kill and make every other government bow to its will.

    Do you see the trajectory? The US went from most free and i believe could very well be headed to least. Public schools are factories for believing the state is the solution to our problems.

    What hope is there for any government to be “limited” if it couldnt in this case. Of course limited government is not in the interest of people in the government, nor the select few busimessman who become priveledged through the state. It will end, but it will be ugly. All it takes is another 911. But regardless of war, they have been building huge debts that would eventually create a monetary crisis. Think Weimar republic Crisis creates more opportunity for state theft and power…and war.

    The state is like a landslide going down hill and all we can do is try to hold it back temporarily if thousands of years of history are any lesson. IT is a losing battle and you may have a lot stolen from you, but at best, your kids and grandkids will have more stolen and, who knows, will possibly be swallowed up and killed by the state.

    All the way down, politicians will get what they want: prestige and power to tell others what to do for a little cash, and the businessmen will get what they want: Lots of cash. And we all will be left with nothing…hopes and dreams for our futures gone. maybe we should feel lucky if we are left with our lives.

    And so it goes… sorry to be pessimistic, but i dont see any other way….

    What can we do? Protect yourself and your family and friends…and stay out of the path of the state.

  31. Scott sez: “There is no doubt whatsoever that having the state repeal the caps on wholesale electricity while keeping them on the retail side and the myriad other ways in which the power of the state was being applied in that case made matters worse. It was a huge crisis. It cost lives and bazillions of dollars.”

    Why did the state do this? Could it be pressures from the private sectors? Why was there no ordinary people doing anything about this? Could it be that most ordinary people where too busy with playing nintendo, watching “american idol”, or some such thing? Had their been real political involvement this would not have happened.

    But now, I’m suppose to believe that a libertarian world would work with an equally absent involvement in politics? We’re to believe that Enron would suddenly be nice rather than try to screw people?

    Goran sez: “Taxation is Theft.”

    It maybe in your case. If you get no service in return for it, or if the money doesn’t go to help the needies, then, yes that’s theft.

    However, if you get services in return, it is not a theft. It’s not theft to have to pay tax to fund a public health care system like we have in Canada, as one example that I already gave you. So, “Taxation is Theft” is only true if you say it in a particular context. If you state that “Taxation is Theft” no matter what, then don’t be surprised if people use all sorts of labels to describe the statement. Simplification is good. Oversimplification is not.

    Furthermore, wealth is not a function of how much an individual works. It’s a function of how an individual exploits the system better than others, often by profiting from the natural resources that belong to everyone. So, saying that rich folks should be taxed isn’t theft from that perspective either. It’s correcting an imbalance of wealth.

    Are there cases where taxes amount to theft? Certainly. But I wouldn’t generalise like you do, and I’d avoid the use of “Theft” if I want to reach out to people and make a difference.

    Goran sez: “Regardless of whatever peoples attention is directed at, this is the REALITY of the situation. I am interested in sharing the TRUTH. That is why im typing this.”

    But what is the point in “sharing the TRUTH” with people who don’t pay attention to what you are saying?

    Goran sez: “THe US started out as the most free and peaceful (domestic and foreign policy wise) the world had ever seen.”

    Not really. Read “Bad Samaritans” to learn more about economic policies (which is part of foreign policies). And the US has been fighting wars for a long time (I suspect Howard Zinn talks about that in his new book which I don’t have).

    Goran sez: “What can we do?”

    Stop being pessimistic and do something about it. There are definite problems. But as I said, blaming it all on “The State” or “The Government” is just an easy cop out. If things get worst, you’re not going to be able to “stay out of the path of the state”. Better get involved and make your government work better. What have WE done to make things better other than blame it on others? If the government doesn’t feel like yours, then do something so that it feels like yours. Wishing away a power center isn’t going to help.

    Anyways, I’ll (try) to conclude with this: I think Scott, Goran and myself have the same goal in that we want the world to be a better place to live in for everyone. We depart in our disagreement that free market/no government is a workable solution. But here’s another challenge to Scott – have a show where you discuss with libertarians about concrete steps that they/you have taken to make things better.

    Cheers,

  32. —-”Why did the state do this? Could it be pressures from the private sectors? Why was there no ordinary people doing anything about this? Could it be that most ordinary people where too busy with playing nintendo, watching “american idol”, or some such thing? Had their been real political involvement this would not have happened.”—-

    Yes of course there was pressure from companies that would benefit. Thats one of my main points about government. Given everything that has happened in history, it is amazing that someone is to think that government would do anything other than take from the many and give to itself and the few who are connected. In americas case, it is more fascistic (government-corporate ties). If you want a look at what government looks like when laws are made to abolish the free market look at communist countries of old. Of course, there are many examples of a mix between the two. THe whole point is that humans act to benefit themselves- always have and always will. Government IS THE ONLY INSTITUTION that allows one person to threaten violence to get what they want (pay taxes, or else…). You can always guess where that leads. People using that position of violent power to their advantage. (yes yes, corporations have power but not violent power. Corp have the ability to buy, sell, hire and fire- no more, no less. And im tired of stuff about how microsoft made windows bundled blah blah blah. Noone said when you offer a product you have to make to the ABSOLUTE best advantage of the person buying. You cant buy a chevy and ask for a ford engine…again free market (no violence) is not perfection. [sorry :) tangent]

    I say the better system is to not allow certain people to do use force (government). Given the bloody history of government and where it leads i think the normal response to this would be…”wow, that sounds great to end this instution that steals from everyone, continues to steal more and more and has caused hundreds of millions to die. Tell me more, how can we do that.” But instead, its “your a childish fool.”

    —-”However, if you get services in return, [taxation] is not a theft.”—

    Well i extend my offer once again. Please give me your address as I need to take some stuff to fund a program I have going on. I PROMISE to give some money to poor people and just a bit for myself. I will also buy you something with the money. If you do not go along with this, i will send you to a jail- if you become violent in trying to resist, i will shoot you. Is this theft? According to your definition- NO.

    Point being: The test is to decline the offer and see what happens. We see through this when organized crime does this same thing, but only government puts forth the proposition: give us your money and we will provide you with services, or else….and many dont realize this is violence.

    ——– “THe US started out as the most free and peaceful (domestic and foreign policy wise) the world had ever seen.” Not really. [steph]———

    Okay, you got me there. You are right about this one. I will admit when i am wrong. This nation was founded on murder, slavery, and oppression of women. But my point still stands that government has really expanded in the amount of money they steal and as soon as they had the wealth to build a navy strong enough they engineered a war with Spain.

    “Stop being pessimistic and do something about it.” I tried that route in the past but you said it best “But what is the point in “sharing the TRUTH” with people who don’t pay attention to what you are saying?”

    I think it was emma goldberg who said “if voting changed anything they’d make it illegal.” Think about it. If JFK, RFK, MLK (off the top of my head) were murdered because of their actually having the ability to change things, what are the chances that I could change anything. And if history is any lesson, why would i spend my lifetime trying to pull back the state when it will just bulldoze over me. Things wont change because of me, they will change because of large events like the breakdown of the welfare-warfare state.

    We are getting to the point in the US where i am afraid to speak out about anything anyway and im surpised that people like scott even exist. If you read this site, you know what theyre doing about wiretaps, habeus corpus, martial law etc. Wait some time and see what happens. This wont be pretty and I am not going to stick my neck out with the chance of watching it be chopped off.

  33. “Things wont change because of me,”

    You alone are not going to change things. You and others can change things. Popular movements HAVE changed things.

    Voting is only a tiny part of democracy. Sadly, that’s about the only part that people take part in, and barely. Without active involvement you won’t get anywhere good.

    “Wait some time and see what happens”

    So, let’s see. You are afraid to speak in times that are bad. You expect things to get worst. Are you going to be less afraid to speak out and do something when things get worst? I mean, what kind of logic is this? Are you waiting for OTHERS to do something? And maybe while you are in the back seat you can blame them for not trying hard enough?…. Self fulfilling prophecy, it is dude… if you are representative of libertarians, then libertarians are a pretty sad bunch :-)

  34. Yeah, maybe youre right and i should speak out….I mean, worst case- Gitmo does have wonderful weather! :)

  35. Scott Horton: “So let’s all get along and fight the War Party.”

    Scott, this is a problem I have with some of the discussions here. What war are you exactly referring to? The war against foreign peoples? Ok, I agree, let’s fight them. But what of the war against domestic people? The war against workers? The war against entrepreneurs? The war against free markets? The war against voluntary interactions? The war against people that do not like being subjected to the mad will of a collective?

    There are many more wars than just the one in the desert of Iraq. I suggest we fight them all and ally with none that would propose any.

  36. “Sheesh — just read the preceeding comments, and you libertarians are certainly a defensive bunch! The man merely set out a cogent argument of why the free market isn’t effective in providing security against terrorism on airplanes. Why are you people so afraid of admitting that there might be some tasks that the government ought to perform?”

    Except he didn’t set out a cogent argument.

    He made very shallow points – that the “nation” would just be so devastated that the cost of providing security for an airplane couldn’t compete with that negative externality did occur. The problem of course being here that it isn’t a question about “the nation,” but rather a question about the cost of having an expensive piece of capital destroyed along with all future prospects in the business world compared to the cost of defending one’s property and the future prospects for one’s business.

    As for the government has a role bit, fine. Keep your government. Obey it. Love it. Pray to it. If you attempt to get me to do this, however, I will not hesitate to defend myself by attacking you.

  37. when one million jews are murdered they call it genocide but when a million arabs are slaughtered in iraq they call it collateral damage

  38. Scott, this is a problem I have with some of the discussions here. What war are you exactly referring to? The war against foreign peoples? Ok, I agree, let’s fight them. But what of the war against domestic people? The war against workers? The war against entrepreneurs? The war against free markets? The war against voluntary interactions? The war against people that do not like being subjected to the mad will of a collective?

    First thing’s first.

  39. “But now, I’m suppose to believe that a libertarian world would work with an equally absent involvement in politics? We’re to believe that Enron would suddenly be nice rather than try to screw people?”

    Steph – This always happens and I guess I can see why, but there’s a real misunderstanding going on between you and I here. The case I’m making is that in a system with an extremely limited or nonexistent government, Enron would have never existed. They didn’t do anything but skim from others’ production. As we’ve seen, even with the benefit of state power at their every disposal, they were an incredibly lousy investment. As much freedom as there is in the market is responsible for their destruction, not their previous impunity.

    There is nothing “nice” about a corporate board room compared to any other group of self interested people, the question is one of checks and balances, separation of power, investment, risk and reward – and bankruptcy for those who cease to serve their customers.

    Government – our democracy – has the lousiest turnover rate you could imagine, while the alleged permanence of any “evil corporation”
    depends almost entirely on their relationship with the state.

    You may not agree, but you see what I mean?

    Not magic. Not dogma. Not trust. Not love for big fat bald billionaires. Simply a recognition that the market is how to get rid of those who deserve it, the state their escape from the risks associated with not being able to hire a congressman to bail them out or regulate their competition etc. (ie: failure and foreclosure.)

  40. I would like to see more real debates between ‘libertarians’ and ‘progressives’ on the role of the state not less here on antiwar.com. Like one of the other guests said in an another interview, the current political reallignment going on is a real opportunity to come up with new ideas and long term political movements, not just temporary alliances. There’s too many dogmatists among ‘libertarians’ and ‘leftists’ while I believe there’s tremendous potential for finding common ground at the moment. Discussion and fresh ideas are definitely needed though.

  41. A. Shah, if by dogmatic you mean uncompromising, then yes. This is something to strive for.

    ——–

    Steph: “Better get involved and make your government work better.”

    See, here’s the problem, Steph. I want governments to do, literally, nothing at all – except die.

    Scott: “First thing’s first.”

    Scott, I do not believe that they are at all independent variables. If one exists, the likelihood is that all others will too.

    Those “anti-war progressives” are, as I see it, not anti-war at all. They are anti-this-war, they are anti-Bush, but they are also anti-Freedom.

    I do not consider solving a virus with a virus to be progress.

  42. This issue of “getting along to fight the war party” rubs at me and it may sound nice and it does make me FEEL good, but Niccolo, i think is very correct about this.

    People when ruled over generally do not want to oppose their ruler. How amazing was it that a smart guy like Shneier could rail against “corporate lock-in” and talk right past government lock in. AMAZING! Any of your arguments turned into name calling and this is not some crazy guy on the street shouting obscenities.

    Its the Stockholm syndrome writ large, I believe. Through millions of years of evolution we have survived in small tribes by following our leaders in our tasks and battles against rival tribes. DISSENT caused death of the whole tribe. Conversely, it is human nature to also RULE. Combine this with the way children are raised wit their relation to authority- “do this because im bigger than you…because im your dad (authority)” and Government and people following the authority of government is baked in the cake. “Good arguments” wont work on most people.

    Also, democracy is especially sick and dangerous in that when their rulers steal and start ordering the killings THE PEOPLE themselves are blamed!

    Bigger picture: watch out people in the US…once the next government caused crisis occurs, or maybe even before that, you do not want to stand in from the the runaway train of the state. That path is littered with ruined lives and dead bodies.

    I go to antiwar.com to see when its time to exit the “land of the free.” Not to try to convince the devil to be an angel.

    Sorry Scott :)

  43. Uncompromising shouldn’t be a cover for being completely unwilling to change based on new knowledge and circumstances. Libertarians desperately need to rethink their notions of what government and coercion are, and what are the best tactics now that traditional direct state ‘socialism’ is in decline in most of the world. Progressives need to rethink what are the best ways to achieve more equality, prosperity, and liberty in the long run. There is a lot of common ground that can be found, and it offers the possibility for the basis of a real long term political movement. Libertarians are right to argue against crude state power, progressives are right to argue for common human values and to search for a vision of the future that will inspire individuals to cooperate, the two aren’t mutually exclusive. The two can’t exist without each other in the real world.

  44. Scott sez: “You may not agree, but you see what I mean?”

    I think the flaw in your argument is that you assume that without a government there would not be other center(s) of power equally F’ed up. I much prefer a center of power chosen by the people over a center of power chosen by a select few rich/corrupt folks.

    The problem we have right now is not that we have governments, its that the governments aren’t at the service of the people as much as they should. This is because the ordinary people aren’t getting involved. The cluelessness of the ordinary people regarding what goes on in their country is quite sad. But, reading from you guys, I see another issue. In your discourse, market is what’s going to keep things in check, without requiring people to keep an eye on corruption. This is wishful thinking. Back in the days of adam and eve, there was no power center. It was each for his own. Over time, power centers developped.

  45. Niccolo Adami Sez: “See, here’s the problem, Steph. I want governments to do, literally, nothing at all – except die.”

    Why is that a problem? Just get involved so that your country works as you would like it to work. What have you done to make this happen? What do you plan to make this happen? Or do you intend to stick to wishful thinking?

    BTW, You should read “Bad Samaritans”. You’ll see that government involvement is at the heart of poor countries getting out of misery.

  46. Goran sez: “Bigger picture: watch out people in the US…once the next government caused crisis occurs, or maybe even before that, you do not want to stand in from the the runaway train of the state. That path is littered with ruined lives and dead bodies.”

    And what does Goran intend to do? Nothing, of course, ’cause he’s a die hard Libertarians! :-)

    Goran sez: “I go to antiwar.com to see when its time to exit the “land of the free.” Not to try to convince the devil to be an angel.”

    You shouldn’t try to convince the devil. You should try to convince decent people that things need to change.

  47. “I think the flaw in your argument is that you assume that without a government there would not be other center(s) of power equally F’ed up. I much prefer a center of power chosen by the people over a center of power chosen by a select few rich/corrupt folks.

    What is the market, but people? It is the state, especially with its trappings of democracy, which enables the select few rich/corrupt and protects them from the people’s will as expressed through their choices in the market.

    Look at the fact that we’re down to Clinton, Obama and McCain for president. Are these really the best of the best chosen by the “will of the people” as expressed through our democratic system?

    Would these be our final list of candidates for any job we’re hiring for and paying with our own money?

    When costs are socialized, everyone just fights over state access to the honey pot. This is why, for example, the modern central banking system was set up, so that Citigroup (then National City Bank) can counterfeit and stay in business no matter how incompetent they are.

    You speak of the ignorance of the apathetic masses while calling for more of their direct participation in the direction of the state. How is that supposed to be an improvement? The problem isn’t who, it’s what. Individuals choosing for themselves with their own money is fine. Ruling their neighbor is not.

    From a comment on my own blog this morning:

    “The reason for the others that are in government is to get whatever it is they want to get out of it (ie: higher office, better pension, zoning issues, etc).

    “I know 2 people who joined the planning board, voted on and influenced issues that were obvious conflicts of interest. After getting what they want, they quit as they didn’t even have the decency to finish their terms. One other guy who used to be on the planning board is trying to get a local ice cream parlor shut down that borders his property because he claims the site plan wasn’t followed properly (the drive thru speaker bothers him), even though the government sponsored engineering firm approved it. Now, the town government comes after the ice cream parlor and lets the engineering firm off the hook. The funny thing about this case is that this guy sold this commercially zoned property years ago! Its really his own fault for sellling it rather than using it as a buffer zone.

    “Then we have the “Environmentalist” who doesn’t want kids playing in the park across the street from her mansion so she runs for Council and tries to disband the Recreation Commission and stock it with her cronies.

    “Most still see the government as something that will get them what they want, when they want it. Until that mindset changes, things will go on the same.”

    My position is that people want what they want. Take away the government they use to beat each other over the head with all the time. It only disguises their predations as somehow legitimate for being done though the color of law.

  48. Scott sez: “What is the market, but people? It is the state, especially with its trappings of democracy, which enables the select few rich/corrupt and protects them from the people’s will as expressed through their choices in the market.”

    So, if I read you correctly, without government, there won’t be any center of power that the corrupts can leach on? There won’t be any kind of monopoly?

    You spend a lot of time talking about bad things. You don’t talk about the good things, nor do you explain how there won’t be any power center substitute if the government is disbanded.

    You assume that without government there won’t be propaganda, and that people won’t be ignorant, or easily swayed in the wrong direction.

    This doesn’t add up. You go from identifying real problems to advocating for a utopian world (it is so utopian that if you read some the comments here, people aren’t even willing to lift a finger to try to achieve a government free world).

    As I (tried to) explain to Goran, the craziness (perceived or real depending on your point of view) of a government-less world just lose any people you might actually be able to convince that changes are needed if you talked in more concrete terms, rather than “let’s get rid of government”.

    But I’m looking forward to a show where you talk with people who have taken concrete steps to move towards to a libertarian society. Nothing like concrete results to disprove that libertarianism is an utopia.

    Regards,

  49. Steph i feel like im kinda repeat myself here but ill go into more detail on this one point.

    as for your “CENTERS OF POWER” please explain what that means.

    Heres what i think and tell me where im wrong:

    Corporations abilities: BUY, SELL, HIRE, FIRE (these are all things that you can do if you open up a business…no “special” moral rules here)

    Governments abilities: TAX, IMPRISON, WAR. (no way you can do any of these unless you are granted “special” moral rules that others cannot have)

    and the thing about governments is that when government does something it wraps itself in morality and disguises the true nature of things. If there were no government, how could a corporation start a war, or tax, or imprison? Would we all be forced to go to school and pledge allegance to the corporation? That seems quite unlikely. People would call these things what they are…murdering, stealing, and kidnapping and they would be HORRIBLE for business.

    But a corporation would just turn itself into a government, you say? Highly unlikely, i think, given the fact that if it is force, and people recognize it as force, they will simply not go along with the theft, and murder. And as i learned in Poli Sci 101 (unfortunately i have a BS in Poli Sci :) , if an organization (here our corporation) does not have LEGITIMACY among the public, it is impossible to go door to door and physcially extract taxes from people so it therefore does not have any ability to rule. (this is especially true as technology advances and the offense to defense ratio is ever more favorable to the defense…think Iraq.)

    Look forward to hearing from you…GORAN

  50. I only just heard the interview last night on the podcast. Interesting. Scott was good-mannered as usual. But this guy, for all of his “information is the answer” nonsense, might have done a bit of research about who it was and for whom he was being interviewed. He might then have been a little less willing to insult Ron Paul and lovers of liberty. On the other hand, maybe the guy just has bad manners, which shouldn’t surprise.

    His whole schtick is “realism and common sense.” OK, fine. We can all stand for a little more of that. But to barge in with insults and dismissals that close down any discussion is pretty stupid.

    But, as always, Antiwar comes proving that we are the ones who truly desire truth and liberty and freedom. Who else is so open minded as to interview in good faith those who might enslave them at any other time?

  51. Goran sez: “as for your “CENTERS OF POWER” please explain what that means.”

    As I mean it, a center of power some kind of group which has some influence.

    e.g.:
    - Hizbollah is a center of power
    - Hamas is a center of power
    - any government is a center of power
    - a kingdom is a center of power
    - a social justice movement is a center of power
    - Hells angels is a center of power
    - Microsoft is a center of power
    - The NRA is a center of power
    - Anti abortion groups are center of power
    - pro-life groups are center of power

    Each of these groups have some influence. How much power/influence the group has depends on the group (how motivated the members are, how much resources they have, how organised they are, how large they are). Furthermore, what the group decides to do with its influence can be good, bad, or a mix.

    The point of joining a movement/group is to: 1) increase the power of the movement/group, 2) sway it in the direction you want

    It should come as no surprise that Israel is always trying to knock off the most powerful resistance group. When Fatah was strong, it was the enemy and Hamas the friend. When Hamas became stronger, IT became the enemy and Fatah the friend. Israel wants to knock off Hizbollah, because Hizbollah is by far the most important resistance group in Lebanon.

    Other perspective on the entire business of power centers: when the US knocked off Hussein in Iraq, other groups emmerged. For instance, the Al-Sadr group isn’t a government, but it sure has a lot of power. There’s effectively no government in Iraq, and things aren’t better off for it.

    The world isn’t just as simple as “let’s get rid of government and things will be fine”.

    The irony of it all is that Scott, by his activism, is trying to build a movement (Libertarian). Libertarianism will only come about if you guys organize, get together, and get involved in politics. In order to destroy what you loath, you need to become what you loath. But if you succeed, it will be in your interest to stay what you loath :-) Libertarians will need to be a center of power if they hope to fight the negative center of powers.

    A bad government is bad people prevailing over good people in the political arena. If you want to prevail over bad people, you will need to group and be more powerful that the bad people. And if you do this, you CAN have a good government. Essentially, Scott is un-Libertarian by trying to build up a movement to “fight the war party”.

    BTW, you always list the bad things coming out of governments, but you self servingly always avoid mentioning the good things (the shades of gray that I mentionned, and which you claim to have read in my messages).

    Cheers,

  52. “# Scott Horton Says:
    April 13th, 2008 at 11:39 am

    By the way, I have great respect for Bruce Schneier and the vast majority of leftists, rightists, liberals, conservatives, moderates and other people with whom I disagree on many things. Being a socialist on airport security doesn’t make one worth dismissing by a long shot. So let’s all get along and fight the War Party.”

    And there lies all the difference. Scott and those affiliated with Antiwar, LewRockwell and a handful of other organizations, are the “remnant” that Nock mentioned. You’ll get no kudos from the elites or the hip, but you’ll at least have done the right thing.

    I’ve yet to stumble upon a leftist website with the same integrity and disinterested approach to the world.

  53. Sorry i cant keep repeating myself here…its getting tiresome. You make a point about getting involved. I rebut calling government de facto immoral and violent , and then you ignore it saying to get involved. This merry go round could go on forever.

    I hope others reading this have benefited from the exchange.

    Steph is blind to the domestic violence of government – this is pervasive in our society, and this is the reason why i say that millions more will HAVE TO BE MURDERED BY THE STATE before these people wake up to the ugly nature of what government really is (i hope they will awake).

    One step at a time, some say? Stop war first then focus on domestic? You would never tell a husband “why dont you just beat your wife half as much as you do now…” thinking that you would convince him later to not beat her at all, would you?

    Anyway, please everyone keep an open mind to everything and let methodical logic be your guide. After all, historically ideas we take for granted now were once considered crazy. That uncomfortable feeling you get when the pillars of your ideas are being questioned usually mean your on the path to truth. Not an easy or popular path….but it is rewarding nonetheless…

    Goran

  54. Goran sez: “Sorry i cant keep repeating myself here…its getting tiresome. You make a point about getting involved. I rebut calling government de facto immoral and violent , and then you ignore it saying to get involved. This merry go round could go on forever.”

    No Goran. It’s you seemingly not reading what I try to explain. For instance, you asked me to explain what I mean by power center, and I explained at lenght, giving you examples.

    Feel free to explain to me how there won’t be any other power center/interest groups once you topple all the governments in the world. Free free explain to me how you (the libertarians) intend to rid the world of governments.

    Hint: “government s are bad” isn’t a suitable answer to the questions I’m asking here :-)

  55. Quote from Goran: “It includes every government that has ever been in existence because by definition, governments TAX, ie STEAL.”

    This is wrong and I will prove it. I me quote from John Médaille

    Quote: “Taxes are theft!” judges one reader of this humble blog, and more than a few libertarians would agree with him. As near as I can tell, this judgment is based on a view of man as a completely autonomous individual, dependent on no one but himself, answerable to no one, and subject to compulsion by no one. Under this view, to the degree that taxes are compelled they cannot be just.

    My problem with this view is that it does not describe any man or woman I have actually met. Every person of my acquaintance emerges not from autonomy, but from dependence.”

    How are all dependent on public goods? Let show by this example from Ernest Partridge.

    “Two communities are situated on opposite banks of a great river: on the right bank is “Randville,” and on the left bank is “Rawlsburg.” Randville is populated entirely by libertarians – rugged individualists all, who shun “collective” activity and who assume full responsibility for their personal safety, welfare and property. “Rawlsburg” is comprised of individuals who are properly covetous of their personal rights, yet fully aware of the desirability of promoting public goods and of acting collectively in the face of common emergencies.

    News arrives at both communities from (gulp!) a government bureau, that a great flood is approaching from upstream. The citizens of Randville immediately get to work piling sandbags around each of their individual dwellings. Across the river in Rawlsburg, brigades of citizens are hard at work building a levee around the entire town.

    Come the flood, the puny separate efforts of the rugged Randville individualists prove to be futile, while the substantial communal levee surrounding Rawlsburg holds firm and the community is spared.

    “Now hold on!,” the libertarian retorts. “Surely, faced with this common emergency, the folks at Randville would volunteer to build a levee. That’s just common sense.”

    Very well, but what about those Randvillians who say: “you guys go right ahead and build that levee. I’d rather stay at home – I have other priorities.” Surely the good libertarians wouldn’t want to force anyone to contribute to the common defense!

    And so we have the well-known “free rider problem,” whereby an individual gains unearned and cost-free advantage from the labor of others.”

    Since free riding is thief and taxes are the only way of avoiding free riders some taxes are just.

    Adam Smith understood the idea of moral sentiments and fact the individuals are not atomized but have social obligation because we are all dependent upon each other; the common good precedes any individual good. If this where not so then we could not say that mothers should have to feed their children agreeing with Murray Rothbard.

    And before you start screaming mindlessly about collectivism remember I’m talking about any sort of central planning but rather very basis of civilization and even tribal society. Goran is an Anarchist who wishes to destroy all human civilization and even humanity itself to make it fit his ideal liberalism.

  56. hmmm… government building levees… sounds like a good idea…. just like new orleans….tell me how that turned out……

    Oh but this was a “bad government” so its the citizens fault and you only are arguing for “good government”.

    Ill hopefully have more time to respond but im very busy lately

  57. I am libertarian, but can see a weakness in the libertarian argument. We argue from the perspective of economics, politics, and a naive theology of market forces. There are no market forces; their are humans who behave certain ways. We have made a god of mechanisms, denying the human behavior behind those forces. Corporations like governments will behave if limited. I want govenment limited. I want corporations limited when they begin to have the power of government, or use the intrumentality of government, to restrict the natural rights of the individual. How to solve this, I don’t know. I know that some corporations cannot be stopped by ‘market forces.’ They cannot be stopped because these corporations can, and do, stop the free flow of information.
    I am interested in reasoned comments about this.

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