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August 08, 2018

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“Generalizing, social conservatives don't believe in evolution. Economic liberals don't believe in the hidden hand. But the two concepts are related. Darwin was aware of and drew inspiration from Adam Smith.”

Um, you know about the discussion of levels of selection in evolutionary theory, right? What benefits the individual may not benefit the group to which the individual belongs.

When I start advocating for, just as an example, the federal government determining how many smartphones should be produced in a given year and at what price they should be sold, you can accuse me of denying the existence of the invisible hand.

Too bad you don't feel the same way about healthcare and education. :)

To raise things above the level of saying that Darwin was heavily influenced by Smith and Malthus and therefore since evolution is true we should be libertarians, I thought Iwould just cut and paste from my link above—

“But Clark's piece also fails to grasp one of Polanyi's most important distinctions. According to Clark: "Indeed, the more we learn of history, the more evident it is that the free market was not an 18th century innovation, but one of mankind's oldest social institutions." Clark's insertion of the four letter word "free" into that sentence is the issue. In fact, Polanyi spent years documenting that markets are indeed one of humankind's oldest institutions, but markets thrived historically because they were controlled by social institutions such as kinship, religion, and politics. What was novel at the beginning of the 19th century was the invention of the "free market"--the idea popularized by Malthus and Ricardo that human society should be organized around an integrated system of self regulating markets ... free of any kind of social control. ...

History in fact has shown us again and again that market-based societies only work because markets are embedded within legal and political rules that prevent opportunistic and predatory behaviors... According to the Polanyian view,... the last two hundred years has involved systematically increasing the state's economic role in order to make markets work. ...

But Clark ... insists that:

"Free-market capitalism is a resilient and stable system in much of the world--particularly in English-speaking countries. It is the policy of world bodies such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It is conquering vast new domains in places such as China, Eastern Europe, and India."

In short, Clark's definition of "free-market capitalism" is so broad and undifferentiated that it includes China under the dictatorship of the Communist Party. Whether he wants the role or not, Clark effectively becomes an apologist for the most reactionary global interest groups that routinely use the ideology of the free market to resist and oppose necessary regulatory measures. Both hedge fund managers and big oil companies insist that any increase in government regulation violates the logic of "free-market capitalism".... It is puzzling-- at this late date--that Clark can not understand that the mindless celebration of the free market comes with huge costs in economic dislocation and environmental degradation.

So the world, as it is, was designed in detail by human intention?

no, not consciously, intentionally designed. but it (the human world, society, etc) is obviously a product of human behavior.

likewise, 'the hand'. but it is a metaphor, a just-so story for something we think we see when we step back and look at this thing we've grown around us. and we can't separate the 'hand' from the humans from which it emerges because it can't exist without us. and so it must have aspirations - the aspirations of the people who create it.

But there're severe limits on what individuals and institutions can know and understand about the world's complexities caused by human behavior.

yes indeed.

The concept of free markets doesn't imply the absence of the rule of law. Markets are free when transactions can be freely entered into without a third party dictating to the participants what can and can not be traded and what the price should be. Rule of law is needed to enforce contracts and punish theft, fraud, and aggression against property and persons.

The formulation I've always heard is "invisible hand", which is subtly different from a "hidden hand". But let that pass; it may just be sloppy usage rather than Freudian slip.

The judgement that "we are much better off than ants" is questionable on several levels, starting with the obvious fact that human beings evaluate "better off" by human standards. Had Dr. Pangloss been an ant, he might have doubted that we humans live in the best of all possible worlds.

A True Libertarian would be just as annoyed by laws forbidding him to walk down the street naked as by laws forbidding him to walk down the street armed. I have never met a True Libertarian.

Every decision, every action, like every non-decision and every non-action, has unintended consequences. That's why once-for-all-time decisions and designed-to-be-irreversible actions are dangerous. Fixed ideologies are problematic on that account.

--TP

Too bad you don't feel the same way about healthcare and education.

Perhaps I just haven't been paying attention. But I haven't noticed anyone here arguing for federal government control of education.

Federal requirements that local governments provide the same quality of education to everyone in their jurisdiction? Sure. Federal minimums for what information is imparted? Maybe. But Federal control? Must have missed that.

With respect to medical care, I have seen some support (only relatively recently) for "single payer" health care. But at least as much support for less pervasive solutions to a perceived problem with access to health care.

But let that pass; it may just be sloppy usage rather than Freudian slip.

Yes, I intended "invisible hand" the times I wrote "hidden hand."

"In addition, Nozick contrasts invisible-hand theories with so-called “hidden-hand explanations.” According to Nozick, a hidden hand theory explains unrelated events that are intentionally orchestrated by a single individual or group, while an invisible hand theory, by contrast, explains unrelated events in terms of some spontaneous mechanism lacking any pre-planning or pre-design."
Invisible hand theories

A True Libertarian would be just as annoyed by laws forbidding him to walk down the street naked as by laws forbidding him to walk down the street armed.

The non-aggression principle would forbid trespassing upon someone's eyeballs. :)

But I haven't noticed anyone here arguing for federal government control of education.

70 billion or so dollars seems a lot to spend and not be in control of anything.

I guess 4 trillion or so dollars seems like a lot to spend an not be in control of everything.

Libertarians favor a bottom-up emergent order approach.

How did governments come to be? Were they imposed on human societies from above? Who exactly are these beings who are "above", who are doing this imposing?

Or are they a form of ordering human society that emerged, bottom-up, over millenia?

If you want to talk about specific areas where our actual federal (or other) government exerts an undesirable level of control over individuals, IMO that's great.

Talking about government intervening in people's lives as if it is inherently bad and/or unnatural ignores all of the reasons - the very beneficial reasons - that it exists in the first place.

How did governments come to be?

When bandits realized that everyone would be better off if they became tax farmers instead?

CharlesWT,

"Design" implies a top-down approach. Libertarians favor a bottom-up emergent order approach.

But the design is there. "We will have no economic regulation," is still a design.

Economic liberals don't believe in the hidden hand

This is simply not true. I certainly believe in it, but my faith is not unlimited. That libertarians' faith is unlimited is one of the problems of extremism I mentioned.

Go read some posts by DeLong or Krugman, then come back and tell us that liberals don't believe that markets in general function well.

What we, (Brad, Paul, and I) further believe is that the market doesn't solve all economic and social problems. Sometimes it simply doesn't work - think externalities like environmental damage to take a major instance. It fails there for a simple reason - those who use resources are not required to pay for them, which defeats the logic of the market.

It fails in the case of public goods.

It fails where there is market power. (By "fails" here I mean that it does not produce the efficient economic outcome.) Adam Smith knew that, even if some of his worshippers don't.

It often fails where there is asymmetric information - think of adverse selection in insurance markets. This is a major problem with health care policy. Markets can completely disappear in some circumstances.

It fails when information is hard to come by. Think about worker safety. The committed libertarian wants no OSHA. Workers will get higher wages, they say, in exchange for accepting more dangerous conditions. Do you believe that? How safe is the building you work in? Do the sprinklers work? Are the fire exits clear? Is the electrical system safe?

No USDA. Has the food you buy been properly processed and handled? No licensing. What do all those certificates on the wall in your doctor's office mean?

This all leaves out social services like education, care for the disabled, elderly, unemployed, etc., lots of other things.

Enthusiastically seconding Bernie @ 5:24.

Seconding. what byomtov said.

Feel the Bern!!! (Sorry, sapient. Couldn’t help myself.)

When bandits realized that everyone would be better off if they became tax farmers instead?

and "everyone else" had no agency in any of this? the "bandits" told them what to do, and they just did it?

because, why?

and yes, what bernie said at 5:24.

what i'll add to bernie's comment is that there needs to be a crisp definition of what it means for a market to "function well".

optimal return on capital?
meeting the basic needs of the people who participate in it?
addressing and accounting for externalities, and for the interests of people not yet born?

sometimes markets "function well", even perfectly, and the result is simply not something people want to live with.

a perfectly functioning market - transparent, low barriers to entry, etc - might result in some folks not having what they need to live, full stop. that would be a market that "functions well", and that creates very bad outcomes.

should outcomes matter?
if they should, and a market economy that "functions well" does not create outcomes that people want, what mechanism is available to them to insure that the outcomes are what is desired?

Feel the Bern!!! (Sorry, sapient. Couldn’t help myself.)

Kind of a pleasant sunBern, in the case of byomtov. As opposed to the red hot poker Bern It Down kind of Bern.

A piece where Stephen Miller gets it from his own family.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/08/13/stephen-miller-is-an-immigration-hypocrite-i-know-because-im-his-uncle-219351

Bob Goodlatte's son has also had enough of his dad.

"and "everyone else" had no agency in any of this? the "bandits" told them what to do, and they just did it?
because, why?"

Because the gains are highly concentrated, and the costs are diffused. So in many cases (see especially farm subsidies), even though the subsidies are net negative for the country (producing no net good effect), they persist because the people who receive them are willing to fight for their millions of dollars, while the people getting ripped off don't want to spend time fighting for the 5 cents per year they are individually getting ripped off. This is why so many of the benefits end up going to the super rich--they have the time and the money to fight the government for big gains, while the rest of us don't have the time and the energy to fight all the thousand tiny losses.

See extra especially ethanol/gas subsidies--bad for the environment, bad for the cost of gas, bad for the price of corn worldwide, but great for a dozen farming conglomerates.

I think a lot of common ground can be found between those who don't like crony capitalism and those who aren't sure they like capitalism at all.

Feel the Bern!!!

I actually took advantage of the Sanders campaign to order a number of "Bernie for President" coffee cups and some other paraphernalia.

Who knows when an opportunity like that will come around again.

I think a lot of common ground can be found between those who don't like crony capitalism and those who aren't sure they like capitalism at all.

I agree. and Charles says lots of things I agree with.

and, imo, as an ideology or basic principle, libertarianism is not rooted in actual human experience.

governments exist because human beings create them. they *are* forms of emergent order.

as an ideology or basic principle, libertarianism is not rooted in actual human experience...

As an organising principle fro government, sure - but there is degree of libertarian belief in many political philosophies.

See, for example, the traditional view of English law:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everything_which_is_not_forbidden_is_allowed
... or the 10th Amendment to the US Constitution.

My two cents, support for libertarianism seems to be a reaction to onerous overreach by government, thus emergent and rooted in human experience. As in many situations, the reaction can also go too far. And the level of support certainly depends on what law is being objected to.

While I agree with much of Bernard's list, the challenge is which of those things rightly belong at a federal level. If there is a reasonable generalization,imo, it is that federal government is a more popular solution for the left, although not exclusively as the right is happy to use the federal level in inappropriate ways (DOMA comes to mind).

that's all good.

my point here is that human beings appear to naturally live in social forms that include governments. government, as a human institution, is not something opposed to, to use Charles' words, "bottom-up emergent order". it is the product of bottom-up emergent order.

we made it up, nobody imposed it on us.

I have no argument with the claim that government can be dysfunctional, can overreach its rightful scope of authority, can be abused by bad actors.

every one of those things can also be said of market economies or any of the other things that libertarians cite in their list of ideals.

it can be said of the principle that everything which is not forbidden is allowed, and it can be said of the 10th Amendment to the US Constitution.

because humans are complicated, short-sighted, frequently selfish beings.

if you were to take 100 dyed-in-the-wool libertarians, drop them someplace free from the demands of the dreaded oppressive hand of the state, and leave them to sort things out for themselves, in about a week they would begin to elaborate rules for how they were all going to get along. and folks who chose to not abide by those rules would be subject to some kind of sanction.

they would have a government. a bottom-up emergent government. with rules and penalties for violating them. the voluntary surrender of liberty, in the interest of common co-existence.

if instead of 100 libertarians, you conducted the same exercise with 1000, or 10,000, or 100,000 of them, the government they would elaborate, via bottom-up emergent order, would be relatively more complex and prone to distortion and error.

if you let all of that play out for a few decades, even more so. what started out as bottom-up emergent order, fresh as the morning dew, would become The Way Things Are. within a generation.

it's what we do.

if folks want to talk about biofuel subsidies, or whether the regulations introduced in the ACA are overly intrusive into doctor-patient interactions, or whether a nationwide speed limit is really productive, i'm all for it.

if your opening argument is that government should be assumed to be bad unless demonstrated otherwise, i think you're ignoring the nature of human beings.

libertarianism seems to be a reaction to onerous overreach by government

what is onerous overreach to one person, is plain common sense to another.

"we made it up, nobody imposed it on us."

I think this is not completely accurate. "We" is a pretty small group of people who made it up, then convinced people it was good. At least every level above the town meeting.

It is not the reasonable purpose of government to define or enforce common sense, there should be a higher bar than that.

"We" is a pretty small group of people who made it up, then convinced people it was good.

the alternative is a general vote on everything.

but if you've ever done anything with more than a couple of people, you know that people will often defer decision-making to others just so things can get done.

"you guys choose the wine. whatever you want."

"i'm fine with any of the things you just listed. you decide."

"i've never had Himalayan food before. but you know what i like. you pick."

representative democracy happens because most people can't be bothered to decide everything. they don't care to decide, have other things to do, don't understand what they're deciding on, would rather not slow things down by adding more options, etc..

I started this off (prompted by the mention of Michelle Malkin, who makes me angry enough to drown puppies) complaining about libertarianism as a cover for covert right wingers. And I'm not the only one who noticed this

https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-insidious-libertarian-to-alt-right-pipeline?source=twitter&via=mobile

Lewis also notes that
Despite the negative stereotypes, casting yourself as libertarian still has some cache. Celebrities like Bill Maher and Vince Vaughn have identified with the label—which seems to be a way of expressing some conservative viewpoints while still supporting the decriminalization of marijuana and distancing yourself from social conservatism.

So I'm going to assume that CharlesWT likes the cachet of being edgy, but has the good sense not to be scared of other sexualities and doesn't hate minorities. Good on ya, and I'm happy to acknowledge that there are some points made by libertarians that are good about specific contexts, and that's wonderful.

I don't know if anyone remembers or even cares about Saparmurat Niyazov, who was basically the previous despot in Turkmenistan.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/dec/21/1

From the article
· As one of a series of measures to establish a personality cult, Saparmurat Niyazov had a gold statue of himself put on top of a building in the capital, Ashgabat. The statue revolves so it always faces the sun.

Niyazov, who was appointed president for life in 1999, changed the names of the months in honour of members of his own family. His father died in the second world war and the rest of his family was killed in an earthquake that levelled Ashgabat in 1948. Niyazov was raised in an orphanage and later in the home of distant relatives.

Dissidents are sent into internal exile, forced out of their homes or detained in psychiatric hospitals. Torture is common. The media are tightly controlled, the state keeping a firm grip on access to the internet.

However, he also ruled plain salt illegal in 1996 and ordered shops to give each citizen 11 pounds of iodized salt a year at state expense. The lack of iodine is the leading preventable cause of intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Now, I don't have much of a brief for the former president for life of Turkmenistan, but I can see that ordering that all salt be iodized can be a good thing. However, that doesn't mean I have to applaud everything else he did. Why do so many libertarians make essentially the same argument? Why does it have to be a blanket application rather than case by case? And because it is a blanket application, that's why the Libertarian movement is basically a stalking horse for wacky right-wingers.

The other thing that I think is off about libertarianism is that it seems, imho, that arguments are always rooted in privilege. I'd be much more inclined if it didn't seem like it was always white, mostly males who got their start arguing for weed legalization. Maybe there is a huge people of color community arguing about reducing the burden of government flying the libertarian flag, and I'd be happy to be informed about them if I missed them, but my impression is that it is overwhelmingly white upper middle class and male (with Michelle Malkin an exception), and they are probably going to ignore benefits they receive when making their arguments cause it never occurs to them. That's why I'm willing to consider libertarian arguments when applied to a particular case, but when I hear it presented as an over-arching philosophy, I reach for my delete key.

Marty,

My two cents, support for libertarianism seems to be a reaction to onerous overreach by government, thus emergent and rooted in human experience. As in many situations, the reaction can also go too far.

So it's sort of an auto-immune disease. :-)

if folks want to talk about biofuel subsidies, or whether the regulations introduced in the ACA are overly intrusive into doctor-patient interactions, or whether a nationwide speed limit is really productive, i'm all for it.

I agree. I think we, by which I mean human beings, are too eager to look for broad general rules, and too unwilling to recognize that a case-by-case analysis, or at least a fairly complex set of principles, is needed.

Theory is fun, and it saves a lot of thinking, but the results are often not great. Human society does not work the same way as Euclidean geometry.

"We don't need no stinking know-it-all mincing wine sommelier."

"What pencil-headed, over-educated elitist made THIS list?"

"Himal.... what? How did those yak merchants and their food get in the country? Bring me something American, like a slice of pizza."

Thought I'd include the assholes and jagoffs who are now ascendant so they can be understood and coddled.

lj's 9:55am is precisely my thinking.

We can acknowledge the importance of individual case-by-case preferences as granularly as possible.

But we may also require best practices from on high, even if they originated from down low or God forbid, deep in the state.

Conservatives and libertarians often speak of the laboratories of the states, as if an imaginary border line makes two guys standing on either side of it somehow two different species, but what happens when one state comes up with a near-perfect approach to insuring the entire population medically, for instance, and Texas balks at adopting these life-saving measures while pronouncing that their approach to saving lives medically is to provide funny hats at cost but not FORCE people to wear them.

And then one guy from Jersey moves there to get away from the Atlantic Coast winters and because the hats in Texas are funnier than the ones in Jersey, and the Governor of Texas points at him and says, "See?"

See what? This way to egress?

I've never heard a libertarian think tank (why is there thinking involved if everyone working there is self-selected as libertarian; a plus is that the memos and meetings must be short) propose allowing me to steer with my bare feet from the back seat of my car on the interstate, or allowing great swathes of the population to speak a gibberish language in the public square made up on the spot, although sometimes they suggest that we "say it in our own words".

That said, I agree with some of Charles' pronouncements as well.

I'd be happy to be informed about them if I missed them, but my impression is that it is overwhelmingly white upper middle class and male...

Based on various surveys, self-identifying libertarians are about 71% white, 63% male. But millennial libertarians are only 56% white.

"Libertarianism is frequently accused of only appealing to white men, but data on American political identification finds the philosophy has much broader appeal—especially among millennials. Only slightly more than half of self-identified libertarians in the 18- to 29-year-old age range are white,..."
Millennials Bringing More Racial Diversity to Libertarianism: Just over half of self-identified libertarians in the 18- to 29-year-old age range are white.

the challenge is which of those things rightly belong at a federal level.

The thing is, what we actually see is objection also to government even at the state level -- at least when the state government is not controlled by them. All the same arguments about government being the problem, overreaching, etc. get made.

If there is a reasonable generalization,imo, it is that federal government is a more popular solution for the left, although not exclusively as the right is happy to use the federal level in inappropriate ways

I think the more precise generalization is that the left believes (sometimes excessively IMO) that the Federal government is the correct venue for lots of issues, even when they dislike the precise direction that the right is taking it. Whereas the right claims to dislike the Federal government as a solution . . . even when they are enthusiastically using it for their own purposes.

lj: The other thing that I think is off about libertarianism is that it seems, imho, that arguments are always rooted in privilege

The thing is, it's far easier to believe in libertarian approaches if you've always had the power or the money to control what happens to you and yours. For example, if you personally can afford great private schools for your kids, being taxed to pay for public schools can be seen as government overreach. The same phenomena are seen in most things dedicated libertarians argue against.

I think the more precise generalization is that the left believes (sometimes excessively IMO) that the Federal government is the correct venue for lots of issues,

this reminds me of a story...

Once upon a time, there was a large and prosperous city called Schmarlotte in a state called Shmorth Shmarolina. That city decided, by the actions of its duly-elected representatives, to allow people to use any toilet, regardless of the sign on the toilet's door. This cleared up difficulties some people were having because they couldn't figure out which of the standard signs on toilet doors applied to them. They city said "use whatever you want." And nobody much cared.

But the Republicans in the State, however, grew furious at this. They think people who can't figure out which toilet door sign they should open are moral and cultural and biological failures of the lowest sort. Being experts in all things moral and biological and cultural, they know which door each person must use. The idea that someone could choose for themselves, and that some would use an incorrect door to shit behind was an affront. And so the Republicans could not tolerate letting a city decide for itself how to handle such a situation. And they swiftly banned what the city tried to do. They banned it all across the state.

And at the same time they did that, they banned letting any town or city setting its own minimum wage. Because it would be chaos if one town had to do something the next town over didn't.

Such is the strong commitment to local rule and self-governance that one can expect to find on "the right".

Like a lot of things the libertarian critique is pretty powerful, but libertarianism as a free standing philosophy is taking a good thing too far.

Every time you look at government action (or even powerful corporate action) you are going to be better informed and get better policy by using libertarian oriented questions like “can this be done with less infringement on liberty?”, “are the side effects as bad or worse than what you are trying to fix?”, “are you comparing the real world with side effects to imaginary perfect government action instead of taking into account real world government action?”, “does this law assume perfectly good administrators, or can it survive being implemented by medium-venal administrators?”

As a refining critique it’s great.

As a refining critique it’s great.

I don't know why anyone wouldn't (or at least shouldn't) be asking the questions you posed as being libertarian oriented.

So, if millennias are bringing diversity to libertarianism, it stands to reason that libertarianism had some problems with being a white majority, which would encourage even closer examination of first principles to make sure that they weren't taking things for granted.

One of those unexamined principles is that libertarian principles are correct and it just requires more people of color to get behind them. The link is from Reason, but the data is from the Cato Institute, which we have already talked about.

and from the link

When it comes to sex, men dominated among both millennial libertarians and libertarians of all ages, though women still make up a substantial share of the liberty movement. According to Ekins' poll averaging, 63 percent of all self-identified libertarians were male and 37 percent were female. Among millennials, 68 percent were male and 32 percent were female.

Surprise, surprise, surprise...

Wj, I apologize for my nature. Your point on privilege is something I agree with, but I can’t help myself in pointing out that your example doesn’t support your point. The majority was fine with the state of public schools because they were able to exile black kids to the terrible inner city schools while safely putting their own kids in much better but usually also public schools which screened out black families through housing prices and racially motivated government line drawing. This government failure led to the libertarian aligned charter school movement being very popular with black and other inner city voters in the 90s as a counter movement to the way the white privileged had manipulated the government situation.

Your point in general is probably more right than not about libertarians in general. But on schools not as much.

Sebastian, no doubt I suffer from mostly seeing the kinds of libertarians who exist in the upper middle class suburbs around where I live. The area is racially integrated; at least in this case that's not what was the issue. And the public schools are still top notch. But that doesn't keep the libertarians from kvetching about "unnecessary government programs" -- "unnecessary" meaning ones which don't happen to benefit them personally.

So it seems there's a third secret recording, this one of Trump campaign staff discussing how to spin the alleged tape of Trump using the N-word, should it be released. Trump and Darwin!

"We" is a pretty small group of people who made it up, then convinced people it was good.

and the people who were so convinced are mindless sheep, devoid of agency?

and this small group of people were so persuasive that their argument has prevailed for, like, 10 thousand years?

Libertarian arguments are at their strongest when they oppose our military interventions and for a very obvious reason— the people in the country we bomb or invade don’t have the vote in our country and can only express their opposition through violence. And when we supposedly try to remake their country, we don’t know what we are doing and again opposition tends to be expressed by shooting at whatever Americans are handy.

In a domestic context people can express their discontent over government policies via voting and libertarianism amounts to saying that rich people should have the most power and there should be no countervailing government policies because freedom.

this one of Trump campaign staff discussing how to spin the alleged tape of Trump using the N-word, should it be released.

this timing sucks.

Better late than never...??? :^(

Libertarian arguments are at their strongest when they oppose our military interventions

If nobody else was opposing our military interventions, you might have a point.

"this timing sucks"

Why, it's 1856 in their minds.

Matt Taibbi on censorship by corporations. He thinks it is a problem and isn’t talking about Infowars. Or rather, he starts off with it because it got all the attention, but that isn’t his focus.

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/facebook-censorship-alex-jones-710497/

I tend to agree. When a few companies dominate how most people get their news from the Internet, it does matter if they decide what is allowed inside the Overton Window. And why trust the Atlantic Councl to help make the decisions?

So is the problem censorship by corporations? Or is it that insufficient attention has been paid to monopolies in the high tech sector? (Should they get hit with anti-trust actions? Or should they be regulated as public utilities?)

"and this These small group(s) of people were so persuasive that their argument,and the thousands of small groups who wanted power along the way, have prevailed for, like, 10 thousand years?

yes

Should they get hit with anti-trust actions? Or should they be regulated as public utilities?

and when does this regulation start? if i create a messaging app, does it become a 'public utility' at 5 users? 50? 5,000? 500,000?

if/when usage declines (MySpace, CompuServe, Yahoo) does my app become exempt?

if the app is an offering by a very powerful company, is it automatically a public utility (Google+)? even if it fails to attract a large user base (Google+) ?

i'm sure all applicable laws will get it all just right.

when does this regulation start? if i create a messaging app, does it become a 'public utility' at 5 users? 50? 5,000? 500,000?

Hey, if I had all the answers I'd go into politics. ;-)

But it does seem like it's a conversation worth having. For openers, we might look at market share (rather than absolute numbers of users).

That's what happened, as I recall, with the original trusts (railroads): when a small number of them controlled "too much" of the market, they got regulated. I like the analogy because, like railroads, high tech has significant network effects/benefits to the controlling platforms.

also: Infowars isn't news. it's lies and slander.

It's not even info.

It's lies and slander to foment War.

Defamation is not protected speech.

And why trust the Atlantic Councl to help make the decisions?

Why trust Matt Taibbi?

yes

pretty good trick, that

Didn’t know that about Taibbi. Pretty ugly.

For the avoidance of doubt, ‘pretty ugly’ is reflexive British understatement meaning utterly vile.

Tabbi. Animal.

I was surprised to see that the story at sapient’s link was dated last November and that I hadn’t seen or heard about Taibbi’s past until now. Googling ensued, and I came upon this:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/12/the-destruction-of-matt-taibbi.html

For anyone interested, an interview with Taibbi. The text of the interview starts on page two.

"Few journalists have tossed more hand grenades or built more of a reputation for themselves than Matt Taibbi, who covers politics and culture for Rolling Stone when not writing bestselling books, such as Griftopia, Insane Clown President, and most recently I Can't Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street, a powerful account of the death of Eric Garner, who died in police custody after being arrested for selling loose cigarettes in Staten Island. In 2008, Taibbi won a National Magazine Award for his columns and commentary at Rolling Stone."
Matt Taibbi on Misogyny, the Left vs. Free Speech, and the Killing of Eric Garner: "I'm just sort of accidental collateral damage to a larger thing that's going on."

Matt Taibbi is an "animal" because he stands accused of misogyny in his youth.

He, Trump commits misogyny (not to mention racism) during his entire adult life but he is "President of the United States".

Those must be some goooood tax cuts.

--TP

The rise and fall and rise of Matt Taibbi, all in six comments and three cites on a blog.

He's up! He's Down! He's Up?

The mild-mannered skeletons in my closet rattle like the catarrh in Marley's Ghost's throat.

Hillary Clinton should be so lucky.

Of course the possibly false allegations about Taibbi had nothing at all to do with whether it is a good idea to have government funded think tanks working with giant corporations to determine what is or isn’t worth reading.

And no, cleek, this isn't about the Infowars creeps. Infowars wasn’t his concern.

“So is the problem censorship by corporations? Or is it that insufficient attention has been paid to monopolies in the high tech sector? (Should they get hit with anti-trust actions? Or should they be regulated as public utilities?)”

Those are good questions. I think the answer to the first one is “yes”, given that a tiny number of corporations have so much power. I don’t know what the solution should be.

I agree with libertarians that governments should not interfere beyond their competence, that governments often overestimate their competence, and that they need to be discouraged from doing so.

I profoundly disagree with libertarians that governments should not redistribute wealth and income.

Concentration of wealth arises mainly from government action - from IP laws, from limited liability, from government spending. It's an artifact, not the only possible just distribution. And a dollar spent by a poor person does more good for the person and more good for the economy than a dollar accumulated by a rich person.

Also, of course the direct answer to sapient’s question is that neither the Atlantic Council nor Taibbi ( whichever version of him exists in this universe) should be trusted to decide what out of mainstream views need to be censored.

I'll ask again:

When should Hitler have been censored ... by edict or by bullet?

1945 is not fucking soon enough.

Here comes this fucking THC'd c*nt again:

https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a22729698/gary-johnson-running-senate-new-mexico/

Come and get it. Please.

https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2018/08/14/pericope-alex-jones-tells-supporters-get-their-battle-rifles-ready-against-antifa-mainstream-media/220995

Kill.

About Taibbi, the allegations aren't false; they're based on what he has written. To quote Rebecca Traister:

The progressive journalist Matt Taibbi recently published a lengthy apology/explanation in which he despaired that the public reappraisal of the work that established him (in particular, a book about Russia that he now says is satirical and includes accounts of pushing women under the table for blow jobs, of telling them to lighten up when they object to such high jinks) is coinciding with the publication of his book about the death of Eric Garner. It’s the kind of important book that he’s been working toward writing for 30 years, he laments. Reading this, I couldn’t help but think of all the women who’ve wanted to be writers for 30 years, who’ve yearned to make the world a better place by telling stories of injustice, but who haven’t had the opportunity in part because so much journalistic space is occupied by men like Taibbi: dudes who in some measure gained their professional footholds by objectifying women — and not just in big, bad Russia. Take the piece Taibbi wrote in 2009 about athletes’ wives. “The problem with the Smoking-Hot Skank as a permanent life choice,” he opined, “is that she eventually gets bored and starts calling up reporters to share her Important Political Opinions.” Taibbi may feel demoralized because the hilarious misogynistic stylings of his youth are now interfering with his grown-up career, but lots of women never even got their careers off the ground because the men in their fields saw them as Smoking-Hot Skanks whose claim to having a thought in their heads was no more than a punch line.

For the record, I think Taibbi has the right to write whatever he wants, but I'm allowed to evaluate him on the basis of what he writes.

Social media is particular publishing platform owned by private corporations which is being used to facilitate targeted disinformation campaigns by foreign governments and other extremely wealthy entities. These private corporations are making money from this.

Figuring out how to manage disinformation is a difficult problem, but I'm not interested in Matt Taibbi's views on how not to do it.

Matt Taibbi is an "animal" because he stands accused of misogyny in his youth.

One would, of course, prefer that 20 year old guys not behave like this. (Of course, if they didn't, college fraternities as we know them would be defunct.)

But, it seems to me, the critical question is whether they grow up and learn better. We need to recognize that people can learn from past mistakes. (Although, as Trump demonstrates, some prove incapable of doing so.) So what matters is whether Taibbi has done so.

wj's point about figuring out whether people learn is an important one. HSH's link is interesting and Taibbi is smart enough to know that claiming it is satire isn't going to fly in the current age of metoo (and I don't think this is a bad thing) Also to note is that Taibbi has done better than his co-author, Mark Ames, with his facebook apologies. I don't think he's out of the woods, but it's a start. This, from Taibbi's apology (via sapient's link) is interesting

I know the list of revealed harassers is growing, but I am not on that list, nor should I be. I belong to a much bigger group. I was young once, and a jerk. And I am sorry for that.

You could read that as 'I'm not a Weinstein or a Cosby!', but if there any guys here who can claim to not thinking it was oh so fun to push the envelope, well, we probably wouldn't have been friends when I was in college, I am very sad and embarrassed to say. I was trying to find something to illustrate this and came upon this link

https://nypost.com/2018/01/25/the-tragic-life-and-death-of-a-national-lampoon-legend/

with the trailer to A Stupid and Futile Gesture. Sad to say, but you are talking about my generation.

I suppose one could say character is destiny, and where Taibbi's piece falls down is the same place where I think (but I would think this) libertarians fall down. Just like libertarians who engage in these counterfactual reasoning to suddenly dazzle and amaze you with how we really don't need any laws, Taibbi wants to grab the attention by starting off with Alex Jones and then try and frame the issue. Rebecca Traister's point is right, that while Taibbi is lamenting that his frat boy writing caught up with him, preventing him from being one of the adults in the room, how many women were prevented? But, accepting that Traister's point is correct, it seems like kicking Taibbi for doing what he did which he seems to sincerely regret, and was what a lot of guys did and still do, doesn't really move the ball downfield much. Taibbi is presented as some outlier and the general system is still intact and in place, the cautionary tale being don't put your name on anything. And there are certainly people learning the lesson.

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/08/stephen-miller-refugees-state-department

One would, of course, prefer that 20 year old guys not behave like this.

Looking it up, Taibbi was around 27 when he joined Ames in Russia, and Ames 32.

I take lj's point, but I'm as old as Ames, so not exactly the MeToo generation, and the story about the 15 year old girl would not have amused me back in college.

it's entirely possible that tabibi is, or at least was, a total misogynistic predatory asshole, and also that Goldman Sachs is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity. and, for that matter, that we currently are governed by an insane clown POTUS.

it's entirely possible that tabibi richly deserves to be called out for his earlier writing and/or behavior, satirical or not, and also that his reporting on matters political and financial are right on the money.

as it turns out, eric garner actually is dead.

Taibbi was almost 40 when he wrote the Hot Smoking Skank comment.

I don't think that Taibbi's attitude towards women necessarily has anything to do with Eric Garner. I do think that it shows that he makes sweeping and ugly generalizations about certain groups of people (especially women) that are demeaning, so I don't trust him to be discerning or nuanced about how to rein in political disinformation campaigns on Facebook.

Censorship isn't something I believe in. I grew up in the age when people bought newspapers, magazines and journals in order to read in-depth articles about political matters, or because they favored a certain point of view, perhaps after getting a half-hour news summary on television in the evening which was controlled by the "fairness doctrine". Censorship? Why? Sure, plenty of people were persuaded by propaganda even then, but had to work at it.

The First Amendment protects freedom of speech. However, defamation has always been a tort. NYT v Sullivan made it difficult to win an action against a public figure. I thought the reasoning was solid, but have begun to question some of it, especially since Citizens United says that money is speech.

One thing that isn't barred by the First Amendment is our right to choose to pay less attention to writers who have shown that they are racist, homophobic, or misogynistic. As it stands, every "jerk" has a right to publish their views to as many people who will read them. We're really in trouble if we have to take them all seriously.

I take lj's point, but I'm as old as Ames, so not exactly the MeToo generation, and the story about the 15 year old girl would not have amused me back in college.

if you haven't, you may want to take a look at hsh's link. From that

Multiple former staffers we spoke to told us that Ames did have a young girlfriend named Natasha, but none believed she was 15. The common explanation we heard was that her age had been lowered to satirize the fact that in 1998, Russia changed its age of consent from 16 to 14.

I'm not sure if the article works too hard at getting Ames and Taibbi off the hook, but it certainly doesn't look as open and shut as it seems.

NYT v Sullivan made it difficult to win an action against a public figure.

Shouldn't that be reversed? It makes it more difficult for a public figure to win an action against someone for libel.

NYT v Sullivan made it difficult to win an action against a public figure.

This is backwards. NYT v Sullivan made it difficult for a public figure to win a defamation action.

The point is that disinformation campaigns against public figures (and that term has gotten more expansive) are now not only free speech, but are monetized, and have been turned into millions of dollars of propaganda campaigns. Democracy is losing. Millionaires (including private tech platforms) are winning.

Thanks, CharlesWT.

“I do think that it shows that he makes sweeping and ugly generalizations about certain groups of people (especially women) that are demeaning, so I don't trust him to be discerning or nuanced about how to rein in political disinformation campaigns on Facebook.”

The original accusation was that he was a harasser. Now it turns out he and Ames were ridiculing the Americans who were acting like pigs and supporting the raping of Russia during its worst days since the death of Stalin— you know, when Time magazine openly gloated over America interfering in Russia’s elections while the society was in free fall.

He and his co- author should not have used misogynistic language in their satire. People who do that often seem to think that satire is an all- excusing thing. (This, btw, is my problem with a certain French magazine which ridiculed Muslim protestors gunned down by the Egyptian security forces. Haha. Satire.)

But anyway, your logic is backwards. Nobody can be trusted to rein in disinformation campaigns on Facebook or anywhere else, not if it involves censorship. The amount of lying Americans do to each other on politics vastly outweighs what the Russians did and I think I could mention other countries that try to influence our policies in ways that are lethal to others, the Saudis currently at the top. If we are that fragile the problem is that many people believe what they want to believe, follow only the sources that tell them what they want and will swallow anything.

I am going to drag the other thread over here because it fits. The definition of antisemitism adopted by our State Department includes calling Israel a racist state.

https://www.state.gov/s/rga/resources/267538.htm

The controversy about Labour is in large part about that piece of the definition which people wanted Labour to adopt wholesale which comes from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. So wouldn’t it be reasonable for Facebook or Google to start censoring based on that definition? If you are censoring people saying horrible things, antisemitism is surely at the top of the list. So who gets to define that borderline between Nazi advocacy and advocacy of human rights for Palestinians, because it is crystal clear that some people criticizing Labour can’t tell the fracking difference?

The original accusation was that he was a harasser.

Whose original accusation? My original accusation is that he's a misogynist, and I'm not going to pay much attention to him. You think his book was valuable satire, and you're entitled to that opinion.

I am going to drag the other thread over here because it fits. The definition of antisemitism adopted by our State Department includes calling Israel a racist state.

It's not a surprise that you're turning yet another discussion towards the only issue you seem to care much about.

It's difficult to figure out what to do about millionaires waging highly effective disinformation campaigns that [further] distort our political process in their favor, while further enriching other millionaires. The degree to which Facebook, Twitter, etc., should excise certain people or behaviors from their platforms is not an easy thing to resolve, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't happen at all. It will certainly require some discussion to figure out what's right.

I do know that paying attention to every "voice," including misogynists, isn't the way I intend to think about issues. You posted a link to a Taibbi piece.
I pointed out that he seems to engage in seriously warped evaluations of certain groups of people. I think that speaks to his reliability as a journalist.

Nobody can be trusted to rein in disinformation campaigns on Facebook or anywhere else, not if it involves censorship.

censorship is something a government does.

The amount of lying Americans do to each other on politics vastly outweighs what the Russians did

probably. but that's irrelevant. what people accept from within their group is generally quite different from what people accept from outside their group. and America didn't invent that.

An example Taibbi gives involve Venezuela. I haven’t folllowed that situation closely enough to have a view about the mainstream Western press vs. those who say the mainstream press is giving a distorted view. But Facebook shoulldn’t be protecting its poor innocent readers from propaganda on that subject even if it is propaganda.

If you’re sorry afterwards, that makes it ok. That accounts for Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd. Ted never actually apologized, IIRC. Is National Review off the hook then. William F Buckley?

The definition of antisemitism adopted by our State Department includes calling Israel a racist state.

No, I don't think it does.

The cause you refer to says this:
Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

If you’re sorry afterwards, that makes it ok.

Depending on what “it” is and how you define “okay” ... maybe. Is that a satisfying answer? (If not, I’m sorry. Does sincerity matter?)

"The Long-dead Apologists" is going to be my next band name.

I'm sorry for everything going forward because I do nothing in the prescribed order.

Ted Kennedy, sorry or not should have been tried for vehicular manslaughter while under the influence, and if convicted, jailed.

William F. Buckley's contribution to the ruination of millions of American lives via his wholly owned publication's racist editorial policy should have resulted in his death by gunshot and the firebombing of the NR offices, sorry or not.

William Byrd, when he was with the KKK, should have been shot dead as well at the time for the ruination of the same lives, but a different generation, Buckley piled on later.

But there is no justice. None. So fuck it.

Sorry later is good enough in America, but only for certain people. If you are Emmett Till, for whom even "I didn't do it" wasn't good enough, or Eric Garner, for whom "This isn't really about cigarettes, is it?" might have been the words he croaked out before being suffocated for absolutely nothing, you are shit out of luck.

At this very minute, as sapient points out, there is a White House and a Congress full of corrupt, traitorous motherfuckers, many now uncloseted racists and tens of millions of their supporters in full supporting cry, who might as well be William Byrd in 1935 or William F. Buckley in 1954.

Right now.

Decades from now, some will say they are sorry.

Fuck them.

Do something now.

William Byrd, the English Renaissance composer may well have done something he needs to apologize for, but Robert Byrd ... now THAT guy should have been shot dead in 1935.

What's a little mistaken identity when retro justice is being doled out, hanh?

You know why neither were punished?

You know why Emmett Till was lynched even after pleading that "you cracker cocksuckers have the wrong guy!"?

TYRANNYYYYYYYYY!!!!!

In a signing statement that the White House quietly issued after 9 p.m. on Monday — about six hours after Mr. Trump signed the bill in a televised ceremony at Fort Drum in New York — Mr. Trump deemed about 50 of its statutes to be unconstitutional intrusions on his presidential powers, meaning that the executive branch need not enforce or obey them as written.

Among them was a ban on spending military funds on “any activity that recognizes the sovereignty of the Russian Federation over Crimea,” the Ukrainian region annexed by Moscow in 2014 in an incursion considered illegal by the United States. He said he would treat the provision and similar ones as “consistent with the president’s exclusive constitutional authorities as commander in chief and as the sole representative of the nation in foreign affairs.”

no puppet. no puppet.

the GOP is a cult.

My personal opinion is that sapient is up in arms because it was Donald who posted the Taibbi piece and McT dropped in because of what I wrote. Don't think it really has anything to do with Taibbi, sad to say.

My personal opinion is that sapient is up in arms because it was Donald who posted the Taibbi piece and McT dropped in because of what I wrote. Don't think it really has anything to do with Taibbi, sad to say.

Actually, "no" as to me. I read Sapient's link and concluded he's an animal. I was having coffee and my morning read at the house. I did read your post and I take your points. Just as a broken watch is right twice a day, so too can a despicable person get something right. That doesn't make them less despicable. It just seems odd to me how some get a pass, or seem to, while others don't and I'm having a hard time finding any one-size-fits-all principle other than "but we agree on other stuff". Our beloved president is as a good an example as any of people overlooking his nearly infinite number of flaws because he manages to get other stuff right, as they see it.

If you’re sorry afterwards, that makes it ok.

It doesn't, which I suppose is your point.

What makes it OK is a direct apology and request for forgiveness from your victim, which request is preceded by or accompanied with atonement, wherever at all possible. Absence of such atonement makes the apology meaningless, as a huge percentage of apologies by public figures caught in various transgressions are.

By "direct" I mean an apology addressed individually to the victim of the wrongdoing, rather than announced via a press release.

Whatever. Reading what I wrote as 'giving a pass' (which would mean ignoring what he did rather than taking into account what they wrote in apology) is a pretty big comprehension fail. And quite an impressive act of mind reading as well, so don't wear out that mind reading cap of yours.

As for 'things that seem odd to McT', it seems interesting that what seems odd to you overlaps pretty extensively with whatever I observe. Coincidence, I'm sure.

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