Compromise?

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It’s one of the buzzwords in the world of politics: compromise.  People talk about moving to the center of the aisle and coming together.  But is compromise always possible?  This is one of the dilemmas of the libertarian in the political world.

Imagine this: you and I are hanging out one morning.  You ask how I would like to spend the day with you.  I reply by saying, “I want to kill 100 people.”  You respond with, “Whoa.  No way, I’m not killing anyone!”

I answer, “Fine, we’ll compromise.  We’ll kill 50 people today.”

What’s the problem here?  Why is the “compromise” so unfair to you?

We do not agree on the end.  I want to kill people, you don’t.  Because of this, the numbers involved are meaningless, making this is a clear cut example.

Now look at the libertarian in the political realm.  For example, since libertarians are against taxation, and nearly all statists favor some form of it, there is no compromise by trying to agree to come up with a tax rate somewhere in the middle.  This could work if one party wanted a 10% rate and the other wanted a 35% rate.  Maybe they could agree on a 20% tax rate.

For the libertarian, taxes are just out of the question, just like killing people is for any sane person.

Okay, so a day of murdering is a little extreme, I get that.  Here’s another example to illustrate a further point.

We have the same scenario: you and I are both looking for something to do.  I suggest that we each drink a 6-pack of beer.  You’re not interested in drinking, so you say, “No, I don’t want to drink any beer.”  As you might expect, Mr. Compromising Me replies, “Fine, we’ll evenly split a 6-pack.”

In this situation, you’re free to simply tell me that I can drink the beer by myself.  You’re not interested and you won’t participate.  But what happens if I refuse to accept that you won’t participate?  This doesn’t sound like something a good friend would do.  In fact, I don’t sound like a friend at all.  You don’t see me as your friend.  I’m the one telling you that we’re friends, but I’m making you act against your free will.

This is akin to taxation and any other sort of government intrusion into the individual’s life.  The libertarian will be forced to participate simply because he or she exists within a certain geographical area.

The state is the bad-idea-machine friend who forces you to engage in some form of the activity they suggested, no matter what.

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lance
Guest

I like reading this blog. It provides me a clearer understanding of what at least one or two people think is libertarian ideology.

What about a sales tax? If gas taxes actually translated directly to road repair, would that be acceptable to team liberty?

Rollo McFloogle
Guest

The most “fair” way to tax would be to apply usage fees, just like legitimate businesses. At the food store, I pay a dollar for an apple. If I want two apples, I pay two dollars. I don’t pay more for an apple over someone else because I make more money. The problem with government is that it establishes monopolies for itself in markets in which it engages. If it didn’t there would be no way that people would pay the absurd prices that government charges for its cut-rate goods and services.

Steve
Guest

How bedrock is the Libertarian’s opposition to taxation? I consider myself fiscally conservative but with more Libertarian leanings every day. That being said, I feel that a low flat tax of 10% is reasonable. Does that disqualify me as a card carrying Libertarian in your book? I pose the question because it seems like Libertarians are more interested in purifying their base than expanding it. For a political movement that consistently polls in the single digits for major elections, I think the Libertarian Party makes a huge error when it excludes voters like me.

Rollo McFloogle
Guest
Taxation is the seizing of property without permission from the owner, so it’s an initiation of force against a peaceful individual. Yes, you would be disqualified from being a libertarian if you were not opposed to taxation. That doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t accept you and want a dialogue (we do, afterall, really appreciate your comments here on this blog). One important thing to remember is that being a libertarian doesn’t equate you with the Libertarian Party. I’m still actually registered as a Republican (because I just don’t really care enough to change it to anything else), but I don’t… Read more »
Marvin Edwards
Guest
LOL at the examples of “compromises”. But compromise requires a shared goal. In the case of taxation though, there is a shared goal that Libertarians clearly admit to, the protection of their right to property. If someone is stealing your car while you’re sleeping, you’d like your neighbor to call the police, right? Well, he will only be willing to do that for you if you do the same for him. Taxation comes in when the two of you have to compromise as to who pays for the police. You see, your car is twice as expensive as his, your… Read more »
Rollo McFloogle
Guest
“In the case of taxation though, there is a shared goal that Libertarians clearly admit to, the protection of their right to property.” You’re not protecting property if the means by which you attain that end is achieved through theft of property (i.e., taxation). “Taxation comes in when the two of you have to compromise as to who pays for the police.” Why do we have to compromise? Why not purchase our own security services? Do we have to compromise on everything we purchase? “You see, your car is twice as expensive as his, your loss would be greater. Perhaps… Read more »
Marvin Edwards
Guest
Sorry to disappear, but I forgot to check the “Notify” box! First, taxes cannot be theft, because you “signed” the contract in which you agreed to pay them, just like rent. So long as you are a citizen, you are party to the contract. And if you are not a citizen, then the rest of us may charge you rent to pay for the roads you use, etc. Second, the security forces you wish to hire are currently working for the Vikings, who happen to be taking your car, your house, and your wife. You see, the Vikings pooled their… Read more »
Rollo McFloogle
Guest
Because you put quotations around the word “signed,” to me that implies that even you know that I never actually agreed to this contract. And since according to your logic, you don’t actually need me to agree to a contract for it to be valid, what other things will you force upon me? Did the slaves “sign” the contract? Did the Indians that were uprooted from their homes and forced to live on reservations “sign” the contracts? Did the Japanese-Americans who were forced onto concentration camps during World War II “sign” the contract? “Second, the security forces you wish to… Read more »
Marvin Edwards
Guest
Every time you refer to yourself as a “citizen” you are asserting your agreement to the contract. Neither the state nor the nation exists except by that contract. Without a state or nation there is no “citizenship”. As to who became a citizen when, please see Wikipedia. See the 14th Amendment for the current constitutional definition. Indians are citizens of their own nations unless they choose to be citizens of the U.S. But I’m not here to take a quiz. Hey, as to Mises, thanks for the link, I’ll look it up and get back to you. I love the… Read more »
Rollo McFloogle
Guest
I don’t have a choice whether or not I’m a citizen. If I attempt to remove myself, men armed with guns will come to my house and throw me into prison. How that is a voluntary agreement is beyond me. “Indians are citizens of their own nations unless they choose to be citizens of the U.S. But I’m not here to take a quiz.” You’re skirting those questions. The Indians were taken from their land and forced to move to reservations chosen by the Federal Government. One of those forced movements was the famous Trail of Tears. And you know… Read more »
Marvin Edwards
Guest
You are always free to shop around for a different nation, or even to move to a deserted island (I thought the Libertarians were buying one somewhere). So if you’re still here, you are here by choice. And yes, you are required to pay taxes like the rest of us, even if you’re not a citizen. It’s no different from the rent you pay your landlord or your share of a pizza that your club ordered. To claim that the landlord or your club is a “thief” for requiring you to pay your share is both false and acting in… Read more »
Rollo McFloogle
Guest
I suggest that if you want to restrict free will, you go find somewhere else. Why do I have to leave? “So if you’re still here, you are here by choice.” I knock on your door and when you open it, I state, “I’m going to come back tomorrow. If you don’t give me $100, I’m going to beat you up. If you run away and leave, I won’t follow you.” If you stick around, are you permitting me to take $100 from you? Does a woman who lives in a bad area with a high rate of rape permit… Read more »
Marvin Edwards
Guest
Again, if you want to leave the restaurant, then pay your bill and leave. The world is full of restaurants. Again, you are here by choice. If you incur a bill, we expect you to pay it before you leave. Force will only be used by us if you attempt to leave without paying your bill. To do so would make you a thief. If you wish to stay, we still expect you to pay your bill, to accuse us of coercing you to do anything is a lie. Coercion is only used to if you plan to steal from… Read more »
Rollo McFloogle
Guest

You’ve got no problem with someone knocking on your door and demanding that $100?

Here’s a good video that refutes this “you can just leave” argument: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fasTSY-dB-s

The restaurant argument makes no sense because I wasn’t forced to use the restaurant in the first place. If you’re going to make an example, use the facts that the state operates under.

Marvin Edwards
Guest

Turns out you were born in the restaurant. But now that you’re a responsible adult, you remain here by your own free will, as an exercise of your “self-ownership” if you wish.

If you understand the video that refutes this, then by all means refute it.

Rollo McFloogle
Guest
Well, first of all, the restaurant has a rightful owner of the land, building, etc. It’s not that quite cut and dry with the state. And I can leave the restaurant without necessarily going to another restaurant. As far as the video goes, I understand what the video is about and have been invoking similar ideas to refute your views. I linked it because it was so similar to our conversation, and I think you’ll be able to better understand my views if you see this condensed, and maybe more eloquent presentation, of my views. It will take about 11… Read more »
Marvin Edwards
Guest
Okay, saw the video. Here is where you and the video are mistaken: A) You and I, and every other citizen, are the state. — it is not Jeff or any other individual — it is not a third party, but you, me, and the rest of us B) All land is under the authority of the state. Private property exists only because you, me, and the rest of us believe that private ownership is a good and valuable thing. However, it has always been the case that any private land may be claimed for public use so long as… Read more »
Rollo McFloogle
Guest
B. You’re justly compensated unless you’re an Indian and the US government wanted your land. Then you were forcefully removed without compensation. Or for a more modern version, we’ll talk of eminent domain. I really have no choice if the government wants to take my land. They may pay me, but if I don’t agree to give it up, is it really a just compensation? Furthermore, if the state has the final authority over my land, can you really say that I own it? If the ultimate say over my land rests with the state, then I have no private… Read more »
Marvin Edwards
Guest
A. I take it you agree that the state is not a third party, but is you, me, and everyone else. B. Eminent domain is the historical name for the fact that the people of the nation have a greater claim upon any parcel of land than any one individual. Otherwise, one person could monopolize the water supply and force everyone else into slavery. C. I’m pretty sure I’ve been talking about the constitution. I don’t think I’ve use the term “social contract” in this conversation. It came up in the video. But the concept is moot if you have… Read more »
Rollo McFloogle
Guest
“Otherwise, one person could monopolize the water supply and force everyone else into slavery.” Then why has that never happened before? When has a single person monopolized a good or service? If a single person tried to put everyone else in the world in slavery, they’d pretty much say “Screw you, we’re not listening.” “I don’t think I’ve use the term “social contract” in this conversation.” You said it here and have been implying it… “A state exists in practice, if not in name, wherever a formal or informal set of rules and ruling institutions is agreed to by a… Read more »
Marvin Edwards
Guest
Why hasn’t a water monopoly ever happened before? I presume because the rest of us would not tolerate it. A boycott would not work, of course, because you’d die of thirst. The rest of us may need to compel the owner by force if we cannot get him to listen to reason. ‘Course if he’s a Libertarian, he might not be willing to give up the power he has over others by owning property that contains the main water source for the community. So would you support his “property right” (acquired by buying up all the land over drillable water… Read more »
Rollo McFloogle
Guest

Correct me if I’m wrong, but whatever the state decides during any given time period is what’s ethical?

Marvin Edwards
Guest
Let me explain ethical. Ethics are rules. Rule systems include ethics, rights, principles, laws, customs…etc. Rules serve morality. Morality seeks the best good for everyone. So rules are judged by their moral value: To what degree is the rule beneficial? To what degree is the rule harmful? We answer both to a public judge (law) and a private judge (conscience). In both cases, the rule is judged by the same criteria, moral value. Two good and honest persons may disagree as to the benefits and harms of a rule of ethics or law. We lack a “God’s eye view” of… Read more »
Rollo McFloogle
Guest

“We lack a “God’s eye view” of the ultimate outcomes of our decisions”

This is precisely why people should make their own decisions for themselves. The state can be wrong.

slappyjones2
Guest
I think there are several things we’re just going to disagree on. I completely disagree that I ever agreed to any contract. What if 51% of the population votes to tax the other 49% by 100%? Did those 49% agree to that in some made up contract they signed when they were born, or became legal age and decided to continue living in their home? Obviously that is extreme, but speaking of looking at history, is it that hard to imagine government can get out of control? Governments pretty much have a monopoly on murder, did those murdered agree to… Read more »
Marvin Edwards
Guest
It’s like you guys never took a Social Studies class, Slappy. Sometimes I suspect you’re all homeschooled, like the kid whose parents didn’t want them learning about evolution. If you don’t claim to be a citizen, then you are free to claim you’re not party to the contract. But what exactly do you think you are a citizen of if you don’t think the contract applies to you?? Under the principle of “equal treatment” under the law, it is impossible for 51% to require anything of the other 49% that does not also apply to the 51%. If you’re thinking… Read more »
slappyjones2
Guest
Marvin, You’re a very good citizen… “It’s like you guys never took a Social Studies class, Slappy. Sometimes I suspect you’re all homeschooled, like the kid whose parents didn’t want them learning about evolution. “– I wasn’t home schooled, but I guess we’re even on this one. We think all you people sound like a public school school kids who ate everything their teacher fed them, never once questioning it. “Under the principal of equal treatment….” I think you’re the first person I’ve ever spoke to who buys into this. Democrat, Republican, Green, Libertarian…I’d say most people understand that is… Read more »
Marvin Edwards
Guest
Happy to start wherever you choose. Since Libertarians have no logically consistent concept of “rights”, why don’t we start there? I’ve heard you guys use “inherent”, “Natural”, and “God given” to describe the “rights” you wish to claim for yourselves, while denying a black man the right to eat in the same restaurants as everyone else. Somehow you have raised property rights to the top of the pyramid, with no justification other than a rhetorical claim that cannot be backed up with reason. Even personal rights are converted to property rights, which you falsely call “self-ownership”. The true nature of… Read more »
slappyjones2
Guest
Please stick to what I say. I could care less what Libertarians say, or Hayek says, or Rollo says. Please stick to my arguments. I never denied any black man any right to eat in a restaurant or ever said anyone should deny anyone of eating in any restaurant. I don’t think I ever wrote “self-ownership” before. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution disagree with you that rights change over time. I never even really commented on Social Security other than to say I want to opt out. I don’t know why that offends you, but it certainly has… Read more »
Marvin Edwards
Guest
Slappy, one of the tags on this article is “libertarian”, so if you’re “walking, talking, and quacking” like a libertarian then forgive my mistake. I would be delighted to hear your ideas on where rights come from. I’ve provided what I believe is the correct answer. Your assertion that the Declaration and/or Constitution presume a fixed, eternal set of rights is mistaken. The right to life, for example, continues to be worked out even today with the Zimmerman trial. Did Zimmerman have the right to pull the trigger on Travon Martin or not? The evaluation changed as new circumstances came… Read more »
Rollo McFloogle
Guest

If you want to compare the government to a restaurant, then the restaurant would be one that makes food for you, delivers it to your house, and then demands that you pay for it even if you didn’t want it in the first place. And if you don’t pay for it, they’ll bring guns and throw you in prison.

And you’re telling me that I need to be the one to leave and that the restaurant is ethically justified in its behavior?

Marvin Edwards
Guest

Dude, you agreed that the fraternity would order out every Friday evening and that everyone would chip in. Sometimes it’s pizza. Sometimes its Chinese. You knew when you joined the fraternity the Friday special would not always be something you like, but would be decided by majority vote. Stop acting like a weasel and pay your share. Next time it might be something I don’t want, and I’ll still pay my share. That’s the way things work in a democracy.

Rollo McFloogle
Guest

In this fraternity that you speak of, can I simply declare that I am no longer a part of it and they’ll leave me alone and I’ll no longer receive the benefits of being a part of it?

Are you willing to have your tax money to be used to pay for anything? Would you hold these views if you lived in Germany in the early 1940s?

slappyjones2
Guest
Marvin, I’m jumping in here late, it is late on the east coast and I need to get to bed, so I apologize in advance that I haven’t read all the comments…I’m trying to get to the bottom of your argument. Do you believe in individual freedom and/or property rights? Are we owned by the country we live in, or can I own a piece of property? I’m not talking about legally by the US law, but more philosophically. I cannot speak for Rollo, but I have a much bigger problem with the federal government than I do local government.… Read more »
Marvin Edwards
Guest
Welcome aboard, Slappy, 1) As far as I know, everyone in the U.S., and everyone around the world for that matter, believes both in individual freedom and in property rights. But no rights are absolute. Like the saying goes, “One man’s freedom to swing his fist stop’s at the another man’s nose”. So, for example, the owner of a restaurant’s freedom to do as he pleases with his restaurant is reasonably limited by the rights of customers, workers, competitors, etc. For example, the owner may not put a “Whites Only” sign in the window and choose to all every other… Read more »
slappyjones2
Guest
Marvin, I do appreciate your contributions to our articles. When we created the blog, this is exactly what we were looking for. Instead of replying in the comment section of another article I am going to write separate articles addressing your comments. At least I plan to, haha, I don’t always have time and sometimes it takes me longer than I plan to get something up. However, I like that you brought up private vs public retirement plans. Believe it or not, my day job is being an individual life, LTC, DI and annuity wholesaler so I am very familiar… Read more »
Marvin Edwards
Guest

Super. I’m following the blog, so I hope to see notifications in my email for your new articles. I enjoy these conversations as well.

Marvin Edwards
Guest
Okay. I read enough of the http://mises.org/daily/1121 article to realize they were talking about actual government and somehow fantasizing that it wasn’t actual government. Instead of states they had tribes. Sorry, but I don’t see any significant distinction. Their tribal chiefs (godi) were both religious and legal authorities, similar to the Jewish tribes. The unique thing about the Icelandic government was that you could switch allegiance to a different chief without moving your location. Please note, however, that despite these historical idiosyncrasies, Iceland today has a constitutional, democratic government pretty much like everyone else. Whatever benefits the medieval system might… Read more »
Rollo McFloogle
Guest
“The unique thing about the Icelandic government was that you could switch allegiance to a different chief without moving your location.” That’s the distinction….you weren’t owned by the state. You could choose to be a part of one organization or another. It wasn’t a perfect system, but it was somewhat of an example of polycentric law. “A state exists in practice, if not in name, wherever a formal or informal set of rules and ruling institutions is agreed to by a social contract, whether verbal or written.” More or less, but remember, the state will claim everyone within some geographical… Read more »
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[…] or afford, to live.  A few months ago one of our commenters brought up the idea on Rollo’s Compromise? post.  The conversation is predictable, you can check it out if you want, but basically the […]

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