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A Definition of A Libertarian - Penn Jillette

LowDown

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If you would feel justified in using a gun to do something by force then it's a legitimate function of government. Government is the guys with guns who use force to do things we want.

Preventing murder is legitimate.
Preventing rape is legitimate.
Defending our country and our way of life is legitimate.
Building a library? Funding the arts? No, these are not justifiable uses of force.
Sure, these are important. We should absolutely ask people to support these things. But using force to do them? No.

Read the whole thing (the above is paraphrased from this): http://www.newsweek.com/penn-jillette-how-became-libertarian-453565
 

joG

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If you would feel justified in using a gun to do something by force then it's a legitimate function of government. Government is the guys with guns who use force to do things we want.

Preventing murder is legitimate.
Preventing rape is legitimate.
Defending our country and our way of life is legitimate.
Building a library? Funding the arts? No, these are not justifiable uses of force.
Sure, these are important. We should absolutely ask people to support these things. But using force to do them? No.

Read the whole thing (the above is paraphrased from this): http://www.newsweek.com/penn-jillette-how-became-libertarian-453565

Page not found
 

Korimyr the Rat

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If you would feel justified in using a gun to do something by force then it's a legitimate function of government.

Once you have justified the seizure of taxes by force for any purpose, you are no longer arguing about the nature of taxation but the degree. If you can justify taxes to pay for law enforcement and war, I can justify higher taxes to pay for libraries and welfare programs, too.

The only area where your "armed force" argument holds water is criminal law; there, I agree with you that unless you are willing to kill someone to prevent them from doing something, there should not be a law against it.
 

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Building a library? Funding the arts? No, these are not justifiable uses of force.

I hate to break this to you, but the vast majority of people do not want to live in a society that is anarchy other than existence of police officers and an army. Said vast majority realize that this libertarian vision is the most hilariously blatant recipe for disaster; but then, that's usually the line between blind idealism and those who respect pragmatic reality.
 

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The only area where your "armed force" argument holds water is criminal law; there, I agree with you that unless you are willing to kill someone to prevent them from doing something, there should not be a law against it.

I wouldn't kill someone to stop them taking my TV. That would be a bit of an over-reaction, I reckon. Doesn't mean it should be legal.
 

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If you would feel justified in using a gun to do something by force then it's a legitimate function of government. Government is the guys with guns who use force to do things we want.

Of course the flip side of this argument would be that if you consider something a legitimate function of government, you and Jillette must have no problem with any citizen grabbing a gun and doing the same; going out and hunting down those they decide are criminals with no mandate, regulation or accountability to society.
 

Korimyr the Rat

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I wouldn't kill someone to stop them taking my TV. That would be a bit of an over-reaction, I reckon. Doesn't mean it should be legal.

If you call the police and they resist arrest, they stand a pretty good chance of getting themselves dead. Every law that the police enforce leads to people dying.
 

LowDown

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If you call the police and they resist arrest, they stand a pretty good chance of getting themselves dead. Every law that the police enforce leads to people dying.

Yes, the police are authorized to use force, up to and including deadly force, to retain control of a situation. People who find themselves confronted by the police should keep that in mind. Jumping ugly with the police will get you hurt.

I don't know of any way to avoid this once we have decided that a corps is required to maintain public order and the law, and there is simply no question that it is. Even in the UK, where police are not armed with guns, the same rule applies.
 

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If you would feel justified in using a gun to do something by force then it's a legitimate function of government. Government is the guys with guns who use force to do things we want.

Preventing murder is legitimate.
Preventing rape is legitimate.
Defending our country and our way of life is legitimate.
Building a library? Funding the arts? No, these are not justifiable uses of force.
Sure, these are important. We should absolutely ask people to support these things. But using force to do them? No.

Read the whole thing (the above is paraphrased from this): http://www.newsweek.com/penn-jillette-how-became-libertarian-453565
But yet Cons support spending, (taxing), to spend on many things that are not per that above definition, legitimate. Anyone that claims that the Cons only support spending/taxing to spend on "legitimate" issues is either delusional or an outright liar.
 

roughdraft274

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If you would feel justified in using a gun to do something by force then it's a legitimate function of government. Government is the guys with guns who use force to do things we want.

Preventing murder is legitimate.
Preventing rape is legitimate.
Defending our country and our way of life is legitimate.
Building a library? Funding the arts? No, these are not justifiable uses of force.
Sure, these are important. We should absolutely ask people to support these things. But using force to do them? No.

Read the whole thing (the above is paraphrased from this): http://www.newsweek.com/penn-jillette-how-became-libertarian-453565

So building roads aren't a legitimate function of goverment?
Ensuring that our food and water supply is safe isn't a function of government?


I like Penn but this is silly nonsense.
 

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Of course the flip side of this argument would be that if you consider something a legitimate function of government, you and Jillette must have no problem with any citizen grabbing a gun and doing the same; going out and hunting down those they decide are criminals with no mandate, regulation or accountability to society.

You would be incorrect, and you should stop thinking in terms of caricatures. We recognize the need for essential laws and of good public order, and those who break laws by going vigilante should be subject to arrest and prosecution.
 

LowDown

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So building roads aren't a legitimate function of goverment?
Ensuring that our food and water supply is safe isn't a function of government?


I like Penn but this is silly nonsense.

Penn would go a lot further than I would. He'd say that those functions have been and still could be covered by voluntary, private effort. I'd say that such infrastructure projects are reasonable roles for government, especially where they span multiple districts and where coordination of effort among private entities would be difficult.

But Penn raises a good point. Many people have been conditioned to think that government is the only way to do a lot of things that could be done by voluntary, private effort. Back before there was ever any government welfare or Medicare private organizations stepped in to help people all over the country. Government is not the only way.
 

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Norman Rockwell once painted a Saturday Evening Post cover depicting a young boy finding a Santa Claus beard and costume hidden in his parents dresser drawers. He had this wide eyed mouth agape completely stunned expression on his face.

I imagine that is similar to the "libertarian moment" when each of those followers of the faux ideology of personal selfishness reads one of their shepherds essays on how FORCE is actually behind all government. Imagine that!!!!!!

It could also be compared to the moment when kids first find out where babies really come from. Some of us move on and adjust and get over it - others say fixated on it and never seem to be able to return to normalcy.
 

roughdraft274

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Penn would go a lot further than I would. He'd say that those functions have been and still could be covered by voluntary, private effort. I'd say that such infrastructure projects are reasonable roles for government, especially where they span multiple districts and where coordination of effort among private entities would be difficult.

But Penn raises a good point. Many people have been conditioned to think that government is the only way to do a lot of things that could be done by voluntary, private effort. Back before there was ever any government welfare or Medicare private organizations stepped in to help people all over the country. Government is not the only way.

It could be done by voluntary effort. But then you'd have a country full of patchwork schools, parks and library's etc. and numerous poor areas without adequate access to any of these things. There are many very generous people, and there are many very generous wealthy people. But there aren't enough to adequately supply education and infrastructure in any meaningful way. The role of government is an important discussion to have, and I'll fully admit that there are areas it needs to be rolled back, but Penn's positions are so far outside of reality that it's laughable. And that's coming from someone that genuinely likes the guy.
 

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I hate to break this to you, but the vast majority of people do not want to live in a society that is anarchy other than existence of police officers and an army. Said vast majority realize that this libertarian vision is the most hilariously blatant recipe for disaster; but then, that's usually the line between blind idealism and those who respect pragmatic reality.
Unless the police are completely inept, what you describe would not be anarchy. Rather, it would be what the USFG is suppose to be: a means to protect the populace from violence, external or internal. Libraries and cheques for breathing, while some may consider them desirable, are not within that purvue. If "society" wants them, which is really just an expression of millions of individual choices, then it would provide them via voluntary participation rather than confiscatory taxation.
 

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So building roads aren't a legitimate function of goverment?
Ensuring that our food and water supply is safe isn't a function of government?


I like Penn but this is silly nonsense.
Maintaining infrastructure falls under "promote the general welfare". Anyone can use them, at their discretion and choice. Things like social security, schools, and "welfare" are not, as only certain select groups can use them (the elderly, children, and the idle poor respectively). This is not the "general welfare", rather the spècific, and relies entirely on how successful the relevant lobbying group is.
 

Citizen.Seven

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You would be incorrect, and you should stop thinking in terms of caricatures. We recognize the need for essential laws and of good public order, and those who break laws by going vigilante should be subject to arrest and prosecution.
Usual reductio ad absurdum, equating libertarianism with anarchy. It's as if the fear of having a reigned in government for well defined specific purposes is akin to the abyss.
 

roughdraft274

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Maintaining infrastructure falls under "promote the general welfare". Anyone can use them, at their discretion and choice. Things like social security, schools, and "welfare" are not, as only certain select groups can use them (the elderly, children, and the idle poor respectively). This is not the "general welfare", rather the spècific, and relies entirely on how successful the relevant lobbying group is.

We are discussing general principles espoused by Penn in the article, not your opinions on the Constitution. The discussion of "promote the general welfare" is a good topic for another thread IMO.
 

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What I find strangely magnificent in all this is that Pen Jillete is fairly close friends with Glen Beck.
They have some common views on Government.

That being said. Smaller Government does not ALWAYS equal Anarchy. Just like Socialism does not ALWAYS equal Communism.
People should not take everything to a conclusion that it is not at yet.

I think a balanced Government is important, myself, and one that works for the people not vice versa. If we have 5,000 public officials who all put the will and needs of the people before themselves and their power base then fine.
 

Henrin

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So building roads aren't a legitimate function of goverment?

Technically the government has never built a road itself as it is merely the group that pays the bills and tells people where they want them. Saying they built the roads is like saying people that hired someone to build their deck actually build their own deck.

What you need to remember here is that minarchists shape all of the functions of government around the principle of upholding the rights of man. This means that things like schools, libraries, roads, and welfare are not things they believe are the functions of government.

Ensuring that our food and water supply is safe isn't a function of government?

Minarchists would find that things like poisoning people would be a criminal offense, but would not find the FDA as legitimate.
 

Henrin

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It could be done by voluntary effort. But then you'd have a country full of patchwork schools, parks and library's etc. and numerous poor areas without adequate access to any of these things. There are many very generous people, and there are many very generous wealthy people. But there aren't enough to adequately supply education and infrastructure in any meaningful way. The role of government is an important discussion to have, and I'll fully admit that there are areas it needs to be rolled back, but Penn's positions are so far outside of reality that it's laughable. And that's coming from someone that genuinely likes the guy.

Libraries would likely be run more or less exactly the same as they are today. As for poor areas, well, people have cars and can simply drive to the nearest library. I don't quite understand why this is unreasonable.

Schools would be privately run of course, but you would likely see other means to educate children become more popular as well. Remember, there is more than one way to skin a cat.

Parks would be run by those people desiring to open up their land and use it as a park. I imagine that parks would be more or less a thing of the past though.
 

roughdraft274

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Minarchists would find that things like poisoning people would be a criminal offense, but would not find the FDA as legitimate.

Right. So I guess we just hope and pray that a wealthy person funds studies to find the health effects of random consumer products?

The "minarchist" position is insane and stupid. I can hardly discuss it without laughing. If you don't like civilized society, go buy an island.
 

Henrin

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Right. So I guess we just hope and pray that a wealthy person funds studies to find the health effects of random consumer products?

The "minarchist" position is insane and stupid. I can hardly discuss it without laughing. If you don't like civilized society, go buy an island.

If people are willing to pay for the research I see no reason it wouldn't be paid for.
 
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