Saturday, May 22, 2010

Stupid on the left and on the right.

Dan Sullivan may have wrote and posted on the public Libertarian list:
I love it when the Libertarian Party gets stupid right-wing and left-wing posts on the same day, and we get to address them both at once. Then people can see that responding to right-wing stupidity does not make us left-wing and vice versa.

Yes, Rand Paul was naive for getting sucked in to this argument. So did Ron Paul get sucked into such arguments when he was young. The conclusions that Rand will go down in flames for this beg the question of why Ron didn't go down in flames for similar statements when he was inexperienced.

Yes, Regan Straley is right that Maddow is "a clearly insincere partisan masquerading as a journalist," but so is Regan Straley for preaching such hackneyed superficial analysis. His analysis breaks down, first because he does not deal with the underlying question of privileges enjoyed by businesses, money lenders, landlords and employers, and then because he fails to see that the anti-discrimination laws are "compensatory" privileges to tenants, borrowers, customers and employees who happen to enjoy "protected minority status."

Never has there been a case of a tenant sued for refusing to rent from a protected minority landlord, a customer for refusing to patronize a protected minority business, a borrower for refusing to borrow from a minority lender or an employee for refusing to work for a protected minority boss. The implicit, never-stated assumption is that landlords, bankers, sellers and bosses have an artificial advantage over tenants,
borrowers, buyers and employees. There is some vague truth behind that assumption, but before we get into what that truth is, let us examine where Regan's failure to consider that advantage causes his analysis to break down. Here is his key piece of illogic:

> At some point in the distant past, our society came to a general
> agreement that it was unacceptable for the proprietor of a restaurant
> to bludgeon his customers with a steak mallet, drag them into the
> kitchen, force their bodies through the meat grinder, and turn the
> results into the nightly special. While I'm not comparing the severity
> of the offenses, our society has reached a similar conclusion with
> regard to our restaurateur discriminating against customers or
> employees on any basis other than their public behavior.
What Regan misses is that it is illegal for the proprietor of a restaurant
to bludgeon *any* person with a steak mallet. However, it is not illegal
for him to refuse service to anyone other than a protected minority. That
is, he can refuse service to me for any reason whatsoever, but he
cannot refuse service to a person with protected status unless he can
prove that his motive was not discriminatory on some protected basis. I
I have seen this double standard abused myself, as when a black
employee accused me of calling him a nigger in order to get leverage
with our employer. (Actually, I had called him an asshole.) My wife
worked alongside a black woman who sued her way through college
and got a "Ph'D," because she never figured out that there is no
apostrophe in that title, and who was the worst employee in her
department, who was never fired for fear that she would sue the
college. The other employees, both black and white, were glad that she
missed so much work, because she was such an incompetent teacher
that she did more harm than good.

A few years back, some of us helped expose the hypocritical lawsuit
against Pizza Hut by the Pittsburgh Human Relations Commission
because Pizza Hut did not deliver into black neighborhoods on Rodney
King Riot Night. Earlier that day, black leaders from church, community,
civil rights and social organizations marched down the streets, not so
much to protest the acquittal of the police who beat Rodney King, but to
plead with people not to engage in violence against whites that day.

Pizza Hut's national office, wanting to avoid putting their drivers in
danger, decided not to deliver in black neighborhoods that night, and
that night only. For that they were sued, and had to spend tens of
thousands of dollars defending themselves for taking the black leaders

Now, the right seizes on examples like this, which are all too plentiful,
to rail against anti-discrimination laws, and the left either pretends such
examples do not exist or insists that the harm of discrimination by the
presumedly privileged class is a greater harm than the damage done by
false accusations. Nobody, on the left or the right, look at the deeper
questions. Just what are the privileges enjoyed by money lenders,
landlords, businesses and bosses at the expense of everyone else?

Let us first look at the money lenders, the only people against whom
Jesus engaged in violence. The value of money comes from
production. Indeed, inflation is often described as "too much money
chasing too few goods." Clearly, it is those who produce goods and put
them on the market who give value to money. Yet we turn the money
over to banks to lend to the producers of wealth who created the value
behind that money, even as we tax those producers, This clearly
transfers wealth from the producers to the money lenders, creating a
privileged class.

Then we have the landlords. It is a confusing term, because we tend to
think of the owner of an apartment building as a landlord, even though
his building is capital, and the land under the building might only be
10% of the total value of his property. Then we tend to think of US Steel
as a capitalist, when the overwhelming majority of their asset value is in
land, including but not limited to vast tracts of coal, iron ore and natural
gas. US Steel "owns" that land, coal, etc., not because they produced it
or got it from someone who produced it, but because the state issued
titles declaring that land to belong to them. In so doing, they declared
that nobody else shall have access to any of that except by the consent
of US Steel.

US Steel then employs landless and nearly landless people to work for
them. Although US Steel also rents out real estate, mostly in old
"company towns," the notable thing is that all tenants are dependent on
landlords, who literally own the earth. Now it happens that landlords
tend to be white and tenants tend to be black. (In Pittsburgh in 1990,
white households were 2/3 owner-occupied and 1/3 renter-occupied.
Black households were exactly the reverse.) If landlords, through social
compact, decide not to rent to blacks, then blacks have no permission
to be on the planet. Or, if they decide to only rent the worst land at
inflated prices, as was the case before the anti-discrimination laws,
then blacks are held down.

The purpose of the civil rights laws was not to bring about justice by
abolishing privilege, but by artificially equalizing conditions among the
"underprivileged." That is, it was to guarantee that underprivileged
blacks got to pay tribute to the landed aristocracy on the same terms as
underprivileged whites.

Of course, because they could not confront the privilege itself, they had
to create various artificial devices that worked rather clumsily. And, of
course (always of course), privilege milked these artificial devices to get
more privilege. Thus we see that, before anti-discrimination laws, small,
competitive businesses were far more likely to hire blacks and other
minorities than were big businesses that enjoyed monopoly privileges.
Yet, after the laws went into effect, the big businesses got most of the
"affirmative action" grants and subsidies, and small businesses got
most of the anti-discrimination lawsuits.

So, what would libertarians do? Some still pretend that no privileges
exist, or refuse to make the connection between these privileges and
the host of compensatory regulations that they spawned. However,
many libertarians, including LP founder David Nolan, would abolish
some privileges and tax others, removing taxes from productivity.

If land were taxed heavily on its value, and other taxes phased out, the
landlord without a tenant would be no better off than a tenant without a
landlord. This would not only make it easier for people to find housing,
but to start their own businesses and create more jobs.

As to banking privilege, it could be abolished outright. Money could be
directly issued into circulation, not through expanded government, but
by simply removing the payroll tax and possibly all of the income tax.
Any inflationary effects could be offset by phasing out Fractional
Reserve Banking, the privilege of lending money the banks don't
actually have.

Right-of-way monopolies (streets, road, sewer, electricity, railroad lines,
etc.) could be government run, and government could do a good job
with them if they weren't distracted doing all manner of things they
shouldn't be doing at all.

This was, in fact, the core economic agenda of the Progressives,
before progressivism was hijacked by socialists. Progressivism began
with the abolitionist movement and the Free Soil Party, whose slogan
was "Free Land, Free Trade, Free Men." They never got along with
socialists, because they wanted to abolish privileged and make the
state weaker, while the socialists wanted to make the state stronger by
introducing all sorts of compensatory privileges.

The same was true of the liberals before progressivism, and the same
is true of the greens today. Privilege loves socialism, because socialism
derails attempts to confront privilege head on. As a result, everyone
has an equal right to be a borrower, a tenant, an employee or a
customer, but an ever-shrinking privileged elite gets to do all the
lending, landlording, employing and selling.
Reagan later wrote in a reply to Dan, in part:
I'm certain that you would regard much of my philosophy as "leftist equalization of conditions among the underprivileged," even though in reality it seeks to dissolve the very same unnatural influences of privilege and coercion as your philosophy does. And while my philosophy also includes much of what would make up a "moderate" Libertarian platform, we could still never work together toward shared goals because you already have me pegged as "left," and therefore unworthy of consideration.

He would be wrong. Dan may have pegged one as "left" -- but that would NEVER curb Dan's (nor mine) as unworthy for future work partnerships. All are worthy for consideration in my (and I dare say, our) lives.

1 comment:

Regan Straley said...

In a fit of unapologetic vanity, I Googled myself and found this commentary on my blog post about Rand Paul.

Disagree with my assessment of Rand Paul and brush aside my analysis as "hackneyed" and "superficial," if you must, but please don't put me in league with Rachel Maddow.

There are numerous differences between myself and Maddow, including but not limited to:

1. She is rich and I'm not.

2. She is a lesbian and I'm not, although as a heterosexual male, I do kind of like girls.

3. She's famous and I drift inconsequentially in the smothering ethers of anonymity.

4. I am, like you, not a journalist, and quite unlike Maddow, I don't pretend to be.

My blog is pure opinion. If anyone blindly accepts anything in it as fact, then they are not long for this world, simply because you can't be that stupid and avoid walking out into speeding traffic. I wish you would retract your comparison of me to Maddow.

Otherwise, keep up the good work, dude.

Regan Straley