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When nationality, race and bloodline cease to matter all we have is citizenship!

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Nice bit of

Nice bit of philosophy.

Everything you do does harm someone somewhere. By having your computer switched on, you're using electricity, and even if you have a "green energy" contract it could be argued you're causing the release of CO2 cause the electricity won't be available to someone with a standard contract, causing them to use non-green energy.
If you eat chocolate, you're quite likely contributing to slavery.
If you wear cotton, you're most likely contributing to extreme environmental destruction (use of pesticides and diversion of water).
If you eat soy, or eat meat of an animal that was fed soy, you're most likely contributing to destruction of nature, the destruction of the homes of the few people who happened to live in it, the destruction of species that might have had interesting medical uses, etc.
If you breathe, you're using oxygen.
(don't start replying just yet, read the next paragraph)

Non-agression only appears to exist, in reality there is nothing but competition. The trick is to make your actions have more positive than negative results, and to make sure your actions don't do extreme harm to a few individuals but rather harm a large group a little bit.
I believe the best system is one in which nobody has to bear a load that prevents their individual development, and of secondary importance where (average benefit)/(average damage) is maximized. It's a good idea to slightly limit the freedom of everyone if it means a huge improvement in the freedom of the most deprived.

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The harms you noted I would

The harms you noted I would put into these two categories:

1. "Harm" that is a result of sharing a common resource - I question whether this should really be called a "harm" (your definition of "harm" might be a bit too extreme here).

2. Harm caused by bad essentially anti-freedom choices of someone else where the only guilt you may carry is for consuming it's product. However, we often simply aren't aware of the way a given product has been consumed to be able to make an individually accountable choice about it's consumption. So is this harm really to be attributed to an individual consumer or is it limited to the one who acted to produce it in an unfair way?

And how much sense does it really make to think of it in a manner which essentially leads to the conclusion that our very existence harms someone?

tbuitenh wrote:

Non-agression only appears to exist, in reality there is nothing but competition.

I wouldn't go that far. I think in reality there is self interest of an individual. Sometimes it may be in its self interest to compete and other times to cooperate, so I wouldn't limit it to solely competition. This does also mean that in order to protect ones self interest one may be willing to agree not to intrude on another's self interest rights - hence the non-aggression or non-intrusion principle - it is followed only when it is in everyone's self interest to remain as free as they can be.

tbuitenh wrote:

The trick is to make your actions have more positive than negative results, and to make sure your actions don't do extreme harm to a few individuals but rather harm a large group a little bit.

I don't see an obviously consensual act of sharing a common resource as "harm". As for the other examples you noted they are mostly things which shouldn't happen in a functioning libertarian society, and that is what we are discussing.

So I would still pose that non-intrusion principle and it's consensual enforcement IS the way to eliminate ones intrusion on another and minimize ones harm to another.

tbuitenh wrote:

It's a good idea to slightly limit the freedom of everyone if it means a huge improvement in the freedom of the most deprived.

We are discussing a libertarian society. If you want to expand this discussion to the whole world, then I would assume this whole world is a libertarian society. Hence if you pose that in such a world things happen which harm people's freedom, I would simply say that then the libertarian society failed or that it wasn't a libertarian society to begin with. So, if there would be anyone deprived of freedom, that wouldn't be what I expect a libertarian society to be - it would break the non-intrusion principle.

If deprived would mean deprived of wealth then that comes head on against the belief that if everyone was a libertarian it would amount to the best possible society in which poor would quickly have the opportunity to end their poverty. Since you already disagree with such belief yet I find it substantiated enough by effects of a libertarian worldview on present humans not to reject it, I wonder if it's worth discussing anymore.

Your post seems like an attempt to exaggerate one's social responsibility to the point of proving how it is necessary to give up some individual responsibility in its favour.

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libervisco wrote:Exactly.
libervisco wrote:

Exactly. But a market where the dominant players are wealth concentrators or greedy lobbysts isn't what I call a free market anyway so the statement that the freer market gets the greater the gap, doesn't seem to hold. We simply never had a really free market to be able to say so.

Markets have been getting more and more free on two fronts, first globalisation is a trend of opening markets by eliminating trade barriers via GATT and now WTO trade agreements, second, and in large part a response to the first, nations have been changing tax regimes to become more 'investor friendly' to tap the tsunami of private and sovereign capital flows.

In direct correlation with freer markets the wealth gap has increased, so now the richest two percent own half the worlds wealth and the lower half of humanity own just 1% of wealth.

I think you may agree these trends exist, but are saying it's not really a free market. Is that because it does not offer equality of oppertunity, eg when Supermike had a market he was doing well in taken away by Microsoft? Though we can call that a free market, when some players have vast wealth their freedom to act in the market is radically greater, they can even afford to break the law and pay the fines in order to crush competitors.

Would you support intervention to tackle such situations? If so, then it is a regulated market, not free. If not, then we must accept that big players are free to do as they please. I'd say absolute freedom, ie, no third party intervention, allows people to sink other peoples boats. But optimal freedom means limits on freedom in order to have a fairer distribution of freedom, ie. freedom for all, not just the few.

Perhaps "fair markets" would be a better aspiration?

libervisco wrote:

I simply think it may be worth exploring an alternative option, let's say, should we fail to ever truly make a government of the people, by the people and for the people. If that fails, what are we left with? I'd say libertarian ideas would then start making more and more sense.

Perhaps increasing support for libertarian ideas suggests that people are already starting to believe that the failure to make government a good one is definite. I wont say just yet whether that is premature or not..

The day government falls is the day I get armed to the teeth and fortified. Most people will do the right thing, we can and should organise ourselves for mutual benefit, it's the latent predators I'd be concerned about.

I've looked at the various schools of anarchism before, and in fairness they are more sensible than I'd though beforehand. What struck me was that they foresaw the need for local, regional, national, and international bodies composed of peoples representatives. Sounds an awful lot like government at the end of the day, just with somewhat more direct democracy and getting away from the nanny state which at times interferes in peoples lives too much.

libervisco wrote:

Why? I mean, ok.. my post about having independent alliances of private enterprises dealing with such big projects is similar to government doing it anyway, but at least they are separate and more efficiently pool the granular effort of the people. It is not part of the top dog caring for everything, but part of the market of ordinary people like me and you who agreed it is a good thing to pool money for and formed an alliance to take care of it.. So.. I'm just not sure it always must be the government.

Fair enough, I can accept that nothing should prevent people from organising mutual benefits regardless of the scale, so long as it doesn't disadvantage others.

libervisco wrote:

Unfortunately, flat tax like health/pension "insurance" ruins the "according to our economic ability" part. And those are, when it comes to taxes, my biggest gripe. I'm fine with cutting a small percentage of my earnings off to the government if that's the reality of the things today, but it can be hard to add these flat fees to that as well if your earnings can't amortize it sufficiently.

Agreed. We've had a trend in Ireland of replacing things which were funded by income tax - a percentage correlated to earnings, with flat prices for water supply, waste collection etc. This further increases inequity, and our politicians did it because they wish to get rid of the public service and privatise everything. There's a waiver scheme for the really needy, but the downshot is that a person with no job, in state accommodation, with free medical care, will lose those benefits if they get a job. The first few steps on the ladder to prosperity make you poorer. Madness.

The politicians may be ideologically driven, lobbied by business, and pressured by the global race to the bottom to strip away the public service with it's guaranteed pensions and bureaucracy, and replace it with private business, where the owner motivated by "profit = revenue - costs" will factorise, outsource, and do anything necessary to get rich thereby delivering greater efficiency, while the government can then reduce those evil income taxes. So what if the working stock are paid less and customers pay flat rates, so long as the few get ever richer and we prove our allegiance to capitalism and rejection of socialism, which we must do of course, or we're all doomed. It's like turkeys voting for Christmas.

libervisco wrote:

I realize though that most people would probably find "selfish" the way you do, so that's a win for your definition, but I'm not yet sure if that's enough of a reason to adapt to that definition or should I actually try to change people's definition of "selfish" in order to encourage them to think differently about the supposed "sacrifice" of helping others.

You're right though, once there's a benefit on the self side people insist on calling that selfish, regardless of the rest of the truth. Maybe I'll stop using that word, and replace it with Parasitic.

democrates wrote:

Selfish people want to parasite off the rest of us, and they of course don't want to deal with the whole truth, but hide behind an over-simplified half-truth.

libervisco wrote:

Couldn't that also be called expedient?

That may well be the intent when some people use the word, but it's a bug-bear of mine because it fails to achieve clarity, and also is a cover for parasites who want to equate themselves with constructive people. They are not equivalent at all when the whole truth is considered, and how the two types interact with others can be very different depending on the extent of their behavioural traits. Such aspects of a persons character should be considered when certain behaviours are expected from an interaction.

libervisco wrote:

Organizations formed in a free market with the general purpose of helping others would encourage people to donate or in any other way help by making, among others, such an argument as well. Albeit they wouldn't punish those who still don't help at all. But I feel that people would help en masse if it was their free choice to do so, because that makes them feel better than just staying on the sidelines, not to mention the reputation of their enterprise increases rather than decreases (which is in any market a real benefit).

I'm inclined to agree on the great potential of free people. When it comes to parasites I'm naturally an interventionist, but in practice if the cost outweighed the benefit of making sure everyone contributed a fair share, then laissez faire, hopefully their offspring would be better.

libervisco wrote:

It would certainly feel a lot more rewarding to help on your own than to help because you have to anyway. Even if you want to pay taxes today, wholeheartedly, this want hardly gives you as much reward as it would if you actually didn't have to. Nobody will praise you for paying taxes because everybody knows you have to do it anyway, so your state of mind doesn't matter.

I know that if there were no taxes I'd give more to charity, I prefer to use taxes though, because the flip side of believing in fairness is a rejection of unfairness, and it is unfair to my mind that some would have plenty and give nothing when others are in dire need, we all know such people exist.

My state of mind matters to me, I know what kind of man I am, I want to reach my potential and help others to do so, I don't seek or award myself accollades, but I am more content than the 80's when I was primarily self interested - it never felt right. You can focus only on the question of motivation, the benefit to myself because I feel better when other people feel better, so here's another motive to consider, what are the likely consequences of a world where being a parasite is portrayed as equivalent to being constructive?

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kevin dean wrote:I see NO
kevin dean wrote:

I see NO reason at all that a consenting person couldn't have sex for profit. I see consenting sex between adults as less offensive as say, taxes.

There's a part of me that agrees with you, I think you can guess which part. I don't want to come off as Victorian, maybe I could accept legalised prostitution - so long as they pay their taxes.

kevin dean wrote:

The United States hasn't had a free market in it's entire history. Pre-civil war there was slavery, which dramatically reduced the need for individuals to have value (one only needed more hands) such as an education or a trade-skill. Post-civil war saw the dregs of Northern versus Southern export law (Agricultural goods grown primarilty in the south were taxed more heavily than industral goods from the north). 1913 saw the creation of the Federal Reserve system, which has to this day, distorted the value of US money by artificially influencing many market variables, the most notable being the amount of money in the economy at any point, the interest rate on credit et cetera.

One arguement I have encoutered a LOT in my views is similar to "There's never been a libertarian socieity so you can't say it will be good". The same is true in reverse. There's never been a free market. Any points drawn in regard to the "Free market in the USA" will be falicious and oxymoronic. Of course, that same arguement could be used to invalidate anything I argue, so let's call that one a draw, shall we?

We don't have to have a demonstration of the ultimate destination, we can look at the trend toward it.

Markets have been getting more and more free on two fronts, first globalisation is a trend of opening markets by eliminating trade barriers via GATT and now WTO trade agreements, second, and in part a response to the first, nations have been changing tax regimes to become more 'investor friendly' to tap the tsunami of private and sovereign capital flows.

In direct correlation with freer markets the wealth gap has increased, so now the richest two percent own half the worlds wealth and the lower half of humanity own just 1% of wealth.

Do you dispute the correlation between increasing market freedom and increasing wealth gap?

kevin dean wrote:

You beleive that governments have a tendeny to corruption. What do you consider the best way to eliminate that tendency or corruption? I've seen arguement that we should create systems of checks-and-balances, where one part looks over another. In my view, that system simply can't work because, as you noted, governments have a tendency (not a possibility, mind you but a tendency) to become corrupt. My system advocates limiting the power of government.

When you are cooking food, you are aware of things like bactaria and mold. You heat your food to a proper temps to kill pathogens and contaminants, and you clean your dishes for the same reason. Most people, however, do not think about the bacterial content of the nails that are in their houses. This only makes a TON of sense, because even if those nails were teeming with bactaria (they are!) you're not planning on putting them in your body, and the likelyhood that the nails will find their way into your body is slim. If you decided to tear down a wall, however, those nails become a concern. Bacteria are everywhere, they're alive and like all life they have a tendency to reproduce as part of their life cycle. Given the proper environment they will reproduce in large numbers and if that environment is your food, pose a risk. If, however, that environement is NOT your food then the contamination doesn't matter. A corrupt government doesn't matter if they're not affecting your life. As you admit, there is a tendency to corrupt in government. Statistically speaking, giving power to a good government will backfire once that tendency to corrupt is realized. "A government big enough to give you everything you want is powerful enough to take it away."

"A market big enough to give you everything you want is powerful enough to take it away." Touche?

The Iron Law of Oligarchy is the culprit for corruption, in concert with greed for wealth and power. Governments and corporations alike suffer from it. The antidote is transparency so you see the bad stuff, and the power to intervene or what's the point of knowing about it.

From Dillon Read & Co. Inc. And the Aristocracy of Stock Profits, Ch12: Hamilton Securities group

Catherine Austin Fitts wrote:

"There was only one problem. If communities had easy access to this data, the pro-centralization team of Washington and Wall Street would be in trouble. Everything from HUD real estate companies to private prisons would be shown to make no economic sense -- other than to generate private profits and capital gains for insiders. And billions of government contracts, subsidies and financing would be shown to make no economic sense -- other than to generate private profits and capital gains for insiders. Indeed, communities were better off without many of these activities and funding. Through our software, private citizens would see the cost of decades of accumulated “fees for our friends.”

A case in point was a meeting I had with a former partner of Dillon Read who I had hoped to recruit to Hamilton in 1996. He came to our offices and during my presentation of our plans for community venture, told me that the situation was hopeless and that our tools would make no difference. I powered up Community Wizard and our software tools on the monitors and asked him where he lived. He said "Bronxville, New York." I had one of my team print out from our databases a list of federal expenditures in his neighborhood. When he saw the first item, he exploded with rage, "$4 million last year for flood insurance? That is ridiculous. That is corrupt!" $4 million of flood insurance sounded pretty innocent to me and I said, "why is that corrupt?" He said, "Bronxville is on a hill. I have lived in Bronxville for many years and I have never seen or heard of a flood." It is typical that someone with years of experience in a place can spot potential waste and reengineering opportunities much faster when presented with detailed government financial information than someone who does not know the place."

Step1 - put all government expenditure online so we can see the waste and crony contracts, the dataset isn't that big, and while most people will only focus on their local areas, plenty will inspect beyond.

Now for our good friends in the market. The SEC worked long and hard to make the stock market more transparent and accountable to investors, to establish something closer to a true free market which assumes certain information communication standards are upheld, noble. To sidestep this outrage the financial institutions invented new instruments such as hedge funds, collateralized debt obligations, and credit default swaps, all free from regulation. Voila! the sub-prime mess, and there's worse to come. The big players do not want a real free market, self regulation will never work. Some independant organisation has to govern the market to ensure it is truly free.

But a free market isn't good enough for me, I want a fair market. This means making room for the small innovator, and since the encumbent giants try to crush new entrants, more intervention is indicated. Furthermore, I don't accept the wealth concentrating paradigm, I want to see social enterprises replace them.

democrates wrote:

I accept that keeping too many public servants on the payroll in case of this or that potential emergency is inefficient, but things like keeping the levees of New Orleans up to standard or deploying an early warning system for Tsunamis are big projects which governments are best suited to funding.

kevin dean wrote:

I've heard you argue this before but I've never really gotten an understanding of why you beleive this is the truth. I am NOT saying this is truth, but there has been accusation that the government purposely responded slowly to Katrina because the majority of people in that region were low-income and black. To tie this into world events today, Kosovo has declared indepenance from Serbia. What benefit did the Serbian government have, the day PRIOR to their declaration, to ensure that the levee would hold? Could a corrupt government not use those responcibilities to HARM it's citizens as well?

No argument from me that corruption is bad news, be it of government or the market, but you're not arguing to get rid of the market because of Enron etc etc etc etc.

I see the freedom issue, eg. compare and contrast the Kosovo break with the Free State Project - shouldn't people be free to pursue their destinies? Kosovo seems to be escaping from cultural or economic neglect or oppression, if that's true I can sympathise based on the history of Catholics in Northern Ireland. I don't know enough about the Kosovo/Serbia background to have a strong opinion, though that whole ethnic cleansing episode a few years ago might be a hint. The FSP however is just a bigger version of a gated community, they don't have to say the needy are unwelcome, it's implicit in saying that those who require no assistance are welcome, next stop Stepford Wives. Emma Lazarus must be spinning in her grave, what was that poem of hers on some statue, "Bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...". The FSP would probably like a statue of individual liberty, but I believe that France still values Liberty, Egality, and Fraternity, so the fit isn't quite right in this case.

kevin dean wrote:

It was the majority opinion at some point in the United States that people with black skin were inferior to people with white skin. It was the opinion of the majority during the Inquisition that someone that was not Christian deserved to die. What makes oppression by the majority less wrong than oppression at the hands of a dictator?

Because the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. Good ole Spock. The limit to that is inalienable rights, so we don't butcher one person even if the parts can save the lives of ten sick people. The pursuit of hapiness is a great idea, but when absolutist freedom arguments are used to justify the wants of a few outweighing the needs of the many, it's just Manifest Destiny 2.0

kevin dean wrote:

Furthermore, what makes libertarianism-by-majority wrong?

If something is wrong the support percentage is irrelevant, you've shown that with the examples above. I wasn't trying to equate majority with right, it was an emotional refuge in response to the every man for himself scenario which I was reeling from, the flip side is that I'm in the minority on direct democracy and social enterprises. Bummer!

kevin dean wrote:

I see the "distribution of wealth" systems as a means to parasiteize on me.

Bummer!
To an extent I agree, with all the single mothers on welfare I'm paying child and mother support though I've no sprogs or wife of my own, yet. (Any tips are welcome, this loreal "I'm worth it" shower don't inspire confidence for a man to risk all he's built up, I've seen guys hit a rough patch and witness "in sickness and in health, until death us do part" be replaced by "I didn't sign on for this" and the poor sod ends up destitute on the street, by Jupiters moons what diabolical wenchery, at least those hookers you defended do an honest deal.)

Anyhoo, back to the starving african babies parasiting off Kevin like a plague of harpies, I can understand your perspective in that it's one thing to give a dollar to a beggar, quite another if he takes it from your pocket against your will, and just because the agent is the government and taxes are the means doesn't mean there isn't the same technical affront, I just don't take it as a big evil personal affront, and see it as a social obligation.

It's the waste, corruption, and concentrating of wealth in governments and the markets that wrankles, if we got rid of that I'd feel a lot better and I believe it would cost less per individual to solve the worlds ills.

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democrates wrote: I think
democrates wrote:

I think you may agree these trends exist, but are saying it's not really a free market. Is that because it does not offer equality of oppertunity, eg when Supermike had a market he was doing well in taken away by Microsoft? Though we can call that a free market, when some players have vast wealth their freedom to act in the market is radically greater, they can even afford to break the law and pay the fines in order to crush competitors.

I think the economic globalization trends you mentioned mostly benefit these big corporations. Furthermore, they often become big by abusing the power of the government, through continuous government corruption. So as much as you would argue that government intervention is good to fight off monopolies I could argue that at the same time government actually contributes to the problem.

What I see is indeed the wealth inequality growing even while the governments are supposedly doing the job of preventing that. Something's wrong here.

Again, a libertarian society does not exist to prove itself at work. Yet liberal democracies existed for quite a while and didn't prove themselves effective in stopping the growth inequality.

In a truly free market the corporation would have no external leverage to rely on in order to protect itself from new innovators. Hence, instead of an advantage (because they are powerful enough to subvert even the government itself) their size becomes a disadvantage. An innovative new company in an area is more likely to flourish even in the face of an existing huge player when that huge player didn't lobby the government for laws that help perpetuate its power. Think of DMCA for a moment.

Governments as they are in USA and most of the Europe failed to prove themselves effective as far as I am concerned. I don't trust them. Sorry.

Besides, after watching a yet another video of government testing new weapons (stronger than nuclear weapons yet without radiation) I gotta say man, I am fscking sick of it. You watch these huge governments keep on building their power and acting as if war is continuously imminent and yet I have no freaking chance of stopping them should they truly start demonstrating their power. I am sick of having "powers that be" which I can't affect in any other way, but that puny charity of a vote right to make me feel like I am "making a difference". You can boycott a corporation. You can't boycott a government.

democrates wrote:

You can focus only on the question of motivation, the benefit to myself because I feel better when other people feel better, so here's another motive to consider, what are the likely consequences of a world where being a parasite is portrayed as equivalent to being constructive?

What world is that, seriously? If that's how you see libertarianism then we're far from tuned to the same channel man. As you said yourself, although in a different context, every action and inaction bears a consequence. Same is with a fully free market. If one is to just keep getting rich and give nothing back the market will recognize this. And unlike with liberal/social democracies they wont have the big government to suck up to get them bypassing the true market forces.

Kevin said it nicely. Government (at least as they prevalently are set up today) are ways to parasite on us. Either they do it themselves or they let the corporations use them for this purpose. Big government is a loophole, a security flaw in a free market system. And indeed, it is being called "constructive" and necessary. I remain unconvinced.

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You know, I think we can all

You know, I think we can all fully agree on one thing here. Our societies are not ready for a libertarian system, whichever it may be. This simply stems from the fact that most people still don't share libertarian ideals and are even quite far from getting there. I consider libertarian belief to be an advanced one, a thing of a positive future we would like to build where we can actually expect everyone in a given society to truly and by-heart genuinely agree to such fundamental principles as non-aggression/non-intrusion.

Reading about vandalism that even in social or liberal democracies is directed by some people against minorities in this country tells me that there may still be far too many people holding that primitive grudge against those of different nationalities, color, religion etc.

All this might already be quite obvious anyway, but I wanted to acknowledge it. However, the fact that too many people have stupid, primitive and closed minded worldviews is all the more reason why I should spread libertarian worldview as far and wide as I can. In doing so I may not necessarily go around telling people how governments are bad, how a libertarian society must necessarily have no government or any other such details on whatever system a libertarian one may be. I would not want to just end up giving people a justification for breaking the laws as they are, justifying things like tax evasion (even when capable of paying them) etc.

Instead I want people to look inside of themselves for a change, rather than the outside world, for an insight into who they are and who they want to be. To give themselves respect they deserve as human beings and confidence that they can do great things, that they are not necessarily in this world to live a life of routines, averageness etc. To value the non-aggression principle and hold it as fundamental and to try to be world changers whenever given the opportunity.

Maybe some day then, libertarianism wont be so controversial as more people begin to apply it to themselves and prove that it is possible for people to live in harmony and freedom without an iron hand setting the boundaries from the above.

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While I resist the timing

While I resist the timing and extent to which libertarianism might replace the iron hand of government with the invisible hand of the market, the principles behind such means are mostly ones I can believe in.

I think your dedication to encourage people to take personal responsibility and be more open to ideas and accepting of other people is a good thing, more people doing so will make the world a better place. I think such encouragement is required, too many people seem to be suffering from Newtons Law of Inertia - "A body will continue in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line unless some external force acts upon it". :-)

EDIT: Just copped this: Lawrence Lessig discussed quite a few of the same topics with Mark Hemingway on National Review last Friday.
http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=NDNhMzdlZDcwNTVlYzRiMzZkZDMxMzAyMmU5ZDg2MjY=

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Indeed, this is an

Indeed, this is an anti-inertia movement. Smiling

That's an interesting interview.. To be honest I find liberal democracy the next best thing to libertarianism if taxes aren't flat and extra government services are optional. At least it might be the best among the systems deployed so far. I like the direction Lessig is taking with his reform movement. I suppose he'll be one of the people who'll push the boundaries in terms of cleaning the government of corruption and minimizing it's role a bit, and proving just how far this can go and whether things will be fine once this is done.

It can be argued that just as some sort of a libertarian state was never done, a totally non-corrupt liberal democracy was never done either.

It's just the question of how would each fundamentally stack up to the other. If both systems would be implemented perfectly how would they compare? I hope we get a chance to see that..

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