Friday, March 13, 2009

Ignoring John Stossel

The Star's Prime Buzz is trying to draw attention to a special involving John Stossel that will be on TV sometime soon. No links, intentionally.

John Stossel is undeserving of attention. He is an immmoral libertarian, with a flair for dishonest mock journalism. I'm saddened that the Star is promoting the man.

Stossel had the gall to do a story lying about a local victim of death by denial. If you're interested, the victim's widow did a fine letter addressing Stossel's integrity here.

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Anonymous Lance said...

Dan, do you really believe that it is immoral to refrain from exerting control over others? It must be overwhelming to imagine that you have a responsibility to control other people 'for their own good' or some other 'greater' good. I have a hard enough time just managing my own life.

Your position implies that libertarianism's opposite, authoritarianism, is moral. Since I believe that the only justifiable use of force is defensive, I disagree that anything approaching authoritarianism could ever be considered "moral" but I suppose I would have a different perspective if I were the one holding the gun.

3/13/2009 10:04 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Lance -

Yes, indeed, it would be horribly immoral to abandon a baby, or to fail to provide the opportunities we have all had in life. You don't manage your own life - other people have provided you with most of what comprises your life. You didn't write the laws you work with, you didn't create the roads you ride on, and you didn't invent this internet upon which we communicate. Neither of us created the language we use.

I categorically reject your false implication. Rejection of the tenets of libertarianism does not imply acceptance of any other extreme ideology in its place.

3/13/2009 5:49 PM  
Anonymous Lance said...

Abandonment of an infant would be immoral, but libertarian philosophy neither encourages nor mandates such conduct. Using governmental force, however, to ensure that people live up to moral standards like this one *is* immoral and such immorality is not obviated by the fact that the end result is desirable.

If the alternative to libertarianism isn't authoritarianism then I'm very mistaken about my understanding of these concepts.

3/14/2009 1:25 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Your inability to understand that the alternative to libertarianism is NOT authoritarianism is a common problem for extremists of all sorts.

Your mistake is not your understanding of the concepts, just your understanding of reality.

3/14/2009 1:39 PM  
Anonymous Lance said...

I'm an extremist now?

What is the alternative to libertarianism, then, if it isn't authoritarianism?

3/14/2009 7:12 PM  
Anonymous Rhymes With Right said...

I looked back at your post on libertarianism, John, especially your pat about liberatainaism being anti-democratic.

Do you really mean to imply that there would be something immoral in opposing slavery if 90% of the people voted to enslave a certain class of people?

Indeed, your post on libertarianism reeks of theocracy (it goes against Jesus) and authoritarianism (you must abide by the dictates of and make your freedom subservient to "society").

Indeed, at the heart of your objection to libertarianism appears to be the belief that some folks might make moral choices you oppose.

But then again, I guess I'm not surprised. You are the guy who argues that the government ought to subsidize birth control for students because it is unreasonable to expect college girls to keep their legs together and tell their boyfriends "no".

3/14/2009 8:50 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Lance - first off, I hope we're conducting this discussion the way we might at Hooper's - I'm taking your accusation of authoritarianism with exactly the same sense of a rollicking good discussion as I hope you are taking my accusation of extremism. In other words - everything we'm saying comes as friendly debate, right?

That said, hell yes you're an extremist. If given the reigns to society, you'd change darn near everything to embark on a utopian experiment based on a misunderstanding of human nature. Sincere libertarians are cut from the same cloth as sincere socialists, communists, fascists, Shakers, and assorted other free thinkers.

As for the alternative to libertarianism, you're playing with words as though they are on some type of ideological wheel. You go from one side of the wheel to the other to decide what is the opposite of what. I could argue your selection of authoritarianism as your opposite, but I sincerely don't care whether we write "Communism" or "Socialism" or "Authoritarianism" on the far side of your wheel.

My sincere belief is that the truth is found somewhere in the messy center of that wheel of competing ideologies. Hell, yes, I believe that free market capitalism has some wonderful benefits, but, at its extremes, it's dangerous and cruel. Same thing with socialism and all the other isms you care to write on the edge of your wheel.

You and John Stossel have the advantage of a clear ideology based on rational thought. I'm jealous, but not convinced.

3/15/2009 10:10 AM  
Blogger The DLC said...

With all this discussion of libertarianism I don't people to lose sight of the fact that John Stossel is a complete idiot. Can we at least agree on that?

3/18/2009 9:55 AM  
Anonymous right on said...

Stossel nailed the man made Global Warming hoax years ago, on prime time.

3/19/2009 4:45 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

DLC - Well done, to find what I suspect is our common ground. I'll go one further, and acknowledge that John Stossel is a dishonest creep, and it's unfair of me to use him as an example of Libertarianism.

And, right on, Stossel's work on climate change is a fine example of how he is a dishonest creep. If you approve of it, then you probably would love his work on tort reform, too.

3/19/2009 5:37 AM  
Anonymous Lance said...

Dan, sorry that I dropped out of this dialogue - I got pretty busy and things are (finally) opening up for me again. I do feel comfortable discussing these issues with you here or anywhere else because I think you're an honest and compassionate person, so your assumption that this is a friendly discussion is accurate.

However, the extremist tag kinda freaked me out because that word is being used synonymously with the word terrorist nowadays. I could call you an extremist as well and would make a convincing argument to support it, but that seems off-topic. You and I both value the free and open exchange of ideas so here's my reply on the issue of the morality of libertarianism:

There really isn't any murky middle ground between libertarianism and authoritarianism. Either we support each other's rights to be free or we don't. Personally, I don't support the idea that I have a right to force you to pay for my pet projects. If you think that you have the right to hold a gun to my head to force me to pay for any particular government program, then you are indeed an authoritarian.

The evil of forceful aggression against our neighbors isn't obviated because we give fancy titles to our agents with all the guns. How can we delegate rights to servants in government that we don't have individually?

6/23/2009 3:02 PM  
Anonymous Lance said...

I apologize if I was rude by calling you an authoritarian. Can you pretend that I never said it?

I'm curious about this statement:

If given the reigns to society, you'd change darn near everything to embark on a utopian experiment based on a misunderstanding of human nature.

1) reigns to society? This idea presumes that people need a third-party ruler. Do you oppose the idea of self-governance?

2) didn't the founders "embark on a utopian experiment"? utopia is unattainable by definition

3) what is the misunderstanding of human nature to which you refer?

7/17/2009 12:13 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Lance - no problems here, except a crush of other things happening. You'd have to go a long distance further than calling me an authoritarian to piss me off! I'm eager to restart our dialog - it's great to discuss big things with an active but opposite mind.

Maybe this weekend . . .

7/17/2009 6:33 AM  

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