Sunday, May 15, 2016

Quickies: An Unusual Connectedness Problem

     I’ve often used the phrase connectedness problem to describe a situation where two instances of pernicious government activity reinforce one another’s rationales. Both should end, yet their backers, many of whom can understand how one generates the “need” – i.e., the rationale – for the other, will nevertheless defend both. The irony is that the usual defense is that “we can’t end X as long as Y continues.”

     Just today, courtesy of Ace of Spades, I’ve been considering a new application for the phrase:

     By the way, if you're under the impression there's some hope for this in the Libertarian Party, well, I wouldn't count on it:
     The moderator, John Stossel, then asked whether Jews should have to bake a Nazi wedding cake and Johnson replied, “That’s my contention, yes.” He then went on to cite the silliest slippery slope argument I have ever heard—and I’ve heard some silly ones. He actually said that a private utility company might decide to shut off someone’s electricity for religious reasons.

     Is this really a problem? No really; has this ever happened in the history of the universe? Where do they get these ridiculous scenarios?

     Stossel waved this off with a generic "you know, libertarians disagree on stuff" observation, and studiously ignored the obvious: that Johnson's stated policy preference was not merely some minor difference in libertarian philosophy, but rather a wholesale abandonment of pretty much everything libertarians claim to stand for.

     Fortunately, there were other libertarians in the debate who aren't raging statists on this issue like Johnson. But even so, you'd think the Libertarian Party would be up front and center, loudly and insistently defending Christian florists and bakers against the most blatant violations of the 13th Amendment in recent history. But they've collectively been AWOL since the beginning. It's no wonder we're losing so badly on this issue: all we have are lukewarm supporters and uncertain trumpets. And "libertarians" like Gary Johnson who have, in effect, sided with the enemy.

     The connection here is between an unwarranted exertion of State power and a prevalent attitude among self-nominated libertarians. The exertion of State power is the imposition of the “public accommodation” conception on privately owned businesses. The attitude – and this is not unanimous, though it does seem to be the majority view – is that religious belief is a source of division and prejudice that must be fought.

     A significant number of libertarians are uneasy about the right to discriminate. A larger number are overtly hostile to religious belief. The combination renders them ready to endorse antidiscrimination laws that make a mockery of the notion of private property. Yet they’d rather defend those laws than say a good word about faith, absolute freedom of association in all spheres, or both.

     The damnedest things can stop people’s minds cold. I’m no paragon of crystal-perfect logical consistency; there’s probably something that stops mine. I wonder what it is.


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Jeffersonian said...

And the tragedy is that the LP candidate has precisely zero practical probability of actually being elected President, making Johnson's abandonment of free association even less comprehensible than it would be if it were made in a calculation of attaining office.

If we've arrived at the position of the LP going statist, we're lost.

Pascal said...

I strongly advise adding inconsistency and complicity to your labels.

Damned fools don't yet know the evils plainly marked above their doors.

Stewart said...

This essay highlights exactly my concern about capital "L" Libertarians. Far too many seem to be mere progressives with a strong marijuana fetish.

I've had several conversations with Marijuana Libertarians, telling them that I'll give them full drug legalization if they'll give me complete freedom of association. Once they understand what that means, their molten brains being to pour out their noses...