Beliefs, Preferences and Delusions

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Riggerjack
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Beliefs, Preferences and Delusions

Post by Riggerjack » Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:14 am

I have been here for years, and never had a journal. I'm not much for journaling, or any form of diary, really. But I wanted a space to more fully explore what I currently think.

I say currently, because this is constantly changing, an currently, my beliefs are so far removed from mainstream that labels are at best, misapplied.

So I will start with infrastructure and environmentalism, a few topics I have touched on, but not fleshed out in other threads.

I work in telecom engineering. I am not an engineer. But for 13 years, if a patch of woods became a housing development, or an office building between Seattle and Canada, it went through my 4 person department. If a drunk driver hits a pole, I track the replacement, If a backhoe digs up a cable, I track where, and how, and using what materials, we fixed it.

Right now, and for the last 25 years or so, we in the PNW have been replacing culverts with larger culverts, to make for better salmon habitat. Larger culverts means slower water when salmon swim upstream to get it on. Details are available here:http://www.psp.wa.gov/vitalsigns/in-chi ... ndance.php another, up close look at how one of these projects go after the PR is written is available here:http://ebeyfarm.blogspot.com/2013/09/be ... almon.html (BTW an excellent read for those interested in the practical aspects of food production.)

What this means to me, is that a road and sidewalk will be trenched open, and all underground utilities will be reworked in the area. Culverts have priority of placement, then everyone else tries to fit. Mostly, this is a long, drawn out inter bureaucratic CF, with public works trying to keep a schedule and force changes, among utilities that are... unenthusiastic.

An we have good reason to be. The Half Billion tax dollars or so we've spent on these projects, doesn't include the costs utilities incur. That's right, the telecom company picks up the bill for the telecom work, the power company picks up the bill for the power work, etc. and those cost are not optional. This is just a cost of doing business, and really, we just pass it on to customers, like everyone else.

But sometimes, it goes wrong. A few years back, an enthusiastic backhoe operator ripped up almost 50k copper lines and 2k fiber lines, in Redmond. Lots of outages, lasting up to a week or so. And that's still a bed of lawsuits. But usually, it's just road construction that blocks traffic all summer on some road we all learn not to use.

So let me talk about a specific job. Willows Creek, I just had to prep this area, so it's fresh in mind. Willows creek is what in my childhood would have been called a ditch. but now, it's habitat. The watershed is a housing development and a parking lot, and it runs through two 12 inch culverts to cross Willows road, then continue to the Samammish river. I like this project because it runs along Puget Power Trail, a local bike trail that is even on Google maps streetview, if anyone is curious. Just Google "9840 Willows Rd, Redmond, WA 98052" and click on the map to see where I'm talking about. Ask yourself if this is where we should be spending salmon recovery money, if the goal was more salmon. Just how many more anything is going to grow in the runoff from the parking lots and housing developments?

Crossing these culverts, running down this street, is a good sized run of our cables, almost 10k copper lines, and 2k fiber optic lines. We cross over the culvert, and under the side walk. Currently, there is about a foot between the top of the culvert and the surface, but they want a bigger culvert. If we can't dodge this project, it'll cost us at least a million dollars. That's a million dollars to slightly degrade our network. Our only benefit from this is continuing to have a path to get to our customers. And it's worth it.

But that million dollars isn't even in the Half Billion tax dollars number, nor the costs other utilities will pay in the same project. or any of the other projects. That Half Billion (so far!) is just the public works part of the spending. We have restored lots of ditches to habitat for invasive species, and that kind of quality doesn't come cheap.

And all of this is why I'm not impressed by environmentalism. It sounds good. And it's a good cause. But when you get past the PR and BS, it is just people shaming each other on FB, and an excuse to redirect resources away from better uses.

And it's why I am not concerned when Jacob talks about CC and infrastructure. Sure, rising sea levels are going to cause problems, but when they do, eventually, people will just stop building down there. And infrastructure doesn't just get built, then we get the benefits forever. It ages, gets replaced, reworked, constantly. and maintenance is more expensive than building new, on a unit level. so just abandoning a section of any system will save some expense. But really, I don't think it will be a problem. Currently, we are seeing unbanification at a remarkable pace, but I don't think that will last, but that's another post.

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singvestor
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Re: Beliefs, Preferences and Delusions

Post by singvestor » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:55 pm

Curious about the urbanisation reversal theory... Looking forward to reading more

fell-like-rain
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Re: Beliefs, Preferences and Delusions

Post by fell-like-rain » Fri Jun 15, 2018 1:22 pm

I'm having trouble seeing the logical connection between "this habitat project is misguided" and "all of environmentalism is misguided". In the U.S., our air, soil, and water are (in general) quite clean, and far more so today than they have been in the past. Major toxins like heavy metals, asbestos, and organophospates have largely been removed from the food supply and consumer products- sure, there's still stuff like PCBs around, but even those are being phased out. The amount of land under protection is growing significantly over time (political vicissitudes aside). All of that is due to environmentalism.

I mean, heck, even with regard to CO2 emissions, generation in western countries is decreasing, and the needle is starting to turn on global emissions. It's probably far too little, too late, but at least we're taking our foot off the gas before we go off the cliff. I do find it hard to be as blase as you about rising sea levels, considering just how much of the world's people/buildings/wealth are right on the coastlines- I think there's going to be some major social disruption in this country in years to come, with internal and external refugees, trillions of dollars spent on relief/resettlement, etc. I mean, Harvey alone cost $200 billion, and the storms are just going to keep getting worse. (Of course, if they had listened to the environmentalists and not built all over the wetlands, things might have been different there.)

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Re: Beliefs, Preferences and Delusions

Post by saving-10-years » Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:56 pm

@Riggerjack Have you come across the Great Crested Newt? Its a protected species in the EU and only recently its been decided in the UK that it won't be necessary to spend large amounts of money tracking down every single newt and rehoming it before starting building work, as long as the larger colonies are protected. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/ ... using.html In the UK the species is fairly common so its been a frequently encountered problem (these newts are rare in some other parts of Europe).

This article links to another https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newsto ... ds-1m.html This describes how in 2008, because of the possibility of 1-10 newts being on the site earmarked for road development, a considerable sum for a council project to overrun (headline claims £1m). No GC newts were found so it was rather a waste of money.

Any sign that the culvert decision-making re, salmon may be headed the same way? That culverts that might be particularly attractive to salmon might get emphasis and not those that are unlikely to have any significant effect.

Not sure about the leap to climate change... for me both stories are stories of bad decision making and bandwagon jumping to look good environmentally. I await further installments to see where you are heading.

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Re: Beliefs, Preferences and Delusions

Post by George the original one » Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:18 pm

The thing is, salmon, particularly coho salmon, will happily spawn in very small water. Opening up culverts adds many miles of spawning habitat.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brq8L1_2How
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhvg3IQilig
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTabDQo1wNU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlhN-0lDv1M

I'm trying to find a video of salmon spawning in just the sort of muddy parking lot ditch that Riggerjack describes. It was taken somewhere near SW Portland, like in Tualatin or Tigard. Alas, it escapes me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uebDPyvEl0 are the sort of culverts that are being replaced. If you merely drop the culvert down to stream level, then the culvert is more likely to get plugged on the upstream end with debris during the winter rains and then a road washout occurs. Thus upsizing the culvert allows for maximum flows without getting plugged.

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Riggerjack
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Re: Beliefs, Preferences and Delusions

Post by Riggerjack » Sat Jun 16, 2018 9:17 am

Any sign that the culvert decision-making re, salmon may be headed the same way? That culverts that might be particularly attractive to salmon might get emphasis and not those that are unlikely to have any significant effect.
Well, we've been at this quite a while. we will continue to be, basically forever. Culverts need replacement. Steel ones rust through, and even the precast concrete ones break down. Also, when building a road, culverts are a significant expense, so no engineer is going to oversize the culverts on a project (though it may get added after, with a change order, cost overrun). Our climate data is changing, and "hundred year storms" are changing base numbers for culvert sizing. Also, the more over-sized the culvert, the less maintenance will be required to keep it clear. These culverts will be replaced, eventually. And the bigger, the better.

However, when we decide something is good, (job creation, environmental protection, etc.) and task it to government, it gives a lot of cover to openly ridiculous misuse.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uebDPyvEl0 are the sort of culverts that are being replaced. If you merely drop the culvert down to stream level, then the culvert is more likely to get plugged on the upstream end with debris during the winter rains and then a road washout occurs. Thus upsizing the culvert allows for maximum flows without getting plugged.
Well, yes and no. Those are certainly the priority, but the one in the video certainly seemed sized appropriately, look at how much water is going through, vs what it is capable of moving. It's just a few feet too high. If they had placed that same culvert 4 feet lower, that video could have been a promotion of how big culverts are saving salmon.

Just down the road, on Whidbey, public works replaced a 3 foot culvert with a 16 foot culvert, and half filled it with gravel, it's much closer to a natural stream as far as fish are concerned, and water speed doesn't change through it. Also, slow water speed means fewer objects moved by water, and a 8 foot diameter half circle is far harder to clog than t 3 foot circle.

And this is what I mean. GTOO is both an avid fisherman and an environmentalist. If anyone should be aware of which culverts are being replaced, and why, and where, it should be him and his friends. Instead, this gets left to public works, and the contractors, and the Environmental groups . when small groups with diverse interests get together like this, eventually, the politics of that group determine priories, rather than objective standards.

Regulatory capture is real, and a primary driver of government inefficiency. Allowing environmentalism to be used as cover for profiteering is bad for the brand. Environmentalists should be concerned. Too bad this is too complicated to sum up in a meme.

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Re: Beliefs, Preferences and Delusions

Post by Riggerjack » Sun Jun 17, 2018 8:40 am

Hmmm....

I think I just found the benefit of journals. Writing down my thoughts allows me to come back, reread, and see how ridiculously wrong I can be.
GTOO is both an avid fisherman and an environmentalist. If anyone should be aware of which culverts are being replaced, and why, and where, it should be him and his friends.
What a bizarre standard. That if someone is actually interested in something, that they should know it in detail. I don't know anyone who operates like that except me. I do sometimes forget how far from norm I can be. GTOO, I'm sorry for holding you to such a silly standard.

Rereading my posts above, and a few of my critiques of environmentalism, I see just how poorly I communicate when frustrated. What I am criticising, between the lines, is the ineffective ways that environmental goals get twisted by their "allies". That when environmental goals become regulations, the regulations are poorly aligned with those environmental goals. It is frustrating, dealing with those regulations, more so when they so clearly lead away from efficient solutions.

But that's what compromise looks like from the outside, and while I may not like it, I haven't done better, so maybe I should just shut up and focus on that. :oops:

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Re: Beliefs, Preferences and Delusions

Post by ffj » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:58 am

Just a corollary, but I once took a class in protester counter-measures. Specifically, defeating the various devices protesters use to shut down various operations and cause a scene to highlight their causes. A lot of them seem to like to handcuff themselves to machinery or themselves with devices that are hard to cut off...until we show up. :D Some of them were quite ingenious. Anybody know what a "trucker-fucker" is? ;)

Anyway, a lot of the test scenarios and examples came from the PNW, specifically anti-loggers, which is why I thought of the class when you mentioned the fish and culverts. I also read some of that dudes blog you linked and how his crazy neighbor specifically used governmental agencies to levy fines against him for something most likely she was doing herself. The agency issued fines with impunity solely based on the complainants word and that should be concerning to anyone. The fire service is also abused in that manner when neighbors don't get along as they will call you to "investigate" any suspicious smell or activity when in fact you are just a pawn used to harass someone. Likely nothing will happen to the person abusing the fire dept. and their neighbor.

Another corollary is the thoughts of Victor David Hansen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgmR_5Hi2fw He always highlights how the people making and influencing law don't necessarily have to abide or live under the ramifications of that law. Around the 15 minute mark in the video you'll see what I mean.

Sorry, I don't know much about the fish and the culverts but your thoughts brought up a lot of anecdotes.

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Re: Beliefs, Preferences and Delusions

Post by Riggerjack » Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:25 am

Yeah, we breed a special kind of crazy protestor up here. My favorite was a small band of protestors who cut two foot sections of 4 inch pipe, and sat down in a circle, holding hands through the pipe sections. The pipe stopped the hand holding from being attacked, so it was just a huge pile of passively resisting humans, that couldn't be moved individually.

But then the local sheriff's Dept decided to make an example. A bunch of deputies, explained that they had pepper spray, in ointment form. And they were going to apply it to protestors' faces. There are wash stations available back in town, and that's where the paddy wagon is going. (Up to this point, I think it seemed like a good solution to an awkward problem.)

But then it went wrong. Deputies started applying the ointment to the eyes, and skipping every other protestor. The effect of which was to have protestors who are not in pain, hold down the ones who were.

Did I mention that this was on camera? Filmed for "training purposes".

The protesters had legal help lined up before they went. Imagine how this had to look for the local sheriff. He had a solution to an awkward problem, the protesters come in, covered in tears and pain, start the processing, and the lawyer comes in talking about human rights violations, so, as they say, we go to the tape.

I think it would have been alright if they had just smeared faces, and let it go at that. But when the camera shows officers targeting the eyes, and skipping people to maximize the pain, and there's a lawyer there to ensure the tape doesn't disappear, I think they were lucky to settle for a quarter million dollar settlement.

As for the video, it was interesting, but he only told half the story, and some of his causality is backwards. But it was an engaging storyline. It's about as good as you could get, approaching the situation from that angle, and worth the watching.

Eventually I will get to how I see things differently, but there's more to unpack, first.

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BRUTE
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Re: Beliefs, Preferences and Delusions

Post by BRUTE » Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:12 am

holding hands? cute. brute has heard a common modus operandi is to cement the pipes together.

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FBeyer
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Re: Beliefs, Preferences and Delusions

Post by FBeyer » Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:14 am

Riggerjack wrote:
Sun Jun 17, 2018 8:40 am
...Rereading my posts above, and a few of my critiques of environmentalism, I see just how poorly I communicate when frustrated. What I am criticising, between the lines, is the ineffective ways that environmental goals get twisted by their "allies"...
Odd. That was exactly what I understood from your initial post. I must be holding you to a higher standard then :lol:

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Re: Beliefs, Preferences and Delusions

Post by ffj » Tue Jun 19, 2018 8:01 am

@Brute

Here's a recent example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1FWLmoNTn0

Sometimes they use barrels filled with concrete too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GManC_QJCh0 The class was pretty fun actually destroying all of these devices. The caveat was that you couldn't hurt anyone in the process which made it even more fun and challenging. Who do the cops call when they need help? The fire dept. :lol:

@rigger

They showed that video for the class and how you are not supposed to do it. I didn't have much sympathy for the protesters to be honest as they had multiple chances to stop before the pepper spray was applied. Didn't the protesters win the lawsuit?

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Riggerjack
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Re: Beliefs, Preferences and Delusions

Post by Riggerjack » Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:55 am

Yeah. The protesters won the lawsuit. And the issue. And the hearts and minds of the public.

Because kids standing up for what they believe in, (regardless of how factually incorrect) is always going to win against industry, if they can keep it up. As far as I know, this is a dead issue now. The mills closed, logging slowed down to a sustainable volume, lumber costs more, and rural economies suffered. So a win all around.

Every once in a while there will be a protest, but nothing like the good ol days. More as a exercise in nostalgia than any real complaints. Timberland owners are like farmers who have to harvest in the dark of night, because people have feelings about their crops, and those same people consider their feelings to be the only relevant information to the subject.

FWIW, I used to be one of them, until I looked into the details and saw how wrong I was. Though I only did anti nuke protests, not logging protests. I was wrong about that, too.

And you don't get off that easy, I want to know what a trucker fucker is. Google says it's some creepy porn, but I assume you meant something else.

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Re: Beliefs, Preferences and Delusions

Post by ffj » Wed Jun 20, 2018 12:31 pm

@rigger

Haha, not porn although I'm sure there is porn out there that involves truckers.

As part of the class they gave us a homemade anarchist's book the protesters made so we would kinda know what to expect if protesters showed up. They didn't, which was almost disappointing as I wanted to destroy something after all of that training. The World Equestrian Games were being held and apparently threats had been made regarding the treatment of the horses.

A trucker-fucker:

Image

Speaking of culverts:

Image

Another way of saying fuck you:

Image

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Riggerjack
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Re: Beliefs, Preferences and Delusions

Post by Riggerjack » Fri Jun 22, 2018 9:18 am

@ffj
That reminds me of those heady days of youth, when pissing off adults was all I needed to feel empowered. There is something freeing in having standards so low.

@ fbeyer, Thanks, I tend to be overly direct, which sometimes gets in the way of what I'm trying to communicate. Glad you got it.

@ saving-10-years, the crested newt? Nope. But the story is pretty common. Honestly, I think I'm wasting my effort talking about how badly environmental goals are actually implemented. The true believers don't want to hear it, and anyone who deals with regulations already knows this. I should really just focus on minimizing how much that contradiction bothers me....

@Singvestor it will take me a bit to get there, and I'm afraid you won't like the answer.

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Riggerjack
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Re: Beliefs, Preferences and Delusions

Post by Riggerjack » Fri Jun 22, 2018 11:08 am

But, back to beliefs.

Let's talk politics.

I was raised by very left Democrats. My dad "held his nose, and voted for Carter." in 1980. Carter wasn't progressive enough, but certainly better than that dastardly Reagan. Progressive parents, Progressive teachers, in a blue state, my exposure to conservatives was in the form of gloating over the fall of Billy Graham and quoting Jerry Falwell out of context (which served the purposes of both the progressive left, and Jerry, so it should be no surprise that it happened so often.)

But, as with most young progressives, eventually, the gap between ideology and reality widened until one had to go. I chose reality, (aka the road less traveled...)

But this left me a bit adrift. I couldn't get behind conservatives, because they hated gays and minorities and wanted to replace the Bill of Rights with the 10 Commandments. (Yes, I had much to learn about how much I needed to unlearn.) When a friend of a girlfriend talked about Libertarianism. I read "10 things you can't say in America" by Larry Elder, and I was hooked. Add reading Reason magazine, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, and I finally had all the answers. Read anything I wrote here up until the last year or so. I was very eager to share those answers, no need to repeat them here.

And to this day, I still default to libertarian, market solutions as the best answer to most problems. But there are two very big flaws to libertarianism. The first is pollution. There never was a very good pollution solution, or really any violation with low commitment costs and high enforcement cost. But the second is what broke libertarianism for me. Libertarianism is all about empowering individuals, and maximizing freedom. And most people, are not. I've tried every way around this conflict, but in the end, as much as I want more freedom and the responsibility that requires, my preferences are just that, mine. Most folks, when presented an opportunity for more freedom, see additional responsibility, and immediately push back. Oh, they will use different words, but the actions are unmistakenly clear (and when words and actions don't match, I watch actions.). I tried to tell myself that they would come around. When the gap between ideology and reality gets wide enough; or when they get a taste of the power that comes from solving one's own problems in ways that one chooses for oneself (#@!!@# we need better gender neutral pronouns!).

But in observation, I found that when faced with a gap between ideology and reality, most people choose to ignore reality. And when forced by circumstances to solve a problem on their own, most people felt put out, not empowered. That somehow everything failed so badly they were forced to come up with a solution, and what they learned was that sometimes everything falls apart, and that should be prevented in the future; rather than to embrace system failures as opportunities to thrive on their own, they will go back and shout that a committee should be formed to ensure nobody should face such an inhuman challenge ever again.

Which all sounds harshly critical. But that's how I saw it. But if you look, you see me doing exactly what I said I was not. When faced with a gap between ideology and reality, I was making excuses for reality.

People are not suddenly going to learn to appreciate what I appreciate, without becoming much more like me. Not that there's anything wrong with me. But on any scale, I'm always in a small minority. It's just that if the system only appeals to me, and people like me, how is it an improvement, overall? Eventually, if one's system can't make one's political opponent's life better in their own terms, one has work to do. Libertarianism doesn't work for me because the things it improves, (efficiency, independence, individualism) are not valued by Statists, and the things it diminishes (community, interdependence, power of the State) are valued by Statists. This isn't one system that would work better than another, as I saw it, but just values preferences.

I just can't rally to that flag. :roll:

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Re: Beliefs, Preferences and Delusions

Post by BRUTE » Fri Jun 22, 2018 10:18 pm

Riggerjack wrote:<a bunch of horse shit>
1.externalities are hard for every system. libertarianism doesn't deal with them perfectly, just better than any other system.
2.sure, most humans don't consciously value individualism or freedom in the abstract. but they sure do value more shit, cheaper shit, more colorful shit, and going more places more cheaply. it's not question that most individual humans would prefer to have more upside and less downside through state power. just as most companies would prefer a government monopoly. but since every single participant wants the same thing, an edge for himself, the optimal solution is an edge for nobody - libertarianism.

Riggerjack is getting old. demanding an edge (NO POLLUTION!1) or else the idea doesn't work. lol.

99% of humans don't appreciate the glory and wealth that free-marked capitalism has brought them. and they never will. but it still does it. selling all those Che Guevara fans their printed t-shirts and hats. it's the gift that keeps on giving, no matter if Riggerjack or the other 99% of humans "hate capitalism, man". it keeps on working. for them.

[edit]

oh, and it has lifted 4 billion humans out of poverty over the last few decades, while Riggerjack was busy feeling sorry for himself. boohoo!

ps: brute is angrier about this than he should be.

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Re: Beliefs, Preferences and Delusions

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Fri Jun 22, 2018 11:18 pm

I sometimes wonder if libertarianism is an excellent personal philosophy, and not really viable as a political philosophy. (Isn’t “libertarian” incompatible with “-ism” by definition?) For all the reasons Riggerjack detailed. (While I disagree that libertarianism is wrong because they are not for environmentalism, libertarians are not unique in this regard. I agree that environmentalism is important.) People would rather form coalitions and agitate than stand on their own feet. Political action is a poor substitute for personal action but its the well traveled road.

So by nature, it will always be a minority political philosophy, because true individuals will always be in the minority. But if you extol individuality, and the moving forth of civilization by Great Individuals and the markets facilitated by individuals, I would think you would still cast your lot with the minority.

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Re: Beliefs, Preferences and Delusions

Post by Hobbes » Sat Jun 23, 2018 1:16 am

@Riggerjack @BRUTE

One thing I've never fully grokked about libertarianism is its' equating (?) of freedom with a market economy; or, said differently, that a market economy maximizes personal freedom. Yet, when I look at the economy, I see that people are essentially forced into the job market (or at least requiring socially acceptable paper\digital credits\money) by virtue of needing to feed\clothe\provide requirements of life for themselves. This reality doesn't strike me as maximizing individual freedom at all really (it more reminds me of debt bondage). Rather, it would seem to me that, unless people had an independent source of the requirements of life (food, water, medicine, housing), free from external seizure\prices, people couldn't really be said to be free.

The above is the tension I've always held when libertarianism comes up, and I wonder if you both could help me understand how this tension could be resolve in the context of libertarian thinking?

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chenda
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Re: Beliefs, Preferences and Delusions

Post by chenda » Sat Jun 23, 2018 5:32 am

There is probably a third major flaw to libertarianism - its never happened. There has a never been a developed society adopting anything close to a libertarian model. I don't mean selective examples of successful self-governing markets, I mean a country or region which has essentially abandoned substantive market intervention (except maybe in anarchist Spain, but don't think libertarian-communism is what most libertarians have in mind) In reality, such a society would be quickly crushed, either through internal opposition or external force. Its a seductively attractive idea, but not a realistic one.

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