Pissing on an Imaginary Tree

Font Sizeยป Large | Small




Piss on You

URINARY INFECTION - It's bad enough to bark up the wrong tree. Pissing up an imaginary tree is far worse.

It’s de rigueur for small government advocates to carp about government intrusion, over-regulation, or the wisdom of forcing laws down to local levels, sometimes at the risk of being inconsistent.

Inconsistency is bipartisan and a product of trying to solve difficult problems without context or tainted by personal economic preferences or moral beliefs that others don’t share.

Fair-Weather Libertarians
For example, gay marriage. Many fair-weather libertarians, Tea Partiers, and conservatives support the federal Defense of Marriage Act, despite its codifying government meddling in personal lives. The position creates a conflict between a personal moral decision and a fear of Big Brotherism. One can’t make a black and white argument for both. You either have to sacrifice a little personal morality or soften some iron-clad objections to government meddling.

So, let’s look at a new issue within the paradigm of small government, regulation, and personal freedom – the state of California requiring porn actors use condoms to cut STDs for professional pud-wielders and, by extension, the rest of us.

The decision’s already at a state level, so one point for the local decision crowd.

But, it should be a regulation bother for the strict, anti-regulation folks. More unsheathed boffing, more big bonuses for horny porny CEOs. Almost nothing is more profitable than porn in a free-market.

Schtuping for Hire
Yet, many with a pantload of self-proclaimed piety wouldn’t object if Big Brother and the Choking Company moved in and outlawed porn altogether, not withstanding government’s interference in schtuping for hire.

Most people would prefer a sharply delineated world where decisions are a binary yes or no. But, they also want exclusive moral notions of right or wrong, despite what that means to everyone else.

When they catch others in their inconsistency trap, they’re powerful anti-inconsistency wolverines scarfing up the carrion. When they catch their leg in the trap they’ll chew it off to explain their own inconsistencies with arguments as weak as an elementary school debate team’s.

News flash. The world is complex. The world is capricious. Big, small, or medium government isn’t the answer on its own. Neither is keeping everything we’re already swimming in. Sometimes yes is no and sometimes no is yes. Anyone who thinks the world should always be totally fair or consistent or based solely on their morals or ideology is a dog pissing on an imaginary tree.

And, it gets the rest of our shoes smelly and wet.

Enhanced by Zemanta

5 thoughts on “Pissing on an Imaginary Tree

  1. I’m wondering about maybe some examples of libertarians who defend the DOMA because that smells like a social conservative who, because he likes Hayek in economics, thinks he or she is a libertarian. You’re right, though: a libertarian who defends the DOMA is being inconsistent. I’m just wondering if you had any particular ‘libertarians’ in mind when you wrote that. Come on; name names! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Well Craig, there’s the rub. People call themselves so many things and change it so often, it’s hard to tell who is libertarian, a communist, or a member of the Intergalactic Council. But, Rand Paul’s example is inistructive.

      In 2004, he defended DOMA on the basis that it’s up to the states to decide if they want to recognize each other’s marriages, but apparently not saying how DOMA would do that since defending DOMA supports the idea that it is up to the Feds. A case of, “I’m for a law that applies to the Feds as long as it doesn’t apply to the feds.”

      In 2005, he introduced the We the People Act, to remove jurisdiction in federal courts for “any claim based upon the right of privacy, including any such claim related to any issue of sexual practices, orientation, or reproduction” and “any claim based upon equal protection of the laws to the extent such claim is based upon the right to marry without regard to sex or sexual orientation.” This seems to leave the situation up in the air by positively removing jurisdiction from the feds, but also not saying anything about the states. I’d call this the “I’m both for and against it, and oh by the way, you’ll never pin it on me” approach.

      In 2007, he said he, “supported the right of gay couples to marry, so long as they didn’t “impose” their relationship on anyone else, on the grounds of supporting voluntary associations.” That doesn’t say squat about feds OR states, but it seems to quack like a DOMA duck to me, though I concede you could interpret it differently, but that’s the problem with that approach.

      So, after all the fliping, flopping, and flipping again, I think he is saying it is a state issue and not a federal issue. He isn’t saying a thing about whether he thinks it is right or wrong, even at a state level. That pretty much leaves us where we are today. A problem, with no solution.

      I think this is one of those cases where a strictly ideological/libertarian view might bite you. In theory, it’s OK to pawn the problem off on the states (which coincidently means Rand can stay out of a sticky problem by not helping with a solution which I suspect is his real goal).

      The states will inevitably disagree as they already do. So, if a gay person gets married in State A, where it is allowed, but moves to State B, where gay it isn’t recognized, even from other states, how do we resolve the issue? In practical terms, are they married or not? In fact, does this person lose rights they already have in State A by simply moving to State B ?

      This approach also doesn’t look at how multistate companies would deal with it. For example, they’d have to have multiple sets of HR rules varying from state to state. In fact, this has already happened at local and state levels in California and caused many a lawsuit and lots of arguing where it could’ve been avoided.

      The analog of this today is state taxes. Each state has their own policy for state income, how they treat federal income, what states they choose to reciprocate with, different rates, and a host of non-standard policies for a zillion other things. There’s an entire industry devoted to trying to sort that out, and in the end, nobody really knows exactly what they can write off or not – personal or corporate.

      It also makes it easer for the feds to “cut” their taxes, but payers getting a tax “increase” from the state that’s sometimes larger than the original federal “cut”.

      So to sum up, it seems to me Rand is ducking the problem by relegating the legalities only to the states, which guarantees that many people will be stripped, refused, confused, or cast into a legal no man’s land at the state AND fedeeral level. He complicates the matter based on his libertarian style belief that states should almost always make the decision, knowing full well that it makes an already contentious issue less clear rather than clearer.

      BTW, the framers of the Constution didn’t flawlessly figure out the whole federalism/states rights issue either, plus we’ve been to war partially over it too. We still can’t figure it out.

      On principle, I don’t have a problem pawning this issue, or many other issues, off on the states provided it fixes a problem in the most effective way. I don’t think he’s hit that criteria on this particular issue. And, that’s precisely why I think unbending ideology for the sake of ideology or cardboard “consistency” is worse rather than better.

      For me the soultion is generally, leave to the states what is best left to the states (for example intrastate commerce or traffic laws), leave to the feds what is best left to the feds and get rid of the crap that’s left over if we truly don’t need it. The ideology means nothing to me and so, BTW, does consistency provided a person doesn’t trash a position while simultanesously doing exactly the same thing -see most any scandal in the past 200 years.

      In other words, it isn’t about small or large government to me, it isn’t federal vs. states rights for me. It’s a case of what works best, subject to the idea that nothing is perfect and that requires some thought and discussion, not a line out of a textbook.

      Yeah, there I go asking for too much again. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Okay, it didn’t occur to me to defend DOMA on the federalism issue. As long as it exists, Congress can’t go legislating ssm — as if anyway but just saying. That does kind of make sense from a libertarian point of view but still, it is the bigger, badder federal government coming in and messing with people’s most intimate lives, all in the name of bigger, badder government not imposing a contentious solution on a contentious problem, as you say.

        Removing jurisdiction makes sense, too, on the same grounds.

        For me, it all revolves around whether marriage to the person of one’s choice — barring very close intermarriages because of the fear of the sort of traits that tend to show up in heavily intermarried families — is a right or a privilege. If it’s a right, then government has no business saying they can’t marry. Well, the SCOTUS has decided that marriage is an elemental right. So long as that position holds, I think you’ve got to allow ssm so long as there is no good evidence that ssm causes societal harm — and as hard as Social Conservatives have tried to say otherwise, there doesn’t seem to be any that I’ve ever seen.

Give Us Some Choice Words