I used to be a Libertarian

I used to be a libertarian. I was about 19 years old, a time when I was fiercely independent—or so I thought.


I was working the drilling rigs during the summer months. Not only I did like the paychecks, I liked the physical challenge of hard work and fighting the weather. Plus the rigger’s nature suited my macho tendencies. My workmates and I were a flock of John Wayne’s: getting that oil out of the ground so people could drive their cars.


With this job, I was able to work four months to earn enough money to live for 12 months. Not only that, I was able to pay for my university tuition, operate my car, and imbibe in a little bit too much beer. I got my degree with no student debt, thanks to the drilling rigs. Well not really. It was I who found the job and proved my worth to earn those paychecks. I saw more than a few young men who could not handle the work or the culture. I deserved the money!


Somewhere during this time, I read some work from Ayn Rand. To paraphrase, she said that Man is a rational animal and will make decisions for his life based on some rational means. For me, I wanted the benefits of the big paychecks and I was willing to pay the price to get them. My university colleagues were not so ambitious, so they had to live with less resources and took on debt. We each made our decision; we each lived with the consequences. Libertarianism was very rational.


Then I started having doubts about this ideology. I replayed my life history at that point and I saw my family’s income transition from working poor to fairly well off. If my father had to pay for my Grade 1 education, he probably would have kept me at home; the money was just not there. My provincial government paid the bills for my schooling. I knew that a true libertarian does not want the government to pay for education. So how was someone from my economic background supposed to get the Grade 12 education to enter university in the first place? I did a little more investigation. It seemed that libertarians believed that lower income families could enter into contracts with benefactors to cover the expenses of education their children. In exchange, the family or the children would be obligated to work for the benefactor to pay for that education. I could see that 12 years of education meant a long time as a serf of some kind: I would not have much choice in my after-school occupation. I didn’t like that. So my ideology changed from libertarian to conservative—and a conservative who understands that sometimes it is right for the government to interfere with the natural marketplace.


The internet has provided me with lots of opportunity to dialogue with libertarians. But I wouldn’t call it dialogue. I would say that libertarians are just as religious with their political ideology as evangelical Christians with their faith. Public education: bad! Public health care: bad! Public transit: bad! Progressive taxes: bad! Libertarians are always right. Anyone who disagrees is either too immoral (for confiscating wealth) or too stupid to see the right path.


So I guess I’m too immoral or too stupid. Why would a society give such a person the right to vote?


Taking away voting rights from poor economic performers seems to the only way libertarians can ever implement their ideology. They must realize their rhetoric will never convince progressive thinkers and people who benefit directly from social programs to the libertarian way.


To earn voting rights in a libertarian world, we could create a means test. Let’s say that voting rights would be granted to those who have amassed a net worth of at least, say, $100,000. We could argue that those who have attained this life goal have a good, smart, tenacious work ethic plus they have a good understanding of finance, business, and building a career. They are self-reliant and not a burden on society. They have proven they can put the pieces of the world together. I think there is some logic in this line of thought. But this goes against the one-person-equals-one-vote principle of modern democracy.


To be fair to libertarians, I have never heard any of them proposing this kind of means test for citizens to earn voting rights. But one wonders why they are so obsessive with their goal when it is so unattainable. At least evangelical Christians have got their spot in heaven.




Tom C. Purcell Added Nov 14, 2017 - 6:22pm
One doesn't seem to have to earn citizenship to the U.S. anymore, so what's the point of making a citizen earn the right to vote?  I mean, immigrants and foreigners legal and illegal seem to be running this country anyway. 
Leroy Added Nov 14, 2017 - 7:46pm
I think people should have skin in the game before they can vote.  What do we have today?  People voting themselves gifts from the treasury.  It's bankrupting us.
A. Jones Added Nov 14, 2017 - 9:04pm
I guess Volek is now an altruist-socialist who favors wealth distribution . . . which means I can't even say, "To each his own."
Phil Greenough Added Nov 15, 2017 - 8:32am
Libertarianism isn’t about being rich or poor or in college or not in college.  It’s about freedom from government intrusion into your life. 
John J Bernard Added Nov 15, 2017 - 9:52am
Voting is both the Right and Responsibility of the Citizen. As such, providing any kind of means test to determine fitness to vote would be unConstitutional (although at times, it would seem best).
Of course, 50 % of those means passing wage earners don't bother to vote...if they did, much of the chicanery we see, might dissipate....
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 15, 2017 - 10:07am
I think that only a frontier community is able to fully adopt a libertarian society. Therefore, I propose that when, not if, it occurs, that colonists on the Moon use that as their governing system.
Government is a necessary evil when there are so many folks on the planet. The trick is to make it an efficient member of the society, instead of its wasteful beneficial overlord.
Dave Volek Added Nov 15, 2017 - 11:06am
I remember reading Catch-22 and Colonel Cathcart was pretty obsessed with some members of society having more votes than other members (the colonel sure thought he deserved more).
I come from a farming community, and farmers at that time believed they were more important than the city folk. They would have agreed to take more votes for themselves.
In the movie Starship Troopers, voting rights were only granted to the military. Civilians were second class citizens.
I often correspond with another thinker who believes that voters should take his civics test before they are allowed to cast a ballot.
There is a part of me that wants to grant more voting power to more deserving citizens. But when I start thinking of all the groups that believe they are deserving, the only practical solution is universal suffrage. 
Dave Volek Added Nov 15, 2017 - 11:16am
I would not have been educated without some "government intrusion," I would not be able to hold my end of this discourse with you. So, out of principle, you should not even be talking to me. In your world, keeping me uneducated is the natural order--and I am an aberration of that order.
Dave Volek Added Nov 15, 2017 - 11:24am
The 50% of those who don't vote are actually the most influential demographic. Political parties are very careful not to upset this group to cause them to become angry, make the trip to the polls, and vote against them. Even if 10% of traditional non-voters swing in a certain direction, the electoral result is likely to change. 
And if we ask that 50% why they don't vote, they will say that they don't see much difference between the choices being offered. If they are unable to cast a wise vote, maybe the wiser thing to is let the people who believe their is a difference to make the decision.
I was listening a political analyst do some math for the 2016 election. He said that the primary process, in the end, only resulted in a 4% approval (of all Americans) for Ms. Clinton and a 4% approval for Mr. Trump. These were the two choices offered to the other 92%. Something smacks of feudalism here! 
Dave Volek Added Nov 15, 2017 - 11:35am
The best libertarian society is Haiti. There is an extremely wealthy class that own the land and factories and ports. Instead of paying a western-style tax,  they pay for their own medical care, own roads in their neighborhoods, and own police force. They send their kids to private schools--and later universities in France. 
90% of that country is in poverty. Too many 12-year olds are working in factories instead of going to school. Families struggle to find food and shelter. Regardless of how hard they work, there is no social mobility in this society. 
Hey, but there is minimal government intrusion in this country.
I would like to see a libertarian put himself in the slums of Haiti with the same resources as its residents and see where he is 10 years from now.  
Mike Haluska Added Nov 15, 2017 - 11:38am
Dave - your statement:
"My provincial government paid the bills for my schooling. I knew that a true libertarian does not want the government to pay for education. So how was someone from my economic background supposed to get the Grade 12 education to enter university in the first place?"
Is full of false assumptions.  First of all, in the US there are MILLIONS of kids from poor to middle income families that attend parochial (Catholic) school.  Their parents are already paying taxes to pay for the public schools and still elect to pay additional money to see to it that their kids get a better education.  You are confusing an UNWILLINGNESS to pay with being UNABLE to pay! 
Benjamin Goldstein Added Nov 15, 2017 - 12:21pm
I don't need some tax receit threshold for voting. But there is some nefarious leftwing idea out there which is implemented in the Netherlands: the voting duty (citizens get punished for not voting).
Of course, the left loves it for it mobilizes the clueless. They are always after the clueless: the young, the ignorant and those who don't understand the language. It's a pattern.
Dave Volek Added Nov 15, 2017 - 12:55pm
I believe that Australia has or had some rules about not voting. So it consistently got a 90% turnout rate. But it's hard to say that Australia is (or was) governed in a superior way when compared to other western nations with their 50% turnout rate.
The right is also pretty good a mobilizing its clueless. The game is being played on both sides.
Dave Volek Added Nov 15, 2017 - 1:16pm
It is not full of assumptions. My father was a farmer. He got hailed out four years in his first eight years of farming. Our only family vehicle was the three-ton grain truck because he couldn't afford a pickup truck. There was no money to send kids to school in those years!  In a libertarian world, my education would have been at mercy of a benefactor or a charity.
Your Catholic system argument bears no weight on my situation: there was no Catholic school operating anywhere near my farming community. The nearest was an hour away in the city.
My understanding says it costs about $6,000 a year to educate a child in Canada. There are a lot of families with a $20,000 to $30,000 income. They don't have the $6,000 to put their kids in a public school or a Catholic school. In a libertarian world, leaving them uneducated is a natural--and rightful--result. That is why I abandoned the libertarian ideology. 
George N Romey Added Nov 15, 2017 - 1:20pm
In a complex society some form of government is necessary. We just have lousy government and fallen to the age old trick of government being coopted by the rich and powerful. I tend to doubt Democracy can ever work for a large nation but anarchy isn’t much of a solution,
Mike Haluska Added Nov 15, 2017 - 3:48pm
Dave - you found ONE case that was unfavorable to you personally and you dismiss Libertarians?  If perfection is your standard then you'll never find a system on Earth as acceptable.  You have to stand back and look at the concept as a whole - does the system do the most good for the most people while minimizing (not eliminating) personal freedom?
By the way, our new Secretary of Education is promoting the School Voucher System.  In the current public school system, parents are told that their child MUST go to the public school in their district - no options.  With the Voucher System, parents will be given a "voucher" that enables parents (rich or poor) to attend ANY SCHOOL OF THEIR CHOICE!  You would think that giving poor kids the opportunity to go to the same schools as rich kids would have the "Progressives" cheering!!!  NOPE!!!  Progressives are bought, sold and paid for by the Public School Teachers Union - who want NO PART of being accountable for their school and teacher performance!
Mike Haluska Added Nov 15, 2017 - 3:50pm
By the way, in a free market Libertarian nation the cost of school would be driven down dramatically by market forces.  The public schools have a monopoly and a captive customer base - that's why it costs so much!
Dave Volek Added Nov 15, 2017 - 4:31pm
There's a few other things that bother me about the libertarian ideology. And there are different versions of libertarianism. But I still believe government needs to play a major role in getting certain things done. I also believe in taxing the wealthier citizens up to the point where they start withdrawing their services from the economy. I'm not going to be invited to many libertarian tea parties.
In Canada, we more or less have school vouchers. Most families can choose between public schools, Catholic schools, Christian schools, and home schooling. In the bigger cities, there are private schools, Jewish schools, and Muslim schools. All schools get most of their money from the provincial government and at least 80% of curriculum is controlled by the government. If a school system wants additional funding, it asks for the families to contribute. The schools must be relevant to families, or their kids are put into another school.
My stepson has ADHD. His mom tried the Catholic school then the Christian school, but neither really tried to work with his condition. We found more support at the public school.
While most teachers are unionized, they are usually competent. Teachers here are worked hard, but they are paid well. A less than competent teacher is usually weeded out within three years.
I see a big improvement in Alberta education when compared to when I was in school. This might be another area where you Americans are screwing up again, but I can't say.
Mike Haluska Added Nov 15, 2017 - 4:59pm
Dave -
What is your MORAL justification for your belief:
"I also believe in taxing the wealthier citizens up to the point where they start withdrawing their services from the economy."
If someone works hard, is successful, employs lots of people, pays his taxes, donates WAY MORE to charity than all of us, etc, why do you feel he should be "punished" by additional taxation?  Do you believe the purpose of taxes is to pay for public services or reward/punish financial success?
Finally - your qualifier:
"taxing the wealthier citizens up to the point where they start withdrawing their services from the economy."
is the philosophy/methodology of a parasitic organism.  You want to "feed off" a host . . . but not drain so much as to "kill the Golden Goose".  And to top it off you want the host to continue working for YOUR benefit - not his! 
And you wonder why Ayn Rand's masterpiece is titled:
                                          "ATLAS SHRUGGED"
A. Jones Added Nov 15, 2017 - 9:31pm
My provincial government paid the bills for my schooling.
Actually, the tax payers in your labor force paid the bills for your schooling. Your provincial government merely doled out the revenues. You should be grateful to the laboring tax-payers, not to the government.
That means your peers who joined the labor force immediately after their primary schooling, instead of going to college as you did, subsidized people like you who did not want to join the labor force immediately.
The poor and the less educated subsidizing the wealthier and the more educated.
Sounds socially regressive to me.
opher goodwin Added Nov 16, 2017 - 4:10am
When it comes to a choice between having great education, great health care and a society that looks after its weakest members and a dog eat dog society where the strongest take all and the weak get what they deserve - I know what I prefer.
A society of gross inequality is a sick unhappy society.
Dave Volek Added Nov 16, 2017 - 5:45am
It's a concept called "economic rent." If it costs me $100 to produce a widget, I would make a profit if I sold it to you for $110, right? However if I am in a quasi-monopoly situation or I have built in some extra value or perceived value, I could charge you $200 a widget and you would still be happy to pay that $200. The economic rent is the difference between a reasonable profit and the profit a seller can get away with. Businesses strive to get economic rent whenever they find advantage. 
In my widget situation, I would probably have fewer sales if I priced my widget at $200. But my profits would be much greater with this price--despite the fewer sales. Of course there are other factors to consider, such as long-term market share. But in the end, I make the decision where to price my widget (and some people on WB call me a socialist).
In a similar manner, governments are in business. They provide services for businesses to carry out economic activity. Governments need the businesses to generate this activity; governments charge fees called taxes for these services. 
In a democratic process, government sets the taxation rates. Like business, it is trying to find some advantage to maximize its economic rent.
Whether you like or not, western governments have found they can tax high-income earners with a marginal tax rate of 50% and not see a loss in the participation of that high income earner in the economy. When that marginal rate reaches 70%, that is the point where high-income earners start dropping out.
Morally speaking, I would say that high income earners have walked into this social contract with their eyes wide open. If they don't like the high marginal tax, they are free to curtail their economic activity to the point where they are not paying as much tax. Nearly all high income earners, however, prefer to stay with their economic activity as they are still netting far more wealth than average workers. 
I realize this may not convince you in any way. But I don't buy the "confiscation of wealth" rhetoric in any way. High income earners get a lot of benefit from a strong civil society: they have opportunity to create and enjoy wealth.
Like I said: "I used to be a libertarian."
Dave Volek Added Nov 16, 2017 - 5:58am
A Jones
I have to agree with you 100%!
Despite that I was able to pay my tuition on my own, that tuition only covered about 10% of the cost of my post-secondary education. Despite my John Wayne, oil rigger mentality, I was still very much dependent on government for that education.
Why should Joe Truck Driver pay for my education? I could give the standard liberal drivel that the truck driver gets the benefits of my professional training, but you and I know that is a crock of horse poop. University educated people generally make more money and have more rewarding jobs than blue collar workers. The education is mostly for them, not for the people who didn't go to university.
Many years ago, I proposed that universities are funded mostly by their graduates. In essence, the student and the institution enter a contract that if a degree is granted, the graduate pays a small tax directly to the university for the rest of his or her life.
In this way, young people without financial means but with academic talent and drive can afford to go to university. Universities get a non-government revenue source based on the quality and relevance of their education. In a generation, the better universities should be self-supporting.
Dino Manalis Added Nov 16, 2017 - 8:16am
 People change, most of us believe government has a role to play, but how much is the issue.  I think government should be as limited as possible to avoid burdening the private sector, while some regulations are needed to keep everything running smoothly and legally.
Autumn Cote Added Nov 16, 2017 - 9:28am
It would behoove you to read the articles and then offer comment.  
Neil Lock Added Nov 16, 2017 - 1:32pm
Dave: You already know I’m a libertarian with a small l. But, though I’m still friendly with some of its former leading lights, I’ve never been a big supporter of the Libertarian Party in the US. I’ve always taken the view that you shouldn’t try to play the enemy (the political class) at their own game (political parties, a.k.a. divide-and-rule).
The thrust of your article seems to be that you think that most people can’t get a good enough education without the government providing it. I’ll ignore your subtext about voting rights; for my view is that people are only entitled to vote in societies of which they are voluntarily members. (Let that sink in).
Now, I come from a very unusual, and some would say privileged, position. When I was six years old, I was tested for IQ, and it came out off the scale. I was fast-tracked, at state expense, into a private education. A decade and a half later, I had acquired a first class degree in mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge. What’s not to like?
Well, lots, actually. First, private education in those days was single sex. For seven formative years and more, I missed out on contact with girls. Second, I came to realize that I wasn’t cut out for the academic career the state had planned for me. In 1960 – the year my educational fate was decided – Sputnik had gone up, and the cold war was looming. Science was the big thing of the day. So, the state planners sought to create boffins. And to bias the, already state controlled, education system to that effect. But I’m not a boffin; my nature is creative artist. And I had, even at age 21, enough nous to recognize that. So I left academe right there. That’s why, decades later, I’ve landed up here at WriterBeat, instead of becoming a third rate professor of mathematics at a fourth rate university.
Great kudos to you, Dave, for getting, and doing, your job with the oilies. But having done that, why did you need to go to university? You yourself, after all, say on your “inventor” page that your specializations are “fields in which I have no formal qualifications and little experience.” You and I are absolutely on the same page there.
And as to 12 (or even 15) years of formal education, who needs that? All you need to be taught is how to learn. And your parents ought to be able to do that, outside perhaps a few specialist areas. Then you can learn for yourself. No?
Dave Volek Added Nov 16, 2017 - 2:37pm
Thank you for your great commentary. One of best parts of WB is that we can find people to challenge our thinking an intelligent way.
Your last post took this libertarian article in quite a few directions. And maybe you and I will be inspired to write articles based on these directions. But I'll try to address a few points.
But having done that, why did you need to go to university?
I was doing very well in high school, so it was expected that I was to go to university. There was never any doubt since Grade 8 that that would be my destiny. I don't have any regrets for finishing my degree--even though I have not really used my engineering for its intended purpose.
All you need to be taught is how to learn.
When I entered Grade 1, I didn't have too many academic skills behind me (I did not know the alphabet or all the colors). Reading seemed be a somewhat pointless and boring task, but the adults were telling us to read and other kids were doing it, so I went along. In the middle of Grade 2, I remember looking at the pictures in my favorite Mickey Mouse comic book. All of the sudden, I could read the balloons and knew what the characters were saying. There was a higher level of story than just by looking at the pictures. I then become a very big reader--and I loved learning anything.
I kept this love of learning until towards the end of my  second year of university. Something happened to lose that enthusiasm. But I persevered to collect that piece of paper. There is no doubt that year 3 and 4 were more of a torture test than an education. But again, I have no regrets for sticking through that life challenge.
I bring this point up because I am now in adult education, helping adults get their high school education. Nearly all of my students do not have a natural enthusiasm for learning: they persevere their high school courses to get into a vocation they think they will enjoy. But they really don't give a damn about the story behind Hamlet or factoring polynomials. 
I don't know what it takes to create that love of learning. When the world really figures this out, we will see humanity rise to new heights. 
In the meantime, we have "force" most kids to become literate on several fronts.
But I’m not a boffin; my nature is creative artist.
That is good, and if one can earn a living at it, leave that person to pursue his or her passion. 
A sociological study was done on Canadians a while back. Only 17% of us find our jobs fulfilling. While I enjoy my current job (been here for  11 years), I would sooner be making my living building learning simulations and promoting an alternative system of governance.
I have depleted my financial resources twice and not gone anywhere. I'm not going to do that again, but I will spend a few thousand dollars now and then to stick an invention on my website and see where in goes. I have accepted that a creative occupation may not be in my life history, but I sure enjoy being creative as a hobby.
I should add that without my university education (despite its torture tests), I don't think I could been creative in the way that I have been creative. I think even one year of serious study on any topic prepares one's brain for better things in life.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Nov 16, 2017 - 2:57pm
Neil: I'm shocked. You are not only sane but also smart. Maybe that's why I thought you were sane in the first place.
I'm also libertarian leaning, but I hate the Libertarian party in Germany. It is only recently, thanks to freedom of speech in the English-speaking world and the debate culture that you have, that I realise the actual ideological sphere of libertarianism.
And I'm not quite there. Not because I would deny people anything, but I realise a level of estrangement from reality by relying on principles too much. Yet, as I said, I find a lot of common ground with libertarians. And there is one principle that I'm very rigorous about, on par with libertarians, and that is that I believe freedom of speech is extremely beneficial and must not be abridged.
A. Jones Added Nov 16, 2017 - 5:38pm
The economic rent is the difference between a reasonable profit and the profit a seller can get away with.
That is not the definition of "economic rent", or more precisely, "rent-seeking."
Furthermore, there is no such concept in economics as a "reasonable profit."
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 16, 2017 - 9:47pm
Dave: At the beginning of the United States, you had to own property to vote, but that was phased out. In the beginning you had to have "skin in the game" therefore you couldn't just vote yourself stuff. It used to be that way, but some thought it was discriminatory, the same way that poll taxes were.
Stop Bush and Clinton Added Nov 17, 2017 - 4:05am
Got to agree -- I'm at the strange place in politics where Libertarians and (real, not Clinton-loving) progressives can meet in the middle.
As little government interference as possible, but as much government as necessary to prevent others (e.g. oligarchs) from interfering even worse than government does (therefore, supporting antitrust laws to prevent (too) big business from shutting out competition) and to ensure everyone can get a fair chance (free education for the poor, free health care when it comes down to serious health problems (but not for running to a doctor for every sneeze), limited welfare programs for those who can't work or had a stroke of bad luck, but no excesses for those who don't want to work).
Any ideology that is taken too far is bound to fail.
opher goodwin Added Nov 17, 2017 - 4:14am
Neil - only entitled to vote in societies of which they are voluntarily members.
Is anybody a voluntary member of any society? I would suggest only if they emigrate. Surely we are all involuntary members of the societies we are part of? We still need to vote to improve it.
I can't find a single society that reflects my views. I do my best to encourage the development of such a society.
I think your experience of education has very much tempered your view. But education has changed.
The school system I was subjected to was appalling. The school I led up until six years ago was brilliant and you would have loved it and thrived in it.
Schools have become (prior to this catastrophic present government) so much more than fodder for careers. A good education encourages thinking, creativity, lateral thinking and a joy of learning. If it isn't mind expanding it ain't worth a shit.
opher goodwin Added Nov 17, 2017 - 4:17am
Dave - I agree - a good education helps unleash those creative talents and hone the skills. A bad education is claustrophobic.
Dave Volek Added Nov 17, 2017 - 11:05am
A. Jones
You caught me on the "economic rent." I knew I was usually this term a little loosely in this context. But I hope I made the point that governments should use the talents and efforts of high income earners to stimulate the economy while extracting as much taxes as possible from this group. 
As for "reasonable profit," I would say a lot of left-leaning people would say my 100% markup on my widgets is unreasonable. Probably not a term economists would use, but it is used in this context. 
Yep, the only-rich-guys-vote was an archaic law. I think it got thrown down when the soldiers of 1812 couldn't vote. Hopefully someone with better knowledge of history can expand.
There are teachers and school systems that turn kids away from learning. And good on those teachers and systems who are not of this ilk. But the challenge is to create that inner drive to learn. I don't have an easy answer to that one.
I have a teenage son who doesn't like reading.  Despite the good work at home and the school, picking up a book is something not in his list of things to do.  In the end, we will have "forced" him to read to get some basic skills when he becomes an adult. But I'm not seeing a university in his future--or desire to learn things beyond the TV screen.
opher goodwin Added Nov 17, 2017 - 6:49pm
Dave - you are right there. Bad schools need changing round and bad teachers ousting. You have put your finger on it. Teaching is an art not a science. It is about caring and relationship. A good teacher inspires and turns students on. We've probably all had one or two of them. It is the resistant students that are the challenge and a good teacher is forever looking for the key to set them going.
Your son is typical of many. Sometimes it just requires the right stimulation to get them started. One of my students discovered Harry Potter and there was then no stopping him. Game of Thrones is another. It may yet happen.
On the subject of reading I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts on Star Turn.
A. Jones Added Nov 17, 2017 - 7:13pm
governments should use the talents and efforts of high income earners to stimulate the economy
In market economies, high income earners already stimulate the economy. That's how they became high income earners.
Governments can only take from group A and dole what they've taken to group B. That's redistribution, not stimulus.  Except for removing itself as much as possible from the economic decisions and actions of producers and consumers, there's little a government can do to stimulate an economy. "Hands off" has always been the best stimulus policy.
I would say a lot of left-leaning people would say my 100% markup on my widgets is unreasonable.
No consumer — on the left or the right — ever buys a widget on the basis of the percentage markup. Consumers look at the final price and they purchase (or not) based on that.
If a desired widget has a final price of a dollar but the actual cost-outlay by the producer was a penny, no consumer cares that the seller is asking 100-times the cost of production. From the consumer's point of view, the final price is a silly dollar. Buy it or don't buy it.
In any case, it's consumers who ultimately determine the price of goods on a market. The number the retailer writes on a tag while displaying his goods in a store-front window — the so-called "price tag" — that's not the price. That's a wish. That's an opening bid at a Dutch auction. If no consumer agrees to pay that opening bid, the seller will lower the number on that price tag, or the goods in question will never move.
John Minehan Added Nov 17, 2017 - 10:48pm
I tend  (strongly, I must admit) Libertarian.  However, I think part of being a Libertarian is being a Communitarian.
If you believe government is something of a "blunt instrument" then you should at least want to see The Civil Society or Drucker's "Social Sector" develop. 
Dr. Rupert Green Added Nov 17, 2017 - 10:50pm
@Dave "And if we ask that 50% why they don't vote, they will say that they don't see much difference between the choices being offered. If they are unable to cast a wise vote, maybe the wiser thing to is let the people who believe their is a difference to make the decision.
That will never happen again. President Trump is to be thanked.
Are Americans a stickler for political ideologies or are they pragmatists, accepting government help when it benefits them but denying it to others who they deem should lift themselves up by their bootstraps? 
John Minehan Added Nov 18, 2017 - 7:17am
"Are Americans a stickler for political ideologies or are they pragmatists, accepting government help when it benefits them but denying it to others who they deem should lift themselves up by their bootstraps?"
Or are they pragmatists who resent paying for things that don't work well, when there appear to be better ways?
A possible example is this, another is this.
Let's see . . . .  
John Minehan Added Nov 18, 2017 - 7:25am
"It seemed that libertarians believed that lower income families could enter into contracts with benefactors to cover the expenses of education their children. In exchange, the family or the children would be obligated to work for the benefactor to pay for that education."
Well, some do . . . but I doubt you have to swear to it every year.
In a sense, this is what people who take educational benefits from employers do.  Do you object to that?
Further, this pattern was how, for example, Hamilton wound up at King's College (now Columbia) as a poor boy from the Virgin Islands.  It is not unlike those of us how receive university education on the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps's nickel.
It is not how Lincoln or Truman came up.  They were autodidacts.  There seems to be less place for that. 
That might be the deeper question.
Dr. Rupert Green Added Nov 18, 2017 - 7:49am
@John. Some get paralysis from analysis, others abandon commonsense from the adoption of worse practice, while some get loco from the need to be compassionate. Criminal illegal immigrant were deported multiple times and no attempts were made to see how they returned. In fact, some were allowed to stay here. They later had American children and were basically ignored. Now we want to send them out of the country. Do we send their American children too, or do we set up welfare for them?
Paralysis from analysis have homeless and mentally ill people in NYC subway as stink as hell and the government stating it cannot do anything about the inconvenience it costs people wanting to go to work.
We are becoming compassionate to the extent the cruel policy of old that banned typhoid Mary from preparing food for the public may be rescinded. She will soon get a food handlers permit to prepare food in schools and restaurants. Pity they may still ban her from preparing food for Congress.
I saw in Utah's link and the other one selling a product.
John Minehan Added Nov 18, 2017 - 8:04am
The product (a "union"/guild for the self-employed) was the point, another way to do "employee benefits" for contractors, other than things like the Exchanges.
I think the best way to deal with regularizing people who came here illegally but have been "good non-citizens" and identifying people who need to leave would be to have Contact ALJs at City, Village, District and Town Courts with a laptop with access to data bases.  People with clean records could be put on a path to a Green Card and bad actors could be flagged/apprehended.
I have a friend I have known for 50 years who is a retired SAC with INS/ICE, who does not agree, so there are some flaws in the Plan.  But as someone who has been a prosecutor, it seems like lower courts are the best place to do the review.  
John Minehan Added Nov 18, 2017 - 10:21am
---But is "fiscal restraint" an end in itself or is it part of what you need for a productive economy and a functioning society in the modern world? 
---No one who has made their nut loves Schumpeterian  "Creative Destruction"----which is why it is so important.
---Chelsea Clinton is rapidly becoming the real-life Norman Cass, Jr. of modern US politics.
---I'm reading Donna Brazile's book now.  She has been one of the smarter and more honorable people in American politics in the last 35 or 40 years.  The sense I get is that the current US political dispensation doesn't even work for the practitioners anymore, at least the ones with something on the ball . . . .   
---Which may, in a sort of circular way, lead us to Trump . . . . 
Dave Volek Added Nov 18, 2017 - 11:00am
I went to your Mormon link. This story needs to get out more. Maybe you could put together a WB article around that.
I was in Slovakia in 1993. The country was in the process of restitution of land and buildings what were confiscated by the communists. In the city of Trnava, there are three big Catholic cathedrals, probably within 200 meters of each other. Trnava is known as "small Rome." These cathedrals were linked with a 3-4 story complex, probably built around 1850. And it formed a nice triangle.
The cathedrals were not confiscated, but the linking complex was. The communists turned it into offices and barracks for soldiers. As disrepair crept in, it became social housing for the poor. I asked my friend: "What did the Catholic Church do with that complex before it was confiscated?".
This complex was the school and hospital of Trnava. It housed elderly people whose families could not afford to keep them. It has housed disabled people. It was hostel, where travelers could find a place to stay. Young men in search of a new adventure and better economic conditions could use the hostel--and the church had job opportunities for these men to pay for their room and board. In essence, this complex was the social agency of Trnava.
There is a proven better model for social programming than what we have now. We just need to learn from success in the past and the present.
Dave Volek Added Nov 18, 2017 - 11:02am
I am at the point of the first big meeting of the Worms. I can't spend the time into this book as I would like, but it is a nice read.
Dave Volek Added Nov 18, 2017 - 11:09am
A. Jones
I sense that you don't associate with socialist thinkers that much. They would see my 100% markup as scandalous--and would welcome government intervention to get the price reduced. 
I live in a fairly right-wing community--and is there ever a lot of socialist thinking in there. Far too many people here believe that gasoline prices are set by collusion, which is proven when prices are the same. When prices differ by 2 cents a liter, they call the higher price station a "price gouger."
I had a discussion a few month back with a work colleague who was looking to trade in his 10-year old pickup truck for a new one. "I can't believe they want $60,000 for a truck," he said, "The automotive industry is ripping us off."
I said "Don't buy it". The conversation was over.
Ray Joseph Cormier Added Nov 18, 2017 - 2:39pm
Interesting reading about your younger, formulating years, Dave.
By your standards, I would have been a Libertarian like you when I was 18.
In an earlier discussion, you were familiar with the DEW LINE where I worked as a labourer for The Foundation Company of CanaDa in 1963. If I have been preaching, as you said in another discussion, I confess I have been Preaching, from Time to Time, 'the Foundation is laid, but the Line is no longer Distant, and it's getting Late.'
Being isolated at the North Pole, with no connection to the outside world when Kennedy was assassinated, I had to know what was happening in the world and took the next plane out to Winnipeg. The job paid only $2/hr + food & shelter, but there was no place to spend the money so it was easy to save.
From Winnipeg I took a train to Vancouver, with a lower sleeping berth, and got laid on the train. I didn't know anyone ahead of me exploring alone at 18.
With no job, and having lots of TIME on my hands, the money was disappearing fast, so I had to do something quick. I had to make a determined effort to find income.
Passing by the Head Office of target="_blank" rel="noopener">MacMillan Bloedel Limited, on impulse, I entered and requested a meeting with the target="_blank" rel="noopener">Treasurer of the Company (CFO) on a pretext, and to my delight, I was received in his Office. He was interested in hearing some of my Life adventures, and after a while, I got to my point.
Applications to work in the pulp mills had to be made at the mill site, and there were so many in target="_blank" rel="noopener">British Columbia. I asked if I could make an application at HQ, and he said I'd have to go to each mill and apply. After our meeting, the CFO told me to call him when I decided what mill I would start with. Three days later, I called him saying I would start with the Harmac mill in target="_blank" rel="noopener">Nanaimo on target="_blank" rel="noopener">Vancouver Island.
The next day, the Mill Manager met me at the ferry, and at 18, I was earning $5.75/hr in 1963 dollars, $46.46/hr in TODAY's dollars. Not bad at 18.
During days off between shift rotation, I toured BC and Washington State. One day walking by the docks in target="_blank" rel="noopener">Vancouver, I ran into the former Commanding Officer of HMCS Donnacona in Montreal, where I was an Officer Cadet. He was now in command of target="_blank" rel="noopener">HMCS Oriole (KC 480), the Canadian Navy’s sleek, sailing ketch and he invited me aboard as his civilian guest for a week long cruise.
The word was in 2nd year training, the select few Officer Cadets in third year training chosen to serve on the Oriole were privileged and accepted by the target="_blank" rel="noopener">Good ol’ boy network. It was a joy for me to leisurely enjoy the spectacular scenery as my 2nd year former classmates did all the work.
Ray Joseph Cormier Added Nov 18, 2017 - 3:03pm
p.s. With all the discussion here about "voting" we all know, even if it's hard to admit the Truth, no matter the Party in Power, the Oligarchy-Plutocracy rules in all Nations.
The TRUTH IS, in this material world, MONEY is god.
'You cannot serve 2 Masters. Either you will love one and despise the other, or you will serve the one and neglect the other. You cannot serve God and money Christ Alpha said 2000 years ago. Christ Omega knows. for TODAY.
And that's why the Resurrected Christ can say TODAY, 'You hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
This people draws close to me with their mouth, and honours me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.'
The words are not addressed to Atheists, who do not honour Christ with their lips, though they may honour Christ with their loving deeds.
opher goodwin Added Nov 18, 2017 - 5:10pm
Dave - thanks for that. I'd be interested to hear if my analogies and metaphors hold up.
Eileen de Bruin Added Nov 20, 2017 - 9:42am
Dave, very good thread, and it has taken me a while to follow it through....
What Neil says about his high iq and the assumption that he should have a wholly academic life and career shows the emphasis on the clever people. That is, academically aspiring and with a high iq. But, Neil wasn’t cut out for that life and so he changed the model himself, although he had to walk that mapped path first.
Just back to you Dave, in earning for and paying for yiur own education pursuits you value it and were driven. If it is all just a given then, what kind of students develop? I had a terrible time in school and was bored to the degree that I spent most of my time looking out of the window at the clouds, because they were far more interesting!
I worked from the age of sixteen and then pursued my own training/ educational route driven by the need to make a living. So I dabbled in administration, drama and nursing. The latter was a disaster as the system wasn’t for me, the drama was a huge success but I had no sponsorship and so my basic skills of typing and admin always served to make me employable.
Then, in my late twenties, I figured that I would now take my “right” to get a university degree. Of course, I had to apply and be considered capable, which I was, more capable in fact than young students, given my years of working. That right to obtain funding and a small grant was abandoned just seven years’ later. This was the late nineties and the beginning of the end of this kind of accessibility to higher education at any stage of life. What a message that sent out.
Now, of course, it really is just about money again and the rich can pay and buy their qualifications in the UK.
Further more, the Master’s was supposedly to be done when you had had a few years’ work experience in industry after having got your first degree. It had no worth at all without real, work experience. Nowadays, it can be bolted straight on after the degree.....universities are business models and the main driver is money.
My own views about libertarianism, therefore, are that the US and the UK have got what they wanted. You can have everything you like if you can pay for it. Full stop. Money is the only driver and it is producing more of the same in parliament or in Congress. Clever people are not necessarily equipped to run a government for all the people, however, as their own main drivers are to elevate themselves and their families, look to the Bushes, Clintons, Blairs, and more of the same! What use is an academic in a practical world, to its people as a whole?
For whom are they working? Not for their country. Libertarianism is a misnomer and a euphemism for F(*&£ the rest of you.
Dave Volek Added Nov 20, 2017 - 5:10pm
I think there is a lot of truth to your last statement. I would say in my libertarian days, I had a lot of contempt for students who did not work as hard as I during the summer. And I would say that most libertarians have contempt for their fellow citizens who also haven't reached similar economic milestones in life. 
There is a strong correlation between those who hold libertarian values and being born in an upper middle class or higher economic strata. Libertarians don't realize the struggle needed to elevate oneself from a low economic strata to a higher economic strata. I got to where I am today because my primary education was paid by the government and most of my university was paid by the government. Libertarians have yet to convince me that I could have been educated by private enterprise.
A. Jones Added Nov 20, 2017 - 10:35pm
I sense that you don't associate with socialist thinkers that much. They would see my 100% markup as scandalous.
The concept of "scandalous" doesn't exist in economics any more than it exists in physics. The price is whatever buyer and seller agree on.
A. Jones Added Nov 20, 2017 - 10:37pm
There is a strong correlation between those who hold libertarian values and being born in an upper middle class or higher economic strata.
The exact opposite it true. Most socialists are upper middle class or wealthy.
Dave Volek Added Nov 21, 2017 - 9:08am
A. Jones
Hmmmm. My anecdotal observations of our socialist party in Canada (the NDP) is that the membership is primarily middle class. Not too many $100,000 income earners here. Whereas the Conservatives and Liberals have an abundance of wealthy people. 
Unfortunately in the US, one needs to be a millionaire connected to other millionaires to get into Congress. You are probably getting a lot of pretend socialists trying to get the poor man's vote.
A. Jones Added Nov 21, 2017 - 2:36pm
Dave Volek wrote:
1. There is a strong correlation . . .
2. My anecdotal observations . . .
Those two statements contradict each other. Strong correlations are not based on anecdotal observations.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Nov 21, 2017 - 10:24pm
Libertarianism can only be successful if everyone has an IQ above 120 ergo it can't be successful.
It's basic concepts can't be fully understood and the intellectual integrity required don't exist below that number.
Dave Volek Added Nov 22, 2017 - 12:04pm
A. Jones
You have exposed a contradiction. Perhaps better said is: "I have much contact with middle and lower classes who believe the wealthier classes deserve a tax break." While that is only anecdotal, I would wager a correlation exists.
Libertarianism is untenable---unless only the rich people get to vote.
Eileen de Bruin Added Nov 22, 2017 - 3:00pm
Dave, what is the Mormon story?
Libertarianism implies that only those with wealth and assets can vote.  It is an old fashioned system that was debunked in the UK and in the US through struggle and sheer inappropriateness in its time.
My view is that, whoever you, if you have the right to vote, it is a right hard won and, if you do not use it, you are ignorant. That is sad.  But that doesn’t mean that the right should be taken away.
Why shouldn’t there be a similar rule for your senators? Perhaps if they are shown to be voting things in on the basis of being sponsored by certain companies, then they should be expelled.  Ditto in the UK.
Now then, we would see some changes!
A. Jones Added Nov 22, 2017 - 6:57pm
"Libertarianism" is the current term for "classical liberal." They mean the same thing; viz.:
No special interest group can vote itself largesse from some other group by means of government legislation or force.
See this lecture by libertarian Charles Murray:
Dave Volek Added Nov 23, 2017 - 12:02pm
"The Mormon story" is a link provided by John Mineham about how the state of Utah as a different approach to social assistance. I recommend spending a few minutes with this article.
In my political days, I often toyed with the idea of some people just don't deserve the vote--or some people deserve more voting power than others. But whenever I thought more about that, the only practical way is universal suffrage. Even prisoners of the most henious crimes should get the vote.
I have had some interesting conversations with Ben Paine, an American thinker. He has some out-of-the-box ideas on governance. One is a passing a basic civics tests to get the right to vote. I can understand his point. Many of Mr. Trump supporters don't seem to realize that the presidential position is not a dictator but has to work with two parts of Congress to move things forward. It seems they don't understand that part of the dynamic of the Constitution. 
But if the test has--or is perceived to have--a bias towards one of the two parties, its chance of implementation is low. And if the perception of bias is out there, this further undermines the credibility of democracy. Mr Paine did provide an example civics of 100 questions. I did not see a bias, but I could see both parties and several ideologies pointing out "great biases" inherent with this particular a test.
In the TDG, all residents of a neighborhood are eligible to vote and be voted for. The TDG should have  an ongoing education campaign for neighbors to find people of "good character" and "capacity for governance" to vote for. But each individual is free to identify the criteria for good character and capacity for governance.  
Dave Volek Added Nov 23, 2017 - 12:05pm
A. Jones
I went to the video. Between the length and poor sound quality, I decided not to imbibe. I'm pretty sure I'm going to hear things I have heard before.
Eileen de Bruin Added Nov 23, 2017 - 2:59pm
Yes, Dave, I took a look.  Very good and not much new with a compassionate and very sensible approach to managing a community.  There are many demands and expectations, but there's nothing wrong with that.  A society is a coherent whole and within it, we all participate to make a nice community in which to live.
Economically speaking, it is far better to have a huge middle class for any country, rather than the two extremes.  This goes well beyond what this model is doing but this model is creating a path way and is to be very much applauded.
A club, such as the Mormons, reminds me a bit of Jehova's Witnesses - they all look after each other and there are expectations.  Join the club, play by the rules. Do unto others...
Dave Volek Added Nov 23, 2017 - 3:42pm
One critique of the article is that Utah, with its Mormon tradition, it probably more self-reliant than most other states. In other words, this state does not have as much to fix as other areas of the US.
Today, I just got into contact with a former student of mine. She wasn't  making good choices with men in her life and ended up being single with four kids. She has spent a considerable time of her life on social assistance. 
Two of her kids are now enrolled in university. The other two, she says, are doing reasonably well at high school. I have to wonder if the world had forced her to work some job and not be that available for her kids, where would her family be? 
A. Jones Added Nov 24, 2017 - 5:55pm
I decided not to imbibe.
The audio is damaged only for the first few minutes. Try skipping ahead.
Judging by your posts, I'm confident it would have made no difference how pristine the audio was: you simply don't like confronting challenges to your ideas . . . most of which are wrong, anyway. For example, Ayn Rand was not a libertarian and aimed some of her sharpest barbs at libertarians and the libertarian movement in general. Seems you didn't know that.
Dave Volek Added Nov 26, 2017 - 2:25am
A. Jones
If one posts on WB, one should expect some confrontation. 
Like everyone else here, I don't have a lot of spare time. I can't chase down every WB link I see.
You are the first I heard of Ayn Rand not being a libertarian. I thought her "vision" and the basic libertarian ideology lined up pretty well.
Wikipedia says of Ms. Rand:
She has been a significant influence among libertarians and American conservatives
A. Jones Added Nov 26, 2017 - 3:11am
She has been a significant influence among libertarians and American conservatives
Aristotle, St. Thomas, John Locke, and the Founding Fathers have also been a significant influence among libertarians and American conservatives. Lots of people's ideas have been a significant influence among libertarians and American conservatives. That doesn't mean any of them were libertarian.
Michael Moore-on Added Dec 13, 2017 - 11:51am
Dave....I was actually looking at getting into the oil business for the very same reasons you mentioned...Good pay for hard work....and a couple of months off so that I can travel the world...Do you have any advice.... or tips for breaking into the oil business? I know this isn't really the website for that type of discussion but I figured Why not ask.