[FoRK] Misunderestimating "The" Tea Party

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Sat Mar 20 08:29:27 PDT 2010

Responses for Russell.  I'll just take the top-level bits, with some added commentary.

> Yes, in some imaginary realm where each community regulated abortion,
> Austin would support choice, while those other communities would all
> ban abortion. Notice that that would result in a significant loss of
> individual liberty, for the vast majority of Texans, and in
> particular, for women living in Round Rock, Dallas, Abilene, and
> Lubbock. It would represent a shift in power from one level of
> government (federal) to a second (city), that came with a net decrease
> in individual freedom. I fail to understand why someone concerned with
> individual liberty would find that an attractive shift.

Here you're using the word "imaginary" (and later on in the post, other weasel words like "theoretical") as pejoratives.  We're discussing hypotheticals.  It's appropriate.

Second, your argument is flawed because it doesn't generalize;  you're correct to say that shifting the matter of choice from federal to e.g. as small as city scope would in general represent a reduction in a specific individual liberty in net *relative to the present status quo, on this issue (abortion) specifically.*  However, hypothetically, contemplate what might happen if Roe v. Wade is overturned at a national level.  Then you've got states making the call;  which level of aggregation do you think would get you *more* choice:  state or city?  As a further hypothetical, consider if the status quo today was a national ban on abortion:  then, shifting the balance of power to the local level would yield *more* individual choice, not less.

In general, putting more choices on more matters into the hands of smaller decision-making collectives yields a *much richer* matrix of individual choice and liberty, not a more impoverished one.  Again hypothetically, substitute e.g. "ability to legally produce, sell, purchase, own, and use marijuana" for abortion in your prior argument.  Here we have a status quo of prohibition;  clearly, shifting the balance of authority for the issue to the local level will yield a net increase in liberty, not a decrease.

Re:  Europe:

> Is Europe's economy as a whole more or less free because of its
> greater integration under the European Union?

I was actually using the term "free market" more metaphorically, in terms of freedom-of-choice of government that you get with a greater number of smaller yet sovereign governmental units / entities.  The EU is *less* free economically specifically because they are now aggregating their preferences in larger units than prior to integration.  Political boundaries may be market barrier from a trade perspective, but they are also generally protective of specialization and preventative with respect to homogenization.  (Need I point out that the reductio of your argument would favor a single world government?  And need we point out all the obvious problems and risks inherent in concentrating authority that much, with so little diversification?)


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