Category Archive 'Liberaltarians'

26 Apr 2014

Elites, Having Gotten Their Way, Condescendingly Propose Tolerating Dissent

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Gay-Marriage-Question

Same Sex Marriage, in the typical way culture war victories are won, is on the way to becoming the law of the land by the well-worn route of advocacy by a left-wing avante-garde, followed by conversion into a class indicator by the community of fashion, with a final victory effected by legislation from the judicial bench.

When the powers-that-be at Mozilla proceeded to defenestrate newly-appointed CEO Brendan Eich for the thought crime of having previously donated $1000 in support of Proposition 8, it all began getting a bit too heavy-handed for Andrew Sullivan, the formerly conservative Limey poof who more or less invented the notion of Gay Marriage, who quickly editorialized against black listing dissenters.

Having, somewhat unexpectedly, found themselves effectively getting their way, bursting through ineffective opposition to obtain complete control of the levers and handles allowing revolutionary alteration of the basic foundation of civilization, being now able to pillage, loot, vandalize, and profane at will the sacred inner sanctum of human society, the more reflective fashionistas are disposed to be gracious in their victory.

The rural paganes, it was recently proposed in a manifesto from liberaltarians (and Mr. Sullivan) ought to be accorded the privilege of grumbling, without penalty!

Merina Smith, at Ricochet, finds the condescension of the victors a little hard to take. And she’s perfectly correct. A massive propaganda wave of slogans, followed by a series of judicial coup d’etats is really not the same thing as “winning a debate.”

It is admirable that the well-respected signatories are calling for tolerance, but I am less than impressed with their statement. First, they repeat that deceptive little slogan “marriage equality” in a celebratory way, as if it really explained or illuminated anything. Can these smart people be unaware that equality simply means treating like things alike? The question, which has never been answered satisfactorily by anyone on that side of the debate, is what is the significance of the differences, particularly for children? Might there be a good reason why sexual unions that produce children should be treated differently than those that can’t? That nasty little question-begging slogan ”marriage equality” has in fact been a means of preventing discussion about the real issues at stake.

I do like their next point, that diversity is the natural consequence of liberty. They also say that this entails paying serious attention to the arguments of those they oppose. That’s good. Would that they would do so.

But since they assert unequivocally throughout the piece that they all support redefining marriage and are certain that this course is correct — without ever acknowledging that there might be some good reasons that marriage has always been limited to connecting males and females — one has to doubt that they have taken their opposition seriously, especially when they claim that “free speech created the social space for us to criticize and demolish the arguments against gay marriage and LGBT equality.” Uh, might there be some hubris going on here? The term “marriage equality” demolished no arguments, just avoided them.

Similarly, their use of judges to force their will on people who had voted against their side is not “demolishing” any sort of argument. In fact, Justice Kennedy’s shameful claim that there can be no reason besides animus against gays (read: “hate,” the queen of all delegitimizing words) is similarly a way to avoid dealing with objections and arguments.

28 Oct 2013

Big Brother on Your Dashboard

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The LA Times reports on an unlikely alliance between statist tax grabbers and some libertarians(!) to arrange for Big Brother to accompany you every mile you drive.

As America’s road planners struggle to find the cash to mend a crumbling highway system, many are beginning to see a solution in a little black box that fits neatly by the dashboard of your car.

The devices, which track every mile a motorist drives and transmit that information to bureaucrats, are at the center of a controversial attempt in Washington and state planning offices to overhaul the outdated system for funding America’s major roads.

The usually dull arena of highway planning has suddenly spawned intense debate and colorful alliances. Libertarians have joined environmental groups in lobbying to allow government to use the little boxes to keep track of the miles you drive, and possibly where you drive them — then use the information to draw up a tax bill.

The tea party is aghast. The American Civil Liberties Union is deeply concerned, too, raising a variety of privacy issues.

And while Congress can’t agree on whether to proceed, several states are not waiting. They are exploring how, over the next decade, they can move to a system in which drivers pay per mile of road they roll over. Thousands of motorists have already taken the black boxes, some of which have GPS monitoring, for a test drive.

“This really is a must for our nation. It is not a matter of something we might choose to do,” said Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Assn. of Governments, which is planning for the state to start tracking miles driven by every California motorist by 2025. “There is going to be a change in how we pay these taxes. The technology is there to do it.”

The push comes as the country’s Highway Trust Fund, financed with taxes Americans pay at the gas pump, is broke. Americans don’t buy as much gas as they used to. Cars get many more miles to the gallon. The federal tax itself, 18.4 cents per gallon, hasn’t gone up in 20 years. Politicians are loath to raise the tax even one penny when gas prices are high.

“The gas tax is just not sustainable,” said Lee Munnich, a transportation policy expert at the University of Minnesota. His state recently put tracking devices on 500 cars to test out a pay-by-mile system. “This works out as the most logical alternative over the long term,” he said.

Wonks call it a mileage-based user fee. It is no surprise that the idea appeals to urban liberals, as the taxes could be rigged to change driving patterns in ways that could help reduce congestion and greenhouse gases, for example. California planners are looking to the system as they devise strategies to meet the goals laid out in the state’s ambitious global warming laws. But Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, has said he, too, sees it as the most viable long-term alternative. The free marketeers at the Reason Foundation are also fond of having drivers pay per mile.

“This is not just a tax going into a black hole,” said Adrian Moore, vice president of policy at Reason. “People are paying more directly into what they are getting.”

The movement is also bolstered by two former U.S. Transportation secretaries, who in a 2011 report urged Congress to move in the pay-per-mile direction.

The U.S. Senate approved a $90-million pilot project last year that would have involved about 10,000 cars. But the House leadership killed the proposal, acting on concerns of rural lawmakers representing constituents whose daily lives often involve logging lots of miles to get to work or into town.

Several states and cities are nonetheless moving ahead on their own. The most eager is Oregon, which is enlisting 5,000 drivers in the country’s biggest experiment. Those drivers will soon pay the mileage fees instead of gas taxes to the state. Nevada has already completed a pilot. New York City is looking into one. Illinois is trying it on a limited basis with trucks. And the I-95 Coalition, which includes 17 state transportation departments along the Eastern Seaboard (including Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida), is studying how they could go about implementing the change.

The concept is not a universal hit.

In Nevada, where about 50 volunteers’ cars were equipped with the devices not long ago, drivers were uneasy about the government being able to monitor their every move.

“Concerns about Big Brother and those sorts of things were a major problem,” said Alauddin Khan, who directs strategic and performance management at the Nevada Department of Transportation. “It was not something people wanted.”

As the trial got underway, the ACLU of Nevada warned on its website: “It would be fairly easy to turn these devices into full-fledged tracking devices…. There is no need to build an enormous, unwieldy technological infrastructure that will inevitably be expanded to keep records of individuals’ everyday comings and goings.”

Read the whole thing.


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