Textbook Takedown

Statistical Proof that You Hate Freedom: Daily Kos has a textbook takedown of a hack study purporting to show a correlation between the lack of freedom in a US state (measured, it turns out, according to a somewhat peculiar metric) and the propensity to vote for Democrats.

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12 Responses to Textbook Takedown

  1. george_washington says:

    The study is flawed because most Americans no longer recognize freedom.

    Today, freedom is thought of as the freedom to make others do your will. Enter Obama, Clinton, Emmanuel, Soros stage left.

  2. Rhodo Zeb says:

    The mistake we made during the good years was in not defining freedom. We talked about it ad nauseum, usually every time we wanted to criticize a foreign country. Or attack one.

    But we never talked about what it really means.

  3. Rhodo Zeb says:

    I just thought of the prototypical example: the purple thumbs of Republicans in Congress in 2004 or whenever.

    To them, it was proof. Really proof.

    That is stupidity.

  4. Patrick (G) says:

    What we think of freedom isn’t necessarily freedom as conceived by the founding fathers. But part of Freedom has to be the freedom to evolve your thinking. which brings up the flip side; freedom in a political/social sense does not mean free from all constraints, and never has.

    So I don’t think that you can put together a definition of freedom that will stand the test of time. The best you can hope for is to capture it’s meaning at a particular moment, and even that would be exceedingly difficult.

    ilove@freedom.com, I’d love to hear what you think of as freedom.

  5. The fact that you think it’s a peculiar metric is just a consequence of your anti-freedom orientation. And I’m serious about that.

    Higher taxes: Well, duh! You know, I can kind of understand the position that the deprivation of freedom represented by taxes is, net, worth it, because of the benefits it buys us. But if you don’t recognize that taxes ARE a deprivation of liberty, that’s fairly good evidence that you don’t understand the very concept of “freedom”. There’s a big difference between “Positive cost-benefit ratio”, and “Cost? What cost?”

    If the state took your money, but didn’t spend it, you’re more free. Yes, precisely: First the government reduces your freedom by taking your money, and then it spends it to FURTHER reduce your freedom. It really is a twofer: If the government just burned the money, it would have less control over what people did: The supply of money would simply diminish, a general deflation would ensue, and no net transfer of power to the government would have happened.

    Educational freedom is measured by your right to opt out of the oppressive statist public educational system. That’s right: Freedom is measured by your being allowed to make your own damn choices, not by how nice the choices the government makes for you are. You really have trouble understanding that?

    Then comes gun control. That’s right, then comes your right to own an inanimate object, so long as you don’t use it to violate somebody else’s rights. Look, just because you don’t LIKE a liberty, doesn’t mean that it ISN’T a liberty. (A point which bears repeating, over and over.) And this is a liberty an awful lot of people appreciate.

    Labor regulation is up next. Yup, whether or not the government can force you to join an organization, which will make decisions on your behalf, and like as not divert some of the money it takes from you to support causes you oppose, actually does have some bearing on the extent to which you’re free.

    Health care freedom is next. … Does your state make you X? Fill in the blank, it scarcely matters what X is, if your state makes you, it’s reducing liberty. That’s what “making you” means, didn’t you realize that?

    In general, what we’ve got here is a definition of liberty which doesn’t define away every last liberty ‘liberals’ happen to find inconvenient. A definition that doesn’t pretend everything you like is without it’s impact on freedom.

    Seriously, DO you understand that “I’m willing to give up some freedom for these benefits” isn’t the same as “These benefits don’t cost me any freedom.”? And that the other people whose freedom you’re also willing to give away might make that calculation differently?

  6. In fact, I think it does bear repeating:

    1. Just because (you think…) a reduction in liberty is worth it, because of the benefits it brings, doesn’t mean it’s not a reduction in liberty.

    2. Just because you happen to not LIKE a liberty, doesn’t mean it’s not a liberty.

    ‘Liberal’ policy preferences have some fairly serious costs in terms of lost liberty. (So do conservative policy preferences. Quite the dilemma for people who aren’t liberals or conservatives, and just want to be free. We’re basically reduced to deciding which liberties we want to lose.) Maybe you think that’s a price worth paying, but it is a price. If you don’t recognize that, you’re not going to recognize when it’s NOT a price worth paying. Cost benefit analysis doesn’t work when you refuse to admit a cost exists.

  7. Rhodo Zeb says:

    Patrick (G):

    Yes, I agree with you completely. Freedom cannot be a static concept, and presumably is different for different cultures and societies (although I would suggest there are some basic common concepts).

    But the problem that I think is important is that, for all those years where we had tons of resources to expend, (I guess I am basically saying from the 80s to recently), we never even started the conversation. Not that we can’t start now, but its been our freaking banner motto for years.

    In other words, at the same time the anti-abortionist killers were afoot, (remember them?), we were using the concept of freedom as a public relations cudgel over other nations. At the same time, we lost so many rights, mostly in the name of the War on Drugs, but this was a broader trend. Government seizures, entrapment defense, felon’s civil rights, and so on.

    Hence, today we have no idea, as a society, what freedom means, but dammit, we are free! And if you say we aren’t, well I am going to get unreasonable and angry and maybe some punches will be thrown. Is that not still how it is?

    Brett, I don’t know who you are talking to.

    A one percent increase in taxes is some marginal restriction in freedom. It is reasonable that I pay for the luxury of using roads and sewage systems, but there is a limit to what I should pay. We might reasonably ask for transparency in the government’s use of taxes.

    Being free from indefinite detentions at the whim of the government (or a powerful individual) without restriction on government agents (not to mention held incommunicado for a period of time) is a very, very big restriction on freedom. Even if someone does call you a terrorist. I know, that is just radical, but well, there you go.

    So I cannot accept your analysis. Maybe its because I am a, gasp, liberal. Sorry, I didn’t grow up hoping to be a traitor.

  8. “Hence, today we have no idea, as a society, what freedom means, but dammit, we are free!”

    Yes, I think that’s a fair characterization of Kos’ ‘takedown’.

    Look, I’m agnostic on whether this ‘metric’ is accurate, or whether an entirely non-subjective metric of freedom is even possible. But the items Kos disputes are pretty clearly related to freedom. The only reason you guys think they’re not, is that they relate to elements of liberty liberals are motivated to deny. Because they’re either inconvenient, or liberties you actually oppose.

  9. wallace says:

    “What we think of freedom isn’t necessarily freedom as conceived by the founding fathers. “

    Then blindly march towards fascist government control, fools. Drop the pretense, and just anoint Obama your King. He will be the daddy you never had, that you really want, and the only thing that will make you feel secure.

    Alternatively, embrace the growth and spread of radical Islam. Giving up your free will and individuality is, supposedly, quite liberating.

    Or you can grow a pair, be men, live free. Probably too scary for most Americans now who can’t function without latte and iphones.

  10. michael says:

    “What we think of freedom isn’t necessarily freedom as conceived by the founding fathers. “

    Well, of course not: we don’t have the ‘freedom’ to hold slaves, to abuse women, to kill Native Americans, practice multifarious forms of racial and religious discrimination, restrict the vote and so on.

    Works for me.

  11. wallace says:

    michael flails about to relieve himself of his unresolved daddy issues…maybe if we called them the founding mothers he would say something relevant.

    The founding principles were never intended to promote or encourage the sins michael enumerates. A thorough study of the men involved reveals that most were flawed men, but strong enough to recognize their warts, and to put in place a system that would evolve to expand freedoms and liberties to all human beings. But NONE of them wanted a return to powerful, centralized, distant and corrupt government. We say we don’t, but then we go and anoint Kennedy’s Camelot and Obama.

  12. Mojo says:

    Contrary to your response, the Kos post didn’t claim that any of those factors weren’t related to freedom at all (double counting taxation aside), it said that the relative weighting was ideologically driven and more than a bit funny. By the weighting of these metrics, a place where 90% of the population was enslaved but where there was no government would be much more “free” than any current US state. As was pointed out, Somalia comes out pretty well using these “freedom” metrics. Sharia law might cut the total a little in the areas under Al-Shabaab’s control as they’d lose part of the 4% tied to marriage laws, the 1.6% for gambling laws, the full 2.5% for alcohol laws (although they make a surprising amount of that back by not having a beer tax, a wine tax, or a spirit tax, all of which are separately counted in the study), and maybe even part of the 2.5% for mala prohibita (if the societal standards to be applied are Anglo-Saxon rather than those int he Muslim world). All in all Somalia could lose a total of almost half the number of points allocated to taxation and government spending alone. Fortunately they can make almost all of that up just by the fact that they don’t have any schools and then use the low taxation and lack of government spending, labor laws, speed limits, health insurance or utility regulation (or health care or utilities), occupational licensing, environmental regulations, etc. to surge into the lead. The bottom line is that a system of measuring freedom which puts six times more weight on taxation and government spending than on being physically locked up in prison for a victimless crime is just silly.
    On the tax and spend issue, I think you’re mistaken. If I take your wallet, your have been wronged but you don’t get wronged again when I spend the money. If the government uses the tax money to further infringe on your freedom, that additional encroachment is covered under a different metric. In essence, they count once for taking your money, twice for spending it, and a third time if the spending has any purpose other than military and police (because everybody knows those are never used to limit freedom).

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