"Make American sperm counts great again!"


I’m basically trying to get more insight into libertarianism, and I seem to have more libertarians whose brains I can pick here than I do in my everyday offline life.

Take what you just wrote in the “DJ Trump” thread, for example: high tariffs are caused by businesses and government together, not just by businesses, ergo high tariffs are caused by corruption. I would say, isn’t that more accurately called lobbying? And if you ban lobbying, isn’t that also government interference in the freedom of business?

This kind of paradox comes up again and again, and not having gone to any kind of libertarian re-education camp yet, I just don’t understand where the line is supposed to be drawn.

In the case of sperm counts, I basically agree with Finley said about the scientific side, but that’s not my point. I’m trying a thought experiment here:

  • Chemical A is becoming widespread in the environment.
  • Chemical A is undesirable because it may wipe out endangered species X. :unicorn:
  • Banning chemical A would “hurt business”, however that’s defined.

As a proud libertarian (or whatever label you prefer), your position would be ________.

  • Chemical B is becoming widespread in the environment.
  • Chemical B is undesirable because it makes men less manly.* :astonished:
  • Banning chemical B would “hurt business”, however that’s defined.

As a proud libertarian (or whatever label you prefer), your position would be ________.

*This doesn’t need to be limited to lower sperm counts; it can also take the form of increasing the rate of homosexuality, increasing the rate of hermaphroditism, and so on. (Remember, it’s a thought experiment, not a scientific debate.)


I’m not a libertarian, I’m conservative. So ethical issues will often intervene in my thinking.

Lobbyists are not government, they may influence lawmakers, but it is lawmakers who are responsible for bribery, when they are going against the interests of their constituents.

This is why I want the 17th amendment repealed. When the Senate was the voice of the states, those Senators had no will, they had to vote according to the instructions their state governor or Congress gave them, or be recalled or go to jail even. There wouldn’t be any lobbying in the Senate as originally constructed, which helps clean up half of our legistlative.


My first reaction to that is, wouldn’t that just divert the lobbyists to the governors?

But back on topic, I associate you with libertarianism because of your love for Salerno et al. If you don’t like the label, that’s fine. As a conservative (with libertarian and/or anarcho-capitalist sympathies) then, what would you make of this conundrum?


The states are much more aware and guard their interests, most states would allow the congress corporately to elect the Senator, and those congresses would vote on each federal law, and send instructions to the Senator according to that vote.

The people are not actively following legislation on a daily basis, so they don’t realize it when lobbyists are usurping their interests.

I’m definitely not anarcho. Conservatives are for free markets, and I find that the Austrian school is the best advocate for explaining free markets.


Well then, as an Austrian American, or something, would you tend to support banning B but not A?


Ha, it depends on the science, like Dr. Milker, I take this all with a grain of salt, I don’t believe half of what I hear. In general, I’m thinking chemicals aren’t all that great, yet I balance that out thinking it’s not so bad as people make it out to be. I’m just sitting on the fence on this one, but I don’t active study this.

I know I hate medicine, I wouldn’t take it unless absolutely necessary, and then I would want to know where the exit is. No doctor could ever convince me to be on any regiment forever. Even cancer or whatever, I would rather rough it up and not eat and drink for 3 or 4 days in several periods to cure me than go through chemotherapy. But that is my personal view, nothing economic, probably more my ethical, conservative views and faith in God.


Should we have faith in God? @discobot fortune


:crystal_ball: Very doubtful


Should we have faith in Disco? @discobot fortune


:crystal_ball: As I see it, yes


That’s a new one. Can’t argue with that.


Should we have faith in medicine? @discobot fortune


:crystal_ball: Most likely


It’s a bit of a hypothetical question, because governments always intervene on behalf of the rich and powerful, typically because the government are the rich and powerful. It’s a reliable human constant throughout history.

Consider some early industrialist dumping (say) heavy metals into a waterway, or a gold-mining corporation in some African fleapit dumping cyanide, or an aluminium processor creating lagoons of red mud. If the locals were left to their own devices, it would only be a matter of time before said industrialist ended up floating face down in his own lagoon. Expropriation of public property - in this case a body of water - has often been technically illegal at various times and places, but this obvious violation (no need to invoke the specifics of ‘pollution’) goes curiously unenforced.

Governments collect tax from polluters. Lots of tax. That tax can fund physical protection, plus laws that make whatever-they’re-doing perfectly legal.

I can give you a couple of examples from farming and food policies, since I’m most familiar with those:

  1. Antibiotics are routinely given to farm animals in the US, and were dosed similarly in Europe until fairly recently. This is astoundingly dangerous, as any doctor will tell you. It’s also illegal, or at least it would be if farmers were not exempted from (perfectly good) rules about who is allowed to distribute, buy, and administer antibiotics. The reason they’re exempted from these rules is that they’re also exempted from animal-welfare laws, which apply to every citizen except farmers. They are therefore free to crowd animals into conditions so vile and unsanitary that disease epidemics are inevitable … or would be if they weren’t dosed up with antibiotics. As I understand it, the letter of the law in the US actually does not formally exempt farmers from compliance with rules for pharmaceuticals: it’s just that everyone, all the way down the chain, turns a blind eye.

  2. In the US, animals are fed repartitioning agents so that they can (a) grow very fast and (b) produce more lean meat and less fat. Human bodybuilders who take the same drugs are likely to end up in jail, but farmers are allowed to do it because (a) their animals would die of disease before slaughter if they weren’t forced to grow at unnatural rates and (b) the government has convinced the entire population that they should eat more wheat and soy (good news for wheat and soy farmers) and less saturated fat. Back in the old days when people were happily eating lard and butter, this whole house of cards would have seemed laughable.

Here’s a fascinating (to me) example from the era of The Great Stink (disease and general disgustingness brought about by the habit of throwing sewage into the river). Up until that time, there had been two competing systems: 1) cover it with dirt or 2) throw it in the drinking-water supply. It’s odd that people didn’t consider (2) to be unpleasant even in the absence of germ theory, but people are like that. Anyway, the mid-1800s was the Betamax-vs-VHS turning point for sewage, because that’s when the British government spent a yuuuuge chunk of tax revenue on a new plumbing system for London, which enabled them to … dump the shit into a different place in the river.

Meanwhile, people like Henry Moule were vigorously promoting the ecologically-sound alternative, and it was a fairly close-run thing. Given a decade or two, there would undoubtedly have been enterprising folk setting up earth-supply and compost-removal services, which might even have been free (given that compost has monetary value). The design of the ‘earth closets’ would have evolved into something like elegance. But when the government picks a horse, that horse always wins. And here we are with flush toilets and all the associated costs and problems.

I have a whole bunch of similar examples which fall into one of two categories:

a) harmless things being made illegal so that harmful things can be legally promoted
b) governments deciding on, and subsidizing, their preferred ‘winners’.

But they take a lot of typing and you’d lose interest halfway through.


Your anarchist utopia sounds like an exciting film, but realistically, if there’s no law to restrain anyone, why would your industrialist not have an army of mercenaries protecting the factory and keeping the villagers under foot?

Your real life examples are interesting, but in terms of the original question, I’m not convinced. (Shocking, I know.)

That governments fail to keep the environment in a good condition, generally speaking, is not something I dispute.

That they fail because they’re stupid about regulation in general (and sometimes corrupt), I don’t dispute.

But that the answer is to regulate less, I dispute.

Let’s consider how you’re phrasing things: farmers are exempted from this and that, ergo governments cause problems by overregulating. Yet an exemption from a regulation means there is no regulation for that person/group. If using drug Alpha on cows is illegal for everyone in the land from A to Y, but not illegal for Z, that means there’s less regulation overall than if it were also illegal for Z.

And when it comes to rivers, although 3rd world countries may have more of the less polluted ones (I haven’t checked but it sounds reasonable), the reason for that would simply be less industrialization, not less regulation.

As long as you have comparable levels of industrialization in any two countries or regions, one being in the 1st world and the other in the 2nd, 3rd or (as Icon would say) 4th, which one do you think would be less polluted? And which one do you think would be less regulated?


I think you completely misunderstood what I said. I wasn’t advocating anarchism, or even laissez-faire capitalism. I was pointing out that regulation per se is no better than anarchism if it protects the wrong things. The industrial revolution resulted in social and environmental depredations not just because the government failed to regulate, but because it supported and subsidized violations of existing law, just as the US government does now with the grey market in agricultural antibiotics.

Nor was I suggesting that less regulation is going to solve all our problems. You point out yourself that my argument doesn’t imply this. OTOH, broadly speaking, if some simple goal turns out to be very complicated to achieve, you’re probably doing it wrong. Optimization is not the same thing as just deleting rules.

I was suggesting we regulate differently: that is, with laws that prod markets gently in the direction of social benefits, or which allow freedom for such benefits to evolve. Or even with means other than laws and taxes (it annoys me that governments only ever consider those two tools). I realise this is easier said than done, but we do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard, no? I don’t think it will ever happen because, historically, governments legislate in favour of those groups or individuals who bring them the most tribute. It’s as simple as that.

How do you figure that? By default laws apply to everyone equally, so the exemption is an addition, a complication.

I wasn’t making any points at all regarding the 1st world vs. 4th world. However, since you raise the subject, the third world’s sorry state is a prime example of regulation in the wrong places (or more accurately, enforcement of regulation in the wrong places). For example, you may produce and distribute guns and drugs with little interference, but opening a corner store or building a house for your family is likely to result in a dozen quasi-governmental busybodies turning up at your back door with one hand holding a clipboard and a stack of papers, and the other held out palm upwards in the universal “gimme money” gesture.


That’s why localizing enviromental issues work better than at the federal level. When states take the slack, you get more minds coming up with innovative approaches, and fine-tuned to the local area, and other states can copy other states and make adjustments accordingly. But one federal panel of experts making regulations on behalf of the whole nation is almost always going to be deficient in good ideas how to implement regulations that cooperate with the free market and are efficacious and diminish unexpected consequences.

My understanding is that highly centralized governments, especially the poor communist countries, the old Soviet Union, have much more dirty environment, rivers and such, as the state is considered responsible for everything, noone takes responsibility on the local levels. In capitalist countries, where individuals are more likely to have capital, many rich people care about preservation, and human welfare and are likely to set up organizations to help tackle sticky problems funded with private money. And such influences are also directed toward lobbying or persuading congress for such laws as well.

Also, you mentioned about sewage directing waste to rivers, the black plague happened because of sewage in the cities. That problem needed to be tackled first, which the Industrial Revolution helped allow to happen, before other secondary concerns.


It seems to me that air is air and water is water wherever in the country you are. We need minimum standards to ensure that companies aren’t abusing the environment with effects that may last for generations or for all intents and purposes forever. We don’t have to look to totalitarian nations for such an example. This is precisely the situation we had in the US prior to the onset of federal regulation in the 70’s, when regulation was managed exactly at the state level. Many of the ill effects linger on until today and in many cases remain insoluble, at least without entirely impractical outlays. The problem in the Soviet Union wasn’t the absence of local regulation, it was the absence of ANY regulation–production targets took precedence. The situation in the US was that the free market took precedence, and not surprisingly it did an atrocious job as well as it is almost equally poorly equipped to consider the benefits of all citizens generations into the future. Federal regulation is the best tool for such a task.


It was opposite. Nixon placed control of the environment in federal hands in the early 70s, and the 70s were the worst environment nightmare in US history. But it also has to do with the economy, which began to plummet under Johnson around 1967, Nixon made it worse especially when he devalued the dollar by 4 times in 1972. When people are poor, they are more concerned about shelter and food. Environmental concerns gets put on the shelf, and the 70s are a good demonstration of that, which is why the green environment got started and involved after all that mess. But the 80s were a time of environmental order, again because of economic factors, not government muscle.

And it wasn’t unfettered free markets in all of US History. Perhaps the 20s, 80s, and you might make a case for the 60s, is closest.


That’s totally wrong. I’m totally familiar with the history. Companies and various parasites treated American land and rivers like an open sewer exactly until the seventies when Federal regulation began to bite. The Love Canal disaster was a major wake-up call and an excellent example. Look it up. The company, Hooker Chemical, like most companies back then treated an open unlined canal as their personal dumping ground for whatever chemical waste they needed dumped. The LOCAL government was fully aware of it, but they allowed the land to be used for residential development, I wonder why? That was only the tip of the iceberg; there are hundreds of similar places. Federal regulation was what started the ball rolling to prevent such insane resource management and effecting remediation in the most serious instances. You’re argument that " Nixon placed control of the environment in federal hands in the early 70s, and the 70s were the worst environment nightmare in US history." is totally unsupported by fact. Things were already totally sporked by the 60’s and in many cases much earlier and the tap was running wide open until it became an obvious objective necessity to shut it, and shut it should remain.