You mean libertarianism really is just an excuse for greed?

I guess Charles Koch doesn’t really understand libertarianism:

A conservative billionaire who opposes government meddling in business has bought a rare commodity: the right to interfere in faculty hiring at a publicly funded university.

A foundation bankrolled by Libertarian businessman Charles G. Koch has pledged $1.5 million for positions in Florida State University’s economics department. In return, his representatives get to screen and sign off on any hires for a new program promoting “political economy and free enterprise.”

Traditionally, university donors have little official input into choosing the person who fills a chair they’ve funded. The power of university faculty and officials to choose professors without outside interference is considered a hallmark of academic freedom.

A key principle of libertarianism is that liberty must be as unfettered as possible. By attaching strings to this money, Koch is exploiting the liberty of this school. Just imagine this: A man is down on his luck and living out of his car. He needs money, and more immediately, food. So along comes Joe Blow to offer the man a sandwich. The only thing is, in order to get the sandwich, the guy has to hop out of his car and take it up the ass. Hard. He can say no, but libertarian or not, he recognizes that he won’t have any liberty if he’s dead.

While Koch is under no obligation to give away the money he doesn’t need and isn’t using to create any more jobs, when he does give it away with such freedom-violating attachments, he is undermining the liberty of others. He has transgressed his libertarian philosophy at a fundamental level.

Of course, he doesn’t really buy into that, obviously. He’s just a greedy fuck like most libertarians.

36 Responses

  1. Everyone is greedy Michael. You are just greedy for other peoples money, while he is greedy for his own.

  2. I don’t seek to take other people’s money for my own sake.

  3. If everyone is greedy then why do some people volunteer their time and money to help others, often with no strings attached?

    The statement that everyone is greedy is a bad premise.

  4. Oh, so your greed is to benefit others, not yourself… I don’t see that that form of greed is any better or any worse.

    As to those who volunteer, just because they volunteer their time doesn’t mean they get nothing out of it.

    I don’t think greed is a bad thing, so I see no problems with it. We don’t want to get into a situation where we are determining others need for what is theirs. If you have money to spend on beer and trivia you have money you don’t need, but no one wants to take that from you.

  5. All I will do is laugh at that silly rationalization.

  6. Nate…

    so your greed is to benefit others, not yourself… I don’t see that that form of greed is any better or any worse.

    Nate, words have meanings. Hoping that needy people get assistance is not greed. You might think that progressive taxation (ie, taxing those with the most at a higher rate in order to pay for common needs) is WRONG or a BAD IDEA, but it’s not greed. It does not fit the definition of greed.

    So, hoping that others get assistance simply is NOT a “form of greed.”

    Fair enough?

    As to…

    I don’t think greed is a bad thing, so I see no problems with it.

    The fact that greed is considered one of the “seven deadly sins,” that “love of money is the root of all kinds of evil,” that moralists of all flavors have, throughout the years have considered greed to be a bad thing, none of that makes you agree – you prefer to think that it is a good or at least morally neutral thing?

    Good luck with that. Sometimes, though, I think we find that the wisdom of the ages and the majority IS right.

  7. On greed, putting it another way: You might call Robin Hood many things – you might call him a thief, a robber, a bad man, or the Bringer of All Doom, but if words mean anything at all, Robin Hood was NOT greedy because his actions and beliefs in his story do not meet the definition of the term. Not even “some form” of greed.

    Or, to give another example, Jesus repeatedly commanded his followers to GIVE to all who ask, to take care of the least of these. He believed in meeting the needs of the poor.

    Will we call Jesus greedy because he wanted to see the needs of the poor met, even if it wasn’t with HIS money (of which he had none)?


    I mean, even if you think his story is a fairy tale, his CHARACTER in the story was just not greedy, not in the normal English usage of the word.

    Perhaps you’d want to try to find another word to describe whatever it is you’re trying to describe?

  8. It’s collective greed Dan, that’s all, but greed none the less. Through laws we have decided that the people are entitled to so much of everyone’s income. Calling it a tax instead of theft, does not change the nature of the beast. It is still the taking by force.

    You can sugar coat it anyway you like, but you, me, Michael or even uncle sam has no right to anything anyone else has. If you choose to covet the wealth of others for whatever reason, don’t try and tell me you little paws that are going to grab the money aren’t greedy when it comes down to it.

  9. Nate, the problem is you are making up definitions in lieu of ACTUAL ENGLISH meanings of words. Now you are claiming…

    Calling it a tax instead of theft, does not change the nature of the beast. It is still the taking by force.

    Taxation is NOT defined nor does it mean “theft,” nor “taking by force.” It is a social contract. You don’t like taxes we the people have come up with collectively? Work to change the tax system. Can’t convince enough of your fellow citizens of your favored tax scheme? Leave the nation and start your own nation that does not rely upon taxes, if you can.

    You are entirely free to try to do so.

    But taxation does NOT mean theft, and wanting good for the poor does NOT mean greed.

    Words have meanings.

    If we just make up meanings of words, well then, I could say that libertarians are puppy molesters – that IS the meaning, I could say. “You can try to sugar coat it, but it comes down to this: If you think Libertarian ideals, you support puppy molestation! How could you??!!”

    Words have meanings. You can communicate best when you use standard English definitions of words instead of just making shit up.

  10. Also, COVET does not mean what you appear to think it means, either.

    Words. Have. Meanings.

    If you use standard words to mean something entirely different, then you aren’t communicating. You’re speaking gibberish.

  11. You have it correct, Dan, but your examples are poor. Better examples are Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. They are giving away billions to make an effective difference. They have no need of public support or admiration. They do it because it is the right thing to do.

  12. Nate’s take on taxation is loony toon time.

  13. As an AmeriCorps service member, I made many personal sacrifices so that I could have the opportunity to serve a community in need. For example, I make about $5/hr working ~ 45 hrs a week, and I moved nearly 3000 miles from all my friends and family for this job. Sure, there are personal benefits including a modest college scholarship and a fine resume booster, but I absolutely assure you that those benefits had hardly entered my consciousness when deciding to serve. As a committed humanist, it was far more important to me that I acted upon my values and beliefs by making a positive and significant contribution in the community.

    We might be able to point at some way that a person benefits from virtually all actions they decide to do, but that does not make them greedy. I think greed involves the explicit intention to benefit oneself – often at the expense of others. When I chose to serve, or when I volunteer at other places, I am not thinking about how I may benefit – I’m thinking about how others will benefit from my actions. That is what is most important. And it is most certainly not greedy.

  14. You think greed is a dirty word, it’s not.

    I didn’t mean to equate the word taxation to theft, but there is little difference. I don’t get to decide what rate I am taxed at and I’m punished if I don’t at the prescribed rate. Why not have all needs provided socially and get paid nothing? Than no one would have more than they need.

    I’m not going to leave and start my own country of course, I’m going to wait until the republicans retake the senate in 2012 and than we’ll see whether the tax rates go up or they go down, but spending is going to get cut, I have no doubt.

    I don’t mind paying taxes, I dislike paying taxes to fund things that government has no business funding in the first place.

    And covet means exactly what I thought it means. You can question my wording, but not my vocabulary on that one.

  15. Andrew, did you enjoy the work? Did it make you feel good?

    If so than it’s hard to say you didn’t benefit. Benefits are not only financial and material, if they were, no one would do drugs.

    If it made you feel like shit, you wouldn’t do it, or few would. You feel good about the volunteer work and that feeling outweighs the sacrifices you made, whether you realize it or not.

  16. Hi Nate,

    I absolutely enjoyed the work and it has made me feel better than I could have imagined. Yet the motivators for me to participate in volunteer work are a sense of duty and an ethic premised on compassion. I do not deny that I benefit from my service. Volunteering does make a person feel good – but I would be surprised to have any volunteers say their motivation stems from the good feeling they get from doing it. There are other less sacrificial and more productive ways of achieving a good feeling, if that is what is important to a person.

    To put it plainly, I think the difference between greed and altruism lies in a person’s goals and motivations, not in the effect(s) of their actions.

  17. I believe that there’s an immense difference between those who choose their vocation on the basis of how it benefits themselves and those who choose on the basis of how it benefits others.

  18. I understand what you are saying, but internal motivations are only apparent to yourself. Koch could be seen as hugely altruistic if his sole goal was to provide quality products. His wealth could just be a side effect.

    The external motivations matter as much or more than the internal ones.

    The Kochs greed, has likely caused them to run competitive companies, producing products at a competitive price in order to satisfy their greed. I’d assume that has led to lower priced and/or better product. So if the mark is “how does it effect others?” than we can call the Kochs greedy altruists.

  19. Nate…

    You think greed is a dirty word, it’s not.

    No, I think “greed” is a word that describes a negative behavior. That, at least, is the standard English definition.


    covet means exactly what I thought it means…

    referring to…

    …If you choose to covet the wealth of others for whatever reason, don’t try and tell me you little paws that are going to grab the money aren’t greedy when it comes down to it.

    I think some definitions are in order (from Merriam Websters):

    Greed: a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed

    Covet: to desire (what belongs to another) inordinately

    Greed – selfish, excessive desire for money/stuff. These are not desirable traits. Do you think selfishness is also a desirable trait?

    And those who believe in a progressive tax scheme are NOT coveting (not the folk I know, anyway), we’re not wishing for/desiring what belongs to another. We’re wanting a just/rational arrangement for paying for our collective needs.

    If I have a sister who is ill and doesn’t even make minimum wage and I am a gainfully employed middle class individual and my parents were to undergo a crisis that cost a great deal of money, then I would not expect my sister to pay to help things out, she’s no doubt struggling to get by as it is. I would strive to find ways to pay for it myself, as a matter of justice, it would be my fair share, my responsibility to pay more, because I make more.

    Regardless, whatever you may think of these reasons and whether or not they are good ideas, they are NOT covetous, nor is it greed that would compel folk to expect those with more to pay more. It just isn’t.

    One more problem with this claim: you’d have to be pretending to be able to read people’s minds to know they’re reasoning as to why they want to have a progressive tax scheme, and you’re aren’t psychic, nor are you a god. You don’t KNOW people’s motives so you can’t rationally make a claim to know people’s motives.

    Speaking for most folk I know, though, there is not a covetous or greedy bone in their bodies and it is just a ridiculous claim to suggest there is.

    Don’t confuse a desire for justice and rational tax scheme with greed or covetousness. They’re entirely different concepts.

  20. tooooooo much writing. I’ll read it in the morning.

  21. Never mind, it’s not worth reading. I’ve already said it all and I’ll just state this part (I’d delete the above if I could, written to fast and too rambly…)


    You think greed is a dirty word, it’s not.

    No, I think “greed” is a word that describes a negative behavior. That, at least, is the standard English definition.

    Greed: a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed – Merriam Webster.

    That definition does not fit what you’re describing.

    And then you say, “does too,” and I say, “does not,” and et cetera. Let’s just skip it.

  22. Sure, lets.I’m describing a never ending want for more, which I believe to be part of the human condition. Whether that is more money, more good feelings or more in the sense that you want to improve a product or service.

    We have greed for more of everything, without it we wouldn’t have progress. That’s why I don’t think it is a dirty word.

  23. But that’s a ridiculous and different definition of the word, “Greed.” Greed is NOT speaking about wishing that the world was a better place or that you were healthy or happy.

    One could say, “I have a real GREED for an end to homelessness,” and others could get your meaning, but it isn’t standard English usage. Greed by definition implies selfishness, which IS a bad thing.

    One could also say, “I have a real LUST for an end to homelessness,” but they would do so knowing that that is a TWISTING of the standard English word, perhaps to make a point or exaggerate a point, but also knowing that it isn’t standard English usage.

    Desiring to have a better world is a good thing. Desiring “more of everything” is not necessarily a good thing. The desire for unlimited consumption is the philosophy of a cancer cell.

  24. Or how about, “I’d like to KILL them with love…” that’s taking a non-standard spin on a negative word to make it positive in this odd context, but it would not change the basic meaning of the word, which would remain a negative.

  25. Whatever Dan, the point of language is to convey ideas, hopefully some with meaning. I’ve made my ideas plain. It’s not even that different from what you’ve place as the definition from, Merriam was it?

  26. The point is, IF I put a spin on a word, like, “Kill them with love” to make a non-standard English point, that’s one thing.

    It’s an entirely DIFFERENT and unreasonable thing to say, “Therefore, killing is good.”

    You are not conveying any meaningful point by saying “killing is good,” “rape is good,” or “being greedy is good.” These are inherently bad behaviors.

    Could some GOOD come from bad behavior? Well, one might try to make the point (I’d doubt you could make a very good case for it, though). Nonetheless, the behavior would remain bad behavior.

  27. The semantics here is actually off topic.

    Libertarians have a very warped and wrong take on government, taxation, fairness, compassion, patriotism, etc. They should be feared because if they ever got to power, most people would suffer greatly. Unfortunately, the Republican part is sounding more like them all the time because a very small minority has taken over.

  28. Republican part should be Republican party

  29. You don’t think greed has played a part in our technological advancement, Dan? A very central and important part?

  30. Greed has produced frivolous and predatory fees and planned obsolescence

  31. and externalities

  32. and CEOs getting paid 343 times more than the average worker

  33. No one forces anyone to do business with any company, if you want to avoid what you see as ”predatory fees” and “planned obsolescence” you can do business with another company or not do business at all.

    I can’t think of anything that doesn’t have externalities.

    And they are responsible for the welfare of the company, for better or worse. The president gets paid quite a bit more than the average government employee and he gets a house, a car (several), a plane and a private security detail. Want to trim that down?

  34. And going back to Michaels post…

    Michael, jobs don’t get created because someone has “money they don’t need” hanging around. Jobs get created when there is work to be done.

    “Jobs are a means to an end, not the end in itself”

  35. “your greed is to benefit others”

    That’s so 1984.

  36. Nate…

    You don’t think greed has played a part in our technological advancement, Dan? A very central and important part?

    Sure. Just not always a beneficial one.

    But let’s assume that maybe greed on some level had a side effect that was beneficial.

    I’m sure that murder has had side effects that were beneficial, and theft, assault, adultery, too. I’m sure all these negative actions could be found in some way to have a positive side effect.

    Why, by that rule, even TAXES have had SOME benefit.

    So, by your reasoning, taxation as a group must be good, yes?

    The difference is that taxes are morally neutral (depending on how they’re done, how they’re used, etc), but not bad themselves. Greed is a bad.

    We don’t engage in morally wrong behavior just because it might have a positive side effect. Or at least, I don’t think we ought to encourage it.

    And calling other people greedy when the term doesn’t even fit just is silly. It’s slander (which, again, is a morally “bad” behavior and one we ought not encourage – even if it might have a positive side effect.)

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