Monday, August 25, 2014

Embarrassing confession:

Sometimes I frickin' hate Internet Forum Libertarians, mostly because I'm afraid I came across as that frustratingly obtuse in TFL's Legal & Political subforum a decade and more ago.
Internet Libertarian: "Why didn't they just up and fire that stupid cop? My boss would fire me if I did that."
Me: "Your boss isn't the government. Government actions against individuals, even individuals it employs, require due process. Pesky Constitution."
IL: "Due process applies to criminal justice, not human resources."
Me:"Courts have disagreed with you since the 1930s. They seem to think that the government cannot act summarily against you, even if you are working for it. You'd think libertarians would be all in favor of preventing the government from doing things capriciously, wouldn't you? "
IL: "You still got it wrong. The Constitution isn't what requires the government to ensure due process for employment issues."
Me: "SCOTUS disagrees with you. They seem to think that the due process clause applies to government employees. Now, you may wish it didn't, and you can argue it shouldn't, but here in the real world it does. Here, let me Google that for you."
"I think it should be like this!" is not how the world works. (Do I think that such robust protections are needed for government employees? No, I don't. Usually. But the courts didn't consult me when they made those rulings.)


Anonymous said...

That's not how it is in an L. Neil Smith book!

Shootin' Buddy

Alien said...

Lefties, Libertarians, their paths intertwine randomly, but one constant is the skies in their worlds are so rarely blue.

Tam said...

Oh, if I had to hang a label on myself, "libertarian" would fit as well as any of a handful of others.

Paul said...

Due process for government employees while everyone else can get bounced on their butt for smiling wrong.

Can anyone say privileged status?

Tam said...

"Can anyone say privileged status?"

The government can't fire you without due process either, Paul.

Anonymous said...

"This is how it should be."

"Yeah, well it isn't. What are you, dense? End of conversation."

OK then.

I've had many such conversations. -- Lyle

Kristophr said...

And that is why I left the Libertarian Party.

Too wrapped up in libertopia to realize that you have to play the damned ball where it lays if you want to get anything accomplished.

Yrro said...

Yep. I was very *surprised* when I learned this, and I still hate it (especially when combined with a union negotiation's definition of "due process"), but it's the law.

At this point it's just a good justification for having the government employ fewer people :P

Anonymous said...

That's one way to fix unemployment.


Divemedic said...

I believe that the SCOTUS statement was something like: "An individuals Constitutional rights do not cease to exist merely because he or she draws a government paycheck."

Rick C said...

"The government can't fire you without due process either, Paul."

Isn't that what he said?

Goober said...

I'm a little disappointed by the quickness with which we've all decided that that cop did something wrong and NEEDS to be fired.

There are a lot of cops in Ferguson, it seems, that need firing, but the one that fired those shots and started this whole mess may or may not be one of them, and NONE of us have the information available to us to make that call yet.

Tam said...


"I'm a little disappointed by the quickness with which we've all decided that that cop..."

What cop? The thread in question wasn't even about Ferguson.

Paul said...

Tam, I must have been to obtuse. Bounced on your butt referred to life in the private sector.

I only have worked 1 year for the government and that was as a contractor. Union guys got hired to sit around and let the contractors do things.

What I have seen of government employees is not pretty. they make the mafia look like pikers. Once you are in the fraternity, nothing short of dynamite can get you out.

The rest of us live from day to day waiting for the door to slam.

Alien said...

Tam said...
Oh, if I had to hang a label on myself, "libertarian" would fit as well as any of a handful of others.

Yeah, I have a handful of labels, too, many of which aren't printable on a family blog.

But....does your statement mean that you are a libertarian, at least part-time, or that you subscribe to libertarian principles? I see a difference between "membership" and "support," but I may be dealing with just a matter of semantics on this.

AnarchAngel said...

then there's the other part of that issue, in that many people don't seem to understand that bad laws, and stupid laws, are not necessarily unconstitutional laws... and conversely constitutional laws are not necessarily good or smart.

staghounds said...

Yes, the Constitution does say that.

As opposed to "All you Libertarians/Republicans/Democrats/people who didn't put my election signs in your yards, you're fired" every 2-4 years.

That makes for greater justice, doesn't it?

The thing that generally keeps people from being bounced is that they please and advance the careers of those above them in the employment decision chain.

At least in theory in private employment, that means that at some point the company's bottom line gives the bouncers a reason to keep the good employees, and to create some system in which employees know what keeps them working and what doesn't. Due process, at least by tradition and bananas/monkeys/stairs/hose culture.

The incentives in government are very different. Actual bottom line performance is often unknowable or indefinable. Tyranny and empire building have little cost to managers.

And because we want our masters to at least seem to be predictable, we need due process.

People generally do. When people are rejected, they always want to know why and "I fired you because I fired you" allows lots of room, not only for the tyrant or empire builder but for the corrupt.

There's a reason Civil Service was adopted and grew.

(As the moderns say, full disclosure- I'm a government employee, but an at will one so no due process required for me.

Joe in PNG said...

Sadly, too many internet Libertarian purist tend to think that the Law of the USA is subject to private interpretation.

Unknown said...

There is a libertarian philosophy, which I think helps guid the decision making process. Then there are Philosophers who love to talk about Libertarian Philosophy.

I'm a libertarian in principle - perhaps even an anarchist. In practice... not even close. I think we should lock up the borders (very not libertarian) but for very practical reasons - open borders only work in a free market economy - which we DON'T have. So if you want to accomplish anything - you remember the principles and deal with reality.

Fortunately (or not depending on your point of view) I think most libertarians are too busy with reality to know their libertarians. The ones that aren't can be... what was term Tam? oh yeah, frustratingly obtuse.

Goober said...


I guess I just made an ass out of Uma Thurman or something...


Chris said...

Open immigration works everywhere the cost of an additional person is on average lower than their contribution, which is everywhere that doesn't already have a crumbling economy.

JohninMd.(HELP?!??) said...

Paul, this is why the gubmint goes after the Mob so strongly - they hate competition.....

Drang said...

As I noted on the book of face, WA state firearms lobbyist Col Joe Waldron, USMC (RET), once said of libertarians that they tend to be "people who can argue obscure points of political philosophy for hours, but have to wear velcro shoes."
Internet libertarians, as Tam notes, tend to be excellent examples of this.
I think part of the problem is that the range of what people recognize as "libertarian" is so wide, running from small government Republicans, through Tea Partiers, and on to some folks who are best described as anarchists.
Remember when libertarians were all a out legalizing pot, and we wondered when they wee going to discover the Second Amendment? Now they're strapping on an M249 SAW and wandering through the local shopping mall...