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Balancing planning with libertarian or semi-libertarian views

Jazzman

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#1
So this is kind of an interesting thought (or collection of thoughts) that's been going through my mind lately. Can planning be reconciled with libertarian or somewhat libertarian views, or are we all just a bunch of damn Commies? Hear me out -

First of all, I absolutely do NOT consider myself to be a libertarian. As someone with a planning education, I completely understand why America, in its present, heavily developed and industrialized form, cannot be quite as free as the Founding Fathers might have envisioned - the more urbanized a society gets, the more your actions affect the lives of others, thus the reason why big cities and states that have big cities in them tend to have much bigger, more powerful governments with much more regulation and oversight than places that are more rural in nature or are simply less densely populated.

HOWEVER, I certainly believe in personal freedom to the extent reasonably possible, and there are times when I find myself muttering something or another about somebody being a damn Commie because I think they've just taken things too far. Some examples include Bloomberg's attempt in NYC to ban sodas (or I think it was sodas of a certain size), or San Francisco's attempt to ban male circumcision at city hospitals. The latter example is really far fetched, but if we look at the proposed soda ban in NYC, many do argue that the negative health effects of society is a cost that is borne by taxpayers because of increased health care costs - therefore government has a right to regulate it in the public interest. And yet, I still can't shake the feeling that if we follow this idea to its logical conclusion, somebody like Bloomberg or some other big city mayor will one day mandate everyone to eat a specific, government-approved meal that has been deemed "healthy" enough to negate the negative health effects that cost society as a whole so much money. Is this what we want? As planners, we are uniquely and acutely aware of how one person's personal decisions can have negative affects on their neighbors and on a city or a society as a whole - and we regulate accordingly. But how far do we take this? At what point do we draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough? Negative externalities be damned, let me have my freedom!

P.S. I do not want this to turn into a debate about whether Bloomberg's soda ban idea was right or wrong. I simply used that as an example. The idea I'm trying to float here is much bigger than Bloomberg or NYC, I'm trying to look at the big picture.
 
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#2
As someone who deep down inside feels like Libertarian, I find it difficult. But, the more I read and talk to people I begin to see things aren't so cut and dry.

I DO think that give a long enough time line a full Libertarian society that the market would self correct for all issues and that people who give enough to private charity to offset the negative quality of life that the poor deal with.

However, the path to get to that point of things being "just right" would be long, hard, and brutal. It is worth all (most) the inefficiencies of government to avoid such a fate.

Everyone will draw their line somewhere else. I draw my line differently on different issues, where some folks might not have a line at all.
 

dw914er

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#3
While I do have some libertarian viewpoints, I understand that policy is a strong motivator for changing norms for the better. For example, look at how policy, rather than education alone, has helped kicked our habit from smoking cigarettes. Those companies can longer advertise like before, and you can't smoke in certain places. As a result, many people who smoked have decided it wasn't worth the effort to continue with that habit, and we're better off because of it. When you consider that our country has an obesity epidemic, simply knowing that sodas are bad for you hasn't resulted in us making the better choice. You have to actively discourage the bad choice. Keep in mind that policy could be at an institutional level, or at the government level.

I do agree with what you were saying; there are times when you can take something to far. There are people advocating for these policies, and they usually are much more passionate about their subject than the general populace. As ddomin said, everyone will draw the line somewhere other than where I draw the line.
 

wahday

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#4
I DO think that give a long enough time line a full Libertarian society that the market would self correct for all issues and that people who give enough to private charity to offset the negative quality of life that the poor deal with.

However, the path to get to that point of things being "just right" would be long, hard, and brutal. It is worth all (most) the inefficiencies of government to avoid such a fate.
I should say first that I am not a Libertarian. That being said, I do believe the free market has a tremendous potential to create a lot of good and fairness in the world. But as ddomin notes, the conditions have to be just right and, for me at least, I do not see that a free market can actually exist in the real world. Its more akin, in my mind, to the “vacuum” of science. Its an ideal rarely if ever experienced. Even outer space has debris, and plasma flowing through it.

The American market, for example, has countless adjustments and interventions operating at any given time. From tariffs to trade restrictions, protections against monopolies, etc. Not to mention that our economy intimately connected with others. Add to that unpredictable, external factors the world over – things like natural disasters, wars, displacements, and dirty dealings by businesses or governments – and it seems clear to me that perfect market conditions can never truly be achieved.

Also, wasn't there a thread on this or a similar topic a while back?
 

Blide

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#5
I certainly think how much the government should be involved in people's lives is a worthwhile discussion. With that said, I think planning and a strict adherence to Libertarian views are incompatible. To me, Libertarianism is just a utopian ideal that either ignores history or views it with rose-tinted glasses. The government (and planners) are all about managing externalities that the free market has shown to be completely unable or unwilling to deal with.
 

Hink

OH....IO
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#6
I certainly think how much the government should be involved in people's lives is a worthwhile discussion. With that said, I think planning and a strict adherence to Libertarian views are incompatible. To me, Libertarianism is just a utopian ideal that either ignores history or views it with rose-tinted glasses. The government (and planners) are all about managing externalities that the free market has shown to be completely unable or unwilling to deal with.
The problem with libertarianism isn't the concept, its the reality. You are never going to have a non-corrupted "open" market. You are never going to have people follow social norms if there are not backing to require adherence. I didn't kill the guy because my mom says killing is bad, isn't exactly good enough. I guess you could argue that you then are opening yourself up for being killed, but it really is an unreasonable world.

The concept of open markets, competition, and "freedom" feels great, but in reality, you would see a huge division between those who are willing and able to work the system, and those who are not smart enough, or unwilling to screw people over to make it. That division would continue to get bigger and bigger every year.

The truth is that regulation is the oil that makes the system run smoothly. Sure there is over regulation, but it is very seldom that regulation is the problem. It is usually people trying to get past regulation or finding ways to not have to follow rules (like off shoring, etc.). If everyone paid their taxes, or everyone didn't steal, or everyone bought healthcare, it would be a great world. That isn't reality. Regulation helps create a baseline for people. That baseline is extremely important.
 

ColoGI

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#7
The problem with libertarianism isn't the concept, its the reality.
Exactly so. The problem with Randian ideals is reality. Most people reject this ideology once graduating from high school or a couple years in college. This is not to say every once in a while the ideology's approach has something to say in the discussion, but that situation is rare.
 

Linda_D

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#8
The problem with libertarianism isn't the concept, its the reality. You are never going to have a non-corrupted "open" market. You are never going to have people follow social norms if there are not backing to require adherence. I didn't kill the guy because my mom says killing is bad, isn't exactly good enough. I guess you could argue that you then are opening yourself up for being killed, but it really is an unreasonable world.

The concept of open markets, competition, and "freedom" feels great, but in reality, you would see a huge division between those who are willing and able to work the system, and those who are not smart enough, or unwilling to screw people over to make it. That division would continue to get bigger and bigger every year.

The truth is that regulation is the oil that makes the system run smoothly. Sure there is over regulation, but it is very seldom that regulation is the problem. It is usually people trying to get past regulation or finding ways to not have to follow rules (like off shoring, etc.). If everyone paid their taxes, or everyone didn't steal, or everyone bought healthcare, it would be a great world. That isn't reality. Regulation helps create a baseline for people. That baseline is extremely important.
All the ideological "isms" run into this same issue: reality. That's because the inventors/promoters/believers in these "isms" assume that people behave rationally, with rationality defined by the inventors'/promoters'/believers' personal belief systems. The fact is that people aren't influenced nearly as much by rational thought as by their biological inheritance and generally shaped by the society/culture they live in.
  • We are social animals that need order; if there weren't rules,regulations and leaders, we would have to invent them (or have Yaweh give them to us as He did to Moses).
  • We cling to our family, our clan, our pack, our kind and shun, persecute, exile those who don't conform.
  • We fight for dominance and space within our group but we also band together against outsiders.
 

ColoGI

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#9
The fact is that people aren't influenced nearly as much by rational thought as by their biological inheritance and generally shaped by the society/culture they live in.
  • We cling to our family, our clan, our pack, our kind and shun, persecute, exile those who don't conform.
  • We fight for dominance and space within our group but we also band together against outsiders.
Aside but relevant: the book I'm currently reading, Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow explores this Homo rationalis myth in depth. Much depth. In an engaging, lively way. It is amazing how little we actually engage in clear, rational thought, if the book is even sometimes accurate. Its implicitly very harsh on libertarians.
 

Blide

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#10
All the ideological "isms" run into this same issue: reality. That's because the inventors/promoters/believers in these "isms" assume that people behave rationally, with rationality defined by the inventors'/promoters'/believers' personal belief systems. The fact is that people aren't influenced nearly as much by rational thought as by their biological inheritance and generally shaped by the society/culture they live in.
Having differing beliefs and value systems doesn't necessarily have anything to do with rationality though. Americans just happen to be more individualistic than most other cultures. That explains why there is a strong Libertarian strain here that you don't see in other countries. On top of that, you have some very wealthy (and rational) individuals driving the Libertarian movement for their own goals.

What bugs me about the Libertarian movement is so many people seem be ignorant or just being misled about the ramifications of it. If someone has done their research and legitimately want to adhere to a Libertarian philosophy, fine. It's the people who take the government for granted and want abolish it are the ones I'm concerned about. The "get the government out of my medicare" types really do depend on the government but have somehow become convinced that they don't. It's just really hard to try to dispel these misconceptions though.
 
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jswanek

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#11
Having differing beliefs and value systems doesn't necessarily have anything to do with rationality though. Americans just happen to be more individualistic than most other cultures. That explains why there is a strong Libertarian strain here that you don't see in other countries. On top of that, you have some very wealthy (and rational) individuals driving the Libertarian movement for their own goals.

What bugs me about the Libertarian movement is so many people seem be ignorant or just being misled about the ramifications of it. If someone has done their research and legitimately want to adhere to a Libertarian philosophy, fine. It's the people who take the government for granted and want abolish it are the ones I'm concerned about. The "get the government out of my medicare" types really do depend on the government but have somehow become convinced that they don't. It's just really hard to try to dispel these misconceptions though.
.

More than anything else, freedom-lovers fear future government. I can't say I blame them.

In France, with taxes now including a tax on assets as well as income, the effective highest tax rate (combined national / regional / local / property / assets / social taxes) is now over 90%.

In America, local governments are asserting authority over second-hand cigarette smoke created thousands of feet from possible recipients, or ending agriculture that actually makes a profit (after assuming the farmer's own labor is worth more than 10 cents per hour) because it is "too cruel" to the animals raised for food and has "off-site impacts".

A future government that asserts "everyone impacts everyone else by virtue of living and we need to control those impacts" is a government people buy assault rifles for. I can't say that's not the right response.
 
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#12
So this is kind of an interesting thought (or collection of thoughts) that's been going through my mind lately. Can planning be reconciled with libertarian or somewhat libertarian views, or are we all just a bunch of damn Commies? Hear me out -

First of all, I absolutely do NOT consider myself to be a libertarian. As someone with a planning education, I completely understand why America, in its present, heavily developed and industrialized form, cannot be quite as free as the Founding Fathers might have envisioned - the more urbanized a society gets, the more your actions affect the lives of others, thus the reason why big cities and states that have big cities in them tend to have much bigger, more powerful governments with much more regulation and oversight than places that are more rural in nature or are simply less densely populated.

HOWEVER, I certainly believe in personal freedom to the extent reasonably possible, and there are times when I find myself muttering something or another about somebody being a damn Commie because I think they've just taken things too far. Some examples include Bloomberg's attempt in NYC to ban sodas (or I think it was sodas of a certain size), or San Francisco's attempt to ban male circumcision at city hospitals. The latter example is really far fetched, but if we look at the proposed soda ban in NYC, many do argue that the negative health effects of society is a cost that is borne by taxpayers because of increased health care costs - therefore government has a right to regulate it in the public interest. And yet, I still can't shake the feeling that if we follow this idea to its logical conclusion, somebody like Bloomberg or some other big city mayor will one day mandate everyone to eat a specific, government-approved meal that has been deemed "healthy" enough to negate the negative health effects that cost society as a whole so much money. Is this what we want? As planners, we are uniquely and acutely aware of how one person's personal decisions can have negative affects on their neighbors and on a city or a society as a whole - and we regulate accordingly. But how far do we take this? At what point do we draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough? Negative externalities be damned, let me have my freedom!

P.S. I do not want this to turn into a debate about whether Bloomberg's soda ban idea was right or wrong. I simply used that as an example. The idea I'm trying to float here is much bigger than Bloomberg or NYC, I'm trying to look at the big picture.
I have some libertarian views, though like others have mentioned, truly libertarian philosophies are completely unrealistic.

My own personal views on property rights and things do conflict with my job planning to some extent. Overall I support the idea of planning and zoning, but requiring windows to have certain proportions, limiting the sizes of houses on rural lots, minimum AND maximum parking standards applied at the same time? Requiring lengthy and involved permits just to dig a test well (thankyou Coastal Commission :( ). I am of the opinion that the planning profession has gone too far in many respects. I am in full agreement on this point. Just like others mention that the Randian libertarian philosophy is unworkable, so too is the Bellamy socialistic philosophy that seems somewhat prevalent in the planning profession.
 

ColoGI

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#13
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A future government that asserts "everyone impacts everyone else by virtue of living and we need to control those impacts" is a government people buy assault rifles for. I can't say that's not the right response.
Calculating Pareto optima only when convenient aside, if victimized white people think feel that their precious assault weapon purchase is going to protect them against the largest imperial army the world has ever seen - including funding in the US$Tns for covert surveillance of the citizenry, supersonic laser-guided nuclear missiles nearly invisible to radar, DU-tipped bullets delivered at 6k RPM, and impending domestic overflights of drones - then I need to get in on the gun manufacturing action to part some fools from their money. Or maybe become a lobbyist for the NRA, where the serious cash flows toward (maybe to hide the fact that the armament the citizenry has is pathetically inadequate against any modern state's armament, but they should consume more and more anyway to feel safe). ;)
 

jswanek

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#14
Calculating Pareto optima only when convenient aside, if victimized white people think feel that their precious assault weapon purchase is going to protect them against the largest imperial army the world has ever seen - including funding in the US$Tns for covert surveillance of the citizenry, supersonic laser-guided nuclear missiles nearly invisible to radar, DU-tipped bullets delivered at 6k RPM, and impending domestic overflights of drones - then I need to get in on the gun manufacturing action to part some fools from their money. Or maybe become a lobbyist for the NRA, where the serious cash flows toward (maybe to hide the fact that the armament the citizenry has is pathetically inadequate against any modern state's armament, but they should consume more and more anyway to feel safe). ;)
.

Perhaps you should ask the average infantryman how much they enjoy going into someone's house knowing they are armed with ANYTHING. Take it you've never done that?

.
 

Linda_D

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#15
.

More than anything else, freedom-lovers fear future government. I can't say I blame them.

In France, with taxes now including a tax on assets as well as income, the effective highest tax rate (combined national / regional / local / property / assets / social taxes) is now over 90%.

In America, local governments are asserting authority over second-hand cigarette smoke created thousands of feet from possible recipients, or ending agriculture that actually makes a profit (after assuming the farmer's own labor is worth more than 10 cents per hour) because it is "too cruel" to the animals raised for food and has "off-site impacts".

A future government that asserts "everyone impacts everyone else by virtue of living and we need to control those impacts" is a government people buy assault rifles for. I can't say that's not the right response.
"Freedom-lovers"? Really? What I see when I look at your supposed "freedom lovers" are a bunch of greedy, selfish, reactionary bullies who want to impose their ideas on everybody else, at the point of a gun if necessary, in total disregard for the rules of representative government. They're pissed at "the government" because their ideas no longer hold credence with the majority of their fellow Americans. Since they can't win elections, they glorify violence as an alternative to elections.

Frenchmen are taxing themselves. If they don't like those taxes, they have the means to change their government since France is a representative democracy like the US. More to the point, I've seen this anti-tax propaganda before, and it's BS. All you "freedom-lovers" do is add up every possible fee and charge that might be paid by someone doing anything and everything even when such charges only affect 1% of the population and then proclaim it the "effective tax rate" for everyone. BS.

There are anti-smoking laws because it is a proven public health hazard that most people don't want around them or their families. PS. If you don't like paying the taxes on cigarettes, then don't smoke -- and don't add cigarette taxes into my supposed "effective tax rate".

Some agricultural methods may indeed be cruel. I personally find the practice of docking of the tails of dairy cows to be reprehensible since their tails are cows' primary protection against biting insects. Certainly large farming enterprises like feedlots and dairy farms produce significant animal wastes that can severely impact streams, lakes, and water supplies. The widespread use of pesticides has been proven to adversely affect ecosystems as well as human health. The widespread use of irrigation in dry areas like the High Plains and the desert southwest can deplete aquifiers. In the Southwest, there's also the issue of high-salt content river water eventually poisoning cropland. Most Americans are NOT willing to allow their environment to be poisoned by selfish agricultural practices.

Regulation is the price that individuals have to pay to live in ordered societies, and the more crowded our country and planet become, the more regulation we will all face. That's reality, and some delusional wingnuts waving assault weapons aren't going to change that.
 

jswanek

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#17
"Freedom-lovers"? Really? What I see when I look at your supposed "freedom lovers" are a bunch of greedy, selfish, reactionary bullies who want to impose their ideas on everybody else, at the point of a gun if necessary, in total disregard for the rules of representative government. They're pissed at "the government" because their ideas no longer hold credence with the majority of their fellow Americans. Since they can't win elections, they glorify violence as an alternative to elections.

Frenchmen are taxing themselves. If they don't like those taxes, they have the means to change their government since France is a representative democracy like the US. More to the point, I've seen this anti-tax propaganda before, and it's BS. All you "freedom-lovers" do is add up every possible fee and charge that might be paid by someone doing anything and everything even when such charges only affect 1% of the population and then proclaim it the "effective tax rate" for everyone. BS.

There are anti-smoking laws because it is a proven public health hazard that most people don't want around them or their families. PS. If you don't like paying the taxes on cigarettes, then don't smoke -- and don't add cigarette taxes into my supposed "effective tax rate".

Some agricultural methods may indeed be cruel. I personally find the practice of docking of the tails of dairy cows to be reprehensible since their tails are cows' primary protection against biting insects. Certainly large farming enterprises like feedlots and dairy farms produce significant animal wastes that can severely impact streams, lakes, and water supplies. The widespread use of pesticides has been proven to adversely affect ecosystems as well as human health. The widespread use of irrigation in dry areas like the High Plains and the desert southwest can deplete aquifiers. In the Southwest, there's also the issue of high-salt content river water eventually poisoning cropland. Most Americans are NOT willing to allow their environment to be poisoned by selfish agricultural practices.

Regulation is the price that individuals have to pay to live in ordered societies, and the more crowded our country and planet become, the more regulation we will all face. That's reality, and some delusional wingnuts waving assault weapons aren't going to change that.
.

You're REALLY fooling yourself if you think all they're going to do is wave them. Once regulation reaches a certain point, saluting the flag and waving are over. That's reality, and some delusional communalists waving their signs aren't going to change that, either.

.
 

ColoGI

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#18
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some delusional communalists
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Let us know when you Go Galt and where you end up to escape the dirty hippies. Go. Let us know. Bye now! Buh bye! Dirty hippie OWS communalists are going to take your guns and force tofu down your throat and make you ride a bike, and replace your lawn with tomatoes and force you to drive a hybrid and live in density, brave patriot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Run!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

chuckle
 

jswanek

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#19
Let us know when you Go Galt and where you end up to escape the dirty hippies. Go. Let us know. Bye now! Buh bye! Dirty hippie OWS communalists are going to take your guns and force tofu down your throat and make you ride a bike, and replace your lawn with tomatoes and force you to drive a hybrid and live in density, brave patriot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Run!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

chuckle
Please don't tell me you think that America, without PROFITABLE manufacturing, is going to have ANY decent jobs in the future for those with less than average mental quotients or abilities...unless you refuse to acknowledge that concept either.

People who could NEVER master college made good money in dirty factories, producing clean products with lots of external pollution. It was worth paying them good wages because they produced things (that could and WOULD be sold) EACH day worth on average ten times what they were being paid. That's ALL GONE, as well as all those well-paying jobs. No landscaper, retail clerk, burger-flipper, or common laborer is ever going to make really good money, because, at the end of the day, they haven't produced THINGS worth ten times their wages.

Try paying your burger-flipper $20 per hour including all benefits. That's $1600 a day in burgers he or she needs to produce to be kept employed. That's one burger, from start to finish, every 36 seconds. Now guess why fast food workers are NOT paid $20 per hour including all benefits?

Regulation has already killed manufacturing where the employee can produce anything worth 10 times what he or she is paid.

As for the highest effective tax rate, no one in their right mind in France with an IQ of 140 and creativity to match is going to work 10 or more hours a day creating, with an effective highest tax rate over 90%. The beach or the park will do, when you can't make wealth for yourself.

That's reality, and communalists, delusional or worse, waving Powerpoints around, aren't going to change that either.

P.S. "Everyone impacts everyone else by virtue of living and OUR government needs to control those impacts" - you don't really believe that, do you?

P.P.S. Do you really believe in the long run people are going to consent to be ordered to the nth degree Monday-Friday, so they need to carry on fundamentally dis-ordered lives on the weekend to make up for the stress of it?
 

ColoGI

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#20
Please don't tell me you think that America, without PROFITABLE manufacturing, is going to have ANY decent jobs in the future for those with less than average mental quotients or abilities...unless you refuse to acknowledge that concept either.

People who could NEVER master college made good money in dirty factories, producing clean products with lots of external pollution. It was worth paying them good wages because they produced things (that could and WOULD be sold) EACH day worth on average ten times what they were being paid. That's ALL GONE, as well as all those well-paying jobs. No landscaper, retail clerk, burger-flipper, or common laborer is ever going to make really good money, because, at the end of the day, they haven't produced THINGS worth ten times their wages.

...

That's reality, and communalists, delusional or worse, waving Powerpoints around, aren't going to change that either.

P.S. "Everyone impacts everyone else by virtue of living and OUR government needs to control those impacts" - you don't really believe that, do you?

P.P.S. Do you really believe in the long run people are going to consent to be ordered to the nth degree Monday-Friday, so they need to carry on fundamentally dis-ordered lives on the weekend to make up for the stress of it?
The continued, cute little 'communalists' makes me LOLz. Thanks for that!

One always wonders whether a basic science education would reduce the incidence of these fringe ideologies in our population, and whether wrecking the public school system is meant to keep these small-minority ideologies around.

Regardless, we are starting to see more instances of argy-bargy in populations, as resources get more scarce, weather starts to exhibit wild swings, and total population numbers reach the breaking point. Will societies be able to deal with resource scarcity? Our children will find out.
 
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