From her lips to God’s ears

Maggie Gallegher threatens the the New York marriage equality bill will cost the Republicans. If only.

Maggie Gallegher threatens a rain of fire and brimstone on New York Republicans for having had the temerity to allow a majority vote on marriage equality. “Consequences to be continued,” she snarls, in her best Godfather style.

I wish I believed her. More likely, the plutocrats who call the shots in the GOP will figure out a way to get their “social conservative” useful idiots to rally around the Party of Tax Cuts for the Unspeakably Rich.

As long as the Republicans are willing to deny reproductive freedom to women, they’ll keep getting the Church Lady vote. And the (minimally) bipartisan nature of the vote will allow the glibertarians to keep ignoring the inconsistency between voting Republican and supporting personal liberty.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

23 thoughts on “From her lips to God’s ears”

  1. In the article by Gallagher to which Mark links, she writes, “In state after state, Democrats who control a chamber in support of their base have prevented votes favorable to marriage: Iowa, West Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania.”

    This had me puzzled for a minute: why would the Democrats prevent votes favorable to (gay) marriage? Then I realized that she was using the old lie that gay marriage is a threat to (straight) marriage. She was not arguing that gay marriage is a threat to straight marriage; she was just assuming it, and assuming that her readers would not question it. I thought that “social conservatives” had learned that no one took that idiocy seriously anymore and had stopped spouting it, but then I don’t normally read NRO.

  2. Yeah, didn’t you know? Every gay marriage cancels out a “real” marriage. Pretty soon, nobody will be married! Zoinks!!

  3. Maggie Gallegher should remember that “vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord.” Those interested in fire and brimstone should consider the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah.

  4. (Kleiman): “As long as the Republicans are willing to deny reproductive freedom to women, they’ll keep getting the Church Lady vote.
    “Reproductive freedom”? Wrong. In the best case scenario the world will arrive at the Chinese position wrt reproductive freedom, and Church Ladies strenuously object to compulsory abortion. So do libertarians.
    (Kleiman): “And the (minimally) bipartisan nature of the vote will allow the glibertarians to keep ignoring the inconsistency between voting Republican and supporting personal liberty.
    “Personal liberty” abstracts a large number of special cases. If voters have to choose the lesser of two evils, they will weigh the merits or demerits candidates or policies. I was raised in no church and am no more a Christian than I am a Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, or Zoroastrian. Right now, I assign a greater weight to (narrowly construed) economic freedom than to social issues like drugs, abortion, or gay marriage. Call that “inconsistent” if you like. So is everyone “inconsistent”.

  5. Malcolm: Cutting out ‘social issues’ seems a narrow construal of economic freedom indeed: I’m having trouble distinguishing it from, “Here are our detailed preferences on most of your central priorities, which you must adopt as if they were your own: you are absolutely free to enact them by any means you can afford!”

    This is merely the mirror twin of the liberal collectivist “You are absolutely free to pick your own lifestyle preferences; resources will be allocated you on the basis of ours!”

    The command-to-market mechanism may indeed implement a conservative (or ‘progressive’) tyranny more efficiently and durably than the control-via-rationing one, but I’m far from convinced this is an unequivocal benefit.

    Now in choosing between the red devil and the blue ruin, I grant you that a hard trade-off must be made. But not, I think, to the point of becoming blasé or worse about devilry in one’s zeal against ruin; or vice versa.

    A better argument for social liberals to work with Republicans where they can – not original to me – is that there is doubtless quite a lot of alternation of power still to come down the pike. If some liberty wishes to entrench itself politically beyond the next round of musical chairs, it needs to build up a critical mass of support within both coalitions, unless at least one coalition has gone so rotten that it can be fragmented beyond recovery.

    Whether that decay is already overtaking the Republican coalition in particular, and what this will mean for narrowly economic liberties if the doom should fall, US residents are presumably better-placed to judge than I.

  6. (Gray): “Malcolm: Cutting out ‘social issues’ seems a narrow construal of economic freedom indeed: I’m having trouble distinguishing it from, ‘Here are our detailed preferences on most of your central priorities, which you must adopt as if they were your own: you are absolutely free to enact them by any means you can afford!’
    Thanks for a civil response. I don’t understand see the parallel you draw between narrow economic freedom (basically, a reaffirmation of contract law and freedom of contract) and “‘Here are our detailed preferences on most of your central priorities, which you must adopt as if they were your own: you are absolutely free to enact them by any means you can afford!” Who are “our” and “your” in this?
    Anyway, seems to me there’s a huge difference between State-=sponsored discrimination (e.g., Jim Crow, affirmative action, degree requirements for employment) and private-sector discrimination, since State agencies are (1) tax-subsidized and (2) often, monopolies.

  7. @ Malcolm:

    Which is the greater danger: rent-seeking behaviors from guilds like the AMA, or a laissez-faire attitude towards medical practice in an age with incredibly powerful drugs like chemotherapy agents, antivirals and antibiotics, steroids of various sorts?

    Which is the greater danger: rent-seeking behaviors from engineers, or allowing anyone who wants to hang a shingle be an architectural engineer? or mechanical engineer, or civil engineer or land surveyor?

  8. Maggie Gallagher somewhere got the idea that marriage, rather than sex, produces children. In other words, she learned nothing from having popped out a bastard child herself.

  9. Denis,
    It’s a matter of degree. Also, “danger” to whom? Malpractice by physicians poses a public danger only with reckless prescription of antibiotics. My incompetently set forearm isn’t a public issue, and the individual remedy is to sue. Same with incompetently engineered houses. It falls and you sue. I expect that governments would have their own engineers to evaluate roadway bridges. Why expect political feedback mechanisms to do a better job than market feedback mechanisms?

  10. If your incompetently engineered house falls and kills you, where do your heirs live while the lawsuit continues against someone who has no assets?

  11. Malcolm: I think the difference between our understandings is that, firstly, I don’t see much freedom of contract where Government has already ruled out great swathes of the contracts you might wish to make, as being against social policy (see: gay marriage); and, secondly, ‘economic freedom’ as I see it extends rather clearly to being able to pursue one’s own choice of goods rather than the authorities’, whether the goods be usually formally traded or otherwise. It seems to me that there comes a degree of narrowness where the freedom ceases to be visible except to the eye of faith, and it is the sense of this narrowness I am questioning.

    For instance, if the freedom to buy marijuana doesn’t come under ‘narrow economic freedom’, what about the freedom to buy booze? Or burgers? Or food not on this year’s approval list from the National Institute for the Monitoring of Diet?

    Or, on the subject of ‘social freedoms’, how do you see them as disseverable from economic ones? Back to burgers again: the Government has been smacked down in its attempt to ban McDonald’s from selling its delicious cow cakes in a bun. You hold a burger barbecue with all your friends to celebrate. Much to your annoyance, the Food Police get a tip-off and shut you down! They point out that since you are merely consuming them together consensually rather than buying and selling them for cash, this is not covered by the doctrine of narrowly defined economic freedom which drove them from the door of Mickey D’s. Are they right, or are they talking outrageously self-serving cobblers?

    This is what I mean by the freedom to pursue somebody else’s agenda by any means you can afford. Where does your doctrine of narrowness get to draw the line?

  12. Malcolm,

    So, you’d prefer to see our courts even more clogged up with civil litigation over professional torts? What’s that going to do to malpractice insurance rates? Or perhaps you view the insurance companies as a more appropriate regulator of professional practice than the government?

  13. (Gray): “Where does your doctrine of narrowness get to draw the line?
    I don’t have a “doctrine of narrowness”.
    I suggest that free marketeers leave drugs, prostitution, abortion, the death penalty, the Second Amendment, and other hot-button issues off the table for now and focus on applying the 10th Amendment to entitlements (they’re none of the Federal government’s business) and promoting competition in uncontroversial goods and services like transportation, medical care, and education. I have fairly conventional views (for a libertarian) on drugs and prostitution (legalize), conventional views (for a 50s era Democratic unionist) on immigration (build a wall), conventional views (for an NRA member) on the Second Amendment (a howitzer in every garage), and conventional views (for a Chinese bureaucrat or US academic biologist) on abortion (legal to the end of the fifth trimester and compulsory after three kids). But these are arguments for another day. Sure, you can shoe-horn antibiotics into a discussion of drugs. Everything is related to everything else; that’s the original stoned revelation, but you cannot reasonably write an omnibus 1,000,000 page Everything Bill to solve the world’s problems.

  14. (enis): “So, you’d prefer to see our courts even more clogged up with civil litigation over professional torts? What’s that going to do to malpractice insurance rates?
    No. I’ve never sued anyone. Maybe “loser pays” would reduce barratry.
    (Denis): “Or perhaps you view the insurance companies as a more appropriate regulator of professional practice than the government?
    That and the value to providers of a good reputation.

  15. (Gray): “I don’t see much freedom of contract where Government has already ruled out great swathes of the contracts you might wish to make, as being against social policy (see: gay marriage)
    What’s off limits? Any two adults can give each other financial and medical power of attorney. They can share mortgage payments on a house, or trade housekeeping services for rent. They can adopt each other and make each other their heir. They can even (we have free speech in this country) call themselves “married” or “a flock of sparrows” if they wish.

  16. Malcolm: Well, that’s certainly answering the question, and I need hardly be surprised that I disagree with you on so much of it. It would be nice in itself to have genuinely free markets in uncontroversial things, i.e. those already acceptable to the now politically dominant; however, nodding along with a crowd who think that ‘controversy’ – i.e. that they dislike something – is an eminently suitable reason to ban it, seems to me to slight the moral principle of liberty and the utilitarian justification for free markets with equal abandon. I don’t think that alliance will take you in the strategic direction you seem to think that it will take you; or if it does, then we wish to go in even more different directions than I now suspect.

    …you cannot reasonably write an omnibus 1,000,000 page Everything Bill to solve the world’s problems.

    No. But you can reasonably write a 100 page Repeal Bill to get rid of a million pages that are already doing nothing for the world’s problems but multiplying them. Even a one page bill that got rid of ten thousand pages of rent-seeking, control-freakery, and menacingly obfuscatory drivel would be a good start.

    The New York act was also, in my opinion, a good start – a very good one.

  17. (Gray): “…nodding along with a crowd who think that ‘controversy’ – i.e. that they dislike something – is an eminently suitable reason to ban it…
    You’re contesting with a strawman. My “Right now, I assign a greater weight to (narrowly construed) economic freedom than to social issues like drugs, abortion, or gay marriage” concerned priorities (government budget deficits and public debt). Maybe these are small issues when weight against human population growth and environmental degradation, but those can wait. When people are hungry, lunch is a priority. Also, some issues don’t need a universal solutiuon. Federalism allows for the expression of varied tastes in public policy. Do you want to see a nationwide vote on the size shoes we all must wear or next week’s breakfast menu?

  18. (Gray): “you can reasonably write a 100 page Repeal Bill to get rid of a million pages that are already doing nothing for the world’s problems but multiplying them. Even a one page bill that got rid of ten thousand pages of rent-seeking, control-freakery, and menacingly obfuscatory drivel would be a good start.
    100% agreement. Like, eliminate transcripts and degrees as conditions of employment for Federal agencies. Or at least offer the option to demonstrate expertise through a test. Refuse to subsidize post-secondary institutions that do not make credit by exam available, at the marginal cost of grading exams, for all courses required for graduation. The total local+State+Federal US K-PhD education budget is greater that the Department of Defense budget.

  19. Malcolm:

    You’re contesting with a strawman.

    No, I’m saying that when you ally with hardcore social authoritarians for tactical reasons, I think you’re engaging in a hazardous form of the Progressive Fallacy by casting your preferences as ‘priorities’. While you’re using this crew to make advances in one direction, they’re busy trying to roll liberty backwards in others. There is, I assume we can agree, no automatic ratchet. And one of the precise reasons that ‘social issues’ attract such flak, is because they implicate many of the most important liberties to people in their everyday lives. I think that this selective sort of ‘moderation’ in libertarianism has exactly the long-term prospects as moderately driving down the middle of the road.

    Clearly – even with respect to those things we would both like to see – our approaches are just plain opposite here.

    For example:

    Do you want to see a nationwide vote on the size shoes we all must wear or next week’s breakfast menu?

    The hell I do – and the hell I want to legitimize, even by silence, any such arrant bullshit suggestion on any scale at all. Again we have no agreement: I think your strategic alliances are precisely liable to that sort of exploit, if (probably) not on those particular issues, at both local and national levels. Dress codes, consumption codes, speech codes, mass-production of felonies… you don’t have to want them to get them. Leave the social authoritarian strain in the Republican coalition without active challenge, and it will grow, or the whole shebang will implode. But you seem to have laid your bets otherwise. I hope, with no slightest confidence, that you’re right.

    On your second post, however, we’re most definitely in agreement in wanting to slash back the sprawl of expensive, obstructive credentialism. It has done my country no favours at all, and I hear no better tale of it from across the water.

  20. (Gray): “…when you ally with hardcore social authoritarians for tactical reasons, I think you’re engaging in a hazardous form of the Progressive Fallacy by casting your preferences as ‘priorities’.
    Please explain how “preferences” differ from “priorities”.
    Seems to me politics is all about transitory alliances for incremental advantage. “No enemies on the Left”, etc.
    (Gray): “While you’re using this crew to make advances in one direction, they’re busy trying to roll liberty backwards in others. There is, I assume we can agree, no automatic ratchet.
    Right. That’s everyday politics. I don’t agree with anyone 100%. To get anything done, we work on areas of agreement and leave disagreement for a later date. Isn’t this normal?
    (Gray): “And one of the precise reasons that ‘social issues’ attract such flak, is because they implicate many of the most important liberties to people in their everyday lives. I think that this selective sort of ‘moderation’ in libertarianism has exactly the long-term prospects as moderately driving down the middle of the road.
    We disagree, here. I recommend Friedman’s __Capitalism and Freedom__ and Hayek’s __The Road to Serfdom__ and __The Constitution of Liberty__ on the power of markets and federalism to defuse conflict.

  21. Malcolm: I have read two of the three books you recommend, to my great profit, and my conclusions are not the same as yours. Since in many respects we want seriously different things, that is not necessarily a bug.

    Transitory alliances: I think your alliances vary between ninety and one hundred eighty degrees wrong – nearer ninety, which is not unequivocally good news – from the point of view of achieving the political vector you actually wish to. On this we plainly disagree. There is a separate disagreement, in that we really don’t wish to sail to the same destination; but that is not a disagreement of fact, and I’m not even sure that it’s dominant in this argument.

    Preferences and priorities: Casting preferences as priorities implies an ordering of the preferences one will satisfy: do this, then when circumstances are propitious do that. I think your alliances presently conduce to achieving certain limited ‘higher’ priorities (yours, not mine), whilst receding at a horrible rate from the rest so they are less likely to be eventually achieved, and also shoring up a coercive meta-principle which undermines all our mutual priorities across the board. (If you don’t think that shoring up social coercion intrinsically bolsters the Left’s case for narrowly economic coercion, even when combined with your decrying it, then we have hit yet another serious disagreement.)

    I don’t know about you, but I think we’ve got pretty near to the bottom of our differences in this thread. Thank you for an illuminating discussion. Unless there’s something I’m gravely misunderstanding, may I suggest we call this a day for the moment, and maybe take up some of these issues anew when something comes up to cast a fresh light on them?

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