Another Reason I Can’t Break the Libertarian Habit

A person with a gun and a government badge asked me to swear in writing that a lie was true today. And when I didn’t do what she wanted she simply took my boat and asked me to leave.

The whole story is here. I don’t know about you, but knowing that the Department of Homeland Security is on the job actually doesn’t help me sleep better at night.

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About James Hanley

James Hanley is Associate Professor of Political Science at Adrian College and a Fellow of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. The views expressed here do not reflect the views of either organization.
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21 Responses to Another Reason I Can’t Break the Libertarian Habit

  1. Murali says:

    What I don’t get is why it is so beaurocratic? What is going on that the officer cannot sign off on it and amend it on the spot? Even my application for a visa required so much paperwork and money.Until then, I had never encountered so much beaurocracy in my life. Not even in the army

  2. Matty says:

    It seems ridiculous, all that was needed was for the officer to write ‘Canadian Dollars’ on the form and sign to show it was a legitimate change and they could all have walked away happy.

    As for US immigration it is globally notorious. Even the tourist application asks ‘are you or any persons travelling with you currently engaged in terrorism’ and provides a space for those who want to answer yes. My brother also swears that his visa to attend an academic conference had a section asking for the exact weight of illegal drugs he would be smuggling in and the most convenient place to arrest him with them.

  3. lancifer666 says:

    I think some people really enjoy the power of being a faceless bureaucrat with a badge and a gun.

    They are the same people that would happily administer the “shock” in the famous Milgram Experiment.

  4. Jeremy Sell says:

    I suspect the Canadians aren’t much better. Several years ago I was denied entry because I had a wrench, screwdriver, and hammer in my trunk. They claimed I was trying to perform work in Canada without a visa. I was allegedly trying to put hard-working Canadians out of a job. With a few hand tools.

  5. Jeremy Sell says:

    Supporting your original point, however, the process of getting back into the US after being denied entry to Canada was an equal waste of time. Almost two hours on each side. In the US I had to explain to at least three people why I was denied entry to Canada. “Simple misunderstanding” didn’t seem to be an acceptable answer.

    Because of that experience, when I went to Taiwan in December my biggest concern wasn’t with getting past customs and immigration in Taiwan…it was with getting past customs and immigration back into the US. I checked “yes” to having “food” in my baggage because I had processed pineapple cakes. I understand they want to control the importation of unprocessed food since it can harbor invasive species. But the customs form didn’t ask if I had “unprocessed food,” it just said “food.” So in the interest of honesty, I earned myself an extra few minutes of very serious inquisition about the nature of my harmless food imports.

    My international travel experiences have thus far proven to be real eye-rollers.

  6. James K says:

    I usually declare some kind of food when I’m coming back into New Zealand, but that’s mostly because the “declare” line at the airports here is usually shorter than the “nothing to declare” line.

  7. ppnl says:

    I dunno I’m just not feeling the outrage. Don’t get me wrong, this is probably a valid example of government acting badly. It just doesn’t have panache of a good police beating. Water-boarding may seem relatively tame but do it to someone a few dozen times and its almost like real torture. And how about a few asset forfeitures to really get the blood boiling.

    But I do agree the rich dude shoulda got his toy delivered on time. Anyway he got his boat the next day. Still giving them hell as he should.

  8. Matty says:

    I agree it’s not the worst example but I’m a little wary of saying things like that for fear it looks like I only care when my ox is gored.

  9. ppnl says:

    Yes but the utter banality of waiting 24 hours to get your boat compared to the TSA body-searching a four year old with spina bifida…

    I hope the guy gives the DHS hell over this but I’m sorry this does not even break the surface of a sea of abuses that are far worse.

  10. Dr X says:

    @Lancifer:
    “I think some people really enjoy the power of being a faceless bureaucrat with a badge and a gun. ”

    I have absolutely no doubt about that. Speaking of which, have any of you seen the story about the Gilberto Valle trial? Imagine, this guy was an NYC cop. Yikes!

    Though the case does raise problematic questions about distinguishing non-criminal fantasy exploration and fantasy accompanied by degrees of intent to act. The latter not necessarily binary. Sorry, for the OT. Discussed this case at lunch with my partner and it’s still on my mind.

  11. Dr X says:

    More to James’s point, though I don’t consider myself a libertarian anymore, but this is one of the reasons I maintain considerable respect for soft libertarianiasm. Lots of risk in giving people authority that you can’t just walk away from.

  12. ppnl says:

    Well at one time a “soft libertarianian” was known as a “republican with a functioning brain”. That breed is mostly extinct now with some few relocated to Libertaria where they can’t do any harm.

  13. Matty says:

    @PPNL do they breed in the new environment or will we need some kind of genetics programme to preserve the species?

  14. James Hanley says:

    That breed is mostly extinct now with some few relocated to Libertaria where they can’t do any harm.

    You mean other than helping Obama get elected?

  15. James Hanley says:

    The update on that post includes this lovely comment.
    fuck you arrington, you good-for-nothing-talking-head-with-no-brain, enjoy your boat and rot in it…you are such a disgrace to humanity. Your post reeks of fright of how you’ll be treated at the airport next time. I hope you do get a nice beating by TSA or whomeever else for being a disgrace to journalist/blogging community and a sorry excuse of a human being..shame on you you self loathing bastard…

    Even if the guy was the cause of his own problems and is lying about what happened, the argument that he deserves a TSA beating next time he flies is indicative of a very authoritarian mindset. And the prevalence of folks like that, I think, is why we are unable to really put a stop to abusive officials–too damn many people like the thought of others being abused.

  16. Murali says:

    think, is why we are unable to really put a stop to abusive officials–too damn many people like the thought of others being abused.

    During the gun symposium at the league, Jason posited that the unusual levels of violence in the US could be caused by industrial lead. I’d like to think of this as the reason why people like the thought of others being abused

    I also like to think that people like this is why democracy sucks.

  17. James Hanley says:

    As opposed to the paradise of an authoritarian state where the leaders have ingested too much lead? ;)

    More seriously, though, it’s a bit creepy to think that the U.S. might have brought on higher rates of violent crime in the ’60s and ’70s just because automobiles became so popular and we used leaded gasoline. It would mean we turned people into monsters who otherwise might have been just fine. Creepy, but also a bit reassuring–if much of violence really is the result of controllable environmental factors (and I’m referring to heavy metals in the environment, not to a Skinner box), then we have reason to be optimistic about the future.

  18. Murali says:

    As opposed to the paradise of an authoritarian state where the leaders have ingested too much lead? ;)

    No, as a paradise run by libertarian economists rich enough not to have ingested too much lead.

  19. ppnl says:

    Yeah, helping to get Obama reelected was certainly a dirty trick. But what I mean is libertarians have little influence inside the republican party. Even what passes for libertarian in the party is more of a sham than real.

    We need a healthy republican party. That cannot happen until reasonable libertarians have more influence on republican thought. Instead we have Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck as the brain trust.

  20. lancifer666 says:

    Dr X,

    I have absolutely no doubt about that. Speaking of which, have any of you seen the story about the Gilberto Valle trial? Imagine, this guy was an NYC cop. Yikes!

    I hadn’t heard of this case so I did a web search.

    While his rape/torture/cannibalism fantasies are deplorable I don’t know that he has committed a crime. When do fantasies become “conspiracy to commit murder”?

  21. Matty says:

    @19 That may be the first time anyone has associated those names with either brains or trust.

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