Only One Flavor Of Power

Says Galen:

The important point is that you're kidding yourself, if you think that you can limit the power of that state in the area of personal liberties, while simultaneously expanding its scope in others.There are a thousand ways the state can impact it's citizens already. If placed in a position where the state had the bulk of responsibility in providing jobs, health care, and regulating business, it would be a simple matter to any group of people coming power to leverage those services into controlling the populace. Just give them to your supporters and deny them to your opponents. History has no shortage of examples of this concept in practice.

The thought of such a thing happening here is almost laughable, but that is only because Americans have had a relatively high degree of personal freedom in the past. Just because it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean that it will never happen. Each bit of personal responsibility given up to the state is another link in the chain that will bind you. No need to help things along.

Here's the rest.

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If that slope were really as

If that slope were really as slippery as Galen tries to make out, then even government involvement in national defense (remember "all power comes from the barrel of a gun"?) or protecting property rights would also inevitably lead to disaster and there'd be no alternative but anarchy. Obviously that's ridiculous. The slope's not that slippery after all, and even Galen's hero Hayek admitted as much.

Practically a textbook

Practically a textbook example of a slippery slope. I’m not the one who missed the point, Jonathan; it appears that you did. As for Hayek, perhaps you should have read the cited article to see Galen’s original reference.

That is not an example of a slippery slope argument. Slippery slope arguments involve a slope: slide towards greater government. Galen's argument quoted above is about institutional power - that the structure of government is a gateway for various groups to exercise their power. In a democracy, this means that the structure can be used by special interests to further their own ends at the expense of everyone else. Even if government does not grow or "slide", once the apparatus is in place, all liberties are fair game, whether they be economic or social. There is no need for a slope.

On second reading, Galen may

On second reading, Galen may be making the extreme prediction you accuse him of. It's hard to tell.

Is there some

Is there some Goldilocks-like middle where it’s enough for you to worry about but not enough for me to offer reassurance, where the slope is just slippery enough but not too slippery, where the government you want is safe from these dangers but the government I want is not?

Personally, I don't think so, but I can't speak for Galen.

If Galen's claim is so

If Galen's claim is so limited, how does it justify such great alarm? Either there really is an implied claim that we're on the road to serfdom, or there's not and we're not and there's no point to any of this. I tend to believe that people don't write without having a point, but I'm beginning to reconsider that assumption. Is there some Goldilocks-like middle where it's enough for you to worry about but not enough for me to offer reassurance, where the slope is just slippery enough but not too slippery, where the government you want is safe from these dangers but the government I want is not? Is there only one form of power as Galen says, or is the "context" you mention a way of making (without admitting) a distinction between safe and unsafe forms?

I guess it depends on what

I guess it depends on what part of the slope you’re looking at. The US has had a federal government for a couple of hundred years, for example, and yet the supposedly inevitable slide into the kind of authoritarian disaster Hayek wrote about doesn’t seem to have occurred.

Depends on the timeframe as well. Regardless, you are now arguing with a figment of your own design; no one in the discussion so far, to my knowledge, argued that authoritarian disaster will inevitably result from government, only that the slope is slippery, in the contexts Galen specified.

Given the history of

Given the history of governments and their perpetual swelling, it seems that the slope is indeed quite slippery.

I guess it depends on what part of the slope you're looking at. The US has had a federal government for a couple of hundred years, for example, and yet the supposedly inevitable slide into the kind of authoritarian disaster Hayek wrote about doesn't seem to have occurred. There must be some "friction" on at least some parts of that slope, and maybe those parts are not where libertarian extremists would wish them to be, but that doesn't mean everyone who steps onto that path is doomed to end up in the next Soviet Union. Those who step onto the opposite slope (equally downward) of laissez-fairism don't always wake up in the next Afghanistan either. Real life is just a bit more resilient than that, with most people learning from more than one mistake that was ever made before. They won't march blithely into a pit unless they become so obsessed with one danger that they don't watch for others.

Well, Galen's reference to

Well, Galen's reference to Hayek is tangential at best, but it does seem Darcy's right in analyzing this as a slippery slope argument.

Of course, he is still patently wrong in his assertion that the slope is not as slippery as Galen indicates. Given the history of governments and their perpetual swelling, it seems that the slope is indeed quite slippery.

And of course Hayek disagreed. And he was wrong.

When parts of the right

When parts of the right believe that power should be used to enforce certain types of behavior in the bedroom, they naively believe that the same power won’t be used to stifle entrepreneurship.

Practically a textbook example of a slippery slope. I'm not the one who missed the point, Jonathan; it appears that you did. As for Hayek, perhaps you should have read the cited article to see Galen's original reference.

Jeff - You completely missed

Jeff -

You completely missed the point.

He was not making a point about slippery slopes. Rather, he was making the point that political power is political power no matter who may temporarily wield it. When parts of the left believe that power should be used enforce stringent regulations on businesses, they naively believe that the same power won't be used to enforce victimless crimes. When parts of the right believe that power should be used to enforce certain types of behavior in the bedroom, they naively believe that the same power won't be used to stifle entrepreneurship.

Each side believes that it is possible for our "leaders" to wield only one type of power, when all that really happens is brief temporal victories in a fixed-sum game.

This has nothing to do with slippery slopes or Hayek or anything you argued against.

The slope really is that

The slope really is that slippery Platypus. Hayek spent much of his life sliding.

Slippery slope or not, this

Slippery slope or not, this is one of the things that really scares me about private SS accounts. The government will own A LOT of stock.

Why wouldn't they use their massive ownership to influence the companies in which SS is invested, or use it to artificially pump up the stock (as their job as all our portfolio managers) and then sell off their own personal stock.

Senators and Congressmen already magically outperform the market on stocks already.

I do find it amusing to

I do find it amusing to watch the Democrats occasionally cloak themselves in the rhetoric of Federalism and State's Rights now that the machine they helped create has been turned against them. Of course, that's the exact same trick the dispossesed Republicans used for the past century.

And Platypus, hasn't the government's involvement in national defense already led to a score of disasters? The government only protects property rights as long as it can steal money from the "owners", and should new owners be able to provide more money, well here comes blight and all that.

Writing of slippery slopes,

Writing of slippery slopes, here comes the new National I.D. (followed soon by an internal passport I am sure): http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7720464/