Scan Me

I've never been very fond of the use of Benjamin Franklin's old aphorism that "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither." For one, it reveals the sort of childish refusal to confront the reality of tradeoffs that I usually associate with the most naive of leftwing economists. For another, it's actually a misquote, since what Franklin said is that "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." That is true, but rather uninteresting. Almost by definition it makes no sense to give up something "essential" for something "temporary". As guidance, this is worthless, since it just kicks the problem down the road: What is essential, anyway?

I bring this up because the attempted Christmas airplane bombing has brought these up these issues once again. The TSA, as you would expect, have chosen to fight the last war, first outlawing standing during the last hour of flight, then going to a "follow the crew's directions" standard.

But there are technologies that apparently would have stopped this kind of bombing. Namely, backscatter X-Rays, which produce images like this:

Security scan

Now, according to the people who want to use these, the images wouldn't be kept, and would be viewed by someone in a different room than you. Some people have claimed the images would inevitably end up on the internet. If you're really worried that an image than kinda looks like an outline of you, but can't possibly be identified as you, could end up being viewed by someone, I really think you should find something better to worry about. This hardly strikes me as worse than removing shoes, which I've already declared as a triviality to me. (And honestly, what kind of moron would look at these things instead of good, honest porn anyway? Am I alone in thinking these things are utterly boring as "revealing" images?)

Jonah Goldberg nails it here:

Anyone who flies regularly will tell you, the hellishness of airline travel is not primarily derived from the outrage of lost privacy, it's derived from the outrage of inefficient, time-consuming, idiocy.

He's right. The problem of security is not that someone, somewhere, might get to see something that kindasortanotreally looks like a naked picture. The problem is it's slow, inefficient, and unhelpful.

So let's have two lines. One for people whose irrational hangups lead to nightmarish lines and delays. And those of us who are adults can get to where we are going.

Or, better yet, we could let the market decide what security people want. But I don't see that happening.

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Update: Ron Bailey agrees

Update: Ron Bailey agrees with me (more or less) here.

the misquote is right

There is no tradeoff. Because when you attempt to trade liberty for safety, you don't get safety, you get nothing.

That just doesn't seem true.

That just doesn't seem true. In the 60s, there were dozens of aircraft hijackings every year. Now, far fewer.

I'm quite willing to believe we overemphasize security. But no tradeoffs at all? The world just doesn't work like that, our fervent wishes to the contrary.

The only reason full body

The only reason full body scanning is a privacy issue, or a liberty issue, or a political issue at all, is that the government is doing it. If private unregulated airlines did this, or if a private unregulated airport did this, then it wouldn't be a political issue. It's the same as with schools. Prayer in schools is a political issue only because, and only when, schools are government-owned and operated. Same with teaching evolution versus creation. If we hadn't made education a target of government interference, control, and subsidy, then we would hardly care what nonsense other parents were teaching their kids.

Given that the government is calling the shots, then the libertarians have already lost. That horse has already bolted from the stable. From the standpoint of liberty it is a matter of moral indifference whether a private entity requires full-body scans, and by the same token, it should be a matter of moral indifference whether a government entity requires full-body scans on the property that it owns and controls. The offense to liberty is not in the full-body scans, it is in the government control of air travel, the inescapability of the TSA due not to natural monopoly but to government coercion.

Let this be a lesson to those who think that government takeover is okay so long as government isn't actively inconveniencing people who use the property that it has taken over. The loss of liberty may not be visible but it is real, and by and by it will become visible, as when the government starts making decisions that more and more greatly inconvenience the people whose liberty was lost long ago.

Analogously, if you were to be enslaved tomorrow and your new master were (initially) extremely permissive, you would still be enslaved, and if your master began to tighten the leash that tightening would merely be the point at which your slavery became visible, not the point at which you became enslaved.

I don't disagree at all. I'd

I don't disagree at all. I'd just argue that this isn't even a tightening, really, given the government already does screening.

I'm not sure this is a useful metric, but I ask myself "How much would I pay to avoid a particular infringement on privacy?" To avoid standing in the lines and having people go through my bags? Some. To avoid a full body scan? I don't even think a penny.

Constant_

How come you are not using your official ID? You an impostor?

Think of it as a

Think of it as a semi-departure. I comment but I don't contribute blog entries. Enforced by not logging in.

Thick Libertarianism Rears Its Ugly Head, Again

If we hadn't made education a target of government interference, control, and subsidy, then we would hardly care what nonsense other parents were teaching their kids.

Slightly off-topic, but nonsense. It is true that a government monopoly on education amplifies problems stemming from religious differences, just as if we were all forced to purchase the same car - SUV fans would fight tooth and nail with people who want to drive small hybrid sedans.

But suppose that you are a libertarian concerned with climate change mitigation, and think tailpipe carbon emissions from internal combustion engines need to be reduced somehow. Since you are a libertarian, you may not think the best or most moral way of doing this would be through government mandated fuel economy standards, nor even a pigouvian tax on gasoline. Perhaps the best way of solving the problem is through social pressure, such as shunning or belittling owners of less fuel efficient vehicles.

You may not share this particular concern, but certainly you can grant the possibility that these motivations exist among some libertarians, and they are therefore justified in caring about what other people drive, and attempting to persuade them to change their behavior.

The same is true, all the more so, with what nonsense other parents teach their kids. Are you truly indifferent to parents who teach their children that evolution is false and modern science is all just a bunch of lies? What about parents who raise their children in a highly insular religious cult, with little to no exposure to the outside world? Aren't we, as libertarians, entitled to empathize with these children and care that their parents may be fucking up their lives? We may have no legitimate way of stopping them apart from peaceful social pressure, but surely we are entailed to concern, no?

From the standpoint of liberty it is a matter of moral indifference whether a private entity requires full-body scans, and by the same token, it should be a matter of moral indifference whether a government entity requires full-body scans on the property that it owns and controls. The offense to liberty is not in the full-body scans, it is in the government control of air travel, the inescapability of the TSA due not to natural monopoly but to government coercion.

[...]

Analogously, if you were to be enslaved tomorrow and your new master were (initially) extremely permissive, you would still be enslaved, and if your master began to tighten the leash that tightening would merely be the point at which your slavery became visible, not the point at which you became enslaved.

My spidey sense begins to tingle whenever I hear the words "moral indifference." Unlike a proper Austrian Economist, I do believe in the coherence of indifference curves in the context of consumer preferences, but moral indifference is a totally different ball game.

From the standpoint of liberty is it really a matter of moral indifference whether your slave master is extremely permissive or extremely harsh? True, you are a slave in either case, but if libertarians cannot say much about the distinction between greater and lesser forms of slavery, then libertarianism is pretty much useless in a world where nearly every living person is a slave under the libertarian definition.

Get ready for some delicious copypasta taken from an article written by Randy Barnett for the Journal of Libertarian Studies, in response to a critical book review:

The approach to constitutional legitimacy I present in Restoring was aimed at correcting what I believe to be a serious deficiency in libertarian political theory. Among radical libertarians within the modern libertarian intellectual movement, there is a single conception of political legitimacy: consent. This conception has two parts: (a) a legal system that is consented to is legitimate; and (b) a legal system that is not consented to is illegitimate. Because government legal systems lack the consent of the governed, they are necessarily illegitimate. In addition to lacking consent, government legal systems are also illegitimate because they claim a coercive monopoly of power and therefore violate natural rights.

So far so good, but here is the problem. Or rather, a symptom indicating an underlying problem: by this theory of legitimacy, all government legal systems are equally illegitimate. Why? Because all government legal systems lack consent; and all modern governments claim a coercive monopoly of power. Because real consent is an all-or-nothing-at-all thing that all government legal systems lack equally, and all governments equally claim a coercive monopoly of power, modern libertarian theory offers no criteria by which to distinguish better from worse governmental legal systems.

But no libertarian really believes that there is no relevant difference on libertarian grounds between the regime of Nazi Germany, the Soviet State, the United States, or (name the country in which you most want to live). Yet their exclusively consent conception of legitimacy, properly understood, offers absolutely no way to conceptually distinguish among these government legal systems.

Barnett goes on to present one possible solution to the problem, which I won't copy here. But in the process he refutes many other potential attempts to solve the problem, so if you think you know the answer, I recommend reading the article in full to see if he addresses your response.

Micha, I'm not talking about

Micha, I'm not talking about libertarians. I'm talking about people. Where I write:

If we hadn't made education a target of government interference, control, and subsidy, then we would hardly care what nonsense other parents were teaching their kids.

The "we" refers not to libertarians, but to people. It is not an absolute exceptionless prediction, granted. It is a general prediction about a strong tendency. People's concern is 95% about themselves and their kids, 5% about their friends, and something close to 0% about people far away. Oh, sure, people will wear pink or yellow ribbons to support some cause concerning people far away. (Actually, the pink-ribbon wearer is relatively more concerned - but precisely because breast cancer could strike, gasp, oneself, one's mother, etc.)

If you don't think human nature is this way, well, fine, you can keep on thinking that.

I'll tell you what, though. I wish unsolicited do-gooders would butt the hell out of my life. Hell, I don't even appreciated unsolicited advice from my friends. Just shut the f- up unless I ask for your advice. Solicited go-gooding, that's a whole other story. Am I weird? No. In fact occasionally you will run into lists of tips on dealing with other people, and unsolicited advice is often shows up as a no-no. In fact I saw it recently in a blog entry somewhere.

You have problems that cost money to fix, right? Everyone does. Maybe an illness, maybe a house repair. Well, how much did you spend on fixing that problem? Okay, but many other people - probably millions - have virtually identical problems. How much money did you spend on each of them? I'm asking for the average that you spent per person. Compare how much you spent on solving your own problem, and how much you spent on each single other person, and that is a measure of how much more you care about yourself than you care about an average stranger.

"But", you answer, "that's absurd. I physically cannot spend an equal amount of money on everyone with the same problem without spending tiny fractions of a penny on each person with the problem - including myself". Indeed you cannot. So you need to make a choice. And the fact that you have access to a computer tells me that you value your own comfort enough over the comfort of the average human being to afford access to a computer. And that is several orders of magnitude. And I fully grant that if you were not selfish to that degree, then you would simply die. I grant that our very survival absolutely depends on our valuing ourselves and our close ones many, many orders of magnitude more (measured in how much we are willing to help on average) than we value the average human being. Our lives depend on our extreme selfishness. I know that. And I forgive it. Well, no. There is nothing to forgive. It's the way people are. It's the way all life is. This vision you may have of a human who is not extremely selfish - it is deception. It is based on a refusal to look at the simple numbers. Gandhi was selfish. Jesus was selfish.

I acknowledge that there is some level of concern for others. But take that level of concern and divide it by the others, and compare it to the level of concern for oneself. It is clear that one's concern for oneself is great, and for other is minuscule. In fact, for most people, the concern for the self and the loved ones is far greater than the concern for all others combined. The most generous ordinary people are unlikely to give more than a small fraction of their income to strangers, all combined. I don't doubt that there are rare exceptions. I am talking about the average person.

It's very easy for a young man trying to rise in the world to get confused about this. Young man tend to say a lot of shit that ultimately they don't really mean. Read Robin Hanson on this stuff. People are hypocrites who espouse a whole lot of high ideals but then go ahead and live their lives in a way that does not match their ideals. As Robin Hanson points out, the function of the high ideals is so that we will look good to others, and the function of that is so that we will rise in the world, which is what a young man wants to do. You going around giving your opinions has - admit it - gained you some notice among people that it is nice to be noticed by. And that makes you happy, it gives you a rush - admit it. I can read your mind to that level because you're human and I'm human. I'm not saying that you're cynically espousing high ideals in order to gain status. Neither does Robin Hanson. It need not be any part of your intention. Similarly, that beautiful women give you (or, at least, many young men) a hard-on is not part of a cynical plan to impregnate the women. It is, however, the function of a hard-on that the women be impregnated. This biological function of the hard-on and of the idealistic talk need not be represented in the mind. It is, nevertheless, there.

As usual, Constant, I find

As usual, Constant, I find little to disagree with in your post, because you went on some odd tangents which would have been great had we been talking about Peter Singer and his arguments regarding universal moral duties to reduce global poverty, but less relevant to caring what your next-door neighbor is doing to his children.

People's concern is 95% about themselves and their kids, 5% about their friends, and something close to 0% about people far away.

Agreed. Very Singeresque, in fact. Singer acknowledges this fact, and argues that moral progress arises when our circle of concern expands or radiates outwards from ourselves and our immediate families, towards our friends and neighbors, to humanity as a whole, to sentient beings, etc.

My mention of libertarians was merely thrown in to avoid any objections by NAP-wielding doctrinaire types.

Had you originally written:

If we hadn't made education a target of government interference, control, and subsidy, then most people across the political spectrum would care significantly less what nonsense other parents were teaching their kids.

Then I would have completely agreed with you. But the phrase "would hardly care", either applied to libertarians or people at large just doesn't ring true. People do care what other people do to those other people's own children. We empathize with children of abusive parents. Or at least most of us do.

I wish unsolicited do-gooders would butt the hell out of my life. Hell, I don't even appreciated unsolicited advice from my friends. Just shut the f- up unless I ask for your advice.

Tough. Some unsolicited do-gooding is both desirable and necessary. Put yourself in the position of a child of abusive parents. Would you not want another adult, be it a friend of the family, a teacher, or a perfect stranger to speak up, unsolicited and (at the very least) attempt to gently persuade your parents that this is not the healthiest or kindest way to treat their child? I sure would. And if I was committing some egregiously immoral act, perhaps because I lacked sufficient moral wisdom, I would appreciate unsolicited advice, if given appropriately.

As to your last paragraph, it is slightly ad hominem and and even more off-topic than the rest of your reply, but I will comment anyway.

Yes, I am a young man (though getting less and less young every year, alas). It might be nice to rise in the world, but it's not really something I work very hard at; I am probably the least ambitious person I know.

My fundamental virtue is honesty. I say this not to brag, for it is both a blessing and a curse. I am nearly incapable of lying. I constantly receive feedback from close personal acquaintances that I am an abnormally honest person. Often this is not intended as a compliment; they are advising me to filter what I say and be less revealing with my thoughts.

I say all this to reiterate that though I may say a lot of shit, I never say shit I ultimately don't really mean, unless it's obvious sarcasm or tongue-in-cheek humor.

I read Robin Hanson. I know about signaling. I do signal, to some extent, as do we all. I am a hypocrite in many ways, espousing ideals that I fail to live up to, as do we all. But my hypocrisy, at least in my case, is generally a function of akrasia - a weakness of the will or lack of self-discipline - than an attempt to look good to others. If my ultimate or even proximate goal was looking good to others, I would not write what I write in public, I would not say what I say in public, I would exercise more, eat less, dress better, care more about hair styles and the like, be more productive with my time (at least more productive with the sorts of resume fluff that many people my age tend to care about, if not actually producing anything of value), and so on.

This is not to say I don't want to look good to others, but I go out of my way much less than the average person to achieve this goal, partly out of laziness, partly because I try to target niche audiences who already share many of my preferences, and partly because I am too honest to not be true to myself, as cheesy as that sounds. I truly, deeply do care about certain topics, like poverty, children, and the oppressive mores of religion and culture, because I have been (and under some definitions continue to be) poor, I have been a child, and I have been subject to oppressive mores.

If anything, my ideals and my commitment to them have been a hindrance, not a help, to me professionally and socially. Even among the small niche cultures in which I travel. The accusation is quite similar to those thrown at libertarian think tanks like Cato. If a place like Cato wanted to be more popular, it would not take the positions it currently takes. It could gain much more popular appeal watering down it's message and perhaps adopting views closer to the mainstream parties. But it doesn't, because its goal is not popularity at any cost.

I fully admit that going around giving my opinions has gained me some notice among people and it is nice to be noticed. That's one of the benefits of blogging or any sort of writing for an audience.

Your last few sentences are difficult to respond to because they accuse me of suffering from a sort of ev-bio false consciousness. I grant this possibility, but find it unlikely. If garnering status is my ultimate goal, I'm doing a pretty piss-poor job of it. I can consciously think of hundreds of little things I could be doing to achieve higher status, but higher status is not my conscious goal. Perhaps my empathy for other people's suffering is just biologically programmed into me in order to pick up women and pass along my genes, but I have pretty selective empathy, and the few women I do have relationships with generally don't share my political or social concerns.

Is it possible that maybe, just maybe, I actually spend some time thinking about the things I care about, and whether they are worth caring about, while prioritizing the battles worth fighting from those worth ignoring? Is there any possible way to respond to and falsify your accusation of evolutionary false consciousness or is it a universal, unavoidable gotcha?

Door number three

I have to agree with Grigg on this one, I choose what is behind door number three.

Is it worth it for me to fly on my vacations anymore? Not when body scans are involved. Personally, I would rather spend tens of hours in a ground vehicle, than be scanned and herded like cattle in a victim disarmament zone.

It may be worth it for Curunir, it is not worth it for me.

Out of curiosity, if it were

Out of curiosity, if it were a private firm doing the security, would you object? Like if you could (as Jonah Goldberg suggested in what I linked above), just stroll right into the gate, but the "cost" was that someone from the airline would scan you as you went in, would that be troublesome to you?

I respect your opinion, and obviously I wish these things weren't government-decided. I just find it hard to believe that, push come to shove, people would waste hours/days driving rather than have someone see one of these scans. But, if you'd rather do that, I wish you were free to do so without government interference.

I was going to ask the same

I was going to ask the same thing. Despite the highly romantic nod to mass "functional" (read: camel already up yo azz) enslavement, I was kind of holding out for an answer, given the circumstances. I was curious where people stood on this issue, and why, in light of the political climate.

For example:

Scanning or no scanning, and why?

Is the potential for tightening the noose in regards to enslavement worth acknowledging? Sure. Why the hell not. However, the camel and tent analogy is, as usual, a bad one.

If we analyze our freedoms and do comparative analysis of branching trees of possibility, very SMALL amounts of those branches would be cut-off from being unfree. But this is also true of slaves, I think. So this tells me some freedoms have more freedom than other freedoms. It would be interesting to write a freedom-o-meter program. I'll do it for free. Problem is, I don't know where to start. It would be kind of funny though.

If there was a hypothetical time in the future that Government REALLY goes over board (some would claim they already have), what form would that take? Where do we draw the Freedom Lines (better than Freedom Fries eh?)?

I would think MOST people don't view themselves as being unfree. However most slaves, I think, were quite sure they were unfree. From my perspective, often times it seems to me it takes a good bit of rationale and discussion to CONVINCE someone they are not free (I may be wrong). If my hunch is true, this shows me it is logic, not feeling that is the measuring stick, but ironically, I give more weight to feeling, when it comes to freedom. If you generally feel free, you are free.

Not my area, but I had to chime in...

Penile, you seem to be

Penile, you seem to be responding to the wrong thing. You're mixing and matching a lot of things that got said and I'm not even getting a coherent picture of what you're saying.

You write:

I would think MOST people don't view themselves as being unfree.

But as I just wrote:

I don't think [that nearly every living person is a slave]

It was Micha who claimed that nearly every living person is a slave. He said, "under the libertarian definition". Assuming he considers himself a libertarian, then Micha believes that nearly every living person is a slave. I, however, do not, as I explained in my latest comment.

So, are you siding with me, or with Micha? Strictly, you are siding with me. And yet, you reject the analogy I offered, and by reasonable extension my argument. So what is it?

Looking at this another way, maybe Micha has decided that he is not a libertarian, and when he says nearly everyone is a slave under the libertarian definition, he is actually asserting that I believe that, though he (Micha) does not (presumably because Micha is not - or so one infers - a libertarian).

However, that was, insofar as it was a characterization of my position, a mischaracterization of my position.

Anyway, to be brief, I find your comment to be too much of a tight knot of either misunderstanding or failure to communicate, in order for me really to know what it is you're saying.

Grasp the knot. Fondle it.

Grasp the knot. Fondle it. Turn it inside out. Play with it. Much of my post was not reactionary to this one.

I certainly don't disagree with you in that the post is somewhat all over the place. I have my reasons.

So, are you siding with me, or with Micha? Strictly, you are siding with me. And yet, you reject the analogy I offered, and by reasonable extension my argument. So what is it?

I agree with both of you, and see no contradiction that I do.

See, I don't think the analogy is a reasonable extension. Rejecting the analogy kind of makes me angry, because I like Camels too. Since you now know I reject the analogy but not your commentary, maybe that makes more sense for you?

You offer commentary on a lesson and pattern that we should be aware of regarding Government power (correct?), but I don't think the degree of our concerns rise to the same level about Government power, in general. So far, that's all that I can see that we may have differences on.

To say anything further, I would have to ask you questions and get answers. I won't speculate any further. I'll do that later.

The rest was just thinking out loud, about questions I had, that came to me when thinking about Freedom Variables, that need to be answered if I was to program a "Liberty Grader."

You have a phase space (for lack of a better term) of X amount of variables which allow Freedom (which you will see can be simplified with general relationships). You place the variables, the program calculates and then spits out your Liberty Score.

I was thinking as to what degree this airport scanning would influence a Liberty Score, if I had my program up and running. Because of the nature of the algorithm required, I can only assume little specifics would have little impact on Liberty, but impact Liberty it will.

Kinda cute, innit?

I read Jim's blog, and had noticed the word "unfree" (I really like that word, but I won't pimp you with my poetry just yet) well, that got me thinking about Freedom Percentages (aka Liberty Score), but then is 51% Free, still Free? Or should that be assumed to be Less Free? Or maybe 49% Free is Unfree? Or perhaps Unfree is down at the 30's while Less Free is in the 50's, like 50% Less Free? Our variables will also need different weight due to the "more free" and "less free" as opposed to "unfree".

That was fun, but words don't matter yet. Only the numbers.

What kinds of Freedoms are more free than other Freedoms? These Freedom Values would essentially be Freedom Variables.

For example, I would have to grade the actual act of traveling (China, your kitchen or your next step) as having more weight than the actual act of say, smoking crack. Two decisions that are both equal in terms of their freeness but not equal in terms of their weight; one having a larger factor on the Liberty Score than the other. But I picked these two on purpose, so that we can notice something. We noticed one act is general and one specific. So it may be possible to group decisions, to more quickly calculate and simplify the program. Actually, I lied, it's the only way.

We wouldn't have smoking crack as an option, but that action would be combined with other general decisions, say, doing drugs. Okay, but why is this different from eating? You can't eat whatever you like, because you don't have access, are you now less free?

***********************

Seriously, with me, you gotta read in between the lines a little. I'm honestly just offering up a thought experiment to help all of us think about Liberty (I had to word it that way after your unsolicited advice bit). More specifically, how this scanning issue (if used nationally) might effect the Liberty Score.

Slaves... that it was mentioned earlier is of little merit. I was simply positing a way to assess freedom, in light of the anxiety of our unfreeness. This was for people more rigorous in their logic and learned in their politics. These people learn every day how unfree they are, and they stick to it. My Liberty Grader may disagree.

Now about the future...

I fancy a little fun.

My apologies.

(continued) But my Liberty

(continued)

But my Liberty Grader has its own problems.

I left off with a comment about my previous working definition of freedom. Analyzing it with the program, even when just glimpsing at the potential (and for now, make believe) program, is almost impossible for such a thing to be realized, but not quite.

Previously my thought about freedom (if you feel free, you are free) as opposed to analyzing it by way of programming a Liberty Grader, may yield a more correct procedure (and result) for assessing Freedom. But I don't really want this to cheapen the experiment.

Thought experiments are good. You go through a process of thinking before arriving at a given result. Whether this result is correct or incorrect is not the point.

Connecting the dots:

Some of what was said in my first post is general commentary. Some of it applies to scanning. Some of it applies to grading freedoms. Some of it applies to earlier posts, written by me. Some of it applies to my question about why nobody can answer a simple fucking question.

For an example of posts written by me, I had "blogged" earlier about Intuition vs Analysis (now long gone). What's that? Never mind. All I know is that's where I was headed while thinking about the Liberty Grader.

In any event, I think I have answered your specific questions in my first reply. There is no method to my madness. Only madness. There is no overall argument here, rejecting that point and supporting this point etc. just bits of random information, and a continuation of the thoughts I had in my initial post, with a little more information and a lot more incoherence.

Have mercy!

who decides

Curunir

it were a private firm doing the security, would you object?

If was each individual airline doing security as it judged best, and the captain had a gun and final say on who comes aboard the plane he captains, then I would not object. If the captain was an asshole, would take that into account in choosing airlines.

If, however, it was Blackwater on contract from Washington, then I would still be as much a slave as I am now.

From the standpoint of

From the standpoint of liberty is it really a matter of moral indifference whether your slave master is extremely permissive or extremely harsh? True, you are a slave in either case, but if libertarians cannot say much about the distinction between greater and lesser forms of slavery, then libertarianism is pretty much useless in a world where nearly every living person is a slave under the libertarian definition.

As my friend James Donald mentioned to me in email, if the camel once gets his nose in the tent, his body will soon follow. That is the reality that it is worth acknowledging, and if you put all your energy into pointing out that at the present moment only the camel's nose is in the tent and that's not as bad as the body is in the tent, then it is you who are being useless. The rest of us are deeply concerned with the imminent problem of the camel's body coming into the tent, while you are merely chronicling the transient moment and pretending that it will last forever.

As far as human action is concerned, the present moment is already past. Only the future matters. And when you look at matters not as they appear in the present moment, but as they are liable to evolve, then the difference between a permissive master and a strict master becomes much less.

nearly every living person

nearly every living person is a slave under the libertarian definition.

By the way I don't think that's true. Keeping in mind the distinction between whether one has power over someone, and whether one is strict in the exercise of that power, my view is that our current state is not that the government has power but is permissive (in which case we would be slaves of the state), but rather that the state does not have (enough) power (to be considered our master).

How much power is considered

How much power is considered enough for one to possess (but not necessarily wield) over another in order for you to consider that relationship within the realm of master/slave? Slavery analogies, like equating taxation with theft have both their pitfalls and their uses. I generally avoid them when attempting to persuade, but my impression is that the Rothbardian line on the NAP would consider any non-sovereign to be some sort of a slave to a sovereign.

[I]f the camel once gets his

[I]f the camel once gets his nose in the tent, his body will soon follow.

Possibly. Maybe even probably. I don't dispute the dangers. I'm not trying to justify the status quo. The government camel is already inside the tent, nose and all. The question now is whether libertarians have anything useful to say about how the camel should behave once it is in the tent, apart from demanding that the camel leave. What's the second best option? Given that the government has a pseudo-monopoly on education, what should it teach? Evolution? Creationism? Both? Neither? Given that the government has a near monopoly on airline security, what should it prohibit/allow? Shampoo bottles? Nail clippers? Automatic weapons?

And when you look at matters not as they appear in the present moment, but as they are liable to evolve, then the difference between a permissive master and a strict master becomes much less.

So what exactly is the mechanism of the slippery slope here?

1. Scanners
2. Security gnomes steal underpants
3. ???
4. Profit
5. Nazi Germany

This is all well and good,

This is all well and good, but it seems all of this discussion revolves around the individual interpretation of freedom and liberty.

I do not want to be scanned because I am not a terrorist and I refuse to be treated as such, by anyone. I know when I am not welcome, and being disarmed and scanned is just a sign of poor hospitality.

When I enter a residence or business armed, I am making a statement about my intentions. As long as I am present I will defend said business or home, as well as those within it, from hostile action as if it was my own domicile or place of business. When others enter my home armed, I expect the same courtesy, otherwise I wouldn't be doin' any invit'n. This could be hard to picture if you grew up west of the Sierra Nevada's or East of the Sixth Principal Meridian.

To me, this is more about courtesy and hospitality than it is freedom.

You are describing a

You are describing a high-trust environment. People behave differently in a low-trust environment. In some places people don't lock their doors. In other places they do. Hospitality is costly when the guests cannot be trusted. When the low-trust New Orleans was flooded, refugees were welcomed into homes in higher-trust areas, and many of the hosts were subsequently disappointed by the behavior of their guests, or so I have read. Had they been more familiar with the ways of the residents of New Orleans, they would presumably have been less hospitable.

Truly. I live and work in a

Truly. I live and work in a high-trust environment. I am not naive enough to assume that I would be operating under the same parameters in the event of some sort of cataclysm, localized or not.

Even in said high-trust situations, I am always at condition yellow.

If I am not trusted to be civil at an airport, why should I trust anyone at the airport to treat me in a civil manner? I am not a trusted guest, so in my opinion I should not be a guest at all, lest I be inaccurately accused of impropriety.

Hence the reason I stopped flying PRIOR to 9/11.

EDIT: Also, I was making a statement about limited behavioral expectations based on geography. New Orleans is east of the 6th Principal Meridian.

So I'm no professional

So I'm no professional historian of the American West, but based on my fuzzy recollection of Back To The Future III and various other contemporary attempts at the Western genre, some movie saloons would require all of their patrons to disarm upon entry. I assume you would avoid these saloons, were you in Marty McFly's shoes, for reason... what, exactly? Cause you luvs you some guns?

Yeah, movies have a way of

Yeah, movies have a way of demonizing firearms at all times, unless they are in the hands of authorized statist bien-pensants.

Lets assume Hollywood is the font of historical authority for the sake of argument, talk about suspension of disbelief but here we go...

Why would I avoid the disarmament saloons?

1. Rules only stop those who obey them, precisely the people whom you have no need to worry about.
2. That three hundred pound ruffian and his three friends can kick my ass, but they cannot stop six speeding bullets.
3. I wouldn't feel welcome, nor comfortable.
4. I luvs me some guns. Hell year!

As a side note; My brother, father, uncle, a family friend and I once strolled into the Mozart Club in Goldfield, Nevada. All of us were open carrying pistols on our belts. Only the bartender and two other patrons where in the bar at the time. They were openly armed also. Guess what? we had our drinks and nobody got shot.

As a matter of fact, I never felt safer at a bar.

Re: #1 Again, vague

Re: #1 Again, vague recollections of the worst part of a movie trilogy, but I recall in BTTF III that the saloon or village dance party had some sort of official bouncer frisking people, sort of like a modern-day metal detector. So I'm not sure if your argument applies here (other than perhaps to the bouncer/sheriff himself).

#2 True, guns are the great equalizer, as the old saying goes. But I'd personally rather get my ass kicked than shot. Maybe that's just me. I understand and sympathize with gun enthusiasts' desire to take their guns anywhere and everywhere, including airplanes and drinking taverns, but unlike some gun nuts I know and love who support the NRA line, I value property rights more than gun rights, and if a proprietor wants to ban guns on his or her property, the laws of ownership should trump laws of personal desire. Since I don't much care about guns, I would have no problem visiting bars or flying on airlines which ban them, and in fact, would prefer this policy (if implemented by private owners) for the same common sense reasons the anti-gun lobby uses to justify their favored coercive legislation.

unlike some gun nuts I know

unlike some gun nuts I know and love who support the NRA line, I value property rights more than gun rights, and if a proprietor wants to ban guns on his or her property, the laws of ownership should trump laws of personal desire.

Agreed. Since I'm on a techno-optimism kick, and you brought up Westerns, maybe one day we'll have those gun scans like in Firefly. Personally, I'd have no problem patronizing places that use them (not that I'm in a lot of dangerous places anyway).

So I'm not sure if your

So I'm not sure if your argument applies here (other than perhaps to the bouncer/sheriff himself).

Sure does apply. A criminal could walk up to the bouncer and shoot him in the face, then stroll into the saloon or dance hall and begin murdering the patrons at will. In the business we call that a single point of failure. I am more a fan of redundant, distributed and diffuse defense.

But I'd personally rather get my ass kicked than shot. Maybe that's just me.

I would rather NOT be shot OR beaten up. Unfortunately in life there is no way to guarantee that you will not suffer either of those fates. Being armed gives you a measure of defense.

...who support the NRA line

Oh don't get me started on those sell outs. Wayne La Pierre in particular is a weaselly little backstabbing bastard.

I value property rights more than gun rights, and if a proprietor wants to ban guns on his or her property, the laws of ownership should trump laws of personal desire.

Same here. I also feel that I don't need to patronize or visit such places.

Since I don't much care about guns, I would have no problem visiting bars or flying on airlines which ban them,

That's your personal preference. I have my own, and the free market seems quite capable of providing for both.

and in fact, would prefer this policy (if implemented by private owners) for the same common sense reasons the anti-gun lobby uses to justify their favored coercive legislation.

same common sense reasons the anti-gun lobby uses

reasons the anti-gun lobby uses

I see what you did thar...

This is all well and good,

This is all well and good, but it seems all of this discussion revolves around the individual interpretation of freedom and liberty.

Bingo.

"Freedom's just another word for 'nothing left to lose'."

Or maybe one is free as long as one can think, "Screw you, A/H."

At the time of the French and Russian revolutions there was no mystery about who needed hanging. They could be ID'ed by dress, by transportation, by residence. As late as WW1 the owners were easily recognized.

These days we are owned by international corporations. How does one hang an international corporation?

Easy as 3.14159265

One must recognize that corporations are imaginary. In the end, flesh shapes the day. Individuals had to make choices, let them pay.

TSA lied: naked-scanners can

Someone at work asked me,

Someone at work asked me, "Can they store the images?"

I said "You are looking at them online, aren't you?"

Res ipsa loquitur.