Comments on: Corporate Leftism: Questions About the University of Michigan’s Smoking Ban http://libertarianstandard.com/2010/04/07/corporate-leftism-questions-about-the-university-of-michigans-smoking-ban/ Property - Prosperity - Peace Sat, 09 May 2015 08:06:55 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 By: David J. Heinrich http://libertarianstandard.com/2010/04/07/corporate-leftism-questions-about-the-university-of-michigans-smoking-ban/#comment-112 Fri, 09 Apr 2010 23:08:57 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=552#comment-112 That said, I have also disagreed with Walter Block on a similar issue. He has argued that sine libraries are public institutions, bums have the right to homestead them by sleeping there, and likewise has made similar arguments with regards to graffiti. I think both of these behaviors are disgusting. That of course isn’t a libertarian argument; but I’d say my libertarian argument is that said people are largely tax-consumers, thus have no right to homestead public property, and also that their “homesteading” is in fact that second-comers, that he first homesteaders of public libraries would be its patrons.

]]>
By: David J. Heinrich http://libertarianstandard.com/2010/04/07/corporate-leftism-questions-about-the-university-of-michigans-smoking-ban/#comment-111 Fri, 09 Apr 2010 23:03:26 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=552#comment-111 Deus,

You keep talking about being relevant or not, tangential or not. I don’t think any of the concerns Matt or myself brought up are irrelevant to the topic of this blog-post, which was set by Matt in his initial post. Whether you like it or not, it is his blog post, and that is what sets the topic. Most of our blog posts will be at least linked to libertarianism, but that doesn’t mean it is the only thing we will talk about.

The key issue is whether or not the UOM is more a private or more a public organization. If it is more public, then its claims to decision-making rights are dubious, and at the very least, I’d argue my second-best position applies. Walter Block has a paper — Libertarian Punishment Theory: Working for, and Donating to, the State — which seems to be in agreement with the position Matt and I are taking. http://libertarianpapers.org/articles/2009/lp-1-17.pdf

]]>
By: Deus X. Nihilo http://libertarianstandard.com/2010/04/07/corporate-leftism-questions-about-the-university-of-michigans-smoking-ban/#comment-107 Fri, 09 Apr 2010 20:40:51 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=552#comment-107 “Many governments receive voluntary donations, but this still is not property that rightly belongs to them…”

Who in the world is talking about GOVERNMENTS receiving voluntary donations??? I said the UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN receives voluntary donations, and for you to think that you as a taxpayer have a superior claim over claims of other taxpayers as to how U of M property should be used, you’re just flat wrong.

“…the titles would immediately revert to the victims of State violence as restitution.”

Well, Matt, re-read what I wrote. In a more ideal and clear cut situation, yes this is true. But how on Earth are you going to correctly trace dollars back to all the people who were forced to give them to U of M? Even if you could, on what basis do you think you would have a superior claim to control of the property than other taxpayers? How is it that YOU and your friends are the ones who get to call the shots? Can you offer any explanation more coherent than, “Anything that receives tax dollars is up for grabs!”?

“And, again, I think it is absolutely the wrong response to treat the University as though it is the owner of this property or as an agent of the true owners. This is conceding nearly the whole case to the State. It gives the State tremendous amounts of undeserved legitimacy…”

No Matt, YOU are the one who is conceding the whole case and granting unwarranetd legitimacy of ownership to the state, apparently so you and your friends can have some kind of rationale for imposing on U of M how they should control the property, or maybe just for the kicks and giggles of poking a stick in the eye of “political correctness”. That may be a lot of fun, but it has nothing to do with an honest and rigorous search for the truth.

Matt, if government merely giving tax dollars to various entities really does mean they own them, then gosh, I guess the U.S. gov’t really DOES own perhaps 2/3 or more of the total land mass! The statists are right! Who knew????

“Your argument rests on this assumption of legitimacy or legitimacy-for-the-moment of the State’s claims to property and this assumption I wholeheartedly reject.”

I most certainly am not defending STATE claims to property. My whole point is that you’re totally overreaching in claiming that the UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN is an “arm of the state” so you can have some sort of twisted pretext for insisting that YOU have the right to determine how the property should be controlled.

There is a clearly defined owner here: The University of Michigan. Just because their title may be impure b/c they receive tax dollars does not mean it should be up for grabs in some kind of taxpayer free-for-all.

I’m finished with this discussion. You seem insistent on ignoring the points I make and imposing things on the facts that are simply not true.

Good luck with your campus crusade.

]]>
By: Matt Mortellaro http://libertarianstandard.com/2010/04/07/corporate-leftism-questions-about-the-university-of-michigans-smoking-ban/#comment-106 Fri, 09 Apr 2010 18:58:20 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=552#comment-106 Deus,

Again, I think it is absolutely crucial that the University of Michigan be recognized for what it is – a part of the State. Voluntary donations don’t change this fact – I believe that issue was addressed in Heinrich’s article on the topic of state claims to property (maybe just in the comments section, I can’t remember exactly). Many governments receive voluntary donations, but this still is not property that rightly belongs to them: the titles would immediately revert to the victims of State violence as restitution. The State has no where near the resources needed to compensate its victims, its deficit in this is far greater than even the accounting deficits the federal government has.

And, again, I think it is absolutely the wrong response to treat the University as though it is the owner of this property or as an agent of the true owners. This is conceding nearly the whole case to the State. It gives the State tremendous amounts of undeserved legitimacy and we as libertarians have enough work to do in delegitimatizing the State in the minds of the public without handicapping ourselves in this manner.

Your argument rests on this assumption of legitimacy or legitimacy-for-the-moment of the State’s claims to property and this assumption I wholeheartedly reject. Your belief that you are following the “plumb line” libertarian position, I think, is inaccurate by this fact alone. Off the top of my head, I cannot think of another case of this sort of reasoning in libertarian theory – except perhaps Hans Hoppe’s arguments in favor of immigration restrictions, but surely you recognize that such arguments are nothing if not controversial among radical libertarians.

]]>
By: Deus X. Nihilo http://libertarianstandard.com/2010/04/07/corporate-leftism-questions-about-the-university-of-michigans-smoking-ban/#comment-105 Fri, 09 Apr 2010 18:38:55 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=552#comment-105 Matt:

“The University of Michigan is a part of the government. This is crucial. Your argument seems to suppose that this is a private university, not part of the government. But it is a public university and very clearly part of the government…It is an arm of the State.”

Well, you’ll have to forgive me if I think you’re overreaching just a bit here. U of M does receive tax funds, yes, which the Federal government uses as an excuse to impose certain controls on it. But it also receives voluntary donations from private individuals and entities, too. It is, unfortunately, a hybrid private/government entity, which causes property rights conflicts as I previously pointed out.

But what about all those private individuals who make entirely voluntary donations? Do they factor into your analysis anywhere, or do you just think that because some of your and/or parents’ tax dollars are coercively channeled there that gives you some kind of superior claim to control of the property? It seems to me, based on what you’ve written so far, that you do, and I’d say that’s just not correct.

“It is in no way obvious that the second-best to privatization is a smoking ban being enforced.”

Well please go back and re-read what I wrote. I am most certainly not advocating enforcement of a smoking ban as a second best libertarian solution, what I am advocating for is that the owner of the property be allowed to make the decision as to whether or not smoking should be allowed on U of M property, and in this case the owner is, regardless of the justice in the title of ownership, U of M. They and their appointed agents exercise the exclusive control of U of M property, however unjust we may find that title to ownership to be. They hold title to the property, and so it is up to them to decide whether to allow smoking anywhere on their property, or to ban it entirely from their property, or to allow select smoking zones. Please take note that I’m not advocating for them to make any decision on this one way or another, just that the proper “plumb line” libertarian position is to allow the property owner to make the decision.

“I think it is just as reasonable to treat it as unowned property, available for homesteading.”

Really? Well then, if this is applicable to you, it is equally applicable to all the other taxpayers, all of whom will have different ideas about the proper disposition of the property, and they’d all have a rightful claim since they have been taxed to finance it, too. (Not to mention all those people who made voluntary donations.) The logical implication of this is a brute contest of mobs.

“But, regardless, why would this be a second-best policy even if we presume that the University can set a policy as a second-best? What evidence do you have that there would be a ban on outdoor smoking if this was a private owner?”

For goodness sake, I never wrote that U of M would still impose a smoking ban even in an alternative stateless universe, and it’s not up to me to prove that in order to make my point. That’s not what I’m arguing. What I’m arguing is that, for good or ill, U of M holds title and therefore they are entitled to exclusive control and so it is up to them to decide what they want to do about smoking on their property. I’m not saying they should or shouldn’t impose a smoking ban, just that they can if they want to because they’re the owners! If they want to allow smoking in the classrooms, they can do that, too! I personally have no preference one way or another–I don’t care! I’m just arguing that in this reality that we all must inhabit, they are, whether it’s entirely just or not, the owners and they can make the decision.

“This is not a battle between smokers and nonsmokers.”

Well, I never said it was. Is this addressed to somebody else? This is, from a libertarian view, a property rights conflict resulting from coercive taxation. The most libertarian resolution is simply for the owner to be allowed to make the ulitmate decision for that property, whatever that turns out to be.

“I have never smoked in my life and do not plan to ever start.”

Well, good for you, but this is yet another point you’ve made that’s completely irrelevant to the discussion.

“I think we should oppose such advances [of the state] at every juncture.”

Sure, I agree that any advance of statism should be opposed. But it’s not any government law compelling this ban, is it? It’s the university acting within their rights as property owners–as I think I’ve stated before. So I fail to see how U of M caving into pressure to not ban smoking is some sort of strike against statism.

The proper “plumb line” libertarian view on these kinds of conflicts is to make the best evaluation based on the property rights as we find them and try to reach the most ideal conclusion available, which unfortunately, in this world, is not always the perfectly pure conclusion. Yes, it would be nice if we could somehow trace back how much each taxpayer was forced to finance the property and then somehow parcel back to them their quotal share or allow them to homestead a portion of it, or whatever. But since that’s not ever likely to happen in this reality in which we all must live, the most ideal libertarian solution is to simply allow the property owner(s) to make the ultimate decisions regarding the property, just as we would in Ideal Stateless Land.

You, however, seem to think that you and your friends being taxpayers gives you superior claims to everyone else as to what decision U of M should make re: smoking on that property. You’ll have to forgive me, but I utterly fail to see how this is so. You and your buddies are but several of many, many, many taxpayers forced to finance that school. All of them would most likely have their own notions about control of the property, too, and their claims as taxpayers would be no less valid than your claims as taxpayers. How on Earth will you all sort that out?

Answer: It’s impossible.

I’m sure that you and your friends are all having a grand old time with your polemics and so forth, thinking that you’re striking a mighty blow against the beasts of “political correctness”, but the plumb line libertarian analysis is not based on whether or not a property owner is acting in accordance with “political correctness”, but whether or not the property owner is acting within their property rights. In this case, regardless of what decision they ultimately make, I’d say that as far as I can tell U of M is acting within their property rights.

]]>
By: Matt Mortellaro http://libertarianstandard.com/2010/04/07/corporate-leftism-questions-about-the-university-of-michigans-smoking-ban/#comment-99 Fri, 09 Apr 2010 02:44:24 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=552#comment-99 Deus,

Regarding your dismissal of my analogy to the US gov’t banning smoking on highways, I think we’ve come to perhaps a vital point. The University of Michigan is a part of the government. This is crucial. Your argument seems to suppose that this is a private university, not part of the government. But it is a public university and very clearly part of the government. The university was established by the government, it was given property by the Ann Arbor government to build on, built with government money, funded with taxpayer dollars, its Board of Regents are elected officials, and so on. It is an arm of the State.

It is in no way obvious that the second-best to privatization is a smoking ban being enforced. I think it is just as reasonable to treat it as unowned property, available for homesteading. But, regardless, why would this be a second-best policy even if we presume that the University can set a policy as a second-best? What evidence do you have that there would be a ban on outdoor smoking if this was a private owner? Most all evidence seems to point to exactly the opposite conclusion: outdoor smoking would be permitted just as it is on almost all private property.

This is not a battle between smokers and nonsmokers. I have never smoked in my life and do not plan to ever start. It’s an issue of extending the scope of control that the State exercises over our lives. I think we should oppose such advances at every juncture.

]]>
By: David J. Heinrich http://libertarianstandard.com/2010/04/07/corporate-leftism-questions-about-the-university-of-michigans-smoking-ban/#comment-97 Thu, 08 Apr 2010 23:47:59 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=552#comment-97 Deus,

My comments to you were spurred by you saying, “I have no use for discussions with people who can’t see the forest for the trees.” It is pretty clear that from that statement and your general tone, my response seemed appropriate. That said, if you say you meant nothing by it, I won’t dwell on it.

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with disagreeing with me or anyone else posting here!

In response to the actual issue you put forth,

“I’ve already offered my alternative as a second-best libertarian suggestion, which is that the ownership entity–in this case, the University of Michigan (not the U.S. government, and not the loudest mob)–ultimately set the rules about smoking on its own property.”

Well, I would say that I disagree. Certainly, letting the UOM decide is better than proposing that the US government decide (and I doubt anyone has suggested that). However, I would say it is not a second-best solution, precisely because you are implicitly assuming the the property titles of the UOM are legitimate, that those making positive decisions are entitled to make such decisions. I question this, given the source of their funding.

To be quite frank, myself and other taxpayers are more legitimate owners of the property controlled by the UOM than is the UOM; of course, our exercising control would be impractical. Which was precisely why I suggested letting the UOM be homesteaded by private individuals.

Also, my proposed second-best alternative is not “letting the mob” decide. It is doing what civilized people did for decades before mass paranoia about second-hand smoke started: resolved matters peacefully amongst themselves.

]]>
By: Deus X. Nihilo http://libertarianstandard.com/2010/04/07/corporate-leftism-questions-about-the-university-of-michigans-smoking-ban/#comment-96 Thu, 08 Apr 2010 23:34:58 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=552#comment-96 “If the US federal government banned smoking on all federally-funded highways, would that not be a significant violation of individual liberty?”

If that means they’re trying to prohibit smoking inside your own car, yes. Just because they control the highways that doesn’t give them the right to control what you do in your own car, which is your property.

But I don’t even see how that’s even relevant to the case at hand, considering the fact that, at least as far as I can tell, it’s not the Federal government compelling U of M to ban smoking, it’s the university president acting as agent for the university banning smoking.

“The absolute wrong way to respond to this, at least from my viewpoint, is to allow the government to set the rules on this illicitly gained property, especially if it is further claimed that the government is acting as the agent of a legitimate owner.”

But it’s not the government setting the rules here, is it? It’s the university president, Mary Sue Coleman, setting the rules as agent of the university. Now I would have to look at the university policies and by-laws and such, but my guess is that as agent for the university she’s empowered to set certain rules.

The point I made about competing groups of taxpayers expressing different preferences for control of the property in this case was in no way a defense of government ownership of property as such, and I don’t see how you could take it that way. My point was that both groups of taxpayers–smokers and non-smokers–understandably believe they should have some say as to what the property rules should be regarding smoking, and they both have a valid point. But ultimately the decision will be made by the entity who owns/controls the property. Anyone who doesn’t like that one way or another needs to understand that that’s the natural outcome of financing other people’s goodies with plunder.

So I agree that it’s not right that the ownership entity in this case is such due to the plunder, but the marginally second best libertarian solution is not to hold a shouting contest, but to allow the owner to make the rules regarding the property, being in this case U of M. At least that’s what I’ve always thought was the “plumb line.”

“This is supposed to be a place for civil and intelligent discussion, not sarcastic remarks. ”

You mean like the kind of civil, intelligent and entirely sincere remarks made by Alex Biles in his letter to Mary Sue Coleman?

“There is no need to tell the world of your disdain for others and for thinking about challenging issues; no one cares and such behavior is immature.”

Good Lord, what are you talking about?! Have we ever met? I point out a weakness in your argument and that shows I just have a “disdain for others”! That I’m “immature”??? That’s hilarious!

The only ones here who appear to have a “disdain” for thinking and challenging discussion, not to mention a distinct lack of maturity, are you gentlemen in your advocacy for control of property by means of the loudest mob, just like the statists you say you oppose. This shows a certain lack of intellectual rigor on your part, but please excuse me for daring to question your exceptional and insightful wisdom!

“It is also interesting that you hypocritically disregard the rules for posting on this privately owned blog…”

Well I’m pretty sure any rational person would review my comments and not find anything at all to be offended about…Unless, of course, merely disagreeing with David J. Heinrich is a “disregard” for the blog rules.

“Short of ceasing to accept government funding, I think that the decision most in accord with libertarianism would be to have no policy on smoking one way or another, and to allow students and teachers to sort it out by voluntarily agreed-upon norms and compromises. I am open to alternative suggestions, however.”

Well, that’s mighty enlightened of you. I’ve already offered my alternative as a second-best libertarian suggestion, which is that the ownership entity–in this case, the University of Michigan (not the U.S. government, and not the loudest mob)–ultimately set the rules about smoking on its own property.

“Matt makes an excellent point, that the government cannot legitimately own property.”

I’m not arguing that it can, so I have no idea who this comment is directed at. It can’t be me.

“The point regarding the President’s conflict of interest is that she should have disclosed it.”

Well, perhaps there are ethical reasons that she should have, but is this really material to your argument? The question here, at least the appropriately libertarian question, is how rules for this property should be established. Whether or not she took money from J&J, or whether or not she should have disclosed that, is hardly germaine to that question.

Or would you suggest a sort of “libertarian” star chamber trial where she would be hauled before enlightened libertarians like yourself and made to disclose all here financial dealings?

]]>
By: David J. Heinrich http://libertarianstandard.com/2010/04/07/corporate-leftism-questions-about-the-university-of-michigans-smoking-ban/#comment-95 Thu, 08 Apr 2010 22:27:40 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=552#comment-95 Deus,

This is supposed to be a place for civil and intelligent discussion, not sarcastic remarks. If you no longer wish to participate in discussion, that is fine: simply stop posting comments. There is no need to tell the world of your disdain for others and for thinking about challenging issues; no one cares and such behavior is immature.

It is also interesting that you hypocritically disregard the rules for posting on this privately owned blog, while defending the rules of the University of Michigan. If you change your mind and wish to continue posting in the future, abide by the guidelines for posting.

To those who wish to continue conversation in a civilized manner, responding to a few issues brought up…

1. Any decision by the University of Michigan on this or any other issue could be criticized unless the the university ceases accepting government funding. If this is not possible, the best thing to do would be to close down the university and either auction off its assets or allow them to be homesteaded.

Short of ceasing to accept government funding, I think that the decision most in accord with libertarianism would be to have no policy on smoking one way or another, and to allow students and teachers to sort it out by voluntarily agreed-upon norms and compromises. I am open to alternative suggestions, however.

2. Matt makes an excellent point, that the government cannot legitimately own property. I wrote about this on the Mises blog in 2004: http://blog.mises.org/2502/states-cannot-own-property/

3. The point regarding the President’s conflict of interest is that she should have disclosed it. It should have at least been something on the table, that people were made aware of. While conflicts of interest may crop up and exist, and can of course be dealt with, they should at least be acknowledged, and cannot be dealt with if they are not disclosed.

]]>
By: Matt Mortellaro http://libertarianstandard.com/2010/04/07/corporate-leftism-questions-about-the-university-of-michigans-smoking-ban/#comment-93 Thu, 08 Apr 2010 21:53:01 +0000 http://libertarianstandard.com/?p=552#comment-93 I disagree entirely with the contention that this is analogous to a landlord setting policies for his own property. If the US federal government banned smoking on all federally-funded highways, would that not be a significant violation of individual liberty? Of course, people could choose to no longer use the highways, but why should they be forced to do that? This sort of argument proves far too much.

The point that you ignore is that the government cannot own property. All of its so-called property is merely taken, by force, from others. Even in cases where the government engages in homesteading-of-a-sort (e.g., it takes a virgin piece of land and builds a university on it), the funds for such a project were necessarily confiscated from the people and therefore the government still has no claim to the property.

The absolute wrong way to respond to this, at least from my viewpoint, is to allow the government to set the rules on this illicitly gained property, especially if it is further claimed that the government is acting as the agent of a legitimate owner. This is to grant, implicitly or explicitly, a great air of legitimacy to the government’s continued control of the property.

]]>