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Thread: Should Marriage Be Within The Scope of Government?

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    Should Marriage Be Within The Scope of Government?

    Over at the Bleeding Heart Libertarian website, Jason Brennan wrote an entry on marriage equality... Mmm, these bullets I'm biting are tasty. Here's the trap he (a BHL) sets out for regular libertarians...

    1. The government gives married people rights and privileges.
    2. Rights and privileges established by the government are unjust.
    3. Allowing gay people to get married would increase the total amount of injustice.

    One of the comments matches part of my perspective pretty closely...

    "There is a sound logic to 1 and 2, but the conclusion I would draw is rather than allow gay marriage, straight marriages should be eliminated." - OH

    The problem with the BHL project is that it largely ignores economics. In other words, most of the supporters suffer from the same disease as liberals. So thought I'd take this opportunity to consider the economic aspect of marriage.

    Markets produce the maximum benefit because people are free to trade with whoever maximizes their benefit. So the concepts of "exit" and "entry" are central to economics...

    What do we want with a Socialist then, who, under pretence of organizing for us, comes despotically to break up our voluntary arrangements, to check the division of labour, to substitute isolated efforts for combined ones, and to send civilization back? Is association, as I describe it here, in itself less association, because every one enters and leaves it freely, chooses his place in it, judges and bargains for himself on his own responsibility, and brings with him the spring and warrant of personal interest? That it may deserve this name, is it necessary that a pretended reformer should come and impose upon us his plan and his will, and as it were, to concentrate mankind in himself? - Frédéric Bastiat
    The thing is, even Bryan Caplan, a libertarian economist who should know better, rationalizes his way into supporting the government's involvement in marriage...Policy Implications of the Marriage Premium.

    As Kevin Spacey's character in House of Cards said, "When the tit's that big, everybody gets in line." Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Isn't that the free-rider problem?

    When people enter into a marriage, it's because they perceive that the benefits will exceed the costs. The greater the disparity between perception and reality...the greater the incentive to exit the arrangement. Divorce is simply the consequence of the costs exceeding the benefits.

    Since the consumption of nations or the governments which represent them, occasions a loss of value, and consequently, of wealth, it is only so far justifiable, as there results from it some national advantage, equivalent to the sacrifice of value. The whole skill of government, therefore, consists in the continual and judicious comparison of the sacrifice about to be incurred, with the expected benefit to the community; for I have no hesitation in pronouncing every instance, where the benefit is not equivalent to the loss, to be an instance of folly, or of criminality, in the government. - J.B. Say
    It would be criminal if you were forced to stay in a marriage in which the costs exceeded the benefits. Right?

    So should the government be in the marriage business? How can we, as a society, truly know whether the benefits exceed the costs?

    But on the other hand, imagine that this fatal principle has been introduced: Under the pretense of organization, regulation, protection, or encouragement, the law takes property from one person and gives it to another; the law takes the wealth of all and gives it to a few—whether farmers, manufacturers, shipowners, artists, or comedians. Under these circumstances, then certainly every class will aspire to grasp the law, and logically so. - Frédéric Bastiat
    Yeah, the free-rider problem.

    Imagine that the government was not in the marriage business. Then it would be up to private organizations to recognize the contracts between two...or more...individuals. It doesn't take much of a stretch to imagine that churches would be in the marriage business. Why would churches be in the marriage business? Why is any private organization in any business? It's simply because the benefits exceed the costs. It should be really hard to be in any business when the costs exceed the benefits.

    Imagine the Old Church only gives marriages to straight people while the New Church gives marriages to anybody. Where's the difficulty? Which church gives you the most benefit? Which church provides the biggest tit for you to suck? You'd make up your mind and give your buck to whichever church gives you the most bang.

    Right now the government provides a damn big tit. Hey Jason Brennan...is the tit you're sucking on tasty? Mmmmm...good?

    Isn't it weird when adults drink milk? When I was a little kid I drank both real milk and soy milk. Now I just drink soy milk.

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    Re: Should Marriage Be Within The Scope of Government?

    As a libertarian I actually agree. People who get married should not have benefits for doing so.
    My blog, where I talk latest news on economics and some other issues.

    http://hereticaldruthers.wordpress.com/

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    Re: Should Marriage Be Within The Scope of Government?

    No group should get benefits. Get rid of all special deductions and drop the tax rate by 10%.

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    Re: Should Marriage Be Within The Scope of Government?

    Quote Originally Posted by JP Hochbaum View Post
    As a libertarian I actually agree. People who get married should not have benefits for doing so.
    You're a libertarian? So what responsibilities fall within the proper scope of government?

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    Re: Should Marriage Be Within The Scope of Government?

    Quote Originally Posted by austrianecon View Post
    No group should get benefits. Get rid of all special deductions and drop the tax rate by 10%.
    Eh? If no group should benefit...then what would we be paying 10% for?

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    Re: Should Marriage Be Within The Scope of Government?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xerographica View Post
    Over at the Bleeding Heart Libertarian website, Jason Brennan wrote an entry on marriage equality... Mmm, these bullets I'm biting are tasty. Here's the trap he (a BHL) sets out for regular libertarians...

    1. The government gives married people rights and privileges.
    2. Rights and privileges established by the government are unjust.
    3. Allowing gay people to get married would increase the total amount of injustice.
    There is a fallacy here.

    Another way of looking at it is:
    1. The government denies same sex couples rights and privileges.
    2. The government denying one group the rights and privileges that another group has is unjust.
    3. The government no longer prohibiting gay people to get marred would increase the total amount of justice.
    Also, we need to legalize recreational drugs and prostitution.

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    Re: Should Marriage Be Within The Scope of Government?

    I disagree with your second premise. Some privileges granted by government serve the benefit of society-- not least of which are the copyright and patent laws that make intellectual property possible.

    The privileges granted to married couples are in keeping with the purpose of encouraging marriage for the benefit of society.

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    Re: Should Marriage Be Within The Scope of Government?

    Quote Originally Posted by Viktyr Gehrig View Post
    I disagree with your second premise. Some privileges granted by government serve the benefit of society-- not least of which are the copyright and patent laws that make intellectual property possible.

    The privileges granted to married couples are in keeping with the purpose of encouraging marriage for the benefit of society.
    I agree and there is no reason to discriminate those benefits by denying them to a part of society. It is the same as the racial discrimination that used to exist.

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    Re: Should Marriage Be Within The Scope of Government?

    Quote Originally Posted by samsmart View Post
    There is a fallacy here.

    Another way of looking at it is:
    1. The government denies same sex couples rights and privileges.
    2. The government denying one group the rights and privileges that another group has is unjust.
    3. The government no longer prohibiting gay people to get marred would increase the total amount of justice.
    There aren't a lot of options here.

    A. the government gives perks to married people. In this case it's discriminating against single people.

    B. the government does not give perks to married people. In this case there's no point for marriage to be within the scope of government.

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    Re: Should Marriage Be Within The Scope of Government?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xerographica View Post
    There aren't a lot of options here.

    A. the government gives perks to married people. In this case it's discriminating against single people.

    B. the government does not give perks to married people. In this case there's no point for marriage to be within the scope of government.
    It's not a perk. It's an incentive for the government to hire good employees. And the private sector provides them as well.
    Also, we need to legalize recreational drugs and prostitution.

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