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Liberals Shocked when out-debated on the Environment

I was recently on a back country skiing expedition. My group was staying at a communal back country cabin called Uncle Bud's Cabin. It's a 6 mile treck in and the cabin is located just below tree line at 11,380ft.

We met and made friends with another group staying at the cabin that was comprised of 4 friends celebrating there 60th birthdays. They were very interesting and good people, but fully stuck in the matrix. One was your typical bush defending "conservative", another a full blown liberal, and the other two somewhere in between, although they all believed in global warming.

As conversations sometimes do, ours ended up on politics. I sat back and mainly listened and asked questions. I usually don't try to associate myself with a label. I find that if you can do that you can really explain the philosophy without constantly fighting the stigma of someones particular stereotype.

I was able to establish some credibility amongst the group simply by asking good questions. They appreciated my perspective on foreign policy when I challenged them to view things from the shoes of others (specifically the Pakistani as was appropriate at that point in the conversation) and how we would feel if another country was meddling in our politics as much as we do in theirs.

Then one of my friends announced that I was a libertarian and suddenly my roll of asking the questions was gone and many of the questions came my way.

I was first challenged on public lands as they were popular amongst the group and we were all out enjoying the beauty of this national forest. I explained the tragedy of the commons and they were mildly satisfied, but the show stopper came when I explained the libertarian stance on pollution. This is what I said:

"Libertarians don't believe in regulations because they are too weak. Regulations essentially say that a certain amount of pollution is acceptable and the costs of that acceptable amount would be spread throughout society. I believe that the polluter should pay the full cost of the pollution"

They were intrigued and asked how you could do that.

"It certainly isn't an easy issue, especially when you have pollutants that float around the air or through streams, but I can't imagine that it would be any harder than setting an arbitrary acceptable level and regulating that. The key to it all is a strict enforcement of property rights, but unfortunately long ago the courts ruled that your property rights can be infringed upon for "the greater good".

Then I followed up "as long as we accept this system of regulations large corporations will spend billions lobbying to get favorable regulations so that they can dump trillions of dollars worth of pollutants on us. If we made them pay the full costs of their operations including the cost of pollution they would, hopefully, use those resources to come up with innovative ways to actually reduce the amount they are polluting. The incentive structure would be in place to reward good behavior. With regulations the winners are the ones with the best lobbyists."

No one wanted to argue with that. They almost seemed perplexed that they agreed with this "radical" thinking. The biggest liberal in the group seemed very surprised that he was stuck with nothing to say, he simply said "well, at least you have thought this through. most libertarians I talk to just want to smoke weed and haven't thought about issues past that"

Another just said they completely agreed with it.

The conversation was good and went on to many other topics, and as we parted for the evening the bush defender said "well, I think I'm going to just vote straight libertarian next election". Winning.

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And now you know why ...

... the Propaganda Media must always shut down any REAL discussion of such topics.

They are the gatekeepers for a reason, but maybe that is finally in the process of changing.

A small win...

These types of conversations are easier to have nowadays. More people are aware of the actual important topics.

Did you mention to these folks that you smoked some weed before you schooled them?

What a great inspirational

What a great inspirational read for the morning--thanks! You sound just like me in the dream where I change personalities and become and eloquent interlocuter. :-) Sorry to ask a stupid question, but what's the tragedy of the commons?

The Tragedy of the Commons ...

... is the idea that if "nobody" owns a resource because "everybody" (i.e. "the Public") owns it, then eventually that resource will be destroyed because there is no private interest enforcing the stewardship of the resource.

The classic example is the wild buffalo on the plains of the American Midwest in the 18th-19th Centuries. Because "the government owned the land," anybody could go and kill as many buffalo as they wanted. Eventually, the buffalo became near extinct.

When the government of the former USSR fell apart, Westerners were able to get in and look around areas that hadn't been seen by "unofficial" eyes in decades. The horrific destruction of the environment was obvious. Areas that were forests just a few decades earlier had become desert land.

This is the Tragedy of the Commons.

Thank you!

Thank you!

A good example is public

A good example is public grazing. If you owned the land you would have an incentive to take your animals off the land before they overgraze it so that the grass would regenerate and you would have future feed. But if its public, the you have no incentive to take your animals off because someone else's will just overgraze it and the land becomes as good as the least responsible participant. It's like a race to the bottom.

Well done...

Jedi...These are not the regulations you are looking for...

Bad food, worse weather, please rEVOLution the states so I can bring my family back home!
Rosa Koire for for President!

Well done...

Jedi...These are not the regulations you are looking for...

Bad food, worse weather, please rEVOLution the states so I can bring my family back home!
Rosa Koire for for President!

Awesome Show. Great Job!

Winning people over to liberty, one at a time.

Great job husker

most libertarians I talk to just want to smoke weed and haven't thought about issues past that

That's all I really wanna do... that and home school my children. Unfortunately in order to exercise those freedoms I need to for some reason explain why I should have those freedoms to begin with... and thus begins the wider discussion.

If weed were right now "legal" instead of just lawful (it's not unconstitutional to smoke weed) - I prob never would have found Ron Paul, the Daily Paul... etc etc... I'd have my feet up on my hemp farm smoking a big fatty while my children ask questions... the answers for which I direct them to the internet to try and separate fact from fiction.


I have wondered for years why the conservatives have abdicated any support for the environment to the liberals. The big Republican mouth piece, Rush actually goes so far as to openly mock the environmentalists. I would think to be a conservative, by definition, would mean to conserve the environment. You made excellent points with the tragedy of the commons and the property rights points.



'Peace is a powerful message.' Ron Paul

"well, at least you have

"well, at least you have thought this through. most libertarians I talk to just want to smoke weed and haven't thought about issues past that"


These stories always make me

These stories always make me smile, thankyou HuskerSkier for sharing it :)

let's hope the neo-con

let's hope the neo-con doesn't fall for glenn beck


i wonder what your liberal

i wonder what your liberal friend thought of those wild horses being assassinated by the feds


you did think things through.

you did think things through. i think i'm better off explaining the conspiracy.

you can call this number too: 1-800-TEL-JURY

they will send you free information about Jury Nullification so you can hand out the propaganda to people.

good job. you are a better man than i am.


This sentence says it all:

The biggest liberal in the group seemed very surprised that he was stuck with nothing to say, he simply said "well, at least you have thought this through. most libertarians I talk to just want to smoke weed and haven't thought about issues past that"

When libertarians shut up about 'weed' success is not far away.
It is the number one killer of a good change to talk about issues . Talk about property rights, taxes, unalienable rights and all the other subjects but never ever mention weed. It is the number one showstopper and everything said after that is ignored.
If you want to use a sample, talk about raw milk, that does not have a stigma. Once you mention weed, you are labeled a 'druggie' and all respect is lost, even if everything you say is absolutely true.


A well articulate libertarian is always a good way to open their minds to other view points.

well played!

Not an easy crowd either, respectful and logical, staying away from stereotypes is important because if ewe let things get too emotional , logic goes out the window.


I like your use of the word--sheep!

It was a tough crowd, but

they were very engaging and very respectful. They wouldn't let emotion take over and therefore were willing to listen to logic.

Coase Theorem

Econ major here, my environmentalist friend said that the liberty movement and the environmental movement have a lot they can work on together. Coase Theorem is SICK!

Ransberger pivot


Works every time.

"Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty" TJ

Yes, Most times I just assume

Yes, Most times I just assume that the other person knows I have altruistic intentions, but that is a bad assumption to make. It's weird to me because I assume most people want to do good, but for some reason many people assume you want poor education (to site your example in the link). I think that is what is most destructive about the media and talk radio, they pit and position the "opposition" in this false l vs r paradigm as evil people that want totalitarianism or something... dividing and conquering. It's always good to start out with common ground.

it's a great technique, but it does not work every single time

Sometimes people will label you and then won't listen. What you say will literally not register.

"All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind." - Khalil Gibran
"The Perfect Man has no self; the Holy Man has no merit; the Sage has no fame." - Chuang Tzu


I think I could get around the libertarian label, if I applied Biblical logic against sending our kids to die fighting wars for two opposing forms of Islam.

We lose, all the way around! Some of them would rather kill us for not being Muslims, in my thoughts. But, that only applies to the radical Muslims. Regular Muslims tolerate us, as we tolerate them! We can be friends without having the same beliefs, or no beliefs at all!

Most liberals

are difficult to talk to. Good job.


But what is considered

But what is considered pollution? In order for someone to pay someone else needs to bring the complaint - a claim that their property was infringed upon.

Very inspiring. You

Very inspiring. You demonstrated how to intelligently walk that tightrop...and hopefully lead the others across. Thanks for the insight.