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This pisses me off

Some Congressional asshat from Texas has introduced a bill designed to prevent local governments from setting up WiFi hotspots. It's supposedly "unfair competition," or some damn thing.

Small-government conservatives (before they became an endangered species) were routinely labeled "pro-business" in years past, when what they really were was simply "anti-regulation." Because of the tenor of the times, however, regulation in those days was more likely to try to rein in corporate excess than to protect corporate profits. Hence libertarians were often perceived as loving "big business."

How times have changed. Modern technology and a new political climate have resolved sharp differences between two different camps that had been papered over until recently. On the one hand, there are limited-government conservatives and libertarians who chafe at unnecessary government intrusion in the commercial sphere, regardless of whom it benefits. On the other side are "conservatives" like Congressman Sessions here, to whom corporate profit is more important than restraining government meddling. This latter group is sadly similar to the pernicious stereotype that many liberals have applied to all conservatives in the past.

Count me among the former group. The only problem is, I'm afraid there may be more of them than there are of us.

Fortunately, as with much congressional hi-tech stupidity, technology will likely render this bill moot even if it should become law. Haven't they ever heard of Starbuck's?

(Hat tip: Jill)


who chafe at unnecessary government intrusion in the commercial sphere

I dare say that there are some libertarians and small-government types who view government-run WiFi networks as "unnecessary government intrusion in the commercial sphere" as well, though. After all, it is hard to call oneself strictly "limited government" when you're agitating for an increase in government-run businesses and services. This law does raise federalism concerns, of course, and I would oppose it. (Even though I'm very skeptical of government-run WiFi networks; they seem like giveaways to the relatively wealthy at the expense of the poorly and less technology savvy who pay for them with their taxes but don't benefit.) However, it is a law that prohibits government from doing something, so under many readings it is limited government.

Would a federal law restricting, say, eminent domain abuses by local governments be limited government or not, for example? It would violate federalism, certainly.

Or to take another example, suppose someone proposed a bill banning state and local governments from setting up their own public health insurance systems, like TennCare in Tennessee. Certainly it would violate federalism, and certainly there would be qualms from libertarians and other small government types about it. Yet you would also expect some ambivalence about defending the right of local governments to meddle in the economy.

A truly libertarian position might be to oppose this bill on federalism concerns, but to oppose the government-run WiFi networks as well.

I hardly this is a prime example to hang your hat on Congressional types opposing limited government. It may well be a prime example to point to of them ignoring federalism, certainly. But one can have nationally imposed limited government (that violates federalism).

I'll agree, the wisdom of municipally sponsored WiFi hotspots is separate issue altogether, and dubious at best.

I have to agree with John here. As someone who favors limited government, I don't like the idea of municipalities providing this kind of service. Private industry can and will do so. See the Starbucks example.

OTOH, I don't know where in the Constitution Congress finds the right to prohibit municipalities or states from providing this service. Oh, that's right - the Raich decision pretty much confirms that the feds to regulate anything that even vaguely involves money.

It's interesting how you guys don't even seem to think a LOCAL government should be setting up such services in its community. Presumably, that means that you don't think communities ought to have schools, snow removal, trash collection, or anything else. In other words, let everyone clean the street in front of his/her house?

These WiFi hotspots accomplish two things...they provide a service to the community, especially in cases where people may not be able to afford monthly broadband fees, and they also bring in customers for local businesses. I don't see a whole lot of right-wingers objecting to government practices that HELP businesses make money (see also: airline bailouts, federal energy money going to former Enron execs, etc.).

I have not studied the bill, but I have heard it suggested it may prevent cities even from operating their own police radio nets.

In response to Jill:

Why not take the argument the other way? Why shouldn't government (local or otherwise) provide cars, toothpaste and tv broadcasting?

In order to avoid sliding down the slippery slope to socialism, everyone should apply a hard "essential need / market failure" proviso to any government service.

On that basis:
Government army and police - definitely
Government schools and hospitals - maybe
Government wireless networking - don't be silly.

The nation won't founder and no-one will die because government doesn't provide wireless networking.

"These WiFi hotspots accomplish two things...they provide a service to the community, especially in cases where people may not be able to afford monthly broadband fees, and they also bring in customers for local businesses. I don't see a whole lot of right-wingers objecting to government practices that HELP businesses make money (see also: airline bailouts, federal energy money going to former Enron execs, etc.)."

Your assertions are dubious at best. I've been looking at this issue for years, and have yet to see any data that bears out the fact that these municipal services spur economic development. There's a reason that telcos won't provide service in these communities. As for you second point about conservatives not complaining about other services. Umm...I do.

Regardless of whether or not you think a community *should* provide wifi access, making a law that says that they're not *allowed* to seems silly to me. As long as it's not the only internet access allowed in the area, it shouldn't be illegal. Maybe whether or not it's a priority in that particular community should be addressed before laws against it are passed.

Philadelphia is a good practical example of this concept. Setting the smaller goverment example aside, I think it's ridiculous that the City of Philadelphia is planning on spending millions to provide free wireless internet service city-wide at a time when they are closing firehouses and the DA is dropping cases due to budget cuts.

Right, but if, say, a small wealthy community wanted to put wifi in at their municipal complex, or the library or something, that shuold be their business.


One more point, this sounds awfully similar to the legislation being introduced that will restrict what the NWS can do, so as to not compete with the private weather services, like AccuWeather.

I emailed the following to Instapundit, who linked to this post as part of a larger article:

Under "So much for Federalism" you quote Cynical Nation:

"Modern technology and a new political climate have resolved sharp differences between two different camps..."

The difference between these two camps is identified thusly:

Camp One: "limited-government conservatives and libertarians who chafe at unnecessary government intrusion in the commercial sphere, regardless of whom it benefits"

Camp Two: "..."conservatives" to whom corporate profit is more important than restraining government meddling."

In other words, the difference that is supposedly highlighted by recent events is that the first camp supposedly doesn't like the govt to be in the market, while the second camp will accept (and perhaps even seek) the govt in the market.

However, the context in which you place this observation doesn't support that conclusion. In fact, your context makes exactly the opposite point: that the second camp does NOT want the govt to be in the market. As specifically identified in your excerpt from the mobilepipeline site, Congressman Sessions' bill seeks to keep govt OUT of the market - the Telcom market. So as an explicit example of the second camp, Sessions' action is actually that attributed to the FIRST camp.

Ironically enough, IF Cynical Nation and/or you are examples of the first camp, then there does indeed appear to be a sharp difference between the two camps. But CN's identification of that difference is exactly BACKWARDS. It is the supposed "limited-government conservatives and libertarians" who are turning their backs on their principles and seeking "government intrusion in the commercial sphere", because their OWN profit (as consumers) "is more important than restraining government meddling."

Thus one of the the two camps IS acting wrongly. But it is not Sessions' camp. It is the camp of the "limited-government conservatives and libertarians" - and they are acting wrongly by their OWN supposed standard.

Sorry, RadCap. Whatever you think of municipalities providing WiFi hotspots (and I'll admit it seems a bit silly,) it is no concern to anyone who lives outside said municipality. To anyone who resides in the United States, however, the Sessions bill is an affront to those who support the principles of federalism and the limited powers of the federal government vis-a-vis local governments.

It is true that the issue of government supplied services is separate from the issue of Federal government power vs state/local government rights. Nevertheless, it does seem ironic that those (well, Instapundit at least) wishing to limit Federal intrusion seem happy for essentially socialist provision of a non-essential service simply because they immediately benefit from the result.

This rather selfish reasoning by otherwise conservative types is what keeps the BBC going here in the UK, despite the appalling nature of its concept, funding and market perversion.

On the subject of federalism, it strikes me that the argument has long been won by the big (Fed) government types via the US Supreme Court's arbitrary and selective incorporation of the 14th Amendment over the last century or so. That rather insidious process is what really made the States entirely junior to the Federal Government. The interstate commerce clause being used to regulate entirely private dope; and proposals to nationally limit state telcom activity, are merely the dust settling on the decline of the various states into novelty nostalgia.

Is this cynical enough for you guys? ;-)

Actually Barry, I wasn't addressing what I thought about 'municipal wifi' at all. I was simply pointing out that the logic of the argument you presented was in error - and actually REVERSED the position of the parties involved.

Now your comments above do not address that error at all. Instead you switch from an accusation about who wants to keep govt out of the market and who doesnt - to an argument about you wanting to keep Federal Govt out of State and Local Govt.

Those are two VERY different arguments.

Now IF you want to repudiate the claim that libertarians and small govt conservatives are trying to keep govt OUT of commerce in this instance, and that Sessions et al are trying to get government INTO commerce, I will then be HAPPY to shift to the equally important topic of federalism and the proper and improper scope of federal power.

Until such a repudiation, however, I can only reiterate that the argument you have made about the parties involved is the complete OPPOSITE of their ACTUAL positions.

Jeebus, Radcap, KINDLY stop BREAKING my BALLS in ALL CAPS! I'll bet you're a *lot* of fun at cocktail parties.

The Sessions bill is objectionable to me on *both* principles -- federalism and limited government. The case for the former is obvious. The case for the latter is obvious when you look at the purported rationale -- to protect the profits of broadband service providers by stifling "unfair" competition. I chose to emphasize the latter in my original post because it was part of a larger point about politicians becoming too beholden to corporate interests. My point is that Congress is taking an increasingly active (and anti-federalist) role in safeguarding corporate interests. Nitpick me all you want to; it's a stupid bill.

So - you are *not* repudiating your reversal of the actual positions the two camps are taking in this instance.

You are standing by the claim that "conservatives" are trying to get govt *into* the market by *forbidding* govt from getting into the market.

And you are standing by the claim that supposed "limited-government conservatives and libertarians" are trying to keep government from "meddling" in the market by allowing govt to meddle in the market.

Thanks. Those two blatant contradictions explain everything anyone needs to know about the rationality of your argument.

See, this is why libertarianism is doomed to fail. Rather than unite to fight a commonly perceived threat, two libertarians will attack each other and split hairs over *why* they're opposing the threat.

Anyway, thanks for laying off the caps. Now go picket a lighthouse or something.

You make multiple false assumptions here - and you do so as a means of (predictably) ignoring the actual argument against your position - ie that it is self-contradictory.

First, you assume I am a libertarian. I have not provided *any* political argument whatsoever. I have merely applied logic to your argument, and identified it as self-contradictory. Since the application of logic is not limited to libertarians, you must have used divine inspiration to 'identify' my political affiliation - since reason could not have led you to your conclusion. Given your continued and insistent embrace of contradiction - ie violation of the second Law of Logic (the Law of Non-Contradiction) - your reliance on such non-rational means of gaining 'knowledge' is hardly surprising.

Then you assume I have staked a political position here. I have not. The *only* thing I have done is point out the *fundamental* error in logic you made in your post. This tells you nothing about *my* viewpoint on the matter whatsoever. It simply tells you that I use logic and adhere to the Laws of Identity.

For instance, you further assume we perceive a common threat. Now I must *remind* you that we never *got* into that discussion because - as I *clearly* indicated - I refuse to proceed down a logical path which *begins* with a contradiction and is thus *immediately* invalid.

If all these baseless assumtions were not enough, you continue by assuming the difference between my assumed position and yours is relatively meaningless (merely a splitting of hairs). Of course, since I have not staked out any position, it is impossible for you to guage the relative similarities or differences between our positions. Or, at least it is impossible for you to do so using reason and logic.

Barry - if you were honestly interested in determining the truth or falsehood of ideas (be they your own or someone else's), you would have addressed and eliminated the contradiction in your characterization of libertarians and conservatives. Instead, you have compounded that original logical error with further, more blatant errors in logic (in the form of numerous baseless assumptions). And in the end, you engage in a final logical fallacy - the attempt to belittle (with the lighthouse wisecrack) the person pointing out all your errors.

None of these are the actions of a *rational* man. So, where I said the blatant contradiction in your argument explains everything anyone needs to know about that argument, so do your illogical actions explain everything anyone needs to know about you.

Nuff said.

blah blah BLAH blah blah, blah blah blah blah BLAH blah blah BLAH blah, blah blah blah blah BLAH blah blah, blah blah blah blah BLAH blah, blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah BLAH blah, blah blah blah blah BLAH blah blah, blah blah blah blah BLAH blah, blah blah

Radcap, you make some good points, but your dimsissal of the author's argument as a simple-minded contradiction is unwarranted and unfair. I know you disagree with him, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's guilty of a logical fallacy.

Let's set aside the local WiFi initiative for a moment, as you yourself did in a previous post. Let's look at it strictly on the federal level. What we have is a bill in Congress to take a decidedly anti-federalist action (and on that point we all agree) to what end? Not to prevent local government meddling in the private sector, as you seem to focus on. Rather, they did it solely to protect corporate interests. It's government meddling at the behest of their corporate lobbyists. Agree with him or not, the author has a point. Now chill out.

Who are you kidding, Radcap? You're obviously a libertarian! Why?

  • Only a libertarian can be such a tiresome debater
  • Your handle suggests "Radical Capitalist"
  • You want proof? Okay, here goes: Many libertarians annoy me. You annoy me. Therefore, you are a libertarian. QED.
Now how's that for a logical fallacy? Hey Radcap, you'd better hurry quickly to the "Protein Wisdom" website! I hear Jeff Goldstein just appealed to the Ad Hominem Tu Quoque fallacy!! Better go set him straight, Mr. Annoying Libertarian Logic Professor!



I could respond to claim that Barry is not guilty of logical fallacies simply by pointing to the post he made right before yours. However, since you are earnest in your argument, I will address its contents directly.

First, I will say I disagree with your primary assertion. I have identified Barry's argument accurately and fairly. It is indeed a contradiction (whether you seek to characterize it as simple-minded or not is up to you. I did not make such a judgment).

Barry's post makes a *very* specific argument. And it is *not* an argument about keeping federal government out of local government. That is something he introduced in the comments here as part of his diversionary tactics, designed to shift focus *away* from the fundamental errors in his *actual* argument.

Reread his post. As I *clearly* identified, Barry claims that new technology etc has revealed a *distinct* difference between libertarians et al, and conservatives. And he *specifically* identifies that difference thusly:

Libs: dont want the govt in the market
Cons: accept and even seek the govt in the market

Barry then identifies Sessions' actions as that of a conservative - ie that Sessions supposedly seeks to interject govt in the market. However, that is the *opposite* of the *facts*. The fact is, Sessions is seeking to keep government *from* entering the market. In other words, Sessions is acting in the manner Barry attributed *not* to conservatives, but to libertarians. Yet Barry claims that Sessions is an example of conservatives *as* he has identified them.

That is a *blatant* contradiction. And *as* such, it voids the argument right at that point. One need consider no other facts because that contradiction alone invalidates his position.

Now, you are suggesting we look at Sessions' *motivations* as well, though, since Barry included motivations as part of his identification of each camp. The problem is, such motivations have no bearing on the *fact* that the bill seeks to prevent govt from entering the market. This fact remains the same whether the motivation is capitalist, communist, libertarian or martian. Which means, *even* if the motivation fits Barry's definition of a conservative, the actions will still remain those Barry identified as belonging to libertarians.

However, I will humor you for a moment. And I will accept for the sake of the argument that Sessions was motivated by corporate profit. So what do we have then? We have a man (Sessions) seeking to keep government out of the market for reasons of corporate benefit. In other words, we have a man whose actions are those Barry identifies as a libertarian, but whose motivations are those he identifies as a conservative.

Thus, as support for his assertion that there are two camps who behave and are motivated in specific ways, Barry provides an example which fits NEITHER of his definitions. In other words, Barry provides *no* evidence in support of his assertion about the two camps. And, as such, that assertion is revealed as *baseless*.

Therefore, we are left with my original observation that Barry presents a contradiction when he claims Sessions is a conservative (as defined *by* Barry). But now, as you clearly show, we are also left with the observation that Barry's identification of the differences between these two camps is completely unsupported. As such, you have just helped to reveal that his *whole* initial post is completely irrational - and thus needs to be completely rewritten. In this, Barry would be wise to follow your suggestion and to look at the federal level - specifically at the difference between those who seek to prevent 'big govt' meddling in local govt, and those who accept or seek federal govt 'meddling' in local govt.

Given Barry's most recent response, however (another in the series of logical fallacies he keeps having to resort to in order to avoid honestly addressing any of the arguments against his reasoning) - I do not expect him to change his behavior and start to act rationally. But given all his responses here, at least you are now aware of the means by which he reaches his conclusions, and thus you know exactly what to do with them.


PS - Cap City Bomber is apparently an example of 'birds of a feather flocking together', in that he and Barry are engaged in the same purposefully irrational discourse. Logic doesn't serve them? Fine. They abandon it and resort to personal attacks.

Anything to support their whim derived opinions. And anything to try chase away those who use logic in revealing their baseless positions. Identifying reality is not their goal. Defending themselves from reality is their end - as the growing snarls in their attitude clearly show.

Again, such ridicule against things like the application of logic tell you all you need to know about them.

You're never alone with schizophrenia.

Jill, do you see what I have to go through when I agree with you?

Yeah - see what he has to go through? He has to put up with someone pointing out his error in logic.

The poor guy.

I'll have you know my logic is Aristotlian all the way. (Or is it Elizabethan? I always confuse those.)

Since you ask, the term is actually actually "Heraclitian"

You mean "Heraclitean?" Jesus, it was a joke. Do you know about things like joking? Humor? Stuff like that?

Actually, *both* spellings are accepted by scholars (nice attempt at diversion, though, by focusing on the non-essential).

And yes I am aware you were *attempting* a joke. Just as I am aware you were using your supposed humor as simply *another* in the *long* line of your attempts to *evade* addressing and correcting the contradiction in your position - ie *evading* having to deal with the fact that your argument as presented is completely invalid.

Of course, in your new attack on me (on the non-essential of recognizing humor), you have to ignore the fact that there is no such thing as Heraclitian logic in order to hurtle your accusation. In other words, you have to *ignore* the fact that I responded to your attempt at humor *with* humor. Except, where your attempt at humor sought to divert from your errors, mine focused right back on those error (which explains your obvious irritation).

So we can add that little evasion of fact to your already impressive list of attempts to dodge reality.

You know, it really is sad to consider the inordinate amount of time and energy you have spent here playing the logical fallacy cards you keep in your vast deck of irrationalities. When are you going to realize that these attempts at faking and evading reality are not going to work this time?

You really have the Gambler's Syndrome when it comes to irrationality. You have apparently gotten away with using logical fallacies so many times in the past that you think - if you *just* keep trying, you'll get away with it again. Sorry to disappoint you.

But remember, when it comes to an addiction to illogic, the first step is admitting your problem.

Come on. I know you can do it.


"You know, it really is sad to consider the inordinate amount of time and energy you have spent here..."

"Earth to mirror."

"...the first step is admitting your problem."

Come in mirror. Are you receiving?

Ah, the logical error of quoting out of context. Boy the birds of a feather really DO flock together here.

The fact that one spends time is not a problem. It is *what* one spends one's time on that may or may not be a problem.

Now, as I identified - and you chose to explicitly leave out of your quote (*your* logical fallacy) - Barry is spending his time using logical fallacy after logical fallacy in an attempt to obscure the fact that he has embraced a contradiction. In other words, he is engaging in a fraud. He is trying to fake reality. He is trying to get unwary people to accept a contradiction as the truth.

I, on the other hand, have spent my time using the laws of logic to reveal his every attempt to hide that fact. In other words, I have spent time defending the unwary reader from Barry's intentional falsehood by revealing the nature of his *method* of reaching conclusions - using whim instead of logic - and his blatant violation of the laws of identity (accepting a contradiction).

Now, given these facts, combined with the method of the cronies (like yourself) who have tried to assist Barry in his intellectual fraud, it is obvious that this is an irrational little blog, usually frequented by the illogically like minded. As such, it might normally be a waste of time to bother pointing out the errors of logic to a handful of people who explicitly refuse to accept logic. Thus, your out of context quote *might* have had some merit. Except for the fact that I, like many others, ended up here via an Instalanche. In other words, many people ended up here, unsuspecting - unaware of the thorough irrationality of Barry.

Therefore, the time and effort expended reavealing Barry's intellectual corruptness has been well spent. Consider it a public service for all those innocents who came here thinking they were getting a rational argument, but instead got the old bait-and-switch.


Put simply, defending reality is *never* a problem - whereas defending fraud is *always* a problem.

You would be wise to learn that.

These modern wind up toys are great!

Whereas these ancient blocks are thick and useless. It's surprising they are around anymore.

Meanwhile, the ends have been served, so I am content. :)

Awe, the spring's gone all limp and anonymous.

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