Penn Jillette Awesomeness

Most of those who read the online libertarian rags have seen this, but its awesome enough to require repitition

What makes me libertarian is what makes me an atheist -- I don't know. If I don't know, I don't believe. I don't know exactly how we got here, and I don't think anyone else does, either. We have some of the pieces of the puzzle and we'll get more, but I'm not going to use faith to fill in the gaps. I'm not going to believe things that TV hosts state without proof. I'll wait for real evidence and then I'll believe.

And I don't think anyone really knows how to help everyone. I don't even know what's best for me. Take my uncertainty about what's best for me and multiply that by every combination of the over 300 million people in the United States and I have no idea what the government should do.

President Obama sure looks and acts way smarter than me, but no one is 2 to the 300 millionth power times smarter than me. No one is even 2 to the 300 millionth times smarter than a squirrel. I sure don't know what to do about an AA+ rating and if we should live beyond our means and about compromise and sacrifice. I have no idea. I'm scared to death of being in debt. I was a street juggler and carny trash -- I couldn't get my debt limit raised, I couldn't even get a debt limit -- my only choice was to live within my means. That's all I understand from my experience, and that's not much.

It's amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness.

People need to be fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered, and if we're compassionate we'll help them, but you get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right. There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint.

Who is at the other end of the spectrum?  Well, how about Brad Delong arguing for a return to technocratic rule by our betters

America's best hope for sane technocratic governance required the elimination of the Republican Party from our political system as rapidly as possible.

Technocratic utopia is of course a mirage, a supreme act of hubris, that any group of people could have the incentives or information required to manage the world top-down for us.  If I told an environmentalists that I wanted ten of the smartest biologists in the world to manage the Amazon top-down and start changing the ratios of species and courses of rivers and such in order to better optimize the rain forest, they would say I was mad.   Any such attempt would lead to disaster (just see what smart management has done for our US forests).  But the same folks will blithely advocate for top-down control of human economic activity.  The same folks who reject top-down creationism in favor of the emergent order of evolution reject the emergent order of markets and human uncoerced interaction in favor of top-down command and control.

More on technocrats here and here

  • http://www.grouchyconservativepundits.com Mike C.

    Excellent! "I don't know" is the least appreciated and most under-utilized truth in the English language.

  • marco73

    Mr Jillette also has the proper response for anywho who spouts that they know what will solve all of our problems: Bullshit!

  • http://tjic.com TJIC

    Great rant.

    > President Obama sure looks and acts way smarter than me,

    Gotta disagree w Penn there.

  • morganovich

    i liked this quote don posted;

    Quotation of the Day…

    by Don Boudreaux on August 18, 2011

    in Nanny State

    … is one of Frederic Bastiat’s incisive critiques of the nanny-state. It’s found on page 435 of Frederic Bastiat, The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics (Liberty Fund, 2011); it is from an essay that originally appeared in 1848, entitled “Laissez-faire”:

    This is simply absurd. Do you seriously have such faith in human wisdom that you want universal sufferage and government of all by all and then you proclaim these very men whom you consider fit to govern others unfit to govern themselves?

  • Mark

    I like Penn Jillette, but the problem is that "I don't know" only goes so far as a credo for government. If that is the basis of libertarianism then, and I don't doubt it, it just illustrates the limitations I have pointed out.

  • Pat Moffitt

    Even if a technocrat were "2 to the 3 millionth times smarter" than the average individual it would still be insufficient "intelligence" or computational power to control a chaotic self organizing system. Such systems see solutions emerge as an "invisible hand" from near infinite iterations at each moment in time adapting to the feedback of the previous iteration in a continuous search for fit. A search for solutions that can never be perfect or final -only adaptive.
    Even a godlike technocrat must fail. System control requires continuous adaptation to feedback not available in the required quantity or time scale to the technocrat. Nor can the technocrat know the continuously adapting metric and ranking used to make individual choices fitting individual needs. But perhaps the greatest reason technocrats fail is hubris- a belief their intelligence is sufficiently great to divine a perfect solution for a system that cannot have one.

  • DMac

    I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University. William F. Buckley, Jr.

    True then, and more so now.

  • Dan

    I like the "I don't know" aspect of this. You definitely don't hear it enough in public discourse, where all the talking heads and politicians claim to have the answers.

    I've always admired politicians who admitted when they simply weren't strong on a topic. For instance, when RFK was running for president, he visited a farm state for an outdoor rally. As he was speaking, a wind gust blew away a small sheet of paper from his podium. "Uh oh," Kennedy joked. "There goes my agriculture policy." It got a big laugh from the farmers at the event, who knew Kennedy wasn't strong on that topic.

  • Ted Rado

    It has always amazed me that we are taught to administer "tough love" to our kids as they grow up, but once they become grown citizens, we should give them (via gov) a lifetime of freebies that we cannor afford. Talk about mixed messages. We are now reaping the rewards of paying people to be irresponsible loafers.

  • Ted Rado

    Re Warren's comment about being an atheist. I am not a religious person. The only times I am in a house of wordhip is for weddings, funerals, and bar mitzvahs. As an engineer, I believe in the scientific explanation for the phenomena we see around us, such as the laws of physics. There are a couple of things that have I have not figured out. Where did the speck that went "bang" come from, and where did the laws of physiscs come from? If I could find an explanation for those points, I would be 100% convinced there is no supernatural power. Everything else I can find an explanation for.

  • Fred from Canuckistan

    Technically, us folks who do not Believe and admit we do not know, are Agnostics.

    But you can still be a Liberterian at the same time.

  • Dan

    I don't see a lot of people being paid by the govt. to be irresponsible loafers, and the few people I know who did lose jobs and take unemployment checks were anything but happy to be doing so and quickly found new jobs.

    I don't deny that some loafing occurs, but I don't think it's epidemic, nor is it the cause for our country's deep financial difficulties.

    There are a bunch of reasons our debt exploded. The Bush admin lowered taxes and then started two wars. It also added a Medicare drug benefit. Then Obama mismanaged a stimulus program that didn't succeed in cutting unemployment but did pump up the deficit quite a bit further.

    But you can't just blame politicians. There are a lot of other macro-economic factors driving this. For one, globalization has allowed companies to easily move jobs out of the United States, which keeps unemployment high here and cuts tax revenues.

    Oil prices have tripled over the last decade because of increased demand from China and India. The higher oil prices cut down on businesses' willingness to invest, and act as a major additional tax on the poor and middle class, keeping them from purchasing other products.

    Medicare sucks up money because we have an increasingly elderly population and far more expensive medical treatments. No politician wants to be the one who tells granny she can't have her government health insurance.

    To address the debt, we need do a bunch of things, but most are not ones that Congress, the president and the Fed have the courage to do. Instead, they'll pay lip service.

    We need to reform Medicare and cut health costs overall. This can be done partly through establishing effective tort reform and also by cutting way back on what Medicare will pay for all the unnecessary medical testing that goes on (the WSJ had a great article the other day about how most of these expensive tests for cancer and other diseases actually have no benefits).

    We should also exit the wars, cut defense spending, and require additional taxes from anyone making over $1 million. Any additional tax receipts should be mandated only for use in paying down debt, not for any more pork programs.

    The administration needs to get out of the way and let energy resources be developed in this country. Yes - fracking for natural gas can have environmental consequences. But no form of energy is truly clean, and wind and solar have yet to show economic relevance. There is a lot of potential for domestic energy production gains. A growing domestic energy industry could be a huge job supplier - look what's happening in Texas and North Dakota (two states that not coincidentally don't have as many regulations on energy development).

    We should also raise interest rates from current low levels that discourage saving. These low rates also encourage the formation of destructive bubbles in housing and other areas of the economy. Higher rates would help curb inflation (which is up despite the weak economy) and keep a lid on energy prices by making the dollar stronger.

  • astonerii

    "What makes me libertarian is what makes me an atheist — I don’t know. If I don’t know, I don’t believe. I don’t know exactly how we got here, and I don’t think anyone else does, either. We have some of the pieces of the puzzle and we’ll get more, but I’m not going to use faith to fill in the gaps. I’m not going to believe things that TV hosts state without proof. I’ll wait for real evidence and then I’ll believe."

    What about libertarianism does he know? Pretty sure he knows nothing, he takes on faith much.

    "And I don’t think anyone really knows how to help everyone. I don’t even know what’s best for me. Take my uncertainty about what’s best for me and multiply that by every combination of the over 300 million people in the United States and I have no idea what the government should do."

    All the more reason to limit certain activities, particularly those that are precisely known to cause harm to the whole of society, and thus to each and every individual. Easy divorce should be done away with. No option for same sex partnerships outside lawfully case by case basis built contracts and in which the governments only responsibility is to enforce freely agreed to contracts.

    "President Obama sure looks and acts way smarter than me, but no one is 2 to the 300 millionth power times smarter than me. No one is even 2 to the 300 millionth times smarter than a squirrel. I sure don’t know what to do about an AA+ rating and if we should live beyond our means and about compromise and sacrifice. I have no idea. I’m scared to death of being in debt. I was a street juggler and carny trash — I couldn’t get my debt limit raised, I couldn’t even get a debt limit — my only choice was to live within my means. That’s all I understand from my experience, and that’s not much."

    Again, knows nothing, but it looks to be willful ignorance rather than a lack of the information being available.

    "It’s amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness."

    I agree, with this part, except the idea that giving poor people is compassion. Again, the information as to why this is bad beyond the coercion is available, but of no use to someone like this person, who is willfully ignorant, rather than the information not being there.

    "People need to be fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered, and if we’re compassionate we’ll help them, but you get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right. There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint."

    All the more reason to promote government that creates a level playing feild that is elevated above a status quo of what the atheists of the world have proven is their apex of failure. Communism is atheist, fascism was atheist, Europe is effectively atheist

    So, the hero of the story is an ignorant no body who profusefly refuses to do any research and begs the question of whether the people have the right to ask the government to enact laws which those voting find to be beneficial to themselves. The only point he has here is that people like himself should be barred from voting, for lack of due diligence on his part to actually have enough infomration to make a good choice on the ballot.

  • Zeeb

    Responses like astonerii's are why people have to continue to pretend to have answers. Because the honest folks -- those smart enough to realize systems are incredibly complex and the easy answers never work -- get drowned out by the whackos that will take their weak correlations, fears of differences, and fanaticism and pass them off as scientific evidence and strong leadership.

    "I don't know" only is a good answer with an audience that understands the true value of it.

  • astonerii

    Zeeb:

    Because all the information you need to figure out how wrong you are is in the response you criticize. Here is another example where desired ignorance is prefered over actually looking for the truth which is available.

    "All the more reason to limit certain activities, particularly those that are precisely known to cause harm to the whole of society, and thus to each and every individual. Easy divorce should be done away with. No option for same sex partnerships outside lawfully case by case basis built contracts and in which the governments only responsibility is to enforce freely agreed to contracts."

    Some things there are not answers for, but for those he uses as examples, there is plenty of evidence which shows the truth.

    Answers like, I do not know if life begins at conception for instance. Yeah, that is a pretty much certainty that the person is feigning ignorance or refuses to even remotely view the issue in any detail.

  • Mark

    "Responses like astonerii’s are why people have to continue to pretend to have answers. "

    Answers to WHAT? So, the Libertarian motto is nothing? Clearly, that is idiotic. I like Penn and Teller, but his comments on the Libertarian motto "I don't know" just demonstrates how stupid ideaological libertarianism is.

    As human beings we do not know the future with certainty. BUT, there are many principles that we do know. For example, if you raise prices then demand will decrease. These values are the building blocks of our policies. To pretend otherwise is just stupid, and to use that as an excuse for doing noting is worse than stupid. Its BullSh*t.

  • Mesa Econoguy

    Here's the correct view of DeWrong:

    http://gonzalolira.blogspot.com/2010/11/contradictions-in-life-of-fluffer.html

    Note: adult content

  • Ted Rado

    It would be great if the plethora of social assistance programs did what they were supposed to do. Unfortunately, every new scheme is followed by a spate of new abuses. Let me give a few examples from my personal experience.

    Over fifty years ago, a steel worker on a construction site told me he came up north to do construction for six months, then went back to Georgia to go fishing. he called his unemployment benefits "rocking chair insurance". In the spring, back to work for six months.

    A woman I new would provoke her boss to fire her after six months on the job. When her unemployment ran out, back to work for six months for a rerun of the process.

    Another woman lost her job when she declined to move when her employer relocated. A few months later, I suggested she work for a temp agency, as many temps became permanent if they fit in well on their temp assignment. She looked at me in amazement and said "but I would lose my unemployment income".

    I had a book in my personal library about illegitamacy. Many young women who lack ambition can make more from benefits than working if they have a couple of kids. The black illegitimacy rate has gone from 15% to over 70%. The same thing in other poor demographic groups. No doubt much of this is due to gov programs making such behavior attractive.

    I have ofter wondered why behavioral scientists don't take a look at proposed legislation to see how dishonorable people might misuse it. Such a look-see would no doubt avoid lots of bad legislation.

    I disagree with Dan. I have seen much abuse of almost every government assistance or subsidy program. Unfortunately, the average citizen is not as worthy as we would wish. Many see these programs as freebies they can use, rather than as they were originally intended. The human mind is very ingenious in finding uses (abuses) for these programs.

    On a personal note, I loved my work but retired at age 62 when I could afford to. Almost everyone I know (professionals with interesting, well-paying jobs) did the same. Most would rather pursue their personal interests than get up and go to work, given the chance, even if they have interesting jobs. Someone with a low-paying boring job can't wait to get out. We work because of the carrot and the stick, even those with good jobs. If you remove the penalty for not applying yourself, many will take the low road. There are any number of books on the subject. They are quite illuminating.

    The idea that goverment should stay out of all this stuff appeals to me mightily. None of these programs were around when I was a boy. Family members looked out for each other, and everyone knew that he could only buy what he could afford with the money he earned. This brought out the best in people. The current system seems to bring out the worst.

    Perhaps one day some genius will devise a system which has both "social justice" and a strong incentive to work hard. So far, all the "social justice" schemes seem to create a strong disincentive to do the right thing.

  • Dan

    Again, Ted, not saying it doesn't happen. But when you take all the trillions of dollars we're in debt, most of it comes from other places.

  • Dan

    Also, Ted, I think you're living in the past to some extent. Welfare as it existed in earlier decades absolutely was a disincentive to work, and it was smart of Clinton and the GOP in Congress to reform it in the 90s. It definitely contributed a great deal to illegitimacy rates rising (though they'd been high to begin with among blacks for a variety of social reasons and may always be no matter what the government does). But the welfare state as it existed is not what it used to be. This isn't Europe.

    I think there's a tendency among some people to look at the problems we have in this country, which are many, and blame the smaller people for them. The people who are powerless. Meanwhile, the most wealthy and powerful get bailed out for their misbehavior, which almost brought down the economy in 2008.

  • Val

    Dan - I am pretty sure Clinton was forced by the GOP to reform. Please don't give credit where it isn't due. However, I can give him credit for realizing his position was untenable and going with them. That is at least one order of magnitude better than the current guy.

  • http://stopthebreathing.blogtownhall.com astonerii

    All wealth redistribution programs should be ended.

    Social Security and Medicare have made the choice to have children a much less value added option, as people can now live off other people's children in their old age. This leads to abortion on demand as well as lower marriage rates and higher divorce rates. It serves no beneficial purpose for society.

    Welfare makes the choice to get married be a much less value added option, as women would be ineligible for all the welfare assistance for having children who will far more likely grow up to be unproductive worthless wards of the state. Welfare reform in the 1990s was effective, but what it ultimately was effective in accomplishing was not kicking welfare queens off the roles so much as moving them to a permanent role of welfare queen as newly found disabilities amongst them and their children spread like wildfire.

    The abuses of unemployment are already covered above.

    It is not that there are abuses of the system, it is that the whole concept of government welfare in and of itself is immoral, and it bears the fruits that all immoral activity must, else it would not be immoral. Moral things are what produces good for the individual and society as a whole, immoral things produces harm for the individual and the society as a whole.

  • Ted Rado

    Dan:

    I am not trying to blame anyone. I merely observe that the present incentive system is all wrong. There must be some way we can help the truly needy and at the same time avoid the incentive to do the wrong thing. Nobody wants grandma and little kids to go hungry. The natural compassion leads to programs that are taken advantage of.

    This erroneous incentive system as not about the poor. The rich are even worse offenders. They hire armies of lawyers and accountants to figure out how to beat the tax system and how to get access to government subsidies.

    Human nature conquers all. People will always try to beat the system. The question is: what can be done about it? The "tough love" approach is one possibility. If you want to eat, work. I will not argue that it is the best, but it seems to work. The endless government interventions, even if originally for laudable reasons, buries us in red tape, and has many bad side effects.

    I can imagine, if we keep going in the present direction, that everything will be a freebie and all incentive will disappear. Then what?

  • Ted Rado

    Dan:

    You are SO right. The USG pisses away money on all sorts of nonsensical programs and subsidies, mainly to buy votes. Virtually ALL DOE energy programs are sheer nonsense. The DOE, Education, and lots of other agencies are totally unnecessary. Every time a new program is enacted, a new agency is needed to administer it. Thus, more government employees and red tape.

    We should determine what functions can only be carried out by a government agency (miltary, foreign affairs, etc.) and get the USG out of everything that can be done by private enterprise. Competition will then keep costs down and do away with useless programs.

    There are a few agencies that experience teaches are necessary (FDA, EPA), but even these must be restrained to keep them from going ape (DEA on CO2 for example).

  • Bill

    Consider this bit of wisdom from the ultimate Authority: "if any would not work, neither should he eat" 2 Thessalonians 3:10

  • Dan

    Great, Bill. Agreed if the person is 40. If they're 70 or 80, then what? Not many people lived that long when the "ultimate Authority" was written.

  • Ted Rado

    Dan:

    I am approaching age 83. It is apparent to everyone when they are young that they will grow up and have to make a living. Then they will probably marry and have kids. After the kids are grown, they will need to look forward to retirement. None of these are big surprises, so the need to plan for them should be obvious.

    If people believe that the USG will loan them money for college, will pay for their mistakes (out of wedlock kids, etc.), supply medical care, and give them retirement income, then they will depend on it rarher than make their own arrangements. When medicare was introduced, I thought that I would not have to provide for my med care in my old age. If it had not happened, I would have my own med insurance. Thus, even responsible people come to depend on USG programs rather than make their own plans.

    That the gov "gives" you anything is a myth. They tax you, fritter away some of it, and pass some back to you. Much of it they spend on vote-buying. Wouldn't it be better if they left the money with you in the first place?

    An interesting phenomenon is occuring due to the county's financial problems. My loss in investment income, due to Fed's low interest rates and the screwed up economy, is considerably more than my SS benefits. I could probably buy health ins as well with the shortfall. If interest rates on bonds and CD's were in the usual 5-6% rather than the current 1% or so, most retiries would get more interst income than they get from SS.

    Everything (almost) then the pols touch turns to poopoo. I don't understand how anyone can look at our current mess and argue that we need more government. The village idiot could do better. The abuses of the various assistance programs is just one symptom of USG mismanagement. There is no alternative to the USG, so they have no competition to keep them efficieant. Everything that can be should be handled by competitive private enterprise.

  • Not Sure

    "I don’t understand how anyone can look at our current mess and argue that we need more government."

    With all due respect, you're not coming at it with the right frame of mind. Once you have assumed that the government should be spending money to do *whatever*, it's no surprise that the answer to "Well, that didn't work, did it?" would be that the government just didn't spend enough.

  • Bill

    Dan: "Agreed if the person is 40. If they’re 70 or 80, then what? Not many people lived that long when the “ultimate Authority” was written."

    Who said anything about cutting off the aged? Although I personally know people who are still working well into their 70s and 80s, this is not feasible for everyone and there should be (and is) a generous safety net for the elderly (and for children).

  • IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society

    >>> There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint.

    Oh, I think there are A LOT of people who find such joy. Far, far, far too many. A lot of them are liberals. Others are just totalitarian s***heads.

    Hence, my own take is:
    ]]]]]] There is great joy in helping people, but should be no joy in doing it at gunpoint.

    A subtle, but important distinction.

  • IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society

    >>> the problem is that “I don’t know” only goes so far as a credo for government.

    I believe you can reasonably argue a position based on this, Mark. I do not believe you can argue that the current government cannot be based on one HELL of a lot MORE "I don't know." I think on all sides, the religious, social, and economic positions have FAR too much "This is the answer!!" in place of "I don't know." If it is solely based on Faith, it probably ought not to be the Law of the Land... and that's true for some of the more hot-button religious issues as much as it is for Global Warming and Social Welfare.

    >>> I don’t see a lot of people being paid by the govt. to be irresponsible loafers, and the few people I know who did lose jobs and take unemployment checks were anything but happy to be doing so and quickly found new jobs.

    Sorry, Dan, this statement makes you either a lying charlatan or a clueless fool. Assuming it's the latter, you need to look around one hell of a lot more. When you go past a construction site with a gov't road crew, try looking to see how many people are busy working and how many are standing around watching the one or two which are busy working. Odds are, the number is 4-to-8 to 1. I was driving through one neighborhood the other day, and there were a rather pointlessly large bunch of clearly able-bodied, mostly substantially overweight individuals just "hanging out" on a street corner. Just up the street is a McD's advertising for workers. Now, it may be that they have "night jobs", but I ain't betting on that, since, if so, they ought to have been at home in bed asleep, not wasting time standing around on a street corner.

    Now, where, praytell, did their living expenses come from?

    >>> nor is it the cause for our country’s deep financial difficulties.

    I repeat: lying or clueless. Which is it? The one general thing in the budget which HAS grown far faster than the GDP is the monies associated with various transfer payments -- that is, taking money from Peter to give to Paul -- as individuals, not as corporations. The vast majority of the new debts of the last two decades have not been via increased general spending, or increased military spending, but increased social liabilities -- un-funded or under-funded pension and welfare programs.

    >>> No politician wants to be the one who tells granny she can’t have her government health insurance.

    The important questions are whether or not
    a) Granny should have been given "government health insurance" in the first place.
    b) *IF* the answer to 'a' is deemed 'yes', then why the hell was it not treated like true insurance, with an untouchable reserve fund required instead of the current *PONZI* scheme?

  • IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society

    >>> Answers like, I do not know if life begins at conception for instance. Yeah, that is a pretty much certainty that the person is feigning ignorance or refuses to even remotely view the issue in any detail.

    Actually, I will happily defend that position, but it's quite outside the topic of this thread. I will do so as a moderately strong, if "heretical" Christian and an individual with scientific training.

    But the short form answer: To claim it is not "life" is doubtful, true. To claim it is human life is damned sure questionable, and the "certain" option generally comes from people attempting the short-but-rather-stupid "it looks like a really tiny human, and it's alive, therefore, it must be human.". The real fact is, being human is something far more complex than that trivial definition could even begin to encompass. A human is in the thoughts, not the appearance. I could figure out a way to extract your brain from its case, and keep you alive and able to communicate -- while the loss of "standard inputs" might eventually take you away from humanity, at the start, there, you certainly ARE a human though you have nothing in common, formwise -- And yeah, if you want to take the alternate DNA track of argument, that's not hard to blow out of the water, either.

    The ones not looking at the answers in detail are the ones who want simple answers to one of the most complex questions there are: "What is it that makes us HUMAN?" On this many hot-button religious issues lie, particularly including, but not limited to, euthanasia and abortion. If you can fit the actual answer to that question into less than 500 words, you're taking the largely invalid shortcut.

  • http://stopthebreathing.blogtownhall.com astonerii

    IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society:

    As a scientist, you know that we classify life by the genetics of that life. Thus, at conception, the moment of it, the life created by the sperm and the egg combining is human, it can be no other life.

    As a religion, it is pretty much a given that God is the one who creates life, thus, the combining of the sperm and the egg is an act of God.

    It is just exactly that simple. It does not need more than 500 words, in fact it does not even need any words for a honest person who does not have evil bias blocking their mind to know this. If you understand the science of procreation, then you know the first. If you have studied the Bible honestly then you know the second.

    If on the other hand, you ignore empirical evidence as many scientists do in order to promote your ideology, nothing can convince you other wise. Just as Micheal Mann will never be convinced that the Earth was warmer around 1000 ad and around the time of Christ. Because no evidence can bypass his biased ideology.

    On religion, it is quite clear. God even considered it a culture of death to so much as spill the seed while making love to your wife. It was a sin worthy of the need for a sacrifice, and as we all know, the sacrifice was intended to teach the people that the activity they partook in causes death, and is represented by the death of the sacrifical animal.

  • ruralcounsel

    Jillette is awesome - I'm jealous of his ability to put it in words. Imperfection of knowledge and government's inability to acknowledge it are perfect reasons why it should stay out of most things it attempts to do, and stick with the few itemized powers it was originally given. Government is, virtually by definition, economically inefficient. That it tries to fund all sorts of activity that others are unwilling to do privately says much. The few things that it can do more efficiently are rare, and often prohibited to private citizens for obvious reasons.

    But lack of certainty is not the whole story. Despite the utilitarian undercurrent in some of Penn's words, I frankly don't care if government could do some things better and create nirvana on earth - that I and the government don't know what the best way to go about doing that is - is totally irrelevant. They just don't want to give up being intrusive autocratic busybodies.

    Anyone who understands the least bit of history should be uncomfortably nauseous with Delong's techno-fascist view. If he comes to my door to try and carry out his vision, it will be an interesting day seeing who gets eliminated.