Thankfully, federalism helps to ensure "political competition" as the most powerful vote is exercised with the foot.

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>----" That is why I was disturbed when Al Gore challenged the legitimacy of the election in 2000. Similarly, I was disturbed by Mr. Trump and his supporters challenging the legitimacy of the election in 2020."

Yes, the peaceful transfer of power is the most important feature of democracy but this is a glaringly false equivalence.

In 2000 the election was within the margin for error of an entirely good faith count. Gore exercised his legal challenges and then accepted, as final and legitimate, the decision from a court dominated by the other party.

In 2020 Trump announced AHEAD OF TIME that he would only regard one election result as legitimate. Before the election he called for the top leadership of the opposition party to be jailed for treason.

He continued to reject the legitimacy of the result of a not very close election even AFTER all of his over five dozen legal challenges failed to show any real voter fraud. And many of these defeats in court came at the hands of Republican judges he had appointed. Recall that the appointment by Trump of so many Republican judges was frequently cited as his most glorious achievement and the reason it had been worth holding your nose and voting for him despite a remarkable number of glaring character flaws.

Then after all legal challenges had been exhausted, he encouraged an insurrection where dozens of police were injured and the Capital was stormed by a crowd calling for the hanging of Mike Pence complete with mock gallows constructed just outside the Capital.

After THAT failed he still claimed legitimate President and, to this day, claims that he will, and should be, "reinstated."

So can we please stop pretending that the challenges to these two elections were, in any way, "similar"?

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Re: "The theory of libertarianism, which is not necessarily correct, is that when we talk about business rather than crime, competition is the best regulator. [... .] So if you get kicked off Twitter, go somewhere else. Eventually, this competition will result in a better outcome than if government decides who can or cannot be on Twitter."

I agree, but many seeds of deep mistrust are sown if "eventually" takes a long time, or if market power enables big tech to censor speech and to thwart entry by alternative platforms during major elections. Examples of empirical issues relevant to "eventually": How strong are network barriers to entry? Does big tech buy out potential rival firms? Does big tech practice "regulatory capture" by engaging in strategic censorship to please the deep state?

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Dec 27, 2021·edited Dec 27, 2021

It's really unfortunate that because of it current salience, the particular and sui generis issue of social media censorship is used to anchor discussions about the optimal presumptions regarding market competition and state regulation.

Speech is different than other sectors, and common-carrier requirements are different than other kinds of regulation.

For example, and going back a long time (1934), phone companies were deemed to be common carriers that were not supposed to blacklist undesirables or dictate what people could or could not say over the phone lines. The service was open to everyone who paid their phones bills, and they were free to say whatever they wanted to say to each other. The history of the American phone business and former 'bell system' is kind of special and weird, but there were still some periods of competition and steady progress in innovations, it was just that the companies weren't allowed to compete *along the dimension of identity-or-content-based discrimination*.

It's not at all easy to say whether this kind of rule had the effect of expanding or contracting 'liberty' in the abstract, which is more a matter of personal judgment and preference rather than anything that could be addressed dispositively on the basis of shared understandings and conventional definitions. That's a good clue that one is not dealing with a standard 'regulation', and that the usual logic and analysis for usual 'regulations' might not pertain.

The point is that there is a clear and fundamental difference between 'regulation' in general and blanket, neutral requirements for subject entities *not* to regulate. This is much clearer in the legal-libertarian world, when a lot of those folks are "14th Amendment Libertarians" and recognize that there's a big difference between the federal government telling states they may not restrict certain individual rights and liberties, on the one hand, and of the federal government ordering states to impose particular rules and restrictions, on the other. True, most legal advocates are usually mere "federalists of convenience", but the categorical and qualitative distinction remains a valid one.

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This is criticism, but I mean it as constructive criticism. I wish you wouldn't write things so emphatically as "The Libertarian view". I consider myself a libertarian, and they aren't my views.

Democracy, in the classical understanding, actually *IS* rule by the dominant political gang. Going back well over 2000 years, everyone from Plato on forward (and very explicitly the goal of Madison and Hamilton) strove to limit democracy precisely because it tended toward the institution of tyrannical control by factions.

I get that this misunderstanding probably won't be appreciated, but it's important. Just as the distinction between "capitalist" and "free market", terms that are used interchangeably most of the time, is crucial when it comes to understanding the difference between good economics and bad.

Talking about "democracy" today is like talking about "capitalism". We'd do better by reframing the discussion into the right terms. The right terms are those the Federalist writers and others generally described as republicanism. Democracy is fine, just like the development of capital is fine, but a just as as "free market" encompasses a lot of necessary conditions for a good economy that "capitalism" leaves out, "Republicanism" (or something similar) would embrace a lot of the important stuff we need in government that "Democracy" would leave out.

Principally, those are the things Arnold is concerned about. A republican government is one with separation of powers, limits on the role of government in general, and lots of institutional design to thwart the development of one-party rule. Democracy, strictly speaking, has none of that.

Thus, we can't expect democracy to cure a problem that's endemic to democracy itself. We have to figure out how to support and implement new republican institutions that limit (without eliminating) democracy.

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"As long as this results in a peaceful transfer of power, democracy will work", until the scales are so rigged, that the party in power will *never* be forced to transfer anything.

It's now becoming ever clearer, that most of the Woke would much rather liquidate their foes by the tens of millions, than ever give up so much as a scintilla of Power.

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>----"You can expect bad government in a one-party state, regardless of which party is on top."

This may be why the most popular governors in the country are Republican governors in highly Democratic northeast states.

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Re: "To me, California shows what happens in a democracy where the transfer of power does not take place. In California, the dominant criminal gang is the Democratic Party, which seemingly never gets voted out of power. You can expect bad government in a one-party state, regardless of which party is on top."

Is Singapore a counter-example? Or, instead, the exception that proves the rule?:


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Dec 27, 2021·edited Dec 27, 2021

I think the general argument for libertarianism is that even non-libertarians should be wary of state capacity because it's inherently a double-edged sword just waiting to be wielded against them when their opponents get a hold of the grip.

So, the difference between Singapore and California is not the state capacity which is very high in both cases, but the way they use it.

The Singapore government uses its high capacity to suppress crime. That's ideal but also rare, "Nice work if you can get it."

The California government uses its high capacity to suppress self defense. Even the kind of traditional and relatively mild private security measures which made shoplifters think twice are now effectively outlawed, and when law enforcement conspicuously made clear they weren't going to prosecute anyone, the consequences were obvious and predictable.

That is, in Soviet Russia, the big gang protects the other criminal gangs from *you*.

Yet another way of interpreting 'turns on' is 'betrays' as in, going back on the previous clear signals of tolerance and support.

The fact that California politicians feel the need to do this at all may actually weigh in favor of that point that the threat of democratic reaction keeps the dominant criminal gang well-behaved, at least, relative to the counterfactual baseline of accelerating towards the cliff's edge even faster, which is demonstrably more consistent with their stated ideological inclinations and revealed preferences.

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"State Capacity" is a crummy concept that should be treated with disdain and possibly mockery. It's not a homogenous ability to "do stuff" and it's a terrible mistake to treat it as if it is. The California government can't simply flip a switch and turn its "self defense suppression" capability into "crime suppression" capacity. Further, if history has shown anything, it doesn't take a lot of capacity to oppress people. Swords are cheap.

I think that leaves the real issue of to be one of making sure every major group has a "hold on the grip". Singapore is probably better seen as the exception to the rule, because they're ruled, effectively, by a very smart and patriotic autocrat. The problems will come when he's gone.

Which gets back to something like the Federalists and leadership quality. If men were angels, we wouldn't need government, and if one man in particular were an angel, it might be best if he ruled. A republican system is meant to put up as many roadblocks as possible to the rule of bad men. In California, those roadblocks are systematically being taken down...

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They can absolutely flip a switch.

That's how this happened. They flipped the crime-suppression switch off, stopped prosecuting shoplifting, let a bunch of people out, and got a lot more crime. Analysis, "duh!"

As a result of getting mugged by reality - and in this case more actual muggings - they are now flipping the switch back on. Not all the way, it's more like a rotary dimmer switch they are pretending to turn up by one or two degrees.

So, for example, lots of local judges were already jumping on the 'bail is racist' bandwagon and letting people out without bond, and bail was 'temporarily' set to zero for lots of crimes 'because covid'. But the California Senate (Democrat supermajority) was still going forward with a bill to all-but abolish what's left of the former bail system. Well, a few extra scandalously avoidable murders later, that effort has been 'paused', at least, for this legislative session. Don't worry, they can't help themselves, and they'll be flipping the switch back to to full-throttle crazy soon enough.

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Further, this illustrates why they couldn't just flip a switch to dismantle the crime suppression apparatus. It took years of putting "capital" (DAs, Judges, legal framework that shields a near permanent majority, ideological acceptance, etc) in place to be able to start dialing back crime suppression in any coordinated way.

It took years of work shifting the "state capacity" in order to be able to change policy.

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But your evidence seems to support my point. When they try to use their highly effective "self-defense suppression" apparatus to do "crime suppression", it can only do so very ineffectively.

The "capital" they've built is not homogeneously capable.

1. Those prosecutors who don't really want to prosecute crime aren't easily replaceable.

2. The judges who don't want to have bail requirements are even less so.

3. And the single party political framework they operate under reinforces their ability to weather the unpopularity of their policies.

So, sure, they *can* be used for crime suppression, but you have to do it in a framework of all sorts of ideological and institutional barriers that make doing so ineffective. And everyone knows you're just doing it for show and they're gonna do the least amount possible.

It's like saying your car, which is designed to drive forward, can be used to go in reverse. It can, just not very effectively. Or if you invest in a factory to make cars, you might be able to convert it over to other uses, but you're going to face some real limits as to what those uses are.

"State" capacity is no more homogenous than any other kind of capital.

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