Largely because I acknowledge the existence of public goods, externalities that cause market failures, the need to actually pay for the system that enforces and adjudicates law, and the extent to which those who do use their skill to make large amounts of money are dependent on the existence of such a system. The existence of a basic orderly state where even somebody born to poverty isn't going to starve and doesn't have to worry too much about getting shot by raving bands of thugs and where any reasonable contract has a reasonable chance of being enforced is a necessary precondition for civilization, but those things aren't free and poor people can't possibly pay for it on their own. That's a short and quick argument.
And then he went off on statist strawmen and accused me of being extremely violent and imposing my "feelings" on people because I think I know what's best for them. So I said something like:
Well, that's certainly your opinion, and I really don't have the time or wish to make the effort to go into a protracted argument with somebody starting from such radically different premises as me. I don't believe most of the premises, including non-aggression, that lead you to the conclusion that taxation is theft, just as you don't believe the premises that lead me to conclude the opposite. I have of course proven nothing, I stated a few premises that lead me to reject the notion that taxation is theft. Principles can't be proven a priori and attempts at rational discourse without substantial agreement on the basis of discourse are rarely useful, so the most productive course is simple to inform on what basis we disagree. Which I have done and am now finished doing. Hope that helps.
Response: more of the same accusations of violence, statism, whatever, so I responded with a quick reassertion that we have little basis for discussion and a quick recap of the gist of the argument that his notions of property rights are also violent and coercive as they depend on violence, either of the state or of private actors, for their enforcement. Further, property itself is a form of theft because we are on a planet of finite resources where none of us agreed to the original terms of distribution of, viz, land. By what right does somebody own a particular piece of land? In the theoretical construct that most libertarians use to justify property rights, it's by the violent exclusion of others from that land. I didn't agree to this system, and it, too, depends on coercive violence. Anyway.
Anyway, long story short, the real point of this is that, as a result of this, I found a rather good web-log about this sort of crap:
There are a bunch more skewing other libertarian arguments, he's a fairly bright kid. Most valuable for discussing property rights and theories of the origin of property rights. He's put a lot of thought into it.
Here is his argument that's most important to me: How environmentalism poses a problem for libertarian ideology. Namely, it is completely incapable of dealing with pollution, especially the sort causing global warming. Unfortunately, regular governments don't seem to be up to the task, either.
Second day in row there was a tornado warning in the county, though today's was a couple miles further away so they didn't set off the sirens. For yesterday's, we went down in the basement when the sirens went off even though the radar clearly indicated that there was no way what they were seeing would come this way and there was nothing else developing. Still, as a matter of principle, storm warnings are heeded. Thanks Obamacare.
Not sure how the qualifying exam went. I missed a few stupid ones - forgetting to square something for a Cramer-Rao Lower Bound, mucking up something on a negative binomial, flubbing a simple question about the ratio of two exponential functions, using the Type III instead of the Type II sum of squares on one problem... But I got quite a bit.
At the last minute, they put me on a half-time appointment TAing for what is essentially a one-stop probability and statistics for scientists and engineers methods class for grad students. Since it's summer, this means two labs instead of only one each week. Apparently I have complete free reign, which has me mildly worried. How am I going to fill two hours twice per week with very little guidance? Q&A, working slowly through example problems, showing them how to do the computing stuff, I don't know. There was one guy asking about SAS, I could show how to do some stuff in SAS if there's interest, I guess.
Also, tomorrow I will drop in to see the professor and start up on my project, which is a continuation of the class project. Namely, trying to turn this k-means compression into something vaguely interesting. Or something.
Game of Thrones: still plodding along, more entertaining than most TV, Tyrion + Sansa is still a better love story than Twilight.
Doctor Who: it's turning from the cheap campy sci-fi I like into the sort of cheap campy sci-fi I don't like. However, Doctor Hurt seems cool.
Alien: we watched Alien last night as a tribute to Hurt.
Une femme est une femme: we also watched this yesterday because it's French Movie Sunday. Enjoyable, but not too deep.
EDIT: Oh man, something reminded me of the delightful Onion AV Club "newbie" reviews of Game of Thrones. Basically, somebody who hasn't read the books and is completely unspoiled is reviewing the episodes as they come out. Here's a delightful quote: " I know that what we’re seeing is the first half of the third book, and I’m more and more afraid that there isn’t going to be quite as devastating a closing punch as there was in the last two seasons, because we’re going to be closing on the middle of a book." AH HA H A HA HA HA HA HA. AAAAAAAAH HA HA HA.
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