Meta-Blog

SEARCH QandO

Email:
Jon Henke
Bruce "McQ" McQuain
Dale Franks
Bryan Pick
Billy Hollis
Lance Paddock
MichaelW

BLOGROLL QandO

 
 
Recent Posts
The Ayers Resurrection Tour
Special Friends Get Special Breaks
One Hour
The Hope and Change Express - stalled in the slow lane
Michael Steele New RNC Chairman
Things that make you go "hmmmm"...
Oh yeah, that "rule of law" thing ...
Putting Dollar Signs in Front Of The AGW Hoax
Moving toward a 60 vote majority?
Do As I Say ....
 
 
QandO Newsroom

Newsroom Home Page

US News

US National News
Politics
Business
Science
Technology
Health
Entertainment
Sports
Opinion/Editorial

International News

Top World New
Iraq News
Mideast Conflict

Blogging

Blogpulse Daily Highlights
Daypop Top 40 Links

Regional

Regional News

Publications

News Publications

 
About those ’libertarian’ Democrats
Posted by: Jon Henke on Friday, December 08, 2006

The always-coming, never-arriving libertarian/liberal (alt: libertarian/Democratic) alliance is making the rounds again. Beyond short-term efforts to punish wayward Republicans, I don't think there's really room for a serious alliance for reasons I've described in the past:
I think we're in more danger from the loss of economic liberty, than we are from the loss of social liberty.

I'm simply not persuaded by the argument that there is a burgeoning "Theocracy" in the United States. You can tell the Social Conservatives are losing by the very battles they are fighting. Almost without exception, they are doing rear-guard duty. I mean, we've got partial nudity on prime-time television, and gay marriage on the radar. That's one hell of a long way from the 1940s-50s, where even married TV characters had separate beds, and the question was not whether homosexuals deserved marriage, but whether they deserved a lobotomy.
No, the reason there cannot be a long-term libertarian-Democrat alliance is that the Democrats are all too prone to unapologetic displays of nanny-ism like the New York City "ban on the use of all but tiny amounts of artificial trans fats in restaurant cooking". The Washington Post editorial board said that "consumer freedom" was an "unconvincing argument". The effusive approval at Majikthise typifies the usual Democratic view of these things:now they want to be your Lunch Monitor, too
The New York City Board of Health voted yesterday to adopt a ban on so-called "trans fats" in restaurant food. As a food fanatic with a passion for public health, I'm delighted that the City has taken a lead on this issue.
Bear in mind, the person who is so "delighted" that you cannot get trans fats in restaurants is the same person who has boasted that the Left "believe[s] that intimate medical decisions should be made by patients, their families, and caring doctors".

Of course, the left does get involved in your medical decisions. And now they want to be your Lunch Monitor, too.
a Democratic majority in Congress will remind libertarians why we didn't like Democrats in the first place
The second, but related, reason there won't be a significant, long-term libertarian/liberal alliance was observed by Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist and blogger Barton Hinkle:
A liberal commenter on TAPPED writes: “The point here is that liberal-libertarian dialogue should be persuasive, but not negotiation”—because liberals hold more political power, so there is no need to negotiate anything. They should simply force libertarians to do their bidding.

How profoundly apt.
Since Democrats have been out of power for awhile, libertarians have become less concerned about them. However, a Democratic majority will quickly remind libertarians why we didn't like Democrats in the first place.
 
TrackBacks
Return to Main Blog Page
 
 

Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
Tell me about it.

Got news?

This is not random accident.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
I basically concur with Jon (big surprise, I know).

But now, our dilemma: how can libertarians (a), develop enough clout/influence over politics to make changes in their own direction, and at the same time, (b), avoid being taken for granted by one party or another?

Anyone saying it’s hopeless, don’t bother posting a reply. Politics is the art of the possible, and moving things in your direction, even a little bit, is always a possibility.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
"But now, our dilemma: how can libertarians (a), develop enough clout/influence over politics to make changes in their own direction, and at the same time, (b), avoid being taken for granted by one party or another?"


Ornery, I would say just keep doing what happened this last election. If the party in power doesn’t respond to our wants vote the other in. They need that little 2 or 3% to win alot of contests. We will not get all that we want but at least we may get some bones. Make the parties come to us for our votes instead of being a dependable voting block.
 
Written By: SkyWatch
URL: http://
What if the party in power doesn’t respond to your wants, and "the other" won’t make any promises to do any better?
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
Of course, the left does get involved in your medical decisions. And now they want to be your Lunch Monitor, too.
And which medical decisions might those be?

 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Its not "nannyism", it’s cost benefit analysis. Through the miracles of shared risk, our healthcare system make me pay (by way of insurance rates and taxes) if you smoke and require care for it. You only pay a small percentage of the costs. If I’m sharing the costs for your smoking, for your not wanting to wear a motor cycle helmet, and for your love of Velveeta, it only seems fair that I will vote to have a say in trying to mitigate my losses. Given the costs of health care are spiraling out of control, it seems more reasonable to cut out transfats than it does to cut out people who can’t afford healthcare rising rates.

I don’t care if you eat your way to a heart attack. Its just wrong to make someone else pay for it.
 
Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
Through the miracles of shared risk, our healthcare system make me pay (by way of insurance rates and taxes) if you smoke and require care for it. You only pay a small percentage of the costs. If I’m sharing the costs for your smoking, for your not wanting to wear a motor cycle helmet, and for your love of Velveeta, it only seems fair that I will vote to have a say in trying to mitigate my losses.
No. That’s health care under a socialist system — universal health care. Private (i.e. individual) health care is weighted on individual risks, etc.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
I don’t care if you eat your way to a heart attack. Its just wrong to make someone else pay for it.
So the government should’t fund embryonic stem cell research or abortion clinics?
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
Of course, the left does get involved in your medical decisions. And now they want to be your Lunch Monitor, too.
And which medical decisions might those be?
Is that an attempt at humor, mk?
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
cindyb -
Its not "nannyism", it’s cost benefit analysis.
Ergo, decision-making by actors other than those directly involved, using coercion at every step of the way—from deciding who makes the decision, to how they make their decision, and what they get paid to make the decision for me.

Leave the cost-benefit analysis to the individual, and it’s not nannyism. Give the decision-making power to a third party (which, as with all government arrangments, includes coercion to actively prevent individual decision-making), and it becomes nannyism—"Bureaucrat knows best."
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
cindyb - 4 questions:

1. Just how much lower do you think your premiums would be if no one smoked?

2. How many bad habits would need to be banned before the savings would be significant?

3. How will you feel if your personal behaviors are deemed to be too risky and this too costly for the rest of us and you’re forced to change?

4. Who are you going to feel comfortable with making the decisions about what constitutes good and bad behavior?
 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
I don’t care if you eat your way to a heart attack. Its just wrong to make someone else pay for it
Good. I don’t have kids and don’t plan on having kids. I don’t want to pay for public schools or any costs associated with someone else’s kids. It’s wrong to make me pay it.

You may have a genetic predisposition to certain diseases. I don’t. It’s just wrong to make me pay for it.

I exercise 5 days a week. It’s wrong to make me pay for someone who doesn’t exercise as much as I do. And it’s wrong to make someone who exercises 6 days a week pay for my costs.

It’s just plain wrong!

Honestly Cindy, do you want to dare getting into this?
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Good. I don’t have kids and don’t plan on having kids. I don’t want to pay for public schools or any costs associated with someone else’s kids. It’s wrong to make me pay it.
That’s an argument I’ve used in the past against school vouchers. And I too don’t have kids yet pay a lot of school taxes.

However, I also own a business, and property. I want those kids in school!

I do wonder if Cindy has considered how much revenue her community derives from the sin taxes on cigarettes and other things that affect health.
 
Written By: Davebo
URL: http://
"That’s an argument I’ve used in the past against school vouchers...However, I also own a business, and property. I want those kids in school!"
How does not having kids make you opposed to vouchers?
 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Why I wish this country had proportional representation in Congress. Libertarians would easily get 5% of the seats and force the main stream political party — Republocrats to play ball and some give-backs, oversight and checks-and-balances. Improve Federal government’s responsiveness and transparency.

One of the few areas the Founding Fathers got wrong. They never intentioned the country to become a 2 party duopoly on political power, but they couldn’t change it once it happened, and it doesn’t seem we’ll ever be able to either.
 
Written By: Paleo
URL: http://
Being more of a left-libertarian than most people here, I’d point out that there is a big divide between average people who see themselves as Democrats, and the special interests which drive the party. Most average Democrats are far more "libertarian" than the powers in the party. The future of the Left is not with big government.

Left-libertarianism sees a different role for a small government than does capitalist libertarianism. For libertarians on the left, government needs to sever its links with big business and big money, and focus on regulations designed to limit the ability of big money to give power to exploit and/or repress. Foremost here would be demands of transparency, accountability, and rule of law. Any transfers via government programs would be to ’help people help themselves,’ not to create a welfare class. The left has tried doing this with welfare state policies and big government, but while that often has done some good, it also has led to bureaucratization, entrenched interest groups, and a psychology of dependency that hurts more than helps the poor.

The future of the left is libertarian. But it is not the same kind of libertarian as most of you capitalist and "neo-" libertarians embrace. We would have intense debates and feuds. But would not a competition between two competing libertarianisms be better than the current competition between two parties designed simply to maximize power and fund raising?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
For libertarians on the left, government needs to sever its links with big business and big money, and focus on regulations designed to limit the ability of big money to give power to exploit and/or repress.
While exempting certain other big money sources, such as unions and the right kind of advocacy groups, from the same scrutiny and "transparency, accountability, and rule of law."
But it is not the same kind of libertarian as most of you capitalist and "neo-" libertarians embrace.
Undoubtedly! Any libertarian I’ve known has a healthy, and justified, skepticism of government’s ability to efficiently and effectively provide the services requested by the majority of voters. Removing the financial influences of just one set of advocates won’t eliminate the "power to exploit and/or repress," it will merely align those powers with policies with which you agree.

Whoo-Hoo, gotta love them left-libertarians. Every one has the liberty to what ever they want, as long as it isn’t on the proscribed list. Strikingly similar, in effect, to the Christian, traditional, and neo-conservative agenda constructs the left so likes to frighten us with.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
While exempting certain other big money sources, such as unions and the right kind of advocacy groups, from the same scrutiny and "transparency, accountability, and rule of law."
Why are you erecting this strawman?

I consider myself left of center and libertarian, and I advocate for eliminating the current big money government for sale scheme from ALL sources, INCLUDING unions and "the right kind of advocacy groups".

Instead of telling him what his argument is, why don’t you deal with the one on the table, or ask him if that is how he thinks it should be.
If I’m sharing the costs for your smoking
Smokers cost less than non-smokers, they tend to die spectacularly, and very expensively, but also quickly, as compared to non-smokers who linger pointlessly under constant medical care that adds to more than the cost of smokers.

Okay, pointlessness is subjective, but in my case, pull the friggin’ plug. (I’m sure Billy would volunteer)

Cap
 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
For libertarians on the left, government needs to sever its links with big business and big money, and focus on regulations designed to limit the ability of big money to give power to exploit and/or repress.
But "big money", whatever that is, only has the power to "exploit and/or repress" by using the government to do these things for it. If you get rid of the link between business (not just big business) and govenment you remove the problem all together. The job will be done, and no further regulation will be needed, the free market will make sure that "big business" will have its hands full fending off competitors empowered by a new laissez-faire world.

But leftists and rightists will also lose the ability to manipulate "big business" thorugh threats, intimidation and promises of access to the bottomless well of taxpayer money.

When this link is severed politicians will lose the ability to tell industry what to do, where to spend its money, what products to produce and not to produce, and at what price, that they must use only unionized labor, subsidize political constituencies like farmers, etc., etc., etc. Once you remove the gravy train you remove the incentive to cooperate with the government. Left-leaning "libertarians" seem to be laboring under a false idea that "big business" is this giant laissez-faire cabal that just wants to be left alone to ruthlessly crush its competition and pollute the earth without regulation or taxation. The reality is that "big business" cooperates with the government in order to handicap its smaller competition which is a constant threat.

Leftists and Mercantilists of both parties have pepetuated the current Hamilitonian system and "big buisiness" has gone along with it because it is a symbiotic relationship. "Big business" loves being regulated and taxed because it puts their smaller competitors at a disadvantage, Sarbanes-Oxley being just the latest example. "Big Business" loves protectionism, increases in individual tax rates, and especially big spending projects on infrastructure and other boondogles, for obvious reasons. The number of big businesses whose largest source of revenue is government contracts makes them powerful alies in any campaign to raise taxes, especially at the local level.

I don’t think left-leaning "libertarians" have really thought these things through, or it is simply a ruse to get libertarians to vote Democrat.

 
Written By: DS
URL: http://
All this talk of "libertarian Democrats."

Democrats may want to link up with us libertarians, but we libertarians have little if any interest whatsoever of linking up with Democrats.

Put aside for a moment our huge disagreements on economic issues.

Democrats are even bad these days on civil liberties. Who is pushing all the smoking bans all over the US? Democrats. Who is it that’s calling for a return to the Military Draft? Democrats. Who was it that blocked our brave libertarian petitioners for property rights and got our libertarian petitions kicked off the ballots all over the US like MT, MO, and NV in 2006? Democrats. Who is it that protests and disrupts speeches by libertarians on college campuses all over the US? Democrats. Who is it that wants to take our guns away? Democrats.

Who is it that supports anti-libertarian affirmative action laws? Who is it that supports seat belt laws? Who is it that wants to force little kids riding bicycles to weat helmets? Answer to all the above: Democrats

When was the last time you even heard a Democrat supporting legalization of marijuana?

There are virtually no areas of agreement between Democrats and libertarians. Maybe Pro-Choice on abortion and Gay Rights. But even there Dems want government funding and "special rights for Gays"(which we libertarians oppose).

Further, how many libertarians ever win election as Democrats? Virtually none. How many libertarians win as Republicans? Hundreds like former Libertarian Party Presidential candidate Ron Paul now a Republican Congressman from Texas.

"libertarian Democrat"? A stupid idea if there ever was one.

Eric Dondero at www.mainstreamlibertarian.com
 
Written By: Eric Dondero
URL: http://www.mainstreamlibertarian.com
But "big money", whatever that is, only has the power to "exploit and/or repress" by using the government to do these things for it. If you get rid of the link between business (not just big business) and govenment you remove the problem all together. The job will be done, and no further regulation will be needed, the free market will make sure that "big business" will have its hands full fending off competitors empowered by a new laissez-faire world.
I don’t share your absolute faith in the market — you make it sound like the market is a magical perfect mechanism which can do no wrong if left on its own. I have never seen evidence that could support such a proposition. One can construct theories — the world is full of competing and contradictory theories, all simplifications of reality based on assumptions which cannot be proven. That’s why you can’t trust theory/philosophy to give you the answer.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I don’t share your absolute faith in the market — you make it sound like the market is a magical perfect mechanism which can do no wrong if left on its own. I have never seen evidence that could support such a proposition. One can construct theories — the world is full of competing and contradictory theories, all simplifications of reality based on assumptions which cannot be proven. That’s why you can’t trust theory/philosophy to give you the answer.
Well, at very least argue with his point that "big money" only is able to "exploit and/or repress" people by using the government itself. Where are the examples of corporations coercing people (remember that if someone consents to something, they aren’t being coerced) that aren’t already outlawed?
Make government regulation inconsequential to buying and selling, and people will stop buying and selling politicians.

And what the hell does "exploitation" actually mean, anyway? I’ve never received a coherent answer to this.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
I don’t share your absolute faith in the market — you make it sound like the market is a magical perfect mechanism which can do no wrong if left on its own.
Who said anything about absolute faith or perfection? That’s quite a strawman you have created. Nothing is "perfect", in fact it would impossible to define such a thing.

Maybe the biggest gulf between libertarians and leftists is that libertarians do not believe in the perfectability of man, and certainly don’t believe such a thing can be achieved by the use of government force. One of the fundametal characteristics of true libertarians is that they don’t sit around thinking about how to design a perfect system to organize the human race under, because such things are silly and impossible, and inevitably lead to bloodshed.

My only "faith" in the free market is that a truely free market allows for the maximum of individual liberty. That doesn’t mean everybody will be equally happy with the outcome but that’s always been the case with government interventionism no matter how well intentioned. I don’t know or care whether that is "perfect", having such a conversation is pointless and misses the point entirely.

You have obviously mistaken libertarianism for just a different way to design the perfect society. It is not, not even close.
 
Written By: DS
URL: http://
Why are you erecting this strawman?
It’s not.
Instead of telling him what his argument is, why don’t you deal with the one on the table, or ask him if that is how he thinks it should be.
I merely pointed out another part of the equation that Mr. Erb did not mention. You mention smokers. Well, they are exploited, and they are repressed. Society turns a blind eye because of a greater good argument - that and the big money that government realized they could extort from the tobacco industry and tobacco users. Liberties are lost due to a host of reasons. That it is illegal for me to occasionally drive without a seatbelt or ride without a helmet to pick up some Wendy’s french fries that no longer can be cooked in trans-fat in NY, or pate in Chicago, is a loss of liberty. I marvel at the utterly arrogant and completely hypocritical left’s railing against conservatives forcing their morality upon others, ignoring that for forty plus years, it is the left’s morality which has been imposed upon this nation.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
But "big money", whatever that is, only has the power to "exploit and/or repress" by using the government to do these things for it. If you get rid of the link between business (not just big business) and govenment you remove the problem all together. The job will be done, and no further regulation will be needed, the free market will make sure that "big business" will have its hands full fending off competitors empowered by a new laissez-faire world.

Genuine fantasy. The reason corporations use the government to exploit and repress is that it’s more convenient to use the government to do it, than to do it themselves and face the potential backlash that might come, *under the current dictates of our current system*.

In reality, a corporation is simply a vehicle for acquiring wealth, and in an environment structured to allow them to do so, they are perfectly willing to use fraud, coercion and violence to help themselves along, just like individuals in an anarchic set of circumstances turn to looting.

History is replete with examples. Modern Russia works a lot like this. The early 20’th century is full of examples of corporations paying thugs to break up attempts by employees to bargain collectively, which under any libertarian, market-run, government system ought to be a perfectly ideologically appropriate tactic.

None of these examples feature no government at all, because large-scale business pretty much *ceases to exist* under anarchy.

If you subtract vital regulatory functions from the democratic, relatively independent institution that is the government, corporations would simply acquire such functions for themselves. For more information, see the medieval guild system.

Oh, as for the point of the article myself, I’m a liberal, not a libertarian, but I don’t like rules outlawing trans fats, either. It’s the leftist equivalent of Terri Schiavo. But I’m willing to put up with it, because the threat of not being able to eat KFC conveniently means far less to me than the threat of economic serfdom for vast swathes of our population, and the unnecessary death that is the hallmark of the other voting choice’s foreign policy.



 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
I started a comment, but then decided to incorporate it into my my own post at Jon’s "other blog." Eric Dondero, on the crucial civil liberties and rule of law issues of the moment, the GOP is atrocious.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://inactivist.org/
glasnost -
The reason corporations use the government to exploit and repress is that it’s more convenient to use the government to do it, than to do it themselves and face the potential backlash that might come, *under the current dictates of our current system*.
Even if I took your opinion as a given, that’s hardly an argument for bigger government. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
In reality, a corporation is simply a vehicle for acquiring wealth, and in an environment structured to allow them to do so, they are perfectly willing to use fraud, coercion and violence to help themselves along, just like individuals in an anarchic set of circumstances turn to looting.
I believe fraud is a punishable offense in all 50 states. Coercion and violence are the specialties of governments, but you’re easier on government than on private parties that currently use neither force nor the threat of force.

And gosh, you say "vehicle for acquiring wealth" as if those who work for corporations are not producing wealth themselves. They make money by producing the best of many alternatives. Insofar as they acquire money by fraud, libertarians generally don’t condone that; insofar as they use coercion and force, it is virtually always through and by government!
History is replete with examples. Modern Russia works a lot like this. The early 20’th century is full of examples of corporations paying thugs to break up attempts by employees to bargain collectively, which under any libertarian, market-run, government system ought to be a perfectly ideologically appropriate tactic.
Anyone here arguing that collective bargaining itself is wrong? I don’t see it. What we have a problem with is when those bargaining on either side (or both) resort to force, including using government force. Sadly, unions do a lot of that today; I would know, I was in the drawn-out Southern California supermarket strike. And y’know, the Fortune 50 company I worked for never called out thugs to break up the strike; the manager even brought us out refreshments.
If you subtract vital regulatory functions from the democratic, relatively independent institution that is the government, corporations would simply acquire such functions for themselves. For more information, see the medieval guild system.
Is this a joke?
Oh, as for the point of the article myself, I’m a liberal, not a libertarian
No, you’re not a liberal. Liberals believe in liberty above all, whereas other considerations trump liberty more often than not in your political calculus. That’s not to say you’re entirely illiberal; there are some issues on which you end up arguing for more freedom than the status quo. But you’re hardly anywhere near being a "liberal" at present, so come up with a more appropriate term for yourself, or (better yet) start behaving like a real liberal.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
In reality, a corporation is simply a vehicle for acquiring wealth,
You say that as if there is something wrong with acquiring wealth....
.... and in an environment structured to allow them to do so, they are perfectly willing to use fraud, coercion and violence to help themselves along, just like individuals in an anarchic set of circumstances turn to looting.......Modern Russia works a lot like this.
IF you are talking about "anarchy" then that is not a "structured environment" at all. I have not spent much time thinking about a world devoid of any government, but it couldn’t be much worse than the fraud, coercion and violence perpetuated by governments throughout history. But that’s a diversionary discussion that does not much interest me. Arguing against some sort of anarchic strawman is really just confusing the issue.

The last time I checked Modern Russia has a government, quite a powerful one at that, capable of suppressing separatist movements, murdering journalists and regulating politically unfavorable businesses out of existence without accountability. It also has removed businesses that it deams politically unacceptable from existence, hardly an anarchic state where the government has no power to regulate commerce. Yukos was regulated into oblivion at the president’s whim. Modern Russia is the classic corporatist/fascist model similar to Mussolini’s Italy, which is not too much different than organized crime I suppose.
I’m a liberal, not a libertarian,
Only in the post-New Deal, American-leftist sense of the word, just to be clear.
 
Written By: DS
URL: http://
Mona talks of "crucial civil liberties." Really Mona. Well, I can’t think of a more crucial civil liberty imaginable than the issue of the Military Draft.

I’m ex-Navy, 4 years honorably. I served my country as a volunteer. The Volunteer Armed Forces works!

And those damned Democrats want to eliminate the Volunteer Military. They want to enslave young men and women into the Military and if they don’t like going in the Army or the Marines, well those friendly Democrats will give them the "choice" of serving in the Peace Corps or in a local "Volunteer" capacity. Of course, that Volunteerism will be coerced.

Don’t you talk to me about Republicans being "atrocious on civil liberties."

It’s only the Democrats these days who want to bring back the Draft. Bush and Rumsfeld saved us from the Draft. They should be honored for that.




 
Written By: Eric Dondero
URL: http://www.mainstreamlibertarian.com
Mona, to me Seat Belt Laws are a crucial issue. I don’t give a damn about abstract issues like what constitutes "torture of terrorists." Doesn’t effect my life one damn bit.

But Seat Belt Laws do! Don’t talk to me about what is and what is not crucial.

You want another one? Free Speech. That has a great affect on my life. I don’t see any Republicans these days telling me what I can or cannot say. But I see an awful lot of liberals on a daily basis ruling what is and what is not politically correct to say in the workplace or on college campuses.

These issue affect real Americans. They are by definition crucial, and your Democrat pals are on the wrong side of all these Nanny-State proposals.



 
Written By: Eric Dondero
URL: http://www.mainstreamlibertarian.com
It’s only the Democrats these days who want to bring back the Draft. Bush and Rumsfeld saved us from the Draft. They should be honored for that.

False, you must not read Town Hall.

 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://inactivist.org/
You want another one? Free Speech. That has a great affect on my life. I don’t see any Republicans these days telling me what I can or cannot say.
Then you have not read Ben Shapiro or any number of other Bushistas who want to criminalize dissent.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://inactivist.org/
Mona, to me Seat Belt Laws are a crucial issue. I don’t give a damn about abstract issues like what constitutes "torture of terrorists." Doesn’t effect my life one damn bit.

Terorrist SUSPECTS. Your comment says all that needs to be said. You are a libertarian like Lenin was a Jeffersonian American.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://inactivist.org/
I don’t share your absolute faith in the market — you make it sound like the market is a magical perfect mechanism which can do no wrong if left on its own.
That’s a profound misunderstanding of the value of free markets. Nobody — nobody — argues that free markets always produce the optimal outcome for every person, or that they produce the best imaginable outcome. What we argue is that free markets provide the optimal allocative efficiency of value, are the most effective at eliminating inefficiencies over time, and are the most morally appropriate form of social interaction.

Think of free markets like evolution among herbivores. (the "free" part of free markets excludes a carnivorous analogy) Evolution doesn’t necessarily produce the neat animals you might prefer, and sometimes some animals you really like might go extinct. But evolution produces a far better equilibrium than could any one person or committee trying to make such decisions. If you try to step in to prevent evolution from occurring, your imperfect information and attempt to retain inefficiency will probably lead to unintended consequences much worse than the evolutionary path you try to prevent.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
The notion that Bush and Rumsfeld "saved us" from the draft is absurd, however....
It’s only the Democrats these days who want to bring back the Draft. Bush and Rumsfeld saved us from the Draft. They should be honored for that.

False, you must not read Town Hall.
Jim Webb, Rahm Emanuel, Charlie Rangel, Russ McKenzie.

One of these is not like the rest.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net

One of these is not like the rest.
There is almost no chance the legislators will win. I also agree it needs attention to ensure that the right doesn’t pick up that theme, for it is also true that the draft historically has been a right-wing fetish, at least since Viet Nam.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://inactivist.org/
Mona:
False, you must not read Town Hall.
Gotta love those libertarians that proscribe things...
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
Well, at very least argue with his point that "big money" only is able to "exploit and/or repress" people by using the government itself. Where are the examples of corporations coercing people (remember that if someone consents to something, they aren’t being coerced) that aren’t already outlawed?
Make government regulation inconsequential to buying and selling, and people will stop buying and selling politicians.
The key point of disagreement is in the word "only," which is the 12th word. My response was based on the premise that, by using the word "only" he was saying that without government to use, there would be no power of big government to exploit or repress.

I believe power in society can be abused by any actor who manages to get that power. Free markets themselves, all other things being equal, can be circumvented by people who gain power. (The most obvious examples is those with power can create a government — which is why I think if government disappeared, pretty soon someone would create one). Markets can be circumvented by appeals to nationalism, emotion, having better information than other actors, time lags, panics, and basic miscalculations. Those with power can bribe, threaten, and coerce.

Exploit: in general a person is exploited if they lack the effective ability to make choices which could allow them to succeed or move up economically. So if a class of people lacks access to quality education while another class gets it, and thus are kept unable to move into better jobs, they are exploited. A quick test would be to compare two people and ask: "if they had equal talent, work ethic, and luck, would they each have an equal chance of success." So if I compare myself with Bill Gates, I’d have to say that there is no case that I’m exploited — if I had his talent, work ethic, and luck, I’d be where he is. But if you compare an inner city youth from a drug infested neighborhood where education is horrible with a suburban kid with all the breaks and guaranteed college paid by his parents, then the former lacks equal effective opportunity due to how society is structured. I can go on, but I’ll leave that one there for now.

Repress: denial of basic freedoms and liberties — ranging from theft or physical attack to limiting speech, religion, or economic freedom.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Gotta love those libertarians that proscribe things...
No, I beg you to READ it. If you are libertarian, you should vomit.
 
Written By: Mona
URL: http://inactivist.org/
Maybe the biggest gulf between libertarians and leftists is that libertarians do not believe in the perfectability of man, and certainly don’t believe such a thing can be achieved by the use of government force. One of the fundametal characteristics of true libertarians is that they don’t sit around thinking about how to design a perfect system to organize the human race under, because such things are silly and impossible, and inevitably lead to bloodshed.
I agree completely with your statement about the inability of government force to create a perfect system, and that no perfect system can be designed to organize the human race. Hundreds of millions are dead because of that fantasy.
My only "faith" in the free market is that a truely free market allows for the maximum of individual liberty. That doesn’t mean everybody will be equally happy with the outcome but that’s always been the case with government interventionism no matter how well intentioned. I don’t know or care whether that is "perfect", having such a conversation is pointless and misses the point entirely.
Outcomes should and must be unequal because people are unequal, both in talent and in effort. You said that power could be abused by big money ONLY if government somehow enables that. That only made it sound like you thought the system would be perfect without government — that there would be no abuse of power. Perhaps I read too much into your use of the word "only."

I do think that: a) equal opportunity is essential, everyone must have an opportunity to use their talents and make the choice to work or not to work in order to shape their outcomes. If a lazy person is poor because of his choices, then that’s fine — as long as the opportunity was there. And it may well be that some pragmatic government action is necessary to try to safeguard equal opportunity (indeed, I’m convinced it is); and b) there are moral issues involving survival, protection of people with disabilities or other problems, that might not be taken care of by volunteerism alone. Some have faith that volunteerism will handle all such cases. Perhaps — but perhaps not. And if not, there is a moral question about letting people unable to suffer (especially children) due to situations beyond their control.

Pragmatically, these open up two functions of government: maximize equal opportunity, and deal with suffering that is due to lack of opportunity or inherent incapacities of individuals. Beyond that, of course, rule of law protecting individual liberties (and market functions) would be necessary. In a free market system the first "winners" would have an interest in circumventing the market and structuring in advantage for themselves and their families. I don’t think the market on its own has a mechanism that can prevent that — one can theorize possible ways it could be prevented, but possible and even plausible scenarios are only guesses based on assumptions and theories, and real world evidence is lacking.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
You mention smokers. Well, they are exploited, and they are repressed. Society turns a blind eye because of a greater good argument - that and the big money that government realized they could extort from the tobacco industry and tobacco users. Liberties are lost due to a host of reasons. That it is illegal for me to occasionally drive without a seatbelt or ride without a helmet to pick up some Wendy’s french fries that no longer can be cooked in trans-fat in NY, or pate in Chicago, is a loss of liberty. I marvel at the utterly arrogant and completely hypocritical left’s railing against conservatives forcing their morality upon others, ignoring that for forty plus years, it is the left’s morality which has been imposed upon this nation.
Those are all good points — I too feel that I grew up in an era with less regulation and more freedom. Sure, playing in the back of my dad’s station wagen when we traveled from Sioux Falls to Madelia probably left me less safe than my kids being forced to stay in car seats and boosters until they weigh 80 pounds. But life is full of risks. So on these issues a ’left-libertarian’ like myself sides more with the ’libertarians’ than with the ’left.’
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Think of free markets like evolution among herbivores. (the "free" part of free markets excludes a carnivorous analogy) Evolution doesn’t necessarily produce the neat animals you might prefer, and sometimes some animals you really like might go extinct. But evolution produces a far better equilibrium than could any one person or committee trying to make such decisions. If you try to step in to prevent evolution from occurring, your imperfect information and attempt to retain inefficiency will probably lead to unintended consequences much worse than the evolutionary path you try to prevent.
I agree. The issue wasn’t the efficacy of markets, the issue was if big money can exploit or abuse power ONLY because they can use government.

Because I see markets as able to function in a truly ’free’ state only: a) if there are certain cultural underpinnings — an ethic of capitalism, if you will (that sort of idea goes back to Adam Smith); b) if efforts are made to maintain equal opportunity as defined in a previous post — winners must be prevented from structuring the game to give them an unfair advantage as the game continues; and c) there is general transparency and open information to assure maximum knowledge of all production by individuals (e.g., I see labeling regulations as enhancing markets because consumers can educate themselves and make choices more in line with their wants than being manipulated by advertising).

I’d note that "b" and "c" would require sets of limited governmental action to maintain; "a" is trickier. Since I don’t think we have in our society the kind of ethic that would work to self-govern markets, there might need to be more regulation or laws to develop that kind of behavior. Corruption, fraud, and coercion need to be hated by even those who are ’winning the game;’ I don’t think we have that.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"I don’t see any Republicans these days telling me what I can or cannot say..."


Flag burning? Campaign-finance ’reform’?
 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
Scott -
I’ll just respond to the things with which I disagree.
Markets can be circumvented by appeals to nationalism, emotion, having better information than other actors, time lags, panics, and basic miscalculations. Those with power can bribe, threaten, and coerce.
How exactly are markets "circumvented" by appeals to nationalism, emotion, assymmetry of information, time lags, panics, and basic miscalculations? These things don’t circumvent markets.

Nationalism: You mean like, "Buy American"? So what? That’s just a matter of preference. Maybe Joe Six-Pack prefers a shirt made in America. That’s his subjective evaluation, and don’t bother saying he’s wrong to prefer it. You aren’t in a position to say that anything has an intrinsic value. Even if the American-made t-shirt is exactly the same as a Chinese-made t-shirt in terms of quality and physical characteristics, it provides a different level of satisfaction to Joe. Don’t fall prey to the physical fallacy.

Emotion: Same thing. It doesn’t matter if a third party thinks something is "irrational." Markets allocate according to what people want, and everyone—everyone—is subject to emotion.

Assymmetrical information: What’s wrong with assymmetrical information, in principle? Knowledge has costs, and anyone who doesn’t take that into account is missing a huge piece of how markets or plain old decision-making work. Some people will tell you that markets only really work when you assume perfect information, but this isn’t true; perfect information, first of all, would be inifinitely costly to obtain and far more than any mere human being could process. Does more information, all other things being equal, increase the chances of a more optimal outcome? Yes, but all other things are not equal. Knowledge has costs.

Time lags: Same principle. Time is a valuable resource. That’s why you can loan money to people and get interest back.

Panics: While panics can indeed be destructive, and a third party with more information (likely using hindsight) might say "needlessly so," this is hardly a reason to doubt the optimality of free markets. Going over historical panics in my head, I’m hard pressed to find one that wasn’t caused by government intervention and/or serious fraud, and you know how I feel about both of those: they should both be punishable offenses.

Basic miscalculations: This has always been a factor, but frankly, who makes the decision is very important here. If you put the decision-making in the hands of a third party who knows less about the transacting parties’ preferences and who acts without all the many kinds of knowledge that go into any transaction, you’re only increasing the likelihood that the transaction will have a suboptimal outcome from the transactors’ point of view.
What the hell does Bob the Bureaucrat down at the Department of Agriculture know about why Joe Farmer is switching up one of the products he uses on his livestock? Heck, Joe might not know what he’s going to prefer right up ’til the moment of the transaction. Bob can guess at why, or he can spend money trying to collect the knowledge needed to make a more informed decision, but either way, what good is he doing?
Ask an army of bureaucrats to look from afar at the complex web of preferences and transactions that go on in any field, and they’re going to trip right over their inherent limitations; meanwhile, they have incentives to find "problems" and "irrational behavior" among the transactors (whether they exist or not) and attract the budget authority and underlings so that they can go fix that "problem."

Bribery, threats and coercion: Without the use of force, bribery is just something involving fraud, and you know how I feel about fraud. As for threats and coercion, you know how I feel about them, too. But this is hardly a case for more government, which operates almost entirely by the threat and use of force.
Exploit: in general a person is exploited if they lack the effective ability to make choices which could allow them to succeed or move up economically.
WHAT?!?
I’m sorry, but my point about never getting a coherent answer still stands; here are many reasons why:
Exploitation connotes harm. Nobody ever bitches about somebody’s lack of talent or of applicable knowledge exploiting them; it’s something someone does to somebody else, ostensibly for one’s own gain. Yet your definition says that anything that hinders one’s "ability to make choices which could allow [one] to succeed or move up economically" is "exploitation."
Two questions:
(1) What if a person can’t make any choice that will allow him/her to "succeed" (and success, by the way, is an entirely subjective measure, so it should be thrown out in the first place), but it’s nobody else’s fault? People can’t control for luck or inborn talent because those two things are impossible to measure—hell, they’re hard enough to define.
(2) What if nobody else gains from the "exploited" person’s loss? Your definition says that person is still exploited, but that doesn’t make any sense. Exploitation connotes one person gaining at the expense of another.

Next... "Lack[ing] an effective ability"? What’s that supposed to mean? That if somebody doesn’t succeed (which, by the way, is an entirely subjective measure), they must be "exploited" right now? What if they have the ability, but they’re not using it because they prefer to do something else in which they have less ability but greater interest?

And what’s the only way to resolve that "problem" of somebody being exploited somewhere? By your definition, everyone must somehow be moving up relative to the rest of the world! In other words, it’s impossible!
So if a class of people lacks access to quality education while another class gets it, and thus are kept unable to move into better jobs, they are exploited. A quick test would be to compare two people and ask: "if they had equal talent, work ethic, and luck, would they each have an equal chance of success."
There are no definitions of "success," "talent," or "luck" that can be applied here. They are impossible-to-define, counterfactual criteria! And you expect to make policy based on this? For what? Some equally ill-defined idea of justice?

And how do we measure "chances of success"? Didn’t we just get done measuring luck? Now we have to double back and ask whether people with unequal luck had equal chances of success, based on a counterfactual equality of luck?
Oooh, I just solved exploitation. Everyone would have an equal chance of success, but sadly, they all just have unequal luck. Prove me wrong!
So if I compare myself with Bill Gates, I’d have to say that there is no case that I’m exploited — if I had his talent, work ethic, and luck, I’d be where he is.
Really? Prove it.
The fact that you can’t—and that nobody can—is a fatal flaw of your definition. You’ve posed an untestable hypothesis and drawn a policy from it.
But if you compare an inner city youth from a drug infested neighborhood where education is horrible with a suburban kid with all the breaks and guaranteed college paid by his parents, then the former lacks equal effective opportunity due to how society is structured. I can go on, but I’ll leave that one there for now.
Oh, here I thought exploitation was a crime. Now I see that it’s something you can do without ever actually harming someone, but for which you can still be punished. Great.
Repress: denial of basic freedoms and liberties — ranging from theft or physical attack to limiting speech, religion, or economic freedom.
Ah, good, then exploitation is not by its nature repressive. Your definition of exploitation doesn’t have to rob anyone of their property, do physical harm to anyone, coerce someone to prevent them from speaking, coerce someone to prevent them from practicing their religion freely, or coerce someone to prevent them from trading what they have with any consenting party. In other words, exploitation as you’ve defined is not harmful.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
Scott -

Also wanted to point out that my argument about knowledge having costs also applies to this quote of yours (which I think you’ll agree maintains its meaning even with the ellipses):
Because I see markets as able to function in a truly ’free’ state only: [...] c) [if] there is general transparency and open information to assure maximum knowledge of all production by individuals (e.g., I see labeling regulations as enhancing markets because consumers can educate themselves and make choices more in line with their wants than being manipulated by advertising).

I’d note that "b" and "c" would require sets of limited governmental action to maintain;
"Maximum knowledge of all production" would be infinitely expensive to collect and impossible for a mere human to process, not to mention impossible to fit on labels; there’s no limit to how many details can be collected about how a product was produced.

The amount of information included must be a trade-off between (A) the costs to the producer of collecting and disseminating that knowledge and the consumers’ costs of processing that knowledge, and (B) the costs of consumers not making as informed a decision. If it costs $5 million to research Product X and subsequently tell every consumer of Product X that Product X contains an ingredient that causes people with a very rare gene to get mild acne, society’s seemingly better off with all those consumers not knowing, wouldn’t you agree?

Side note: I don’t know if you’re familiar with the essay, "I, Pencil," but it’s a classic. Could help inform around the edges here.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
The above is what I meant when writing, “If you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing.” For, if one is aware that these know-hows will naturally, yes, automatically, arrange themselves into creative and productive patterns in response to human necessity and demand—that is, in the absence of governmental or any other coercive master-minding—then one will possess an absolutely essential ingredient for freedom: a faith in free people. Freedom is impossible without this faith.
Absolutely outstanding essay, fantastic, thanks for sharing this.

This is a good jumping off point for what I have been trying to express in the whole libertarian democrat meme.

Here’s what I want, and why I think that the term libertarian liberal is appropriate for what I want:

I want compassionate libertarianism.

Use the power of government to take only ONE thing from anyone, a few dollars to invest in our people, who are willing to invest in themselves. Call it a safety net, call it welfare, call it socialized medicine, call it public schools, whatever. I am FOR these things, and I understand the libertarian argument against them, but consider this, if we had these things, and some we do have and others we pay for but don’t have (healthcare), but if we had these things and we did NOT have all the other nonsense nanny state prohibitions and intrusions into our lives, how would this be?

I am not saying that this is what the Democrats ARE, but it is what I want them to be and my work has been to these ends.

I hate the smoking bans, if a restaraunt wants smoking, let them, if another doesn’t, great. Sex and drugs and rock & roll (and guns) should all be left alone, along with everything else that people do that may or may not be harmful to them, but do not interfere with the rights of others.

Everyone knows the "give a man a fish" analogy and I guess my main point is this, if someone needs help, and asks for help, and is willing to "learn how to fish", I am in favor of using the pooled resources of government to teach some people how to fish. It’s got to work, it must have a return on investment in the form of more productive people and less unproductive people.

But, if someone doesn’t ask for help, for crying out loud, STOP helping us. I don’t need to know how many grams of transfat is in a Big Mac, and if I decided I did need to know, I’d have friggin’ found out. I know that if something is greasy and tastes good, it’s not good for me, that’s not why I was eating it. The media are the one’s that are supposed to uncover all the dangers around us and then tell us about them, and we can respond however we like, but every time a freaking lab rat gets a tumor doesn’t mean we should pass another law.

I used to think Republicans were the closest to my personal politics as described above, I worked hard to help them win control of government in the 90’s, but they disappointed me terribly, giving us far more nanny state legislation and far less compassion, in other words, they spent most of their time helping people who weren’t asking, and did their best to eliminate assistance for those who were.

I don’t know if it is the fault of the elected officials exactly, except for the spineless failure to tell people every good idea does not have to be a law prohibiting something, but often they are following the will of the loudest voices in their constituency, and the loudest voices always seem to be people who want to pass a law prohibiting US from doing something.

Some group of do-gooders that may have known a child who was killed in a car accident want to make a difference in the world, and maybe prevent some child from being killed this way, GREAT, it’s a noble cause, and I don’t even mind that they passed laws requiring that children wear seat belts. But the line is crossed when these people go to Congress and tell them to pass a law FORCING us to wear a seatbelt, or a motorcycle helmet. If Congress thinks these things are important public safety issues, fine, spend a few bucks on a public information campaign, make it required teaching in public schools, whatever, but stop with all the prohibitions already. Hell, In Virginia the Republican legislature passed a law that says that an adult who does not have children man must wait 30 days AFTER consulting a doctor before he can have a vasectomy performed. This is insane.

I swear, I probably break a dozen laws every day and I don’t even know what they are... well, I know a few of them.

I work for a multinational corporation, and they have these rules of conduct that we have to sign off on every year. The rules are so broad and all encompassing such that every employee of the company violates them regularly, it
’s impossible not to. When I read this blog, DING, violation. We laugh about this because what it means to us as employees is that if the company wants to get rid of someone, they ALWAYS have a reason. But at least with my job I have choices, I can find a different job.

This is how it has become in this country. There are so many laws and prohibitions that virtually everyone is a criminal, in a country that has 30 millions convicted felons walking around and another couple in the slam right now, we have another 270 million people that are one angry neighbor away from being hauled in for some landscape violation or some such nonsense.

So yes, the same things piss me off about the nanny state, the only difference is that I am okay with the government helping people who ASK; JUST STOP HELPING ME!

Does that clarify the position of one ostensible libertarian democrat?

Cap


 
Written By: CaptinSarcastic
URL: http://
Ornery WP: By nationalism, emotion, etc., I’m talking about appeals to use power to create structures that are anti-liberty and anti-market. It’s not just "buy American," it’s "attack the evil Chinese."

Also, I don’t think you really addressed the issue with knowledge, time lags, panics, etc. My argument is not that these things make markets bad or useless, but that markets do not operate effectively left to their own devices. In short, free markets are not the natural way humans interact. Humans tend to gain power and find ways to try to abuse it or structure society to assure those who have it keep it. History proves that — when pressed for any example of a free market operating on its own the best anyone has done is a reference to Iceland in pre-capitalist times, a system about which there is limited information.

Given that, the argument is not really if there should be free markets — we agree there should — or if there should be government — given our level of social development, governments are inevitable. Rather, what kind of governmental laws, regulations, and authority is necessary to avoid denying liberty and to try to help true market mechanisms operate (I detailed that a bit more in a previous post).

As far as proving issues of exploitation or equal opportunity — I’m not sure what you want for "proof." I think it’s obvious that an inner city youth has fewer opportunities than someone raised in the suburbs — that equal talent and work from each will yield different results, perhaps success for one and failure for the other. I don’t know of anyone who would claim they really have true effective equal opportunity, even if they have legal equality. (I can give examples here if this is in doubt).

You are right that exploitation in my view cannot be traced back to a specific act or crime — that is why I think it is far more problemmatic than most market libertarians believe. I believe that society gets structured by the powerful in ways that create inherent advantages for particular groups of people, and disadvantages for others. I think that class is real, and is a result of how powerful folk can circumvent what a true free market might do. That means that the solution is not just to punish crimes, reductionism doesn’t work. This is precisely the issue dividing left libertarians from market libertarians: the belief that social structuring creates exploitation that is an aspect of the system, not the result of discernible specific crimes.

It is repressive, but not in your direct definition of an easily defined act that harms. Its repressive power is part of the structure of society, but still limits freedom and denies liberty to large number of people who do not have equal opportunity to compete.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
My argument is not that these things make markets bad or useless, but that markets do not operate effectively left to their own devices.
What do you mean by "effectively"? Does that mean they don’t produce the outcomes that you think are "correct"? That’s just way too vague and subjective a basis to make policies that everybody will be forced to live by. No 2 people would even agree on what the definition of these things would be how do you make a universal policy based on something so subjective?
I believe that society gets structured by the powerful in ways that create inherent advantages for particular groups of people, and disadvantages for others.


.....by using the government. Government is the only top-down mechanism in society, and it does a very poor job of "organizing" society. The problem is that "society" is not a tangible, unchanging entity that can be shaped in one way or another at anybody’s whim. It is simply the summation of a millions of people acting in a incalculable number of ways. To believe that anybody could engineer such a system to their liking is absurd.
I think that class is real, and is a result of how powerful folk can circumvent what a true free market might do. That means that the solution is not just to punish crimes, reductionism doesn’t work.
The "solution" to what? Again this implies that you are trying to engineer some optimal society in which the outcomes are to your personal liking. If that’s your opinion on how the world works you are entitled to it but you will find little sympathy for that world view from those calling themselves libertarians. What you are proposing is to use the force of government to achieve outcomes that you would pefer. You can call that lots of things, but libertarian isn’t one of them.

How does anybody "circumvent" a free market? Even government can’t do that, all it can do is distort the free market, usually with highly unpredictable results. When government tries to circumvent the free market it usually 1) fails to accomplish the goals it is trying to achieve, and 2) ends up causing all kinds of other problems that it did not intend. I see no reason why some nebulous being with the name "powerful folk" would be able to have any more luck at such a grand scheme.
This is precisely the issue dividing left libertarians from market libertarians: the belief that social structuring creates exploitation that is an aspect of the system, not the result of discernible specific crimes.
With all due respect, I think you have come here in hope of finding some new label to hang on good old fashioned marxist, left-wing socialism. But it is certainly not libertarian. From reading what you have written here your ideological home is squarely in the middle of the Democratic party, I suspect you would find much agreement with anybody in America who calls themselves a "liberal".

The bottomline is that we just disagree on the fundamental structure of the world. You’ve provided no proof that the world is structured the way you say, so you are not going to change any minds. There is nothing wrong with that but there is little basis for trying to find common ground since we don’t share enough basic fundamental assumptions with which to haggle over the differences.

 
Written By: DS
URL: http://
What do you mean by "effectively"? Does that mean they don’t produce the outcomes that you think are "correct"? That’s just way too vague and subjective a basis to make policies that everybody will be forced to live by. No 2 people would even agree on what the definition of these things would be how do you make a universal policy based on something so subjective?
No, I mean the free market breaks down and is not free, and doesn’t operate as a free market anymore. It isn’t a magical machine that runs on its own! My point is not against the free market, it’s saying that without support free markets won’t exist! They aren’t a natural state, even if they would be an optimal state.

I also don’t believe your assertion that it’s only through the use of government that structures are created. In lawless societies you certainly don’t have natural free markets, you have organized crime, corruption, and violent gangs. Free markets are difficult to create, and not self-sustaining — at least according to any evidence I’ve seen.

Governments are people. Any group of people that has power can do things to exploit and limit the liberty of other people. The problem is not government, but abuse of power. Governments often abuse power — more than others, they can kill millions, start wars, etc. But that doesn’t mean that if they magically disappeared there would be nobody abusing power or preventing markets from functioning as free markets.

And while you may not like the growing term "left libertarianism" (it’s very common in political science and increasingly describes leftist ideas that reject government as the path to a better society, and reject utopian ideas), it’s hear and you may as well get used to it. After all, this ’neo-libertarian’ blog we’re commenting about has libertarians who favor a state making war and trying to nation-build to socially engineer Iraq to become a particular kind of state, and are very supportive of a massive military state aparatus. So the term libertarian is being taken in a variety of directions!

You talk about "no proof" my ideas are right and "fundamental assumptions" that differ. Of course no one has proof. But you speak as if you have a religion, and politics is a jihad between competing faiths. That is precisely the problem: it’s theory-driven understandings of reality, you are as guilty as the Marxists in having your view of how the world should be. Anybody who thinks they have found "the right answer" in an ideological pure sense is suspect, they have probably succumbed to a kind of religious mentality. You seem more like the Marxists than you realize. Better to recognize that the complexity of reality defies any ideological "right answer," and the best we can do is agree on basic values — liberty, equal opportunity, and markets functioning as close to how a free market should function as possible — and then things we may differ on — possible times when free markets might deliver outcomes people believe harmful or immoral (by people I mean general society, not government elites) — and work through compromises.

Reality defies any ideology.

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Scott -
By nationalism, emotion, etc., I’m talking about appeals to use power to create structures that are anti-liberty and anti-market. It’s not just "buy American," it’s "attack the evil Chinese."
"Appeals to use power to create structures"? That’s hopelessly vague, Scott. Be specific. How are markets "circumvented" by nationalism and emotion? What "structures" are you talking about?
Also, I don’t think you really addressed the issue with knowledge, time lags, panics, etc. My argument is not that these things make markets bad or useless, but that markets do not operate effectively left to their own devices.
As DS already pointed out, what standard do you use for "effectiveness"?
I addressed the issues relating to knowledge, time lags, panics, etc., just fine, because I took into account the actual natures of time and knowledge. They’re not marks against free market economics, they’re part of the trade-offs, and they’re reflected quite well by the price mechanism so long as actual harm (including that arising from fraud) is checked. For that, yes, I do believe there’s a role for government (specifically, a judicial system), but not because of some idea that governments can increase the "effectiveness" of markets; they can’t. Governments have to distort markets and individual transactions at every turn just to continue operating, and they are by their nature slow to collect knowledge and reflect the preferences of the persons they govern. Government is only useful to the market in that it can create an environment secure enough for costs from coercion and fraud to be minimized, and even then they too easily go overboard because their goal is not to trade off costs but to achieve goals, so their own coercion creates higher costs itself.
In short, free markets are not the natural way humans interact. Humans tend to gain power and find ways to try to abuse it or structure society to assure those who have it keep it.
Your vagueness is getting a bit tiresome. First of all, define "natural" (I have yet to get a coherent answer to that one, too!).
Second, how do humans "gain power"? How can they use that power to "structure society"? You mean like, social engineers who run governments? Because I absolutely agree that institutions that use force to protect incumbents from competition should be cut back; that’s why I have a serious problem with government and the current incarnation of unions.
No, I mean [that without support] the free market breaks down and is not free, and doesn’t operate as a free market anymore.
How exactly does it break down?! Be specific!
Given that, the argument is not really if there should be free markets — we agree there should — or if there should be government — given our level of social development, governments are inevitable. Rather, what kind of governmental laws, regulations, and authority is necessary to avoid denying liberty and to try to help true market mechanisms operate (I detailed that a bit more in a previous post).
"[G]overnmental laws, regulations and authority" all eat into liberty, so let’s talk trade-offs: what do you think liberty is?

And "true" market mechanisms? As opposed to what?
As far as proving issues of exploitation or equal opportunity — I’m not sure what you want for "proof." I think it’s obvious that an inner city youth has fewer opportunities than someone raised in the suburbs — that equal talent and work from each will yield different results, perhaps success for one and failure for the other. I don’t know of anyone who would claim they really have true effective equal opportunity, even if they have legal equality. (I can give examples here if this is in doubt).
I love to break it to ya, Scott: there’s no such thing as "equal opportunities" as you’ve defined it. People are unequal, even identical twins raised in the same household. Pick any two people in the world, and even if you could measure things like talent and work, you’d find that they yield different "results," whether you measure results in happiness, income, or whatever.
You can’t impose some grand idea of justice-through-equality, can’t suss out what is caused by some grave historical injustice from merely having a different work ethic or merely being in the wrong place at the wrong time to take advantage of some opportunity. Heck, maybe the reason someone has less talent or is lazy or prefers to spend more time with the kids is because of that grave historical injustice, but how can we tell? We can’t, really, and to prescribe policy based on the simple fact that outcomes are unequal is plain foolish.

I also pointed out before that "success" and "failure" are entirely subjective on your part. What is success? What is failure? And what makes you think a third party can measure these things?
Say Darnell and Steve can somehow be measured precisely in their mathematical/quantitative abilities, and if put in a locked room for an hour would produce equally good aerospace engineering work. But what if Darnell, for whatever reason, decides he doesn’t want to pursue the lucrative field of aerospace engineering because he’s more interested in being an auto mechanic or a poet, or maybe he does go into engineering but he works less, not out of laziness but because he highly values time with his family? From the government’s perspective, Darnell’s lower income might indicate that he’s not "succeeding" even if he’s doing what he loves and doing it well.
You are right that exploitation in my view cannot be traced back to a specific act or crime — that is why I think it is far more problemmatic than most market libertarians believe. I believe that society gets structured by the powerful in ways that create inherent advantages for particular groups of people, and disadvantages for others.
You mean like how unions and government systematically discriminate in favor of incumbents (in industry, in jobs, in benefits) against those who would compete with the incumbents?
If you want to make a point, you’re going to have to be much more specific about just what "the structure of society" means in practical terms. You have been hopelessly vague about it, so that there’s really nothing of substance for anyone to argue against. That’s my argument against the rest of your post from there down, as well.

What is the "structure of society"? How do some people attain "power" (and what is power?), and how do they go about changing this "structure"? What does that mean for any given person, in practical terms? And what kinds of "solutions" can we expect to arrive at?
And while you may not like the growing term "left libertarianism" (it’s very common in political science and increasingly describes leftist ideas that reject government as the path to a better society, and reject utopian ideas), it’s hear [sic] and you may as well get used to it.
What is a "leftist" idea that rejects the use of government as the path to a better society? Give examples, and tell us how it’s different from what I guess you’d call "right libertarianism."
I don’t have to get used to anything. I still chafe every time someone uses the word "liberal" to describe someone who doesn’t believe foremost in liberty; it’s incorrect use of the language. Technically, so is "libertarian," since not all people who want a broad reduction in the operations of the state happen to believe in unfettered free will, but at some point, real liberals decided to give up the fight for that word.
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
First, I echo Ornery’s observations about the vague and subjective nature of your arguments. Until you define the apparently "self-evident" terms like "effective", "power", "structure of society", etc., etc. it is really difficult to have a meaningful discussion.
No, I mean the free market breaks down and is not free, and doesn’t operate as a free market anymore. It isn’t a magical machine that runs on its own! My point is not against the free market, it’s saying that without support free markets won’t exist! They aren’t a natural state, even if they would be an optimal state.
You obviously have a bizarre definition of what a "free" market is. The fact that a free market does not operate like a free market when the conditions for being a free market are longer satisfied is not a legitimate criticism, it is simply talking in circles.
In lawless societies you certainly don’t have natural free markets, you have organized crime, corruption, and violent gangs.
I have made no aguments for a "lawless" society and I have no interest in debating such a thing.

You repeatedly seem to be arguing against an anarchic strawman. I have made no such arguments for a world with no government. A government that ensures basic rights, prohibits violence and fraud in the literal sense (not some rhetorically expanded definition that defines all economic actvity as exploitation, violence and fraud), provides third-party redress of disputes among individuals (a court system), and does not attempt to intervene in private economic exchanges between individuals unless and until such parties ask for the third party (the courts) to help settle disputes, is the basis for any discussion about free markets.

A "free" market is one where all particpants are free to deal voluntarily with any other participant.
After all, this ’neo-libertarian’ blog we’re commenting about has libertarians who favor a state making war and trying to nation-build to socially engineer Iraq to become a particular kind of state, and are very supportive of a massive military state aparatus.
I make no excuses for the owners of this site, it is heavy on "NEO" and decidedly light on "libertarian". But the discussions are pretty interesting and usually about subjects of interest to libertarians, if not in agreement.
....and the best we can do is agree on basic values — liberty, equal opportunity, and markets functioning as close to how a free market should function as possible
From the limited amount of definition you have given for these terms, we do not agree on what these basic definitions are, which was a point I have already made. There just isn’t much point in discussing too much here, but you have demonstrated that you are at least superficially trying to understand where libertarians are coming from (with the exception of your provocative marx comments) so I’ll continue to participate.
And while you may not like the growing term "left libertarianism" (it’s very common in political science and increasingly describes leftist ideas that reject government as the path to a better society, and reject utopian ideas), it’s hear and you may as well get used to it.
It doesn’t matter whether I like it or not, I don’t own the term libertarian so use it anyway you want. I just personally find it an odd mixture of terms like carnivorous-vegetarian or hamburger-ice cream. "Left" and "Right" are terms originally used to describe the two competing variations of socialism and really have no place in the discussion of libertarian ideas. It displays a fundamental mis-understanding of what libertarianism actually is. If the fact that lots of people have the same misunderstanding makes you feel better, so be it. But you can call yourself whatever you want, what do I care?

I my mind "the path to a better society" IS a utopian idea....... As stated before, libertarians don’t generally concern themselves with such things.
 
Written By: DS
URL: http://
As DS already pointed out, what standard do you use for "effectiveness"?


(Note: to avoid a really, really, long post, I’ll respond without quoting a lot of your post)

What standard do you use? I use the standard of how a free market should operate — equal opportunity, competition, rewards for innovation, hard work, and talent, and all the other benefits we all agree that markets bring.

I’m sorry if my talk on structures was vague, but I suspect you will set a standard nobody can reach given the nature of social science in terms of wanting proof that structures exist. I’d point to the following:

1. I had a friend in college whose father was wealthy. This friend did C work, skipped classes to watch General Hospital, and partied most of the time. Yet he know owns his fathers’ business, has a number of houses, and is very successful. Take another person: someone born in a ghetto, in a culture defined by gangs and drugs, with no good school, and no opportunity. If he were as lazy as my friend, he’d never have a chance in life. Sure, he can work himself out of the ghetto to succeed, but it would take considerable effort. So clearly, due to the position one is born into, there is no effective equal opportunity. Some have much less opportunity, some much more.

That, in social science jargon, is an aspect of social structures. As long as you have this, you don’t have equal opportunity for all, which means that some do not have the same liberties as others. The left in the past wanted to simply equalize this all by tearing down the structures (classless society, etc.) and forcing equal outcomes. That is where the left went horribly wrong. Left-libertarians recognize that such structures exist, distort markets, and create absence of liberty for many. But the answer is not big government or equalizing outcomes. The answer is to try to help people help themselves by direct efforts to expand opportunity.

Note: this is not due to nature or just luck. These are human constructed structures, and thus they are due to human acts that create unfair benefits for some and lack of opportunity and liberty for others. To accept these and brush them off by saying ’life is unfair’ seems to me inherently anti-libertarian.

2. As far as power goes. I study politics. Every society and political system finds a nexus of money and power, and those in that nexus use money and power to give advantage to themselves and try to control societies. Power is the problem. Government is a huge problem because it is the largest concentration of power in our current system; but it is only an aspect of the larger problem.

3. Success is defined in terms of economics: people being able to maximize utility, usually defined in materialist terms. I’m not a materialist myself (one reason I, unlike others on the left, can so easily dismiss calls for equal material outcomes, I don’t think rich people are necessarily happier than poor), but in discussing economic issues and how the market functions, I use an economistic notion. BUT, at base the issue is liberty and opportunity. If someone has liberty and true opportunity, and chooses to be a beach bum, then there is no problem. But without opportunity, you don’t have real liberty. And, while exact ’equal opportunity’ is impossible, when you have human constructed clear differences based on position in society, that is a sign that liberty is being violated for some — not by government, but by the structure of the economic system.

To me a better society is one with maximum individual liberty, allowing voluntary organization to deal with common or collective problems. To me a better society is one where a market operates without distortions, and where all have opportunity to ’play the game’ without being fundamentally disadvantaged due to their position in society (since that is a lack of liberty).

Finally, what is liberty? To be as free as possible from injust (not due to talent, effort or luck, but rather than structured position in society) human built constraints on opportunity and ability to act. Life is about trade offs, and absolute liberty (or license) means no moral constraints on ones’ ability to act (the strong can dominate the weak, kill and steal at will), and no core limits. I would argue that a libertarian perspective must have a universal sense of liberty, meaning that there are built in inhibitions against doing things that would deny the liberty of others (hence the agreement that theft, fraud, murder, etc. are illegal). I think that minimalist approach will not stop powerful actors from manipulating the system to their benefit, created a society structured in a manner where one class is rich and in control, and the other poor. True liberty requires minimizing that. Big government and statism is not the way; nor are utopian visions of a perfect society. Liberty is the only goal; with liberty humans will construct worlds better than our theories could possibly imagine.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"Left" and "Right" are terms originally used to describe the two competing variations of socialism and really have no place in the discussion of libertarian ideas. It displays a fundamental mis-understanding of what libertarianism actually is. If the fact that lots of people have the same misunderstanding makes you feel better, so be it. But you can call yourself whatever you want, what do I care?


Libertarianism as a background moral philosophy can work well making political decisions, but what you point out above is not accurate, the reason that right and left are separate from libertarianism is that right and left are political ideologies, libertarianism is a moral philosophy.

Christianity can inform one’s politics, but it is not a political philosophy or ideology, same with libertarianism.

A perfect adherent to libertarian philosophy would have no interest in politics at all, since politics is an exercise in compromise, and compromise is not possible within libertarian philosophy. Freedom is either protected or it is not.

But a libertarian moral philosophy informing a left or right political philosophy can certainly be applied.

Cp


 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
You obviously have a bizarre definition of what a "free" market is. The fact that a free market does not operate like a free market when the conditions for being a free market are longer satisfied is not a legitimate criticism, it is simply talking in circles.
That seems like a legitimate criticism of the circumstances which prevent it from operating like a free market. I wasn’t criticizing markets, but those conditions. We disagree on precisely what those conditions are.

As noted in the last post, my ’path to a better society’ is one where liberty is primary, and the results are based on human choice, not some grand theory or utopia. Do you disagree?

Sorry about the provocative Marx comments.

I’ll tell you where I’m coming from: I joined the Libertarian Party at age 19, and actually was a member of the College Republicans at the same time, and attended the GOP convention in Detroit in 1980 which nominated Reagan (I was on the floor when they gave the demonstration after he got the votes — a bunch of "Reagan youth.") Then, as I traveled and studied, I moved decidedly left, and embraced social democracy. In so doing, I never gave up my libertarian values, but became convinced that capitalism as it was being practiced was far from Adam Smith’s ideal, and in fact often inhumane and dehumanizing.

Then as I traveled in Russia and Eastern Europe and learned about the utter horror of what ’real existing socialism’ could accomplish, and saw how entrenched unions and special interests created stagnation and bureaucratization in social democratic states, I came to see that government was not a solution, but the fundamental problem. Government in Europe is very much in the hands of business and the unions. Their goal is not competition and markets, but protecting their interest groups. Big business doesn’t mind big government, as it has a lot of influence. Any leftist effort to use government to solve problems will lead either to a) cooption by big money and less freedom and weaker market structures; or b) adherence to an ideology that will rationalize denial of liberty and even mass murder, with no accountability and transparency.

That has led me at this point in my life to two primary conclusions: 1) ideology or philosophy as a way to determine the best system is a very dangerous delusion, as reality is so complex that our ideologies are unable to deal with the paradoxical nature of the various trade offs in political and social life; and 2) decentralization is a primary first step towards any effort to maximize liberty. More power to states, provinces, counties, and less to central governments or bureaucracies. From there I embrace a pragmatic effort to deal with the dilemmas and paradoxes that show up, trying to determine the best policy and action given the real existing political circumstances, and always with the goal of putting human freedom and all it requires (protection of life, liberty and property, along with preventing position in society from denying effective opportunity).

In ten years, I’ll probably have a different view. My core values don’t change though, it’s really the practical issue of how best to express them in a complex and uncertain world.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"If he were as lazy as my friend, he’d never have a chance in life."
But certainly you are not arguing that everyone should have equal opportunity to be lazy and sucessful, as your under-achiving college friend?
The answer is to try to help people help themselves by direct efforts to expand opportunity.
How, specifically? Where do you draw the line? And how will this eliminate the unfairness of which you speak?

 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
But certainly you are not arguing that everyone should have equal opportunity to be lazy and sucessful, as your under-achiving college friend?
No, this just demonstrates that position in society matters in terms of opportunity.

How, specifically? Where do you draw the line? And how will this eliminate the unfairness of which you speak?
First, we’ll never eliminate unfairness — the desire to do that leads in very ugly directions. I think all we can try to do is create opportunities. Inner city tax breaks were a good idea. Job training, education, and even workfare (to earn welfare you need to do a public service) may be legitimate avenues. Unfortunately at this point I’m not sure about the specifics. I just know that transfers don’t work and can create a psychology of dependency that only makes things worse for both society and the people receiving the handouts. But I’ll need to find time (and incentive — perhaps debates like this provide incentive) to think out specifics. I do think local and state efforts are far more effective than federal efforts.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"I do think local and state efforts are far more effective than federal efforts."
And less intrusive on personal liberty.

Defining the specifics - and drawing lines - is where it gets hard.
 
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
I do think local and state efforts are far more effective than federal efforts.
So Scott, would you be willing to reduce the federal government commensurate with growth of local governments, primarily county/district/city?

In monetary terms, if we traded off just state to federal budgets, we’re talking each state increasing 0.1% while the fed gives up 5%.

 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
So Scott, would you be willing to reduce the federal government commensurate with growth of local governments, primarily county/district/city?

In monetary terms, if we traded off just state to federal budgets, we’re talking each state increasing 0.1% while the fed gives up 5%
Yes.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"for it is also true that the draft historically has been a right-wing fetish, at least since Viet Nam. "
At the risk of lowering the discussion, I accuse you, Mona, of either being a liar or being deluded.

Republicans have been in the White House for all but 12 years since Nixon left office. Despite having been involved in conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Grenada, and Kosovo, there has been no effort by the right towards a draft.

There has, however, been an effort from the left.

So this fetish of which you speak must be the kind that never shows up in speeches or in proposed legislation or in the actions of Presidents. It must be the kind of fetish that shows up in the actions of political opponents. In other words, what you espouse is divorced from reality. That can only be if you are lying, or are deluded on the matter.
 
Written By: Gerry
URL: http://
Pragmatically, these open up two functions of government: maximize equal opportunity, and deal with suffering that is due to lack of opportunity or inherent incapacities of individuals.
Can we discuss lack of opportunity, for a moment?

Let’s say that I come from a perfectly average environment, for the sake of a hypothetical. I have no inherent advantages nor disadvantages, other than my own attitudes and talents. Let’s say that I have some ability, and that my attitudes are conducive towards success. I end up making a good amount of money over my life.

Further, through some careful planning and investing, by the time I am done working I have a formidable nest egg.

Am I free to do with the fruits of my labor as I see fit? Throughout my life? If I want to give my wife some nice gifts, may I? If I want to give my kids the best things I can, may I?

Might some of those things give my kids an advantage? Perhaps make it so that they have more opportunity?

What if I decide, during my life as I save my earnings, to move from my perfectly average environment, to where the houses are nicer and the crime rate is lower. To where the local culture is more suited towards success. Will this not give my children a different opportunity than others? Am I allowed to do this?

Am I allowed to use my earnings as I see fit, if how I see fit is to try and make a better life for my kids and grandkids?

Equal opportunity and liberty are diametrically opposed. That does not mean that I think all efforts to enforce equal opportunity are bad; it just means that I recognize that this force does come with a cost.
 
Written By: Gerry
URL: http://
Equal opportunity and liberty are diametrically opposed. That does not mean that I think all efforts to enforce equal opportunity are bad; it just means that I recognize that this force does come with a cost.
I think, though, unequal opportunity means a lack of liberty vis-a-vis someone else. But you are right — there is a cost, and attempts to get some kind of absolute equal opportunity would inherently create more disadvantages than advantages. I would argue that the key should be to try to create conditions to help people help themselves and create new opportunities; equal opportunity should not be done by tearing down those with advantages, but rather trying to create positive incentives for those disadvantaged. That may cost a bit in tax revenue, but a lot less than attempts to equalize outcomes.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The axis these days is switching from the former Social Conservative vs. Open Liberal, to the Nanny-Stater vs. Libertarian axis. And you’re seeing that reflective in the modern Republican Party. 20 years ago, a libertarian couldn’t even get his/her foot in the door at a GOP meeting. These days they roll out the red carpet for us.

On the other side of the aisle, the 70’s Liberal Democrat was a cool Dude. He was Pro-Sexual Freedom, Pro-Drug Legalization, Anti-Draft, Pro-Free Speech and against the Tippor Gores of the world who wanted to outlaw Rock music.

These days that cool Dude 70’s liberal guy has flip-flopped on all those issues: He’s now too old to get it up, so he could care less about Sexual Freedom, he’s a Nanny-stater even wanting to stomp out smoking tobacco, he’s Pro-Draft for "equal rights", and he hates his teenage daughter’s Rock music.

You want cool. Join the libertarians. We’re always cool.

Eric at www.mainstreamlibertarian.com
 
Written By: Eric Dondero
URL: http://www.mainstreamlibertarian.com

 
Add Your Comment
  NOTICE: While we don't wish to censor your thoughts, we do blacklist certain terms of profanity or obscenity. This is not to muzzle you, but to ensure that the blog remains work-safe for our readers. If you wish to use profanity, simply insert asterisks (*) where the vowels usually go. Your meaning will still be clear, but our readers will be able to view the blog without worrying that content monitoring will get them in trouble when reading it.
Comments for this entry are closed.
Name:
Email:
URL:
HTML Tools:
Bold Italic Blockquote Hyperlink
Comment:
   
 
Vicious Capitalism

Divider

Buy Dale's Book!
Slackernomics by Dale Franks

Divider

Divider