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Bill of Mights
August 7, 2014 4:51 PM   Subscribe

“Republicans always saw libertarians as nice to have around in case they wanted to score some weed, and we always knew where there was a party. And for a while it made sense to bunk up with them. But after a while, it would be like, ‘So if we agree on limited government, how about opening the borders?’ No, that’s crazy. ‘How about legalizing drugs? How about giving gays equal rights?’ No, come on, be serious. And so I thought, There’s nothing in this for me.”

From Silicon Valley technologists to NYU postgrads, the ‘Libertarian Moment’ may have finally arrived.
posted by four panels (323 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
FYI, the "NYU postgrads" links is behind a paywall.
posted by brundlefly at 4:53 PM on August 7


Oh, and I misread the title of the first link as "Cybershellfish", and I think I prefer it that way.
posted by brundlefly at 4:55 PM on August 7 [5 favorites]


Well, if they have a former VJ and now-obscurity on board it MUST be their moment.
posted by mightygodking at 4:58 PM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Isn't the libertarian moment finally arriving kind of like the year of the Linux desktop?
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 4:58 PM on August 7 [93 favorites]


Rand Paul's going to be interesting to follow. He is ruthlessly willing to disavow anything he has ever done or said and anyone he has been allied with, and seems to be taking "lie, then lie harder, then claim to be offended while lying even yet harder" as his main strategy. If my country's future weren't at stake it'd be thrilling to watch.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:59 PM on August 7 [51 favorites]


Libertarianism is a seductive temptress that seems like it would work because the people who are its proponents always make assumptions that are completely untrue in reality. You can't work hyper-locally with limited government because no one group is anywhere near self-sufficient anymore. Even North Korea, fearless crusaders of the Juche ideology, import a whole heap of their shit because, really, our collective survival is rooted in cooperation not isolation.
posted by Talez at 5:01 PM on August 7 [56 favorites]


Mark my words, Rand Paul's the Republican nominee. He'll run on a platform of government run amok, with the NSA as exhibit A. He'll lose, but hopefully he will force Hillary to tack in a privacy friendly direction.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:04 PM on August 7 [10 favorites]


But today, for perhaps the first time, the libertarian movement appears to have genuine political momentum on its side. An estimated 54 percent of Americans now favor extending marriage rights to gay couples.

That's not libertarianism. Libertarians are the ones saying "marriage rights shouldn't exist anyway".
posted by the agents of KAOS at 5:05 PM on August 7 [44 favorites]


"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." - John Kenneth Galbraith

Libertarians: "And we found it!"
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:08 PM on August 7 [128 favorites]


Oh, and Libertarians are well funded and have spent decades building think tanks to provide consistent policy recommendations. They're the only part of the current Republican Party that hadn't lobotomized itself (c.f. Heritage).
posted by leotrotsky at 5:09 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]


A lot of libertarians are against gay marriage but think it should be left to the states, because the states are apparently magic or something.
posted by brundlefly at 5:09 PM on August 7 [34 favorites]


I always think of how a friend defined libertarians - "oh, yeah, those are the people that went so far liberal they went all the way around and came out on the conservative side."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:12 PM on August 7 [37 favorites]


You can't work hyper-locally with limited government

The very idea you can drives me nuts. Sure you can, young man. As long as you're ok with a small town good ol boy network at best and the kind of creepy village council of elders people have been fleeing for millennia at worst. Or maybe one of those families that lives in the big house on the hill and bathes in the blood of the village children to stave off wrinkles..

Libertarianism and anarchy will never work because, deep down, people are neither smart nor altruistic enough.
posted by fshgrl at 5:12 PM on August 7 [71 favorites]


Mark my words, Rand Paul's the Republican nominee.

How does he get the religious reicht on board?
posted by goethean at 5:14 PM on August 7


He'll run on a platform of government run amok, with the NSA as exhibit A. He'll lose, but hopefully he will force Hillary to tack in a privacy friendly direction.

A Democrat posing as a liberal who respects civil liberties and the Bill of Rights, but just long enough to win an election? THAT IS JUST CRAZY AND COULD NEVER HAPPEN.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:16 PM on August 7 [24 favorites]


In my country (New Zealand), the party that was founded as a "classic liberal" party (ACT) has finally been taken over by insurgent libertarians. It has never polled lower, and were it not for a quirk of our MMP electoral system, it would disappear from trace and may yet do so after our elections in September. I think this is very much a US phenomenon.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:16 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]


Rand Paul & the Christian Right

In the Bluegrass State’s 2010 Republican senatorial primary, Paul was the candidate of choice for Sarah Palin, Jim DeMint, and Concerned Women for America. James Dobson reversed course after initially endorsing Paul’s opponent. “Have you ever made an embarrassing mistake?” Dobson asked in an ad, before suggesting that endorsing against Paul fit the bill.

In that race, Paul was able to unite social and economic conservatives against neoconservatives and other hawks in the GOP. The party establishment’s attempts to portray him as weak on national security and liberal on social issues fell on deaf ears.

posted by Drinky Die at 5:17 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]


On a more serious note, it's a shame that Rand Paul's insane views on things like health insurance detract from his views and actions on civil liberties, on which he is entirely, 100%, indisputably in the right.

It's absolutely shameful that he is strongest voice we currently have on civil liberties, and the shame is not on Sen. Paul.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:18 PM on August 7 [16 favorites]


I feel like Rand is definitely not the worst case scenario sort of nominee. Democrats are better at fighting social conservatism than neoconservatism. You can convince Democrats to march merrily off to Iraq with you but it's harder to get them to agree to make abortion illegal.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:19 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Y'know, I've had heated arguments with libertarians in person, gotten in really bad dustups on this very site over libertarianism, and generally speaking have always been ready to opine about libertarianism in conversation.

But man, even I would think twice if they actually did distance themselves from the republican party. I mean, what IF all the odious pandering to the rich that we've seen was merely lip service to the party that brought them to the dance? What if it was more about legalizing marijuana and freedom of choice and marriage reform and campaign reform and the other million platforms of libertarianism that I have to admit I agree with?

I'd be happy about that. I wish the disagreements I had with libertarians were the disagreements we were having as a country.

I want to say that again:

I wish the disagreements I had with libertarians were the disagreements we were having as a country.

Because if taxes for the rich or industrial regulation were what we were disagreeing on, then maybe gay marriage, abortion rights, immigration and even the I/P conflict would be foregone conclusions or at least fringe issues. I would happily spend the rest of my life having honest arguments about the estate tax if it meant that we weren't sitting around pretending that the gay marriage issue has two equal sides.

I mean that. I really do.
posted by shmegegge at 5:20 PM on August 7 [56 favorites]


FYI, the "NYU postgrads" links is behind a paywall.

WSJ articles are always free if directly accessed from a Google search. So if you find an article excerpt behind their paywall, just google the headline, and click through to the same article which will now be open. So for example, searching the headline like this (sorry for the LMGTFY interface, that's all I could think of that's crossplatform) will yield the article as the top link.. followed by voluminous articles citing a rebuttal by Paul Krugman.

Anyway, that's an ancient article from 2012, I don't really see why it's linked here. When I read articles that invoke Ludwig von Mises, I give it about as much credence as articles invoking Lyndon Larouche.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:27 PM on August 7 [6 favorites]


As for if the libertarian movement is for real this time, I think the article does offer indisputable evidence.

Arrayed before Gillespie were several boxes of exotically flavored Pop-Tarts that he had purchased at the Lancaster grocery store. He held them up as evidence that individualism was flourishing and choices were in abundance or, as he put it, “The libertarian moment is now.”
posted by Drinky Die at 5:28 PM on August 7 [18 favorites]


Hey, that's cool- the form of Libertarianism I subscribe to involves workers getting together to set the prices for their labor and...hey, where are you going...guys..?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:28 PM on August 7 [94 favorites]


Oh, cool. Thanks charlie don't surf!
posted by brundlefly at 5:32 PM on August 7


The problem with Libertarians is they all tend to think they'd be the Captains of Industry at the top. They are much less inclined to support it if you can convince them no, they'll be the ones working mandatory 16 hour days at the unregulated factory and they won't be able to change jobs because every company will enforce mandatory 16 hour days.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 5:36 PM on August 7 [31 favorites]


four panels: “From Silicon Valley technologists to NYU postgrads, the ‘Libertarian Moment’ may have finally arrived.”
Angels and ministers of grace, defend us.
posted by ob1quixote at 5:36 PM on August 7 [12 favorites]


I'd like to point out that the headline of the NYT article is actually "Has the ‘Libertarian Moment’ Finally Arrived?" So, Betteridge FTW. And if not, God help us all.
posted by uosuaq at 5:36 PM on August 7 [4 favorites]


The problem with Libertarians is they all tend to think they'd be the Captains of Industry at the top. They are much less inclined to support it if you can convince them no, they'll be the ones working mandatory 16 hour days at the unregulated factory and they won't be able to change jobs because every company will enforce mandatory 16 hour days.

Obligatory: Atlas Shrugged 2: One Hour Later
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:44 PM on August 7 [19 favorites]


Rand Paul's going to be interesting to follow. He is ruthlessly willing to disavow anything he has ever done or said and anyone he has been allied with, and seems to be taking "lie, then lie harder, then claim to be offended while lying even yet harder" as his main strategy.

well, as long as he maintains his integrity
posted by philip-random at 5:45 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]


Christian fundamentalist theocracy in disguise. Step one is to minimize secular government, and step two is to maximize the role of religion within government.
posted by Brian B. at 5:47 PM on August 7 [9 favorites]


The article is, naturally, on Roy Edroso's beat. He brings up a point which really ought to be highlighted every time Libertarianism comes up here...
author Robert Draper barely mentions the only relevant aspect of libertarian policy, which is the one its super-rich backers are paying for: Removing all restraints and social obligations from the rich. Draper's round-up is mostly about foreign policy, freeing the weed, and other such distractions. A real Libertarian Moment would involve looting the public treasury on a fall-of-Baghdad level, but it's not worth any of Draper's subjects' time to discuss it, for reasons you can guess.
Right? Because Ron Paul was never your wacky stoner uncle, and the Koch brothers pay other people to talk about civil liberties because it's a loss leader for what they're really interested in- not paying taxes, not being bothered by the existence of the EPA, not having labor laws...

No matter how much individuals here (or Radley Balko) care about that stuff- which they're correct to care about!-the above is why we ever even hear about libertarianism, because of what those rich guys are trying to buy with it .
posted by hap_hazard at 5:48 PM on August 7 [58 favorites]


Pointing at the few, relatively unimportant issues that sensible people might agree with libertarians about, and saying that this is the libertarian moment, is just silly.

If you don't agree that the Civil Rights Act is at base illegitimate, and that the Clean Air Act is somewhere between foolish and tyrannical, and that Medicare and Social Security ought to be abolished, you are not part of the modern American libertarian movement. Hell, if you believe that abortion should be legal, you are at odds with most prominent American politicians who self-describe as libertarian.

So long as no group beyond white men younger than 60 tend to subscribe to issue positions like that, it's not the libertarian moment.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:50 PM on August 7 [48 favorites]


his views and actions on civil liberties, on which he is entirely, 100%, indisputably in the right.
Wait, what? The same Rand Paul who wants to keep Guantanamo Bay open, who doesn't believe there's objective evidence of racial discrimination in elections, who wants to jail people for attending the speeches of revolutionaries, etc.? Real friend of civil liberties, that one.
posted by introp at 5:51 PM on August 7 [32 favorites]


Rand Paul also believes that the Civil Rights Act was bad law that he wouldn't have supported and that hoteliers and shop owners should be free to discriminate based on race.

Libertarianism is, at its core, just another term for dog-eat-dog.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:59 PM on August 7 [32 favorites]


Libertarianism is a political ideology in the same way that a hunger strike is a style of cuisine.
posted by clockzero at 6:00 PM on August 7 [52 favorites]


.. The same Rand Paul who wants to keep Guantanamo Bay open, who doesn't believe there's objective evidence of racial discrimination in elections, who wants to jail people for attending the speeches of revolutionaries, etc.?

See? I said this was going to be interesting.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:06 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Well, I'm glad we're all on the same page here! Too bad we can't afford our own think tanks, or Senators, or whatever.

Oh well, when we get off our shift doing indentured servitude down at the occasionally-exploding fertilizer factory, at least we can buy some weed and deregulated bathtub hooch at the company store!
posted by hap_hazard at 6:07 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]


Rand Paul Aids Surprise Guantánamo Bay Win for Obama
posted by Drinky Die at 6:09 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


I don't really believe any of this. I think the Republican brand is so profoundly damaged that right-wingers are using Libertarianism as branding. It's the next version of the Tea Party.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:11 PM on August 7 [22 favorites]


"Libertarianism is astrology for men."
posted by lattiboy at 6:13 PM on August 7 [32 favorites]


We really need young people to start voting.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:14 PM on August 7 [24 favorites]


We really need young people to start voting.

This, a thousand times.
posted by LooseFilter at 6:16 PM on August 7 [3 favorites]


The problem with Libertarians is they all tend to think they'd be the Captains of Industry at the top. They are much less inclined to support it if you can convince them no, they'll be the ones working mandatory 16 hour days at the unregulated factory and they won't be able to change jobs because every company will enforce mandatory 16 hour days.

Even Tony Fucking Soprano had a government he had to answer to, that regulated his activities and would mete out punishments for infractions.

Libertarianism is so completely American, largely because to believe in it is to forget the past 2000 years of human history.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:23 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


> what IF all the odious pandering to the rich that we've seen was merely lip service to the party that brought them to the dance? What if it was more about legalizing marijuana and freedom of choice and marriage reform and campaign reform and the other million platforms of libertarianism that I have to admit I agree with?

Unfortunately I think the appeal of Libertarianism is how it can be used as a formal codification of "fuck you, got mine" among those with the power and position to benefit from it, and with less need for internal dealmaking than even the Republicans require to coordinate its factions.
posted by at by at 6:23 PM on August 7 [5 favorites]


We really need young people to start voting.

Australia has mandatory voting, so the youth voting rate is very high. We still have conservative-fading-into-libertarian fuckknuckles in government. The answer is not that simple.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:29 PM on August 7 [6 favorites]


We really need young people to start voting.

Okay, start reading the polls on what they want and start promising it. (Also, you will be asked to deliver.)
posted by Drinky Die at 6:33 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]


"Republicans always saw libertarians as nice to have around in case they wanted to score some weed, and we always knew where there was a party"

Haha! Libertarians know where the party is at in the same way the guy at the club in a fedora hat thinks he's like totally boss.

Libertarians love to see themselves as the renegade badboys of political discourse. Lone-wolves because they're just too smart for the rest of the flock. Much like the rest of their bunk sanctimonious philosophy - they definitely might believe they know where the party's at...They don't know where the party's at unless it's a LAN party or a linux-distro party.
posted by jnnla at 6:36 PM on August 7 [33 favorites]


A lot of libertarians are against gay marriage but think it should be left to the states, because the states are apparently magic or something.

I'm sure they'd be more in favor if we phrased marriage as some sort of contractual agreement to provide services. (My co-contractee wife does not care for this approach.)
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:36 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


If Ron Paul Is Nirvana, Who Is Everyone Else?
posted by tonycpsu at 6:37 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


(Small-l) libertarian philosophy is one station on the rail line to the Dark Enlightenment though: If the only legitimate law is contractual, then slavery is legal and ethical as long as the paperwork is in order. And it's not far to go from endorsing small tyrannies to approving massive ones.

I think even most (capital-L) Libertarians would blanch at being members of the slavers' party, and there'd be some dramatic, party-destroying, fragmentation were that to happen. I don't think it'll happen. But when people who are on the easier track to positions of power (the ones going to better schools, the ones on fast-track career paths in influential industries) find Libertarianism the most appealing of their political options, it's not just the right to smoke what they like and marry whom they like, it also must look like the most efficient means to unfettered power over their domains, whether that's the ability to merge any company with any other company, to employ people on any terms they choose, and so on.
posted by at by at 6:38 PM on August 7 [4 favorites]


It'd be great if people stopped insulting Linux users by conflating us with libertarians. At least some of us still prefer the likes of RMS and Eben Moglen to Eric Raymond.
posted by Poldo at 6:47 PM on August 7 [30 favorites]


"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." - John Kenneth Galbraith

That's not all! Don't forget about the search for post-hoc moral absolutes that support whatever increasingly short-sighted policies your backers need this minute.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:47 PM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Has the ‘Libertarian Moment’ Finally Arrived?

"Fetch" will happen first.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:50 PM on August 7 [20 favorites]


There is a reason libertarian philosophy doesn't exist outside of the United States: sophism is not a political movement, and nobody cares how many years you languished in community college.
posted by zaelic at 7:09 PM on August 7 [5 favorites]


leotrotsky> Mark my words, Rand Paul's the Republican nominee.

I would bet money that he will not be the 2016 Republican nominee for President, except there's no longer a legal way to do so in the United States now that InTrade has closed shop.
posted by UrineSoakedRube at 7:13 PM on August 7


There is a reason libertarian philosophy doesn't exist outside of the United States:

I chalk it up to race; there are people that will vote against something if it helps the poor black family down the street.
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:23 PM on August 7 [8 favorites]



I think even most (capital-L) Libertarians would blanch at being members of the slavers' party


In the United States, libertarianism is closely associated with Confederate revanchism and pro-slaveowner rhetoric.

Even right here on MetaFilter.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:24 PM on August 7 [14 favorites]


I chalk it up to race; there are people that will vote against something if it helps the poor black family down the street.

Or the black president in the White House.
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:25 PM on August 7 [3 favorites]


There is a reason libertarian philosophy doesn't exist outside of the United States.

Alas, it exists in Canada as well. I am having an argument on my Facebook page with one at present. In the course of the discussion, he linked to an article (I refuse to give that piece of crap the MeFi traffic so I won't link to it here) which claims it definitively answers the question about who would build the roads by claiming that perhaps we wouldn't need roads because we'd come up with other alternatives and comparing the "who would build the roads" argument to the nineteenth century argument against ending slavery in the U.S.: that without slaves to build the cotton there would be no cotton, except of course that there is still cotton because wonder cotton picking technology was invented.

I found the notion of comparing tax-paying citizens to slaves picking cotton too offensive to even bother debunking, but I did ask my friend if he remembered how slavery was brought to an end in the U.S. I don't claim to be a historian, but I don't think slavery ended because Americans left those wonderful free market forces to work their magic. If I know my history, ending slavery in the U.S. took government legislation and enforcement, just as ending the modern day trafficking in women will.
posted by orange swan at 7:43 PM on August 7 [6 favorites]


Mark my words, Rand Paul's the Republican nominee.

What odds would you give me on Scott Walker .... as the next President?
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:46 PM on August 7


We really need young people to start voting.

Then get ready for a groundswell of Libertarian support from young, employed, single, white men. They love 'em some Rand Paul, 'cause Rand Paul will leave them alone -- and come after the rest of us.

Rand Paul's 2010 run was bewildering to watch from the inside as a Kentuckian, because most of us on the Left just kept going, "No ... no, he's too batshit to be real," even as it became obvious during the primaries that he was somehow going to pull it off. This is the guy who disbelieves in regulation so much that, when he got cranky about the recognized national Ophthalmology boards, he founded his own ... that ended up being probably mostly illegal in the only state where it ever operated. Rand Paul does not believe in anything that doesn't benefit Rand Paul. His opposition to drone strikes begins with Barack Obama and ends in front of your neighborhood liquor store. Rand Paul thought it was a good idea to visit Howard University to tell 'em how young African-Americans are Doin' It Wrong. Rand Paul is an Idiot of the most dangerous kind and it embarrasses me every day that this man represents my adopted home state.
posted by none of these will bring disaster at 7:53 PM on August 7 [25 favorites]


Reason has invested a great deal of money and time in promoting its claim to represent America’s youth, including regular polls that purport to bolster this claim... But polling produced by non-advocacy organizations does not yield this conclusion. It certainly shows that voters under 30, who vote strongly Democratic, have strongly liberal views on most foreign-policy and social issues, as libertarians do. The crucial difference lies in economics, where libertarians veer sharply right and young voters veer sharply left.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:08 PM on August 7 [8 favorites]


claiming that perhaps we wouldn't need roads because we'd come up with other alternatives

Reminds me of that old Julian Simon piece, "The Infinite Supply of Natural Resources", in which he claims that because scientists will always come up with a replacement for anything we exhaust, natural resources are in fact infinite and there will always be an inexhaustible supply of perfect substitute goods forever.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:10 PM on August 7 [4 favorites]


In the course of the discussion, he linked to an article (I refuse to give that piece of crap the MeFi traffic so I won't link to it here)

I think you can use DoNotLink in cases like that, should you need to.
posted by emjaybee at 8:15 PM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Oooh, thanks, emjaybee! Never knew that was possible.

Now I want to link to the "maybe we won't need roads" article and a shitty article my friend has also linked to about all the wonderful free market things that are supposedly happening in Detroit and get you people to give me ammo for the argument.;-)
posted by orange swan at 8:21 PM on August 7


It Only Took Half The Wikipedia Entry On Libertarianism To Convince Me It Was The Right Political Ideology For America
posted by p3on at 8:30 PM on August 7 [10 favorites]


Libertarianism works incredibly well for spherical chickens in a vacuum.
posted by drklahn at 8:57 PM on August 7 [10 favorites]


I had to visit the clickhole.com front page to tell whether or not that "Wikipedia Entry" article was satire or not.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:59 PM on August 7


If you only read one sentence from the NYT Mag link -- and I would highly recommend doing just that -- make it this one:
Nick Gillespie is to libertarianism what Lou Reed is to rock ‘n’ roll, the quintessence of its outlaw spirit.
<img src="lolololol.gif">
posted by tonycpsu at 9:05 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


"Fetch" will happen first.

And then "vulva."
posted by yoink at 9:10 PM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Hello, one of MetaFilter's token Libertarians here. I have heard "this is our year!!!" more times than I can count over my 14 years of involvement in the party and the movement. The comparison to the statement "this is the year of the Linux desktop" is apt.

Realistically, I think the best that we Libertarians can hope for is for parts of our platform and ideology to be co-opted by the major parties, similarly to how many of the Socialist Party's platform planks from a century ago are mainstream Democratic Party positions today. Most libertarians and Libertarians have assumed that the Republican Party is our best bet for being co-opted, but personally I suspect that long-term that the Democratic Party may be a better target as it seems like it should be much easier to educate people about economics than to change their fundamentally held intolerant religious beliefs.

And since this seems to also be the thread for posting various jokes about Libertarianism, here's my all-time favorite: The 24 Types of Libertarians. Speaking from experience, that comic is so true that it's hilarious -- I have met each of those types in the movement, and am myself the first column, second row.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:28 PM on August 7 [18 favorites]


“I have always found it quaint and rather touching that there is a movement [Libertarians] in the US that thinks Americans are not yet selfish enough.” – Christopher Hitchens
posted by Strass at 9:38 PM on August 7 [25 favorites]


Most professional economists are Democrats, so it's unlikely that the only thing holding back Democrats from jumping on the libertarian train is an education in economics.
posted by leopard at 9:51 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]


Most professional economists are Democrats

Yes, and if you dig into their positions on individual issues, I think you'll find that most of them are the libertarian-leaning Democrats* that I see as our movement's best chance for being co-opted by a major party.

(*Source: Majored in Economics, got into a lot of political discussions with all my professors.)
posted by Jacqueline at 9:58 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Yes it's the thought that "hey I have a great idea, let's not regulate free markets" is somehow some revolutionary idea from which all sorts of emergency complex greatness emerges being seen as "education" that gives Libertarianism its mercurial combination of naivete and hubris. Hello, the 1700s, 1800s, and 1900s called. They want their "rationally self interested to a vanishingly small view" ideology to somehow wow and impress us, even as we experience the very effects of media mergers, bank malfeasance, and predatory economics across the board in the 2000s. But you see, if the whole world does it at once, because we all know what happens if a single country does it (fail, death squads, rapacious foreign resource exploitation leaving the country poorer and in more debt) but if we just drop all of the regulations across the board and do nothing to "level the playing field" because I guess somehow it's level enough despite our misguided efforts...everything will work out? ...back
posted by aydeejones at 10:02 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]


Here's a somewhat more rigorous take on the political beliefs of economists.
posted by leopard at 10:03 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]


Libertarians are a great example of how dangerous a little bit of knowledge can be. They learn about a few pretty good ideas from some 17th Century economist (Locke), ignore the next 310 years of Western political thought with the notable exception of Mill's "harm principle," turn it up to 11, and declare themselves proponents of the labour theory of value libertarians.

Government can be bad. It can steal your money, spy on you, bomb the hell out of innocents overseas in your name, beat you up, take lunch early, and keep you waiting in line for an hour only to tell you that you filled out the wrong form.

But without government, anyone can do this to you. That's why we elect those who wield power; it's better than tyranny, feudalism, warlordism, and the coming corporate oligarchy.

Getting rid of government won't end the exercise of power or coercion within society but it will substantially de-democratize it. Because there is no such thing as a vacuum of power in society, removing (imperfectly) elected government from a regulatory space frees that space up for occupation by some (usually) less democratic entity. For the robber barons, of course, that is exactly the plan.
posted by the thing about it at 10:33 PM on August 7 [52 favorites]


Near as I can tell, libertarians are folks whose hearts are in the right place, but who are so outraged by the evils they see governments do that they fail to understand that it's the evils, not the governments per se, that are objectionable.

People who actually care about liberty argue every bit as strongly against private coercion as public coercion, and remind us all how the latter is intimately connected to - in fact, an outgrowth from - the former.
posted by flabdablet at 10:42 PM on August 7 [8 favorites]


many of the Socialist Party's platform planks from a century ago are mainstream Democratic Party positions today

Super misleading. It's debunked here in section 3.5.

Short version: the Communist Party platform in 1928 was mostly totally reasonable stuff like maternity leave and voting at age 18 and nothing about workers owning the means of production or any of that.

The kicker: a greater percentage of the Republican Party platform from that era has been enacted.
posted by chrchr at 10:43 PM on August 7 [11 favorites]


Romney will be the GOP nominee in 2016 once again. He's the only one acceptable to the whole coalition.
posted by humanfont at 11:00 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


I think Rand has a great chance at being the nominee in 2016. I've listened to a few of his speeches and he's quite good. He's very folksy, which is like crack to most Republicans. The economic side of his libertarianism is pretty much mainstream Republican ideology. His position on the War on Terror stuff is a little out there (from a Republican perspective) but, since Obama's will have been in charge of that for 8 years in 2016, and somehow made parts of it (surveillance) worse, he can easily spin it as an anti-Obama, anti-Democratic position. He'll get some pushback from the pro-Israel crowd but I think he can weather it without too much problem.

He's got quite a bit of mainstream appeal. Republicans love their over-the-top crazies and demagogues but they do tend to pick the sanest available candidate for the Presidential runs. I think in the general election Rand will be able to pick up some normally Democratic voters. He will appear mostly coherent. His anti-NSA stance will be in stark and pleasant contrast to Hillary Clinton's desire to continue with the status quo. And he seems almost sincere with his efforts to make the Republicans appeal to non-white voters. He might even throw his support towards a national marijuana decriminalization, if not legalization, and pull in quite a few younger voters since legalization is becoming an almost mainstream idea.

To me, he's the scariest one of the bunch in terms of Republican chances of winning in the general.
posted by honestcoyote at 11:28 PM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Rand Paul has always struck me as the proverbial wolf in sheep'a clothing. He gives me the creeps.
posted by mynameisluka at 11:52 PM on August 7


...I suspect that long-term that the Democratic Party may be a better target as it seems like it should be much easier to educate people about economics than to change their fundamentally held intolerant religious beliefs...


This is the sort of condescending smuggery that typifies the Libertarian party. "If only those Democrats actually understood as well as I do how economics work they would clearly see that all my terrible neoliberal ideas are right!"

Perhaps the reason certain people are leftist as opposed to Libertarian is, in fact, because they have thoughtfully looked over the ideology of Milton Friedman or von Mises or Walter Block or any other looney neoliberal ideolouge and found that the reams of evidence to the contrary of their opnions are a better fit to the way things actually work. Or perhaps they noted that whenever...and I do mean WHENEVER...a libertarian is presented with ANY evidence, no matter how compelling, that contradicts or even questions the perceived superiority of pro-business free market economics they are met with the equivalent of a fingers-in-ears "lalalalalala" response.

Their intellectual contributions to neoliberalism have been wrong or at the very least overstated regarding minimum wage, health care, trickle down, and austerity in general.

When a libertarian seeks to 'educate people about economics' he actually means 'compel them to accept my conclusions without question.' There is no room for genuine debate because of the inherent dogmatic nature of libertarianism and that dogma is tidy and convenient in that any critique or challenge to Austrian Economics is reframed as 'you just don't get it' *smug face*

I guess people are rational actors smart enough to live their own lives without bureaucratic interference unless they disagree with your economic ideals...in which case they need 'education' instead of having an equally valid viewpoint.
posted by jnnla at 11:53 PM on August 7 [35 favorites]


Romney will be the GOP nominee in 2016 once again. He's the only one acceptable to the whole coalition.

I agree. After the clown show is over, Republicans always end up nominating the most boring white guy for president.
posted by octothorpe at 3:49 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


I think Rand Paul will come out way, way ahead in the money primary, via small dollar donations, which will shock the establishment, but he still won't win many actual voting primaries. Maybe a few blue states like California.
posted by empath at 5:09 AM on August 8


I think Rand Paul will come out way, way ahead in the money primary, via small dollar donations, which will shock the establishment, but he still won't win many actual voting primaries. Maybe a few blue states like California.

At a guess, he'll be a strong VP contender once the voters' preferred nominee is in.
posted by kewb at 5:15 AM on August 8


I question if one can actually be fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

One of the injustices libertarians rail about is the disproportionate number of incarcerated black men, which is truly awful. The War on Drugs should be implemented a different way. But then what? They're against pretty much anything that could help those men's prospects in the real world, like affirmative action and a higher minimum wage.

And about states rights: the fact is that almost every major advancement for women and minorities in the US has happened, and will happen, at the federal level, and most of us haven't forgotten that.
posted by girlmightlive at 5:20 AM on August 8 [13 favorites]


Romney will be the GOP nominee in 2016 once again.

Has the GOP (or the Dems for that matter) ever re-nominated a candidate who lost the previous time? I had the impression that once you lost a presidential election, you were finished politically.
posted by orange swan at 5:43 AM on August 8


Has the GOP (or the Dems for that matter) ever re-nominated a candidate who lost the previous time? I had the impression that once you lost a presidential election, you were finished politically.

Richard Nixon comes to mind
posted by RustyBrooks at 5:48 AM on August 8 [4 favorites]


To me, he's the scariest one of the bunch in terms of Republican chances of winning in the general.

He's unable to keep it together, and Americans are notoriously unforgiving of human foibles on the national campaign trail. Dubbya was a born gaffe machine, but he could keep it together while on the stump. If seasoned campaigners like Romney and Ryan weren't able to resist playing the knuckleheads to fire up the base and get media play, there is no reason to assume a raving lunatic like Rand Paul will be.

More, the GOP is far more measured for national elections than local ones. They may entertain wingnut fantasies, but will go with a safe, mainstream choice every time. It's quietly understood that in addition to everything else going against him, Palin's unhinged radicalism put the final nail into the coffin of McCain's election bid. You can't win the Big One with Fox News viewers alone.

It's going to be Romney again, unless the GOP establishment gets behind Huntsman.

Meanwhile, the machine Hillary is putting together will have a ground-game that will not only put the Democratic Party nominee in the White House (which may or may not be Hillary, the Dem bench is surprisingly deep this cycle and another surprise contender could emerge), but also a solid blue senate majority. (The next two years are going to really suck, tho.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:48 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Has the GOP (or the Dems for that matter) ever re-nominated a candidate who lost the previous time? I had the impression that once you lost a presidential election, you were finished politically.

Richard Nixon (R) - Lost in 1960, won in 68 and 72.
Adlai Stevenson (D) - Lost in both 1952 and 1956.
posted by TrialByMedia at 5:48 AM on August 8


Also apparently Robert Dewey was nominated (and lost) twice
posted by RustyBrooks at 5:49 AM on August 8


Thanks to those who filled me on examples of second shot candidates. I'd forgotten about Nixon. Re-nomination of a previously unsuccessful candidate doesn't seem to happen that often though.
posted by orange swan at 5:56 AM on August 8


Presidential elections happen so infrequently (and each nominee tends to win about half the time) that there's not a lot of data to mine. You'd also probably have to look at how many of them seriously considered going for the nomination the 2nd time. I imagine losing a presidential campaign takes something out of you.
posted by RustyBrooks at 5:57 AM on August 8


There is no room for genuine debate because of the inherent dogmatic nature of libertarianism and that dogma is tidy and convenient in that any critique or challenge to Austrian Economics is reframed as 'you just don't get it' *smug face*

I for one have never met a sneering liberal convinced of his own superior grasp of [topic] and dismissive of any evidence to the contrary. Never met a liberal who was adept at selectively applying a principle or rationale to support what she was comfortable believing while conveniently failing to apply it to her own position when it was inconvenient to do so.

A lot of people I know who style themselves libertarian (or generally conservative) are often just a mess of crossed wires, anxious and alienated by the status quo, who are doing their best to come to terms with a complex world with no easy answers. Kind of like a lot of liberals and conservatives, and very much like myself. When I sit down with these people to talk about things, and I make a reasonable point without pissing all over their leg, and you know, we're just people talking and agreeing things are fucked up and trying to hash it out over beer, I don't see these rigid ideological nutjobs you describe. Maybe they're not being honest in the moment. Maybe they're not True Libertarians, I dunno. Maybe people should only talk politics over beer.
posted by echocollate at 6:09 AM on August 8 [5 favorites]


It would make me very happy if the New York Times took some of the money it spends on people who collect anecdotes to make up fake trends and used it to hire a few investigative journalists instead.

Also, my hat is off to Jacqueline for being able to laugh at herself, and for not telling the rest of us to fuck off. Metafilter is a better place as a result.
posted by Killick at 6:12 AM on August 8 [12 favorites]



In the United States, libertarianism is closely associated with Confederate revanchism and pro-slaveowner rhetoric.


Parts of it undoubtedly are, and more recently with the 1930s industrialists' and financiers' objections to the New Deal. Parts of it are more of a combination of the don't-tell-me-what-to-do orneriness of the Wild West and a bit of Californian new-age philosophy (which, going back to the 1960s, was a lot more libertarian and less socialist/social-democratic than it would seem through the lens of the cultural-conservative culture war, which painted the 1960s as a manifestation of “Cultural Marxism”, just like the Pill and Elvis' lewd stage moves).

In the US, politics and social movements tended to be more individualistic than in Europe; for example, while Europe gave the world Social Democracy and various flavours of Communism, the US's home-grown radical left tended towards anarchosyndicalism; no socialist state, but rather cooperatives and sodalities of freely associating individuals. Some suggest that that is due to the US's exploited working class being descended from the kinds of people who left their countries to seek their fortunes abroad, and thus tended more towards individualism.
posted by acb at 6:22 AM on August 8 [3 favorites]


I question if one can actually be fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

I question whether one can be 'socially liberal' or 'fiscally conservative' separately or together. Neither is a particularly coherent political philosophy. If people want to try and mash them together, more power to them. I'll take 'socially liberal' allies where I can find them.
posted by empath at 6:24 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


I for one have never met a sneering liberal convinced of his own superior grasp of [topic] and dismissive of any evidence to the contrary. Never met a liberal who was adept at selectively applying a principle or rationale to support what she was comfortable believing while conveniently failing to apply it to her own position when it was inconvenient to do so.

I have.

Hey, there are shitheels in every group. Trying to play the "well my team doesn't do that" card never works.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:27 AM on August 8 [8 favorites]


In the United States, libertarianism is closely associated with Confederate revanchism and pro-slaveowner rhetoric.

I think that west-coast and east-coast libertarianism comes from different sources, for the most part, though southern 'libertarianism' (which is basically Bircherism) tends to try and coat their rhetoric with a west-coast veneer these days.
posted by empath at 6:28 AM on August 8


Meanwhile, the machine Hillary is putting together will have a ground-game that will not only put the Democratic Party nominee in the White House (which may or may not be Hillary, the Dem bench is surprisingly deep this cycle and another surprise contender could emerge), but also a solid blue senate majority.

Never underestimate the New Jim Crow that SCOTUS has and continues to hand to the GOP to undercut any gains the left may have made. Between voter suppression in the name of combating essentially non-existent voter fraud, the near-criminal types of redistricting undertaken in the last couple decades, and the changes to legislative and executive actions heavily favoring the GOP, any victory will be hard-fought and far from certain. If we follow the statistics and what would have been fair redistricting, it's likely that the current House would have tilted blue and the Senate would have had a (near) filibuster-proof majority. And if there's a 2000-style election, SCOTUS will play kingmakers again, with the same results.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:33 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


I thought the hamburger was heavily implied in the first part of my post. Shoulda tagged.
posted by echocollate at 6:39 AM on August 8 [3 favorites]


Also, my hat is off to Jacqueline for being able to laugh at herself, and for not telling the rest of us to fuck off.

You guys have only had relatively brief encounters with Libertarians. I USED TO WORK FULL-TIME FOR THE PARTY. So I have waaaaaaaaaaaay more experience from which to rag on them. Also, since it's still my party and movement, it's even more maddening when my co-ideologues do and say things that are fucking embarrassing.

Trust me, no one hates the dipshit wing of the libertarian movement more than the non-dipshit wing does. Fuck those Confederacy apologists and other "states' rights" proponents -- oppression at the state level is still oppression!

Sigh. I should just be in charge of the whole libertarian movement.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:42 AM on August 8 [13 favorites]


You guys have only had relatively brief encounters with Libertarians. I USED TO WORK FULL-TIME FOR THE PARTY. So I have waaaaaaaaaaaay more experience from which to rag on them. Also, since it's still my party and movement, it's even more maddening when my co-ideologues do and say things that are fucking embarrassing. Trust me, no one hates the dipshit wing of the libertarian movement more than the non-dipshit wing does.

A grumble I've seen expressed on some message boards about this kind of thing is "stop being on my side, you're making us look stupid".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:46 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure that America is ready for a President who is an Aqua Buddhist.
posted by Flunkie at 6:48 AM on August 8 [3 favorites]


I appreciate that Jacqueline is able to poke fun at herself, but does she still believe that economists are libertarian-leaning as a group?
posted by leopard at 6:49 AM on August 8


it should be much easier to educate people about economics

Yeah, if only my unemployed neighbor could log-linearize the Cobb-Douglas production model he will vote to cut off his unemployment benefits and for his sick kid to get get denied health care. Give me a fucking break.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:49 AM on August 8 [5 favorites]


I agree with Slap Happy that Rand Paul will not be able go the distance. If the Republican primaries of 2016 are anything like 2008 and 2012, then Paul will have to survive neoconservative attacks and compromised fundraising channels. We've already seen Cheney-type Republicans go after Paul hard, and if Ted Cruz does run, and Rick Perry, the slippery Paul will have some trouble. And he tends to get whiny when cornered.

I also think he's a proto-fascist. The last lines of the American Conservative article posted above by Drinky Die are this: "Either way, a partnership between the Christian right and liberty movement could change the Republican Party. And, God willing, the country."

::shudder::
posted by feste at 6:59 AM on August 8


...does she still believe that economists are libertarian-leaning as a group?

Sure. Most of the basic principles of economics are pretty close to Libertarian platform planks.

We may be operating off different definitions of libertarian-leaning? I'm including moderate libertarians, incrementalists, and libertarian paternalists in that group, not just anarchocapitalists and minarchists.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:00 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


There is no room for genuine debate because of the inherent dogmatic nature of libertarianism

Indeed, much of it based on faith. Give up functional government, trust an invisible process, and play pretend we didn't recently evolve out of feudalism, but instead turned away from self-autonomy. Libertarianism is a contrarianism that hides its anti-qualities. It appeals to anti-social types. It will always be there in difficult times. What is remarkable, however, is the nature of the appeal. Karen Armstrong famously summed up the fundamentalist Islamic revival as not wanting to return to the past, but to bring the past into modernity. That's how black and white traditionalist thinking avoids recognition, because they aren't advocating a peculiar style of dress or riding horses. They're modern slaveholders, and modern isolationists, and they don't always go to church anymore, but that doesn't mean they don't secretly want their schools to become that church, nor does it mean they don't want moral obedience. Religion is untouched in the debate and power vacuums last a matter of seconds, so libertarianism is just a game to replace the structures we have by confusing the issues and appealing to fantasies of human nature and history.
posted by Brian B. at 7:01 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


Jacqueline: Sure. Most of the basic principles of economics are pretty close to Libertarian platform planks.

Bull. Also, shit. Political platforms are normative value statements, while the "basic principles of economics" are positive, value-neutral statements. Even when you get into behavioral economics, you're talking about what motivates human beings and how they participate in the economy, not what they ought to be doing.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:05 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


Someone actually surveyed a few hundred professional economists in 2007 and asked them to rate their support for government intervention on 16 issues ranging from tariffs to minimum wage laws to fiscal and monetary policy to discrimination and so on. The average rating of support on a scale from 1 (strongly support intervention) to 5 (strongly oppose intervention) was 2.67, and fewer than 3% of economists had an average rating of over 4.5. See this PDF. Or, you know, the link I posted above.

But yeah, people just need more education, right? Maybe if we slowly and patiently present facts to them, they'll be receptive to evidence and change their minds as they realize that their preconceptions are false.

If only everyone was as receptive to evidence as economics majors like you are!
posted by leopard at 7:07 AM on August 8 [3 favorites]


Most of the basic principles of economics are pretty close to Libertarian platform planks.

Two things: First, economics does not make normative claims.

Secondly, economic models does not make claims about how the world actually works. as actual social scientists recognize, both micro and macroeconomic models are precisely that: hugely imperfect models of human behavior that intentionally and knowingly sacrifice accuracy in favor of parsimony. Any claim about how the world actually is, is heavily qualified by the numerous assumptions that economists include in their models, knowing that their models are invariably a gross abstraction from reality.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:08 AM on August 8 [7 favorites]


A libertarian state is akin to a transition state in organic chemistry. It exists temporarily, then collapses. Anything can happen but it eventually has to spit out a product or the starting material. The libertarian moment happened slowly from the time of Reagon to now, the transition state is forming the product.

All hail the blind alien gods of economics! Its like feudalism, except that we're always at war (constant economic competition and malthusian bullshit yaaaay!) instead of being at war when someone pisses off the King. But with money instead of swords and yet somehow there are still lives lost. For profit, presumably, but I wouldn't really know for sure the why of it. Blind alien gods and all that.
posted by Slackermagee at 7:09 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


And, in my personal experience, libertarians' knowledge of economics stops at Micro and Macro 101. Fun fact: everything you learn after that either qualifies or contradicts or complicates anything you learn as a freshman. Econometrics, being empirical, is also ignored too.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:11 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


Econ 101 makes cases both for and against government intervention in markets (market failures, externalities). The very existence of Macro as a separate topic is based on the idea that labor markets can't be explained fully by idealized micro principles.

BTW, the blog link I posted above describes the PDF paper I posted above, but the figures are very slightly different -- the PDF seems to have 18 issues (not 16), and an average rating of 2.64 (not 2.67). About 8% scored over 4.0 and 3% scored over 4.5, making economists more libertarian-leaning than sociologists, anthropologists, and political scientists, but not libertarian-leaning in any objective sense (but that's presumably because they are not as expert in the subject as libertarians are).
posted by leopard at 7:19 AM on August 8 [3 favorites]


Most of the basic principles of economics are pretty close to Libertarian platform planks.

Which economics? Austrian, sure. But they aren't mainstream.
posted by empath at 7:19 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Someone actually surveyed a few hundred professional economists in 2007 and asked them to rate their support for government intervention on 16 issues ranging from tariffs to minimum wage laws to fiscal and monetary policy to discrimination and so on.

That's not the only survey that's been done. From the paper you linked:
In March and April 2003, 1,000 U.S. members of the American Economists Association were surveyed using a randomly generated list of members. ... The response rate of 26.6 percent ... is somewhat lower than other recent and identically sized survey of general AEA membership ... and Whaples (2006) obtained 40.0 percent.
Greg Mankiw (author of the most widely used introductory economics textbooks) summarized the results of the Whaples survey on his blog. Here are some of the results from the more recent survey with the larger sample size and how they compare to the LP platform:

Outsourcing & trade:
Economists: 90.1 percent disagree with the position that "the U.S. should restrict employers from outsourcing work to foreign countries."

Economists: 87.5 percent agree that "the U.S. should eliminate remaining tariffs and other barriers to trade."

LP Platform: We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade.
Agricultural subsidies:
Economists: 85.2 percent agree that "the U.S. should eliminate agricultural subsidies."

LP Platform: We oppose all forms of government subsidies and bailouts to business, labor, or any other special interest.
School vouchers:
Economists: 67.1 percent agree that "parents should be given educational vouchers which can be used at government-run or privately-run schools."

LP Platform: Education is best provided by the free market, achieving greater quality, accountability and efficiency with more diversity of choice. Recognizing that the education of children is a parental responsibility, we would restore authority to parents to determine the education of their children, without interference from government. Parents should have control of and responsibility for all funds expended for their children's education.
He summarized a few more positions in a later blog post (pretty sure his source is still the Whaples survey):

Rent control:
Economists: A ceiling on rents reduces the quantity and quality of housing available. (93%)

LP Platform: Libertarians would free property owners from government restrictions on their rights to control and enjoy their property, as long as their choices do not harm or infringe on the rights of others. Eminent domain, civil asset forfeiture, governmental limits on profits, governmental production mandates, and governmental controls on prices of goods and services (including wages, rents, and interest) are abridgements of such fundamental rights. For voluntary dealings among private entities, parties should be free to choose with whom they trade and set whatever trade terms are mutually agreeable.
Tariffs and import quotas on trade:
Economists: Tariffs and import quotas usually reduce general economic welfare. (93%)

LP Platform: We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade.
Stadium subsidies:
Economists: Local and state governments should eliminate subsidies to professional sports franchises. (85%)

LP Platform: We oppose all forms of government subsidies and bailouts to business, labor, or any other special interest.
Minimum wage:
Economists: A minimum wage increases unemployment among young and unskilled workers. (79%)

LP Platform: Employment and compensation agreements between private employers and employees are outside the scope of government, and these contracts should not be encumbered by government-mandated benefits or social engineering.
Pollution:
Economists: Effluent taxes and marketable pollution permits represent a better approach to pollution control than imposition of pollution ceilings. (78%)

LP Platform: Protecting the environment requires a clear definition and enforcement of individual rights in resources like land, water, air, and wildlife. Free markets and property rights stimulate the technological innovations and behavioral changes required to protect our environment and ecosystems.
I wonder what methodological differences are to blame for such disparate results? The paper you linked suggested "Our response rate may have been lower because of the length of the survey (14 pages with 57 questions) or because the survey asked recall questions that many respondents may have felt ill-prepared to answer." The authors also noted that an earlier survey mentioned "hostility toward questionnaires among economists" (heh).

Perhaps pro-intervention economists are just more inclined to fill out long surveys than free-market economists? I could see how people with a minority viewpoint for their profession might be extra motivated to ensure that their opinions get counted.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:43 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


Someone actually surveyed a few hundred professional economists in 2007 and asked them to rate their support...

But the authors of that paper note that the numbers skyrocket for survey questions within each group of economists' own direct field of expertise, which suggests to the (Libertarian) authors of the paper that free market dogma must be Correct, but could also just as well suggest that the tools of economics as a field are inherently free market supporting, despite the leanings of individual economists when thinking about areas they don't work in.
posted by nobody at 7:46 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


...making economists more libertarian-leaning than sociologists, anthropologists, and political scientists, but not libertarian-leaning in any objective sense...

We're probably just both trying to claim a group that actually sits on the border between the liberal and libertarian sections of the personal-vs-economic liberty chart. :)
posted by Jacqueline at 7:48 AM on August 8


Most of the basic principles of economics are pretty close to Libertarian platform planks.

Utter and complete nonsense. Economics does not have the same ontological status as physics. It does not have principles that are a priori present in the world the way, say, gravitation is. The "principles of economics" are simply the rules of the game as instituted by that segment of society that has set them up--overwhelmingly in history this has been the ruling elites, which has always meant those with the most stuff and hence the most power.

This sort of fundamental error is to be expected from Libertarians, who view "markets" as existing prior to human society, when, in fact, they are constructs of human society (i.e., of governments). Given the erroneous belief that governments not only don't create markets, but can only interfere with their free function, its easy to see how this sort of thinking follows.
posted by mondo dentro at 7:49 AM on August 8 [17 favorites]


Economists: A minimum wage increases unemployment among young and unskilled workers. (79%)

LP Platform: Employment and compensation agreements between private employers and employees are outside the scope of government, and these contracts should not be encumbered by government-mandated benefits or social engineering.


You're comparing economists positive judgments with the LPs normative judgments, which is pointless really. While 79% of economists surveyed believe that the minimum wage increases unemployment that in no way shows that 79% of economists believe that the minimum wage should be abolished.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:50 AM on August 8 [5 favorites]


Rand Paul's toupée will keep him from ever being elected president.



Seriously- I keep expecting muppet eyes to pop up on that thing.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:50 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


...could also just as well suggest that the tools of economics as a field are inherently free market supporting...

IMO, this is the most valid criticism of both mainstream economics and libertarianism -- homo economicus just doesn't exist in the real world.

I'm looking forward to seeing how the New Institutionalist and Post-Autistic Economics schools of thought change the field over time.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:52 AM on August 8


While 79% of economists surveyed believe that the minimum wage increases unemployment that in no way shows that 79% of economists believe that the minimum wage should be abolished.

Not only that, it's not supported by the data. But why let empiricism interfere with economic scholasticism?
posted by mondo dentro at 7:52 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


The differences are down to interpretation. For example, it's a bit of a stretch to assume that because 79% of economists hold that "a minimum wage increases unemployment among young and unskilled workers" that a majority of economists support the LP plank of eliminating the minimum wage. There are a number of possible views in between. It's possible to hold that minimum wages increase unemployment for the unskilled and that a minimum wage is still advantageous overall.

Also, you've cherry picked some planks from the LP platform that lots of people agree with. Neither the Dems nor the GOP are pro rent control. Both parties flirt with cap and trade. Etc.
posted by chrchr at 7:55 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


This survey?

It appears so, and the results lean liberal, even interventionist, according to the report:

It seems that most economists in fact stand in the middle of the road or even on the interventionist side. Why, then, do they have a reputation for being free-market supporters?
posted by Brian B. at 7:57 AM on August 8


Of course the broader belief here is that the determining influence of individuals' beliefs are knowledge.

A PhD program is as much a process of socialization as it is one of learning and researching. Us IR peeps have some pretty idiosyncratic views on foreign policy but that doesn't mean we are right, it just means the other ideas got beaten out of us, and I can assure you it isn't because we read Thucydides and Waltz, it was socialized out of us.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:58 AM on August 8


IMO, this is the most valid criticism of both mainstream economics and libertarianism -- homo economicus just doesn't exist in the real world.

And this isn't even a valid criticism of economics, because economics acknowledges explicitly that the model doesn't even exist in the real world, because models don't exist in the real world. That's why they are models!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:59 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


From Brian B.'s link:

The responses show that most economists are supporters of
safety regulations, gun control, redistribution, public schooling, and anti-discrimination laws.
They are evenly mixed on personal choice issues, military action, and the minimum wage.
Most economists oppose tighter immigration controls, government ownership of enterprise
and tariffs. In voting, the Democratic:Republican ratio is 2.5:1.

posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:00 AM on August 8 [3 favorites]


This sort of fundamental error is to be expected from Libertarians, who view "markets" as existing prior to human society, when, in fact, they are constructs of human society (i.e., of governments).

I actually agree with you on this!

The Making of Economic Society by Robert Heilbroner was one of my favorite textbooks in school and covers how markets and capitalism came into existence. They are definitely not the original or even "natural" state for human society.

Another one of my favorite econ books, Hernando de Soto's The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else, has some good explanations of how property rights and thus capitalism developed differently in different parts of the world.

I'm actually pretty heterodox in both economics and libertarian circles...
posted by Jacqueline at 8:04 AM on August 8


Re: neoliberalism and anarchists (which you can read as libertarians)
A primary ambition of the neoliberal project is to redefine the shape and functions of the state, not to destroy it. Neoliberals thus maintain an uneasy and troubled alliance with their sometimes fellow-travelers, the anarchists. The contradiction with which the neoliberals constantly struggle is that a strong state can just as easily thwart their program as implement it; hence they are inclined to explore new formats of techno-managerial governance that protect their ideal market from what they perceive as unwarranted political interference. Considerable efforts have been developed to disguise or otherwise condone in rhetoric and practice the importance of the strong state that neoliberals endorse in theory.
Link
posted by wuwei at 8:04 AM on August 8 [3 favorites]


Jacqueline: I'm actually pretty heterodox in both economics and libertarian circles...

I think maybe that's where the disconnect is in this conversation? In a recent thread, you spoke of wanting to "create incentives to internalize market externalities." You didn't specify how you would make that happen, but I can think of no way of doing this that wouldn't put you at odds with 95% or more of the population that would call themselves libertarian on economic issues. If I'm correct on this -- and please do correct me if I'm not -- I don't see why you're trying to defend libertarians as a group when you seem to disagree with a vast majority of them on the very issues we're talking about here.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:08 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


And this isn't even a valid criticism of economics, because economics acknowledges explicitly that the model doesn't even exist in the real world, because models don't exist in the real world. That's why they are models!

I wonder if this is hard to get across because the general public (including myself) isn't seeing economists working much within academia but rather are primarily getting exposed to economists when they're writing op-eds or working within Washington, at which point they are making prescriptive claims based on these models?
posted by nobody at 8:11 AM on August 8


I'm actually pretty heterodox in both economics and libertarian circles...

I'll say. Other than a bit of etymological overlap, your beloved geolibertarianism is about as far from Austrian-school faux libertarianism as it can be. Unfortunately, what passes for libertarianism now (the capital-L type) is just the latest in the long line of right-wing shape-shifting in defense of dominance hierarchies.
posted by mondo dentro at 8:16 AM on August 8 [7 favorites]


If the free market gave us Rand Paul's hairpiece then that is solid evidence that the market can be very, very, wrong.
posted by sotonohito at 8:20 AM on August 8 [3 favorites]


Perhaps pro-intervention economists are just more inclined to fill out long surveys than free-market economists? I could see how people with a minority viewpoint for their profession might be extra motivated to ensure that their opinions get counted.

It's somewhat amazing how you're cherry-picking through the evidence to cling to your belief that economists are generally libertarian-leaning. There have been a bunch of studies done and as the libertarian-leaning authors of the study I linked write, "there has been no sign of any preponderant support for free-market principles." The Economist did an informal survey of economists in 2012 and found that 45% of their academic respondents identified as Democrats compared to 7% as Republicans, and as a group they strongly preferred Obama's economic policies to Romney's policies. I am not aware of a single survey that indicates that economists prefer Republican economic policies to Democratic ones.

Your response seems to be that the surveys are all biased because they're mostly answered by people with minority views. You are basing clinging to an unfalsifiable belief.

By the way the Whaples study that you're convinced proves that economists are big believers in the LP platform also indicates:

* 65.0 percent agree that the U.S. should increase energy taxes.

* 45.8 percent agree that the U.S. should adopt universal health insurance.

* 34.9 percent agree that the U.S. should eliminate inheritance/estate taxes.

The updated 2009 study indicates:

* Fewer than 30 percent disagree with "The U.S. should increase benefits to workers who lose
their jobs due to international competition"

Economics provides a basis for many libertarian beliefs, but it also provides a basis for non-libertarian beliefs. You ignore the latter and conclude that economics is pro-libertarian.
posted by leopard at 8:23 AM on August 8 [5 favorites]


nobody: I wonder if this is hard to get across because the general public (including myself) isn't seeing economists working much within academia but rather are primarily getting exposed to economists when they're writing op-eds or working within Washington, at which point they are making prescriptive claims based on these models?

I think Krugman explains this pretty well in this post:
The Facebooking of Economics

What is true is that there has been a major erosion of the old norms. It used to be the case that to have a role in the economics discourse you had to have formal credentials and a position of authority; you had to be a tenured professor at a top school publishing in top journals, or a senior government official. Today the ongoing discourse, especially in macroeconomics, is much more free-form.
...
Obviously the web has changed a lot, although the process actually started even before the rise of blogs. Economics journals stopped being a way to communicate ideas at least 25 years ago, replaced by working papers; publication was more about certification for the purposes of tenure than anything else. Partly this was because of the long lags — by the time my most successful (though by no means best) academic paper was actually published, in 1991, there were around 150 derivative papers that I knew of, and the target zone literature was running into diminishing returns. Partly, also, it was because in some fields rigid ideologies blocked new ideas. Don’t take my word for it: It was Ken Rogoff, not me, who wrote about the impossibility of publishing realistic macro in the face of “new neoclassical repression.”

Anyway, at this point the real discussion in macro, and to a lesser extent in other fields, is taking place in the econoblogosphere. This is true even for research done at official institutions like the IMF and the Fed: people read their working papers online, and that’s how their work gets incorporated into the discourse.
...
So don’t feel nostalgic for the days of authority figures dominating the discourse. Intellectually, in economics at least, these are the good old days.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:23 AM on August 8 [3 favorites]


I don't see why you're trying to defend libertarians as a group when you seem to disagree with a vast majority of them on the very issues we're talking about here.

I'm a Libertarian because maximizing individual liberty is my fundamental goal for political activity.

The LP isn't a perfect fit, but it's a far better fit than any of the other parties. (I've occasionally flirted with the idea of defecting to the Democratic Freedom Caucus but they don't seem to do anything or even exist outside of a couple of people with a website?)

I also haven't given up hope on the rest of the movement eventually coming around to my particular brand of libertarianism. Maybe I'm just tilting at windmills?

One of these days I really need to get my shit together and dedicate some serious time and energy to educating my co-ideologues about market failures, environmental science, systemic discrimination, the constraints of social and legal institutions, etc. I think I have the activist cred to get them to listen to me in a way that they probably wouldn't listen to someone from outside the movement.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:29 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


I'm a Libertarian because maximizing individual liberty is my fundamental goal for political activity.

Isn't that so broad an ambiguous as to be at the meta-party level?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:36 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


I freely admit that I'm an idiot about some of this stuff, but can I ask why this conversation has been focusing so narrowly on economics?

It's my understanding that what defined a libertarian had more to do with the degree of governmental regulation of individual freedoms, and the focus was more shifting the balance onto "greater rights for the individual, lesser control from the state" ("state" in this case referring to "the generic term for the government" vs. "a given state's government, like Kansas' or Rhode Island's").

So I'm not getting why we're focusing on finely-tuned discussions of economic theory when, to my understanding, libertarianism is more about "it should be up to each individual barkeep whether they want to disallow smoking inside the bar, it shouldn't be the mayor's decision" or things like that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:36 AM on August 8


BTW, like most libertarians, I used to deny the existence of systemic discrimination and believed that a truly free market would just magically sort that shit out on its own. I credit MeFites beating me over the head with overwhelming evidence over the past 6+ years as responsible for eventually bringing me around on that. So, um, good job guys?
posted by Jacqueline at 8:36 AM on August 8 [7 favorites]


...can I ask why this conversation has been focusing so narrowly on economics?

Probably because economic policy issues are the issues in which the majority of MeFites disagree with libertarians.

We don't really have much to argue about when it comes to the drug war, gay marriage, free speech, privacy, etc.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:38 AM on August 8 [3 favorites]


So....why argue?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:40 AM on August 8


Jacqueline,

Have you looked into things like anarcho-syndicalism, or Mondragon corporations? I'm still not sure about how they would scale beyond the local level, but it seems like something that might interest you.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:43 AM on August 8 [3 favorites]


The reason I really despise what is now called Libertarianism--even while being strongly oriented toward anarchic social principles--is that I find its use of Liberty to be diabolical--as in, something that would be used by The Great Deceiver to manipulate and exploit.

While Libertarians advocate for the absolute and untrammeled liberty of the powerful to keep all of their shit, they actively move to constrain the liberty of the wider populace. The empirical track record of Libertarianism is very poor, and, indeed, it has only been systematically experimented with at the nation state level under authoritarian conditions, as with Friedman's and Hayek's shameful association with Pinochet's Chile. The neocon fantasy of Iraq as a Libertarian exemplar has, likewise, proven to be both practically and morally bankrupt. And so now we have this new group of born-on-third-base assholes in Silicon Valley who think their "Libertarian moment" has arrived, and, guess what? They don't like liberty either (emphasis added):
I remain committed to the faith of my teenage years: to authentic human freedom as a precondition for the highest good. I stand against confiscatory taxes, totalitarian collectives, and the ideology of the inevitability of the death of every individual. For all these reasons, I still call myself “libertarian.”

But I must confess that over the last two decades, I have changed radically on the question of how to achieve these goals. Most importantly, I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible. By tracing out the development of my thinking, I hope to frame some of the challenges faced by all classical liberals today.

-- Peter Thiel, Crown Prince of Paypal
Yeah, I know: "democracy" and "liberty" are not, technically, synonymous. But he's not making a philosophical distinction. He's saying that giving the masses democratic rights is just a cock-block for his Galtian boner. Freedom for the Heroic Rich, not for the rest of the Takers.

What a despicable ideology it is.
posted by mondo dentro at 8:44 AM on August 8 [23 favorites]


So I'm not getting why we're focusing on finely-tuned discussions of economic theory when, to my understanding, libertarianism is more about "it should be up to each individual barkeep whether they want to disallow smoking inside the bar, it shouldn't be the mayor's decision" or things like that.

(though the barkeep's individual right to allow smoking vs. the barkeep's individual right to refuse non-white customers vs. the barkeep's individual right to not pay employees subsistence wages shows up some fissure lines in a nice-seeming-at-first-glance "individual rights" ideology)
posted by nobody at 8:46 AM on August 8


So....why argue?

IMO, arguing is an essential part of the process of becoming iteratively less wrong. Opponents will test your ideology and assumptions far more vigorously than anyone who already agrees with you will. When you are defeated, that lets you know that you either need to put a lot more thought and research into defending your position or just realize that you're wrong and change your view.

That is why I hang out here instead of in the ideological bubble of libertarian blogs and my Facebook newsfeed.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:47 AM on August 8 [14 favorites]


Apologies if I'm coming across like a ditz. I may just not be seeing the economics arguments as a political discussion, but rather an economic one, and so this is reading to me like a discussion about indoor vs. outdoor cats focusing exclusively on "are tabbies or Maine Coons the best breed, discuss".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:51 AM on August 8


I freely admit that I'm an idiot about some of this stuff, but can I ask why this conversation has been focusing so narrowly on economics?

Because Libertarians aren't helping to destroy this country by ending the drug war or end surveillance or protecting privacy, they're helping to destroy this country by funneling money to the top.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:52 AM on August 8 [10 favorites]


I may just not be seeing the economics arguments as a political discussion, but rather an economic one

I don't see how you can have one without the other? Political actions have economic implications and economic actions have political implications.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:55 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


Probably because economic policy issues are the issues in which the majority of MeFites disagree with libertarians.

We don't really have much to argue about when it comes to the drug war, gay marriage, free speech, privacy, etc.


that's me in a nutshell. Libertarian all the way ... EXCEPT that nothing trumps the necessity of a functional social safety net, because if my neighbors are going hungry, losing their homes, spiraling into despair, my liberty ain't worth shit.

Yes, that's a very big EXCEPT.
posted by philip-random at 9:01 AM on August 8 [9 favorites]


Jacqueline,
Exactly, which is why so many people prefer the term "political economy."

Also, I would argue that economics is inherently value laden, and the attempt to tell people otherwise is part of an attempt at hiding a hegemonic discourse.
posted by wuwei at 9:02 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Most of the basic principles of economics are pretty close to Libertarian platform planks.

This is wrong, but

The "principles of economics" are simply the rules of the game as instituted by that segment of society that has set them up

This is, if anything, even wronger.

The principles of economics are boring things like "Individuals have complete and transitive preference orderings."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:06 AM on August 8 [4 favorites]


CATO recently held a debate about if Libertarians could support a basic national income, at least as an improvement on the current welfare system. Do you have any thoughts on that Jacqueline?

I think it would be an interesting approach to get support from voters who are concerned about their neighbors. I'm with p-r on that concern.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:07 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


IMO, arguing an essential part of the process of becoming iteratively less wrong.

Jacqueline: the problem with your approach is that you are forced into a "no true Scotsman" defense, over and over and over again.

You stick with Libertarianism because you say that its core value is the maximization of individual freedom: but what if it's not? What if, as I believe, the core value is the maximization of property rights, and all of this "liberty" stuff is just a rhetorical ruse?

The same sort of thing has been done repeatedly throughout history: the wealthy and powerful work assiduously to blur their needs and aims with the needs and aims of the masses. It's essential, in fact, that they do so, because otherwise they have no justification for the excessive amount of resources that they command at the expense of the wider society. Libertarians promote the hatred of government and regulations using the things that annoy the man in the street--but they don't really care about such things. They'll tell a struggling shopkeeper a reductionist story about how the government shouldn't be able to tax and regulate them out of business, and that shopkeeper will say "Fuck Yeah, Freedom!". But then the Libertarian policies will not only allow, but encourage and enable, "market forces" (a deceptive term for large concentrations of capital power) to put that shopkeeper out of business.
posted by mondo dentro at 9:08 AM on August 8 [12 favorites]


I don't see how you can have one without the other? Political actions have economic implications and economic actions have political implications.

Yeah, but if you start out saying you're going to be talking about Political Actions but you end up talking mainly about finely-nuanced economic distinctions, to idiots like me it just sounds like you wanted to talk about economics instead anyway. It starts out with politics in the front seat, but the back seat of economics took over.

Granted, this is something that organically happened in this thread, so I'll shut up now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:09 AM on August 8


The "principles of economics" are simply the rules of the game as instituted by that segment of society that has set them up

This is, if anything, even wronger.

The principles of economics are boring things like "Individuals have complete and transitive preference orderings."


If that's a major principle of economics, then vector addition is a major principle of physics.
posted by mondo dentro at 9:15 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


So....why argue?

Because the points where Stereotypical Mefites disagree with mainstream American libertarians (who are not terribly similar to Jacqueline) are huge, yawning chasms of disagreement about things that are currently settled issues that libertarians would hope to undo.

Like, let's get rid of social security. And medicare. And medicaid. And the Civil Rights Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Food and Drug Act, OSHA, zoning, and building codes.

These aren't necessary things -- Hayek, at least for a time, favored a guaranteed minimum income provided by the State and State provision of various insurances like medical insurance. And there are left-libertarians like Jacqueline or Ken MacLeod, sort of. But the modern American libertarian movement has definitely gone in those directions, in addition to attracting people who just want to use libertarian language as a smoke screen for racism.

It's good to remind people who agree with libertarians about a couple of edge issues like legalizing weed and same sex marriage how utterly radical the rest of the libertarian ideal -- or, really, the core of the modern American libertarian ideal -- really is.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:19 AM on August 8 [7 favorites]


nobody: But the authors of that paper note that the numbers skyrocket for survey questions within each group of economists' own direct field of expertise, which suggests to the (Libertarian) authors of the paper that free market dogma must be Correct, but could also just as well suggest that the tools of economics as a field are inherently free market supporting, despite the leanings of individual economists when thinking about areas they don't work in.

I found that argument in the paper unconvincing:
If economists who study and judge FDA control were to answer the survey question on the FDA, they would have an average score above 4.0. This general pattern holds for many issues, and has been demonstrated for occupational licensing... drug prohibition... the U.S. Postal Service... taxi deregulation... road pricing... and rail transit.
This is hardly a universal pattern: what about monetary policy, tax policy, social insurance, or the minimum wage? Pro-intervention views in those areas are certainly popular among experts (if maybe less so than in the general population).
posted by leopard at 9:19 AM on August 8


believed that a truly free market would just magically sort that shit out on its own

Free trade between two parties genuinely enriches both: if you have something I want more than you do, and I have something you want more than I do, and we trade, we're demonstrably both better off as a result.

That's a simple, beautiful truth, but it doesn't scale. It's simply not reasonable to leap from that truth to the conclusion that the aggregate result of every single person being allowed to trade completely at will with any other person must automatically come out socially positive.

The trouble is that trade and the activities that go into supporting it frequently have negative side effects on parties other than those directly involved in the trade. You and I might both be doing extremely well out of exchanging your money for my uranium oxide, but it sucks to live near the fucking great hole I'm digging to get the stuff out of the ground.

Even the simple fact that trading does enrich traders tends to put them ahead of those not trading: wealth is a significant influence on power. If free trade is allowed to be the dominant method for steering flows of wealth within a society, unreasonable concentrations of power occur via positive feedback: it takes money to make money, and those who start with more than most make more than most.

So if you're in favor of enrichment, as most people quite reasonably are, you pretty much have to see the ability to trade as a good thing. But if you're in favor of general enrichment, and you're intellectually rigorous about it, you'll quickly understand that completely free trade cannot and should not be the only thing. Any sustainable society needs other wealth distribution mechanisms to complement its free markets.

There are things the free market simply can't sort out on its own, its own destructive side effects are some of them, and pretending it has no such destructive side effects is self-deluding lunacy.

The other problem with the idea of trade being mutually enriching being such a compellingly shiny idea is that it tends to blind people to the fact that there are other kinds of human activity that are also mutually enriching. There's a strong temptation, given the effectiveness of trade, to try to wedge every form of mutually beneficial interaction into its Procrustean conceptual bed.

I believe that contributes to dangerously defective thinking, which is why I continue to be saddened by the way I've seen words such as "member" and "client" and "citizen" inexorably expunged from public discourse in favor of "customer".
posted by flabdablet at 9:19 AM on August 8 [17 favorites]


CATO recently held a debate about if Libertarians could support a basic national income, at least as an improvement on the current welfare system. Do you have any thoughts on that Jacqueline?

I am totally in favor of a basic national income replacing the current welfare system. If you want people to have enough to live on, then just give them enough money to live on. Micromanaging people's lives through the dozens of different programs and regulations we have now is costly to administer, economically inefficient, humiliating to the recipients, and often creates perverse incentives.

I still hope for a Libertopia in which so few people will need help that private charity can easily handle it, but getting from here to there without some sort of interim broad social safety net would be... rough... to put it mildly. I'd much rather the road to Libertopia take a little longer than be completely derailed by bloody revolution, thanks.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:20 AM on August 8 [4 favorites]


Maximizing individual liberty can be seen as a laudable goal to those who would do good or even benign things with that liberty. Unfortunately a great number of people in our society would abuse their increased personal liberty to maximize their own personal power over others. This is where I think well-meaning libertarians like Jacqueline are not seeing the practical realities of the political changes they're advocating.
posted by rocket88 at 9:21 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


Obligatory link on the principles of economics (video)
posted by leopard at 9:22 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


You stick with Libertarianism because you say that its core value is the maximization of individual freedom: but what if it's not? What if, as I believe, the core value is the maximization of property rights, and all of this "liberty" stuff is just a rhetorical ruse?

Then they're doing it wrong.

Again, I should just be in charge of the whole libertarian movement -- I'd run those fuckers out of the party. :)
posted by Jacqueline at 9:23 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


If you want people to have enough to live on, then just give them enough money to live on. Micromanaging people's lives through the dozens of different programs and regulations we have now is costly to administer, economically inefficient, humiliating to the recipients, and often creates perverse incentives.

Me too. But this isn't really a libertarian idea, is it?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:23 AM on August 8


It's right there in Hayek's _Road to Serfdom_. Seriously.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:24 AM on August 8 [5 favorites]


And Milton Friedman's negative income tax.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:25 AM on August 8


Maximizing individual liberty can be seen as a laudable goal

I certainly see it that way, provided only that liberty is properly understood to encompass the idea of freedom from as well as freedom to.
posted by flabdablet at 9:25 AM on August 8 [6 favorites]


I should just be in charge of the whole libertarian movement

Should be fine, as long as you don't end up with coercive powers like the ability to run people you disagree with out of the party.
posted by flabdablet at 9:29 AM on August 8 [3 favorites]


But that takes all the fun out of it! :(
posted by Jacqueline at 9:30 AM on August 8


Then they're doing it wrong.

No true Scotsman, again!

I actually love Futurist art and esthetics. Also, I think we're all stronger as a society if we band together, as aptly represented by a bundle of sticks. So for these reasons I call myself a Fascist. Sure, there are a lot of people who embrace this ideology seeking to oppress others for unsavory aims, but they're doing it wrong. True Fascists look forward to a dynamic and heroic world that benefits everyone!!
posted by mondo dentro at 9:32 AM on August 8 [8 favorites]


If you have to convince one person about the virtues of pure cash transfers over complex government programs, would you rather be talking to a Democrat who strongly believes in the idea that government should help the poor, or would you rather be talking to somebody who believes that taxation is theft, that individuals are fully responsible for their life outcomes, and that government is intrinsically wasteful?

I know Hayek and Friedman supported some social welfare policies. But the overall impact of libertarianism is clearly to undermine support for welfare. It's not simply a plea for more efficient welfare.
posted by leopard at 9:35 AM on August 8 [2 favorites]


Thank you very much. You're special! You're a leader!
posted by flabdablet at 9:37 AM on August 8


I actually love Futurist art and esthetics. Also, I think we're all stronger as a society if we band together, as aptly represented by a bundle of sticks. So for these reasons I call myself a Fascist. Sure, there are a lot of people who embrace this ideology seeking to oppress others for unsavory aims, but they're doing it wrong. True Fascists look forward to a dynamic and heroic world that benefits everyone!!

That's a bad Godwin and your argument is bad. Having the entire platform be a ruse is indeed doing it wrong and that is not a No True Scotsman.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:37 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Oooh, that reminds me, I actually was responsible for running someone out the party once!

The LPWA booted someone for sexually harassing some of our female activists, including me. I forwarded his creepy email asking about my bra to the Judicial Committee and apparently they found that very helpful because most of the other testimony was second hand (the other women had dropped out of the party entirely).

This was back in 2007 so I guess that puts us Libertarians years ahead of most tech conferences and sci-fi conventions. :)
posted by Jacqueline at 9:37 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Drinky Die: Having the entire platform be a ruse...

I didn't (intend to) say the entire Libertarian platform is a ruse. I believe the rhetorical packaging is a ruse, down to the movement's name. The platform very clearly indicates where their values are. But many people are taken in by the anti-state, individual liberty rhetoric.

And... I thought that was a pretty good Godwin! Sorry you didn't like it!

leopard: I know Hayek and Friedman supported some social welfare policies. But the overall impact of libertarianism is clearly to undermine support for welfare.

I don't know the social history, but let's remember that at the time they were presenting these ideas the value of social welfare programs was a pretty widely-accepted. So I'm not surprised they gave a nod toward them. I'm inclined to think that Friedman and Hayek never viewed them as central to their social project, but rather as more of a tactical necessity. And in contemporary terms, it's simply impossible to square any sort of welfare (including a universal minimum wage) with the idea that taxation is theft. I mean, how else would one pay for such programs?
posted by mondo dentro at 9:55 AM on August 8


No true Scotsman, again!

I don't think it's fair to apply the "No true Scotsman" fallacy to ideologically centered parties like the Libertarians, Socialists, Greens, etc. because those parties are organized around a set of principles first and people who agree with those principles then become members.

The Democratic and Republican party platforms change a lot over time because they're a large membership organization first and then whatever the majority of their members believe becomes their current platforms. So while you can talk about what the Democratic and Republican positions are *now*, there isn't anything special about those parties that means that those always have been and always will be their positions.

Democrats and Republicans can believe all sorts of things and still be Democrats and Republicans, whereas a Socialist who endorses banning labor unions is no longer a "real" Socialist, a Green who opposes regulating pollution is no longer a "real" Green, and a Libertarian who doesn't support individual liberty is no longer a "real" Libertarian.

While it's possible for an outside group with different beliefs to hijack an ideologically centered party and then go against what the party had previously stood for (e.g., the clusterfuck of the 2005 nominating convention of Costa Rica's Movimiento Libertario), I think that the people who still adhere to the party's founding ideology have every right to say that the interlopers are "doing it wrong" without being guilty of employing the "No true Scotsman" fallacy.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:56 AM on August 8 [3 favorites]


in contemporary terms, it's simply impossible to square any sort of welfare (including a universal minimum wage) with the idea that taxation is theft. I mean, how else would one pay for such programs?

Why do you think the overall philosophy has to be coherent?

This might be uncharitable, but I've always interpreted the universal minimum income idea from libertarians as a way for them to maintain the moral high ground while opposing the existing welfare state. "It's not that I don't like poor people, it's just that I care about them even more than you do and want the government to be more efficient."

See also the idea that businesses have moral obligation to maximize profits while staying within the bounds of the law (another Friedman idea), coupled with the idea that government regulations on business strangle the economy. Take these ideas together and they make no sense -- you are basically advocating for sociopathy -- but each one individually is just a reasonable libertarian objection to left-wing politics.
posted by leopard at 10:02 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


I actually love Futurist art and esthetics.

You forgot the part about how most of the Italian Futurists went to war as an aesthetic decision and all got killed.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:03 AM on August 8 [6 favorites]


The free market is an impossible utopia, an interview with "Fred Block (research professor of sociology at University of California at Davis) and Margaret Somers (professor of sociology and history at the University of Michigan)" on their "new book, “The Power of Market Fundamentalism: Karl Polanyi’s Critique” (Harvard University Press, 2014)"
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:13 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Jacqueline: I don't think it's fair to apply the "No true Scotsman" fallacy to ideologically centered parties like the Libertarians, Socialists, Greens, etc. because those parties are organized around a set of principles first and people who agree with those principles then become members.

I can imagine why you'd feel this way, but there are other possibilities. I (tend to) vote for Democrats not because I agree with their principles. In fact, I see them as a pretty unprincipled bunch. I tend to vote with them for reasons of utilitarian ethics.

The difference is that I would never say that Obama isn't a "true Democrat" because he, for example, hasn't reinstated habeas corpus and is in the pocket of Wall Street. He is empirically a True Democrat, much more than I.

I can certainly see voting for a Jacqueline-style "libertarian"--to the extent I understand where you're coming from it seems that we're quite aligned ideologically. But voting for a Libertarian? No way. I see the demolition of government as the true road to serfdom, quite literally, as it's coming from what I see as an essentially neo-aristocratic movement.

charlie don't surf: You forgot the part about how most of the Italian Futurists went to war as an aesthetic decision and all got killed.

They were doing it wrong! :-)

Seriously, I think many Italians (and I can say this as a wop) got sucked into Fascism because of the cool outfits, and when the bullets started flying they were all "che cazzo succede?!"
posted by mondo dentro at 10:13 AM on August 8 [4 favorites]


Jacqueline: I think that the people who still adhere to the party's founding ideology have every right to say that the interlopers are "doing it wrong" without being guilty of employing the "No true Scotsman" fallacy.

I agree with this in the abstract, but I'm not convinced that the more moderate principles you're espousing here are at all compatible with the party's "founding ideology." The LP in the 1970s was heavily influenced by Objectivism and Austrian economics, both of which leave very little room for the kind of compromises you're willing to make.

Unless I'm missing something -- and please correct me if I am! -- it seems like today's Paul Ryan types have a stronger claim than you do to being "true libertarians" as defined by the party's platform when it was founded in the 1970s, which contain none of the "big tent" type stuff that you've excerpted from the 2014 platform.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:43 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Jacqueline:
The Making of Economic Society by Robert Heilbroner was one of my favorite textbooks in school and covers how markets and capitalism came into existence. They are definitely not the original or even "natural" state for human society.
the man of twists and turns
The free market is an impossible utopia, an interview with "Fred Block (research professor of sociology at University of California at Davis) and Margaret Somers (professor of sociology and history at the University of Michigan)" on their "new book, “The Power of Market Fundamentalism: Karl Polanyi’s Critique” (Harvard University Press, 2014)"
Actually, ppeaking of these things, I was wondering if either/both of you had read Karl Polanyi's The Great Transformation from 1944 which spends lots of time debunking the idea of 'market societies' being an assumed fundamental state of humanity. (It also had a forward by Fred Block). I read it a couple years ago and found it fascinating although I have nobody to talk to about it--the perils of reading economics books recreationally: there's no seminar scheduled for discussion.
posted by whittaker at 11:07 AM on August 8 [5 favorites]


I was wondering if either/both of you had read Karl Polanyi's The Great Transformation from 1944

I have not but it sounds interesting so I just ordered a cheap used copy off of Amazon.

the perils of reading economics books recreationally: there's no seminar scheduled for discussion.

Not until Books gets added to Fanfare. :)
posted by Jacqueline at 11:17 AM on August 8


Polanyi is standard reading in comparative politics grad survey courses. Hang out at your local college bar!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:29 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


No, America Is Not Turning Libertarian
Opposition to big government in the abstract is a hardy feature of American opinion. Older Americans oppose "bigger government" in the abstract by a margin of some 40 percentage points. That young voters actually favor "bigger government" in the abstract is a sea change in generational opinion, not to mention conclusive evidence against their alleged libertarianism.
A Question To End All “The Country is Going Libertarian!!!!!!” Trend Pieces
When I am made the Czar of All of the Media, the enterprising journalist who wants to repackage and resell this particular loaf of stale Wonder Bread will have to come up with an answer to the following question. Before proceeding, please name:
posted by tonycpsu at 11:36 AM on August 8 [7 favorites]


I'm catching up with the thread, so sorry if this has already been dealt with.

> Econ 101 makes cases both for and against government intervention in markets

I just had to note that we're not even out of the gate and we're already begging the question.

"Government intervention in markets"? A market, where people can not just trade things, but enter in to contracts to trade things, and those contracts are legal documents, and there are ways to enforce these contracts? Sounds like Government to me. Markets exist because people create them, and 99.9% of the time they create them through Governments. Yes, there're isolated cases where they exist outside of governments, but this is social science, not theology; a single exception does don't invalidate a widely general rule.

There's so often this attempt to take things that people worked to create and say they just come spontaneously from nature. It's a form of free-riding, where the value of some people's effort is set to zero. "This water I'm drinking come from the skies." Rarely, yes, but usually it's because there are men and women in a lab next to a facility somewhere that you couldn't even locate, and they're sampling, testing, and treating your water.

Like Batman says, "Social Construct!"
posted by benito.strauss at 11:52 AM on August 8 [14 favorites]


Completely agreed that the "government intervention in markets" framing gives too much credit to the idea that markets naturally exist and function outside of governments, and to the idea that governments are these alien unnatural creations that can only interfere with the natural order of life.

I also get frustrated when people talk about efficiency and inefficiency as if those are just natural properties of private-sector entities and governments. Conflicts of interest, asymmetric information, and monitoring costs arise in virtually every setting and "markets" do not magically make these issues go away.
posted by leopard at 12:00 PM on August 8 [6 favorites]


> The principles of economics are boring things like "Individuals have complete and transitive preference orderings."

Did you intentionally pick something that experience shows to not be true?
posted by benito.strauss at 12:01 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


(for benito.strauss:)

[3] THOU SHALT WORSHIP “SPONTANEOUS ORDER”

"Even though there has not existed full consensus on just what sort of animal the market “really” is, the neoliberals did agree that, for purposes of public understanding and sloganeering, neoliberal market society must be treated as a “natural” and inexorable state of mankind. "

Although with a nod to [4] THOU SHALT RETASK THE STATE TO THY NEEDS
posted by sneebler at 12:04 PM on August 8 [5 favorites]


that blog post just shows that it need not always be true. which is a trivial statement.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:33 PM on August 8


> ... the neoliberals did agree that, for purposes of public understanding and sloganeering, neoliberal market society must be treated as a “natural” and inexorable state of mankind

The word "natural" has such a strange second career, outside its day job flogging granola and dish soap at Whole Foods stores. I first started to see it when reading conservative Catholic blogs opposing same-sex marriage or women being priests, where it would be said that they go against "Natural Law". I've never heard anyone who isn't a Catholic use the term "Natural Law". I think it's a modern stand-in for "God's Will", because sometimes they don't think they can get away with claiming that much intimate knowledge of God.

Now when I see it I read it as saying "the universe agrees with me, so my claims are not up for debate." Then I just think about Batman, and close the tab.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:58 PM on August 8 [5 favorites]


Polling economists seems extremely difficult and prone to sampling errors. Who do you define as an economist and how do you ensure you got a random sample.
posted by humanfont at 1:27 PM on August 8


I think it's a modern stand-in for "God's Will", because sometimes they don't think they can get away with claiming that much intimate knowledge of God.

Catholic political philosophy is not quite my area of expertise, but I think you're basically correct.

The idea as far as I understand it is rooted in the question of law and authority: how do we have just societies, and who gets to be in charge? From St Thomas Aquinas onward, Roman Catholic teaching has said that God has established two major institutions to maintain order and uphold justice: the church and the state.

The Church is entrusted with the care of souls, and the State with the care of bodies. While the Church carries out its mandate to care for the spiritual well-being of Christians by drawing from Scripture as interpreted by theologians, the State follows its mandate by applying "natural law" or "the book of Nature" as interpreted by natural philosophy (what we would now probably call science).

In theory, this second "book" should be equally intelligible by Christians and non-Christians as it does not require grace (that is, the active assistance of God) to interpret. That's why most right-wing Roman Catholic arguments against e.g. same-sex marriage will point to things like the natural family, the relationship between procreation and marriage, etc. that can be engaged with in a fairly secular way, as opposed to right-wing Protestant arguments which will tend to be more of the "GOD HATES FAGS" sign-wielding, or which will involve convoluted arguments about St. Paul's use of the word porneia or whatever.
posted by tivalasvegas at 1:41 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


I'm beating the same dead horse I do in most economics discussions here, but what is the libertarian view on automation and what appears to be an inevitable and permanent long term reduction in jobs?

It appears to me that the libertarian position is philosophically incapable of dealing with that reality, in as it is inexorably linked to market capitalism and I don't see how market capitalism can exist if 60% of the potential work force can produce >100% of the goods and services demanded by a society.

The markets can't solve that problem. It is an Outside Context Problem from the market's standpoint. So how does Libertopia propose to deal with automation? We can't all be engineers designing new patterns for the automatic factories, nor yet poets or actors or what have you.

@leopard: Actually, from the consumer standpoint inefficiency and profit are identical.

Say the actual cost of product X is $100.

If the entity making X wants a 10% profit, they charge $110 for X.

If the entity making X wants no profit, but is suffering from 10% inefficiency they'd also charge $110 for X.

From the standpoint of a person buying X, profit and inefficiency are identical.

So even if we accept, and I agree that we shouldn't, that government is inherently inefficient, so what? Is the inefficiency less than the profit margin of the assumed to be efficient corporation? If so then it is in our rational best interests to favor inefficiency.

Also Nthing the idea that the framing of government interference in markets is a very bad frame.
posted by sotonohito at 1:49 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: Catholic political philosophy is not quite my area of expertise.

But seriously, thanks for the insight, tivalasvegas.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:51 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


I'm beating the same dead horse I do in most economics discussions here, but what is the libertarian view on automation and what appears to be an inevitable and permanent long term reduction in jobs?

Minimum income.
posted by empath at 2:02 PM on August 8


You guys are awfully harsh on libertarianism. It's important to identify which particular brand of libertarianism you're attacking. How many people honestly believe in the exact party platform of their chosen party? How many people believe in the exact platform of the loudest members of their chosen party?

I am a social libertarian, but I don't consider myself a libertarian because if the libertarian party did gain power, I'm fairly certain that the no-taxes, no regulation, give it all away aspect of libertarianism would be the one that got all the laws passed.

The social side of libertarianism doesn't have billion dollar industries pushing for it, so libertarians in charge would at best throw a few bones that way. I doubt there would be much change in abortion restrictions or drug laws / police militarization or copyright length (which I consider a civil liberties issue that bleeds into a fiscal liberties issue), etc. I'm not even sure if NSA issues would be addressed. I do know that applying privacy laws for people against corporations definitely isn't on the table.

The big problem for me is that Democrats are luke warm on those issues at best and solidly conservative on them at worst. The republicans are basically on the wrong side of most of those issues (except possibly for the NSA issues).

So I can vote Republican so that the NSA issues maybe possibly might be addressed. I can vote Democrat and assume that most of those issues will not be addressed. Or I can vote libertarian and assume that despite a desire to change those issues, they will probably not address any of those issues.

Basically, I have to vote Democrat because they mostly don't harm civil liberties. Really though, "Give me a zero or at most a minimal reduction in civil liberties, or give me death!" is not a great slogan.
posted by HappyEngineer at 2:25 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]


Is anyone else bothered by the "vote Democrat" terminology? Hasn't it always been "vote Democratic?" When did the Democratic Party become the "Democrat" Party? If we are going to say "vote Democrat," then should we also say "vote Republic?"
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:29 PM on August 8


> It's important to identify which particular brand of libertarianism you're attacking.

I'm attacking the one that's likely to get elected, i.e. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. I understand, I sympathize, with people who have intelligent libertarian beliefs and can rightly cry "Those guy are at best a parody of libertarianism and I've got almost no overlap with them." Unfortunately that doesn't matter. They've got millions of dollars behind them, and they've picked up the name.

Do people remember the Supreme Court's Kelo decision? Anyone who's not a lawyer understands it to say that if one private party can make more money off a piece of private property, the government can compel the current owners to sell it to the first party (through condemnation). Libertarians, you've been Keloed. Koch Brothers et. al. have found that they can use Libertarianism to advance their business-over-everything-else program, and so they've bought it out from under you, no matter how much you thought it was yours.
posted by benito.strauss at 3:09 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]


Yeah, you should say "democratic". "Democrat party" is originally an intentional language manipulation from Republicans. It gets said very often and never called out so people just think it's normal. It's kind of like "Ukraine" v. "the Ukraine" which has come up a few times.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:19 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]


Maybe a preview of some upcoming elections?

HuffPo: While her Republican opponent gave a full-throated endorsement for legalizing marijuana, California Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) declined to say whether she supports allowing recreational use of the substance.

Republican Ron Gold, the state's former deputy attorney general, is challenging Harris in her reelection bid this fall. Gold has voiced his support for both medical and recreational marijuana, pointing to the failures of prohibition.

posted by Drinky Die at 4:19 PM on August 8


I've never heard anyone who isn't a Catholic use the term "Natural Law".

I'm pretty sure that I've heard the term tossed around by libertarians too?

Then again, I did spend a year and a half at a Jesuit university (before transferring to a cheaper school), so that might have provided most of the repeated exposure that eventually embedded the term in my brain.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:52 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


I'm not getting why we're focusing on finely-tuned discussions of economic theory when, to my understanding, libertarianism is more about "it should be up to each individual barkeep whether they want to disallow smoking inside the bar, it shouldn't be the mayor's decision" or things like that.

The problem, or at least, what most people see as the problem, is the majority of libertarians also believe it should be up to each individual barkeep what they want to pay the guy sweeping the floor, and that is what most of the left cannot abide.

My husband is an anarcho-syndicalist. He's as lefty as you can get. And he says he agrees with me 95% of the time - but that 5% is a real fucking doozy. And that's what happens with Metafilter. I'd be willing to wager that if we went point by point, a lot of people would be fine with most libertarian points, until it gets to a few big ones, where there is no social welfare state.

I am totally in favor of a basic national income replacing the current welfare system.

I'm okay with this, I suppose, as long as it can be done without mandated taxes and be applied to everyone. Maybe through sale of natural resources or something.
posted by corb at 4:54 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Polling economists seems extremely difficult and prone to sampling errors. Who do you define as an economist and how do you ensure you got a random sample.

IIRC, both surveys were sent to PhD holding members of the American Economics Association. But while they were sent to a random sample of that class, the people who responded (~25% to ~40%) were a self-selected group.

So yeah, sampling errors. Everyone who participated had to both a) bother to join the AEA and b) bother to fill out and return the survey. It's quite possible that different ideological leanings could lead to different participation rates in both.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:56 PM on August 8


Basically, I have to vote Democrat because they mostly don't harm civil liberties.

My dirty little secret is that I voted for Harry Reid for Senate in 2010 (Sharron Angle scared the shit out of me) and vote-swapped my swing-state for Obama for a Democratic MeFite's non-swing-state vote for Gary Johnson in 2012.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:02 PM on August 8


I am totally in favor of a basic national income replacing the current welfare system.

I'm okay with this, I suppose, as long as it can be done without mandated taxes and be applied to everyone. Maybe through sale of natural resources or something.


WELCOME TO GEOLIBERTARIANISM, CORB!!!

Taxes on real estate, natural resource extraction, and pollution, and no taxes on anything else!

We're the up-and-coming wing of the libertarian movement. Why, I think there might even be TENS of us now! :D
posted by Jacqueline at 5:06 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Corb, we should totally hang out while I'm in Seattle next week so I can practice my geolibertarianism hard sell on you! You can be the guinea pig for my plans to gradually convert the rest of the movement to my One True Right sect of libertarianism. :)
posted by Jacqueline at 5:13 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


So yeah, sampling errors. Everyone who participated had to both a) bother to join the AEA and b) bother to fill out and return the survey. It's quite possible that different ideological leanings could lead to different participation rates in both.

I don't think there's a strong argument to be made that the people responding to those surveys are totally random. But you know, basically every survey I've seen from this century indicates that economists are much more likely to vote for Democrats than Republicans. So if the reality is the opposite, the survey bias is awfully consistent and incredibly strong. What's the reason to believe this is the case?

The argument is basically: "Most libertarian intellectuals are economists, and some economists are libertarian intellectuals, so most economists are libertarians." What about all the very prominent economists who are clearly not libertarians? "Sorry, doesn't compute."
posted by leopard at 5:28 PM on August 8


Seven Nobel Laureates Endorse Higher Minimum Wage.
Nobel Prize winners Kenneth Arrow, Peter Diamond, Eric Maskin, Thomas Schelling, Robert Solow, Michael Spence and Joseph Stiglitz were among signatories of the letter
Sounds like a few people need to brush up on Econ 101.
posted by leopard at 5:32 PM on August 8


My argument isn't that economists are Republicans. It is that they tend to be libertarian-leaning. There are libertarian-leaning Democrats as well as libertarian-leaning Republicans.

Based on surveys and anecdata, I suspect that most Democratic economists would qualify as libertarian-leaning Democrats. This is of interest to me because I personally think that libertarian-leaning Democrats are better long-term prospects for co-opting and enacting a Libertarian platform than the libertarian-leaning Republicans are.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:35 PM on August 8


Jacqueline: as libertarian-leaning Democrats

You can call us "liberals." Some of us still like that label despite the decades-long project to turn it into an epithet.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:43 PM on August 8 [7 favorites]


(Well, if you're talking about social liberty, anyway.)
posted by tonycpsu at 6:45 PM on August 8


Oh, and about the only taxing natural resources thing: unless you're trying to discourage specific behaviors, what you're taxing matters a whole lot less than how much you're taxing, and as I've mentioned a few times, you'd have to make it a pretty massive tax to create a national income that people could actually live on. That's not to say it couldn't be done, but when you're eliminating other sources of revenue, the remaining taxes you have are going to be ginormous, even if you do manage to rein in the military-industrial complex, the drug war, and other popular Libertarian bogeymen.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:52 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]


Hi. I am a liberal. When pressed I might argue I am socially liberal but fiscally conservative. What that means though is that socially I am very liberal, while fiscally, I am a minimum income kinda gal. (I like too many other govt regulations, e.g. FDA, OSHA, EPA, and too much govt funding for schools, arts, and science research, to think I could call myself a libertarian, though).

Also in the absence of mincome, I do favor other means to a strong safety net. And I worry that mincome on a country-wide scale might have knock-on economic effects I can't imagine. So I am really only fiscally conservative in that I am less liberal that way than I am about purely social issues.

Anyhow, can we talk about minimum income some more? It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.
posted by nat at 7:04 PM on August 8 [2 favorites]


I don't really see any connection between a minimum income scheme and so-called fiscal conservatism. To me, the benefit of a hypothetical mincome scheme is that it would tone down the paternalism and complexity of our existing programs, but the actual fiscal savings wouldn't be much to write home about unless you made the benefits less generous. If that's what people want to do, they ought to come out and say that, but pretending that switching to mincome would appreciably shrink the budget without also reducing the tangible benefits to recipients doesn't really compute.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:46 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


...as I've mentioned a few times, you'd have to make it a pretty massive tax to create a national income that people could actually live on.

TAX ALL THE POLLUTION!!!!!!!

Seriously, though, I'm totally fine with taxing the shit out of pollution and natural resource extraction. Less so on real estate -- perhaps a progressive property tax where owning a house-sized amount isn't that expensive but as you approach Brazilian levels of concentration of ownership of land the taxes get more and more redonkulously prohibitive?
posted by Jacqueline at 8:20 PM on August 8


the actual fiscal savings wouldn't be much to write home about unless you made the benefits less generous

Yeah, similar to nat there I do get a warm fuzzy feeling thinking about a minimum income, but then I think about the concept of bait-and-switch and I get worried about the idiocy that may happen if the Republicans retake the Senate.
posted by tivalasvegas at 8:21 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Based on surveys and anecdata, I suspect that most Democratic economists would qualify as libertarian-leaning Democrats

I think you'd actually find that most are closer the Keynesian worldview than a libertarian. Paul Kugman springs to mind as a significant example. Government regulation of markets and interventions to address short term dislocations.
posted by humanfont at 8:34 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]


I don't really see any connection between a minimum income scheme and so-called fiscal conservatism. To me, the benefit of a hypothetical mincome scheme is that it would tone down the paternalism and complexity of our existing programs, but the actual fiscal savings wouldn't be much to write home about unless you made the benefits less generous.

I think there is an assumption that all welfare programs are full of trillions of dollars in fraud. I obviously think the fraud and administrative costs are vastly overestimated by the right, but if it means they will sign on to a basic national income I'm not gonna trumpet that point. :P
posted by Drinky Die at 9:01 PM on August 8 [1 favorite]


I think you'd actually find that most are closer the Keynesian worldview than a libertarian.

Yeah, I think most Democrats believe we should stick with mainstream economic theory as taught by the most respected minds in the field, tuning it to improve wealth distribution and other goals set by the executive and congressional branches., and are skeptical that some sort of fringe alternative economic / social system like libertarian anarchism would work out too well.

Though even the best economic theory may be only slightly less bogus than evolutionary psychology, you have to go with the best data and analysis available. The number one goal is simply to prevent catastrophe.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:47 PM on August 8


Of course the liberal argument for direct cash transfers is not that its leaner and saves money on the budget, its that it helps people more. Incidentally, that's not a conclusion one hears often in libertarian arguments.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:06 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


I claim to be liberal and from a generation of observation I don't support cash payments for welfare. It raises the demand for drugs and extortion by others. It also limits their benefits to election winds, year by year, which are tuned to the abuse issue. Politically, it looks like people are paid to quit working, regardless of the realities, and loses elections. And there are so many other ways, even some that would foster better nutrition.

As for the libertarian moment, it was over when the internet went from freely posting resumes, to trying to scrub all references to our birthdays and addresses to prevent identity theft. We're just dealing with the Koch brothers and billions in shadow funding.
posted by Brian B. at 8:10 AM on August 9


I claim to be liberal and from a generation of observation

I prefer social science research but to each his/her own.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:30 AM on August 9 [3 favorites]


Brian B.: It raises the demand for drugs and extortion by others.

[citation needed]

It also limits their benefits to election winds, year by year, which are tuned to the abuse issue.

There's some truth to this, but our existing programs are also limited to the election winds. Is it harder to change ten programs rather than one? Yes, but that cuts both ways, as it's easier to make the "WasteFraudNAbuse" argument when there's a patchwork of ten programs, each with their own complicated regulations. I am absolutely aware that the first thing the GOP would do if we had a minimum income would be to push that minimum income down to zero, but at least we'd be having an honest, open debate about the size of the benefit instead of having it obscured by the complexity. That complexity helps out conservatives a lot more than it does liberals.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm not yet willing to gamble on the American people to be able to support the benefit being generous enough, but if the Republicans are going to storm the gates anyway, I'd rather they were doing it in broad daylight instead of selling it as "reform."
posted by tonycpsu at 8:40 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


[citation needed]

We're beyond that politically. The reality is that public demand for welfare drug testing is going strong, which supporters claim is successful, never mind the long lost elections. Also, Republicans cite studies in their campaigns which go unrefuted, so I would suggest someone shows that drug use goes down on direct payments, since we're much farther away from those payments without first establishing Orwellian drug testing.
posted by Brian B. at 9:49 AM on August 9


Brian B.: which supporters claim is successful.

Actually, Rick Scott has been losing that battle in Florida. He's still trying, and there are efforts going on elsewhere, but the statistics of Florida's experiment were pretty clear that welfare recipients use drugs less than the overall population, so I really don't think that's going anywhere.

I really don't think your assertion that providing in-kind benefits in lieu of cash prevents drug use has any merit to it.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:04 AM on August 9 [5 favorites]


politically, it looks like people are paid to quit working

The practical problem related to that is how to structure the transition between receiving subsidized income and not doing so. Given our track record, we tend to set up systems with perverse incentives near the transition points.

The alternative which solves these particular problems is a basic income scheme rather than a minimum income. It works the same, but removes the means testing- everyone gets it, regardless of their existing income.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:05 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


I really don't think your assertion that providing in-kind benefits in lieu of cash prevents drug use has any merit to it.

I've read others also claim that welfare issues have nothing to do with losing elections too. That's the benefit of living through it, because it was a PR disaster, not a factual error in judgment.

Welfare drug testing by state.
posted by Brian B. at 10:14 AM on August 9


Brian B.: I've read others also claim that welfare issues have nothing to do with losing elections too.

That's... not at all what I'm saying. My claim is that they attack the current mix of programs, and they'll attack minimum income, facts be damned. The difference is that it's easier to defend programs that are simpler, and minimum income, for all its problems, is much simpler. The drug testing thing is a total distraction, and isn't working out how the wingnuts wanted it to, anyway.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:23 AM on August 9 [2 favorites]


The drug testing thing is a total distraction,

I think it's a failure, because anyone who knows they are going to be tested, and has some minimal control over their drug use, is going to avoid or pass the test. The point is that it's not a reliable statistic to opponents as much as payouts are concerned. Having an entire case closed because it was all cash based, versus keeping the housing, food stamps, medicaid, free training and counseling in another case because it can't be used immediately for drugs, is worth preserving. I note that simple is a political strategy for ending something too. Also, earned income credit has long been attacked, and noted for lacking a bureau to defend itself.
posted by Brian B. at 10:34 AM on August 9


This is why we should just give people cash, contingent only on their need and not on their behavior.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:38 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]


I think all payment should come in the form of food stamps or similar forms of psuedocurrency. I mean, so you got a job at Burger King, that doesn't mean you don't use drugs. I don't want to make it any easier for you to get high just because you managed to get a job. Same with lawyers and executives. It's almost a perverse incentive to not work if working gives you all this cash that makes it more likely you become a drug addict.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:49 AM on August 9 [4 favorites]


I think all payment should come in the form of food stamps or similar forms of psuedocurrency.

Assistance credits on a digital card is a sound idea, because it requires an account to process them, like food stamps, including food stamps The abuse would be minimal compared to cash and it would augment a minimum wage for Burger King employees with least drug testing demand. I fully realize you are mocking it without consideration, but it works. Furthermore, the merchant accounts could be expanded to anything that benefits health and productivity, like pharmacies, gyms or hardware stores.
posted by Brian B. at 11:58 AM on August 9


The paternalistic/nanny state tendencies of liberals is why I'm always going to have half a foot in the libertarian camp and never be a true Democrat.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:05 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


The paternalistic/nanny state tendencies of liberals is why I'm always going to have half a foot in the libertarian camp and never be a true Democrat.

Idealist/romantic notions of self-sufficiency in nature are a myth. The reality is that economic output is enhanced by raising economic demand among subsidized low paid workers and unemployed, not by third-world trickle down (or Walmart's supply-side method of cheap Chinese imports and low pay).
posted by Brian B. at 12:15 PM on August 9


The Reality is, Brian B., direct cash transfers with no restrictions works much better (in terms of outcome and efficiency) than any of the alternatives.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:04 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


And to call that idealist is silly, when there is a mountain of evidence of its efficacy.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:04 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Trickle down economics has nothing to do with the idea that the government has to be a nanny for poor people or they will spend all their money on drugs.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:29 PM on August 9


I don't see the paternalism as coming from a liberal ideology, but rather, as an attempt to assuage Republicans who don't want to fund the programs to begin with, but can be brought on board as long as it's more difficult to get benefits, or if they can perpetuate the myth of rampant fraud.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:45 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


And to call that idealist is silly, when there is a mountain of evidence of its efficacy.

I never called cash idealistic, my response was clearly to specific criticism about paternalism as it relates to self-sufficiency. And, efficiency is reducing fraud in this case, and cash is least efficient for a lot of reasons. Technically, if you buy a vacation with welfare, it would be considered fraud. Eliminating the concept doesn't make it efficient.

Trickle down economics has nothing to do with the idea that the government has to be a nanny for poor people or they will spend all their money on drugs.

Trickle down economics isn't acknowledged to exist outside of supply-side criticism, as a stealth economics; it is universally disavowed for good reason, because it is a failed idea.
posted by Brian B. at 1:47 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


We are talking past each other so let me be clear: I don't believe in trickle down economics and it doesn't relate to the issues I have with drug testing benefit recipients.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:50 PM on August 9


Efficiency is reducing fraud in this case

That's an odd and frankly wrong definition of efficiency, since you are only looking at the benefit (reducing fraud) and not looking at the cost (the massive bureaucracy and administration used to detect and stop fraud)
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:51 PM on August 9


I don't see the paternalism as coming from a liberal ideology

There's plenty of it from liberals if not from liberal ideology itself. You get to see it anytime there's a thread here about the life of the poor(-ish); so many people (probably including me at least once) explaining why this person on SNAP is somewhere between stupid and wrong and bad for buying a chicken or an organic tomato or frozen dinners to take to work for lunch.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:03 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


That's an odd and frankly wrong definition of efficiency, since you are only looking at the benefit (reducing fraud) and not looking at the cost (the massive bureaucracy and administration used to detect and stop fraud)

By your outline, reducing one is reducing the need for the other. I stand by the digital card method. Two-factor oversight by the agency is best, both qualifying the buyers and sellers of benefit goods and services (and I note that the easiest method of reducing oversight is to trust everyone without question, which your argument supports).
posted by Brian B. at 2:10 PM on August 9


explaining why this person on SNAP is somewhere between stupid and wrong and bad for buying a chicken or an organic tomato or frozen dinners to take to work for lunch.

Yeah! It's almost as annoying as when those damned liberals try to make sure people can't get abortions, or marry somebody of the 'wrong' gender, or end up on the 'wrong' side of the border, or do drugs that aren't alcohol, or find out what chemicals the petroleum extraction industries are allowing to leach into their drinking water. Eat more vegetables, indeed! So much paternalism!
posted by hap_hazard at 2:15 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


Yup. So lets say you have 10 dollars and want to help someone. You could spend all that 10 dollars by gifting all of it. The person in need of help gets 10 bucks. Or, you could spend half of that money making making sure the person you are going to give it to spends it in a somewhat arbitrary way that you approve of. So, lets say the cost of ensuring that it gets spent the way you want is 3$. Now, You spend 10, 3 goes to 'reducing fraud', and $7 goes to the person who needs it. Now you feel good, the person you needs the money feels less good than they would if they had 10 dollars instead of 7, and moreover, they have to go through more hoops to get the money and have less autonomy.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:20 PM on August 9


Yeah! It's almost as annoying as when those damned liberals try to make sure people can't get abortions, or marry somebody of the 'wrong' gender, or end up on the 'wrong' side of the border, or do drugs that aren't alcohol, or find out what chemicals the petroleum extraction industries are allowing to leach into their drinking water. Eat more vegetables, indeed! So much paternalism!

The Democrats have been big time drug warriors for decades. Their President was against gay marriage until his most recent election.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:25 PM on August 9


Yup. So lets say you have 10 dollars and want to help someone. You could spend all that 10 dollars by gifting all of it. The person in need of help gets 10 bucks. Or, you could spend half of that money making making sure the person you are going to give it to spends it in a somewhat arbitrary way that you approve of. So, lets say the cost of ensuring that it gets spent the way you want is 3$. Now, You spend 10, 3 goes to 'reducing fraud', and $7 goes to the person who needs it. Now you feel good, the person you needs the money feels less good than they would if they had 10 dollars instead of 7, and moreover, they have to go through more hoops to get the money and have less autonomy.

So you don't screen for fraud and call it efficient. Thought so. End of story (and your benefits program).
posted by Brian B. at 2:25 PM on August 9


The Democrats have been big time drug warriors for decades. Their President was against gay marriage until his most recent election.

You have effectively made your case that both sides are equally bad. Google Ron Paul!
posted by hap_hazard at 2:35 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


huh? There's no fraud when people are free to spend the money as they please. Obviously if they pose as someone else or lie about their income that's a different story.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:44 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


"Which side is worse?" is not the conversation we are having, though it is the conversation Democrats always seem to want to have any time their flaws are discussed.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:44 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


(And that tendency, the two party "You are stuck with us and they are worse!" is again a major reason I keep one foot in the 3rd party camps.)
posted by Drinky Die at 2:46 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


I thought that the drift of the conversation had something to do with whether the social aspects of libertarianism, as opposed to freeing capital from any human restraint, had more in common with Democratic than Republican tendencies. And I was just pointing out that 'eat-your-vegetables' stacked up pretty well in comparison to the stuff that originates on the other side of the aisle.

But then again, we are talking about libertarianism, so you're right, actual american politics aren't nearly as important as anyone's individual political philosophy. That's why I'm a Yippie, because there aren't any of them left, so it means whatever I say it does! Google Ron Paul Pigasus!
posted by hap_hazard at 2:51 PM on August 9


I see where you are coming from, and I would agree that social libertarianism is closer to Democratic positions than Republican. That was not the angle from which I was approaching the conversation.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:57 PM on August 9


At the risk of being tarred with "No True Scotsman" allegations, I did say "liberal ideology." Like I said, Democrats did definitely support paternalistic features in safety net programs, but usually did so to get conservadems and Republicans on board. My point was that the paternalism is more about blaming beneficiaries than helping them, which comes from the conservative impulse to keep taxes low.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:00 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


The Existential Battle for the Soul of the GOP - "What happens when extremism becomes mainstream?"
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:08 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Liberals didnt make the nanny state, Republicans did. Republicans make you carry ID to vote. Republican turned Independent mayor Bloomberg wanted to limit your soda size. Republicans want the churches and state to make health care policy and dictate reproductive choices and end of life decisions. Republicans in Florida pushed for drug testing before one could get food assistance. A Republican President created the myth of the undeserving welfare queen. This myth was used to push all sorts of new regulations on assistance to the poor. Paul Ryan, alleged libertarian Republican has proposed that all welfare recipients be required to develop and submit a detailed life plan before they get benefits and they should be assigned a life coach.
posted by humanfont at 4:11 PM on August 9 [5 favorites]


Full throated, decades long support for the drug war. Bill Clinton singing DOMA. Senate democrats rubber stamping the Iraq invasion. Democrats falling all over themselves to vote for an anti-gay marriage President in 2008. And yes, I do remember the brigade of Metafilter liberals arguing in favor of the obviously idiotic soda bans that no Republican other than a big city Republican would offer.

I really don't care that the other side is worse and pure evil and whatever, you still have to stand up and take responsibility for the positions of the party even if some voters might not like it.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:46 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Was there *any* party advocating full marriage equality when Clinton signed DOMA? Even in 2008, was there a third party with marriage equality as a plank? I'm sure it wasn't the Libertarians, but maybe the Greens? Genuine question. If the Dems are so bad on gay rights issues, then who's better?
posted by chrchr at 5:40 PM on August 9


Was there *any* party

It's a two party system, let's not pretend it matters if it doesn't find a lot of positions. Bernie Sanders knew DOMA was wrong and voted against it, without needing another decade+ for evolution.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:53 PM on August 9


Paul Krugman: Libertarian Fantasies
But there’s what I would consider an even bigger problem: when it comes to substance, libertarians are living in a fantasy world. Often that’s quite literally true: Paul Ryan thinks that we’re living in an Ayn Rand novel. More to the point, however, the libertarian vision of the society we actually have bears little resemblance to reality.

Mike Konczal takes on a specific example: the currently trendy idea among libertarians that we can make things much better by replacing the welfare state with a basic guaranteed income. As Mike says, this notion rests on the belief that the welfare state is a crazily complicated mess of inefficient programs, and that simplification would save enough money to pay for universal grants that are neither means-tested nor conditional on misfortune. But the reality is nothing like that. The great bulk of welfare-state spending comes from a handful of major programs, and these programs are fairly efficient, with low administrative costs.

Actually, the cost of bureaucracy is in general vastly overestimated. Compensation of workers accounts for only around 6 percent of non defense federal spending, and only a fraction of that compensation goes to people you could reasonably call bureaucrats.

posted by tonycpsu at 6:26 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


You're right both parties are the same. Ted Cruise throwing a tantrum on the floor of the US Senate is totally like that time toddler Obama screamed about nap time back in Hawaii 1964. Fucking no choices in this two party system.
posted by humanfont at 6:45 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


You're right both parties are the same

/jerk off motion
posted by Drinky Die at 6:50 PM on August 9


You might say that about much of this late conversation here. What on earth is your point? We were talking about libertarianism, whether it's having a 'moment'. You told us that because the Democrats' policies aren't entirely to your liking, you 'have a foot in the libertarian camp.'

What does that even mean? Libertarian candidates for major american political office seem to be unelectable- people don't like the platform, the candidates, whatever. So what we see of Libertarianism these days is Koch-brothers-underwritten 'government is bad'-ism which I covered way upthread. Oh and shining stars like Rand Paul (R, Galt Gulch) whose commitment to 'liberty' leads him to question whether the Civil Rights Act wasn't just too darned paternalistic and nanny-statist.

So... your point is that, since Democrats=bad, and Republicans=also bad... we should all 3rd-party like it's 1999? Seriously, what point are you making here?
posted by hap_hazard at 7:30 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


As Mike says, this notion rests on the belief that the welfare state is a crazily complicated mess of inefficient programs, and that simplification would save enough money to pay for universal grants that are neither means-tested nor conditional on misfortune.

Well, if you don't means test then it should have more popular support.
posted by empath at 7:36 PM on August 9


H_H, you are on some crusade I'm not actually interested in participating in, so whatever.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:39 PM on August 9


A jerk off motion is a perfect encapsulation of Libertarian philosophy and political activity.
posted by humanfont at 7:40 PM on August 9


and, apparently, Drinky Die's participation in this thread.
posted by hap_hazard at 7:41 PM on August 9


I backed up to the beginning of this sub-thread, with Drinky Die's comment up here, and I see no reason to dispute the implicit claim, leaving aside procedural concerns such as those raised by tonycpsu about getting a bill through the House and the Senate, that there are many Democrats who would support drug tests for welfare recipients, restrictions on what welfare can pay for, etc. Such policy can be fairly described as paternalistic. The Democratic Party has historically supported paternalistic policy on a number of issues.

Much of the Republican Party's policy is also paternalistic. To be clear, I think the policy advocated by Republicans is much, much worse than the policy advocated by Democrats. But that doesn't mean the policy advocated by Democrats is flawless. What happened, that Drinky Die's comment caused such consternation? Was it the equivocation between "liberals" and Democrats, or what?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:58 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Was it the equivocation between "liberals" and Democrats, or what?

What? Are you suggesting Dems have a problem with being equivocated with liberals? Who thinks 'liberal' is an offensive term and why would it be?
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:31 PM on August 9


Rustic Etruscan: Was it the equivocation between "liberals" and Democrats, or what?

I do think there was some (probably unintentional) fast-and-loose play with the ideological/party descriptions there. I also agree with hap_hazard that, while it's okay to point the finger at specific Democrats when they do bad shit, it's absolutely the case that, even though they have to placate the conservadems, the Democrats usually end up on the correct side of an issue before the Republicans do.

Even on the issues DD cited, Republicans as a group have been no better, and have usually been much worse. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Democrats were mostly trying to be Republican Lite, and they ought to be chastised for that, but I think DD went farther than that to blame the paternalism problems on liberalism generally, and I thought that was unfair.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:41 PM on August 9


[the Democratic Party campaigns on a platform of sending America to Hell] but the Republicans want to have Satan personally gnaw each individual American eternally in unlife, so
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:10 PM on August 9


What? Are you suggesting Dems have a problem with being equivocated with liberals? Who thinks 'liberal' is an offensive term and why would it be?

No, I'm suggesting that freely using "liberal" to mean "Democrat" and vice versa can cause headaches pretty quickly. I don't think Democrats have a problem being called liberals. I don't think "liberal" and "Democrat" are offensive terms.

but I think DD went farther than that to blame the paternalism problems on liberalism generally, and I thought that was unfair.

I think it's fair to describe both parties as having paternalistic policies, and I think it's fair to say the Republicans have more paternalistic policies, but I understand where you're coming from.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:20 PM on August 9


Rustic Etruscan: I think it's fair to describe both parties as having paternalistic policies, and I think it's fair to say the Republicans have more paternalistic policies, but I understand where you're coming from.

Yeah. It's no fun extolling the virtues of "lesser of two evils" voting, but sadly it's necessary, because people do forget that one side actually is better, even if it's a rounding error better on some issues.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:24 PM on August 9


Honeslty I don't understand how anyone can vote third party in a contested state during a presidential election after that practice helped Bush become president. How much more damage would you have to cause before you modify your behavior?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:43 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


> Even in 2008, was there a third party with marriage equality as a plank? I'm sure it wasn't the Libertarians, but maybe the Greens? Genuine question. If the Dems are so bad on gay rights issues, then who's better?

I don't know what counts as a plank, but it seems like Democrats, Libertarians, and Greens are all for gay marriage in their 2008 statements. A quick search led me to:

Democrats (PDF link):
We support the full inclusion of all families, including same-sex couples, in the life of our nation, and support equal responsibility, benefits, and protections. We will enact a comprehensive bipartisan employment non-discrimination act. We oppose the Defense of Marriage Act and all attempts to use this issue to divide us.
Libertarians (PDF link):
Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the rights of individuals by government, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws.
Greens (PDF link):
We support equal rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation, to housing, jobs, civil marriage, medical benefits, child custody, and in all areas of activity enjoyed by all citizens.
Of course actually living up to those statements is another matter.
posted by Monochrome at 6:01 PM on August 10 [4 favorites]


The 2008 Libertarian nominee was Bob Barr a former Georgia congressman who lead the impeachment against Bill Clinton. His other legislative acomplishment was a bill called the Defense of Marraige Act which he authored and pushed through in 1996.
posted by humanfont at 9:03 PM on August 10 [8 favorites]


If Only There Were Some Libertarians Around, to Have a Moment or Something
...in which the lead news item was "Iraq Airstrikes May Continue for Months, Obama Says." That news would seem to offer an excellent opportunity for a movement devoted to small government and a resistance to interventionism, right? So I'm sure Rand Paul, the fervent peacenik, has already stepped up and made himself an anti-war leader -- right? Especially when Hillary Clinton, the Democrat against whom Paul will probably run if he wins the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, is positioning herself to President Obama's right, blaming the rise of ISIS on America's failure to intervene more forcefully in Syria. Perfect opportunity for libertarians to assert themselves -- right?

Well, no. Senator Paul has been attacking Hillary Clinton, but he can't seem to figure out whether he's angry at her from the left or from the right.
...
Hey, kids -- there's the guy who's supposed to lead your new peace movement! He sounds pretty much like a Republican! Excited?

I also came back to a city that's still feeling tension because police killed an unarmed black man on Staten Island last month by putting him in a chokehold. Eric Garner, overweight and asthmatic, was the focus of the cops' attention because the city is cracking down on people selling loose cigarettes.

Selling loose cigarettes? What could be more of a libertarian issue?
...
There you have it -- the libbies celebrate a guy who, long ago, sold hooch in defiance of government regulation, but here's a guy killed by the cops for selling unlicensed smokes and they have no interest whatsoever.

Why isn't Rand Paul standing shoulder to shoulder with Al Sharpton in protests of Garner's death? For that matter, why isn't Nick Gillespie there in his damn leather jacket? Libertarians can talk all they want in the abstract about black incarceration rates, and it's sweet of Senator Paul to bring that issue up in front of white crowds. But here's a flesh-and-blood black man who's dead because of law-and-order excesses -- and dead because of alleged entrepreneurialism -- and the libbies are nowhere to be found. They're invisible as they've been invisible throughout the fight over stop-and-frisk (the cops who stop and frisk are looking for guns, so you'd think the libbies would be all over that).
posted by tonycpsu at 7:30 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Well, Ron Paul did in fact endorse rabid theocrat and moral majoritarian Chuck Baldwin, passing over the libertarian candidate no less. It's hard to believe anyone is fooled by the Pauls.
posted by Brian B. at 7:41 AM on August 11


Brian B.: It's hard to believe anyone is fooled by the Pauls.

GOOGLE RON PAUL BROGRESSIVE
posted by tonycpsu at 7:47 AM on August 11 [3 favorites]


I googled it, and I knew that Rand Paul was anti-abortion and wanted to dismantle environmental regulations (because animals want to be free?) but genetic testing? What a fraud. It's the shrewdest political strategy going: label yourself the opposite of your platform to confuse them into believing.
posted by Brian B. at 7:55 AM on August 11


I don't really see any connection between a minimum income scheme and so-called fiscal conservatism. To me, the benefit of a hypothetical mincome scheme is that it would tone down the paternalism and complexity of our existing programs, but the actual fiscal savings wouldn't be much to write home about unless you made the benefits less generous.

The benefits of a minimum income scheme are that they apply to everyone - so it's not that you're advantaging Joe Needy to put him on the same level as Jim Working Class who has worked all his life, but rather, that Joe Needy and Jim Working Class both receive the exact same amount of income. It's about fairness, primarily - and I recognize that that is a loaded word that liberals disagree on, so I'll say that for conservatives, fairness is generally more evenhanded - lifting everyone the same amount rather than lifting everyone to the same level.

I also don't think the minimum income, if implemented, would need to actually be a living wage - I think it would need to just be "Income in / adult Americans." So yes, for some people, the benefits would be less immediately generous, though over their lifetime, perhaps greater. It would also thus limit the impact/attraction of people dropping out of the economy to live on their minimum income stipend.
posted by corb at 8:22 AM on August 11


They're invisible as they've been invisible throughout the fight over stop-and-frisk (the cops who stop and frisk are looking for guns, so you'd think the libbies would be all over that

Also man, the libertarians have been anything but invisible through the fight on stop-and-frisk! I know, because I was there! But they're there as individuals, not carrying signs.
posted by corb at 8:24 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


corb: The benefits of a minimum income scheme are that they apply to everyone

You're conflating GMI (guaranteed minimum income) with UBI (universal basic income.) UBI is a subset of all GMI proposals. You may favor giving it to everyone, but that doesn't mean your definition is the correct one.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:29 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Sorry, thanks, that's an interesting difference. I support universal basic income then (funded through those sources), not any other kind.
posted by corb at 8:49 AM on August 11


It would also thus limit the impact/attraction of people dropping out of the economy to live on their minimum income stipend.

aka, retirees.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:10 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


"Why the 'Libertarian Moment' Isn't Really Happening" (David Frum)
posted by box at 12:45 PM on August 11 [2 favorites]


corb: funded through those sources

What sources?
posted by tonycpsu at 12:50 PM on August 11


Frum really missed out on a chance to connect with the Youths of Today when he neglected to include this GIF somewhere in his article.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:15 PM on August 11 [6 favorites]


If Eric Garner had been white and driving an Uber then Rand Paul and the entire GOP libertarian group would be marching in the streets blaming socialists like DeBlasio and Obama.
posted by humanfont at 5:21 PM on August 11


Was there *any* party advocating full marriage equality when Clinton signed DOMA? Even in 2008, was there a third party with marriage equality as a plank? I'm sure it wasn't the Libertarians

The Libertarian Party has been for marriage equality as part of our platform since the party's founding in 1971.

The 2008 Libertarian nominee was Bob Barr a former Georgia congressman who lead the impeachment against Bill Clinton. His other legislative acomplishment was a bill called the Defense of Marraige Act which he authored and pushed through in 1996.

I'm not a fan of Bob Barr and didn't support his nomination, but it should be noted that he has since repudiated DOMA, most likely due to the influence his Libertarian friends have had on him over the years: No defending the Defense of Marriage Act by Bob Barr

(It's somewhat impressive that he was able to come around to our side for a while even after we deliberately targeted him for defeat in his 2002 primary.)
posted by Jacqueline at 5:42 PM on August 11 [3 favorites]


There's a lot of good stuff in that 1970 platform, if you can come to terms with the originally and still crazy economics part.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:02 PM on August 11


Ed Kilgore: The So-Called 'Libertarian Moment' Is Engineered By The Christian Right
What a lot of those who instinctively think of conservative Christians as hostile to libertarian ideas of strict government persistently miss is that divinizing untrammeled capitalism has been a growing habit on the Christian Right for decades. Perhaps more importantly, the idea of the “secular-socialist government” being an oppressor of religious liberty, whether it’s by maintaining public schools that teach “relativism” and evolution, or by enforcing the “Holocaust” of legalized abortion, or by insisting on anti-discrimination rules that discomfit “Christian businesses,” has made Christian conservatives highly prone to, and actually a major participant in, the anti-government rhetoric of the Tea Party. Beyond that, the essential tea party view of America as “exceptional” in eschewing the bad political habits of the rest of the world is highly congruent with, and actually owes a lot to, the old Protestant notion of the United States as a global Redeemer Nation and a “shining city on a hill.”

So perhaps the question we should be asking is not whether the Christian Right and other “traditional” conservatives can accept a Rand Paul-led “libertarian” takeover of the conservative movement and the GOP, but whether “libertarians” are an independent factor in conservative politics to begin with. After all, most of the Republican politicians we think of as “libertarian”--whether it’s Rand Paul or Justin Amash or Mike Lee--are also paid-up culture-war opponents of legalized abortion, Common Core, and other heathenish practices. As Heather Digby Parton noted tartly earlier this week:
[T]he line between theocrats and libertarian Republicans is very, very faint. Why do you think they've bastardized the concept of "Religious Liberty" to mean the right to inflict your religion on others? It appeals to people who fashion themselves as libertarians but really only care about their taxes, guns and weed. Those are the non-negotiable items. Everything else is on offer.

And then there’s the well-known but under-reported long-term relationship of Ron and Rand Paul with the openly theocratic U.S. Constitution Party, a Con-Con inspirational font that no Republican politician is likely to embrace these days.
The more you examine the evidence, the more it seems plain that the “libertarian moment” in the GOP, even it’s real, and even if it’s advanced by Rand Paul as a presidential candidate, isn’t necessarily of a nature that’s going to be wildly popular among secular-trending millennials — or among Draper’s hipsters. To the extent it has a mass base, it’s likely as much or more among conservative Christian soldiers who despise government so long as they don’t control it as among dope-smoking free-loving free-thinking anti-interventionist Reason readers. So the latter might want to think twice before climbing onto the Rand Paul for President bus, or consigning their fate to Republican politics.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:51 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


How Libertarians Snookered The New York Times Magazine
Draper's analysis hinges on the premise that young voters harbor "libertarian leanings." He offers two data points to support this, both fallacious. The first is that "fully half of voters between ages 18 and 29 are unwedded to either party." There has been a long-term generational rise in people describing themselves in polls as independents rather than as Democrats or Republicans. But this has not caused more actual independent voting. Indeed, the rise of independent identifiers has coincided with rising polarization and a decline in swing voting. Both experimental evidence and actual voting behavior show that the majority of self-identified "independents" support one party or the other as reflexively as self-identified partisans.

When I pointed out this phenomenon, which is by now well known among political professionals, Draper merely shrugged it off in a way ("point was, they don't consider themselves D's") that misses the point. What young voters "consider" themselves doesn't matter. What matters is how they vote.
...
Draper’s story presents the self-presentation of such figures as Nick Gillespie, Rand Paul, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and other libertarians almost entirely at face value. That’s his judgment call to make. But the glue that holds the story together is the factual claim that younger voters lean libertarian. That claim is simply false.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:31 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


Why aren’t libertarians talking about Ferguson?
Senator Rand Paul, right now America’s most prominent libertarian (yes, I know, some don’t consider him a real libertarian), hasn’t said anything about the case — no public comments, no news releases, nothing on Twitter, nothing on Facebook. I contacted his office just to make sure that I hadn’t missed anything, and a press staffer told me they have no statement at this time.
Ron Paul and White Power Groups
posted by Golden Eternity at 7:06 PM on August 13


This is such infuriating shit. Of course libertarians are talking about Ferguson. Every libertarian I know is talking about Ferguson, and none of them give a shit about what Rand Paul says about it. That's what it means to be decentralized.
posted by corb at 8:03 AM on August 14


corb, I would direct you to the FPP content, which is not about whether libertarians are going to be a force in electoral politics, not about whether they exist. Of course they exist, and of course many rank-and-file citizens who describe themselves as libertarian care about Ferguson. But the piece Golden Eternity linked to is about whether libertarian-leaning politicians and media figures are talking about it, and the answer to that question is pretty much "not really."

Justin Amash, mentioned in the piece, did send out a tweet skeptical of the police action yesterday (not sure if that was before or after Waldman's post went up) but, like it or not, Rand Paul is the public face of the Libertarian movement right now, so what he says (and doesn't say) is significant.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:14 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


I understand even FOX news is coming out against the police a little bit now. It will be interesting to see what Rand has to say about it. He must be careful not to alienate the racist segment of his base constituency.
posted by Golden Eternity at 8:27 AM on August 14


I think the problem is that the people they define as the most prominent libertarians are simply the most libertarian politicians mainstreamers are familiar with, rather than actually the most prominent libertarians or libertarian groups or projects. Copblock, for example, is all over this. So it's frustrating to have people say "Aha, those guys are ignoring it, LOL, libertarians!" when libertarians are in the middle of arguing what action is needed over the flagrant violation of civil liberties. The most blasé we get is talking about how this is the natural outcome of state-supported policing, but even so, still up in arms.
posted by corb at 9:07 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


How is that any different than what I just said about electoral politics? You're talking about movement libertarians. This thread is talking about libertarians breaking into the mainstream. Complaining that a linked blog post is talking about what mainstream libertarians are saying seems very misguided to me.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:16 AM on August 14 [1 favorite]


Rand Paul: We Must Demilitarize the Police
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:43 AM on August 14 [4 favorites]


Welp, I guess even the mainstreamers are talking about it, so good on them, though I still maintain Rand Paul is not the best libertarian candidate.
posted by corb at 10:17 AM on August 14


A Gentle Introduction to Neoreaction (for Libertarians)
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:27 AM on August 14


So, I still despise Rand Paul, but I'll give him props for the TIME article, and be glad to work with him on this issue. (That's how you do politics, right? Work with people you loathe for a common goal?)
posted by benito.strauss at 10:36 AM on August 14 [2 favorites]


corb, I'm not sure anyone outside of Rand Paul and his immediate family would disagree with you, but how much better are you going to get and still be able to get the requisite buy-in from a major party?
posted by tonycpsu at 11:03 AM on August 14


Ugh, yeah, you're even right. I'll go a long way for electable opposition to police states.
posted by corb at 11:38 AM on August 14


Millenials In Adulthood
Pew Research Center surveys show that half of Millennials (50%) now describe themselves as political independents and about three-in-ten (29%) say they are not affiliated with any religion. These are at or near the highest levels of political and religious disaffiliation recorded for any generation in the quarter-century that the Pew Research Center has been polling on these topics.

At the same time, however, Millennials stand out for voting heavily Democratic and for liberal views on many political and social issues, ranging from a belief in an activist government to support for same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization. (For more on these views, see Chapters 1 and 2.)
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:37 PM on August 14


'Youngsters Love Rand Paul' Is a Fake Trend
posted by tonycpsu at 8:30 AM on August 22


What, really? A New York Times Magazine article about a new trend is bullshit? I'm shocked.
posted by octothorpe at 8:37 AM on August 22


The young people that support Rand Paul are the same demo as young people that support Republicans anyway -- white, male, affluent, college educated, technical.

However, knowing a bunch of people in that demo who are Ron/Rand Paul supporters, they are otherwise socially liberal and anti-war, and voted for Obama over both Romney and McCain, and tend to split their votes down-ticket. I'd say they are true swing voters, with an outsized influence in the primary season to their size because of enthusiasm, disposable income, technical aptitude and free time.

Which is to say that I think Rand Paul is going to make a huge impact on the GOP primary, but probably won't draw the numbers he needs to win, and those voters may very well not vote for or support the GOP candidate in the general, because they aren't 'party voters', they're ideologues.
posted by empath at 10:18 AM on August 22


I disagree, empath. You may know a bunch of swing-y Paul voters, but he's also tempering his message enough to gain traction with a huge number of traditional party-line conservative types. He'll get Santorum/Huckabee voters because he's pro-life, he'll get Romney/Cain voters because he's against regulation... What segment of the GOP primary electorate won't he get? Christie was probably his toughest opponent and he's leaking oil. Who's going to compete with Paul? Rick Perry? Paul Ryan? I know a lot can happen between now and then, but I think he wins with or without the enthusiastic libertarian base. GOP voters will coalesce around the guy with the momentum.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:12 PM on August 22


The GOP nomination tends to go to the guy with the best pedigree/seniority. They nominate elder statesmen, not young upstarts. Bush II was a notable counter-example, but that was more of a dynastic choice.

It's a relatively open field, but I still feel like Christie is going to win short of a dead girl/live boy situation (and the bridge thing is not it).
posted by empath at 1:22 PM on August 22


Er, doesn't saying Christie will win contradict your "elder statesmen" statement? Dude's barely over 50, and had held no prominent elected office until four years ago.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:37 PM on August 22 [1 favorite]


Scott Walker. I just have a feeling. I think he is more palatable than Paul to non-racists and he showed impressive political skill in eliminating workers' rights to collective bargaining and surviving the recall vote. Christie should be the top candidate but sometimes the East Coast seems not to realize the rest of the country exists.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:00 PM on August 22


Only 11% of Americans describe themselves as Libertarians.
posted by octothorpe at 4:28 AM on August 26


23% identify as liberal, for comparison.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:02 AM on August 26 [1 favorite]


Ed Kilgore: Libertarians Not Really “Libertarians”
Libertarianism is associated with limited government involvement in the social sphere. In this regard, self-described libertarians are somewhat more supportive of legalizing marijuana than the public overall (65% vs. 54%).

But there are only slight differences between libertarians and the public in views of the acceptability of homosexuality. And they are about as likely as others to favor allowing the police “to stop and search anyone who fits the general description of a crime suspect” (42% of libertarians, 41% of the public).

Similarly, self-described libertarians do not differ a great deal from the public in opinions about foreign policy. Libertarianism is generally associated with a less activist foreign policy, yet a greater share of self-described libertarians (43%) than the public (35%) think “it is best for the future of our country to be active in world affairs.”
These findings of the non-particularity of “libertarian” views, mind you, is after Pew has melted the category down from 17% of the public to 11%, since a lot of “libertarians” could not accurately distinguish “libertarian” from “communist” or—get this—“Unitarian.”

In a retroactive defense of their recent decisions to publish a political typology without a “libertarian” category, Pew says it could find no larger than a 5% cluster that sorta kinda adheres to what we’re told “libertarianism” is a about. But even that group’s coherence is shaky.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:47 AM on August 26 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm actually shocked that "liberal" does so well by comparison, given how many people use libertarian as shorthand for "conservative, but not an asshole", and how hard the conservative movement has worked for decades to turn the word "liberal" into an epithet, to the point that "progressive" emerged as shorthand for "liberal, but not a Communist."
posted by tonycpsu at 6:59 AM on August 26 [5 favorites]


Rand Paul has decided that what America needs is another war in the Middle East. So much for libertarian hopes of a less interventionist foreign policy.
posted by humanfont at 6:21 PM on September 3


For The Benefit Of Mr. Paul
posted by homunculus at 11:20 PM on September 6


Libertarianism used to be called apathy, but now it symbolizes a personal freedom from repression, which used to be called sexual frustration.
posted by Brian B. at 12:05 AM on September 7


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