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The Libertarian Democrat
October 2, 2006 10:01 AM   Subscribe

The Libertarian Democrat. Kos makes the case for the Libertarian Democrat for the Cato Institute.
posted by empath (79 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Labels.
posted by wfc123 at 10:08 AM on October 2, 2006


Philosophies.
posted by Richard Daly at 10:12 AM on October 2, 2006


Nouns.
posted by brundlefly at 10:18 AM on October 2, 2006


Metafilter: Labels. Philosophies. Nouns.
posted by Mister_A at 10:19 AM on October 2, 2006


How about Commie Republican? Would that work?
posted by PHINC at 10:25 AM on October 2, 2006


No, that's the same philosophy as the GOP.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:29 AM on October 2, 2006


Yes, we use 'labels', also known as 'words', to refer to ideas. Good job picking up on that.

Is this really that new, though? I've been voting Democratic in nearly every race where no Libertarian is running for the reasons given for years. Had I been a resident of a swing state, I would have vote for Kerry- Libertarians have been pissed at Bush for some time.
posted by spaltavian at 10:32 AM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


rockefeller republican?
posted by geoff. at 10:32 AM on October 2, 2006


So what party are the Shutupicrats leaning towards?
posted by Iridic at 10:36 AM on October 2, 2006


Kos isn't a Libertarian Democrat; there isn't any such thing. Kos is a Social Democrat.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:39 AM on October 2, 2006


One could equally make the argument that there is no such thing as a Libertarian Republican.
posted by empath at 10:45 AM on October 2, 2006


No one said Kos is himself a Libertarian Democrat; but given that parties in the US are big-tent, not ideological, yes there is such a thing as Libertarian Democrat. Ever hear of the Democratic Liberty Caucus?
posted by spaltavian at 10:46 AM on October 2, 2006


Not anymore, anyway.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:47 AM on October 2, 2006


Sorry, that should be Democratic Freedom Caucus. The Republican Liberty Caucus is its counterpart in the GOP.
posted by spaltavian at 10:48 AM on October 2, 2006


I think if there is a distinction between Libertarian Democrat and Social Democrat it's in its approach toward the free market. I would imagine Social Dems would be more inclined to turn to government intervention at any sign of neglect or abuse in its pursuit of reforming capitalism to serve society, while a Libertarian Dem would be more inclined to be wary of regulation and adopt such a position only when absolutely necessary in its belief that, absent abuse, markets will correct themselves.
posted by effwerd at 10:52 AM on October 2, 2006


That was a very unlibertarian article.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:52 AM on October 2, 2006


in its belief that, absent abuse, markets will correct themselves.

absent compelling abuse
posted by effwerd at 10:54 AM on October 2, 2006


Why did he have to spoil what could have been a compelling argument with all the anti-corporation junk?

I've been searching for a way to get my libertarian father to vote Democrat for decades. I don't think I've found my solution here...

Although, "Please don't vote Republican, they're wasting all our money" might work in order to get him to stop voting GOP...
posted by noble_rot at 10:58 AM on October 2, 2006


...a Libertarian Democrat; there isn't any such thing...

There certainly are libertarian left-wing populists, and some of them vote for Democrats. So I have to disagree.

Now, whether or not they can capture, or at least strongly influence, the Democratic party in the future is another issue. They certainly don't now--and if that was your larger point, we are in agreement.
posted by mondo dentro at 10:59 AM on October 2, 2006


Democrats as affirmative libertarianism is a bit hard to swallow, insofar as Kos's major thesis appears to be increased regulation of disfavored property owners (rich people, large corporations, and tacky mass merchants) and it advances, as key controllers of fiscal policy, such staunch backers of self-reliance as Charles Rangel.

On the other hand, Democrats as a means to slap borrow-and-earmark Republicans in the face and thus strike a long-term blow for libertarianism, now that has some appeal. If I had a competive House race to vote in, I'd be tempted so long as my Senate vote could defend good Supreme Court appointees.
posted by MattD at 10:59 AM on October 2, 2006


I think all of the anti-corporation junk is hugely important. Imagine a world where lobbying is illegal at all levels.
posted by sourbrew at 11:00 AM on October 2, 2006



Since "Democrats" on The Hill are 99% moderate Republicans now (serving only the wealthy), we should just call everyone in Congress "Oligarcrats" or "Republigarchies".
posted by wfc123 at 11:09 AM on October 2, 2006


Why did he have to spoil what could have been a compelling argument with all the anti-corporation junk?

all of the anti-corporation junk is hugely important.

this raises an interesting point for me. formally, corporations are chartered legal entities, just like little mini-governments. in some parts of the world, they even employ armies, like conventional governments... so why don't more libertarians see the potential for the abuse of corporate power? seriously. i've always wanted to understand why libertarians seem to trust people scheming together in big business over people scheming together in big government. especially when the schemers in both sectors are increasingly the very same people. i don't mean to derail; just wondering.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:16 AM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


Making people believe that there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans is one of the great triumphs of the Republican majority in its attempt to consolidate power. Spreading that belief does nothing but serve their agenda.
posted by Justinian at 11:17 AM on October 2, 2006


The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that... freedom is gone.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:21 AM on October 2, 2006


formally, corporations are chartered legal entities, just like little mini-governments.
Actually, they are little mini-people (the root word of corporation is corpus, same as corporeal or corpse).
i've always wanted to understand why libertarians seem to trust people scheming together in big business over people scheming together in big government.
Because the state tends to have a monopoly on violence. Therefore the state tends to use violence- express or implied- to get what it wants. Corporations in some parts of the world do tend to employ armies and use violence to get what they want- but in those cases the corporation tends to become the state. This is particularly noticeable in the slave labor factories run by the Chinese army.
posted by jenkinsEar at 11:29 AM on October 2, 2006


Imagine a world where lobbying is illegal at all levels.

I am trying (and failing) to imagine a definition of "lobbying" for which banning lobbying wouldn't also infringe one's freedom of speech.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:37 AM on October 2, 2006


in some parts of the world, they even employ armies, like conventional governments...

Yeah, in some parts of the world.
posted by interrobang at 11:38 AM on October 2, 2006


Andrew Sullivan (conservative albeit gay Republican) agrees.
posted by callmejay at 11:41 AM on October 2, 2006


so why don't more libertarians see the potential for the abuse of corporate power?

Many libertarians believe that government is likelier to reinforce and buttress corporate power than to be a check upon it. If, as you say, government and corporations are scheming together, doesn't it make more sense to restrain the government-- which ostensibly represents us-- rather than corporations?

So many of the anti-corporate left's hobgoblins exist because the government made them strong. Halliburton is the easiest example, and big sugar and big agribusiness are also good examples for what I think are obvious reasons. Sometimes it is subtler. Take the tobacco companies: The states sued them good and hard, and if the tobacco companies misrepresented the dangers of their products, their shareholders deserve to be punished. In a relatively free market, the state would take its pound of flesh, tobacco companies would raise prices, and new entrants (that didn't exist when MO and RJR were lying to their consumers) would be able to operate at a huge cost advantage, driving big tobacco out of business, and bankrupting its shareholders. The tobacco companies, knowing all of this, negotiated the MSA and formed a government-enforced cartel, assuring that (thanks to inelastic demand) almost the entire incidence of taxation and litigation costs would fall upon the consumer, and that no one could undercut their cost structure.

So of course corporations abuse their power, but often it's the state that makes it happen.

Seriously, shit like this happens and you're worried about corporations?
posted by Kwantsar at 11:41 AM on October 2, 2006


Corporations in some parts of the world do tend to employ armies and use violence to get what they want- but in those cases the corporation tends to become the state.

So in other words, corporate entities can (and have) transformed themselves into governmental entities? That makes corporations a lot more like mini-governments than like mini-people in practice, to my mind.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:43 AM on October 2, 2006


Meant to link this.
posted by Kwantsar at 11:43 AM on October 2, 2006


Seriously, shit like this happens and you're not worried about corporations?
posted by saulgoodman at 11:48 AM on October 2, 2006


Andrew Sullivan may be conservative, but I wouldn't consider him a Republican any more. He's been tacking steadily toward the Dems since Abu Graib.
posted by empath at 11:50 AM on October 2, 2006


By linking to that article, aren't you making my point for me?
posted by Kwantsar at 11:50 AM on October 2, 2006


(damn, can't seem to find any animated GIFS of a boot stamping on a human face forever.)
posted by saulgoodman at 11:53 AM on October 2, 2006


How would a Libertarian Democrat compare to a Libertarian Authoritarian?
posted by homunculus at 11:53 AM on October 2, 2006


MattD: Democrats as affirmative libertarianism is a bit hard to swallow...

Justinian: Making people believe that there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans...

I may be wrong, of course, but it seems to me that these comments both are based on an implicit assumption that when someone like Kos says "libertarian" it means the same thing that, say, your stereotypic member of the Libertarian party, or say a Randian Objectivist means. He is not saying that at all. By necessity, whether you agree with him or not, his essay is an attempt to shift the contemporary use of the word.

Historically, there is most certainly a left-libertarian strain of thinking that is quite at odds with much of what is thought of nowadays as "libertarian", as can be seen simply by starting with the Wikipedia entry.

Not being a philosopher, but merely a citizen, I always explain my position simply as follows to those who claim it is "impossible" to be a left libertarian: whereas a right-libertarian is concerned only with excessive concentrations of state power, left-libertarians like me are more generally concerned about concentrations of not only state power, but corporate power as well. Of course, the merger of the two is to be especially feared. Back it up with theocratic tendencies, and you have the frightful specter of potentially powerful tyranny that many of us currently see developing in the US.

Beyond current affairs, though, it is not inherently "anti corporate" or indeed "anticapitalist" to criticize the current personhood-based treatment of large multinational corporations, which gives them rights free of social norms that actual people are subject to and hence makes them "sociopathic". Nor is it anti-corporate to critique their at times pathological functioning as cost externalization engines. The death of the commons is a real problem (e.g., who really pays for pollution?)

Critiquing something is not the same as being "against" it, anymore than critiquing the aerodynamics of a biplane as compared to a jet is being "anti-aviation".
posted by mondo dentro at 11:55 AM on October 2, 2006 [3 favorites]


By necessity, whether you agree with him or not, his essay is an attempt to shift the contemporary use of the word.

First they co-opted "liberal," and now they want to take "libertarian" away, too. What's wrong with "populist," "left," "market socialist," or "progressive?" Are those words now unpalatable?
posted by Kwantsar at 12:04 PM on October 2, 2006


By linking to that article, aren't you making my point for me?

Not sure how you mean. If your point is that fascism arises when business interests abuse the existing mechanisms of governmental power, rather than when corporations or other large non-governmental entities grow too powerful, then I'd say we're splitting hairs. From my point of view, both governments and corporations are just legal systems people use to collaborate on accomplishing specific, common goals. What's risky is letting either get to be too powerful--a lesson our country seemed to have learned during the era of trust-busting, but somehow seems to have forgotten, IMO.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:06 PM on October 2, 2006


on review: what mondo dentro said.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:09 PM on October 2, 2006


Don't forget -- Chomsky is a Libertarian Socialist. (He personally prefers the cognate term Anarcho-Syndicalist.)

I've had fun running that one past people who think that the word came into being with Atlas Shrugged.
posted by dhartung at 12:10 PM on October 2, 2006


then I'd say we're splitting hairs.

I doubt that. The problem is that government is for sale, and your response is "don't let the corporations buy it!" My response is "the government shouldn't be for sale."

And apart from land monopolies (which many regulated utilities are, to some degree), corporate monopolies that don't serve their consumers usually have short lifespans.
posted by Kwantsar at 12:13 PM on October 2, 2006


I doubt that. The problem is that government is for sale, and your response is "don't let the corporations buy it!"

Actually, no. That's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that corporations, by virtue of the fact that they aren't individuals but huge lumbering legal mechanisms made of lots of individuals working together, inherently have a tendency to accumulate power in ways that individuals, acting solely in their own interests cannot. That makes the potential harm a corporation can do to the public interest, in most cases, much greater than the harm any individual acting on their own can do. It also skews the marketplace in favor of corporate entities in all sorts of ways, and it's my belief that one of the core functions of government should be protecting the interests of self-interested private entrepreneurs and citizens--basically, levelling the playing field for the little guys who otherwise don't stand a chance in an economic system dominated by collectives.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:24 PM on October 2, 2006


corporate monopolies that don't serve their consumers usually have short lifespans.

Whose talking about the interests of consumers? I'm talking about the interests of small-scale entrepreneurs and sole-proprietors.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:25 PM on October 2, 2006


First they co-opted "liberal," and now they want to take "libertarian" away, too.

As far as your general discomfort with the semantic game being played, Kwantsar, I feel your pain, BUT...

None of us get to freeze meaning in tight little bundles. Indeed, I'd say a good part of liberty is tied up in the freedom to debate and advocate giving specific meanings to different words (who is a "patriot"? is it a good thing? who is "pro-business"? who cares about "family values"?)

As I tried to indicate in my previous comment, the concept of libertarianism is not as narrowly defined as many (you included?) seem to think it is. There are left-libertarians, who could simply be called "anarchists", except that word has been so successfully demonized that it scares mothers and children to say it.
posted by mondo dentro at 12:28 PM on October 2, 2006


Whose talking about the interests of consumers? I'm talking about the interests of small-scale entrepreneurs and sole-proprietors.

Well, now you've got me flummoxed. It is nothing more than the natural order of things that large businesses can perform certain tasks more efficiently than small businesses can. If you want to regulate externalities like pollution, sure, fine-- but do you otherwise seriously propose that we cripple large businesses (and embrace the higher prices that will result) so that small businesses may prosper?
posted by Kwantsar at 12:38 PM on October 2, 2006


Kwantsar:

...the natural order of things...

Is open to debate. I mean, what if I told you that feudalism is the natural order of things? It has a lot better track record (in terms of historical longevity) than our mixed-economy constitutional republic.

...do you otherwise seriously propose that we cripple large businesses...

I don't mean to answer for the person to whom you are responding, but I'm curious: Do you actually not see the framing in your statement? Or is it that it seems so "right" to you that you can't see it does not need be so?

Libertarianism, as you know, is NOT "everyone gets to do whatever they want no matter what". There are limits having to do with the extent to which my expression of my liberty effects yours. We can agree on that general principle, no?

Well, to the extent that "never crippling a corporation" means it can run rough-shod over my life, hell yes--I do favor "crippling" them. I mean, I do not worship at the altar of efficiency. It's all about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as far as I'm concerned. Any time I'm being asked to sacrifice that for some purported corporate "efficiency", well, I get my back up.
posted by mondo dentro at 1:02 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


It is nothing more than the natural order of things
Lions eating babies is nothing more than the natural order things. The retail industry, for example, is no more or less a part of the natural order than that. Are you suggesting I let lions eat my baby?

but do you otherwise seriously propose that we cripple large businesses... so that small businesses may prosper?

The term "cripple" is a little emotionally loaded, isn't it? Maybe something like "put back in their place" would suit me more.

Obviously, not every market sector would benefit from being scaled down, but many that are currently dominated by corporate entities could stand more small scale growth and devlopment, I think. Because efficiency in itself shouldn't be the goal; economic fascists put efficiency before all other considerations. But quality of life, the health of local communities, and the protection of American ideals like self-sufficiency and self-determination are what matter most, in my view.

A couple of generations ago, most Americans aspired to be their own bosses. It was, for many, the essence of the American dream. Now what do most people expect? A lifetime of credit debt and service to some massive bureacracy that eventually sidesteps even its minimal pension obligations?

Anyway, this is already way off topic, so that's the last I'll say for my part.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:02 PM on October 2, 2006


Are You a Republican?
posted by homunculus at 1:02 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


sheesh, again, on review, what mondo dentro said.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:06 PM on October 2, 2006


..the natural order of things...Is open to debate.

I'm trying to make a point that is fairly benign, I think. One man can make a chair with a jigsaw, sandpaper, and some glue. He performs the accountancy, collections, sales, and promotion. Five men, pooling their resources, can buy a jigsaw, a lathe, and a drill press. Three of them operate the machines, and the other two (who are clumsier) can handle the administrative aspects of the business. Because they can build tools and run larger batches, their machines are idle less often, and their fixed asset turnover is far greater. By virtue of being many, they are able to produce more efficiently. As they accumulate capital, they are able to buy supplies in larger quantities, earning volume discounts and leveraging the cost of delivery over more raw materials.

Now, if you're one of those people who feels that we have enough "stuff," and you resent these economies of scale, then fine-- no one is forcing you to buy a chair. But others, who choose to buy a chair from those five men, reveal their preference and find merit in owning yet another chair.

If you are the solo chair maker, the group of five is not running roughshod over your life. They have simply found a way to build a better mousetrap at a lower price-- if the state chooses to prop up the solo chair maker, it does nearly everyone a disservice.

Of course, this is a simple example, free from the nuances that are present in business, and maybe "the natural order" wasn't the best phrase to use, but in many businesses there are significant returns to scale, and when we strip those we all become poorer.

On preview, saulgoodman, what industries do you think should be "scaled down," and what moral authority do you will you appeal to to "put them in their place?"
posted by Kwantsar at 1:44 PM on October 2, 2006


By virtue of being many, they are able to produce more efficiently.

spoken like a true party member, comrade.

(sigh. it's like trying to describe the color blue to someone who's never seen it.)
posted by saulgoodman at 1:48 PM on October 2, 2006


spoken like a true party member, comrade.

I'm so glad I tried to respond civilly and intelligently.

But your clever rhetoric has convinced me. Yes, yes, yes-- this efficiency is destroying us, and we must do away with those who hope to accomplish more with less! Behold the beauty of waste! Behold the marvel of unnecessary labor! We shall throw the presses in the ocean so that the scribes shall never want for work again! Self-determination for the scribes! Self-sufficiency for all! Return to the farm and learn the art of self-dentistry! Trade is oppression!
posted by Kwantsar at 2:00 PM on October 2, 2006


...you resent these economies of scale...

If you owned a hardware store and some big chain came in and economy-of-scaled you into bankrupcy, you might
"resent" it, eh?
posted by mondo dentro at 2:05 PM on October 2, 2006


Its very simple: all the libertarians ought to get together to descide to vote one way for congres & the other for president. Just all vote the same & you'll seriously hurt big government.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:06 PM on October 2, 2006 [1 favorite]


Sorry Kwantsar, but I meant it. To me a collective is a collective is a collective, and corporations are just as much collectives as phalansteries... But to address your substantive point. You wrote:

I'm trying to make a point that is fairly benign, I think. One man can make a chair with a jigsaw, sandpaper, and some glue. He performs the accountancy, collections, sales, and promotion. Five men, pooling their resources, can buy a jigsaw, a lathe, and a drill press. Three of them operate the machines, and the other two (who are clumsier) can handle the administrative aspects of the business. Because they can build tools and run larger batches, their machines are idle less often, and their fixed asset turnover is far greater. By virtue of being many, they are able to produce more efficiently. As they accumulate capital, they are able to buy supplies in larger quantities, earning volume discounts and leveraging the cost of delivery over more raw materials.

Now here's a slightly different version of the same thing:

I come from a village known for producing elegant, hand-crafted chairs. We have several dozen chair-smiths in the village, each one an acknowledged master in the trade whose handiwork is well-known throughout our region. Each one has been fully trained on both the business and craft of chair-smithing through years of apprenticeship to an acknowledged master chair-smith. The local chair-smiths use a special type of wood unique to our region, and because this particular type of wood enjoys a reputation for durability and beauty, chairs made in our village are sought after by visitors from far and wide. While each chair-smith produces only a relatively small number of high-quality chairs, they easily produce more than enough to meet local demand, and at the same time, the village’s celebrated chair-smiths bring honor and acclaim to the village as a whole.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:18 PM on October 2, 2006


you resent these economies of scale, then fine-- no one is forcing you to buy a chair.

kwantsar: i don't resent them. i just think sole-proprietors and other small business people need to be given a leg-up in order to promote the development of local culture and local control of resources. why is that so controversial a proposition to you? seriously, the abundance of small scale enterprise was taken for granted as critical to the health of a free market economic system back when I took personal entrepreneurship in middle school, for chrissake! now suddenly it's revolutionary talk?
posted by saulgoodman at 2:28 PM on October 2, 2006


the other two (who are clumsier) can handle the administrative aspects of the business.

har, har! you mean the executives? yeah, don't forget to mention that those two clumsy guys get to take home 431 times as much as the three guys who actually make the chairs!
posted by saulgoodman at 2:45 PM on October 2, 2006


I'm an anti-authoritarian democrat, and I do think free markets are a good idea within reason. That said, Kos is definetly not a libertarian anything. He thinks there should be a (mandatory I think) national service for young people, which is about as non-libertarian as you can get.

I don't really like Kos's politics, quite frankly. Other then getting more dems in power.
posted by delmoi at 3:13 PM on October 2, 2006


If you owned a hardware store and some big chain came in and economy-of-scaled you into bankrupcy, you might

So? Why should a small business owner have the right to take money from the pockets of people who would be able to buy stuff cheaper at walmart? That's exactly what they're doing. I don't think we should create market inefficiencies just so people can be happy and convince themselves they're not leaching off society (which they are).

Rather we need an effective social safety net so people don't end up seriously fucked if the market changes and they lose their jobs.
posted by delmoi at 3:17 PM on October 2, 2006


That said, Kos is definetly not a libertarian anything.

Kos is not claiming to be a libertarian, nor has anyone in this thread made the claim that Kos is a libertarian.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:45 PM on October 2, 2006


I don't think we should create market inefficiencies just so people can be happy and convince themselves they're not leaching off society (which they are).

i respectfully submit that these people you would classify as leaching off society are society, and are perfectly within their right to choose to forego a little efficiency now and then if it means having something to live for and be proud of (but again, here's where it gets to be like trying to describe the color blue to someone who's never seen it).

but going a little further, i don't really think you'd have to "create inefficiencies" as you put it in order to give a little more autonomy and control to people at the grass roots level. implicit in your position seems to be the notion that people cooperating as self-determined individuals are necessarily going to carry out their chosen responsibilities less efficiently. I don't share that view. in fact, i think exactly the opposite outcome would obtain. more ownership all around would enhance personal productivity and ultimately encourage greater efficiency in the marketplace (not to mention allowing more of the population to develop beyond the kind of mere economic parasitism that the power imbalances inherent in the current corporate dominated system helps to reinforce). plus, you wouldn't end up with bottlenecks of capital, as in the case of the two clumsy guys on administrative duty who collect 413 times the wages of the skilled line worker (not to mention the trust-fund baby major shareholder who collects and squanders untold millions of otherwise useful capital). IMHO.
posted by saulgoodman at 3:51 PM on October 2, 2006


Picking Sides: How to determine your political party.
posted by Nquire at 4:06 PM on October 2, 2006


Kos is not claiming to be a libertarian
No, Kos was campaigning, bless his heart.
posted by DenOfSizer at 4:11 PM on October 2, 2006


I feel nothing for Kos. Screw him.
posted by aerotive at 4:20 PM on October 2, 2006


^ funny thing, kos's gutcall about the mercenaries tooling around Iraq in early 2004 was spot-on. Being ex-military and a refugee from Central America, he knew of what he spoke.

The people slagging on kos for this particular statement are the ones with their heads up their asses (for this, and a list longer than my arm of other instances dumbass demogoguery and wordgames (eg. 'objectively pro-Saddam')).
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 4:30 PM on October 2, 2006


delmoi had these things to say:

So? Why should a small business owner have the right to take money from the pockets of people...

I don't think we should create market inefficiencies just so people can be happy and convince themselves they're not leaching off society (which they are).

Rather we need an effective social safety net so people don't end up seriously fucked if the market changes and they lose their jobs.

Well, first of all delmoi, I'd just like to make sure that you don't think I said anything about the "rights" of people to "take money out of the pockets" of anyone... I simply was stating what I thought would be unarguable: there are individuals who have a high probability of feeling resentment when they are on the losing end of "efficiencies".

What I am doing is questioning what to me seems to be a slavish and unconscious affection to a specific type of optimality based on a specific type of cost function. I might go as far as saying that ANY definition of "efficiency" is man-made and not particularly tied to "natural law". I believe other cost functions are possible, ones that don't quite so drastically fuck over working people and the middle class. Of course, I don't know for sure how to do this and understand it's all very debatable.

Second, I'm intrigued because I'm having a hell of a time seeing how you can fit those three things I've quoted above together. Certainly, you would agree, that the very idea of a "safety net" is derided by more-or-less typical "libertarians" or otherwise free-market advocates as precisely the type of "robbery" you yourself decry.

So... if you care to I'd like to hear how they do not contradict each other in your view.
posted by mondo dentro at 4:33 PM on October 2, 2006


m.d.: if you are a woman, will you marry me? In the other case, would you consider sex reassignment surgery?
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 7:12 PM on October 2, 2006


This place is filled with Libertarian Democrats, at least according to the MeFi Political Compass.
posted by caddis at 7:53 PM on October 2, 2006


Sorry, Heywood. I'm a dude. And a breeder, at that.
posted by mondo dentro at 7:56 PM on October 2, 2006


caddis, where did that plot come from?
posted by mondo dentro at 7:56 PM on October 2, 2006


from here
posted by caddis at 8:20 PM on October 2, 2006


Liberalism spent hundreds of years crawling itself out from under the conservative thumb holding it down. Now that liberalism has mostly succeeded by bringing more opportunity and unleashing more human potential more than thought possible (yet still with room to improve) a few people come along and say that we needn't worry about that past conservative threats, or going back to routine depressions and indentured servitude. They argue that we can relax, and take "liberalism" to a classical level of idealism, which was supposedly its original intent. The problem is, there is no such level because we gradually evolved to this point by making regulations and laws protecting each of us. The idea that we are oppressing the rich with taxes is suspiciously detached from reality. Money is a public organ to facilitate commerce, and profits can be taxed by the same arguments we use to print, insure and control money for the public good. I would ask any libertarian, especially the wage earners, how they have come to believe that democratic republicanism ever failed them or their ancestors?
posted by Brian B. at 8:33 PM on October 2, 2006


I simply was stating what I thought would be unarguable: there are individuals who have a high probability of feeling resentment when they are on the losing end of "efficiencies".

I resent not getting laid. Does that mean the government should require girls to bang me? People resent a lot of things, it's not society's job to prevent people from every feeling put upon.

Certainly, you would agree, that the very idea of a "safety net" is derided by more-or-less typical "libertarians" or otherwise free-market advocates as precisely the type of "robbery" you yourself decry.

Well, I believe that the free market is a tool, which can be used to improve society in general, but clearly the free market has downsides and the downsides ought to be minimized by the government.

So, a small store owner who looses his business because of Wal-Mart ought to be taken care of and shouldn't need to worry about losing his home or whatever. It would ultimately cost members of the town less money to support him directly through taxes, while shopping at Wal-Mart then it would for them to have to drive all over town and burn gas shopping at bunch of little stores and paying huge markup.

Either way the effect is the same, people paying giving that person money for which they receive no benefit at all. It would be better if this could be done in a standard way, rather then carving out regulatory niches and local monopolies so that small business can rent seek.
posted by delmoi at 10:18 PM on October 2, 2006


Liberalism spent hundreds of years crawling itself out from under the conservative thumb holding it down. Now that liberalism has mostly succeeded by bringing more opportunity and unleashing more human potential more than thought possible

You're talking about classical economic liberalism, which these days is basically synonymous with neo-cons more then anything else. Everyone agrees on liberal economic policies, that's settled.

Social Liberalism (civil rights, ending slavery, etc) has made a lot of progress, and no one is saying that it's not going to backslide.
posted by delmoi at 10:21 PM on October 2, 2006


You're talking about classical economic liberalism, which these days is basically synonymous with neo-cons

Neo-Cons are more accepting of social welfare/government intrusion in the marketplace than standard conservatives. The movement was started by ex-liberals.
posted by spaltavian at 10:26 PM on October 2, 2006


Delmoi, there is no necesarry liberal distinction between emancipation of opportunity and economic success, and if any distinctions be made they should be in specific approaches (supply side or demand side or some other school of thought). That being said, emancipation can be seen as either active or passive, and it would be debatable to suggest that it can be passive only. I question conservative self-awareness here. As conservatives exploit poverty to their advantage in labor, liberals simply guarantee that it is not a wasted talent. This is disparagingly called progressive, but it is central to economic growth. The safety net idea is not even liberal to my thinking, but rather a religious holdover, as a conservative bandaid to prevent social upheaval or mass starvation. Conservatives weren't pirates until very recently.

The liberal enlightenment dates back to both Adams, Ferguson and Smith, and beyond (admitted here and here). The former did not separate liberalism from society. Furthermore, the neo-cons are responsible to the thinking of Leo Strauss, not Trotsky, and missing this point is a famous conservative trick, which signaled more the paleoconservative distrust of their past associations (read Jewishness), not wanting to exile the rare conservative thinker, Strauss. (Irving Kristol was a former Trostkyite, not the current cabal, apparently revulsed by liberalism as it finally turned liberal in America). The Straussians are often accused of undermining democracy with Machiavellian vigor.
posted by Brian B. at 11:25 AM on October 3, 2006


I unconsciously referred to myself as a small-government liberal the other day. It took us about a mintue to realize how strange that would have sounded only a few years ago. Actually, the more I think of it, the more prepared I am to stand behind it as my own label, at least for now.

Sullivan is right to remark that these are strange times, but he's playing a bit too dumb (as he often does). In the last six years, the Republicans have:

1) demonstrably made government bigger and more intrusive (and yeah, blame it on 9/11, but if you take out military spending the government is still much bigger than ever before, both in terms of infrastructure (DHS, TSA) and entitlement spending (Medicare)) (party of small government my ass).

2) arguably made the country less safe (it's obvious to me, but even if you try to make the case for Bush's long-term strategery, you can't deny that Iran is stronger than ever, and the Shiite theocracy emerging in Iraq will be in Tehran's pocket for at least five decades) (party of national security my ass).

3) shielded a pedophile for a year (party of family values my ass).

That Orwell dude had a point about politics and language -- it's gotten to the point where our words mean very, very little, and we all suffer for it.
posted by bardic at 12:14 PM on October 3, 2006


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