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October 12, 2006 8:34 AM   Subscribe

Libertarians, the forgotten voters (pdf) For those on the trail of the elusive swing voter, it may be most notable that the libertarian vote shifted sharply in 2004. Libertarians preferred George W. Bush over Al Gore by 72 to 20 percent, but Bush’s margin dropped in 2004 to 59-38 over John Kerry. Congressional voting showed a similar swing from 2002 to 2004. Libertarians apparently became disillusioned with Republican overspending, social intolerance, civil liberties infringements, and the floundering war in Iraq. If that trend continues into 2006 and 2008, Republicans will lose elections they would otherwise win. (via Andrew Sullivan)
posted by caddis (197 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Jesus. As a young fool, I spent a summer collecting petition signatures for the Libertarian candidate. And 6 out of 10 Liberations preferred Bush to Kerry in 2004? After we all knew he war was a lie, that we were torturing people and shredding the Constitution? Jesus. What, because the godddman tax cuts allowed them to purchase gold-plated first editions of Atlas Shrugged and Ludwig Mises books? Fuck 'em.
posted by orthogonality at 8:39 AM on October 12, 2006 [5 favorites]


I think it's fair to say that if you're still voting for the GOP, you're not much of a libertarian. How can someone argue that tax cuts are more important than torture, or wars of aggression, or hating gays, or massive increases in spending and entitlements?
posted by Justinian at 8:40 AM on October 12, 2006


I see that orthogonality and I have the same impression of any so-called libertarians still supporting Bush.
posted by Justinian at 8:40 AM on October 12, 2006


Republicans (current): Socially conservative, economically liberal (except for taxes)
Democrats (current): Socially (whatever seems like will gain them votes), Economically (shhh...don't speak...don't speak)

The fact that Libertarians polled that highly for W shows that "Socially Liberal" is a total backburner to the core Libertarian agenda: Ain't nobody gonna take my stuff.

True social liberals also believe in funding that agenda, which by definition makes them economically liberal as well.
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:43 AM on October 12, 2006


I was a libertarian - I stopped voting for Bush after the 2000 primary. He didn't really cut taxes - his plan just sort of shifted the burden around. And his social policies are for BIG Government and Spending, which is unsupportable by a libertarian.
posted by muddgirl at 8:44 AM on October 12, 2006


They didn't support Bush in a vacuum. They supported him when compared to John Kerry. Thus, to answer your question, they supported Bush because they felt that, as opposed to Kerry, Bush was the lesser of two evils.
posted by dios at 8:44 AM on October 12, 2006


I think that's a bunch of bullshit. You'd be better off not voting than voting for the well-nigh-nazis.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:49 AM on October 12, 2006


Dios, that may be true, but it's also not very meaningful. Assuming people are rational, they will always choose the "lesser of n evils."

I think the more interesting question is 'what about Kerry was so unpalatable as to lead libertarians to vote for Bush despite some pretty good arguments against it?' And of course the relevant followups being: What Democrat candidates can/can't overcome those negatives? Has Bush gotten 'worse' or 'better' from the libertarian perspective?

My guess is that some easy answers are that Hillary Clinton probably can't overcome the negative things associated with Kerry but Bush has gotten substantially worse. I don't know enough about the other Democrat candidate possibilities to hazard guesses about them.
posted by jedicus at 8:52 AM on October 12, 2006


mcstayinskool: The fact that Libertarians polled that highly for W shows that "Socially Liberal" is a total backburner to the core Libertarian agenda: Ain't nobody gonna take my stuff.

Social liberalism is at the forefront for this Libertarian. I see economic freedom as a subset of personal freedom.

In any case, I would have become 'disillusioned' with the national GOP at Reagan. I've certainly voted for more Democrats than Republicans since I was 18.
posted by spaltavian at 8:54 AM on October 12, 2006


Reading [gold-plated first editions of] Atlas Shrugged in Baghdad.
posted by OmieWise at 8:58 AM on October 12, 2006


Libertarians would've been better off voting for Michael Badnarik, you know, the 2004 ballot choice that had the word LIBERTARIAN next to it.
posted by StarForce5 at 9:02 AM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


Finally, jessamyn and her colleagues have come into their political awakening.
posted by crunchland at 9:03 AM on October 12, 2006


As a libertarian myself, I voted for Bush in neither the 2000 nor 2004 elections. I hold social liberalism on par with fiscal economic policy in importance, so when neither qualify per se, I have to look at the other people involved in the race. Unfortunately, neither the Democrat nor the Republican made the grade in my opinion, so I voted for neither. It would have been more of the same party-line bullshit either way, anyhow. I'd rather go a different direction, with real thought-out solutions, than the same old, same old "scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours" mentality and "half-assed-dart-meets-dartboard" formula to handling pressing issues so prevalent in all levels of government today.

As a result, I don't feel as if I need to scrub myself to feel clean about it every 15 minutes, unlike many of the "Bush 2000" supporters I know. I stand my ground and refuse to compromise what I believe in just to see another undeserving career politician "win" because he or she's the "better of two evils."
posted by vanadium at 9:05 AM on October 12, 2006


I'm starting to think that the "libertarian" label (in the US) is the excuse used by Bush voters to explain their voting for Bush in the first place.

mcstayinskool writes "Ain't nobody gonna take my stuff."

...with the corollary being "on the other hand you're welcome to all my non-economic freedoms." Again, either all the "libertarians" who have come out of the woodwork in the past few years are just bullshitters, or they're just not very good at thinking things through.
posted by clevershark at 9:05 AM on October 12, 2006


The way I'm reading this, it appears the classification of "Libertarians" in the survey aren't actually registered members of the Libertarian Party, but voters who simply called themselves "libertarian." There's a huge difference between a political affiliation and a buzzword.

In the context of 2000 vs. 2004, the revelation that a bunch of people who like calling themselves something so as not actually admit they're Republican voters because of the stigma of gay/woman hate decreased because the popularity of the Republican president decreased isn't exactly a startling one. It was a lot easier for "libertarians" to vote Bush in 2000 because of the anti-Clinton rhetoric and lack of insight into what a collosal fuckup the man would become. Four years later, I'm not surprised a lot of recanting Republicans use the excuse "well I've always been more of a libertarian, really." Did you know Bill O'Reilly's an independent, too? Yep.

When Republicans start to suck, a lot of people start calling themselves "libertarian" the way when Democrats start to suck a lot of people start calling themselves "moderate." I don't think this changes vote demographics. It just changes survey columns.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:07 AM on October 12, 2006 [2 favorites]


Republicans (current): Socially conservative, economically liberal (except for taxes)
Democrats (current): Socially (whatever seems like will gain them votes), Economically (shhh...don't speak...don't speak)


Libertarians who care about the economy cannot possibly support anything this administration (or any of the Republicans for that matter) has done on that front.

Debt is future tax. Just because your stupid model predicts that future growth will cover the debt doesn't mean you can then go and borrow MORE money because now it's 'balanced'! They did this to the degree that it would have been illegal, had they not gone back and changed the law to make what they'd already done kosher.

The Democrats have turned out to be (against all my expectations) a far better option for anyone who gives half a shit about the economy. I don't know why the contrary perception persists.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:08 AM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


...with the corollary being "on the other hand you're welcome to all my non-economic freedoms." Again, either all the "libertarians" who have come out of the woodwork in the past few years are just bullshitters,

Yes, because 'take all my non-economic freedoms' is obviously not libertarian. Liberals have enough contempt for us as it is without us being conflated with perhaps the least libertarian administration in American history.
posted by spaltavian at 9:10 AM on October 12, 2006


Cut taxes? Do any libertarians read the Business section of the paper? It's not 1988 anymore. The U.S. govt basically has no money coming in that wasn't already spent last year.

I find it quite telling that so few very rich people are libertarians. It's only the middle class and college students who covet wealth (i.e. the ability to buy whatever you want, rather than the ability to do whatever you want) who are every libertarian. The social liberalism they claim to espouse is more to maintain the status quo because any change ricks emptying their pockets. I don't see a lot of "Libertarians for Gay Marriage" signs in the protests. It's politics for people too lazy to just be conservative.

Yes, I know this is a sweeping generalization, but it fits every staunch libertarian I've met.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:12 AM on October 12, 2006 [2 favorites]


Screw libertarians, let's have more libertine candidates.
posted by Mister_A at 9:14 AM on October 12, 2006


Perhaps I should have also noted the MeFi political compass based on this thread, although it does differ a bit from that referenced in the paper.
posted by caddis at 9:15 AM on October 12, 2006


I should probably add that I'm an incrementalist (or pragmatic) libertarian as compared to a lot of the "black helicopter" and "all or nothing" types out there. The latter are the ones who still keep the Libertarian Party from becoming a real political force as a third party (when you strip all the draconian ballot access laws and such from the equation -- but that's another topic entirely).

Other than that, they do seem to be on a better track than at any point in the last 15 years. The national LP seems to be getting its shit straight slowly but surely, and CD22 in Texas (DeLay's old seat) looks like a good possibility to have a Libertarian in congress -- with (L) party affiliation, unlike Ron Paul -- for the first time ever. (He's polling ahead of the Republican by double-digits and behind the Democrat by less than 10 percentage points or so, depending on the poll.) Many races are polling higher than ever -- likely due to voter discontent with congress and government in general.

So yeah. There's at least some hope it won't forever be an inane duopoly. One can hope.
posted by vanadium at 9:16 AM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


The Democrats have turned out to be (against all my expectations) a far better option for anyone who gives half a shit about the economy. I don't know why the contrary perception persists.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:08 PM EST on October 12 [+ 2] [!]


The perception is that the Democrats give money to people who are "too lazy"/"too other" to earn a living themselves.

If some enterprising politician had the guts to point to all the military bases in the country and call defense spending "white welfare" they might penetrate some of the thicker skulls in the republican audience. Yes, I know that sounds racist, but that's only because the right has portrayed "welfare" as being for non-whites, which of course is nonsense.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:17 AM on October 12, 2006


I find it quite telling that so few very rich people are libertarians. It's only the middle class and college students who covet wealth (i.e. the ability to buy whatever you want, rather than the ability to do whatever you want) who are every libertarian. The social liberalism they claim to espouse is more to maintain the status quo because any change ricks emptying their pockets ... It's politics for people too lazy to just be conservative.

Actually, that's pretty much a near perfect synopsis to me, Pastabager. The only exception to first sentence is the rare case of getting a hit cartoon on Comedy Central.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:17 AM on October 12, 2006


Cut taxes? Do any libertarians read the Business section of the paper? It's not 1988 anymore. The U.S. govt basically has no money coming in that wasn't already spent last year.

There would be a little more cash on hand without corporate welfare, insane military adventurism, and a SDI program that is totally relevant to the post-Cold War world somehow.

It's politics for people too lazy to just be conservative.

This sentence manages to be content free. It's has if there's nothing there.
posted by spaltavian at 9:18 AM on October 12, 2006


Some Libertarians (as in, extremely active in the political party) I know didn't even bother to vote at all in the 2004 election. They are certainly the "forgotten voters" in that instance.
posted by parilous at 9:19 AM on October 12, 2006


Thus, to answer your question, they supported Bush because they felt that, as opposed to Kerry, Bush was the lesser of two evils.

Assuming people are rational, they will always choose the "lesser of n evils."




[NB: self-post]
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:20 AM on October 12, 2006


There is a large difference between libertarians and Libertarians, probably as big as deaf and Deaf.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 9:20 AM on October 12, 2006


ah, the "Libertarian" -- that peculiar American phenomenon, a white, relatively well-off person from the suburbs who likes to paste a fancy name on his or her indifference and contempt for the poor and the disadvantaged.

it's them, and the "Second Amendment" (aka "from our cold, dead hands) contingent. like the Ayn Rand (all but unread outside of the US, thankfully) cult -- they're both bizarre yet somehow endearing passions of some Americans. like a less popular NASCAR, or monster-truck contest
posted by matteo at 9:20 AM on October 12, 2006 [4 favorites]


In my neck of the woods, the agenda of the Libertarians seems to begin and end with eliminating all taxes and privatizing absolutely everything. Underscored with a large dose of "I got mine, the rest of you can fuck off".
They also seem to be strongest in and around the most affluent neighborhoods. Go figure.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:21 AM on October 12, 2006


The trouble with voting for Michael Badnarik, StarForce5, is that he seems quite insane. He thinks that income taxes are unconstitutional, and has received several convictions for driving without a license. I realise that none of that really matters because he'll never get into a position of power, but still, voting for people who seem crazy isn't a popular strategy.
posted by matthewr at 9:21 AM on October 12, 2006


I could have sworn it said librarians, and I was waiting for Jessamyn to explain it.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:22 AM on October 12, 2006


I find it quite telling that so few very rich people are libertarians.

That's because rich people -- on the left and the right -- don't believe in free markets.

ah, the "Libertarian" -- that peculiar American phenomenon, a white, relatively well-off person from the suburbs who likes to paste a fancy name on his or her indifference and contempt for the poor and the disadvantaged.

Libertarians can believe in helping the poor and disadvantaged; they just don't believe that coerced redistribution is a moral means for doing so.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:30 AM on October 12, 2006


As I said in the other thread: a zombie Barry Goldwater is the only rational choice.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:31 AM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


It's politics for people too lazy to just be conservative.

I think Pastabagel hit it well. Big "L" libertarians are about as marginal as socialists. Neither is significant enough to make a ripple in U.S. politics. Look at drugs laws/prison system. Embarrassing.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:31 AM on October 12, 2006


I find it quite telling that so few very rich people are libertarians.

Of course, becuase it's much easier to increase your wealth by leveraging the resources of the government than sticking to some pie-in-the-sky libertarian ideals.
posted by peeedro at 9:32 AM on October 12, 2006


oops, what the ZenMaster said.
posted by peeedro at 9:34 AM on October 12, 2006


Yes, I know that sounds racist

I don't think it sounds racist. I think it's pretty much dead on.

Who cares about the piddly welfare office when you look at how much offense spending gets?
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:40 AM on October 12, 2006


Libertarians want it both ways. They want us to allow our own exploitation by the wealthy as a principle, and then demand equal justice and equal rights at the same time. Real power does not honor their imaginary social contract and they have no educated idea as to what they are doing. Some want to legalize drugs to kill off all the users, while others want to enjoy them as harmless. Both are horrid platforms that miss the point, not able to fathom the history or reality of addiction and mind control. Even their sloganeering constitutes a thought reform of black and white thinking--a precursor to mind control. They are proselytizers of a purity that wants us to trade real practical freedom for an imaginary one that protects the imaginary property that nobody owns anymore. Perhaps that is a clue to what is really going on here (cognitive dissonance: stumping for an elitist idea that failed them in order to convince themselves it didn't). I'm not even sure why Libertarians bother to vote and suffer the indignity. They theoretically despise the majority rule and democracy in general.
posted by Brian B. at 9:40 AM on October 12, 2006 [2 favorites]


They didn't support Bush in a vacuum. They supported him when compared to John Kerry. Thus, to answer your question, they supported Bush because they felt that, as opposed to Kerry, Bush was the lesser of two evils.

Which was clearly idiotic.

These people aren't libertarians, they're people who self-identify as libertarian on telephone polls.
posted by delmoi at 9:42 AM on October 12, 2006


Brian B.: im in ur drug reforms controllin ur mind
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:47 AM on October 12, 2006


If some enterprising politician had the guts to point to all the military bases in the country and call defense spending "white welfare" they might penetrate some of the thicker skulls in the republican audience. Yes, I know that sounds racist, but that's only because the right has portrayed "welfare" as being for non-whites, which of course is nonsense.

Good point about the subtle-race issues involved in that debate. Those unnecessary military bases are ridiculous.
posted by delmoi at 9:49 AM on October 12, 2006


voting for people who seem crazy isn't a popular strategy
Well, one could argue that the current... nah nevermind.

I like the social ideas of libertarians, but the fiscial is abhorrant to me. Then when people start adding on things like authortarian libertarian, it just makes me want to collapse in fatigue
posted by edgeways at 9:54 AM on October 12, 2006


Libertarians are simply anarchists with bow ties...they shave and thus need to separatge out frofm anarchists and tend overall to be conservative b ut somehow keep hold of social security etc or whatever the govt now makes available. Their candidate a few yearsz back--Harry rowne--wrote in his best selling book How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World that one ought not get involved in politics--a waste of good time. Then he ran on the Libertarian ticket.
posted by Postroad at 9:58 AM on October 12, 2006


ah, the "Libertarian" -- that peculiar American phenomenon, a white, relatively well-off person from the suburbs who likes to paste a fancy name on his or her indifference and contempt for the poor and the disadvantaged.

I have posted similar flavors of that sentiment here, and have been savaged for it. I still haven't seen much evidence it's not true, however.
posted by psmealey at 10:07 AM on October 12, 2006


I'm a bit late to post, but I would also like to add that the Libertarians are clearly dumbasses.
posted by chunking express at 10:12 AM on October 12, 2006


As has been said before, psmealey, some of us don't believe that government redistribution of wealth is a proper and effective way of battling poverty. matteo's comment is the liberal version of, "You don't agree with Bush's tactics in the war on terror? YOU MUST SUPPORT THE TERRORISTS!"
posted by brundlefly at 10:14 AM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, I consider myself a "small l" libertarian, am an independent, and voted for Dems in the last two Presidential elections.
posted by brundlefly at 10:15 AM on October 12, 2006


Their candidate a few yearsz back--Harry rowne--wrote in his best selling book How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World that one ought not get involved in politics--a waste of good time. Then he ran on the Libertarian ticket.

He also wrote that book in the 1970s, when disillusionment toward the political machine was at an all-time high. 30 years can make a large difference in anyone's life.
posted by vanadium at 10:26 AM on October 12, 2006


Libertarianism is a juvenile fantasy phase that many young Americans go through. The typical profile is a smart, white, somewhat socially backward type (usually male) who resents that his allegedly superior brain has not reaped his due rewards. Libertarianism is a way of structuring a society that will give him those rewards: by getting rid of welfare, taxation, restrictive laws and all the other barriers to accomplishment, the nerd will take his rightful place as the next Hank Rearden or Howard Roark, albeit with taped horn-rims and bad complexion.

It's perfectly all right to be a Libertarian at eighteen. At thirty, it's pathetic, akin to soccer hooliganism or a Star Trek obsession.
posted by QuietDesperation at 10:30 AM on October 12, 2006 [12 favorites]


As has been said before, psmealey, some of us don't believe that government redistribution of wealth is a proper and effective way of battling poverty.

Fair enough, brundlefly, but a lot of us liberals don't believe that any more, either. Not since the 1970s. What we do mostly share in common is a belief that so long as we already have methods in place to aggregate public capital that can be used to try to solve some social problems, why not at least try to do something?
posted by psmealey at 10:30 AM on October 12, 2006


You know, I'm seeing a lot of, "Libertarians are N. Every libertarian I've ever met is N."

Fuck that shit.

It's nothing more than a name-calling pile-on. When Republicans slander liberals by pointing at the wacko fringe of the party and singing, "You're all like that guy!" we rightly object. Give it a rest.

Does the MetaFilter HiveMind oppose reducing the armed forces, cutting corporate welfare, protecting gay rights, getting out of Iraq, strengthen the separation between church and state, defending freedom of speech, ending torture, and protecting abortion?

Everyone and their brother has been saying it's of critical importance to evict Bush and his stooges. God forbid you look for allies.
posted by Richard Daly at 10:30 AM on October 12, 2006 [3 favorites]


I don't think it's fair to categorize all libertarians as middle class college students who want to be rich.

Some libertarians are Conservatives who want to smoke dope and get blow jobs from hookers.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:36 AM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


As has been said before, psmealey, some of us don't believe that government redistribution of wealth is a proper and effective way of battling poverty.

Yes, you should absolutely tax the poor to help the poor.

Wait. What?
posted by bshort at 10:40 AM on October 12, 2006


As has been said before, psmealey, some of us don't believe that government redistribution of wealth is a proper and effective way of battling poverty.

I have to address the fallacy as well. Liberals don't believe in redistributing wealth. They believe in redistributing opportunity, which currently lies only in the hands of those who can afford it. Liberal programs are rarely just massive government hand-outs, taken from the tax payers and giver to the poor. Instead, they tend to be programs that are supposed to create a level playing field, such as health, housing, and education. Because if you're sick, homeless, and ignorant, you don't have much of a chance but to be poor in this, the richest of nations.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:43 AM on October 12, 2006 [5 favorites]


Crash : I am SO 20 minutes ahead of you.
posted by crunchland at 10:44 AM on October 12, 2006


That's because rich people -- on the left and the right -- don't believe in free markets. - posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:30 PM EST on October 12

Nonsense, for two reasons. The wealthiest people in this country are involved in industries that are either new or creative, both of which tend to be regulated lightly.

Secondly, the most succesful US industries depend on markets that aren't free. Patents and copyrights are all restrictions on free markets and explicitly grant monopolies, and they are the foundations of the drug, tech, and entertainment industries, which are huge.

There is no such thing as a free market, and there never has been. I've come to learn over the years that what businesses do is exploit resources, and that businesses consider people resources. Unless you set the rules, people are going to be horribly exploited. Our labor laws are limits on free markets, but without those laws, American workers would be forced to work the 6-day weeks and 10 hour days that chinese workers do, for $200 a month. Without restrictions on free markets, the market rewards those places that exploit people the most. International trade is a great example of this, because there are no international labor laws.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:45 AM on October 12, 2006 [3 favorites]


>As has been said before, psmealey, some of us don't believe that government redistribution of wealth is a proper and effective way of battling poverty.

This is the biggest Libertarian strawman of them all. Liberals redistribute wealth directly in order to prevent fatal poverty. Poor children are the target group for self-reliance, to break the cycle. For them to suggest that free education and healthcare don't work is to say that human knowledge doesn't serve their own goals and that medical prevention is a bad idea--no ethics to speak of there. That's what makes Libertarianism so backwards and full of bitterness. Their idea of rationing knowledge and prevention for only those who "de$erve it" is very telling as to their insecurity and what lengths they will go to cripple their competition. It is a very jealous-minded, poor-man's philosophy on its face, unworthy of the nobility they seek.
posted by Brian B. at 10:54 AM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Libertarianism is bitter.
posted by spaltavian at 10:56 AM on October 12, 2006



Does the MetaFilter HiveMind oppose reducing the armed forces, cutting corporate welfare, protecting gay rights, getting out of Iraq, strengthen the separation between church and state, defending freedom of speech, ending torture, and protecting abortion?

Everyone and their brother has been saying it's of critical importance to evict Bush and his stooges. God forbid you look for allies.
posted by Richard Daly at 1:30 PM EST on October 12 [+ 1] [!]


Sounds great. And when unemployment hits 9%, because a large portion of the middle class relies on national guard or reserve paychecks and is a downstream beneficiary of corporate welfare, what then? When idiot senator build bridges and highways to nowhere, those bridges get built by working class people. If unemployment is 5% with all this hidden welfare, what would it be without it? It's nice that you cut their taxes, but without jobs they don't have to pay taxes at all.

And you want to get out of Iraq? Great. We can all get comfy watching one of the world's largest reserves of oil sink into the hands of iran-backed fanatics while oil prices rise. And when IRaqi and Iranian oil switches to a euro traded market, the libertarians of course will do nothing because they don't want to interfere in the free markets. So when the dollar tanks and all those petrodollars become petroeuros, then what?
posted by Pastabagel at 10:56 AM on October 12, 2006


Some of you guys are so abolutist. I think many libertarians (not necessarily Libertarians) are for less government, not no government and for more personal liberty not absolute personal liberty. Analogizing your definition of libertarian to liberal would imply complete socialist and to conservative a complete theocrat. Sure there are some wacky libertarians who have extreme ideas, but that hardly represents the crowd.
posted by caddis at 10:57 AM on October 12, 2006 [2 favorites]


Wasn't there a thread last week where we debunked some of this 'democrats and libertarians could never share the same bed!' nonsense? I described myself as a libertarian until midway through college, when it became apparent that the term was, inexplicably, being subverted by Randroids who wanted the rest of us to know that we were sheep for paying income tax, and that poor people would be just fine if only they would stop being so lazy.

Personally, I could give two shits about abolishing driver's licenses, and have no problem with the idea of expanded social programs (provided we pay for them--my sole, overriding concern is 'leave me alone, and I'll leave you alone.' This can be extrapolated in all sorts of interesting directions--stop putting people in Gitmo, because if you can them there you can also put me there; stop pursuing wars of aggression, because if you go after them, someone will retributively come after us; and so on. I don't know when this doctrine (which has always personified the ideals of little-l libertarianism to me) got co-opted, but I'm really pretty sick of it.

The fact that 60 percent of self-identified Libertarians are out there voting for a party whose EVERY ACTION is demonstrably the polar opposite of the idea system they claim to endorse just proves to me that idealism is dead, and we're now all just going to wave our little flags until we're ground into the dirt.
posted by Mayor West at 10:57 AM on October 12, 2006


I find explaining anyone's political philosophy by resorting to the the kind of pop psychology being used to explain liberatarians here to be offensive. People adopt certain positions for a variety of reasons, but the vast majority legitimately believe they are the best path for country. Take everyone's arguments on their merits, and explain why they're wrong. Anything else is just name calling and should be beneath anyone old enough to care about politics.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:58 AM on October 12, 2006


Bush in an Authoritarian. He is the absolute antithesis of Libertarian ideals. Kerry was a shitty, shitty candidate, but for a Libertarian, he was certainly NOT the greater of two evils. Bush was clearly the greater of two evils in that match given a Libertarian world-view.

So, if self-identified libertarians came out for Bush, then they don't understand or really believe the ideals they claim to support (which probably doesn't make them all that different from most people I suppose). Maybe it's true that they're looking for something that sounds better than Republican, but more likely, they're just confused or stupid.
posted by willnot at 10:59 AM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


The fact that 60 percent of self-identified Libertarians are out there voting for a party whose EVERY ACTION is demonstrably the polar opposite of the idea system they claim to endorse just proves to me that idealism is dead

Yeah. I'm deeply pessimistic about any prospects for any sort of (what I would consider, N.B.!) conservative movement in America. The dramatic swing of half of all Republicans and LPers to complete goose-steppers really blindsided me, I know a lot of other people were not surprised, but I was.

I'm just crossing my fingers now against the total failure of my country, now a very real possibility due to the conditions 'conservatives' (retch) have proactively and enthusiastically created.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:06 AM on October 12, 2006


I forget why Kerry was a shitty candidate. But he must have been, because everybody tells me he was.

I wonder how he managed to get more votes than Gore, who, in turn, got more votes than any candidates prior to him but for Reagan.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:09 AM on October 12, 2006


Voter fraud, obviously.
posted by gigawhat? at 11:15 AM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


I wonder how he managed to get more votes than Gore

That's easy. It's because lots of people who don't typically vote came out to vote AGAINST Bush (which just happened to mean voting for Kerry) because Bush had proved himself to be a President that brought whole new levels of shitty into play.

That Bush still managed to get elected is proof of how shitty Kerry must have been because I seriously might have voted for Hitler over Bush.
posted by willnot at 11:16 AM on October 12, 2006


I realize what I posted earlier isn't a real description of liberal policy. I posted fast, without really thinking. Sorry about that.

I simply object to this pattern I've seen a lot of on MetaFilter (and elsewhere): describing hypothetical individual libertarians as heartless, jealous and childish. Every time the l-word comes up, people rapel from the rafters to condemn it. I keep expecting people to say that they smell bad, too.

Liberals and libertarians should be allies these days, but I see nothing but hatred coming from the left. That kind of rhetoric sounds downright Republican.

Or... what Richard Daly and caddis said.
posted by brundlefly at 11:17 AM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


...rappel...
posted by brundlefly at 11:18 AM on October 12, 2006


I find explaining anyone's political philosophy by resorting to the the kind of pop psychology being used to explain liberatarians here to be offensive.

Oh yeah, that reminds me. When people have a well-adjusted childhood, and are generally content, they don't enforce hierarchy among equals. Furthermore, success exploits the historical opportunities given to them beyond their control, not creates them, yet they appreciate their successful method and their talent, and they don't need to push the ladder of opportunity away to secure their position of dominance unless they are threatened by the ease of their success for some reason. The people who pull such ladders away are those who don't want others climbing up and away from them, making them look like fools.
posted by Brian B. at 11:19 AM on October 12, 2006


And you want to get out of Iraq? Great. We can all get comfy watching one of the world's largest reserves of oil sink into the hands of iran-backed fanatics while oil prices rise.

Well, y'know, that's happening right now anyway. Getting out would merely let this continue without the cost in American lives.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:21 AM on October 12, 2006


Well said!

Wait? What the fuck are you talking about? Is that a scene from a movie?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:22 AM on October 12, 2006


Libertarians have issues with their mothers.
posted by brundlefly at 11:22 AM on October 12, 2006


My last comment was directed at Brian B.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:24 AM on October 12, 2006


brundlefly: Liberals and libertarians should be allies these days
Well, that's because the people apparently self-identifying at libertarians kind of suck at it. That's why we make fun of them: because it took them 6-7 years to figure out what us liberals/progressives could tell in 1999. In other words, "libertarians" are apparently the short-yellow-bus type of sloooooow.

In the real world, everyone is either some shade of socialist, or an addlepated moron. The simple-minded utopian types, like Atlas Shrugged readin' "libertarians", are dimwitted fools. Quite a few of the more vocal self-identified libertarians are immature Randroids and maladjusted pricks. Those who are more moderate and thoughtful but use the Libertarian term should just call themselves "liberals" or "progressives"- because that's what they are! Then we'd really be allies, because we'd call ourselves the same thing- instead of dividing up into silly subgroups that only dilutes and masks our collective will, and allowing more fringe hate-mongering political ideologies to steal elections.
posted by hincandenza at 11:27 AM on October 12, 2006


Liberals and libertarians should be allies these days, but I see nothing but hatred coming from the left. That kind of rhetoric sounds downright Republican.

It sounds Libertarian to me. What's embarrassing is that many of them are atheist and quietly think this means they can be nasty to other humans. That's nothing more than a religious programming in action, yet coming right from the hearth of their dogmatic black and white thinking.
posted by Brian B. at 11:29 AM on October 12, 2006


Yeah, you're still losing me, Brian B. But you talk pretty!
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:31 AM on October 12, 2006


hincandenza: Either we're with you or against you?

Brian B.: Your own rhetoric sounds libertarian? That was the rhetoric I was comparing to Republicans' after all.
posted by brundlefly at 11:33 AM on October 12, 2006


People who talk about the great benefits of free markets and the great spread of American-type capitalism making the world a better safer place, blah blah blah, are usually the same ones to scream the loudest about outsourcing and $3+ gas.

They don't realize that free markets mean that we have to compete with a highly math/science literate population of billions in China and India that are willing to work for a fraction of what we do. They don't realize that the fair market price for gas might mean they can't drive their SUVs. Or that free markets would require the government to end farm subsidies to inefficient farms. Or maybe even that the tax-exempt status of churches is not really kosher under free-market principles.

When people say free markets, they mean "more for me." Free markets are great if they're not paradoxically tied in with a sense of entitlement. Unfortunately, unless you are talking to an economics professor, it almost invariably is.
posted by SBMike at 11:42 AM on October 12, 2006


and lack of insight into what a collosal fuckup the man would become.

Because Bush was such a success at being a businessman, there was no way to know the MBA president would have been a poor plan?
posted by rough ashlar at 11:42 AM on October 12, 2006


brundlefly, I never copped to hating anyone, you raised the specter and it sounded like a projection.
posted by Brian B. at 11:44 AM on October 12, 2006


An open question: If the US cut back military spending to the equivalent of the next highest spender as a percentage of GDP or budget (China? Japan? Lichtenstein?), would that amount of money redirected pay off the entire deficit and start paying down debt?

This is, of course, leaving aside all the negative impacts of doing so (soldiers out of work, increased terroristm, yaddayadda).
posted by Kickstart70 at 11:46 AM on October 12, 2006


People who talk about the great benefits of free markets and the great spread of American-type capitalism making the world a better safer place, blah blah blah, are usually the same ones to scream the loudest about outsourcing and $3+ gas.

That's bullshit on stilts.

The reason we have to outsource and pay $3+ gas is because we don't have free markets. We have government interference in capitalism.
posted by dios at 11:46 AM on October 12, 2006


My favorite one of these little libertarian smears is the "Republicans who want to smoke pot."

Most Democrats I know want to smoke pot, or have friends that do, and their comfy white lives allow them to do so without getting caught, or at least punished. So, they can continue to give lip-service to drug legalization while supporting a party that is neck deep in the war on drugs, leading to huge numbers of poor people being thrown in jail where welfare and public education can't help them.

But, yeah, libertarians are hypocrites.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:47 AM on October 12, 2006 [3 favorites]


When people say free markets, they mean "more for me."

Projection.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:49 AM on October 12, 2006


My favorite one of these little libertarian smears is the "Republicans who want to smoke pot."

Most Democrats I know want to smoke pot, or have friends that do, and their comfy white lives allow them to do so without getting caught, or at least punished. So, they can continue to give lip-service to drug legalization while supporting a party that is neck deep in the war on drugs, leading to huge numbers of poor people being thrown in jail where welfare and public education can't help them.


You forgot to respond to my accusation that they want blow jobs from hookers, but I'll presume that your response is the same: It's actually democrats who do this.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:52 AM on October 12, 2006


The Great Derailer: The reason we have to outsource and pay $3+ gas is because we don't have free markets. We have government interference in capitalism.
Uh.... wow. So, it's your contention that changing our governmental policies would actually increase the physical resources on planet earth? That someone could pass a law, and magically and suddenly there would be more raw resources available, and thus gas prices would go down?

You're... amazing. What a piece of work. You've certainly convinced me that libertarians are not, in fact, infantile thinkers.
posted by hincandenza at 11:57 AM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


dios writes "The reason we have to outsource and pay $3+ gas is because we don't have free markets. We have government interference in capitalism."


dios, absolutely right. What's especially pernicious is these unions which prevent competent foreigners from underbidding US workers.

Yes, I'm thinking of the Bar Associations. Let's open up the legal field to full and free competition, and let Indians do legal work for $15 an hour.
posted by orthogonality at 11:58 AM on October 12, 2006


Libertarians listen to a lot of prog rock.
posted by jefbla at 11:58 AM on October 12, 2006


So, they can continue to give lip-service to drug legalization while supporting a party that is neck deep in the war on drugs, leading to huge numbers of poor people being thrown in jail where welfare and public education can't help them.

Only one party has traditionally supported both marijuana legalization/decriminalization and drug treatment on demand. Assuming that marijuana is not widely addictive, these are not contradictory positions. It would be a contradiction to support drug treatment on demand and legalization of crystal meth however. What Libertarians don't easily fathom is the common sense approach--how a liberal can support legalization of heroin for cancer patients, but not for everyone else, for example. Libertarians are either-orists, the all-or-nothings, champions of the false dilemma.
posted by Brian B. at 11:59 AM on October 12, 2006


Let me put it this way for liberals who don't get libertarianism: nearly every issue that is a concern of the (for instance) Green Party is also a concern of mine, however: I have a healthy lay interest in economics and the "solutions" proposed by Greens would be, as I understand economics, in many cases counter-productive. That is to say, I do not believe that a $100/hr cap on salaries will do much to address inequities, and it is not because of my station in life or anything else, but simply because of the economics I have read.

Maybe I will keep reading and realize the brilliance of American liberal solutions to our society's problems, but until then, I don't see the progressive left as progressing anywhere, at least not any more than the LPers with their infighting and constant, futile attempts to not be confused with Randroids.

But anyways, all of that was years ago and bears little on the actual situation in the US. All I want now is to go back to the pre-fascist days, but I gotta feel things will get uglier before they get prettier.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:59 AM on October 12, 2006


Astro Zombie --

Yeah, that's pretty much our base, there.
posted by Bookhouse at 12:02 PM on October 12, 2006


Well, who doesn't want a blow job from a hooker?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:06 PM on October 12, 2006


Libertarianism is a juvenile fantasy phase that many young Americans go through. The typical profile is a smart, white, somewhat socially backward type (usually male) who resents that his allegedly superior brain has not reaped his due rewards. Libertarianism is a way of structuring a society that will give him those rewards: by getting rid of welfare, taxation, restrictive laws and all the other barriers to accomplishment, the nerd will take his rightful place as the next Hank Rearden or Howard Roark, albeit with taped horn-rims and bad complexion.

It's perfectly all right to be a Libertarian at eighteen. At thirty, it's pathetic, akin to soccer hooliganism or a Star Trek obsession.


Wow, that was so me at age 16-20 (minus the taped glasses and bad skin, and only half-white).
How embarassing.
posted by papakwanz at 12:07 PM on October 12, 2006


hincandenza: your comment clearly shows that you can't even grasp fundamental economic principles, so until you do, you probably should avoid calling other people names and referring to people as "infantile thinkers" when your 5hp weed-whacker of a brain can't seem to even grasp their position.

Yes, I'm thinking of the Bar Associations. Let's open up the legal field to full and free competition, and let Indians do legal work for $15 an hour.
posted by orthogonality at 1:58 PM CST on October 12


Fine with me. People who are looking for inexpensive legal representation will get what they are looking for. People who are looking for skill will continue to pay a premium for it. That's how markets work.
posted by dios at 12:08 PM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


The reason we have to outsource and pay $3+ gas is because we don't have free markets. We have government interference in capitalism.

This is actually quite brilliant. China is the outsource capital, a communist state and propped up by our free trade policies. Gasoline is subsidized on all fronts, from defense planning to protect it as a strategic resource, to trading it worldwide on the dollar, then to the point of giving away our own government oil leases to the highest political bidder (the Bush family started out this way).
posted by Brian B. at 12:08 PM on October 12, 2006


Astro Zombie: wanting blowjobs from hookers isn't a political affiliation.

Also, what brundlefly said. It's funny how libertarians are the ones being gang-smeared as childish, selfish and naive...
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 12:09 PM on October 12, 2006


The reason we have to outsource and pay $3+ gas is because we don't have free markets. We have government interference in capitalism.
posted by dios at 11:46 AM PST


Yea! Let the oil companies pay for the war over oil.
posted by rough ashlar at 12:10 PM on October 12, 2006


Further on the above: on more local issues like minimum wage increases, as a general principle I believe that they depress jobs. There is in my city right now an advertising push against a minimum wage increase which touts job depression as the prime reason to vote against the measure, and I do not trust the people backing the ads at all.

Under normal circumstances, when the money is not devaluing like crazy and debts aren't outweighing yearly salaries, I would be categorically against a MW increase. However, I know that the people in my city, my good poor neighbors, are getting eaten alive by (real, not official) inflation. Energy costs this winter will be probably nastier than last year, I'm not sure. I may vote for it this time, I know too many people barely scraping by right now. They haven't changed jobs, everything has gotten much more expensive.

In comparison to what the anti-conserative, anti-libertarian Republican party has done to the economy, these sorts of mundane debates don't seem to matter anymore. Whatever depressive effect increasing the minimum wage around here will have on jobs, it simply won't compare to the debt implosion this country will soon be facing, so... why not?

This has been a message from Fuck The Republicans, yeah Fuck'em.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:14 PM on October 12, 2006


For some of you: Please turn off your Jon Stewart, and pick up your John Stuart Mill.

Libertarianism, done right, is about holding our government to the strictures and the philosophies of the Consitution - those of limited federal power, of rights vested in individuals and states.
It's about enforcing our end of the contract. It's about making your landlord abide by the lease.

For the record, I'm best characterized as Libertarian and I've never voted Republican in my life.

If you want a strategy: Democrats who want more Libertarian votes need to stop campaigning for censorship and copyright extension. They need to take "terrorism" and "perverts" off the docket and talk about the economy. They need to commit to repealing the Patriot Act. They need dissociate themselves from radical identity politics. They need to fetter the executive again, take a stand against the philosophy that warrantless taps, ubiquitous cameras, and police brutality are dulce et decorum. Environmentalism is fine, but try couching it in economic language too. The message will reach more people.
posted by kid ichorous at 12:15 PM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


It sounds Libertarian to me. What's embarrassing is that many of them are atheist and quietly think this means they can be nasty to other humans. That's nothing more than a religious programming in action, yet coming right from the hearth of their dogmatic black and white thinking.

Yes, those nasty nasty atheists. Always hating on everyone else.

What the hell is wrong with you?
posted by bshort at 12:16 PM on October 12, 2006


Also, what brundlefly said. It's funny how libertarians are the ones being gang-smeared as childish, selfish and naive...

That's politics. About six years ago, liberal was a dirty word. Now that it's back in vogue and people question idealist capitalism, I can proudly remember that Libertarians were the only traitors I ever knew, the silly vanguard of the idiotic communist baiting on liberals.
posted by Brian B. at 12:16 PM on October 12, 2006


Uh.... wow. So, it's your contention that changing our governmental policies would actually increase the physical resources on planet earth? That someone could pass a law, and magically and suddenly there would be more raw resources available, and thus gas prices would go down?
posted by hincandenza at 11:57 AM PST


Yes. That's the idea. Oh and The president of the United States must jawbone OPEC members to lower the price. " See? More resources just by talking. Talking creates the reality. Any quality lawyer makes their money by talking and creating reality.
posted by rough ashlar at 12:17 PM on October 12, 2006


Captain Irony: you probably should avoid calling other people names and referring to people as "infantile thinkers" when your 5hp weed-whacker of a brain can't seem to even grasp their position.
Jokes about dios write themselves.
posted by hincandenza at 12:18 PM on October 12, 2006


"the silly vanguard of the idiotic communist baiting on liberals."

I understand each of those words individually, but, in a sentence ...

Nope. Is there some sort of code book I should be using.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:19 PM on October 12, 2006


"As has been said before, psmealey, some of us don't believe that government redistribution of wealth is a proper and effective way of battling poverty."

Well, that's a fine belief, brundlefly, but given the actual history of the human race and its overall handling of wealth, a government that is actually beholden to its People is about the only organization that can be made to redistribute wealth from small groups with concentrated wealth out to the larger population that is in need (or in fact starving).

I understand how libertarians resent the implied use of force - taking your "hard-earned" money at gunpoint, if you will - behind that redistribution, but that's the only practical method anyone on earth has ever seen to keep rich, powerful people from becoming too rich and too powerful.

Remember that in a representative democratic republic like ours, at least in theory, the "Government" is actually us, the People. It's been shown that it is to the general benefit of the People to try to keep poor folks from being too poor and rich folks from being too rich, while trying to allow everyone a shot at making a good life for themselves.

I mean, haven't you been watching what's been happening here in the US? Wealth and power is being concentrated more and more, and at a faster rate every year, to the top 1% or maybe even 0.1% of wealth-owners.

I don't think there's ever been any evidence at all that any substantial percentage of wealthy people will voluntarily redistribute their wealth to everyone else for the benefit of all. Sure there are a few true philanthropists, but it seems like most really wealthy people only give away small fractions of their wealth, and often for non-altruistic reasons like getting some nice press or a tax writeoff. Do you think the top 10 wealthiest men in the world (they're all men) would each give away half or two thirds of their fortunes in order to raise the rest of the world out of poverty? I mean, Bill Gates alone could probably feed every poor person on the planet three square meals a day for a year directly on 10% of his wealth. Is he going to do that? Hell no.

I'm sorry, but people are not so psychologically and socially advanced as to willingly give up the wealth they own to help everyone else. That's why for most of recorded history we've had pyramidal-heirarchichal societies with a very small group of powerful wealthy people (lords, kings, pharaohs, shahs, emperors and "royal families"), aristocracies, at the top of the pile. A legally forced redistribution (at gunpoint if necessary) of wealth is the only effective method of securing the general welfare, you see?

Remember, there are always violent amoral men who are happy to oppress other people as long as someone's paying them well. That's how warlords (and the various Mafias) work. Any really wealthy person can hire mercenaries to attempt to impose their will on everyone else, and protect their own position.

In the last couple of centuries in America (as opposed to many other countries), that process has been relatively genteel and practiced under rules that severely limit or eliminate the violent aspects, but the game has never stopped being played. Once people acquire enough power, the ability of everyone else to keep that game genteel and severely limited erodes rapidly. One of the major aims of wealth redistribution is to keep that from happening.

Of course, in practice, we can generally only strike a balance where the wealthy and powerful let enough wealth "trickle down" to keep everyone else from rebelling. Great woe usually befalls those at the top who fail to properly respect that balance. Ask the Bourbons and the Romanovs about that sometime.

"ah, the "Libertarian" -- that peculiar American phenomenon, a white, relatively well-off person from the suburbs who likes to paste a fancy name on his or her indifference and contempt for the poor and the disadvantaged."

I tend to agree with this though I don't believe libertarians are intentionally contemptuous as described. I'd add that this person is usually also male, college educated and from a relatively solid nuclear-type family.

I can only offer an example of a guy I used to work with. He fit that description exactly - male, white, about 30, college educated, intelligent, and from an almost textbook east-Midwestern Middle America suburban nuclear family. We got into a discussion once where we were talking about the disadvantages that various ethnic groups in the US have, and his entire take on it was "well, if they'd just apply themselves, get educated and get good jobs everything would be fine. That's what worked for me and my dad and granddad before me." Mm, yeah.

What I tried to point out to him is that he grew up and exists in a system that is almost totally designed to work for him, to ensure some level of success for a white male college graduate from the suburban middle class, and in fact he was the recipient of so many tangible and intangible gifts simply from being who he is and from where he's from. He just couldn't get his head around that, that he was starting from a point so far "ahead" of everyone who isn't like him, with all sorts of invisible benefits, that other people not like him would face a much steeper climb than he did (and probably ever will).

This is the mindset I see in a lot of what I hear out of libertarian types, both directly and via media (including MeFi posts). It's a highly privileged point of view that seems almost utterly blind to its own privilege.

There's a few of you like this in this thread. :)
posted by zoogleplex at 12:20 PM on October 12, 2006 [2 favorites]


Brundlefly: if you identify as libertarian, do you mind me asking you a question? Viz:

Do you think democracy on enlightenment principles better than feudalism? If so, would you have encouraged someone in 1820s Bavaria, say, to have emigrated to the US on this basis, despite that the system lacked in several important respects (blacks, women, perhaps non-landowners couldn't vote)?

If you don't, I'd love to have an answer from someone who does self-identify as libertarian.
posted by Aidan Kehoe at 12:23 PM on October 12, 2006


Brian B.: What Libertarians don't easily fathom is the common sense approach--how a liberal can support legalization of heroin for cancer patients, but not for everyone else, for example.

They fathom it, they don't agree. They think people own their bodies, and have the right to put heroin in them, cancer-ridden or otherwise. They don't think what Brian B. deems "common sense" overrules individual rights. Can you fathom that?

But please continue with your ridiculous strawmen and pop-psychology. It makes you look sophisticated.
posted by spaltavian at 12:27 PM on October 12, 2006


What the hell is wrong with you?

bsort, read: those nasty poser atheists. God was replaced by absolute truth. You'll kindly note the word "embarrassing" perhaps.
posted by Brian B. at 12:27 PM on October 12, 2006


I mean, Bill Gates alone could probably feed every poor person on the planet three square meals a day for a year directly on 10% of his wealth. Is he going to do that? Hell no.

Er, he did actually. And so did Warren Buffet. Both have pledged to give away the majority of their wealth.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 12:28 PM on October 12, 2006


The fact that 60 percent of self-identified Libertarians are out there voting for a party whose EVERY ACTION is demonstrably the polar opposite of the idea system they claim to endorse just proves to me that idealism is dead, and we're now all just going to wave our little flags until we're ground into the dirt.

Oh, how I wish that were true. How I wish idealism were dead. It's not; at best, your evidence shows that that one particular type of idealism is dead.

But "we're all just going to wave our little flags" is a type of idealism too. As is "everything would be just peachy keen if the government would provide equal opportunity to everyone."

Idealism is what harms nations. Conservative idealism, liberal idealism, libertarian idealism all do their damage. Oh, sure, they damage the country in different ways, but it's damage all the same.

What happens when idealists get to implement their policies, and their policies don't work like they expected--do you think they'd admit their ideals don't apply to every situation? Of course not! They'll tell you that subpoint 3.B.iv.e wasn't exactly in line with their axiomatic principles and that's why the policy didn't work. Not because their principles were flawed.

Oh, how I wish idealism were dead. The country would be a much better place for it. The only political principle should be, "If it works, keep doing it; if it doesn't, try something else."

But I suppose it makes me a sort of idealist, too, if I'm naive enough to think that we might ever actually try that sort of thing.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:30 PM on October 12, 2006


zoogleplex: Calling out Bill Gates, the largest individual philanthropist in the world, for not giving away enough money is pretty weak.

Back to the Libertarian bashing.
posted by fet at 12:30 PM on October 12, 2006


bsort, read: those nasty poser atheists. God was replaced by absolute truth. You'll kindly note the word "embarrassing" perhaps.

Yes, yes, I understand what you said, but anecdotally, the atheists I know are the most ethical people I've ever met.

Is your experience that different? Or are you just making noise to be heard?
posted by bshort at 12:31 PM on October 12, 2006


I mean, Bill Gates alone could probably feed every poor person on the planet three square meals a day for a year directly on 10% of his wealth. Is he going to do that? Hell no.

He's got no reason when the poor are just gonna then go out and breed more.


Allan Carlson of the Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society, called for an end to contraception because it interferes with a woman's duty to produce "a full quiver" of children for God.


To 'level the playing field' you'd have to have good nutrition and a healthy living environment for 3 generations.
posted by rough ashlar at 12:33 PM on October 12, 2006


The reason we have to outsource and pay $3+ gas is because we don't have free markets. We have government interference in capitalism.

In reality, the United States pays the least for its energy of the G8 nations, except for Russia, an oil-producing state, precisely due to government interference in capitalism, specifically because of overseas military activities in oil-rich areas of the world.

The unseen cost of US gasoline is in federal income taxation, which is redistributed to fund military operations in countries rich in natural resources. 64% of federal discretionary funding goes to the military. We don't really pay the true market cost for gasoline because of it, so the figure below needs significant adjustment upwards.

For the United States to begin to pay the true, fair market price for gasoline, we would need to vacate Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and close other military installations set in place to defend access to energy resources and delivery mechanisms (pipelines, fields, docks, etc.).

Philosophically, the isolationist notion of Libertarianism seems to conflict with the unconscious hegemonic drive needed to fill the gas tank, and from that standpoint, paying the same market price as the rest of the world is demonstrably, politically untenable. Paying lower taxes won't matter much if you can't afford to get to work or heat your house, and that's why the Libertarian Party couldn't run an empire if it tried.

United States: 2.26 / gallon [1]
Canada: 2.99 / gallon [1],[2]
France: 5.63 / gallon [3]
Germany: 5.86 / gallon [3]
Italy: 5.93 / gallon [3]
Japan: 3.84 / gallon [4]
Russia: 1.45 / gallon [4]
UK: 6.18 / gallon [3]

(US dollars / gallon)

[1] http://www.gasbuddy.com/
[2] http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=canadian+dollar+to+us+dollar&btnG=Google+Search
[3] http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/international/gas1.html
[4] http://money.cnn.com/pf/features/lists/global_gasprices/price.html
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:36 PM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


We don't really pay the true market cost for gasoline because of it, so the figure below needs significant adjustment upwards.

Perhaps. But comparing the US' price of gasoline with Western European petrol prices is not the right way to illustrate this point. The difference between UK/Western European gasoline prices and US ones is tax. Petrol costs (more or less) a pound a litre in the UK, which works out at about $7.50/gallon. The vast majority (about 80%) of that is tax.
posted by matthewr at 12:56 PM on October 12, 2006


They don't think what Brian B. deems "common sense" overrules individual rights.

Individual rights for all are only guaranteed by democratic will. This is such basic knowledge, but it gets muddled by the you-know-whos. I would only deem it fair to Libertarians to label their ideas a "stealth doctrine" because the alternative explanation is more demeaning to their ability.
posted by Brian B. at 1:02 PM on October 12, 2006


Metafilter: your favorite fantasy land social system sucks
posted by Artw at 1:12 PM on October 12, 2006


The difference between UK/Western European gasoline prices and US ones is tax.

I guess my point is that the real cost (whatever it is, but obviously higher) is hidden in non-consumption taxation that is used for activities contrary to Libertarian ideals. If you got rid of income taxation, you'd have to pay for the military some other way, or scrap hegemonic military activities altogether, maintaining a small armed forces sufficent for "homeland defense".

Since we consume far more oil than we can produce domestically, either option quickly raises consumer energy prices to a fair, market pricing structure that no politician — Libertarian or otherwise — can afford to implement without also putting down riots, dealing with mass starvation from raised food costs, associated economic devastation, etc. until the country reaches a new equilibrium point.

America's on the oil teat, and, right or wrong, government interference has kept most of us, including privileged Libertarians, all warm and safe, suckling away.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:22 PM on October 12, 2006


42% of the Canadian price is tax as well. Though this depends on the municipality, which can (and do) add their own taxes. Here in the Great Vancouver Regional District, the GVRD adds about 5.5% to that. Venture out of the GVRD (Abbotsford) and there is an immediate and obvious price drop. Unfortunately, it's a long enough drive to not make it worth it.

I part-own/manage gastips.com, just FYI. I get this question all the time.
posted by Kickstart70 at 1:29 PM on October 12, 2006


… he grew up and exists in a system that is almost totally designed to work for him, to ensure some level of success for a white male college graduate from the suburban middle class, and in fact he was the recipient of so many tangible and intangible gifts simply from being who he is and from where he's from.

Shite. It is routine for Europeans (and Indians, and Australians, and New Zealanders) to go to the US and be really successful in business. Were the system “almost totally designed to work for” white male college graduates from the suburban middle class, there would be much more emphasis on knowledge of the rules of American football, on familiarity with Bob Newhart, there would be a wide societal contempt for people speaking foreign languages well. There would also be no importance placed on knowledge of business administration, law, intercultural sales skills, among other things.
posted by Aidan Kehoe at 1:31 PM on October 12, 2006


They think people own their bodies, and have the right to put heroin in them, cancer-ridden or otherwise.

That means that someone has the right to market heroin to everybody and that assumes that someone can take away the power of individual choice by the nature of addiction. Clearly the libertarians drown in their own dogmatic spittle here. By flawed analogy, you can own your property and not be able to dump toxic waste on it. Ownership has responsibility in this regard, but it isn't a perfect analogy. For that, we need a clear case of least harm, but abuse nonetheless. The best debate I had on Libertarianism centered on the question: "Should you be able to build a huge obnoxious billboard tower on your house lot in the suburbs."
posted by Brian B. at 1:32 PM on October 12, 2006


That means that someone has the right to market heroin to everybody and that assumes that someone can take away the power of individual choice by the nature of addiction. Clearly the libertarians drown in their own dogmatic spittle here.

Only if you don't hold the 'dogmatic' belief that people own their own bodies. You can use "clearly" as much as you like, but declaring yourself right convinces no one. You can spew as much invective as much as you wish, but the level to which you can displaly your disgust does not an argument make.

You've given up any claim to even the pretense of respecting individual autonomy. Authoritarianism is athoritarianism no matter what happy sunshine world you insist your infringement would create. Every authoritarian, and authoritarian regime in history insisted they were working for the common good or just using "common sense". Why do you think your excuses are any more convincing?
posted by spaltavian at 1:54 PM on October 12, 2006


So, uh, just to get it straight....

I'm the only Mefite who likes Ayn Rand's work?
posted by Bageena at 1:55 PM on October 12, 2006


Brian B., that doesn't make any sense at all. What does what i put in my body have to do with a billboard? Billboards target other people. My heroin does not.

Again, toxic waste in my yard causes cancer in my neighbor. Heroin in my veins does not*.

And as far as marketing heroin goes, then, yes, of course people would have the right to market it, the same way we allow them to market addictive things like coffee and tobacco.

(I am addicted to caffine, and I know this. I make a choice to continue my addiction).

An informed consumer can choose to take heroin knowing it has addictive properties, the same way they do now. And anyone who can work a syringe knows that heroin is addictive.



*All my heroin use is hypothetical
posted by Bookhouse at 1:57 PM on October 12, 2006


SBMike said:
They don't realize that free markets mean that we have to compete with a highly math/science literate population of billions in China and India that are willing to work for a fraction of what we do. They don't realize that the fair market price for gas might mean they can't drive their SUVs. Or that free markets would require the government to end farm subsidies to inefficient farms. Or maybe even that the tax-exempt status of churches is not really kosher under free-market principles.


Actually, SBMike, when I talk about free markets, that's exactly what I mean and hope for: The creation of a strong Asian middle class, reduction in the use of fossil fuels, and end to wasteful farm subsidies that drive up the price of food to the poor, and an end to the tax-exempt status of churches.

Were you intending to make the left-libertarian argument? You did a fine job.

I'd also like to note that I'm working on a Clif's notes and scorecard for this argument. The few I've done previously were well received. Stay tuned.
posted by Richard Daly at 2:04 PM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


Hoverboards, fet: mea culpa on Gates, consider me properly abashed.

Yeah, he's given away a lot of his money. I guess the question is, are he and Buffett going to give it all away while they're still alive? Perhaps these guys are extreme cases, considering they're the two wealthiest guys on earth. Perhaps since they're so visible they've realized that they've won The Game and they don't really need all that money they've got, and that it's a bit absurd to hang on to it all. I wish more wealthy people were like that. Guys like the Sultan of Brunei and the House of Saud aren't about to redistribute their wealth voluntarily...

I still believe that in general, wealthy people want to hang on to as much of their wealth as is humanly possible. Some evidence for that is the effort to repeal the estate tax in the US, among other things. Maybe it's a relatively small group of the wealthiest who are behind that, but as a practical matter even wealthy people who are OK with giving up 50% of their wealth upon their deaths won't be too bothered if they don't have to.

"The best debate I had on Libertarianism centered on the question: "Should you be able to build a huge obnoxious billboard tower on your house lot in the suburbs.""

Heh heh heh... what was the result of the discussion?

"It is routine for Europeans (and Indians, and Australians, and New Zealanders) to go to the US and be really successful in business."

Last I looked, all four of those groups are vast-majority Caucasians and/or Indo-Europeans. In any event, the people who come here to the US are by definition ambitious and highly motivated to succeed, and fit pretty well into the "system" because of their culture and education, so I don't think you're advancing a compelling comparison.

"Were the system “almost totally designed to work for” white male college graduates from the suburban middle class, there would be much more emphasis on knowledge of the rules of American football, on familiarity with Bob Newhart, there would be a wide societal contempt for people speaking foreign languages well. There would also be no importance placed on knowledge of business administration, law, intercultural sales skills, among other things."

Uh... what? You're falling prey to a generalization (which is not an entirely true one) about white male Middle Americans as a whole being uncultured boobs and unappreciative of more subtle matters, as opposed to white male Middle American college graduates from white collar suburban families working in white collar jobs. The guy that I'm talking about speaks both English and German, has an MBA, has gone on to start up his own successful international business, and isn't a football fan. I know a couple dozen guys like him, well-educated, intelligent and cultured, who have the same blindness factor towards how things are weighted in favor of them.

And frankly, I don't know anybody under the age of 40 who cares about familiarity with Bob Newhart.
posted by zoogleplex at 2:14 PM on October 12, 2006


Authoritarianism is athoritarianism no matter what happy sunshine world you insist your infringement would create.

You are quoting yourself to make your point. Your meaning of authoritarian therefore includes any toxic waste laws and the like. As for me, I think libertarianism is authoritarian because its dogma is considered to be absolute, which always translates into authoritarianism. Communists made the same mistake. Some of the early communists would have never believed they were harboring a terrible authoritarian dogma. Pragmatism always seems to offend certain people because it doesn't appeal to their authoritarian notions of purity.
posted by Brian B. at 2:18 PM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


Yeah, he's given away a lot of his money. I guess the question is, are he and Buffett going to give it all away while they're still alive? Perhaps these guys are extreme cases, considering they're the two wealthiest guys on earth. Perhaps since they're so visible they've realized that they've won The Game and they don't really need all that money they've got, and that it's a bit absurd to hang on to it all. I wish more wealthy people were like that. Guys like the Sultan of Brunei and the House of Saud aren't about to redistribute their wealth voluntarily...

It's very true that the actions of the world's top two moneybags does not a study of the institution of charity make. But then, if you're interested in wealth redistribution to the poor masses of the world, then look no further than China and you'll see that capitalism is the way you do it.

As for me, I think libertarianism is authoritarian because its dogma is considered to be absolute, which always translates into authoritarianism.

I was going to suggest you spend some time reading actual books on history and economics, but I think you'd better start with a long hard look at a dictionary.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 2:28 PM on October 12, 2006


"It is routine for Europeans (and Indians, and Australians, and New Zealanders) to go to the US and be really successful in business."
Last I looked, all four of those groups are vast-majority Caucasians and/or Indo-Europeans. In any event, the people who come here to the US are by definition ambitious and highly motivated to succeed, and fit pretty well into the "system" because of their culture and education, so I don't think you're advancing a compelling comparison.

Umm, because cultures and educational systems that are really badly adapted to economic success in the west should nonetheless have equivalent success there? I mean, ask the Amish—they are definitively white, and have the economic success of a group that chose to live, mostly, as subistence farmers—should they earn, as a mean, the same as the average English in the society as a whole? Why?
posted by Aidan Kehoe at 2:36 PM on October 12, 2006


I was going to suggest you spend some time reading actual books on history and economics, but I think you'd better start with a long hard look at a dictionary.

Could you be more specific? Obviously you think you have something important to say here. Do you subscribe to an absolute doctrine of incompatibilism because of something found in a dictionary? Or are you saying all economists are libertarian? Or that feudalism (a large swath of history in this case) and its privatized birthright form of government is somehow directly opposed to libertarianism? Or is your history more recent?
posted by Brian B. at 2:58 PM on October 12, 2006


Well, not really knowing what the "official" libertarian stance is, just took the Political Compass test mentioned earlier in the thread. Apparently, I'm a libertarian - smack in the middle of the liberal/consersvative axis, and very libertarian (-0.88,-6.56). Free-market competition is excellent, so long as it's regulated to prevent monopolies and a "tradgedy of the commons". Social welfare is fine insofar as it helps prevent wild-swings in the economy. But stay the fuck out of my personal life, and don't legislate morality. Why is this so wrong, and why do I feel like I need to take a shower after all the libertarian bashing?
posted by Nquire at 3:15 PM on October 12, 2006


An informed consumer can choose to take heroin knowing it has addictive properties, the same way they do now. And anyone who can work a syringe knows that heroin is addictive.

Okay, just who exactly is going to inform the potential addict that heroin is addictive and deadly and impure? It's a third-world you've assumed so far, but you think you can assume first world sensibilities and public warning programs that contradict themselves. Knowing something is addictive is also appealing to past experience on many levels, which implies that it already became a government problem, and the government should not license what it attempts to cure. Also, the large billboard wasn't being compared to heroin, it was being offered as a new example since heroin was already refuted based on the terms of choice versus addiction--which is not a choice. Does the billboard question worry you?
posted by Brian B. at 3:16 PM on October 12, 2006


But stay the fuck out of my personal life, and don't legislate morality.

Before you shower you can tell us why they mostly vote conservative. Just because some libertarians condone pedophilia does not make them the favorite party for privacy. In fact it disqualifies them on the same grounds because they degrade it. The political party who defends privacy does so because of necessity to protect discrimination, not as one of their luxuries.
posted by Brian B. at 3:30 PM on October 12, 2006


Brian: Okay, just who exactly is going to inform the potential addict that heroin is addictive and deadly and impure?

Who informed you that eating McDonalds is unhealthy? That hitchhiking, or camping in the woods, is dangerous?

On the heroin argument, you can't consider the costs of permission without comparing them to the costs of prohibition. Have you considered how much the drug war costs, and by how much it allows the federal government to extend policing powers to absurd lengths? If you're for prohibition, why not ban alcohol, which year after year causes so much damage to life and property?
posted by kid ichorous at 3:38 PM on October 12, 2006


"But then, if you're interested in wealth redistribution to the poor masses of the world, then look no further than China and you'll see that capitalism is the way you do it."

Interesting thought. So, transferring the credit-based mostly-illusionary wealth of the middle- and lower-classes of the United States to the Chinese through massive and unrelenting consumption of cheap consumer goods (mostly powered by borrowing against the value of their homes), thus mortgaging the future of the country against the good will of the Chinese who own all our debt and the belief that economic growth will continue indefinitely, that's the proper way to redistribute wealth?

Hmm, I think I disagree! :)

Then again, even the poorest American is waaaay better off than poor Chinese and Indians, so your point has some validity.

"Umm, because cultures and educational systems that are really badly adapted to economic success in the west should nonetheless have equivalent success there?"

When did I say anything about non-US education systems and cultures being incompatible with success in the US? You're inventing an argument I didn't make.

My comparison was implied, I guess. In the case of Americans, white male college graduates from the middle class (and above) have uncounted advantages against everyone else from the middle class (and below). For example, a young African-American male with a high school degree has little opportunity for advancement above a certain point in US society, unfortunately - and even if he's a college graduate, he'll have a lot tougher time. Women of all kinds face disadvantages too - try being a single career woman who also wants children, sometime.

By a somewhat extreme analogy, if you are a white male from the Western world, you probably will be at a disadvantage if you decided to join a tribe of hunter-gatherers in the Andes of Peru, but tried to continue living like a Western person. Their social system is evolved by them to work for them. Consider that people of that culture could make pronouncements about their way of life, claiming that you should live that way, which would be incompatible and even nonsensical in terms of Western industrial culture.

A Libertarian making pronouncements about what he sees as the proper way of life, based on his own experience, can be in a similar position relative to other Americans. What works for you doesn't always work for others, especially if the game favors you inherently.

If you're a white male American, the American social system was evolved by white men like you to work most smoothly for white men like you. It's not that all others are excluded from success, it's that others have to work harder to get it, often by greatly assimilating themselves into the social network. The systems in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and others are pretty similar to those here, too.

"I mean, ask the Amish—they are definitively white, and have the economic success of a group that chose to live, mostly, as subistence farmers—should they earn, as a mean, the same as the average English in the society as a whole? Why?"

Again, apples to oranges, because if the important phrase: chose to live. They are deliberately living outside the system, in fact living within their own self-enforced system (as is their right, of course). Any non-Amish white guy who tried to live among them under the rules of mainstream American culture would do very poorly indeed.

The Amish are not an apt comparison to white Libertarians in the US. In fact, with their largely communal culture, they can be seen as complete opposites. Note that the Amish give their children the freedom to leave the community and live as "The English" do - they don't consider themselves English anyway.

With a name like Aidan Kehoe I'm assuming you're a white male European, so if I'm wrong please let me know.

"Why is this so wrong, and why do I feel like I need to take a shower after all the libertarian bashing?"

Nquire, I think that political compass is a few points off. I wouldn't take it too seriously.
posted by zoogleplex at 3:42 PM on October 12, 2006


kid ichorous, it wasn't my assumption, you have a bone to pick with a fellow true believer.

As for the cost of the drug war, that's a supply side approach, nothing to do with really fighting drugs. I would never lump drugs together anyway, because one drug may prevent the use of a worse drug. The supply side approach is a conservative one, and is why we don't have treatment on demand, as in other countries that do it better. Some countries are so successful at treating it as a medical problem, with medical facilities, that they can effectively decriminalize it, not wasting any money on incarceration. Blame your fellow conservatives.
posted by Brian B. at 3:48 PM on October 12, 2006


Before you shower you can tell us why they mostly vote conservative. Just because some libertarians condone pedophilia does not make them the favorite party for privacy.

Do you usually do this broad-brush/ad hominem/character assination combo in your arguments?

If you're going to argue against the rights of the individual, do it without making unfavorable assumptions about your opponent's positons, and then simply as asserting yourself as correct?

The political party who defends privacy does so because of necessity to protect discrimination, not as one of their luxuries.

Did you just call privacy a luxury?

Can I see your tax returns? Can I go looking through your house?
posted by Snyder at 3:57 PM on October 12, 2006


Brian: Before you shower you can tell us why they mostly vote conservative. Just because some libertarians condone pedophilia does not make them the favorite party for privacy. In fact it disqualifies them on the same grounds because they degrade it. The political party who defends privacy does so because of necessity to protect discrimination, not as one of their luxuries.

Ouch. Couldn't tell you why most vote conservative - when I haven't voted (C: none of the above), I've always voted democratic. My guess, based on the pdf this post is about, is it comes down to wedge issues like gun control or raising taxes to implement feel-good social programs (as opposed to raising taxes for Defense Industry corporate welfare, which is worse). Equating libertarians with pedophiles is pretty low. And how, pray tell, does privacy protect discrimination? You mean to say that privacy encourages discrimination? Sorry, but I'm really not following your logic here.

zoogleplex: I think that political compass is a few points off. I wouldn't take it too seriously.

Cool. Back to labeling myself an independent... though this thread has made me curious. Time to search AskMefi for a better test to take.
posted by Nquire at 4:01 PM on October 12, 2006


I think libertarianism is authoritarian because its dogma is considered to be absolute

This is the problem with almost everything you have argued here today, it is based upon the false assumption that all libertarians are extremists. Just as all liberals do not advocate pure socialism, all libertarians do not advocate total freedom from government interference.
posted by caddis at 4:02 PM on October 12, 2006


caddis, what about Libertarians? (capital-L)
posted by zoogleplex at 4:11 PM on October 12, 2006


Just as all liberals do not advocate pure socialism, all libertarians do not advocate total freedom from government interference.

Quite. If libertarianism means anything, then it's an anti-ideology that manifests itself as a tendency rather than a manifesto.

Brian B., I suggested a dictionary because you seem utterly confused as to what the word libertarian means insofar as what libertarians actually believe. But as you point out, a dictionary won't help. Try reading some libertarian websites like lewrockwell.com for a flavor of what libertarians really think. It's more informative than whatever "LIBRTARIAN = PEDOFILE" nonsense you've been reading.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 4:17 PM on October 12, 2006


Just took this test suggested on an old AskMefi thread. Again, scored economically moderate but socially liberal, but this test has me labeled as a strong democrat. Well - at least I'm not one of those child-molesting libertarians anymore.
posted by Nquire at 4:20 PM on October 12, 2006


Do you usually do this broad-brush/ad hominem/character assination combo in your arguments?

If you're going to argue against the rights of the individual...


Wow, like clockwork, Libertarians object to being painted as absolutists, and then say we are either for or against individual rights. Presumably these are assumed to be equal rights, but equality is not a libertarian concept. I would again point out the absolute nature of the either-or fallacy.

Did you just call privacy a luxury?

No, I called it a necessity, and was very clear on that. I specifically referred to anyone such as a pedophile arguing for privacy as arguing for their special right of privacy only, certainly not the privacy that protects the defenseless from other private abuse (Libertarians famously only assume the government is evil). This means that the political party which you can rely on to protect your private and personal dignity is the one who does so because of their position on anti-discrimination and equal rights, not a thought typically shared by conservatives/libertarians.
posted by Brian B. at 4:32 PM on October 12, 2006


Just as all liberals do not advocate pure socialism, all libertarians do not advocate total freedom from government interference.

The implication here is that the government doesn't protect your freedom, and that there is such thing as pure socialism combined with liberalism. I think you've disqualified that site from my list. I'm not interested in converting by the way, and most cult members always blame their rejection on someone not getting the hidden meaning. I don't agree with their hidden assumptions obviously. We should stick to psychology. Libertarianism is a doctrine that doesn't even pretend to have good social outcomes.
posted by Brian B. at 4:42 PM on October 12, 2006


Wow, like clockwork, Libertarians object to being painted as absolutists, and then say we are either for or against individual rights.

Wow, would you stop doing that? You did that with me, with kid ichorous, with Nquire, and with others too, assuming that if we disagree with you we're to quote you, "cult members," libertarians and conservatives? kid ichorous already said he wasn't, and I'm not a Libertarian, self-described or otherwise. Does your dogma convince you that anyone who dares disagree with you is brainwashed?

No, I called it a necessity, and was very clear on that.

Gee, you were so fucking clear you called it a "luxury" and that political party defends it becasue they want to "protect discrimination."

On preview: I'm begining to see now that the "political party" you were talking about is the Dems, I guess, and that by "protect discirmination" you mean "prevent discirmination," or something, I assume. Your intented meaning is the exact opposite of what you wrote, so it's not "very clear."

And will you stop being so cagey and cute and just come out and say the Democratic Party, or whatever party you're talking about, instead of trying to score smug points?
posted by Snyder at 5:01 PM on October 12, 2006


Brian, why are you being so churlish? You dismiss me as a "conservative" and "true believer," and then proceed to make my legalization argument *for* me by pointing out that the cost of permission can be less than the cost of prohibition, so long as "conservatives" aren't arguing the case. Not to mention some appalling strawmen of Libertarianism throughout the rest of the thread. Do you really prefer to argue this way?

Also, I'm not sure how you're defining "Supply-Side Economics," but here's an article that explains the term:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supply-side
posted by kid ichorous at 5:02 PM on October 12, 2006


Wow, like clockwork, Libertarians object to being painted as absolutists, and then say we are either for or against individual rights.

Oh, and something I forgot. I was asking if you even believed in the concept of individual rights, because that was not at all "very clear."
posted by Snyder at 5:04 PM on October 12, 2006


The political party who defends privacy does so because of necessity to protect discrimination, not as one of their luxuries.

Snyder, I don't care to convince you of any dogma nor get you to join any party, and I obviously don't refer to any one party above, as there are many candidates in functional democracies. "Protect discrimination" is poorly worded in some audiences, but you clarified it yourself. I wasn't aware that I had to come out be any more blatant about anything else.
posted by Brian B. at 5:15 PM on October 12, 2006


BB this is completely incoherent and off point. When you can string two sentence together that make sense we can talk.
posted by caddis at 5:19 PM on October 12, 2006


As for the cost of the drug war, that's a supply side approach, nothing to do with really fighting drugs. I would never lump drugs together anyway, because one drug may prevent the use of a worse drug. The supply side approach is a conservative one, and is why we don't have treatment on demand, as in other countries that do it better. Some countries are so successful at treating it as a medical problem, with medical facilities, that they can effectively decriminalize it, not wasting any money on incarceration. Blame your fellow conservatives.

kid ichorous, I'm not defining supply side "economics." Consider that lowering drug demand with treatment is a better idea to spend money because we do it anyway with incarceration and police state methods, which means drugs should stay illegal if we are going to cure it without repeat expense. If this interests you, consider demand-side immigration enforcement. That should really scare libertarians. A labor officer showing up and checking on employee documentation at sites that do business with the government, no fence or border cops needed. Or, consider demand side healthcare (that is, lowering the demand for healthcare), which is probably the best buck ever spent by the government, basically a free gym pass and free weight loss programs and free anti-smoking programs.
posted by Brian B. at 5:34 PM on October 12, 2006


Just as all liberals do not advocate pure socialism, all libertarians do not advocate total freedom from government interference.


caddis, you are referring to my reply to it? I didn't agree with the statement above, I challenged it. You referred to the entire post. To clarify, the statement was a loaded way of implying the worst about government and liberalism. Let's be clear, libertarians are conservatives without moral claims to power, and who have no idea that it's a public/collective money supply they are claiming as their ultimate source of power. It's hard to believe people fall for it, just as hard to believe that they seriously rail against notions of collective healthcare when private health insurance is a collective healthcare scheme without any accountability.
posted by Brian B. at 5:48 PM on October 12, 2006


State of the Argument

Dramatis Personae
The argument seems to be between two major camps (disclaimer, there may be errors):

Libertarians, their allies, sympathizers, and supporters, token conservatives, and those attempting to bridge the liberal-libertarian gap
Aidan Kehoe, Bageena, Bookhouse, brundlefly, caddis, dios, hoverboards don't work on water, kid ichorous, matthewr, Mayor West, rough ashlar, sonofsamiam, spaltavian, vanadium, and (me) Richard Daly

Democrats, Liberals, Progressives, and Socialists
Blazecock Pileon, Brian B., bshort, chunking express, clevershark, hincandenza, matteo, orthogonality, Pastabagel, Postroad, psmealey, QuietDesperation, SBMike, Thorzdad, zoogleplex


Generally, we've kept the tone civil, with only the occasional flare up. Two habaneros out of five. Bulgaroktonos gets a cherry power-up for striving for civility. Artw wins the metafilter:colon consolation prize. Astro Zombie gets some hookers and blow for his joke, and a frog of ambiguous gender because I can't figure out which side of this argument he's really on.

Threads

Things I learned about Libertarians
1) the godddman tax cuts allowed them to purchase gold-plated first editions of Atlas Shrugged and Ludwig Mises books
2) the core Libertarian agenda: Ain't nobody gonna take my stuff
3) It's politics for people too lazy to just be conservative
4) a white, relatively well-off person from the suburbs who likes to paste a fancy name on his or her indifference and contempt for the poor and the disadvantaged.
5) I got mine, the rest of you can fuck off
6) [not] significant enough to make a ripple in U.S. politics
7) They theoretically despise the majority rule and democracy in general.
8) Libertarians are simply anarchists with bow ties
9) Libertarians are clearly dumbasses
10) a juvenile fantasy phase that many young Americans go through
11) it's pathetic, akin to soccer hooliganism or a Star Trek obsession
12) Libertarianism is bitter.
13) some libertarians condone pedophilia


Electoral Politics After the initial, cries of, "Fuck Libertarians, they're just Republicans!" and the replies of, "It's not like the Democrats were much better!" several, "I'm libertarian and I didn't vote for Bush," voices were heard. Alternatives to voting Bush were discussed, with the Libertarian candidate denounced as crazy. There was some controversial support for Kerry. There also was some speculation that Libertarian was the fashionable new codeword for Republican.

Why Libertarians Shouldn't Like Bush
It has been proposed that Bush didn't really cut taxes, just shifted the burden. Further, his policies promote big government. Bush has wrecked the economy, and burdened the country with debt which is a future tax. Personally, I'm sure we could do a better list if we put our heads together.

Brian B. Really Dislikes Libertarians
And paragraphs.

Libertarians Aren't Rich, Just Want To Be
There was speculation regarding the libertarian demographic: middle class, college age and college educated, male, white. There was much endorsement of this view. I should note that I do not disprove this assertion. Libertarianism was proposed as a way to break up government induced monopolies that lead to big business, which explains why the very rich become Republicans, instead.

Army Bases Are White Welfare
There was much agreement to this idea.
posted by Richard Daly at 5:51 PM on October 12, 2006 [8 favorites]


I'm with caddis. Brian, when you can at least write so others can understand what you're suppossed to be saying, then maybe we can continue this.
posted by Snyder at 6:02 PM on October 12, 2006


Richard, please go back and do that for every thread with more than 100 comments.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:19 PM on October 12, 2006


except do it more accurately rather than swallowing everyone's talking points whole
posted by caddis at 6:30 PM on October 12, 2006


Richard Daly, nice summary, bravo!

Snyder, this one point from what Brian's saying jumps out at me:
"libertarians... have no idea that it's a public/collective money supply they are claiming as their ultimate source of power."

(edited because I'm not sure about the moral claim to power idea)
This jumps out at me because it's along the lines of what I was trying to say upthread about the guy I knew, yet more succinct.

It's about people who have lived their entire lives within and largely shielded from the rest of the world by the massive edifice that Western industrial society, and specifically the American version of it, has built for them over time using massive amounts of wealth in raw materials, energy, and ingenuity - the gifts given to us by the generations before us. It's about a lack of understanding of how massive that edifice is, and how much energy, money and political power has been and is still being expended every day to maintain that edifice. It's about a lack of appreciation for all that, and understanding that a lot of what such people take for granted is a result of all that expenditure of energy, money and power.

I've heard a few (perhaps more extreme) libertarians talking about how they believe a person should be responsible for his own protection, and how personal ownership of handguns and firearms should not only be encouraged, but perhaps even required by law, and how they believe police protection should be privatized and paid for by each individual, with rival police/security firms competing for your dollar the same way shoe stores do, which they think would lower the price of police protection.

That whole train of thought is completely blind to why the police are public in the first place, and denies some of the most basic lessons of history and human nature. Admittedly, this is perhaps only an extremist libertarian view, but it serves to illustrate where I'm coming from. There are many less extreme ideas that I've heard, some even in this thread, that seem to be based from the same type of place.

The state of understanding of how our world works from which someone would generate such a set of opinions about law enforcement is, in my opinion, based on a set of experiences peculiar to a small group of people who are mainly white males from relatively affluent middle- to upper middle-class families who have college educations - completely ensconced in a lifestyle powered by cheap energy and profiligate resource expenditure, none of which is actually done by their own hands (they are consumers) - and who haven't paid any attention to the actual experiences of everyone else on the planet.

Things have, relative to most of the rest of the world, been very, very easy for them, and they naturally assume it should be easy for everyone else, if only they'd go to college and get good jobs, etc. etc.

They are ignoring the immense benefits that the public/collective money/energy supply has brought them, assuming that this state of living is the only natural and normal one.

This to me is a bizarre and completely unrealistic way of looking at the world, and as a basis for a political platform is completely out of touch with reality on the ground.

As I said, only my opinion.

Note: I am also a college educated white male, but I'm not from the suburbs, nor did I grow up in a stable, affluent family. Even so, I still had to get slapped in the face with the reality that as a white American male, there are a tremendous number of "invisible" gifts upon which my whole life has been built before I grasped that reality.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:37 PM on October 12, 2006


I am also opposed to libertarianism, but would rather make occasional jokes about the subject than dive into what must count as among the most irritating of recurring arguments on the web.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:47 PM on October 12, 2006


zplex, you have as warped a view of libertarians as does bb. They aren't all extremist looneys.
posted by caddis at 6:52 PM on October 12, 2006


Brian B: Libertarianism is black and white! They see no nuance!
others: Not all Libertarians are dogmatists.
Brian B: Yes they are! They have to be because they are Libertarians.

Brian B: Your meaning of authoritarian therefore includes any toxic waste laws and the like.
You know what's really, really funny? I spent a good part of my undergraduate career specifically articulating how toxic waste laws- properly devised- are not at odds with Libertarian thought. The laws I want actually have some teeth, unlike the current command and control rules, and don't muss my idelogical leanings at all.

You want to know something else, Captain Smug? In addition to being a Libertarian, I'm also an envrionmentalist. Zany! I'm also quite a pragmatist, given to an incrementalist view. There's a number of liberal reforms I simply wouldn't touch, because at this point there's no responsible way to initiate a 'do over'.

Possibly the only thing you understand less than Libertarianism are Libertarians. You certainly know nothing of my meaning of 'authoritarianism'. But somehow, I don't think any apology will be forthcoming.
posted by spaltavian at 6:54 PM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


Richard Daly writes "Democrats, Liberals, Progressives, and Socialists"


Very nice summary. But note that some of us Dems, etc. are ourselves ex-Libertarians and quite possibly still libertarians, to some degree.
posted by orthogonality at 7:00 PM on October 12, 2006


That reminds me:

Some of us Libertarians are ex-Democrats and quite possibly do not salivate at the idea of poor people starving in the street, or are somehow incapable of grasping the concepts within The Gospel Truth of liberalism.

(Not directed at you, orthogonality.)
posted by spaltavian at 7:04 PM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


Spaltavian wrote: Authoritarianism is athoritarianism no matter what happy sunshine world you insist your infringement would create.

I responded: Your meaning of authoritarian therefore includes any toxic waste laws and the like.

Spaltavian responded: You want to know something else, Captain Smug? In addition to being a Libertarian, I'm also an envrionmentalist.

I respond (rhetorically): Libertarianism is libertarianism, no matter what happy sunshine world you insist your infringement would create.
posted by Brian B. at 7:08 PM on October 12, 2006


Except that envrionmentalism is not axiomatically anti-Libertarian, or an 'infringement' on it, leaving yet another one of your posts a mix of nonsense and bluster.

But I knew you'd do this. You insist Libertarianism is inflexiable and dogmatic. When someone demonstrates that Libertarianism is not an unalterable, universal laundry list of specific policies, but a general philosophy of government that- like Liberalism, has raging internal debates, you insist that is not, cannot, be 'real' Libertarianism, because it doesn't meet the silly strawman you've set up. It's a trait of the worst debators.

It is you who insists on an inflexiable, domgatic, purity-driven view. You simply apply it the 'enemy'. Then you pat yourself on the back for how clearly you see the issue, while your target must obviously have had maladjusted childhoods. I'm honestly a bit embarrassed for you.
posted by spaltavian at 7:22 PM on October 12, 2006 [3 favorites]


Spaltavian, I would just like to point out the completely false quotes that you attributed to me above. I don't think you should be embarrassed for me afterall, nor lecture me about strawman. We're now discussing who is credible.
posted by Brian B. at 7:41 PM on October 12, 2006


"zplex, you have as warped a view of libertarians as does bb. They aren't all extremist looneys."

caddis, my thoughts about libertarians are of course based solely on my own experiences. They haven't all been as extreme as my example above, which I presented for maximum effect. I guess it's always seemed to me that every libertarian I've interacted with has a bunch of pretty straightforward views that mesh well with my own, but then they have one thing that they're just off in looney-land about.

I'm willing to seek out evidence to the contrary and to learn otherwise.
posted by zoogleplex at 7:46 PM on October 12, 2006


I gotta head out, I'll be back to the thread tomorrow.
posted by zoogleplex at 7:57 PM on October 12, 2006


caddis: zplex, you have as warped a view of libertarians as does bb. They aren't all extremist looneys.

zoogleplex: Admittedly, this is perhaps only an extremist libertarian view, but it serves to illustrate where I'm coming from. There are many less extreme ideas that I've heard, some even in this thread, that seem to be based from the same type of place.

Ahh... dialogue!
posted by papakwanz at 8:05 PM on October 12, 2006


I went to the libertarianism website to see if I could somehow be a libertarian. I can't stop vomiting. They are literally tools of their tool, people so lost into their own method that they have no social goal, they just have an idea of purism they want to enact. What fools. It is to the point of self-parody. I didn't get very far before I became dumbfounded, but somebody in a condescending tone was nixing the idea of government healthcare, paraphrasing Rush Limbaugh's antics about Canadians rushing down here for healthcare, which Limbaugh later claimed was a half-joke when confronted on the facts. That does it for me, no time for genocidal freaksl tending their religious devotion to misanthropy. But check out this act of sublime cowardliness about abortion:

The Principle: Individual rights should not be denied nor abridged on the basis of sex, age, dependency, or location. Taxpayers should not be forced to pay for other people's abortions, nor should any government or individual force a woman to have an abortion. It is the right and obligation of the pregnant woman regardless of age, not the state, to decide the desirability or appropriateness of prenatal testing, Caesarean births, fetal surgery, voluntary surrogacy arrangements and/or home births.

They briefly mention earlier that abortion is the controversial and difficult decision domain of those involved, but it doesn't show up in their principles statement. An oversight, or pandering to the conservative moralist? I consider abortion to be a litmus test on freedom and personal responsibility, not tax cuts or privatized medicine.
posted by Brian B. at 8:19 PM on October 12, 2006


Forgot to include the link.
posted by Brian B. at 8:20 PM on October 12, 2006


Only one party has traditionally supported both marijuana legalization/decriminalization and drug treatment on demand.

Yes, the Peace & Freedom Party.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:23 PM on October 12, 2006


I wouldn't say that most of libertarians are loony. Many call it also by it's other name, Classical Liberalism. It doesn't mean that you want to disband the government so much as saying that the govenment right now has control over things it should not. Most libertarians I've met believe in police forces (on the idea it's one of the few things compulsatory collectivism does well) or the like. But they also believe that not all additions to the government, like a dissmissal of federal power for individual, local, and state power, are necessary and many are abhorrent.

Many of them aren't ideologes, they just have a different political philosophy. I'm not personally a libertarian, but I do draw from many of the views of classical liberalism, including a reduction in national government. But then, myself and many of the people I am work with are in the national government, so we have a different view of things.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:30 PM on October 12, 2006


Brain B.:I would just like to point out the completely false quotes that you attributed to me above.

Those were my summaries of your points; a common event in debates. I imagine it's painfully obvious that those were not direct quotes, but editorializing on my part. If you feel I have done you a disservice, I offer this disclaimer:

Attention: My post at 9:54 PM reflects my sincere belief regarding the nature of Brian B.'s argument; it is my opinion of his argument's true content. It is not however, meant to be taken as a quote, and Brian B. strongly disagrees with my characterization of his posts.

I hope this is satisfactory. I wouldn't want to debate in bad faith; for example, by speculating on the low level of adjustment during childhood of my opposition.

We're now discussing who is credible.

I imagine we both feel it is quite clear who speaks with more credibility here.
posted by spaltavian at 8:42 PM on October 12, 2006


In all fairness, caddis, this thread is 167 comments long. If I interpreted and reproduced everyone's arguments, I'd be here all week. In fact, people would probably post faster than I could summarize.

I also happen to agree with you on most every substantive point you've made. I tried to hedge against my own position in the summary, and figured it'd come out roughly even.

If the thread is still active tomorrow, I'll make it up to you by summarizing the argument between you and Brian B. That'll be some head scratching fun, fo' sho'. I'll throw zoogleplex in too, we'll have a ball.

And for the record, I count myself as a member of the libertarian (vestigial) wing of the Democratic Party, and my voter registration reflects this. Hell, I've already voted by absentee ballot, and I voted party line.
posted by Richard Daly at 9:16 PM on October 12, 2006


no, i shut up - your summary was neat
posted by caddis at 10:18 PM on October 12, 2006


American libertarians don't really exist, most are just republicans who want a veneer of respectability via uniqueness. Just like most greens. Two party system has always been part of American culture.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:13 AM on October 13, 2006


Nice job Mr. Daly.

(And I await the Libratarians to explain how Corporations who damage the biosphere or commons are supposed to be handled. )
posted by rough ashlar at 8:24 AM on October 13, 2006


Two party system has always been part of American culture.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:13 AM PST


Them damn non Americans in Milwaukee and their socialists mayors.....
posted by rough ashlar at 8:25 AM on October 13, 2006


(And I await the Libratarians to explain how Corporations who damage the biosphere or commons are supposed to be handled. )

That's easy, for a Libertarian (unless you REALLY mean Libratarian...). Many people obviously value the biosphere, air and water quality, and wide open spaces. Corporations value how inexpensive it is to pollute. So, there's a market for these commodities, just like for any other commodity. Slap some dollar values on these things and watch the invisible hand do its thing.

(I'm not saying it's a good plan, or one that I support).
posted by muddgirl at 8:41 AM on October 13, 2006


A Libra-tarian would probably balance the good the corporation does against the evil, and allot some sort of pollution points or something.
posted by muddgirl at 8:42 AM on October 13, 2006


And I await the Libratarians to explain how Corporations who damage the biosphere or commons are supposed to be handled.

By holding the owners and officers of the corporations personally responsible for the financial impact of whatever repair is required. I'm not sure how realistic that is, but that's the typical Libertarian answer to that question.

There's also the belief that owners of a resource will be better stewards of the resource since they want it to continue producing for a long time to come. That seems to be the case in some instances and clearly is not the case in others, so again, I'm not sure it's always 100% realistic, but there is some merit to the idea, and it's a response I've heard a lot.

Finally, there's the idea that a perfectly informed consumer will price the damage to a common resource into their buying decision and choose not to do business with companies that are damaging shared resources. This seems like the least likely to me since in my experience most consumers look at short-term costs rather than total costs. However, the more idealistic Libertarians will also trot this idea out from time to time.
posted by willnot at 8:47 AM on October 13, 2006


By holding the owners and officers of the corporations personally responsible for the financial impact of whatever repair is required. I'm not sure how realistic that is, but that's the typical Libertarian answer to that question.

So the shareholders would become responsible?
posted by rough ashlar at 9:13 AM on October 13, 2006


A Libra-tarian would probably balance the good the corporation does against the evil, and allot some sort of pollution points or something.

And then there's the Libation-tarians, who would advocate for a round of drinks on the house.
posted by COBRA! at 9:18 AM on October 13, 2006


And I await the Libratarians to explain how Corporations who damage the biosphere or commons are supposed to be handled.

Libertarian principles only really apply to private property. The oceans and the atmosphere aren't owned by anyone, and won't be until we invent some kind of nanomagical net that can track the flow of matter into and out of whatever administrative blocks the biosphere gets divided into. Scary, eh?

But until that day, collective management seems to be the only option - a tragedy of the commons, which we effectively have now, would be much worse.

Exactly what form this collective management would take is hard to know. Rightish types are too busy laughing at poor people to care about the environment, and Leftish types are too scared of capitalism to give a Libertarian platform a chance. Me? Emissions trading sounds reasonable.

In general, there is no inherent conflict between libertarianism and the commons. Libertarians seek to establish ownership of the commons precisely because we care about it and want to see it protected in the best way possible: through the institution of private property.

A lot of people on the left seem unable to let go of the image of libertarians as methane-breathing killbots who want to destroy the earth. That's the Republicans you're thinking of. Libertarians usually become libertarians precisely because we care deeply about what is right. Try giving us the benefit of the doubt.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 10:00 AM on October 13, 2006


Richard Daly, go ahead and summarize me - just be sure that it's emphasized that I'm only speaking from my own experiences. :)

willnot, the points you bring up are pretty good examples of non-extreme viewpoints that I feel are unrealistic:

"By holding the owners and officers of the corporations personally responsible for the financial impact of whatever repair is required."

One of the core legal functions of incorporation, at least how incorporation has evolved in America, is to remove personal liabillity from the officers and employees of the corporation. As things stand now, not only is it rare for corporate officers to be held liable for anything but gross criminal acts, but it's also the norm for corporations to "make amends" for matters like negligence, ripping off their customers and environmental damage (even that which directly kills people) via payoffs and class-action suit settlements. How many of the officers of Union Carbide have been prosecuted for killing thousands of people in Bhopal?

"So the shareholders would become responsible?"


rough ashlar, that's exactly what happens when a corporation pays out a settlement. It comes out of their war chest, their profits or their market capitalization, all of which affect the shareholders's bottom line.

In order to make this libertarian idea work, it would take a complete redefinition of what a corporation is, and complete reworking of every aspect of law relating to corporations. While I don't necessarily disagree with the idea of reworking the definition of corporations, I think it's not only unrealistic, but downright flippant and facile to advance this idea without some kind of detailed plan showing how this sweeping change in the law would be set up and rolled out.

"There's also the belief that owners of a resource will be better stewards of the resource since they want it to continue producing for a long time to come."

I think that's unrealistic too in a capitalist system, because capitalism is by definition driven by the individual acquisitive drive (which in its extreme form is of course called "greed"). Of course proper resource husbandry is logical, but in a greed-driven system it's not necessary, as the idea is not long-term resource production but short-term enrichment of shareholders and officers. It's a denial of both basic human nature and the observed behavior of resource producers in the real world. Even worse, the inherent hyper-consumption of Americans (and the West in general) magnifies this effect tremendously.

It would be nice if resource production and consumption worked rationally, but it doesn't. This is exactly what I'm talking about when I talk about how growing up inside this system makes people pretty blind about how it all functions in reality.

"Finally, there's the idea that a perfectly informed consumer will price the damage to a common resource into their buying decision and choose not to do business with companies that are damaging shared resources."

In a greed- and consumption-driven capitalist society, a "perfectly informed consumer," or even a fairly-well-informed consumer, is antithetical to maximizing profit. It's much better to keep consumers in the dark so they just keep consuming.

Those labels on your food that tells you everything that's in it and what the nutritional content is, those weren't put on the food voluntarily by the food producers, in response to competition. They were required by law after Federal information-gathering figured out that some of the crap in the food makes people unhealthy, and the People via their representatives decided we'd really like to know what we're putting in our bodies, thanks.

I think that function of government as the People's advocate and defender is a very necessary one. We need people working collectively on our behalf to protect us, so this is analogous to the functions of police and fire departments.

Interestingly, nowadays via the Internet there are some companies out there making money by becoming the resource by which a consumer can make himself better-informed about pretty much any product - so some people are succeeding in capitalism by finding a market for information that other capitalists have been keeping hidden. No doubt that's affecting the profits and behavior of the previously secretive companies. Score one for technological/communications advancement toward a libertarian/democratic ideal.

"Many people obviously value the biosphere, air and water quality, and wide open spaces. Corporations value how inexpensive it is to pollute. So, there's a market for these commodities, just like for any other commodity. Slap some dollar values on these things and watch the invisible hand do its thing."

I'll not venture an opinion on this interesting take on biosphere and pollution as commodities, except to say that again, let's hear a detailed plan of how this could be implemented. If someone (and I don't mean you, muddgirl) just tosses this out as a solution without a backup, I again think it's flippant and facile.

Remember that corporations currently have the same rights as individual human beings, but generally have vastly more money and legal power with none of the direct liability. They can buy their way out of having to really and truly clean up their pollution, as they do routinely. This would again call for a complete legal reconstruction of what a corporation is - something that corporations would fight tooth, nail, and vast pocketbook against under the current system. It's probably completely impractical to attempt such a change.

In any event, the Invisible Hand theory clearly doesn't always work.

"Libertarians seek to establish ownership of the commons precisely because we care about it and want to see it protected in the best way possible: through the institution of private property."

I think that private ownership of the commons is a contradiction in terms, and I think the past track record of private owners of common resources is pretty damn poor in terms of protection. When public parks or even private farmlands are put up for sale, they are often immediately developed into dense-pack housing. If the government didn't force paper and logging companies to take care of their forests, they'd clear-cut them and sell the land off - as I recall, that happened in Maine when the state upped the maintenance requirements for paper company land; at least one company clear-cut their parcels and sold them off before the deadline to increase maintenance came.

Oh, and ask the West Virginians and Tennesseeans about how their mountain ranges are holding up to the coal mining operations sometime. Google Earth will show you the results there pretty starkly.

If protection of the commons is truly your aim, then I'd like to see proof; show me a libertarian who is buying some sort of commons property/resource, or property/resource that they wish to restore to commons, and maintaining it or restoring it as commons.

As an aside, consider how the current edifice of cheap-energy-powered American society and lifestyle creates a system by which resources and property get consumed at an astounding rate, and how that affects peoples's mindsets. If you've grown up in a world where farms disappearing and housing developments going up, people driving big cars 50 miles each way to work, houses full of material goods and electronic devices, most of which are discarded after a short time and replaced with the newest and greatest, is seen as desirable, normal, the proper way of things, how does that form the foundation of your worldview? Especially if at no point in the process are you exposed to how all that stuff is created and brought to you?

Put me down for the Libation-tarians! Jynnan tonnyx all round, then?
posted by zoogleplex at 11:28 AM on October 13, 2006 [1 favorite]


Instead of looking at libertarian/Libertarian voters, another approach might be to look at Libertarian candidates.

I selected, at random, 20 Democratic, 20 Republican, and 20 Libertarian candidates for the U.S. Congress (either house) out of those who have answered Project Vote Smart's (PVS) National Political Awareness Test (NPAT) in 2006 and whose answers have been published by PVS. (PVS has only published answers for candidates from 32 states so far; the rest will be released in upcoming days.) This constituted a pool of 156 Democrats, 112 Republicans, and 71 Libertarians from which the selection was made.

(Several of the states listed had no Libertarian candidates at all. This may be because there are in fact no Libertarian candidates in a state, but it may also be because restrictive ballot access laws in a state do not allow Libertarian candidates to be listed as such, and forces them to be listed as independents instead. My pool only included those candidates explicitly listed as Libertarian; I made no attempt to discern if any of the independent candidates were in fact libertarians.)

I tabulated the answers to parts a-p of the "Budgetary, Spending, and Tax Issues, Part I: Budget Priorities" question. It asks candidates what federal funding levels they favor in 15 general areas, with available choices being Eliminate (E), Greatly Decrease (GD), Slightly Decrease (SD), Maintain Status (M), Slightly Increase (SI), or Greatly Increase (GI). Candidates who did not answer with one of those choices (either because they did not answer at all, or because they gave a more detailed answer in the free-form "other or expanded categories" section which did not fit neatly into one of those six choices) were recorded as No Answer (NA).

(Yes, it would have been nice to tabulate the entire questionnaire rather than just this one section, but just this part has taken a couple of hours of work. If you want to tabulate other parts of the survey, knock yourself out.)

Here's the number of candidates from my sample of each party giving each response:
                               E  GD  SD   M  SI  GI     NA
                              --  --  --  --  --  --     --
                         Dem.  0   2   5   8   2   0      3
Agriculture              Rep.  0   1   4   7   5   1      2
                         Lib. 10   5   2   2   1   0      0


                               E  GD  SD   M  SI  GI     NA
                              --  --  --  --  --  --     --
                         Dem.  1   0   1   8   5   3      2
Arts                     Rep.  1   9   2   6   0   0      2
                         Lib. 13   3   0   4   0   0      0


                               E  GD  SD   M  SI  GI     NA
                              --  --  --  --  --  --     --
                         Dem.  0   2   5  10   1   0      2
Defense                  Rep.  0   0   0   3   8   8      1
                         Lib.  0   3   6   6   1   4      0


                               E  GD  SD   M  SI  GI     NA
                              --  --  --  --  --  --     --
                         Dem.  0   0   0   1   9   9      1
Education                Rep.  1   1   1   6   8   1      2
                         Lib. 10   4   1   3   1   1      0


                               E  GD  SD   M  SI  GI     NA
                              --  --  --  --  --  --     --
                         Dem.  0   0   0   1  12   7      0
Environment              Rep.  1   1   3   9   4   0      2
                         Lib.  4   5   2   9   0   0      0


                               E  GD  SD   M  SI  GI     NA
                              --  --  --  --  --  --     --
                         Dem.  1   0   2  10   5   1      1
Homeland Security        Rep.  0   0   0   3   9   7      1
                         Lib.  4   2   3   6   2   3      0


                               E  GD  SD   M  SI  GI     NA
                              --  --  --  --  --  --     --
                         Dem.  0   2   3   9   4   0      2
International Aid        Rep.  1   4   6   5   2   0      2
                         Lib. 11   6   1   2   0   0      0


                               E  GD  SD   M  SI  GI     NA
                              --  --  --  --  --  --     --
                         Dem.  0   0   0   9   8   2      1
Law Enforcement          Rep.  0   0   0   7  10   2      1
                         Lib.  2   3   5   7   3   0      0


                               E  GD  SD   M  SI  GI     NA
                              --  --  --  --  --  --     --
                         Dem.  0   0   0   5   9   4      2
Medical Research         Rep.  0   0   2   9   5   2      2
                         Lib.  7   3   3   3   3   1      0


                               E  GD  SD   M  SI  GI     NA
                              --  --  --  --  --  --     --
                         Dem.  0   0   0   8   7   3      2
National Parks           Rep.  0   0   4  13   1   0      2
                         Lib.  4   2   4   7   3   0      0


                               E  GD  SD   M  SI  GI     NA
                              --  --  --  --  --  --     --
                         Dem.  0   0   0   3  10   4      3
Public Health Services   Rep.  0   0   0  13   3   2      2
                         Lib.  7   5   1   7   0   0      0


                               E  GD  SD   M  SI  GI     NA
                              --  --  --  --  --  --     --
                         Dem.  0   0   2   3   8   5      2
Scientific Research      Rep.  0   0   2  12   3   1      2
                         Lib.  8   3   2   4   2   1      0


                               E  GD  SD   M  SI  GI     NA
                              --  --  --  --  --  --     --
                         Dem.  0   5   5   5   3   0      2
Space Exploration        Rep.  0   5   1  12   0   0      2
                         Lib.  8   4   2   2   2   2      0


                               E  GD  SD   M  SI  GI     NA
                              --  --  --  --  --  --     --
                         Dem.  0   0   0   5  10   3      2
Transporation/Highways   Rep.  0   0   1   6  10   1      2
                         Lib.  3   2   1   8   6   0      0


                               E  GD  SD   M  SI  GI     NA
                              --  --  --  --  --  --     --
                         Dem.  0   0   4   8   4   1      3
Welfare                  Rep.  0   4   6   6   2   0      2
                         Lib. 13   4   1   2   0   0      0


                               E  GD  SD   M  SI  GI     NA
                              --  --  --  --  --  --     --
                         Dem.  0   0   1   7   8   2      2
Emergency Preparedness   Rep.  0   0   0   4   8   6      2
                         Lib.  3   2   3   8   2   1      1
It's no surprise that Libertarians want to cut spending more than either Democrats or Republicans in just about every category. What may surprise you is that the Libertarian responses are not so uniform as some of the caricatures drawn in this thread would have us believe.

I also converted the responses to a numeric scale (E=0 to GI=5) and calculated both averages and standard deviations for each party on each issue:
                             Dem.      Rep.      Lib.
                           -------   -------   -------
Agriculture                2.6±0.9   3.1±1.0   1.0±1.2
Arts                       3.4±1.2   1.7±1.0   0.8±1.2
Defense                    2.6±0.8   4.3±0.7   2.9±1.3
Education                  4.4±0.6   3.2±1.2   1.2±1.6
Environment                4.3±0.6   2.8±1.1   1.8±1.2
Homeland Security          3.1±1.0   4.2±0.7   2.5±1.7
International Aid          2.8±0.9   2.2±1.1   0.7±1.0
Law Enforcement            3.6±0.7   3.7±0.7   2.3±1.2
Medical Research           3.9±0.7   3.4±0.8   1.8±1.7
National Parks             3.7±0.8   2.8±0.5   2.2±1.4
Public Health Service      4.1±0.7   3.4±0.7   1.4±1.3
Scientific Research        3.9±1.0   3.2±0.7   1.6±1.7
Space Exploration          2.3±1.1   2.4±0.9   1.6±1.8
Transportation/Highways    3.9±0.7   3.6±0.7   2.6±1.4
Welfare                    3.1±0.9   2.3±1.0   0.6±1.0
Emergency Preparedness     3.6±0.8   4.1±0.8   2.4±1.4
Again, it should come as no suprise that the Libertarian average comes out as lower than that of either major party with one exception (defense, where the Lib. average is slightly higher than the Dem. but still lower than the Rep.). However, note the standard deviations--which in almost all cases indicate a greater diversity of response among the Libertarian candidates than either among the Democrats or the Republicans!

To look at some case studies among the 20 Libertarian candidates which were selected, there are certainly some who match the libertarian stereotype, but there are also others with more moderate positions.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:39 PM on October 13, 2006 [2 favorites]


A libertarian government simply can not exist since it weakens its own candidates. And this will hold whenever representatives can buy votes. Best answer is just budget by referendum.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:20 AM on October 14, 2006


Seventeen reasons to avoid libertarianism.

1. Democracy. A democratic republic best insures the rights of individuals. Libertarianism sees this as a danger to financial elitism, leading to fascist tendencies.

2. Human rights. Liberalism based on expanding human rights freed us from the long dark-age tyranny of feudalism, which, like libertarianism, was a privatized, titled form of inherited privilege based on property with no public government.

3. False idealism. Freedom and justice assumes our political equality beforehand. Freedom is not purchased in a free land. Libertarians downplay the concept of equality because it makes it difficult to pretend that money or property is the key to freedom.

4. Non-sequitur. Libertarianism is partly based on this fallacy: “I am free, therefore I can/should be allowed to do whatever I want.” This is a perversion of the valid suggestion that if we can do what we want like everyone else, then we are free.

5. Privacy. Libertarians preach privacy and conspiracies against it. This sentiment goes very far in attracting converts, especially among the paranoid outlaws and the gullible, because a lack of privacy is assumed to be the nature and interest of a public government. Privacy is thus weakened under libertarianism, because it was traditionally defended by those who protect against all abuses of power, whether corporate or government.

6. False dilemma. Libertarians like to sell their anti-government position as true to a system of beliefs, called principles. As in any orthodox cult that uses thought reform, these are only true or false methods, not goals. Starving citizens are ideally preferred to government programs—because freedom serves nobody, we serve freedom. By citing slogans framed as an uncompromising right versus wrong, libertarians dismiss the use of the democratic process to pursue our dreams, ruling against the dreams on a technicality.

7. Special pleading. Libertarians accept collectives only if they are private, such as conventional health insurance or private schools. They won’t allow these public institutions that directly serve business interests, referring to it as communism.

8. The majority rule. As the only logical method to protect against rights abuses, the majority rule is viewed as majoritarianism or mobocracy by libertarians. They assume that a majority is therefore ruling against a minority (a psychological projection of their motives). The majority rule actually does the opposite of what they claim, deciding a legal proposal that is universally applied to the entire set of voters, because they all have equal rights established beforehand.

9. Reproductive rights. A woman’s right to choose is abhorred by the old order bigots. These tyrants have traditionally used property rights alluded in scripture to believe they can essentially own women. There is no guarantee that a religous libertarian sees it any differently without emphasizing equality first.

10. Police state. Libertarians are deliberately vague on how to enforce their brand of order that has both masters and minions by design. They are often too sheltered to realize that a police state is established by default whenever any hierarchy is enforced.

11. Absolutism. The purist and polar nature of libertarianism theoretically leads to fascism, whether true-believers realize it or not. Libertarians think they can achieve a balance of individual rights while protecting an imbalance of power. This miscalculation is easily entertained in the mind of infallible right versus wrong absolutist.

12. Self-ownership? Ownership of one’s self or body is a key element in libertarian arguments, and for some fundamental reason we are to suppose. However, anyone can see that this concept offers a way of selling one’s freedom to another in desperation—also known as indentured servitude before democracy learned to get rid of it.

13. Taxation as theft. This supposes that government-printed and insured money can be used to justify the claim that government taxation is theft. In fact, the government can collect taxes by the same logic they use to provide and regulate a commercial money supply. Oddly, libertarians rarely argue for printing private money, which bases their property claims on the public’s collective currency.

14. Formalism. Libertarianism has imported a strain of human sentiment known as formalism, where symbols and forms of things are deemed more important than the content or results. It seems that libertarian theorists obversely adopted formalism in order to directly oppose Russian communism, unwittingly in the same dogmatic terms.

15. Stealth doctrine. Neo-conservatives find themselves allied with the natural law and “natural rights” of the libertarians. Inspired by the medieval Jewish scholastic, Moses Maimonides (who taught that good gentiles would serve God’s chosen in the afterlife), neo-cons have cited their sources in hidden meanings, while resurrecting the need for noble lies to suppress dangerous truths. Ith-way reinds-fay ike-lay at-thay…?

16. Calvinistic Puritanism. The belief that humans are basically evil and that God gave wealth to the elect, and it should stay that way, was perhaps the single most influential doctrine in early America, and is alive today in conservatism. Although libertarianism does not invoke God, it holds this tenet regardless by employing the naturalistic fallacy—the notion that because something is, therefore it ought to be. Conveniently, they discard their belief that might makes right when the public will is against them.

17. Dystopia. Libertarianism invites converts to imagine a better world by dint of their absolute methods, often by projecting a sterilized romantic view of early America onto modern times. However trusting and foolish it seems, this utopian bait serves them well as camouflage, to hide the economic disaster of exploiting people when they are most vulnerable, or too young or old to provide for themselves. The irony here is that just as one libertarian might see libertarian-proposed anti-drug laws as a hassle-free paradise, another will see it as the cleansing law of the jungle and the good riddance of undesirables.
posted by Brian B. at 8:50 PM on October 14, 2006


After a few hours discussion with them, I've usually kind of lumped most of the libertarians I've met in with economists and socialists: People with some fairly good ideas that unfortunately don't take the real world into account very much. It might be a better world if it worked the way they think it does, but unfortunately....
posted by Orb2069 at 11:53 PM on October 14, 2006


brian b: still fails to understand libertariansism, yet criticizes it anyway.

Good show
posted by caddis at 1:10 AM on October 15, 2006


brian b: still fails to understand libertariansism, yet criticizes it anyway.

Caddis, it really is subjective, isn't it? That's why you can accuse me of failing to understand, which is essentially not empathizing. I already know this too. I left the psychology out of it because of complaints. But the parts where libertarians fear liberals and their calls for social change is very telling. When a sheltered person basically holds it together by daily envisioning the world's problems coming from relief, reform, and government, then we're dealing with some very dark impulses blended with a wounded pride. Libertarianism functions as a personal metaphor for them. They are just trying to separate their own personality from the inner "government" they have on the inside, which is begging them to change for some reason. Should real people starve just because libertarians are starving their impulses?
posted by Brian B. at 9:25 AM on October 15, 2006


You fail to understand because you continue to lump all libertarians in with the few who are on the fringe - see your point #11 above.
posted by caddis at 12:18 PM on October 15, 2006


Caddis, I think it is you who fails to understand libertarianism. Just because their are half-libertarians does not mean I need to address them. Libertarianism is only a doctrine, it is not based on a common class or condition such as labor or wealth.
posted by Brian B. at 1:05 PM on October 15, 2006


Whatever. Please persist in your delusional views if it makes you feel better. As suggested above, you might check out Ken Rockwell, or even CATO or Virginia Postrel to find libertarian views far less extreme than you perceive. I am guessing you won't. You know it all.
posted by caddis at 2:04 PM on October 15, 2006


Caddis, the last paragraph here begs to differ.

Virginia, dear, we don't give a hoot what you and your pro-war comrades think has "changed" about libertarianism: as far as we're concerned, libertarianism never changed, it isn't changing now, and it won't change. What's changing is you, and it isn't a change for the better. You're getting older, more concerned about your career than abstract principles, and you've decided to sell-out – well, then, what's stopping you? Go for it, girl – but you aren't dragging the rest of us along with you. You and Ted Galen Carpenter, in going "straight for Pakistan," or Iraq, or wherever, can indeed go straight to hell – but don't keep calling yourselves libertarians. Because we'll challenge you at every turn, and harry you until you stop discrediting an idea that has the power to liberate the world.
posted by Brian B. at 2:55 PM on October 15, 2006


Good Lord, did you write that bit of tripe? That is about as well reasoned as your screed here. Until you can answer my contention honestly that not all libertarians are extremists then good night on this issue.
posted by caddis at 5:32 PM on October 15, 2006


Caddis, follow the link to find out who wrote that tripe. Lew Rockwell would be ashamed of you.
posted by Brian B. at 9:04 PM on October 15, 2006


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