Bush's tax cuts
February 9, 2006 6:39 PM   Subscribe

Bush has been pushing for his tax cuts to be made permanent. James Ostrowski says why an anemic 2.1 trillion dollar tax cut how about a 21 trillion dollar tax cut?
posted by robbyrobs (99 comments total)
 
Libertarians are dicks.
posted by papakwanz at 6:44 PM on February 9, 2006


Ah, nothing like a Libertarian to remind me of why Publius won over Cato.
posted by klangklangston at 6:44 PM on February 9, 2006


That's another way to put it.
posted by klangklangston at 6:44 PM on February 9, 2006


The first two comments, read together, are priceless. I wonder which will set the tone for the rest of the thread?
posted by blahblahblah at 6:46 PM on February 9, 2006


Strangely enough, considering the source, and considering I'm rather "liberal" and even "socialist", I'm rather sympathetic to his ideas. At least he's proposing cutting *everything*, even the Defense department (which, as he says, is an "offense" department and does a crappy job on defense...)

Of course, this would send the country into a tailspin. Those millions of parasites would suddenly be out of a job and be unable to spend money. Havoc would ensure.

Still, the idea of throwing out most of the function of the Federal government is pretty appealing. Important things like schools and roads are I believe (am I correct here?) mainly handled by the individual states.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:48 PM on February 9, 2006


Loved the off-handed throwaway quotes he used to dismiss various programs. "If you want an important job done badly, give it to a federal bureaucracy."

And if you want an important job ignored completely, give it to a libertarian.
posted by verb at 6:53 PM on February 9, 2006


The idea of being responsible for your own well-being scares the bejeezus out of most people. As long as that is the case, a nanny-state will exist.
posted by nightchrome at 6:54 PM on February 9, 2006


The idea of draining the federal budget is perversely intriguing when it's Bush as the executive. Perhaps the damage it would do would be offset by the damage it avoids by hampering Bush's ability to wage war or push his faith-based programs.
posted by mullacc at 6:55 PM on February 9, 2006


Nightcrome: The idea that not everything is best served by commercial interests, and that capitalism is responsible for structuralized violence scares the bejeezus out of some people. As long as that is the case, Libertarians will make self-serving and ignorant arguments.
posted by klangklangston at 6:57 PM on February 9, 2006


klangklangston: It's a lot easier to blame an -ism than it is to accept that people are mean to each other for a wide variety of reasons, and try to do something about it, isn't it?
posted by nightchrome at 6:59 PM on February 9, 2006


nightchrome: there is, startlingly enough, a middle ground between 'people scared pissless of having to take care of themselves' and 'Mad Max, The Nation-State.' While it's appealing to gut the whole thing and let everyone form happy little anarchist enclaves with the US government replaced by private security firms, few die-hards are willing to live with the long term repercussions of that.
posted by verb at 6:59 PM on February 9, 2006


verb: Agreed. It's easy to blast the ideas in the article for being unrealistic and outlandish if you ignore the fact that it's being said for effect, rather than as a literal plan to implement. It's far easier to say "Look, the libertarian is living in a fantasy world!" than to say "Gee, when you use that kind of abstract argument a lot of parts of the government seem pretty wasteful and pointless, maybe something oughta be done about that."
posted by nightchrome at 7:03 PM on February 9, 2006


I'm curious-- what's the annual budget of the White House itself? Groundskeeping, housekeeping, food services, etcetera etcetera... it probably adds up to quite a bit. I wonder how much that could be trimmed down?
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:06 PM on February 9, 2006


haha, this guy talks seriously about Harry Browne.
posted by delmoi at 7:09 PM on February 9, 2006


The idea of being responsible for your own well-being scares the bejeezus out of most people. As long as that is the case, a nanny-state will exist.

Rather the Nanny State then some pool of money squeezing corporations.

What do economic libertarians even want, anyway. Do they really think the world could work at all the way they'd like it too?
posted by delmoi at 7:13 PM on February 9, 2006


nightcrome: you would absouletly hate the world in which everyone had to take care of themselves. That's called the animal kingdom.

"Society" is a word you should look up.

As for the article: libertarians are cute, honey! Pat them on the head. We have a society in which libertarians can spout their nonsense precisely because we don't give the libertarians power.
posted by teece at 7:13 PM on February 9, 2006


Faint of Butt: there's a lot of interesting history there. It's a recurring theme in Vidal's (excellent) "Lincoln". When the Lincolns moved in, it was in something of a state of disrepair, with the little funds for its maintenance mostly being "misappropriated". Mrs Lincoln begged, borrowed, and stole enough for its improvement to generate some serious political and legal waves.

I think the situation has changed a lot, but nonetheless trimming the budget for the White House itself seems unlikely to make any but a symbolic difference.
posted by freebird at 7:14 PM on February 9, 2006


Well, I see people would rather mock the author and libertarians in general than talk about the topic of wasteful spending in government, so I guess I'll just leave you to that then.
posted by nightchrome at 7:16 PM on February 9, 2006


Blame an "-ism"? What the hell are you talking about? Capitalism is fine, but it isn't an ideology that should be applied as a totalizing philosophy, something that Libertarians tend to do. And arguments about wastefulness in government are undercut by the very real sense that this guy isn't serious about approaching problems from a rational point of view, but rather from one that combines a high-schooler's anti-authoritarianism with a plutocrat's sense of entitlement.
posted by klangklangston at 7:18 PM on February 9, 2006


Nightchrome: Yeah, we're all bad pinko hatahz. You'd have more ground to stand on if the author was really talking about wasteful spending and not focusing on how to glibly support his preconcieved thesis.
posted by klangklangston at 7:20 PM on February 9, 2006


What do economic libertarians even want, anyway.

They want what all selfish little kids want - for mother to stop making them do their chores. "But why do I have to do all the dishes when I only dirtied one plate?"

Libertarians should realize, the only way to have what they want--utter lack of responsibility to and for other people--is to eat a bullet. While there's life, there's society.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 7:22 PM on February 9, 2006


I'm assuming the Libertopian Free State idea didn't pan out? Is there any reason that this "experiment" needs to be played out on the Federal scale, rather than the local level?
posted by swell at 7:26 PM on February 9, 2006


Mad Max, The Nation-State.

Where do I sign up? I hunger for chainmail and roadkill-fur underpants.
posted by loquacious at 7:27 PM on February 9, 2006


go ahead. try it. i dare you.
posted by j-urb at 7:28 PM on February 9, 2006


Well, I see people would rather mock the author and libertarians in general than talk about the topic of wasteful spending in government,

nightchrome, there is no point in talking about wasteful spending in government. Let say we set out to kill all waste in the government (waste being money that most Americans did not want spent, or outright graft).

Eliminatu legally mandated government programs right from the start (Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, and interest payments), because you can't cut them without changing the law, and the American people have shown that they like and want those laws.

Eliminate the miliary, because it's a sacred cow, especially with the Global War on Terrorâ„¢ going full steam.

OK, so you're left with discretionary spending. If you take the fanciful approach of Mr Ostrowski, and assume all of that spending is wasteful, guess what? The US government still runs a debt. If you talk realistically about cutting waste (that is, assuming we want things like judges and national parks and what not, which we do), then guess what? You'll get back a penny or two on the dollar.

Cutting waste is a completely unrealistic way to talk about the American budget. It's completely divorced from reality, which is why you'll have a hard time engaging people in serious debate about it.
posted by teece at 7:29 PM on February 9, 2006


nightchrome, are you saying that this argument is a good argument because it is a bad argument? If so, I think it's a brilliant and amazing argument, because it's really dreadful.

Like this, a series of assertions posing as truth:
For example, the war on poverty institutionalizes poverty, the war on drugs leads to the use of more dangerous drugs, urban "renewal" causes homelessness, the FDA kills people by depriving them of medicine, the war on racism increases racial tensions, the minimum wage causes unemployment, and on and on and on.

And the one oversight continually made by libertarians -- associating power with government only and failing to see capital as a source of power.

I just don't believe handing over the world to the wealthy and telling them to go make more money is going to do the individual any good.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 7:31 PM on February 9, 2006


dear libertarians,

once the government is gone, we'll have these things called huge abusive corporations running the show. it will then be official; those who have the money will be in charge. de facto is cooler than de jure, anyway.

sincerely,
soma lkzx

p.s. it's mainly okay as long as you don't like old people or highways, though, right?
posted by soma lkzx at 7:32 PM on February 9, 2006


Personally I think we have to find a way to get the corporations and the government fighting each other in a perpetual stalemate, so they could stop bothering everyone else.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:36 PM on February 9, 2006


BTW, in my job I have worked closely with a lot of large corporations. Just thought the libertarians should know -- they are loaded with waste, are inefficient, and are bureaucracies too. And quite a few are run by people who would burn the world if they could turn a buck.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 7:37 PM on February 9, 2006


Libertarians don't understand people, politics, or economics. You must change the system into one where taxes decrease slowely over time. Here is how you do it:

1) Eliminate individual income tax in favor of a logarithmically corporate income tax, i.e. if company X is 2-3 times larger than company Y, then company X pays 1% more of gross income.

2) Descide the rough budget allocation by national referendum, averaged over all votes for several years, politicians could still argue over some details.

3) Seperate taxation & detailed spending bills, i.e. no taxes for specific purposes, if you raise taxes, your raising them pure & simple.

Under such rules, politicians would (a) fight powerful people to raise taxes, (b) gain little power personally from raising taxes, and (c) be punnished for raising taxes. So taxes would slowely fall.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:56 PM on February 9, 2006


What's so wrong with traveling down unlit, unpaved roads with the sewage of life to pass along your journeys?

Roads, streetlamps, and city sanitation is not the job of government.
posted by Balisong at 8:01 PM on February 9, 2006


once the government is gone, we'll have these things called huge abusive corporations running the show. it will then be official; those who have the money will be in charge. de facto is cooler than de jure, anyway.

Once government is gone, money becomes useless. One does not see fiduciary transactions occuring in the wild. The hare does not "buy" his life from the wolf with coin, but with the swiftness of his legs. Should Nightchrome and his ilk still wish for this sort of Malthusian nightmare, I'm sure there will be any number of large men with powerful guns and a lack of ethics more than willing to liberate them from their wealth and lives in the most alarmingly casual manner imaginable.
posted by Chrischris at 8:01 PM on February 9, 2006


It'll be the Wild, Wild West all over again!! Yee-Haawwww!!
posted by Balisong at 8:05 PM on February 9, 2006


Didn't we try this already? It was called the 19th century.
posted by Cassford at 8:08 PM on February 9, 2006


This thread really bothers me because people seem to be lumping all libertarians in with this whack job. There are plenty of more mainstream libertarians that are not "hole up in the mountains with guns and food by your crazy self" types or "let's turn the US into Somalia" types. Libertarians like myself are simply people that think the government as presently constituted has systematic incentives to tax us to oblivion and people should have a more watchful eye towards how much money we give the government and how they spend it. Most people don't care enough and just accept it as the way things are, which leads to mission creep.

I think the government tends to be bad at doing a lot of things, but there are plenty of things it is not only good at, but necessary for. The government is usually better at mandating results than getting them itself.

The bottom line is, don't think that a jackass like Ostrowski speaks for all Libertarians any more than Kucinich speaks for all Democrats or Ashcroft speaks for all Republicans. It's just one guy.

I don't want to see the government gutted. I just want to see it on a diet.
posted by TunnelArmr at 8:11 PM on February 9, 2006


I don't want to see the government gutted. I just want to see it on a diet.

I have disagreements aplenty with your fashion of libertarian, too, TunnelArmr.

But it is entirely true that most are not as stridently stupid as Ostrowski. In many respects, I'm a libertarian. I'm happy to talk about the places where I think libertarians are right and wrong in a rational manner. I think by and large there is not much "there" when it comes to an overarching philosophy of libertarianism. There a few nuggets of good ideas, and a lot of stuff that is just not applicable.

For instance, the idea that America is drowning in a sea of horrible taxes, or is stifled by a retarding government, is just not supported by the facts. But the idea that we should keep the government out of places where it has no business (the drug war, religion), I'm on board with.

But guys like Ostrowski are idiots. They've decided, long ago, that everything would be perfect if we could just get this Randian fantasy of pure selfishness.

Such people really need to go spend some time where that vision thrives. They really only have the ability to entertain such flights of fantasy because they live in the "libertarian nightmare" that is America.

But it's entirely true that that is not all libertarians.
posted by teece at 8:20 PM on February 9, 2006


In Colorado we have TABOR Something that should be in place nationally.
My favorite part is seeing the same projects come up for re-funding every time I vote.
I have to keep voting to not fund projects every time, but it is directly my choice.
posted by Balisong at 8:22 PM on February 9, 2006


Man, I really thought it was a joke for, like, a whole 2 pages, then he started spouting shit about medicare and such. I don't have anything to say other than that.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 8:24 PM on February 9, 2006


Dieting is exactly what it shouldn't do. Chronic dieting does not work and, worse, it is bad for you.

No, the government needs to foster healthy spending habits and nutritious program choices.
posted by Cassford at 8:27 PM on February 9, 2006


healthy spending habits and nutritious program choices = Boring and non-politically manipulative.
posted by Balisong at 8:41 PM on February 9, 2006


As a fellow Coloradan, Balisong, I hate TABOR.

It's an evil breed between direct democracy and a representative republic that gets the worst of both. Blech.
posted by teece at 8:46 PM on February 9, 2006


Teece, would you rather swing more towards the direct democracy, or the representative republic?

Personally, I'd rather the lawmakers make the laws, but the populous gets to decide for themselves to vote it into law or not. (direct democracy) (even if I live in the Hellpit of Fundamentalism, Colorado Springs)

At least we get to VOTE our state into bankrupcy ourselves, or, as is more likely, not every construction project, school bond, and city improvement issue comes to pass. As it should be.
posted by Balisong at 9:09 PM on February 9, 2006


I'd rather swing towards a representative republic where the people actually take a real part in making sure their representatives were decent people. With electoral reform, multiple parties, no-confidence votes, etc.

But I'd also like to own my own island in the South Pacific, if I'm going to entertain fantasies...
posted by teece at 9:29 PM on February 9, 2006


Interesting how those most prone to dressing up their selfishness, their lack of concern for the vulnerable, and their total disregard for inequality between classes with the macho conservative "personal responsibility" line are usually those who've least had to take it for themselves.

Enhanced levels of privilege & opportunity as a birthright serve as way more of a helping hand to current & future well-being than those unfortunite enough to require their base survival needs attempted to be ensured by the safety-net non-barbaric societies have.
posted by Kino at 9:42 PM on February 9, 2006


Libertarians are really just people who hate other people.
posted by bshort at 9:52 PM on February 9, 2006


Statistically, libertarians are shorter than you and I.
posted by eatitlive at 10:02 PM on February 9, 2006


To the people snarking up at the top of the thread.... you sound so smugly, serenely certain that libertarianism is bad. Yet, you're making that criticism while presumably supporting a government that has been completely off the rails for the last 15 years or so.

The present way of doing things is going to end up in total fiscal collapse. So I'd be just a little less snarky and a little more constructive. If you don't fix the system you have now, libertarianism is going to take over by default, and it's going to be an extremely unpleasant process.
posted by Malor at 10:22 PM on February 9, 2006


Ok, you know why I just think Libertarianism is a way for selfish people to justify their sociopathic beliefs? Because I've seen absolutely no evidence that libertarianism works.

Where are the huge economic powers that have no central government and no societal services?

If Libertarianism was anything more than a sign of serious mental illness then Africa would be a Libertarian paradise. Just think, you can go to dozens of countries where the only law is the size of your gun. Who needs a safety net for old people when a significant percentage of the population is going to die before they turn 30 from AIDS, cholera, whathaveyou?
posted by bshort at 10:31 PM on February 9, 2006


15 years is the wrong time frame, Malor. 26 years, OK (with an 8 year reversal). 5 years, OK. 15? Nah.

The US budget was under control in 2000. I think what we are seeing currently in America is the death throes of rural America -- the Republican party is harnessing the backlash from rural voters upset at the massive gains had by liberals (and increasingly urban) voters over the last 50 years. It started with Nixon, faltered, gained steam with Reagan and Bush, lost a bit of ground with Clinton, and then went absolutely fucking crazy with Bush II.

It's temporary, and the Republicans can not sustain it. Unfortunately, the Republicans have also managed to put one of the most mendacious, reckless, and irresponsible regimes in the union's history into office, so there is the question of whether or not we will survive the death throes of rural America.

I hope so.

There are very serious problems for the US, but to be completely honest, I don't think libertarians have any answers at all.

But we fixed our fiscal problems only 5 short years ago -- it was errant libertarian impulses that put us in the clusterfuck we are in now (ie, cut taxes, weeeee! Why? Big government is evil, that's why!)
posted by teece at 10:34 PM on February 9, 2006


"For the Liberation!!" will be the battle cry of every new forfeiture to The Cause (Brand New Day).
posted by Balisong at 10:34 PM on February 9, 2006


TunnelArmr: I don't want to see the government gutted. I just want to see it on a diet.

So what do you want to cut, then? The fact is, nearly every libertarian I've seen wants to cut something that's an obviously terrible idea to cut. The most obvious examples are the military (sure, let's make them private, there's no way they'll hold us up for protection money), the roads (you'd end up spending more on tolls then you do on all current taxes combined), and the schools (you end up with an even more ignorant population that can't handle democracy). Maybe you don't want to do any of those, but I'd bet there are some very nasty consequences to your cuts, regardless.

Of course, most of the small-goverment types say they want to cut out pork, or waste, but how do you do that? Most of it's on the local scale, and unless you have someone going around and vetting all the local expenditures in the country, it's hopeless. Furthermore, it would take a very powerful government program with the ability to overturn local decisions to do that, something libertarians would see as an anathema.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:02 PM on February 9, 2006


Malor: The nice thing about your apocalyptic predictions is that they can dovetail with the exact opposite— after that collapse which brings us to total "libertarianism," the pendulum tends to swing back toward socialism (even *gasp* communism). See: The New Deal.
posted by klangklangston at 11:28 PM on February 9, 2006


once the government is gone, we'll have these things called huge abusive corporations

lol, the one becomes the many.
posted by tweak at 11:42 PM on February 9, 2006


With a Xinhuaian Bloomberg as the only button on the remote control. Prime time viewing for those who've yet to have their tv set taken by a neighbour. Powered by a generator taken from what used to be the local hospital.
posted by Kino at 12:34 AM on February 10, 2006


By eliminating these useless and destructive agencies, we save an additional $276 billion, all of which goes into our tax cut.

Sure, if we can reduce all government functions to a single line critique, it all looks ridiculous. Defense? It's not defense, it's offense. Cut. Transportation? Too many potholes in our roads, doesn't do anything. Cut. Department of Interior? I don't know what they do. Cut, cut, cut.

Libertarians can suck it.
posted by psmealey at 2:39 AM on February 10, 2006


Internet? Just people talking.

>click<
posted by athenian at 4:51 AM on February 10, 2006


I don't resent paying taxes because I know I get an incredible value for the money I pay. The product purchased is called Civilization.

I'm also glad my parents were not randian libertarians. Foraging for breast milk would have been difficult.
posted by srboisvert at 5:11 AM on February 10, 2006


"I don't resent paying taxes because I know I get an incredible value for the money I pay. The product purchased is called Civilization."

I'd wear that on a t-shirt.
posted by Kino at 5:26 AM on February 10, 2006


Over the last decade or so, conservatism in the United States has become increasingly dominated by a couple of key ideas. Several related directly to the use of force and international relations. One, though, has bubbled up from the pool of economic talking points to *pop* noisily and grab everyone's attention. It is simply this: No one has the right to demand that others pay their way.

Often, this comes up in the context of health care or education or welfare or what not. An individual on welfare, after all, is effectively demanding that productive members of society subsidize their lifestyle. How fair is that, hmm? Not one bit. And someone who's wheeled into the emergency room, but can't pay their bills -- why should I, a healthy hard-working American, be forced to pay their bills? It's precisely the sort of thing that private charities should handle. The government is notoriously inefficient at that sort of thing anways, and the market should be allowed to find the perfect solution.

I think the real failure of conservatism is that it hasn't been willing to take this idea all the way -- probably for fear that liberals would be angry, or some pantywaisted silliness like that. I, for one, think it's high time that we embraced the truth.

Not only is it unfair for me to pay for someone else's health care, it's unfair for me to pay for someone else's police protection. After all -- I live a modest life. I drive an older car and I pay my bills and I don't keep valuable things lying around. Why should I pay for the police to investigate burglaries at the houses of millionaires? If thousands of disgruntled employees decide to lay siege to WalMart headquarters, it's certainy not my problem.

Now, many will probably object. "Police protection benefits everyone," they'll bleat. Pshaw. That's exactly what the liberals say about public education, and health care. How much of our nation's money is sucked into the black hole of law enforcement? Far, far too much in my opinion. If you have soemthing valuable, you should be able to afford to protect it! And if you can't, well. I shouldn't be punished for your irresponsible behavior.

Now, if you don't mind, I have to head off. I'm organizing a looting party for this Friday.
posted by verb at 5:55 AM on February 10, 2006


I don't resent paying taxes because I know I get an incredible value for the money I pay. The product purchased is called Civilization.

Dude, it's only forty bucks on Amazon.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:11 AM on February 10, 2006


this verb person is exactly the sort of snivelly scum i despise to the core. we could jibber-jabber all day but that's where we'd arrive. it goes to a molecular level. dirt.

verb person, the one goodpoint about you in my opinion is that if a hell exists you'll rot in it, although, being you, you already are. i take joy in that.
posted by Kino at 7:02 AM on February 10, 2006


Yikes, I just had a vision of a libertarian God game.

Libertarianism. A new game where you just sit around watching while bad stuff happens to people on screen. There's nothing you can do, other than form ineffective self-help groups. No mouse or keyboard required.

Gameplay: 1/5
Ease of use: 5/5
posted by athenian at 7:02 AM on February 10, 2006


Kino: just for the record, I thought my post was obvious sarcasm. But. Y'know. If it wasn't obvious...
posted by verb at 7:09 AM on February 10, 2006


ok. sorry.

you'll agree then my words still apply. not to you, but to the part you were playing, of which there are many. i read it as snideyness not a script. on second read, fair enough.
posted by Kino at 7:15 AM on February 10, 2006


fair enough = yeah you wasn't being yourself.
posted by Kino at 7:17 AM on February 10, 2006


  It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with 49037.
posted by Eideteker at 7:21 AM on February 10, 2006


Kino, yeah, I'd have a similar response to yours if anyone honestly advocated that kind of philosophy. The irony is that it's sold with a sort of down-home populism ('I'm just a workin' man, don't take my money away from me!') but the folks who actually work and produce and keep the nation going are the ones who suffer most under that sort of 'every man for himself' system.
posted by verb at 7:25 AM on February 10, 2006


true. regular folk who fall for it find themselves living with the bad points but not the benefits it passes a minority.. yet they fall for it, like the monkey who put his hand in the jar.. suckers.
posted by Kino at 7:47 AM on February 10, 2006


17 long hard years of tory rule here i hope taught this nation a lesson it'll never again repeat.
posted by Kino at 7:55 AM on February 10, 2006


And just like that, a million straw men were reduced to litter.
posted by Kwantsar at 8:15 AM on February 10, 2006


Do you have anything substantive to add, Kwantsar? Or were you just snarking?
posted by bshort at 9:21 AM on February 10, 2006


Kwantsar, sure my post was a straw man. No less so than Ostrowski's absurd hypersimplifications. He suggested eliminating the EPA entirely because it was created while Jimmy Carter was president.

The problem I have with most of these 'daring' individuals is that they're all about making noise, but wander off to play ideological purity games when it's time to figure out the tough details. He proposes essentially eliminating the federal government, but apparently believes magic pixies will solve all of the problems that result from that. (Hint: in this context, 'The Market' is a magic pixie.)
posted by verb at 10:02 AM on February 10, 2006


He suggested eliminating the EPA entirely because it was created while Jimmy Carter was president.

Um, I may be crazy, but I thought I detected the lump of a tongue in a cheek in that article. I think Kwantsar's point was that to take the article as representing all of Libertarian thought was a bit of an oversimplification.
posted by freebird at 10:26 AM on February 10, 2006


I love the Libertarian Godgame, by the way. Your city is being flooded! You have the following options:

a) tell those affected they should have bought on higher ground.
b) re-read Atlas Shrugged.
c) figure out how to adapt the "give a man a fish" adage to apply to swimming lessons.
posted by freebird at 10:29 AM on February 10, 2006


Please don't tar all libertarians with the Objectivist brush. Those nuts have been holding the party back for years.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:30 AM on February 10, 2006


libertarian = one who supports civil liberties
Libertarian = one who supports corporate fascism (Norquist)
posted by nofundy at 10:40 AM on February 10, 2006


Yeah, that's what's been holding the party back. </sarcasm>
posted by bshort at 10:40 AM on February 10, 2006


c) figure out how to adapt the "give a man a fish" adage to apply to swimming lessons.

Oh, yeah?!
Well TNSTAAFL dude! :-)
posted by nofundy at 10:42 AM on February 10, 2006


libertine = one who knows how to party!
posted by nofundy at 10:42 AM on February 10, 2006


Yeah, that's what's been holding the party back.

They ain't pushing it forward.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:42 AM on February 10, 2006


freebird nails it.

It's true that anarchocapitalism is a libertarian philosophy, and thus, The Mises Institute and its fellow travelers are indeed libertarians. However, most of the attacks on libertarianism and libertarians in this thread are just fucking stupid.

For example, I'd wager that 90% of libertarians support abolishment of the DOT, but that doesn't mean that 90% of libertarians support full privatisation of all roadways. In fact, most libertarians that I know think that roads should be left to the states and supported by user fees and gas taxes.

It's truly laughable (to me, at least) that progressives piss and moan nonstop about how bad cars are for America, while supporting the DOT, an outfit that takes money from the general fund to subsidize roadways. They want the social costs of oil (and the resultant externalities) to be properly assessed while mocking libertarians who want the economic costs of oil to be properly assessed (by tearing down the DOT).
posted by Kwantsar at 10:57 AM on February 10, 2006


So lets say the states take care of everything and the federal government, such as it'd be, is really just there to mediate disputes between the states and to ensure interstate free trade.

So the states are still going to have to provide roads, utilities, social safety net, individual defense, police forces, regulation (environmental, commercial, etc.), monetary systems, education, etc. Basically all the things that the federal government does or provides for.

What does that even get you? You'll still have all the bureaucracy and governmental overhead, except for the fact that you'll have 50 different departments of the interior, etc.

What is it that you're actually wanting out of this massive and wasteful reorganization?

You'll basically just get the EU, but without the charming cultural differences.
posted by bshort at 11:11 AM on February 10, 2006


I sure would like to run into these 90% of libertarians you say exist, Kwanstar.

Because I only ever run into the 10% that talk like this idiot linked to here.
posted by teece at 11:13 AM on February 10, 2006


So the states are still going to have to provide roads,
They do, except for interstate highways.

utilities,

My utilities are local to my state.

social safety net,

I don't have one, do you? The people I know on welfare or in section 8 live like slaves.

individual defense,

What?

police forces,

The federal police, like FBI, CIA? Do you think those organizations act very lawfully?

regulation (environmental, commercial, etc.),

I wouldn't get rid of ALL of it. They are doing a shitty job regulating these corporations, though, it seems to me. I don't think the greatest offenders could stay in business without direct or indirect gov. subsidies, though.

What if Wal-Mart actually had to provide health care to their workers, instead of making YOU pay for it?

I've yet to see a convincing libertarian solution to environmental damages, though. The EPA is AOK.

monetary systems,

Read some Austrian economics and then tell me how good the Fed does. You are getting robbed.

education, etc. Basically all the things that the federal government does or provides for.

I am underwhelmed by my federally-funded education.

Like I said, I wouldn't trash it ALL. If the Green party would drop gun control and learn a little economics, I'd join them instead.

meh. All that is idealistic stuff, though. I'll probably vote Dem this election just to put up some marginal resistance to the now-completely-insane Republicans.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:25 AM on February 10, 2006


What?

State defense and defense against other countries.

I don't have one, do you? The people I know on welfare or in section 8 live like slaves.

What the hell are you talking about? If you lose your job you can collect unemployment. If that runs out you can get food stamps. When you get old enough you can collect social security.

The federal police, like FBI, CIA? Do you think those organizations act very lawfully?

That's a non-sequitur. Whether or not the current administration uses these organizations for their own ends doesn't change the fact that there's a need for them to exist.

What if Wal-Mart actually had to provide health care to their workers, instead of making YOU pay for it?

Or, what if they didn't? How would you enforce that?

I am underwhelmed by my federally-funded education.

Well that's too bad, because my federally funded education was awesome.

Read some Austrian economics and then tell me how good the Fed does. You are getting robbed.

Another non-sequitur. There will still be a medium of exchange whether it's dollar bills, coins, or beans. Considering the US has the largest economy in the world, it seems that you don't know what you're talking about.

You know, you managed to attempt to address everyone of my arguments except for the last one. So in your magical libertarian utopia the federal government lets the states do all these things. So what? These things still have to be done. Someone is still going to have to pay for these things.
posted by bshort at 12:16 PM on February 10, 2006


Um, I may be crazy, but I thought I detected the lump of a tongue in a cheek in that article. I think Kwantsar's point was that to take the article as representing all of Libertarian thought was a bit of an oversimplification.

Okay, fine. The problem is that I never run into these sane, evenhanded realist Libertarians people keep posting about. Perhaps I'm just unlucky! What I run into are smuggy folks like Ostrowski who propose the dismantling of the federal government (except for the enforcement of contract law, which is essential to the survival of humanity) and expect a cookie for the idea.

I'll accept that there are sane, reasonable folks under the libertarian flag who have constructive and reasonable solutions to the problems that face our nation. You've got a serious problem, though, when this kind of tripe is the most visible material coming out of your camp.
posted by verb at 12:17 PM on February 10, 2006


bshort: good grief. I knew I shouldn't have bothered. It would take far too long to go into detail on your last post, but:

The Big Idea is that it is much, much cheaper FOR YOU if you get these services from somewhere other than the federal government, not that such services should disappear. We all have to live.

The only arguments to make against such de-federalization is a) whether it is possible to de-federalize a program and/or b) whether or not such a privatized or state-icized service would actually be a better value for the citizen.

Your vision of the entire fabric of society disappearing overnight is ridiculous and is clearly not what any serious economist would advocate.

It is all about whether we are getting our money's worth from the federal government. In many cases, we aren't, as far as I can tell.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:29 PM on February 10, 2006


verb and teece-- I suggest you unplug for awhile. People in real life tend to be a little less nutty than ePeople.
posted by Kwantsar at 12:45 PM on February 10, 2006


sonofsamiam, there's another important dimension to this discussion, though: history. experience has taught us, as a culture, that many things essential for the kind of society we desire do not simply spring up miraculously from the market's equitable and fertile soil.

Whenever western cultures have drifted towards the ideals most Libertarians (and CERTAINLY objectivists) seem to be espousing, the results have been great for people with power and terribly bad for people without it. The best argument I've heard in defense of those ideas is essentially the Soviet Defense: No one's ever implemented TRUE socialism/libertarianism/whatever.

The whole 'let state governments take care of it' argument strikes me as rather disingenuous, because the majority of the arguments made against federal government apply to states as well. In that sense, you need to articulate the reason why California providing X is qualitatively different than The United States providing X.

When we pay taxes, we are not simply purchasing services. We are purchasing a society in which all people receive those services.
posted by verb at 12:48 PM on February 10, 2006


verb and teece-- I suggest you unplug for awhile. People in real life tend to be a little less nutty than ePeople.

Nah, I'm talking about the libertarians I know In Real Life. One eventually decided the libertarians weren't hardcore enough and became an anarchist, though. That's another story entirely.
posted by verb at 12:50 PM on February 10, 2006


bshort: good grief. I knew I shouldn't have bothered. It would take far too long to go into detail on your last post, but:

You took all that time to address the first part of my post but then completely ignored my actual point.

The Big Idea is that it is much, much cheaper FOR YOU if you get these services from somewhere other than the federal government, not that such services should disappear. We all have to live.

Yeah, that's what I'm trying to get at. Why is it cheaper? Why would this be so much better?

The only arguments to make against such de-federalization is a) whether it is possible to de-federalize a program and/or b) whether or not such a privatized or state-icized service would actually be a better value for the citizen.

Uh, that's a straw man and a false dilemma. Prove to me that citizens would actually get a better value. Libertarians keep saying things like that but they never have any actual proof. How would that save money? Because the federal government is so inefficient? Medicare / Medicaid are much much much more efficient than private insurance companies.

The government doesn't have to extract profit from it's activities. Corporations do. One administration for a given government department is more efficient than 50 little administrations which will each have to have a director, support staff, etc.

Your vision of the entire fabric of society disappearing overnight is ridiculous and is clearly not what any serious economist would advocate.

Indeed, but it sure seems to be what most libertarians are advocating.

It is all about whether we are getting our money's worth from the federal government. In many cases, we aren't, as far as I can tell.

Yeah, see rich people don't get "their money's worth" at all. But government isn't really there to protect them. It's to protect the lower and middle classes. They're the ones who need protection from other countries / corporations / monopolies / the machinations of the rich.
posted by bshort at 12:51 PM on February 10, 2006


Look, there is a wealth of information on mises.org and other places as to why the Federal Government does not perform well.

The government doesn't have to extract profit from it's activities. Corporations do. One administration for a given government department is more efficient than 50 little administrations which will each have to have a director, support staff, etc.

I'm dumbfounded. Government agencies and employees have the same economic motivations as corporations and corporate employees.

The War on Drugs is a perfect example. There is a huge prison industry that relies on taxpayer-funded federal force to supply the "raw material" that the industry turns into profits. The federal agencies have incentive to keep the wicked WoD going, the prisons do, and the legislators do.

It is the studied opinion of libertarians that the overly strong central government is the crucial component in keeping such scams afloat.

I want the military-industrial complex choked to death. That will never, ever happen under either Republicans or Democrats.

Yeah, see rich people don't get "their money's worth" at all. But government isn't really there to protect them. It's to protect the lower and middle classes.

No, the rich get a very good value from the federal government and the poor don't, that's why the middle class is disappearing. If not for the terrible economic policy we've been subjected to, small business owners would flourish instead of multi-national chains, and the poor could get as good a return on investment as the rich do.

I come from dirt-farming Okies. I have never had more than $3000 at one time, and then only extremely briefly. It is because I care about the poor that I wish for them to have the same economic opportunities as the rich have. I'm no plutocrat, OK?

I want the same outcomes as 90% of the Green Party's platform. I think they don't realistically know how to acheive their goals.

---

There is a school of Quaker thought that opposes federalization because all federal activities are funded by federal taxes, and thus are imposed by force, which Quakers oppose. That is the gist of libertarianism for me, no good can come by imposing our values on others. You cannot force people not to be greedy. If you try, they will just join the enforcing team (i.e. the gov) and steal that way.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:09 PM on February 10, 2006


Bshort: Another good example is the student loan program, which (when run as a non-profit governmental agency) gets much higher returns on investment than private lenders lending for the same purpose.

Kwantsar: Actually, the libertarians I see online tend to be much better educated and articulate than the yabbos that I know in real life who describe themseles as libertarians.
posted by klangklangston at 1:09 PM on February 10, 2006


I'm dumbfounded. Government agencies and employees have the same economic motivations as corporations and corporate employees.

That's truly the dumbest thing I've ever heard. The motivation of a corporation is to return money / value to its owners. The motivation of a government is to keep the constituents of its elected representatives happy. You can try to redefine "profit" all you want, but you'll just be wrong.

No, the rich get a very good value from the federal government and the poor don't, that's why the middle class is disappearing. If not for the terrible economic policy we've been subjected to, small business owners would flourish instead of multi-national chains, and the poor could get as good a return on investment as the rich do.

The current administration is giving everything to large corporations and the very rich by cutting their taxes. That's not what all governments do.

I come from dirt-farming Okies. I have never had more than $3000 at one time, and then only extremely briefly. It is because I care about the poor that I wish for them to have the same economic opportunities as the rich have. I'm no plutocrat, OK?

Yet you seem to side with the plutocrats against people just like you.

klangklangston - excellent point.
posted by bshort at 1:16 PM on February 10, 2006


Bshort: Another good example is the student loan program, which (when run as a non-profit governmental agency) gets much higher returns on investment than private lenders lending for the same purpose.

I'd love to see a cite, there.

And bshort, you can argue that Medicare and Medicaid are morally just, but the efficiency argument is a red herring-- the Medicare and Medicaid merely shift the paperwork burden onto hospitals. That's not an efficiency gain, it's sleight-of-hand.
posted by Kwantsar at 1:17 PM on February 10, 2006


Kwantsar - See it helps if you actually read what other people write. That way they can't mock you quite as easily.

I didn't use the student loan program as an example, but klangklangston did. Think about it. The government loans a student a pile of money. The government will provide a much much better interest rate than a bank will because the bank has to provide a profit to its shareholders. The government doesn't.

And, I didn't say Medicare and Medicaid was "morally just." I said they were much much more efficient than private insurance companies. How is the paperwork that a hospital has to complete that much different for Medicaid / Medicare than for private insurance companies?
posted by bshort at 1:21 PM on February 10, 2006


I read it, pal. I just made a mistake as I tried to respond to two people. Nice of you to be a dick about it, though.

And I didn't say that you said that M/M were morally just. I said that the moral justice argument is a better one than the efficiency argument. I don't have a RAND report, or anything, but maybe you could start here.

And, lastly, your point about SLMA is a non-sequitur, as far as I can tell, since klangklangston said that the feds were better on an ROI measure. Which has little to do with what you wrote.
posted by Kwantsar at 1:32 PM on February 10, 2006


Yet you seem to side with the plutocrats against people just like you.

It seems that way to you, maybe.

The main difference between the non-governmentally affiliated corporation and the government is that I am forced, with the threat of imprisonment, to deal with the government and its attendant corporate components. (It gets harder and harder to draw the public/private line every day in this country.)

I can tell the independent corporation to fuck themselves. There are many corporations I do not deal with on principle.

The motivation of a corporation is to return money / value to its owners. The motivation of a government is to keep the constituents of its elected representatives happy. You can try to redefine "profit" all you want, but you'll just be wrong.

Money is only a stand-in for what people really want. There are far more powerful incentives, as you know.

Ken Lay? Abramoff? One is a politician, one is a corporate seat-filler. Both have robbed Americans. Both have used the federal government as a crucial and irreducible component of their theft.

Now, you will say, but the federal government is the one prosecuting these guys! That is true. That is why I am still a libertarian and not yet an anarchist.

I can see why Kwantsar, who is much more knowledgable than me on economics, usually doesn't bother.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:36 PM on February 10, 2006


Kwantsar: I remember seeing the citation based on a Budget Oversight Committee report being used to support an Op/Ed in the NY Times about the limits of privatization a little before the 2004 election. I can't seem to find a direct cite, but I'll keep looking. (The basic reason for why the ROI was worse was that there were more middleman costs associated with the private lenders).
posted by klangklangston at 4:20 PM on February 10, 2006


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