Not making a difference since 2006. Blog motto: Always be sincere whether you mean it or not.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Libertarianism takes a hit

Libertarianism took it on the chin yesterday from Dennis Mangan. He was responding to another one of Bryan Caplan's passionate screeds for more immigrants so Bryan can have better waiters and service people at his beck and call. Bryan is an easy target as he is insulated as a tenured professor while Effie Mae who needs the work to keep things together in the trailer will lose out to the newcomer who has an even smaller cost of living. Bryan has absolutely no sympathy for Effie, just economic efficiency. Dennis does have some fun and though I am most of the way a libertarian, I can concede a point when necessary.

So, lets do a different thought experiment than Dennis.' Choose from the items below who you want for a provider, government or market:

Schools. We homeschool so you know where we stand.

Military. Mercenaries have a bad rap and I am ambivalent on the subject, but your government is okay with them. They have hired contractors such as Blackwater and Erinsys to fight our countries battles in Iraq.

Post Office. I use the USPS, but if there were not subsidies they would have a lot less customers.

War on Drugs. A true lib would be against the WoD at the outset. The fact that the program has not diminshed supply in its long operation should give even the most devout statist pause.

I believe the examples above are obvious. We can get into arguments about socialized medicine, which I think would be a disaster, but someone could say their cousin in Canada loves it and we would just be trading anecdotes.

Dennis' examples were very good. They were a fair indictment of anarchy, but not of minarchy. His comment that, "The comments to Caplan's post, currently numbering over a hundred, offer a window into the mind of the libertarian, showing on the one hand why they never get elected, and on the other why libertarians are merely leftists who like money." is over the top and unfair. Some of the Reason crowd has gone astray and are very afraid of sounding un PC and do seem to snipe from the left especially Nick Gillespie. I could not come up with a bigger caricature of someone trying to be a cool guy libertarian. In one of his Hit & Run entries he, with high purpose, attacked Prince Albert of Monaco. And what evidence did the man use to bludgeon His Highness. He quoted from Tatum O'Neil's memoir which he admits to reading. Well, I wish I had as serious a life.

My sympathies are Libertarian. As mentioned in a previous post, I believe there are only three civil rights: Life, Liberty and Property. Anything else is the attempt of one group to secure privileges at the expense of another group or society itself. Of the three above, Property is the most important. If the individual's property is secure, there is little reason for anyone to take his life or liberty.

But, of course, nothing is perfect. We are not all ready to be Libertarian because the word is divided into cognitive classes:

Class 1, People who know enough to come in out of the rain.

Class 2, People who don't.

If this were not bad enough, there is another class.

Class 3, People who know enough to come in out of the rain but want someone else to get them in.

Class 3 is adept at getting its way in democracies because they can find the ballot box and there are more of them than Class 1.

I am not the Randroid type who wants Class 2 to be cast off, but I don't think the state does a very good job of watching over them. The problem is Class 3 all too often votes its own benefits in the name of Class 2.

I don't see it changing anytime soon.


Minarchist said...

Don't you think its unfair to characterize Rand's position as wanting class 2 to be "cast off"? Rand thought that when people are free of government coercion, the type of people who WANT to help class 2 will, because its what they want to do. She also believed in human "benevolence" and thought that the enforced altruism of collectivism stifled it.

tvoh said...


That's as maybe. I have known too many Rand types who do feel that way.

I am not an expert in her theory. I read Virtue of Selfishness and some othe stuff years ago. As I do not remember perfectly and was not exhaustive in the study, I defer to you.