The US Libertarian party

Every now and again I say something, and someone replies with stuff about wild-eyed Libertarians, and I don’t care because I don’t know any of them. But anyway, via RS I ended up at lp.org and this seemed a reasonable chance to find out what they thought; so I ended up reading their platform. I urge you to; it is short, succinct, and quite readable; as well as being rather wild-eyed. As I know nothing about flavours of Libertarianism in the US of A, I’m going to assume they are typical or mainstream, for libertarians that is.

I pick out a couple of things: schools, taxes and the environment.

I’ll do schools first, because Timmy did just recently. And we all know how wild-eyed he is. He says

But perhaps there is some other public good that is created by education? Adam Smith certainly thought so about primary schooling. Being part of a generally literate and numerate nation is perhaps a public good. But does college meet that standard? Opinions can differ here but I would say no. Certainly not at the level that 30 to 50% of the age cohort go to college.

Well, you can disagree on that last part if you like, since it’s not relevant. The LP version is:

Education is best provided by the free market, achieving greater quality, accountability and efficiency with more diversity of choice. Recognizing that the education of children is a parental responsibility, we would restore authority to parents to determine the education of their children, without interference from government. Parents should have control of and responsibility for all funds expended for their children’s education.

When I first read that, I thought they meant no govt funding of schools. And that might be what they mean. But they could also mean no govt running of schools – you could square that with the govt providing funding via vouchers, and the free market running the schools; and you could square that with Adam Smith. Though it would be an awkward match; the more natural reading is no govt in schooling in any form. Since that’s further out than Adam Smith or Timmy, it is waay out there maan.

[Update: re-reading, I’ve noticed that their platform is a rather political “is best provided”, implying a choice amongst many permissible options. What they’re not stating is that, stating from principles, they can deduce this policy. So it can’t be part of the libertarian core. Its a choice; its in tune with other things they like; but its not necessary.]

Taxes

They’re pretty blunt about taxes, as you’d expect:

All persons are entitled to keep the fruits of their labor. We call for the repeal of the income tax, the abolishment of the Internal Revenue Service and all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution. We oppose any legal requirements forcing employers to serve as tax collectors. Government should not incur debt, which burdens future generations without their consent. We support the passage of a “Balanced Budget Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution, provided that the budget is balanced exclusively by cutting expenditures, and not by raising taxes.

So, fine, no income tax. And they say that again in the “issues” section. However they do believe in basic functions of government – running a justice system, for example; a military, albeit reduced – so they don’t believe in no government spending; so they’re not allowed to be so coy on exactly what taxes they would levy.

Environment

And of course, the environment. As expected, they’re strong on property rights, but have nothing to say about “commons” types issues; so they can do nothing about global warming except ignore the topic entirely, which they then do. They say While energy is needed to fuel a modern society, government should not be subsidizing any particular form of energy. We oppose all government control of energy pricing, allocation, and production so they’re definitely against subsidy, which is good. But would they be forced to oppose a carbon tax? Possibly; and as before, the natural reading would be to assume so. Anyway, they lose points for refusing to be clear and probably for refusing to be sensible.

Conclusion

I agree with lots of what they say, of course; but I didn’t bother quote those bits. This is the manifesto of a party like the Green party – a party that doesn’t expect to get elected. It is an indication of general intent, not an actual programme for government, which is fine by them as they won’t be in government. So they’re free to take a hard pure line, which keeps things simple, which is how you can tell it isn’t realistic. What I think they mean by all this is that if they were in a coalition, or if in some circumstance they were given the chance to tilt the govt in a certain direction, then you know which direction they’d move in. The idea of having the freedom to put all their policies in place is so far from their minds that they don’t have to bother work out what the real end goal is. And at this stage of the game, that’s not too unreasonable.

[Update: in recent days their – or perhaps GJ’s, it isn’t clear – postion on GW and/or carbon taxes hit the spotlight. And like all parties not really ready for prime time, they wilted under the glare of scrutiny, flipping from carbon “fee” to no carbon taxes.]

Refs

* A definition of Libertarianism: “The basic premise of this philosophy is that it is illegitimate to engage in aggression against nonaggressors… The uniqueness of Libertarianism is found not in the statement of its basic principle but in the rigorously consistent, even maniacal manner with which the principle is applied. For example, most people do not see any contradiction between this principle and our system of taxation. Libertarians do.”

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93 thoughts on “The US Libertarian party”

  1. The section on taxes is utter and complete nonsense. I suspect if you actually sat down and explicated the sentences, derived meaning from them – you might, might – actually realize how much nonsense is encapsulated therein.

    Entitled to the fruits of their labor? Umm, no. Most of the fruit is skimmed off the top by employers. Growing larger every decade lately. Sort of the whole point in growing inequality.

    *Required* under the constitution? Nothing is *required* under the constitution’s Article 8. Congress has the *power* to do a million things – but none of them are required. Jesus – have they even *read* the constitution?

    No withholding, no IRS. How then are taxes collected and enforced? Create some taxation police department, but just don’t call it the IRS? Only through sales taxes? I can imagine the nightmare *that* would entail.

    Budget and debt. Simplistic policies for simplistic minds. Let’s just throw out two centuries of economic knowledge and wing it. These are the same people that say a gov’t should run a budget like a family has to – forgetting mortgages, car payments, personal loans, credit cards, etc.

    There is not a clause – much less complete sentence – that isn’t nonsense. These people make Trump supporters look well-grounded in reality.

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  2. Oh, and one of the dumbest things they’re in favor of – but didn’t apparently make their official platform – is a return to the gold standard. Most of their members are obsessed with it. Note the Federal Reserve would also disappear since it’s not *required* by the Constitution. Oh wait – I forgot – the whole gov’t would disappear except for congress and the courts.

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  3. I like how Kevin above uses the current standard of income tax, and holds it against the LP, the ones wanting to get rid of all income tax. They believe what they said, we all are entitled to what we earn. Even worse, the “wisdom” of economics are sound? That’s why we have how much in debt and a gov that spends without disclosure?

    [Ah, at last, someone prepared to defend them. Welcome -W]

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  4. Even the party platforms (in the US) of the two parties that expect to be elected are of limited significance. While the platform may indicate general tendencies and preferences, individual candidates may not agree with all of it. Many candidates may not even read the platform; you’re better off viewing the materials released by the individual campaigns themselves. From a distance, it seems to me that the platforms are written by some hardcore ideologically-motivated activists: the same types as your Libertarians who dream up ideas in a vacuum where reality does not intrude. These are not the people who need to govern; they may be earnest but in my opinion they are not serious.

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  5. And there is
    “We oppose all laws at any level of government restricting, registering, or monitoring the ownership, manufacture, or transfer of firearms or ammunition.”

    [Oh, sure. But you probably don’t realise how mad *all* USAnian pols look to those of us outside. On gun laws the Libertarians don’t differ greatly from the Pachyderms -W]

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  6. The Dems had an interesting set of platform drafting meetings, driven if nothing else by Clinton’s agreeing to allow Sanders to appoint a number of members to the committee. Usually the winning candidate controls the entire process.

    Sanders selected Bill McKibben and Clinton Carol Browner

    The meetings are all available on CSPAN

    You can read the platform here, and search on climate change

    [Thanks. That confirms what I’ve seen on the news: that in terms of the economy, the Donkeys are also mad, just in a different direction. For example, the minimum wage should be abolished.

    But the Donkey platform is primarily PR: for example, since you mention GW, we have Democrats share a deep commitment to tackling the climate challenge; creating millions of good-paying middle class jobs…. You see the problem? -W]

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  7. You can’t understand the US libertarian party without understanding the extent to which it is the creature of Charles and David Koch. Much of the relevant detail can be found in the book “Dark Money.” The Koch’s, the billionaire brothers whose net worth is about $100 billion, have long been the principal funders of libertarian propaganda organizations like the Cato institute, and a host of others, including the economics program of George Mason University, Reason magazine and dozens more.

    David Koch was the libertarian VP candidate some years back and with his money their campaign got about 1% of the vote. After that debacle, Charles Koch decided to take over the Republican party instead, and was highly successful until the Trump cannon got loose this year.

    Not sure to what extent they support Johnson, but he, like them, is down the line anti-government.

    Fred Koch, their father, was a founding member of the John Birch Society, an anti-Communist organization which set out to emulate Communist tactics against them. They believed Eisenhower was a Communist. Charles and David joined up too, but broke ranks when they found the leadership too domineering and incompetent.

    Fred made his money selling oil refineries to Hitler and Stalin – but decided he liked Hitler better.

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  8. carrot eater writes:”…the same types as your Libertarians who dream up ideas in a vacuum where reality does not intrude.

    Seriously, is there any other type? Getting rid of the IRS, Federal Reserve, returning to the Gold Standard, wiping out 90% of the Federal gov’t (and an even higher percentage if we include state & local gov’t) is not a set of beliefs held by a small minority of libertarians. Nay, it’s the vast majority.

    They are, in reality, anarchists

    [No, they aren’t. You don’t seem to trouble yourself with facts very much. They are clearly in favour of a govt run judicial system -W]

    – they just don’t like to couch it that way. Many of them still cling to a belief in the Efficient Markets Hypothesis and Real Business Cycle theory; theories that never had any connection to reality, but had an immediate ideological appeal to laissez faire capitalists. The last 35 years of economic history have shown both to be just a wee bit deficient in correlating to this here reality we live in. Doesn’t put a crimp in their beliefs , though.

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  9. It may be worth mentioning that even though the Libertarian platform is a bit coy on the environment, they are adamantly opposed to government environmental regulations of all sort. The Kochs, with a substantial portion of their wealth in oil, are generous funders of climate denial.

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  10. Julia Azari at Politico has an article up today, Why Hasn’t the Republican Party Collapsed? The article is nothing special in and of itself, but in the context of the OP this I find germane:

    “If a new party were founded today, we might expect that it would have goals like addressing racial inequality or income inequality in a modern economy, or developing a workable immigration system. “

    This seems like common sense and indeed the two major parties at least try to pretend they have solutions – though much of it is rhetoric. The Libertarian Party? They don’t even bother to pretend.

    I especially like their “A compassionate society will find other ways to help people who need temporary assistance.” This after they’ve done away with all gov’t assistance. Which of course proves you’re truly compassionate.

    And then consider their stance on Social Security Income. It’s not a secret that SSI is a pay-as-you-go system; it’s not a gov’t run retirement savings account. One might think Libertarians haven’t really thought any of this through.

    And after privatizing SSI, what of those who fall prey to stashing their future retirement funds with some dot com bust or junk bond or the latest unregulated securitization product? Well, we know a compassionate society will find other ways to help people who need temporary (?) assistance. In other words, bummer – work til you’re dead.

    It gets better. The same people that believe it’s immoral to pass on debt to future generations have zero problems selling off the nation’s assets *today* for the benefit of *today* without a single thought about future generations. Thomas Jefferson is not amused.

    Ever since Reagan the GOP in the USA has to be considered clinically insane (with a slight recovery under Bush the Elder). It’s no coincidence that the lunatic fringe of the GOP have long been the libertarian-bent members. The Libertarian Party is where the inmates run the asylum.

    [This thread wasn’t an invitation to post large amounts of the obvious, or to rant about how much you hate the Libertarians. That the Libertarians would, for example, wish to abolish social security is (a) obvious and (b) clearly written down in their platform. They’re happy to put it forward as one of their virtues -W]

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  11. The interesting thing is how much the Libertarian economic platform is a recipe for stagnation. The gold standard is an artificial straitjacket;

    [Hold on. You’re not allowed to just make stuff up and then complain about it. There’s nothing about GS in their platform. I can find https://www.lp.org/poll/should-we-go-back-to-the-gold-standard but that’s just a poll of the membership -W]

    and removing the ability of the government to run deficits when there is an economic downturn will make such downturns worse – for no good reason. And removing all sense of economic security gives you this kind of problem..

    http://www.pri.org/stories/2013-06-16/how-gold-fetish-killing-indias-economy

    [Yes, but that’s different. That’s nothing to do with the gold standard. If you’re interested in that topic, Timmy has a more useful article than the one you pointed to; see http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2016/08/05/so-why-do-indian-households-invest-so-much-in-gold -W]

    Basically, everyone sits on (and tries to add to) their pile of gold which effectively removes wealth from the economy as fast as it is created.

    That aside, the most interesting thing I find about libertarians is their contortions when it comes to the possibility that their ideal society may decide to do collective things. What happens if a majority of citizens of Libertaria vote for universal primary education to be paid out of an income tax? I’ve seen a few effectively argue that this would not be allowed.. which leads to the interesting conclusion that our Libertarian society would have to be a dictatorship.

    [That, too, is a topic covered by Hayek. You are unwittingly revealing your ignorance of political theory; but I wouldn’t have know the “answer” until just recently either. The answer is that indeed, no, a “dictatorship of the proletariat” is not supreme. The authority of the democracy is not unlimited -W]

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  12. This article IN A SCIENCE BLOG starts by admitting it doesn’t even do basic research in the subject, and the commenters are even more irresponsible. It gets started with failure to make basic distinctions as between Libertarians and libertarians, and downhill from there. It’s basically evaluating Science from a Golden Book article on atoms meant as an introduction.

    It also ignores that all platform positions follow the principle that they’re against it if coercive, otherwise it’s a matter for democracy. They ask all members to certify they don’t advocate coercion or initiation of force. The Libertarian party says explicitly on its first page it IS NOT Libertarian but libertarian – direction, etc…

    I recommend getting involved in the Libertarian International Organization and do some basic research.

    [Well, for myself, I’d consider reading the party platform to be basic research. You seem to be surprised and somewhat annoyed that anyone has read what they’ve written and taken them seriously. Which rather amplifies my conclusions.

    If you’re in some way part of the party, perhaps you could clarify the ambiguities I’ve identified. For example, is govt funding of primary schooling permitted? -W]

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  13. I’m banned from reading Forbes due to ad blockers..

    [That’s a self-ban, so its up to you really. Its also trivial to circumvent, so you have no excuse: http://archive.is/MjQmD -]

    I wasn’t going as far as a “dictatorship of the proletariat” – but noting that even the UK parliamentary system, which is hardly a radical democracy of the masses, has the principle that one parliament cannot bind the hands of a future parliament. But a Libertarian society is clearly bound in such a way. No doubt the libertarian Praetorian Guard will be an uncorrupt arbiter of what laws are allowed.

    [The UK parliament claims full sovereignty, yes. But that’s not something that you have to agree with, as I said -W]

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  14. This thread wasn’t an invitation to post large amounts of the obvious, or to rant about how much you hate the Libertarians.

    Wait – what other rational purpose could it have?

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  15. The author likes to wash away most of these platform ideas as preposterous with a wave of his hand and little more. As if any intelligent person would recognize how silly these ideas are – no further explanation is needed.

    FYI: No income tax, no government funded schools, limited government, etc. is how this country operated for the majority of its existence. You can argue what we have now is better, but acting as if these ideas are silly is not an argument.

    Regarding the environment. Libertarians believe people are free to do what they want up and to the point their actions harm others. If your actions degrade the environment and that degradation harms me, that action is not lawful. There is plenty of room for environmentalism under a libertarian platform.

    [I don’t find that convincing. It could work well enough for localised harm – emissions of sewage for example – but applying it to GW is harder. Nor is it clear that the Libertarian world view would let you sue people in a different country. How do you see the Libertarians handling GW? -W]

    Finally, I encourage all of you to look at the pros and cons of the libertarian platform – scientifically. But you need to be just as critical of your own pet party platforms. So many people simply ignored the ramifications of Bernie Sanders platform (and the feasibility of it economically.) When pressed about these items my Sanders supporting friends would answer, “Well he’ll only be able to move us in that direction, we will never get all the way to where he says he wants to go, so its OK.”
    If that is your justification for supporting someone, then you need to apply the same standard to the libertarian platform. Moving in the platform direction, but not getting all the way to the extreme.
    When you do that, voting for Johnson in this election starts to make a lot of sense.

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  16. People have to understand that there’s a difference between ideological purity and practicality.

    Yes, a lot of the Libertarian Party platform is ideologically pure and much of it won’t ever come to be for a long while if ever.

    But the practical aspects of libertarianism can be instituted. Fiscal conservatism, a less coercive tax rate, a less interventionist foreign policy, a cessation of gov’t mandated morality: these are some areas in which libertarianism appeals to people and which can be applied.

    In short, don’t get hung up on the ideologically pure side of libertarianism.

    [Mmm, maybe. But “a less coercive tax rate”? They don’t appear to have that level of subtlety available to them: it appears to be all or nothing. Tax is coercion, coercion is forbidden except in very restrictive circumstances, therefore… no tax? I’m not sure that they would recognise the concept of “less coercive”. I wouldn’t be surprised if they vehemently rejected the idea -W]

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  17. As someone who leaned libertarian in my youth, I can give some more insight into their tax ideas. They think that they can fully fund the government through tariffs and user fees.

    [Tariffs? As in import / export tariffs? But those are bad. Mainstream economics says so -W]

    Past presidential candidates have also advocated selling off our vast federal land holdings in the West to pay down the current debt, but I don’t know if that is their current position. Back in my youth they also advocated selling off and privatizing many government functions. (there was some variation among libertarians as to the extent. For example, some advocated converting all roads to toll roads run by private companies, others thought the government should control roads, but that user fees were a better way to pay for them.)

    As for the environment (and many other areas where regulation is currently used) they seem to believe in a regulation through law-suits. If pollution from someone else is damaging your property or health, you sue for damages. Threats of massive losses in law-suits will ensure proper safeguards are enacted. For example, food producers will maintain proper health safeguards to avoid catastrophic lawsuits. They envision the creation of independent private certification organizations for the various industries. consumers would be less likely to purchase non-certified products, and businesses would be forced by the market to join them.

    While there is an essence of reality in these ideas (I’ve worked at companies where the standards and practices were mandated by the liability insurance company, and those standards were much higher than those required by law), but they ignore the reality of corruption, gamesmanship, and collusion that exists in the real world. They also care little about whether their solution is an efficient use of resources; individual liberty and individual property right trump all other concerns.

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  18. “they don’t have to bother work out what the real end goal is. And at this stage of the game, that’s not too unreasonable.”

    Except that, in this election, they are approaching that point. With two ex-governors on their ticket, and a chance to get into the debates, and possibly effect the outcome in a close race, they need to start thinking about the end game.

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  19. [Nor is it clear that the Libertarian world view would let you sue people in a different country. ]

    I am not sure what this has to do with being a libertarian and why suing is the only course of action. The political party in charge of the presidency does not change the tools available to get things done.

    If an action can be shown to cause harm, it is perfectly legitimate to create laws and agreements that would discourage those future actions, here and abroad – GW included. You are not limited to lawsuits as others in this feed seem to think. Every course we have now to modify behavior globally is still at our disposal.

    On another note, Libertarians are not opposed to taxes, they just believe the income tax is a very unfair tax that is detrimental to the economy. Most economists agree.

    And as you pointed out, most economist believe tariffs are bad for economies. Well libertarians agree with science and economists. I don’t know what that other poster is talking about.

    BTW, libertarians try to apply science and logic to all topics not just the ones that suit them.

    Many democrats/republican are happy to point out economics when it suits them. But when it comes to something like raising the minimum wage (nearly every economist agrees this will hurt the poor) they ignore them.

    You many not like a Libertarian’s principles, but you can be confident they will try to apply them across the board.

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  20. Bart Pair,

    If an action can be shown to cause harm, it is perfectly legitimate to create laws and agreements that would discourage those future actions, here and abroad – GW included.

    And if some groups decide that it doesn’t cause harm or don’t care about it causing harm? Should they be coerced by these laws and agreements?

    [Indeed yes. I think it is possible to solve these problems, but the “solutions” we’re seeing so far are facile and unthinking -W]

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  21. ” However they do believe in basic functions of government – running a justice system, for example; a military, albeit reduced – so they don’t believe in no government spending;”

    Always fun asking them *why* this is the case, and when they inevitably admit it’s because the market cannot provide things like justice due to the inherent market failure such a situation would generate then BOOM, you’ve got them and the entire libertarian position basically disappears in a puff of slippery slope logic.

    [I disagree. The idea that the govt gets a monopoly of some functions is perfectly coherent -W]

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  22. [Donkeys are also mad, just in a different direction. For example, the minimum wage should be abolished.]

    Sharecropping was so successful

    [Was it? I wouldn’t know. But its irrelevant, so I don’t know why you mention it -W]

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  23. > [This thread wasn’t an invitation to post large amounts of the obvious, or to rant about how much you hate the Libertarians. That the Libertarians would, for example, wish to abolish social security is (a) obvious and (b) clearly written down in their platform. They’re happy to put it forward as one of their virtues -W]

    Unfortunately for that one, some of us are within one generation of no social insurance and our parents and grandparents told us of those wonderful good old days.

    [Me too. They never mention it -W]

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  24. Bart Pair: “FYI: No income tax, no government funded schools, limited government, etc. is how this country operated for the majority of its existence. […]”

    I assume that by “this country” you mean the USA.

    You’re entirely wrong about schools, at least in my part of “this country” (i.e., New England). We had tax-funded public schools and compulsory schooling starting before 1650. Boston Latin, the oldest school in the USA, was founded in 1635 and is still in operation as a public school. All four New England colonies required local governments to provide public education before 1700.

    And Wikipedia suggests that you’re wrong about the rest of the country, too:

    “By the year 1870, all states had free elementary schools”

    Note that 1870-2016 is substantially “more than half” of this country’s history.

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  25. Bart, my ancestors were among the first of pupils at this free, tax-funded, public school in Hampton, NH …

    … in 1649. And ten generations of children in my family continued to be educated there, up into the mid-20th century.

    Public education has been a distinctive part of America from the very beginning. Shame on you, and your ilk, for trying to destroy that.

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  26. “BTW, libertarians try to apply science and logic to all topics not just the ones that suit them. ”

    I don’t know about that. The libertarians routinely trot out some of the worst global warming denier falsehoods (at least they did when I still got their publications).

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  27. Should have written federal government funded schools, instead of government funded schools. What I wrote is not clear. apologies.

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  28. Sharecropping is what you get in asymmetrical employment situations without regulation and minimum wages. Libertarians are optimists without experience of hard times

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  29. tonylurker writes: “they seem to believe in a regulation through law-suits. If pollution from someone else is damaging your property or health, you sue for damages.”

    And in many cases, in practice they are also big fans of “tort reform” bills that make it harder to sue for damages.

    It’s a sort of shell game: Replace regulatory oversight with “lawsuits”, then make it harder for ordinary people to bring suits. Ta-da!

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  30. Gary Johnson — Libertarian Candidate “Johnson’s answer to the question posed to him in a candidate debate at the Libertarian Party convention: should the United States have entered World Wars I & II? Johnson’s answer: “I don’t know.””
    See https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2016/05/is-the-libertarian-party-serious.php

    When I saw this several months ago, I knew there was nothing else I needed to know. I can possibly see a reasoned argument for not entering WWI. However, I know of no sensible argument in support of the position that the US should not have entered WWII and fought Nazi Germany.

    JD

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  31. Adam Smith was DOA even when he was purportedly alive.

    And, as usual, Tammy is wrong, aka an 0fer (aka a hole in none).

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  32. W:” the Donkey platform is primarily PR:”
    Thank God that is generally the case with all parties hence I chose instead to post the linked video of the Libertarians candidates Governors Johnson & Weld , speaking forthrightly for themselves.

    I suggest you hear what they have to say

    Kevin O’Neil predictably has not a word to say about anything they said.

    Full disclosure: Bill Weld used to be my lawyer, and I have contributed modestly to his campaign: Everett Sargent’s kind ecomium notwithstanding, I remain unburied and Premier Kruschev was denied a state funeral.

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  33. I’ve enjoyed reading a number of different views of libertarianism. One aspect of libertarianism that I’m the most interested in is social welfare, which is a crucial part of any political theory, but has been missing thus far.

    My take on the libertarian view on social welfare is that libertarians believe that once government intervention is removed (to a variable extent) then people will be free to achieve, or not achieve, what they duly deserve. In essence, if people get what they “deserve”, then the society is fair and just. If people get more or less than what they deserve, then the society is unfair and unjust. I’d be more than happy to have this corrected by someone that represents the libertarian viewpoint.

    To me, this is a defining feature of the libertarian viewpoint and a differentiating feature to other views. It is also, to me, completely unsupported by cognitive science and sociology. To understand this, we have to examine the starting position of two representative people in a society.

    Person 1 is born with good genetics and natural talents, and into a strong, supportive family and community. Prior to school, they are taught positive moral lessons, self-worth, the value of education and hard work.

    Person 2 is born with a mild learning disability, and into a fractured, single parent family and dangerous community. Prior to school, they are taught to not trust anyone, that everyone else is to blame for their problems, that they are unloved and unimportant.

    We needn’t assume there are any societal impediments or advantages facing the two people. This is of course completely unrealistic but we can assume the libertarian ideal is in place – there is a perfect correlation to the value someone provides society and the rewards (payment, status, etc.) they receive.

    Neither person “deserves” anything they obtain in their starting position, yet the person they become is ultimately shaped by it. No one chooses what situation they are born into, nor earns their genetics, nor can control the lessons taught to them in their young, impressionable years but they form who that person will become. Even in an ideal libertarian society (value = reward), everything we know of sociology, cognitive science and reality tells us these people would end up at two completely opposite ends of the spectrum. Beyond that, person 2 would be deemed to be responsible (and to blame) for their faults. If you fail in a perfect meritocracy, it is thought that the individual can blame only themselves. But this is completely flawed, unjust and un-”deserved”.

    This is where social welfare programs become important to help amend the unfair difference in starting positions of individuals. Without them, the libertarian ideal of deservedness fails. With them, we no longer have libertarianism.

    I’d be very interested to hear the libertarian opinion on this problem.

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  34. “This is where social welfare programs become important to help amend the unfair difference in starting positions of individuals.”

    In reality, exactly the opposite has occurred. As social programs increased their support from the 1950s, the number of Black children born to unwed mothers sky rocketed. See http://www.hoover.org/sites/default/files/uploads/documents/0817998721_95.pdf There are many programs to help disadvantaged children, but little motivation to take advantage of the programs.

    I have many examples I could give but here is one. My son is half-Chinese by ethnicity, and I wanted to enroll him in a school that taught Chinese when he was entering the 9th grade. There was a 90% black school district that offered Chinese through a school (Global Business Advantage) within in a school. I observed the Chinese class (and others) in evaluating whether I should enroll my son in the school.

    All the students in the class were Black, and I observed the class in February. 90% of the time in the class was spent socializing and funning around. About 10% was spent in half-hearted efforts to speak Chinese phrases. Any reasonably motivated student, with reasonable intelligence could have learned in 10 days what these students had learned through mid-February. If you look at the actual effects of increased government assistance since the 1950s, it is readily apparent that it has drained the motivations of the recipients to work hard and improve their lot.

    JD

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  35. What is the libertarian position on [[limited liability]]?

    With limited liability, someone else will have to pay for any loses. And you create [[moral hazards]]. For example, if someone can make a few dollar more with the 0.1% chance of polluting a river and destroying the farm productivity of thousands of people worth millions, that is a good deal. You will need regulation to avoid such problems.

    Without limited liability, there is not much incentive to become an entrepreneur. The downsides, a pretty good chance of landing in debtors prison till you die, are too large. That does not weight up to become a bit richer than your neighbors. Without limited liability, it will be hard to create corporations. Who would invest in a corporation when they liable for any loses with their full capital? I would expect that it is no coincidence that capitalism started creating wealth, the moment limited liability was invented.

    I’d be very interested to hear the libertarian opinion on this problem.

    Like

  36. The most interesting feature of the Johnson – Weld presidential campaign, presently polling an unprecedented 10 + % of the prospective vote, is its appeal to the center rather than the political right:

    As Reason notes :
    ‘On CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine became the latest well-known Republican to flirt with the unthinkable. “I’m taking a look at the Libertarian ticket,” said the lawmaker, a veteran centrist.

    That puts her in company with Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, who earlier this summer said they were considering a vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, the former New Mexico governor.

    After expressing dismay at the choice of Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, Collins joined Romney in effusively praising Johnson’s running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, with whom she had worked on various projects.

    As with so much in 2016 politics, a pattern is beginning to emerge that might have been hard even to imagine a year ago. When libertarian candidates have made inroads in the GOP in the past, it has often been in some of the party’s rightmost precincts. But Johnson and Weld thus far have enjoyed little success (and, to be fair, shown little interest) at wooing the most conservative elected officials and pundits. While the Libertarian ticket has been drawing an entirely unprecedented 8-10 percent in national polls, little of its energy comes from the Republican base.Instead, it is making noticeable gains in the center.

    Like

  37. JD Ohio,

    You’re claiming that social welfare programs exacerbate unfair difference in starting position?

    Your link seems to suggest that the reason for the higher number of single parent families among African Americans is the legacy of Jim Crow laws and endemic poverty. – i.e. institutional barriers that further disenfranchise the starting position of certain groups in a society. It does mention that welfare is worse for married couples but that is an argument to improve welfare programs, not get rid of them.

    Furthermore, your anecdotal example of blaming kids for not taking school seriously is part of my point. The starting position is an extremely important factor in how hard a child works in school. If you grow up in a house were education isn’t valued or where a sense of self-respect and self-worth isn’t promoted, of course they won’t treat school as seriously as they should. The attitude that “well they don’t want to improve their position, so why should we help them” is ignorant to their starting position and cognitive development.

    Beyond all this, you’ve avoided addressing the problem. What is the libertarian solution to the problem of the starting position? No social welfare programs? How will that help people in disenfranchised starting positions? How does this repair the element of deservedness?

    Like

  38. RC “You’re claiming that social welfare programs exacerbate unfair difference in starting position?”

    Yes. Welfare makes it much easier for people to neglect their responsibilities. Giving people something for nothing, weakens their motivation. It may be beyond your comprehension, but many people think that way, including I believe Libertarians. Throwing money at problems doesn’t solve them.

    Washington D.C. spends a large amount of money per pupil and its schools are still dismal failures. See http://cnsnews.com/commentary/terence-p-jeffrey/dc-schools-29349-pupil-83-not-proficient-reading

    RC “your anecdotal example of blaming kids.” — I don’t blame the kids. I blame their parents, or in some cases, lack of parents. Since slavery ended over 150 years ago, it is way past the time that the Black community can blame slavery for its failing family structure. See http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/08/how-single-motherhood-hurts-kids/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0 explaining how fatherless families hurt kids.

    One commenter to the NYTs article, Zak Burkons, explained it this way: ” In my business I manage several low-income housing developments. Every day, without fail we see many single mothers coming in with the same tale of woe: multiple kids from multiple partners, no child support in need of help.
    Question: If she cannot afford one kid, why have three?
    Answer: We give larger benefits with more children.”

    Additionally, until last year, my two children went to school in a public school district with a substantial number of Sec. 8 children. The superintendent (a Black man) told me that he had enrolled about 220 students in a pre-technical training course. After completing the course only about 10 students followed up. He asked me: “What can I do?” I didn’t state anything, but I was thinking that there is virtually nothing you can do for students or people whose parents have not instilled a work ethic and a sense of responsibility in their children. Don’t know whether I am interested in further discussing this, but I have many more examples of this type of lack of motivation. I would ask you whether you have had sustained experience with large numbers of poor people, particularly poor children.

    Also, I would expect that Libertarians would come from the same place that I am coming from. Children do much better when they receive attention and care from their parents, and if children do not receive that care and guidance, there is virtually nothing the government can do.

    JD

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  39. It always clues me into the holowness of teh Libertarian principles when they cite Adam Smith’s “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” – 1776 without referencing the companion book that was intended to be referenced along side of it: “The Theory of Moral Sentiments” – 1759.

    It is this later book, which precedes the “Wealth of nations”, that notes that free enterprise must always be regulated and that businesses must be forced to compete if they are not to collude.

    Like

  40. JD Ohio –

    The notion of the idle poor has been around for hundreds of years – indeed your post could have been written in Elizabethan times. Although I don’t think that many would approve of whipping people through the streets if they were deemed idle.

    In which context the idea that modern social welfare programs have suddenly invented a whole new class of people is a bit daft. And the idea that this class is permanent is also false; it was certainly a lot smaller when we had full employment, for instance, and there is plenty of evidence of turnover. Could be a bit more complex than you think.

    Like

  41. “I disagree. The idea that the govt gets a monopoly of some functions is perfectly coherent”

    Nah, think about it. Why does the state provide justice/defence in their world? Because markets can’t provide an efficient amount of these goods, because such markets would fail. I mean ultimately what’s so special about justice anyway that it has to be farmed out to the state?

    As soon as that admission is made then any arguments against state involvement in education, health or environmental protection simply melt away. This is because markets in education would fail because they don’t price in the positive extarnality of having a literate populace (I don’t pay every time I benefit from someone’s literacy). Markets in health insurance obviously fail quite spectacularlly (hello USA) due to adverse selection issues, but can be provided efficiently by making state mandated insurance compulsory. And markets in a clean environment should be fairly obvious.

    The livertarian position is built entirely on quicksand. The only coherent defence is some kind of deference to ‘freedom’ in place of efficiency, (yes it’s a trade off) but from what I’ve seen most people seem to prefer the latter.

    [I think you’re making the obvious naive arguments, and failing to think that there may be more depth. For example, its perfectly coherent to think that the government may be responsible for providing “public goods” (please don’t misunderstand that, many people do, I mean it in the technical sense see for example https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_good). As I’ve already said (but who reads all the comments before writing their own?) public education may well be such a good (or rather, the state of having people so educated may be). Perhaps the same argument could be made for a defended nation? Oh, look: people have not only thought about that question, they’ve even written some of their thoughts down: http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Defense.html -W]

    Like

  42. AD: “The notion of the idle poor has been around for hundreds of years – indeed your post could have been written in Elizabethan times.”

    I doubt that it could because the vast free public education system that exists today and serves all children did not exist in Elizabethan England. In any event, you are off topic because we are talking about the U.S. Nice drive by.

    My point is that it is highly unlikely that any government program in the U.S. will work unless children are raised in functioning families. If families are not strengthened in communities where the family structure is dysfunctional, the poor will remain poor. The Chinese who have a strong family system are very successful in the U.S. Black people with a generally weak family system do comparatively poorly.

    I know of only one government program in the U.S. that has been successful in helping the poor better their lot and that is Headstart. Unfortunately, as children get older the benefits fade. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head_Start_(program)#Head_Start_.22fade.22 I would challenge you or RC to name one large-scale American poverty program that meaningfully improved the skills and productivity of poor people in the U.S.

    Other examples of poor judgement/lack of motivation. (I am a lawyer and a landlord)
    1. One of my tenants was divorced and living in Ohio. His ex-wife was living in Philadelphia. My tenant, a hard-working blue collar worker, was taking care of his son in Ohio. When I inquired as to why he couldn’t make the rent, he said that support payments were killing him. I was astonished that HE was paying support, when he was OWED support. His explanation was that he was afraid that he would lose his job if he had to go to Philadelphia to fight the incorrect support orders. I helped him put a stop to the support payments, but his action cost him about $60,000 he couldn’t recover.

    2. I have a friend who rents to low income people. He has owned about 1,200 small single family homes over time. Even though Sec. 8 payments are generally adequate for the homes he rents, he refuses to accept Sec. 8 rentals because the renters are generally “helpless” and can’t be relied upon to do the simplest things to mitigate property issues that arise. See also this link with wealthy Black people talking about how Sec. 8 residents caused chaos in their neighborhood in a project that attempted to move poor people out of the “projects.” See http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/SE_Henson_Ridge_Experiment_Continues_to_Be_a_Nightmare_Washington_DC.html (I have many more examples that I could provide)

    JD

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  43. JD, Ohio

    “If families are not strengthened in communities where the family structure is dysfunctional, the poor will remain poor.”

    How is “strengthening families” a libertarian proposition? What do someone else’s personal relationships have to do with you?

    Like

  44. PeteW: “How is “strengthening families” a libertarian proposition?” It would lower taxes by reducing the incentive for expensive government assistance programs to take care of those who have been disadvantaged by poor parenting.

    PeteW:P “What do someone else’s personal relationships have to do with you?” I have to pay taxes to support the children of parents who don’t take care of their children.

    On a more personal level, when my daughter was in the 3rd grade (2 years ago), she repeatedly complained that the boys (mostly Sec. 8 children) were too noisy in my old school district. She had a poor year, and for instance, she only scored in the top 20% on her English Map test. We moved to a better school district and she went from the top 20% to the top 2% in 8 months in the Fourth grade. The disconnected parents who sent undisciplined boys to school created a situation that required me to move from one district to another. I would add that there were many fine teachers in my old school district, but there is only so much they could do with many unprepared and poorly motivated children who were in the classroom.

    JD

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  45. JD Ohio

    “I have to pay taxes to support the children of parents who don’t take care of their children.”

    Not in a libertarian state you wouldn’t. So I repeat, what does the “strength’ of someone else’s family have to do with you if you are a libertarian? It shouldn’t be any of your business.

    Re your plethora of racial anecdotes, you might find this instructive:

    “None of these factors appear to explain the differences [in social spending] between the US and Europe. Instead, the differences appear to be the result of racial heterogeneity in the US and American political institutions. Racial animosity in the US makes redistribution to the poor, who are disproportionately black, unappealing to many voters. American political institutions limited the growth of a socialist party, and more generally limited the political power of the poor.”

    http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/glaeser/files/why_doesnt_the_u.s._have_a_european-style_welfare_state.pdf

    Like

  46. JD Ohio,

    “I don’t blame the kids. I blame their parents” – JD Ohio

    And what do you think the starting position of those parents was? Endemic poverty is intergenerational. Institutional barriers and racism make sure it sticks. Kids in broken, unsupported environments grow up to be parents that foster a broken, unsupported environment. But we’ll do nothing and everything will be better? Or they “deserve” poverty? I’m not sure which is more misguided.

    “but I have many more examples of this type of lack of motivation” – JD Ohio

    Read harder. My point is that the lack of motivation stems from issues in the starting position – it is outside the control of the individual. To then advocate for a social structure where those with a lack of motivation are punished and destined to poverty out of some false and self-righteous sense of “deservedness” is just wrong.

    So, I’ll repeat the problem that you’ve avoided addressing:
    “Neither person “deserves” anything they obtain in their starting position, yet the person they become is ultimately shaped by it. No one chooses what situation they are born into, nor earns their genetics, nor can control the lessons taught to them in their young, impressionable years but they form who that person will become. Even in an ideal libertarian society (value = reward), everything we know of sociology, cognitive science and reality tells us these people would end up at two completely opposite ends of the spectrum. Beyond that, person 2 would be deemed to be responsible (and to blame) for their faults. If you fail in a perfect meritocracy, it is thought that the individual can blame only themselves. But this is completely flawed, unjust and un-”deserved”.”

    “I would ask you whether you have had sustained experience with large numbers of poor people, particularly poor children.”
    I do. In particular (Canadian) indigenous children. Read about residential schools. Then see how people like you, who are ignorant of sociology, history and childhood development go on to blame the poverty, homelessness and substance abuse in the indigenous community on “lazy native parents”. The country committed a cultural genocide, told them they were useless, that their cultural was silly and primitive, flung them back into society and then blamed them for a “lack of motivation”.

    Like

  47. JD Ohio

    I wasn’t aware we had to limit this to the US. Perhaps only the US had a problem with poor people. Hmmm, better ask the Daily Mail..

    A question is, is there any reason to suspect that taking resources from these ‘section 8’ families will make them function better? As I pointed out, the idea that we had crowds of undeserving poor is a very old one that predates social welfare programs, as is the idea that if we only kicked them hard enough they’d all turn into nice middle class folk.

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  48. PeteW: ““I have to pay taxes to support the children of parents who don’t take care of their children.”

    Not in a libertarian state you wouldn’t. So I repeat, what does the “strength’ of someone else’s family have to do with you if you are a libertarian? It shouldn’t be any of your business.”

    It is currently my business because I don’t currently live in a Libertarian state. If I did, it wouldn’t be any of my business.

    Re: Your link has nothing to do with the effectiveness of social spending in the U.S. I previously asked for examples of social spending in the U.S. that improved the productivity of the poor other than Headstart, which does appear to help a little. You are welcome to give an example. American culture and institutions are different from Europe. So, European examples are of little utility.

    JD

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  49. I see we could go on and on with this discussion. My basic point is that spending money on unmotivated people (no matter whether there situation is their fault, society’s fault or their parents’ fault) hasn’t worked. You can agree or disagree, but obviously we aren’t going to resolve the question here.

    For the last time. RC ““Neither person “deserves” anything they obtain in their starting position, yet the person they become is ultimately shaped by it.” That may be true, but it is irrelevant to our discussion if it can’t be fixed. Innocent people contract incurable cancer, but there is nothing that can be done about it. I know nothing the government can do to fix the problem. Individual people acting as better parents could fix the problem and, although very difficult, that is the only solution I see.

    I would also state that I see the problem of Native Canadian or American people very differently from that of the vast majority of poor people in the U.S. Western culture, power and economics destroyed their society. However, this issue is a small part of poverty in the U.S. that I am not discussing here.

    However, many Black people in the US argue that, if not for discrimination, they would be achieving economic prosperity on the same level as Whites. My position is that 85% of Black problems in the U.S. are due to dysfunctional Black families and that only the Black community can solve that problem. Government spending will simply go down the rathole until the main problem (dysfunctional families) is fixed in whatever manner the Black community decides to do it.

    You have twice called me ignorant about poverty in the U.S. So far, you have demonstrated no knowledge about poverty or life in the U.S. I would again challenge you to name a large scale government spending program in the U.S. (other than Headstart) that has improved the productivity and effectiveness of poor children who are the products of dysfunctional families.

    JD

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  50. JD Ohio

    Oh I see, you are only lecturing people about how they should conduct their family life while you live under the current political regime; the minute your country institutes a libertarian agenda you will desist. Sure you will.

    Your point about social spending not improving the productivity of the poor is ridiculous. The US has had a social safety net for decades and labour productivity is greater than it has ever been. In history. If your argument held true it would have collapsed.

    http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/productivity

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  51. “Oh I see, you are only lecturing people about how they should conduct their family life while you live under the current political regime; the minute your country institutes a libertarian agenda you will desist. Sure you will.”

    Great snark and no content again. Yes, I would. I would much prefer to live my own life with my own interests and friends. Since I am taxed, I have the right to comment on the activities of others who raise my taxes.

    Your link has nothing to do with the poor. It is simply U.S. productivity as a whole. With technological advances, one would expect that working people would work more efficiently. It says nothing about improving the lives and efficiency of people who started in a bad spot and whose lives were measurably improved by government programs. Will not waste my time responding any more to your inane comments.

    JD

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  52. The political posts sure get a lot more discussion than the science posts, don’t they?

    [I noticed that. But even with the science ones, the more speculative they are the more comments they get. The more grounding in facts and, inevitably, the more reading required to understand, the fewer comments -W]

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  53. JD

    But you haven’t produced any long-term US productivity figures for the poorest percentiles. There is no content to discuss.

    You also can’t follow your own logic. If you are saying social safety nets make people less productive, the entire weight of evidence of past 100 years – increased social spending, soaring productivity – is against you. Saying “bleh, other factors” doesn’t help your argument.

    I think what you are really saying is that you believe people with black skin are feckless and lazy. Is that correct?

    Like

  54. “That may be true, but it is irrelevant to our discussion if it can’t be fixed.” – JD Ohio
    Difficult? Absolutely. Impossible? No. Besides that, is doing nothing a better solution?

    Here are some ways to address it:
    – Increase ease of access to and financial support for contraception and sex education
    – Education and support for new parents
    – Food stamps to ensure some basic level of nutrition during development
    – Increase ease of access and financial support for day care
    – Modernize education curriculum and material such that students feel accepted, included and develop a sense of self-worth
    – Modernize education curriculum and material to move beyond route memorization and regurgitation. Tailor classes to students needs and interests
    – Fund after school programs for children (sports, academics, theater, art, music)
    – Increase public level of understanding of the cycle of poverty
    – Increase funding to local community centers
    – Ensure laws are designed and enforced as to not further unduly punish the poor (i.e. modernize the “war on drugs”, improved community involvement of law enforcement)

    The impact of poverty, broken or abusive homes, institutionalized racism, etc. are all intergenerational problems. You grow up as a kid in those situations, you don’t inherent positive qualities, you go on to have kids and you pass along the baggage from your upbringing. The cycle continues and so blaming the parents is a flawed approach.

    Social support programs aim to minimize or break those cycles. They aren’t always successful but, as you said, it is a difficult problem.

    Eliminating social support programs is giving up on trying to break the cycle.

    Creating a culture where poverty is thought of as a fault makes those cycles stronger.

    “My position is that 85% of Black problems in the U.S. are due to dysfunctional Black families and that only the Black community can solve that problem.” – JD Ohio
    So African Americas were brought to the US as slaves, faced racism and discrimination throughout their entire history, were just recently given the same civil rights as Caucasians, have been targeted and marginalized by the legal system and ghettoized but they are the problem and they need to find the solution?

    That mentality is the problem. Victim blaming is the problem. A lack of societal support for addressing social issues is the problem.

    Society as a whole (the people, the government, the institutions, the legal system) is responsible for these societal problems and it is responsible for the solution.

    Like

  55. R Connor: “Besides that, is doing nothing a better solution?”

    Yes, if you are just throwing away money. I noticed that you have failed to identify any spending programs that actually work. Typical Lefty approach — throw money at a problem [quite often other people’s money], accomplish nothing and feel better about yourself.

    RConnor: “Victim blaming is the problem.” Exactly, wrong. False victimization is the problem. For example, in my old neighborhood, I would frequently see 8–11 year-old Black children walking to school in the middle of a residential street. Their parents obviously are not teaching their children respect for others or discipline. This cannot be excused by slavery that ended in 1865, but that is what you and many in the Left are doing. These children are being handicapped by disinterested parents who are raising self-centered children who have virtually no chance of success in the business world unless their parents were to intervene quickly. [Very unlikely.] Also, you can’t succeed in business unless you are sensitive to and cooperate with the needs of others.

    RC ” [Blacks] were just recently [50 years is not recent to me] given the same civil rights as Caucasians, have been targeted and marginalized by the legal system [definitely false for the last 50 years] and ghettoized but they are the problem and they need to find the solution?”

    Yes. For instance, you could say that the Chinese in Rowland Heights, California are in your terms “ghettoized”, but they are successful. An example of the difference between the Chinese and the Black Left. A friend of mine is a Chinese engineer from Wuhan. She is currently working in a Chinese grocery store in the US as a laborer. She told me that she knows that her children will get no breaks, being Chinese, so she makes sure that they work hard. Her 16-year-old son, recently received perfect scores on his ACT college entrance exam and said that it was easy. His two younger brothers are also extremely bright. She could whine about her disadvantages, or work hard to overcome them. She has worked hard and her work has been successful. If she were like Michelle Obama, she would be whining about her obstacles and the unfairness of the world. Instead, my Chinese friend solved the problems she faced.

    You have demonstrated no past spending that has actually worked to solve the problems of dysfunctional families and no knowledge of American poverty and how it actually plays out on the ground, so I am done (from Stoat’s standpoint, probably mercifully so) responding to you.

    JD

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  56. PeteW: “the minute your country institutes a libertarian agenda you will desist. Sure you will.

    And at the time of the switch, we randomize everyone’s property and equalize everyone’s wealth. We can do the switching of properties per county, not to lose all social contacts.

    That would still not be a fully equal start, but I would be curious how many Americans then still want to be libertarians.

    Like

  57. WC writes :”That the Libertarians would, for example, wish to abolish social security is (a) obvious and (b) clearly written down in their platform. “

    Obvious? Why is it obvious? SSI has been one of the most successful government programs ever instituted. When it was instituted the elderly were the poorest cohort in the country. SSI changed that.

    It also provides benefits to the disabled – keeping many of them out of poverty. It also provides benefits to families of deceased workers – keeping many of them out of poverty.

    Much like Libertarians’ vow to disband the IRS, their antipathy to SSI is either complete nonsense or a specific reveal of their complete amorality. Were there fewer poor before SSI? No. Were there fewer destitute elderly?No. Were the disabled in better economic straits? No.

    Laws and policies are proxies for values and morality. Libertarians cannot defend their value/moral system. That’s the crux of the matter. Let poor people, the elderly, widows and orphans, and the disabled languish in poverty or die. I don’t care. I’m not paying one cent to support them. Not a social contract – but an asocial one.

    P.S. – if all you have left is a congress and a court system you’re essentially living in anarchy. You can call it a state, but it will be a failed one.

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  58. 38 notes

    W:” the Donkey platform is primarily PR:”
    Thank God that is generally the case with all parties hence I chose instead to post the linked video of the Libertarians candidates Governors Johnson & Weld , speaking forthrightly for themselves.

    I suggest you hear what they have to say

    [I listened to it. As ever with such things, they would help themselves by making a transcript available for people who would rather read; a video is a poor reference -W]

    O’Neil evidently still has not . so here once more are the candidates:

    Like

  59. RS – Gary Johnson is in favor of a return to the Gold Standard. Does one need to know any more? But add in his willingness to privatize the public education system, willingness to destroy Social Security, and repeal the ACA and I see little difference between him and the stereotypical caricature of libertarians.

    BTW – I have made numerous criticisms of libertarians and the Libertarian Party’s platform. I notice you have not responded to a single one. Do you need to be specially invited?

    P.S. I don’t watch online videos. I’ve always preferred reading and I browse the internet with sound OFF. The only exceptions are music videos from new bands — but they must come highly recommended by people I trust.

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  60. “Typical Lefty approach — throw money at a problem …”

    Well it’s working for GB in the Olympics!

    [Yes, it is. And for “small” things like Olympic sports funding, you always can find enough money to throw at it, and you don’t have to worry too much about efficiency or have to think of all the other things it could have been spent on. But even there, it is distorting. GB cycling money is keyed to Olympic medals; so the GB team puts all its effort into winning those every 4 years, and comparatively little into world champs. With a corresponding effect on the results.

    For another perspective on that, see Timmy -W]

    Like

  61. W

    My comment was facetious (hence the exclamation mark) and I’d usually rather not read “Timmy”, as most of his stuff consists of glib and superficial drive-bys.

    Having made an exception here, I see he starts with a straw man (“If such central planning works in sport then obviously we should be centrally planning our entire economy!”)

    [I don’t think it is a strawman. I think people genuinely do use such as analogues, falsely -W]

    and in his rush to bash the Guardian misses the fact that their piece was a gently coded response to an inane column by Jeremy Warner in the Telegraph the day before, which claimed that the GB team success was due to “right wing ideas”.

    [I’m afraid the coding was too subtle for me, too -W]

    Even taking his argument at face value, it doesn’t stand up. He says, “It’s not central planning. Central would mean that all the participants in the exercise were following the same plan. And obviously they’re not – other nations have their own plans.” That’s just wrong, central planning does not mean every participant follows the same plan. Ten countries could have ten different central plans – that would still be central planning.

    [I disagree. Central planning, of the UK or Soviet economy, would mean the elimination of “wasteful” competition – that’s supposedly one of the chief virtues of the same. Timmy is pointing out what you lose, without that competition. And hence, that you cannot have central planning. He is correct in that -W]

    Not that it matters, since I suspect most of the left-wingers of Worstall’s nightmares actually favour a healthy mix of markets and planning anyway, which seems to be pretty much what works.

    BTW, have you read the comments section on his blog? I particularly like the guy who calls Scottish people “porridge wogs”. Seriously.

    [Have you read the comments in the Graun? -W]

    Like

  62. It’s luxurious critiqueing our crisis from afar (though tbh we share a globe, so our mistakes affect you, plus there appears to be an imitation factor: the UK is letting the top guys loot just like us these days, per Michael Moore’s Stupid White Men (delayed publication because of 9/11, but I bought my copy during my then annual visit to Cornwall; it is not “patriotic” to criticize the US).

    However, my favorite rag, The New Yorker, covered them, so I got to read about them while indulging myself in my preference for literate well researched material.
    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/07/25/gary-johnson-the-third-party-candidate

    Re Democrats, yes, PR, but we have what might become a critical mass of public servants like Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren. Perhaps we can at least stop the looting.

    The New Yorker is also the best source on the Kochs, as much of the material in Dark Money appeared there first, along with subsequent developments such as they attacks on the author and other opponents.

    The Kochs are well known for being the flagrant polluters, the worst of the extraction industry, so their anti-regulatory fervor is quite profitable.

    Like

  63. W

    > [I disagree. Central planning, of the UK or Soviet economy, would mean the elimination of “wasteful” competition – that’s supposedly one of the chief virtues of the same. Timmy is pointing out what you lose, without that competition. And hence, that you cannot have central planning. He is correct in that -W]

    This is very confused. You are both mixing up the difference between market competition within a single political state and competition between states.

    [No, we’re not; you’ve just not reading us carefully. A centrally planned economy fails for many reasons; one is lack of competition -W]

    By TW’s logic, the Soviet Union (read Team GB) could not have had a centrally planned economy (read team development policy) because it had to compete globally with lots of other nation states (rival teams). WTF?

    [No, the point is that their economy didn’t allow internal competition, which would have quickly and cleanly revealed failure. Instead, they had long-drawn-out failure as their inability to compete with the West became slowly painfully clear -W]

    > [Have you read the comments in the Graun? -W]

    Yes you get UKIPers acting like dicks there too but they usually mod out the racism.

    Anyway, keep up your science blogging, I’ve learned a lot. Politics, not.

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  64. Regarding the whole markets vs. central planning thing..

    If you regard the operation of markets as an optimizing function, then you get come criteria for when markets might usefully apply – which is in problems that are poorly characterized (What TV should I buy?) but transparently informed – by which I mean that the market participants know what they are getting.

    This applies to a lot of things. Consumer goods and services, obviously. But then we have other problems – ones where the solution is well-characterized (i.e. medicine; ‘Experts know better than consumers’.), and ones where a non expert will not really know what they are buying. (Pensions..) In both cases, markets won’t lead to good solutions; a classic example would be homeopathy, a ‘free market’ health solution.

    If this is acknowledged, there is still plenty of room for arguing what is best left to the market and what should be state driven. If not… well, that just leaves us with a choice between some Hobbesian nightmare and Pol pot.

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  65. Also corporations are planning economies inside. What is different from the Soviet Union is that they can fail (more easily).

    [Correct. And that is exactly Timmy’s point, too -W]

    Team GB can fail. Many banks are too big to fail and should not be allowed to exist in a market economy. They should be nationalised or split up. I prefer split up because I do not expect the government to be good at banking.

    [Re the banks, yes, TBTF is bad. Timmy prefers taxing them into smallness, and points out that’s what the UK has done.

    What you don’t say, is that centrally planned states can’t fail either. Or rather, they can fail – the Soviet union did – but they fail monolithically, and this is bad -W]

    I think it is wonderful that William is a closet libertarian. That makes it easier for the open libertarians to listen to him when it comes to science.

    [I haven’t formally confessed to that yet -W]

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  66. WMC: “What you don’t say, is that centrally planned states can’t fail either. Or rather, they can fail – the Soviet union did – but they fail monolithically, and this is bad

    I thought I had implicitly said that in the first sentence. Sorry, I am too young to be obsessed with communism, like the mitigation sceptical and libertarian movements are. When I was young it was already clear to nearly everyone (in The Netherlands) that communism does not work. I missed the time we had to go to the moon to alleviate the self-doubt.

    [Ah yes you did, now I re-read it -W]

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  67. [No, the point is that their economy didn’t allow internal competition, which would have quickly and cleanly revealed failure. Instead, they had long-drawn-out failure as their inability to compete with the West became slowly painfully clear -W]

    William, no, TW does not refer to competition WITHIN Team GB (e.g. on deciding which sports to fund most and which to neglect) at all.

    He refers only to their EXTERNAL competition with other teams.
    Internally they are a tax-funded, centrally-planned organisation.

    Similar perhaps to how the Soviet Union was centrally planned but had to compete externally in the global marketplace (and didn’t ultimately do as well).

    I don’t think Timmy said what you think he said.

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  68. WC writes: “A centrally planned economy fails for many reasons; one is lack of competition -W”

    I think you mistake a command economy for central planning, but even this is not sufficient for your argument. Within a command economy competition can be ‘commanded’ – the state can simply assume the financial startup role of a VC.

    One can view the US government’s Energy policies of the 2000s — loan guarantees to companies developing “new or significantly improved technology that is NOT a commercial technology” — as both central planning and competitive. Yet even though the gov’t was in some ways assuming the role of a VC it was not looking for profit – but use value.

    This is the crucial difference between any socialist system and a capitalist one — use value versus profit motive. Pet rocks are unlikely to have a sufficient use value to be produced in a centrally planned economy (even that is debatable — entertainment has a social use value).

    It’s also worth noting that Hayek, von Mises and even Trotsky believed the weakness in a centrally planned economy had less to do with competition than lack of information. Given the technology of today their critique seems anachronistic. I haven’t seen any modern adherents seriously address the subject. I.e., do we have the information technology to take into account local conditions and preferences to centrally plan the production of goods? With 3D printing this becomes even less relevant.

    [Yes, H does say that. I think it remains true in today’s world. Late addition: see his Nobel lecture -W]

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  69. From Socialist Competition In the Soviet Union, 1929 (?)

    “Socialist competition and capitalist competition represent two entirely different principles. The principle of capitalist competition is: defeat and death for some and victory for others. The principle of socialist competition is: comradely assistance to those lagging behind the more advanced, with the purpose to reach general advancement. Capitalist competition says: Destroy those lagging behind in order to establish your domination. Socialist competition says: some work poor, others better and others still better-reach the best and establish genera) advancement.”

    Central planners – socialist, communist, or capitalist – do not deny the benefits of competition. They disagree on how it should be organized and who should benefit from advancements in production.

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  70. The Libertarian Party Presidential candidate, Gary Johnson, is in favor of a carbon tax. ‘Nuff said.

    [That would be in his favour if you could source it. However it is only in his pary’s favour if its part of their platform; I don’t see it -W]

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  71. William, see http://juneauempire.com/state/2016-08-21/third-party-first-pick-gary-johnson-addresses-alaskan-issues-interview

    It’s still a rather vague statement, but maybe we should start by celebrating that a ‘not-left-wing’ American politician actually and so openly acknowledges AGW.

    [Yes, I’ll give you (and him) that. “I do believe that climate change is occurring. I do believe that it is man-caused,” Johnson said. is fairly direct. For, as you say, a not-left-winger, that’s promising. Continuing, To address climate change, Johnson said he believes “that there can be and is a free-market approach to climate change.” That would include a fee — not a tax, he said — placed on carbon. Such a fee would make pollutants bear a market cost. That’s both good and disappointing. Good because he is prepared to say “fee”, bad because he can’t bring himself to say “tax” which it obviously is. And of course, this is just him – it needs to be in the party platform too.

    Also I don’t want to do anything that harms jobs is pol-speak, he needs to be reminded that he’s a f*ck*ng libertarian -W]

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  72. WC writes: “ [Yes, H does say that. I think it remains true in today’s world. Late addition: see his Nobel lecture -W]

    I’m not sure which you’re referring to — competition or information? The Nobel Lecture is basically mute on competition, but has information as a major argument. Your argument was that central planning fails due to competition.

    Keeping technology *today* in mind, we can read Hayek:
    We are only beginning to understand on how subtle a communication system the functioning of an advanced industrial society is based – a communications system which we call the market and which turns out to be a more efficient mechanism for digesting dispersed information than any that man has deliberately designed.”

    And would he still make that argument if he used the internet and Google? Would he make that argument if he had the demographic purchasing data available to Discover or Visa? Would he make that argument if he were a data miner for Walmart?

    Too bad he wasn’t around for the 2007-8 financial crisis and he could have witnessed the power of economic prediction between competing ‘austerity’ and ‘stimulus’ camps. As a liquidationist he would not have been happy with the results, but I’m sure he would have found some reason to NOT change his views.

    Rereading his Nobel Lecture – it has been awhile since I read it last – reminds me how much his idea of economics is analagous to how the typical commenter at WUWT views climate science. It’s not just that we know nothing, but we can never know anything — except we know that any data that doesn’t support my view is flawed!

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  73. Hayak would no doubt point out the internet and Google are merely the current tools the market uses to digest dispersed information, a modern version of the abacus and the quill pen.

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  74. Hayek: …a communications system which we call the market and which turns out to be a more efficient mechanism for digesting dispersed information than any that man has deliberately designed.

    Kind of like reverse creationism, then?

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  75. W: “But that’s just a report of the same thing. It is reporting GJ’s views. Not the party platform

    Yes, I noticed that too late. Anyway, GJ is no longer in favor of the most-libertarian solution to global warming. He did not say whether he still accepts the problem exists.

    Kevin, economically interested Germans will know Krugman’s name. Krugman’s article (fixed link to) also does not go much further than just saying Germans are stupid. I guess they have to read his previous posts to know the reasons why.

    I am also not sure whether the love of austerity and balanced budgets is something typically German. We just happen to have a conservative head of state at the moment.

    Rhetorically balanced-budgets arguments are used by conservative parties in most countries I know to justify austerity and block improvements in social security. When it comes to tax cuts for the rich and corporations, they no longer care about balanced budgets; so I hope they will forgive me when I do not believe their official motivation. I guess, honestly saying that you like austerity because it hurts the poor is not an optimal electoral strategy.

    Balanced budget also have advantages: it makes the government less dependent on the rich.

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  76. Victor writes: “Rhetorically balanced-budgets arguments are used by conservative parties in most countries I know to justify austerity and block improvements in social security. When it comes to tax cuts for the rich and corporations, they no longer care about balanced budgets; “

    Well, those sentiments could have come straight out of a Krugman column. Message received 🙂

    Thanks, VV.

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  77. > The idea that trump is libertarian seems weird to me.

    He’s not. But he’s borrowed racial rhetoric from that group, as described in that piece. I’d expect those people aren’t real libertarians either, since they’re focusing on race not trade policy.

    [If they are interested in race at all, then they aren’t libertarians, since libertarians can, obviously, have no business being interested in race, other than to decry discrimination based on it. Yes: We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant. Government should neither deny nor abridge any individual’s human right based upon sex, wealth, ethnicity, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference or sexual orientation. Members of private organizations retain their rights to set whatever standards of association they deem appropriate, and individuals are free to respond with ostracism, boycotts and other free-market solutions. -W]

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  78. For those who didn’t click, the key quote from the Libertarian candidate is:

    “Who’s Harriet Tubman?”

    ________
    Go back and try again.
    Error: answer is wrong. [4.2]
    Comment was blocked because it is spam.

    [I had no idea either. But I’m not a USAnian, so I’m not required to know, perhaps -W]

    Like

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