Archive for the ‘Libertarianism’ Category

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Learn from history or be doomed to repeat it

February 24, 2017

Recently I came across a clip by Dave Rubin (via Carpe Diem), which led me to watching other videos on his YouTube channel.

Here’s a very recent clip of Dave talking about something I’ve been wondering about myself: how the current political turmoil will resolve itself into something more like normal.

This clip is one of his monologues. He may be better known for his dialogues: one-on-one interviews and there are many of those.

I was thrilled to find somebody making a go at talking up the Classical Liberalism array of thought. I hope he continues doing that.

As for this clip, the call for people to study history and to develop their own ideas for the role of government is one I certainly agree with. The last presidential election left me with a very strong feeling that we may be headed for the days of Bread and Circuses.

But on second thought, I’m encouraged by recalling one of my favorite quotes from Margaret Thatcher:

Europe will never be like America. Europe is a product of history. America is a product of philosophy.

We’ve done it before.

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I second that emotion

January 6, 2017

Nick Gillespie writes a retrospective of last year’s Libertarian presidential campaign.

It reflects my views pretty well, including the part about Bill Weld. But RTWT.

Thank You, Gary Johnson, for Being the Best Thing in 2016!

Before we completely flush 2016 down the memory hole, let us pause to remember Gary Johnson, the former two-term governor of New Mexico who generated a record number of votes as the Libertarian Party’s candidate for president. If there was anything good that happened in 2016 — a year filled so much awfulness that even the Chicago Cubs could win the World Series after a thousand-year drought — it was @govgaryjohnson‘s ramshackle campaign to bring a very different way of thinking and talking about national politics to America.

In the end, of course, there was a lot of disappointment. He didn’t crack 15 percent in polls to route around the bullshit criteria created by the two major parties to keep people like him off the stage; he supported the inalienable rights of gay Nazis to force homophobic Jewish bakers to make German chocolate cakes in the shapes of swastikas; he spaced out while talking to recidivist plagiarist Mike Barnicle on Morning Joe and asked, What is Aleppo?; and so much more. Yeah, yeah, I get it. […]

To all of it, I say, politely: Go screw yourselves, all of you.

Gary wasn’t perfect and I still don’t really comprehend anything about that tongue-thing while talking to NBC reporter Kasie Hunt, who was understandably all like, Get me the hell out of here. But in the end, Johnson pulled almost 4.5 million votes (3.3 percent of the total), compared to 1.3 million votes (1 percent) four years ago. Of course, all of us who voted for Gary Johnson wanted him to do better still, but the world exists to disappoint us believers in small government. […]

During the race I noticed that people had begun to figure out there was such a word as ‘libertarian’ in the language. (I wonder how many points that would get you in Scrabble.)

When I slapped a Johnson-Weld sticker on my ride and got a couple of high signs and honks from passing vehicles, I figured the word was trickling out. One couple saw the sticker in a parking lot and came over to talk about the Governor. In short, the sticker worked better than my Bernie is My Comrade shirt, which only seemed to confuse most people.

But turning the political outlook is hard work and slow as well. Think about the last time a new major political party emerged quickly in the U.S. It was when the Republican party was organized at the start of the Civil War.

Nobody’s written "The Battle Hymn of Free Trade" – or seems likely to. So the LP‘s got a long row to hoe.

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Recommended reading

December 31, 2016

Daniel Bier, writing at Learn Liberty, has compiled a list of books he recommends.

I’ve removed his summaries for each of the books, so you may want to RTWT. It’s brief.

13 books every well-rounded libertarian should read

There are books that every libertarian should read and books every libertarian has read, but those circles don’t perfectly overlap. Here are 13 diverse book recommendations for well-rounded thinkers.

Economic Sophisms – Frederic Bastiat […]

Basic Economics + Applied Economics – Thomas Sowell […]

Beyond Politics: The Roots of Government Failure – Randy Simmons […]

The Problem of Political Authority – Michael Huemer […]

The Myth of the Rational Voter – Bryan Caplan […]

The Theory of Moral Sentiments – Adam Smith […]

The God of the Machine – Isabel Paterson […]

No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority – Lysander Spooner […]

Radicals for Capitalism – Brian Doherty […]

Democracy in America – Alexis de Tocqueville […]

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress – Robert Heinlein […]

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn […]

I’ve read about half of these. I give the list +1 for One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, for The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, and for anything written by Thomas Sowell, who once said, "It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance." I’ll allow that Twain himself couldn’t have put that one any better.

But I give the list -1 for Paterson’s The God of the Machine. What an incredibly odd read that is. I found Paterson’s use of pseudo-technical terms to describe economic relationships both tedious and distracting. So I’d say read one of Russell Roberts’ books instead.

The older books on this list (Bastiat’s, Smith’s, and Spooner’s) are available for little or nothing to Kindle readers.

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Heh (4)

December 20, 2016

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Word (2)

November 11, 2016

govt-power-someone-unliked

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Can this election get any weirder?

November 2, 2016

The Washington Post reports on Rachel Maddow’s interview with Libertarian VP candidate Bill Weld yesterday. (I think the headline a little over-the-top but there’s no denying that Gov. Weld’s interview was unusual.)

Libertarian Party VP nominee Bill Weld basically just endorsed Hillary Clinton

He didn’t say it directly, but the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential nominee, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, for all intents and purposes endorsed Hillary Clinton on Tuesday night.

In an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Weld, a former Republican, said he was “vouching” for Clinton and praised her effusively while arguing that the choice between the two major candidates is clear — all while not really vouching for the top of his own ticket, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson.

Weld has been hinting in this direction for weeks, saying nice things about Clinton, warning about Trump and suggesting people choosing between the two should pick Clinton. But at this juncture in the race, the Libertarian Party is struggling to get the 5 percent of the vote that would qualify it for federal matching funds and easier ballot access.

At Reason, Matt Welch reports on the reaction among Libertarians.

Libertarians Denounce Bill Weld

[…] Libertarians of both the capital-L and small-l variety have treated Weld with suspicion ever since (and in fact a decade before) he converted to the party’s cause two weeks before this May’s nominating convention, at which the former Massachusetts squeaked by in a second ballot by the narrowest of margins on the bitterly divided convention floor. Five months of is he/is he not supporting Hillary Clinton later, many of those ideologically disposed to root for the Libertarian ticket have clearly had enough. Though it’s obviously anecdotal, I have never seen libertarian Twitter so nearly unanimous on a close-to-home political issue. […]

I said “nearly unanimous” above; there are some libertarians out there defending Weld today, including Josh Guckert at The Libertarian Republic and a handful of people on Twitter. And I would certainly add to the conversation the suggestion that a Weldless L.P. ticket may never have gotten anywhere near the amount of media interest and poll support without such an Acela corridor-approved wingman.

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What song the sirens sang

September 16, 2016

I’d heard about this forum at Cato and was curious about it. So I’m glad Ron Bailey wrote this summary article for Reason’s blog. It’s hard to excerpt so I’ve just included a few snippets from it. RTWT though.

Why Is Socialism So Damned Attractive?
What is the attraction of socialism?

The Cato Institute held a policy forum Wednesday to consider that question, featuring talks from the moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt and the evolutionary psychologists Leda Cosmides and John Tooby.

One problem they quickly encountered was how to define socialism in the first place. Is it pervasive, state-directed central planning? A Scandinavian-style safety net? Something else? Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who pursued the Democratic presidential nomination while describing himself as a socialist, attracted a big following among voters under age 30. But most of those voters actually rejected the idea of the government running businesses or owning the means of production; they tended to be safety-net redistributionists who want to tax the rich to pay for health care and college education. And this was, in fact, the platform Sanders was running on.

Cosmides then turned to a fascinating 2014 study in The Journal of Politics by the Danish political scientists Lene Aarøe and Michael Bang Petersen. Aarøe and Petersen found that certain cues could turn supposedly individualistic Americans into purportedly welfare-state loving Danes, and vice versa. […]

In that experiment, researchers asked 2,000 Danes and Americans to react to three cases involving a person on welfare. In one, they had no background information on the welfare client. In the second, he lost his job due to an injury and was actively looking for new work. In the third, he has never looked for a job at all. The Danes turned out to be slightly more likely than the Americans to assume that the person they knew nothing about was on welfare because of bad luck. But both Americans and Danes were no different in opposing welfare for the lazy guy and strongly favoring it for the unlucky worker. “When we assess people on welfare, we use certain [evolved] psychological mechanisms to spot anyone who might be cheating,” Michael Bang Petersen explained in press release about the study. “We ask ourselves whether they are motivated to give something back to me and society. And these mechanisms are more powerful than cultural differences.”

The next panelist, John Tooby, turned to those counterproductive attitudes. Tooby has long been puzzled that so many of his colleagues are not struck by facts like Hong Kong’s amazing economic success. (Its GDP increased 180-fold between 1961 and 1996 while per capita GDP increased 87-fold and inequality fell.) […]

The chief problem, he suggested, is that many people are beguiled by “romantic socialism”—that is, they imagine what their personal lives would be like if everyone shared and treated one another like family. We evolved in small bands that were an individual’s only protection from starvation, victimization, and inter-group aggression. People feel vulnerable if their band does not exist. Such sentiments are more or less appropriate when people lived in small groups of hunter-gatherers composed mostly of kin, but they fail spectacularly when navigating a world of strangers cooperating in global markets.

The third speaker was Jonathan Haidt, whose research explores the intuitive ethics that undergird the psychological foundations of morality. His goal is to reconcile the universal human behavior identified by evolutionary psychology with the cultural variations highlighted by anthropology. He and his colleagues have identified six moral foundations, but he focused on just three during the session. Those three were care/harm, fairness/cheating, and liberty/oppression.

In contemporary politics, liberals are chiefly concerned about care and harm. They see fairness mostly as equality of outcomes. He illustrated this with photos taken during the Occupy Wall Street episode in Zuccotti Park. (One Occupy sign, for instance, read “Tax the Rich Fair and Square.”) On the other hand, conservatives see fairness has proportionality; if you work hard, you get to keep the rewards. Haidt showed a Tea Party sign that read, “Stop Punishing Success—Stop Rewarding Failure.” […]

Another Occupy Wall Street placard shown in Haidt’s presentation said “Equality Now! Liberty Later.” In response to that sentiment, Haidt quoted Milton Friedman: “A society that aims for equality before liberty will end up with neither equality nor liberty. And a society that aims first for liberty will not end up with equality, but it will end up with a closer approach to equality than any other kind of system that has ever been developed.”

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