Three Lessons for Libertarian Populists

A revolt against the corporate state is a great idea. How do you make it more than the rhetorical flavor of the month?

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2. The important political question isn't whether libertarian populism is a winning message for the GOP. It's whether the GOP is a winning vehicle for libertarian populism. Taking on the corporate state is a good idea whether or not it's politically popular. It is true, of course, that the typical politician won't embrace an agenda unless he thinks it's going to win him votes. But for those of us who aren't politicians—or operatives in a politician's employ—there's no reason to care about winning votes unless those votes then generate something we want.

That might seem obvious too, but apparently it isn't. The most high-profile discussion of libertarian populism to appear thus far is a Paul Krugman column in The New York Times that never once bothers to engage, or even mention, the libertarian populists' central idea of challenging both state and business power. Instead Krugman treats the whole concept as a branding exercise aimed at winning "a pool of disaffected working-class white voters," then attacks it on the grounds that the strategy won't work. The LibPops' political agenda, he claims, is just "the same old policies" the GOP has always advocated, by which Krugman means less federal spending.

Well, libertarian populism does entail less federal spending. It also entails the wholesale rejection of the crony-capitalist conservatism that guided the Republican Congress in the K Street Project days and the heavy-spending, bailout-happy economics advanced by President George W. Bush. A libertarian-populist GOP would have slashed back the military-industrial complex and would have let the big banks fail. You need a serious case of myopia to see this as the same old Republican agenda.

There are rank-and-file Republicans who find these ideas attractive—if not in their most radical form, then at least in a shape that's a serious challenge to business as usual. And the so-called "liberty Republicans," represented by such figures as the Michigan congressman Justin Amash, have built a niche where such notions are welcome. But there's a difference between making a home in the GOP and taking the party over. By attacking the idea that government should be the servant of powerful corporate interests, the LibPops are challenging one of the basic operating principles of the modern Republican establishment. I wish them the best of luck in that fight, but I'm not at all optimistic that they'll win it.

Fortunately, they can still claim other victories...

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  • LynchPin1477||

    I'm wary of populism because it strikes me as just another name for mob rule. Going after the croniests for usurping the coercive power of government is one thing, but how long before it turns into a witch hunt for anyone who is "too successful" or "too powerful", as defined by the masses?

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    I don't disagree, as far as your argument goes, but I'm not sure that is particularly representative of "populism" -- and if it is, doesn't it render "libertarian populism" a square circle?

  • Jesse Walker||

    "Populism" has multiple meanings, but Carney et al are basically using it to mean a challenge to powerful entrenched interest groups, particularly in the corporate sphere, and I'm following their lead.

  • LynchPin1477||

    Fair enough. But libertarian populism then needs to be very careful about explaining why it is going after entrenched interest groups. Maybe they already are.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    Do any of those meanings align with "mob rule"?

    That was my only significant point, really...

  • Free Society||

    I too have a bone deep skepticism of populism and even democracy. But I have to wonder what a rabid libertarian mob would look like.

    I imagine free people marching through the streets with torches and pitch-forks terrorizing the countryside with threats of leaving people alone and allowing other people to live freely. At worst maybe calling for the blood of Mike Bloomberg.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    "Fuck you and your way of life! You disgust me so much, I am going to leave you alone!"

  • Free Society||

    Maybe carrying the severed heads of victims who willingly and freely consented to having their heads placed on spikes.

  • LynchPin1477||

    When I was very young, I thought people who died in the movies were volunteers who wanted to commit suicide.

  • Tony||

    Like any other mob. You are not that special.

    And you're dogmatic to boot, so like any other particularly vicious mob, I'd wager.

  • Free Society||

    Are the libertarians going to take away your positive 'freedom'? Are you fearful of being oppressed by people who don't want to coerce you?

  • Tony||

    You do want to coerce me. You said yourself you're skeptical of democracy. So I'm curious, what form will the imposition of your will take? Were you a big fan of Pinochet's Chile? Because Milton Friedman sure was.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 7.23.13 @ 5:31PM |#
    "You do want to coerce me."
    Lie

    "You said yourself you're skeptical of democracy."
    Strawman

    "So I'm curious, what form will the imposition of your will take?"
    None, shithead.

    "Were you a big fan of Pinochet's Chile? Because Milton Friedman sure was."
    Strawman and lie.
    Go suck sewage and die.

  • Free Society||

    You do want to coerce me. You said yourself you're skeptical of democracy. So I'm curious, what form will the imposition of your will take?


    Being of skeptical of democracy means I want to coerce you? Truth be told, I'd rather not share any kind of polity with you. It doesn't get any less coercive than that.

    Were you a big fan of Pinochet's Chile? Because Milton Friedman sure was.

    So are you claiming Milton Friedman was an anarcho-capitalist out of ignorance or to strawman the argument? Milton Friedman praised Pinochet's early economic reforms and later disavowed the man. This is prone to happening when people jump on the bandwagon of folks with political power. Gross injustice is inevitable with all but the Cinncinatus types, a type that is selected against by statist systems.

    Since Friedman was obviously no anarcho-capitalist so I'm wondering how this is at all relevant to my skepticism about the legitimacy of state power. Then I realized that I'm talking to the master of strawman arguments.

  • Ballz||

    ah, this is an appeal for anarchy?

  • Free Society||

    an appeal for something ranging from anarchy to minimal coercion, sure.

  • Ballz||

    sry was poking at Tony.
    I think anarchy is like cold fusion and cannot sustain itself.

  • Free Society||

    There's really nothing to sustain. Just free people interacting freely. No one is saying that society is currently rid enough of sociopaths and statists to be able to accomplish it tomorrow. Iceland had something akin to anarchy for a few hundred years which only ended when a Norse king invaded.

  • Ballz||

    People will always form some kind of government. Then the stretching begins anew.

  • Free Society||

    People will always form some kind of government. Then the stretching begins anew.

    "will always" is an assumption, an intuitive one but an assumption that hasn't always been, and thus not necessarily, the case.

    The risk any anarchist society would face, one assumes.

    Which does not take away from the legitimacy of a free society.

    it nevertheless did fail not just by outside invasion but because of the accumulation of wealth by a powerful elite--the same ways any anarchist society will inevitably fail.

    If wealth were a static thing that could not be created you'd have a point. But once again, wealth is not static thing. And your argument is not supported by historical facts. The people of medieval Iceland enjoyed the highest standard of living of any European peoples of the time.

    Your redistributionist concepts of wealth are not only contrary to basic economics to but also a disgracefully ignorant excuse to legitimize kleptocracy.

  • Tony||

    which only ended when a Norse king invaded.

    The risk any anarchist society would face, one assumes. Even if I agree for the sake of argument that ancient Iceland qualifies as a functioning anarchist society, it nevertheless did fail not just by outside invasion but because of the accumulation of wealth by a powerful elite--the same ways any anarchist society will inevitably fail.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 7.23.13 @ 5:42PM |#
    which only ended when a Norse king invaded.
    "The risk any anarchist society would face, one assumes."

    Only in a world favored by shitheads like you.

  • Ballz||

    this is an appeal for anarchy?

  • Free Society||

    this is an appeal for anarchy?

    Not really. I was still skeptical of democracy back when I considered myself an advocate of a constitutional republic with limited democratic institutions. The "nation of laws not men" sort of thing. I'd still say that's far more preferable to a full on democracy.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 7.23.13 @ 4:18PM |#
    "Like any other mob. You are not that special."

    One more ignorant assertion from shithead! How surprising!
    Go suck sewage and die.

  • Inigo M.||

    I think of the term as meaning roughly what it meant to John Edwards when he ran for president -- a socialistic "let's spread the wealth" and "we'll take down anyone who makes too much (unless he's a very liberal trial lawyer with great hair)." It's essentially socialism, but with the phoney charm of a down-home, folksy facade instead of the usual highly educated and sternly intellectual face of the original Marxists.

  • Tony||

    The lives of pretty much everyone were negatively affected because a few big banks had too much power. Just apply the usual libertarian standard, and apply it proactively. If an institution you have no voluntary association with can harm you (either by failing or abusing lending practices or whatever), then it's too big.

    What is incoherent about what's being called libertarian populism is that the only way to prevent such abuses is to have a government (accountable, democratic, etc.) that's big enough to counter them. It's not just that the banks are too powerful as if in a vacuum, it's that they're too powerful relative to government (the institution that is supposed to act on behalf of the people). Banks and multinational corporations being able to counter the power of governments can never be a good thing.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    You either don't know what libertarians mean by "harm," or you are willfully misrepresenting them. Either way, I'm not sure that you are worth having a conversation with...

    Nevertheless, I will bite (but only on this one issue): Do you recognize the existence of manifold regulations, which caused and still cause the very economic turmoil you bemoan? (The origins of said regulations can be attributed to whatever you will, for the sake of argument.)

  • Tony||

    So government forced banks to merge regular banking with risky investing, and grow and consume a larger and larger portion of the economy, and develop innovative ways to suck wealth out of it while passing the risk along to everyone else? Or did they do that because it was highly, highly profitable for them, and because they could?

    The market is not so magical that it will prevent profit-making institutions from passing risk on to others if they are allowed.

  • Ballz||

    those "others" ARE the market.

  • Inigo M.||

    Essentially, yes, they did force them into risky investing. And, just like a reasonable person would when pushed into a dangerous situation, the banks came up with clever ways to spread the risk around as much as they possible could. I'm old enough to remember when my parents would say a person could afford to buy a house up to about 4x his annual gross salary, and even then only by putting at least 20% down in cash. Why did banks used to have such vigorous standards? Because they didn't want to be left holding the bag when people bought houses they could not afford. The government (including Republicans!) pushed "home ownership for all" and passed regulations to make sure that banks would find a way to give anyone who can fog a mirror a mortgage -- even on a mansion. The result was practices that were as much arcane as idiotic, and it eventually blew up in all of our faces.

  • Tony||

    The home-ownership thing is mostly right-wing mythology. The risky lending was perpetrated by the private sector because they found out how to make it very profitable. At most I will agree as a matter of semantics, that government not having the right regulations in place, in a sense, "forced" the risky investing by not removing the incentives. But in the end it was classic irrational exuberance that resulted in an implosion, as happens time and time again in underregulated markets.

  • kbolino||

    And like that, with the stroke of his pen, did Tony make Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac disappear from the history books, and with them went all of the inconvenient facts that disrupt his narrative.

    "Irrational exuberance" is what happens when you believe there is someone to pick up the pieces after you fuck up. And someone there was, the same government agencies you magically pretend did not exist in the wild west "under-regulated" mortgage market pre-2007.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 7.23.13 @ 5:58PM |#
    "The home-ownership thing is mostly right-wing mythology"

    You're a lying, steaming pile of shit.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Part of the problem here is the perverse incentives to the banks created when the government promises to force the risk the banks took on to the taxpayers. One only has incentive to minimimize risk when one knows they will be left holding the bag.

  • Free Society||

    Oh good. So you acknowledge the injustice of central banking?

  • Free Society||

    ^@tony

  • LynchPin1477||

    Just apply the usual libertarian standard, and apply it proactively

    Most libertarians, I think, reject the concept of prior restraint. I personally think it might be justified in certain situations, specifically when there is a very high risk of irreparable harm. Even applying that very narrowly, I suspect that I am in the minority here. So don't expect your neat little declaration to get very far.

    it's that they're too powerful relative to government (the institution that is supposed to act on behalf of the people)

    Question for you: setting aside the specific example of banks, do you personally want any institution or group to be more powerful than government? If not, what happens when government doesn't act on behalf of the people?

  • Tony||

    So when and how do I get to sue the banks for depressing my wages or putting me out of work by causing a major global economic crisis? How do I quantify that harm? Libertarians not believing in prevention is sort of an absurd extrapolation of their first principles. An ounce is still worth a pound of cure.

    do you personally want any institution or group to be more powerful than government?

    Absolutely not, unless you're talking about "the people" as a group. But government defined as the people's agent for collective action absolutely should be overwhelmingly more powerful than anything else, because it is the only entity that is working on behalf of the people as a whole. Everything else is a special interest, and mostly working for profit in a way that is blind to the public interest (which you might call sociopathic).

    what happens when government doesn't act on behalf of the people?

    Then we're fucked regardless.

  • LynchPin1477||

    mostly working for profit in a way that is blind to the public interest (which you might call sociopathic)

    You might call it that. I'd call it the driving force behind most of the greatest advances in human history. Perfect? Hell no. But if you want to see real sociopathy, go look at societies that have tried to outlaw profit.

    Also, do you see how having a government with unchecked power actually leads to us all being fucked?

  • Tony||

    Who's advocating a government with unchecked power?

    I'm just arguing against private interests with unchecked power.

  • LynchPin1477||

    If there is nothing more powerful than government, except for "the people" which I suspect you define as the majority of people, then what is going to act as a check on government? Elections? That's small comfort to whoever is in the minority. You say you are against anarchy because it will lead to mob rule, but it seems to me that you advocate for the same basic state of affairs. You just want to validate it with democracy.

  • Tony||

    In general majorities should get their way. That's only fair. You seem to be advocating for a system in which you get your way all the time, and screw everyone else.

  • Free Society||

    In general majorities should get their way. That's only fair. You seem to be advocating for a system in which you get your way all the time, and screw everyone else.

    So if a majority of people vote to deprive you of your life, liberty or property you'd be okay with that? The decisions made by majorities of groups of people are expressions pure wisdom and fairness, so it's only fair that absolute arbitrary authority be handed democratic institutions. I can tell you've really thought this out...

  • Free Society||

    Who's advocating a government with unchecked power?
    I'm just arguing against private interests with unchecked power.

    You are constantly doing so. You always opt to "check" private interests (people) with more government power. You love it when the government doesn't murder people I'm sure, but beyond common sense limitations on government, you haven't met an infringement on freedom that you don't like.

  • kbolino||

    So when and how do I get to sue the banks for depressing my wages or putting me out of work by causing a major global economic crisis?

    You don't.

    How do I quantify that harm?

    You can't, since it's all in your head.

    Libertarians not believing in prevention is sort of an absurd extrapolation of their first principles.

    You don't have a positive right to employment, nor to the preservation of the value of fiat currency. There's no one to sue, because no one owed you those things to begin with.

    But government defined as the people's agent for collective action

    That is not the definition of government...

    because it is the only entity that is working on behalf of the people as a whole

    This is a completely fallacious premise...

    should be overwhelmingly more powerful than anything else

    From two false premises do we magically form a valid argument!

  • Ballz||

    no, no, no
    what's stretching my rectum is attached to government. THEY took my assets and handed them over to the other giant assholes. What power does a bank have over me if I have no association with them?

  • Tony||

    The problem is one of government policy, no doubt about it, but that problem was government rules for banks being too loose. Libertarians' raison d'etre is to argue for such looser rules. Those policies allowed banks to become too big to fail. And if anything is too big to fail, it should be owned by the government.

  • kbolino||

    You write lots of words, but all I see is a whole lot of rationalization for stealing, and when that gets boring and ineffective, more stealing.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 7.23.13 @ 5:08PM |#
    "The problem is one of government policy, no doubt about it, but that problem was government rules for banks being too loose."

    You're a lying, steaming pile of shit.

  • Free Society||

    The problem is one of government policy, no doubt about it, but that problem was government rules for banks being too loose.

    Ah yes that laissez faire free market financial industry that doesn't exist. You constantly ignore the fact that the industry is tightly controlled, up to and not limited to central planning and fixing prices.

    Those policies allowed banks to become too big to fail.

    What in the world are you talking about? Banks are ever-more regulated and this "too big to fail" concept is a myth. These banks that are "too big too fail" get that way because of something called moral hazards. Years of bailouts, guarantees and cronyism enables these big banks to quash competition. The huge regulatory burden placed on banks is an order of magnitude more difficult for a small bank to shoulder than it is for a big bank. The result is that the most suited banks for this sort of financial environment are going to be big banks. People like you and your short-shortsightedly unqualified insistence on regulations has caused "too big to fail".

    And if anything is too big to fail, it should be owned by the government.


    If anything is too big to fail, it got that way because of economic intervention.

  • ||

    Tony:
    The lives of pretty much everyone were negatively affected because a few big banks had too much power.

    This is a symptom of government intervention, both in terms of banking competition and power.

    Just apply the usual libertarian standard, and apply it proactively. If an institution you have no voluntary association with can harm you (either by failing or abusing lending practices or whatever), then it's too big....the only way to prevent such abuses is to have a government (accountable, democratic, etc.) that's big enough to counter them.

    This cuts both ways: if we as a principle assume that an institution is too big when it can harm you without voluntary association, then we need to dismantle the government. Otherwise, what counters the government? Is it governments all the way down?

    There isn't a bank I can think of that commands control of the GDP the way the government does. There isn't a bank I can think of that can go into debt on behalf of the unborn. And democracy does not provide the incentives to make it any different an institution. People do not choose wise leaders to manage something as complex as banking. They vote for arbitrary reasons that have little to do with anything past their near-term best interest. Hoping for accountability in this situation is a theoretical exercise.

  • Tony||

    what counters the government?

    Regular elections and internal checks and balances. Not saying it works perfectly, but you have to deposit the legitimate use of force in one place, or else you get lots of force you didn't get to vote for.

    Even if everything you're saying is true, you're not offering a realistic alternative. You can't hand-wave all the bad things in life away because it makes your philosophy work better.

  • ||

    Even if everything you're saying is true, you're not offering a realistic alternative.

    The status quo doesn't seem like a realistic alternative, either, since it's been proven to fail.

  • kbolino||

    How many different ways can Bastiat's argument be phrased before you get it through your thick skull that you cannot ameliorate the human condition by throwing more humans at the problem? There is only one force that has ever made the life of mankind better. That force is known as innovation, and it doesn't come from a government committee. Your noble intentions do not change the fact that rules and regulations stifle innovation, and that your ultimate end will be the imperilment of the entire species.

  • ||

    That, and from a perspective of systemic risk, too. "Too big to fail" is really about the concept of single point of failure. In a highly centralized, highly regulated industry, everything is homogeneous, and the power and decision making is done by relatively few people, based on the scale of the system. This makes the system vulnerable. If the regulations require suboptimal behavior, we get guaranteed worse results, across the board, everywhere. At best, it's inefficient. The worst case scenario is when avoiding catastrophe requires violating regulations. In that case, disaster is guaranteed, across the board, everywhere, as if the entire industry is one big failing "too big to fail" institution. These problems are overcome by heterogeneity and decentralization, not homogeneous, centralized one-size-fits-all rule making, or single payer, single creditor situations.

  • Tony||

    Name one major advance from the last century that didn't depend in a major way on government investment. You're peddling romanticism dude, with the distinct flavor of Ayn Rand. You are still just ignoring the vital roles government plays, for no logical reason. Just because you want to.

    Innovation is not necessarily a product of an unregulated market. It's entirely clear that refusing to innovate can be the more profitable avenue. Look at something as big as energy production or something as small as light bulbs.

  • ||

    Name one major advance from the last century that didn't depend in a major way on government investment.

    The first one that's jumps to mind is Orville and Wilbur Wright, who invented the first successful airplane (one that was powered and actually controllable in a practical way).

    You are still just ignoring the vital roles government plays, for no logical reason. Just because you want to.

    No, I just don't give government credit for everything as if nothing would happen without it. Only about 10-20% of research is done by governments or universities. So, no, I'm not ignoring the role government plays for no logical reason. You're avoiding the facts and buying into a "government does everything awesome" narrative, proposed by progressives as false propaganda.

  • ||

    And, on top of that, there were a lot of people, and some smart people, who said that man would never fly. They hadn't done it yet, and weren't going to start.

    Reminds me of you.

  • Black&Yellow||

    Plus everything the government owns was stolen.

  • Free Society||

    Innovation is not necessarily a product of an unregulated market. It's entirely clear that refusing to innovate can be the more profitable avenue. Look at something as big as energy production or something as small as light bulbs.


    Banning the light bulbs you don't like qualifies as innovation? For those who refuse to innovate there is this thing called "competition". If there is no competition, maybe ask why that is before you get on the 'moar regulation' bandwagon. But using critical thinking was never prerequisite for you before, so why change now?

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 7.23.13 @ 6:03PM |#
    what counters the government?
    "Regular elections and internal checks and balances."

    Right:
    "Documents Reveal Close Cooperation Between NSA, German Intelligence"
    http://reason.com/24-7/2013/07.....tion-betwe
    "IRS Blows Big Bucks on Unnecessary Travel for Top Executives"
    http://reason.com/blog/2013/07.....sary-trave
    You're a lying, steaming pile of shit.

  • T||

    As a libertarian, I'm thinking not getting bed with the GOP is step one. But what do I know? Help them if they're right on the issue, walk away when they aren't.

  • Inigo M.||

    The problem with the GOP is that they more or less say the right things on economic issues, but then they don't actually walk the talk. They then make up for the good-sounding rhetoric by being just as statist about personal behavior and personal freedoms as the liberals are about economic freedoms.

    Just look at the idiocy of declaring that oral sex should be made illegal once again, or that we must double-down on the WOD, and we should hang Snowden and be thankful that spying on everyone is "keeping us safe."

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    But the Great New Deal Society is all Team Blue and that is the clear and present danger to the country. Sure, beat the GOP up over not actively dismantling it, but with the exception of Medicare Part D which was really scared into them from populist rhetoric, the Republicans did not set the wheels in motion.

    Of course you're right on the sex issues, and abortion, and drugs, but Team Blue is just as happy to go after porn, drugs, and prostitution as Team Red. In fact, the only freedoms Team Red advocates are freedoms to fuck what you want (over 18 and only for free and preferably of the same gender) and to take money from those who have more than you.

    If Snowden had stopped with the internal spying he would remain a hero. He got cocky and started doing real damage by revealing legitimate activities. That latter meets my definition of treason.

  • anon||

    I don't think there's such a thing as "libertarian populism."

    I'm not against "elites," except for those that would use government power to enslave me. Which I guess nearly all modern politicians.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I think the phrase can have meaning--like a popular movement favoring limited government, free markets, and maximum civil liberties--but that's not really how the term is being used.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    From my limited experience in politically charged social circles, "populism" is defined as the ignorant masses disagreeing with the hoi oligoi (the Left).

    That's just my limited experience; I'm not fond of the word, truthfully.

  • SugarFree||

    Academic and scholarly definitions of populism have varied widely over the past centuries and the term has often been employed in loose and inconsistent ways to denote appeals to ‘the people’, ‘demagogy’ and ‘catch-all’ politics or as a receptacle for new types of parties whose classification is unclear.

    The damn homos changed the definition of "populism" so many times it doesn't mean anything anymore.

  • LynchPin1477||

    I would say that is argument against using it. Better to be clear in your message.

  • Free Society||

    It can't be any worse than the treatment of the word "liberal", to the point where the popular meaning of the word is the polar opposite of it's actual meaning.

  • Ballz||

    fuckin' A
    WE are the true liberals. Progtoad imposters can find another label.

    I need a new T-shirt

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    For what it's worth, I usually self-identify as a "non-progressive liberal"...

  • Free Society||

    It's not worth much since probably less than 1% of people will know what that means.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    That's the beauty of it, Free Society: It starts a conversation, instead of ending one...

  • Free Society||

    Fair point. Just prepare to have moldy vegetables heaped upon you from all sides.

  • ||

    Why do you hate progress, Gozer?

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Don't you know that "freedom IS slavery"?

  • califernian||

    So is a libertarian populist, for instance, in favor of or against the perennial farm bill monstrosities that come out of Congress? Are they for or against a student loan bailout?

    These two answers alone will tell me if they are my kind of libertarian or just a douchey liberals trying to sound cool

  • Jesse Walker||

    They would be against both, and the people publicly identified with the label "libertarian populism" are more likely to be classified as conservatives than as liberals.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    A populist argument against farm subsidies is easy. Student loan bailout, not so much. There are good populist arguments against loose student loan lending practices, though.

  • LynchPin1477||

    If they are against both, then I'm having trouble understanding why the populist label is needed in the first place.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    It's just an attempt to make libertarian ideas more palatable by using populist framing and arguments. It's really no different than using utilitarian arguments, except that utilitarian arguments are so often counter-intuitive, and thus do not often appeal to the same people attracted by populism.

  • Gozer the Gozerian||

    Now I know why I hate it (but not the substantive ideas): Marketing.

  • LynchPin1477||

    I don't mind the marketing. Libertarians are in the minority. If you want to change hearts and minds, marketing is a necessary component.

  • Ballz||

    less filling. tastes great.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    It's hard to market to the plebians or the Leecher Class that you want to derail the gravy train.

  • Tony||

    Luckily you don't have to in principle, since CEOs and bankers are a tiny minority of the electorate.

  • Free Society||

    Yep, all CEOs and bankers here. In fact, you can't even be a libertarian without being initiated into the club by the Koch brothers or whichever paymaster you accuse us of having that week.

  • LynchPin1477||

    Silly Free Society. WE aren't in the club. We've just been fooled by the rich and powerful into thinking we are so that we'll support it.

  • Free Society||

    But they told me I was a unique snowflake *tear*. Well if you'll excuse me I have to go hunt down minorities and propagate social injustice by making sure my employees are still paralyzed in a state of 'wage slavery'. Cuz that's what libertarians do, I'm told.

  • ||

    WE aren't in the club. We've just been fooled by the rich and powerful into thinking we are so that we'll support it.

    I was wondering why I didn't get a chance to learn the secret handshake.

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 7.23.13 @ 4:27PM |#
    "Luckily you don't have to in principle, since CEOs and bankers are a tiny minority of the electorate."

    Unfortunately, shitheads like you are not so rare.

  • Ballz||

    progtoadies not liberals

  • OldMexican||

    a strain of thought that moves from the standard grassroots conservative view of Washington as an inherently corrupt realm of special interests and self-dealing elites to a broader skepticism of 'bigness' in all its forms (corporate as well as governmental).


    Right. What do they mean by "big"?

  • Ballz||

    on a case by case basis it probably relates most to sphincter stretching.

  • Ballz||

    and to be populist it must be "fair", so WE need to also be "big".
    Could we not bring back the ever popular public flogging of bad politicians?

    "Libertarians for Public Flogging!
    ..and Free Beer!"

  • LynchPin1477||

    While I would be morally opposed to government mandated free beer, I would also probably be too drunk to remember to be outraged.

  • Ballz||

    populism

  • OldMexican||

    The other danger is that you'll keep the populism but lose the libertarianism anyway.


    Hence the term Beltwaytarians.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    A potential case in point is Carney's proposal to bring the banks to heel via legislation to break them up. Big banks, he wrote, "inherently have too much political power, and...will inevitably use that power to guarantee bailouts."

    By "political power" Carney means "money." In the Progressive theology, money buys elections is a tenet of faith, except when Barry outspends Rombot by $250 million.

  • Tony||

    Obama won, if you recall.

  • Ballz||

    stimulus works!

  • LynchPin1477||

    I think he meant that progressives don't view Obama's victory being "bought".

  • Ballz||

    but I think they do. It's OK in the face of evil.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    See? Lynchpin gets it. It's evil when the other side does it, but not when we do it! Because we have GOOD INTENTIONS and they're just big, meanie, poopoo faces!

  • Tony||

    I do, in the sense that he probably would have been beaten if he were significantly outmatched money-wise.

  • ||

    I think he meant that progressives don't view Obama's victory being "bought".

    I remember liberals actually claiming that Republicans were such pessimists for thinking they had an advantage with Citizens United: that somehow their big money would corrupt the system. Clearly, idealism triumphs, in the form of an Obama victory.

    Of course, the next time they loose big, it will be because....CITIZENS UNITED! OMG!

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Tony, you're about to get sent to Room 101 for that anti-Party talk. Don't you know that when Obama won, it was because the people threw off the false consciousness of the patriarchy and, after eating some grassroots, elected Obama with a mandate to whatever he wanted?

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 7.23.13 @ 4:21PM |#
    "Obama won, if you recall."

    Yeah, shithead, and we lost.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    It's not just that the banks are too powerful as if in a vacuum, it's that they're too powerful relative to government (the institution that is supposed to act on behalf of the people).

    There's a whole lotta 'sposing going on in that sentence.

  • Tony||

    If you believe government is inherently evil, you're not going to be very good at helping to make it work well, are you? And since there's not a lot of intellectual doubt among libertarians, you'll probably not even want it to work well so you can be proven right.

  • Ballz||

    it works as intended

  • Anonymous Coward||

    If you believe government is inherently evil, you're not going to be very good at helping to make it work well, are you?

    Oh but I am. And government functions well when it engages in a minimum number of tasks.

    "The best government is that which governs least." Definitively cited to Thoreau, may or may not be a Jefferson quote.

  • Tony||

    And long ago discarded by serious people as inapplicable to the modern technological world.

    Believing the musings of people who lived in a 95% agrarian society apply to the modern world is delusion.

  • DJK||

    "The modern technological world". Bahahahaha! So you're saying that governments which craft legislation on the time scales of years are in a great position to regulate information exchanges that happen on the timescales of tiny fractions of a second? That's keeping up with the modern technological world?

  • ||

    I think he means that, in a purely agrarian economy, people are really only free to see if they can manage to pull enough food out of the earth to avoid starvation.

    Once they have any significant economic power, then, you really have to control the bastards.

  • acidovorax||

    And long ago discarded by serious people as inapplicable to the modern technological world.

    And by "serious", you simply mean people who agree with you.

  • DJK||

    Discarded by the mid and late nineteenth philosophers that Tony loves so much. You know, the modern ones.

  • LynchPin1477||

    They were so, like, ahead of their time.

  • DJK||

    Damned straight! Post-scarcity!

  • Sevo||

    Tony| 7.23.13 @ 5:11PM |#
    "And long ago discarded by serious people as inapplicable to the modern technological world."

    And one MORE ignorant assertion by shithead!

  • Free Society||

    What institutions persist by exploiting coercion and violence inflicted upon peaceful people? Could you characterize such an institution as good? Mobsters and thugs are bad, but when governments do it, it's good. Solid logic Tonyesque logic.

  • Tony||

    You can't rid the world of power. You can only hope that you get to vote for the people who get the power. In a world without government, mobsters will rule, and they won't ask you first.

  • DJK||

    The idea that your vote matters is ridiculous. No one gives a shit about your vote and they sure as hell don't care to be bound by it. What does it matter whether I cast a useless vote and am repressed by my government or if I'm just repressed by a mobster? At least the latter case is honest.

  • acidovorax||

    In a world without government, mobsters will rule, and they won't ask you first.

    Reason #6831 why you can't be taken seriously. The world is filled with governments that DON'T ask permission. Even our "democratic" government doesn't ask permission.

  • Tony||

    Then there is no such thing as freedom, because the best we've been able to do is democracy, and there is no freer alternative. Is this such a horrible reality to libertarians that they're forced to retreat into childlike fantasy worlds where people can happily coexist with no one asserting power over others, via some psychic ethical cooperation?

  • DJK||

    We've done far better than democracy - it's called a constitutional republic with checks and balances. Fight the tyranny of the minority and majority.

  • LynchPin1477||

    We've done far better than democracy - it's called a constitutional republic with checks and balances.

    Testify!

  • MoMark||

    “…where people can happily coexist with no one asserting power over others, via some psychic ethical cooperation?”

    It’s called rational self-interest, and wanting to live in a world where I do not coerce you to exist for my ends and you reciprocate. Something you will never understand. Tony what motivates you to be a stormtrooper for collectivism? Just curious!

  • Sevo||

    "It’s called rational self-interest, and wanting to live in a world where I do not coerce you to exist for my ends and you reciprocate..."

    Shithead presumes his infantile efforts at moral agency and his limited concepts of human interaction represent the ultimate.
    If someone can't shoot you for doing other than shithead wants, that's not a workable society. Shithead is truly a vile and hateful person; HE decides what you do or YOU are wrong! And you deserve to be shot.

  • ||

    Then there is no such thing as freedom, because the best we've been able to do is democracy, and there is no freer alternative.

    That's it, guys. We're constantly making breakthroughs in science, medicine, engineering, information, etc.

    But high-level social organization: there's no room for improvement. We got the system down. Sure, you may not like the inefficiency, the regulations on your personal life, the wars, the prisons, etc. But, at this point, minor tweaking is all we can do.

    I mean, look, we've had democracies for two hundred years. Over what two hundred year time spans has mankind ever done something, and then, turned around, and figured out a very different, yet much better, way to do it? Practically none that I can think of. So, this is the best we can do. Be realistic and learn to love it.

  • Sevo||

    And all this is claimed by some asshole who wishes to be known as a "progressive"; pathetic.
    It's a pretty sure bet that shithead's idea of progress was 1917; the "future". Once that died of its own contradictions, shithead has hoped that a wanna-be disaster is better than a full disaster.

  • Tony||

    If you have an improvement on modern democracies with respect to freedom, I'm all ears. Nobody has ever articulated what that better system is though. Care to try?

  • MoMark||

    “If you have an improvement on modern democracies with respect to freedom, I'm all ears. Nobody has ever articulated what that better system is though. Care to try?”

    Sure Tony, How about we have a division of what is public and what is private in society and we have a “democracy” that has jurisdiction over only that which is public? And only those that work and pay taxes in the private sector have the right to vote? That might produce a more libertarian society. And here’s a challenge for you, in your system how do you control for the free riders that are overwhelming the system? I am not sure you’ve ever address that.

  • Tony||

    Well at least you gave an answer. It's totally fucked up, but hey points for actually going for it.

    It's not really democracy unless everyone who is affected by government policy gets to vote. And that is everyone, since the distinction between public and private is not as clear as you seem to think. Say hypothetically a foreign country invades. Do we first parse out the taxpaying voters from the nontaxpaying nonvoters before we defend the country? We wouldn't want any free riders on national defense, after all.

    And of course those not allowed to vote wouldn't rightly be subject to any laws, and that includes laws barring them from intruding upon your property.

  • ||

    It's not really democracy unless everyone who is affected by government policy gets to vote. And that is everyone, since the distinction between public and private is not as clear as you seem to think.

    Everybody can't vote. There are many taxpayers who are explicitly prohibited from voting. This implies that we don't really have democracy.

    And of course those not allowed to vote wouldn't rightly be subject to any laws, and that includes laws barring them from intruding upon your property.

    This implies that those we do not allowed to vote aren't subject to any laws. This is false.

  • MoMark||

    Tony|7.24.13 @ 11:19AM|#

    “It's not really democracy unless everyone who is affected by government policy gets to vote.”

    How about it’s not a democracy unless those who pay for it get to decide policy, otherwise again free riders will come to dominate.

    Look I know you will always see collective action as the fountain of wealth and happiness and your side has won the war, but if we libertarians can ever carve out a country somewhere will your kind allow us to leave and take our wealth with us? I am guessing not!

    I can feel your boot on my neck now.

  • MoMark||

    Tony|7.24.13 @ 11:19AM|#

    “…since the distinction between public and private is not as clear as you seem to think.”

    That’s true Tony, but a healthy society tries to make that distinction i.e. marriage and homosexuality are not the purview of government and the public sector!

  • Tony||

    As for free riders: that's more your problem than mine, since in my system everyone has a stake. Yeah I favor progressive taxation, so the poor may get more in benefits than they pay for (though they will always pay some taxes, like sales taxes), but that's OK because they are poor, and if you think that's living the good life, you are welcome to become poor. We collectively pay for a safety net so that the problem of poor people doesn't become an even bigger and more expensive one.

  • ||

    As for free riders: that's more your problem than mine, since in my system everyone has a stake.

    Translation: I don't care, so it's not an issue. Everyone's involved (?).

    This is put forward as dealing with the world in all it's complexity.

  • MoMark||

    Tony|7.24.13 @ 11:22AM|#

    "We collectively pay for a safety net so that the problem of poor people doesn't become an even bigger and more expensive one."

    I am confused, how does paying for something collectively make something less expensive? That solution makes no sense to me.

  • MoMark||

    Tony|7.24.13 @ 11:22AM|#

    "As for free riders: that's more your problem than mine, since in my system everyone has a stake."

    Yes, but if everyone becomes part of the public sector, don’t you become at some point the Soviet Union?

    Doesn't that matter to you?

  • Black&Yellow||

    Then there is no such thing as freedom, because the best we've been able to do is monarchy, and there is no freer alternative. Is this such a horrible reality to liberials that they're forced to retreat into childlike fantasy.......

  • Free Society||

    You can't rid the world of power. You can only hope that you get to vote for the people who get the power. In a world without government, mobsters will rule, and they won't ask you first.

    The must just system of law that you can think of is to hopefully be able to vote for the winning thug? Having put that little thought into it no wonder you can't fathom a system of law without a judicial monopoly run by kleptocrats and central planners.

  • Black&Yellow||

    who wants to work with evil?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    If you believe people are inherently evil, you're not going to be very good at helping them to be free.

  • Jam||

    liberty and politics don't work. it's shittin in the kitchen

    stay away from the monster, it will self implode under it's own weight in a few decades, and make sure no libertarian populist politician is anywhere near it as he/she will take 100% of the blame.

    you wanted Somalia, now we have Somalia

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "Populism" for me has too much of a connotation of socialism.

    It makes me think of the Prairie Populists.

  • Ballz||

    Populism needs a face.
    Progturds have Black Jesus.
    Repukelicans have Raygun.
    Libertarians have some old geezer dude (
    can't remember his name).

  • LynchPin1477||

    Libertarians have lots of old geezer dudes. Maybe we could make a collage.

  • Free Society||

    A pantheon

  • BMFPitt||

    But he goes on to suggest a still blunter measure—an anti-bailout constitutional amendment—that would be even harder to game, and would ultimately do more to keep the banks' size and power under control. Seems like a more promising crusade to me.

    The wording on that might be tricky. Also, how would it be enforced? Who would have standing to prevent Congress from doing it, anyway?

    I like the idea of a mandatory death sentence for proposing a bailout in Congress. It might not stand up in SCOTUS, but who would want to roll the dice?

  • Tom Beebe||

    Here's a stand-alone proposal to curb concentrations of money in certain corporations. Require that all earnings, now referred to as "retained earnings", be distributed to stockholders at the end of each fiscal year. Corporations then would have to go to the capital market to secure funds for expansions, etc. The current rules for depreciation, etc would still apply. What this discourages is mergers and acquisitions. Successful businesses would raise their new capital at a discount by selling stock at a premium, while less successful ones would have to discount theirs. Lots of ramifications and unintended consequences, to be sure, but worth studying.

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