GOP Message-Massager Frank Luntz, in the Wake of OWS: Don't Defend "Capitalism," Don't Rail Against "Government Spending"

Did you need a little Monday morning reminder of why GOP politics and libertarian ideals so rarely mix when Republicans hold power? Well check out this piece from last week by Yahoo News' Chris Moody, who went inside a recent Republican Governors Association plenary session to watch spinmeister Frank Luntz give a bizarre list of 10 GOP-messaging do's and don'ts in the wake of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Here's how Luntz set the tone:

"I'm so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I'm frightened to death," said Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist and one of the nation's foremost experts on crafting the perfect political message. "They're having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism."

Notes from his Top (Bottom?) 10 list:

1. Don't say 'capitalism.'

"I'm trying to get that word removed and we're replacing it with either 'economic freedom' or 'free market,' " Luntz said. "The public ... still prefers capitalism to socialism, but they think capitalism is immoral. And if we're seen as defenders of quote, Wall Street, end quote, we've got a problem." [...]

5. Don't say 'government spending.' Call it 'waste.'

"It's not about 'government spending.' It's about 'waste.' That's what makes people angry."

To overstate what should be the obvious, there is a roughly zero percent chance of OWS converting Americans into democratic socialists, let alone Norweigians. The movement is, however, (like the Tea Party, though in a different way) drawing attention to the fact that our capitalistesque system is too often manipulated to protect deep-pocketed capitalists from their own failures, at the expense of justice, efficiency, common sense, and the rest of us. The historical moment when any capitalism-defender should have really been terrified was when the most recent Republican president said: "My natural instinct is to oppose government intervention. I believe companies that make bad decisions should be allowed to go out of business. Under normal circumstances, I would have followed this course. But these are not normal circumstances."

Luntz's desire to get the word capitalism "removed" from political discourse speaks for itself. My capitalism- and bad metaphor-loving heart reckons that the best way to make a urine-soaked rose smell better is to stop pissing on it, rather than try to banish the word "flower" from your vocabulary.

And while Luntz probably has a better statistical grounding than I on the question of "what makes people angry," a political party that cares more about (alleged) $16 muffins than 2011's very real $1.3 trillion budget deficit does not deserve to be taken seriously by the clear majorities of Americans who think, rightly, that government spending and debt are urgent national problems.

Reason on Frank Luntz here; on government spending here, on Occupy Wall Street here.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    the best way to make a urine-soaked rose smell better is to stop pissing on it, rather than try to banish the word "flower" from your vocabulary.

    Are you aware of the origins of the word "capitalism", Matt? Hint: it wasn't coined by capitalists, but rather by those who pissed on the concept. The word makes it sound like the system is rigged to support those with capital.

  • sarcasmic||

    It isn't?

  • Let's use BETTER-THAN-YOU-ISM||

    "You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them: you are inferior and all the improvements in your conditions which you simply take for granted you owe to the efforts of men who are better than you."

    ~Ludwig von Mises, letter to Ayn Rand, January 23, 1956

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Don't say "parasite."
    Say "symbiotic partner"!

  • Montgomery "Monty" Burns||

    Don't say "release the hounds."

    Call it libertarianism.

  • I Heart Capitalisms||

    Don't say 'mob'
    Say 'community'

  • Tony||

    And isn't oneself the best judge of one's superiority over others?

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Don't say "Tony the troll," say "blog-site hit-enhancer."

  • JoJo Zeke||

    Don't say "Tony the troll," say "blog-site hit-enhancer."

    +1

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony the Pederast,

    And isn't oneself the best judge of one's superiority over others?


    How can you have a God complex if the judging is done by someone else?

    Concepts, man. Concepts!

  • Tony||

    Old Mexican the goat rapist:

    Enjoyed any good goats lately?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony the Pederast,

    Old Mexican the goat rapist


    At least I don't pretend to "love children" by making them be prostitutes, Tony the Pederast.

  • ||

    This is a mature and reasonable path to go down.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Proprietists,

    This is a mature and reasonable path to go down.


    Which is why we should never engage ourselves in a conversation with pederasts.

  • ||

    Let's use BETTER-THAN-YOU-ISM|12.5.11 @ 9:34AM|#|show direct|ignore
    "You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them: you are inferior and all the improvements in your conditions which you simply take for granted you owe to the efforts of men who are better than you."

    ~Ludwig von Mises, letter to Ayn Rand, January 23, 1956

    First off, if Mises could rewrite that today, I'm sure he would.*

    *He would replace "men" with "people."

  • WTF||

    *He would replace "men" with "people."

    But he would still mean 'men'.

  • I Heart Capitalisms||

    And attacking 'government spending' lets people reply with the old 'So you're against fire stations and roads?'

  • you are against public service||

    unless it is a debate convenience to not be against public services

  • ||

    One could say "excessive government speding" or some more descriptive term. I have no problem with "waste" either but it's not clear what that means.

  • I Heart Capitalisms||

    "excessive government spending" is too long and boring. 'Government waste' sounds better and people generally know what that means. Getting votes isn't about winning a philosophical battle - it's about identifying problems and offering (or at least looking like you're offering) solutions. Speeches about the wonders of capitalism and the evils of government spending can turn on a fringe of libertarian nerds like Welch but most people are uninterested in abstracts - they want solutions communicated in brief, clear terms.

  • ||

    I think most people know what excessive spending means.

    Like I said, "government waste" is a perfectly good term too, but there's little reason to prefer it.

  • I Heart Capitalisms||

    Terms like 'waste' focus attention on the problems created by 'excessive spending'. That's the best starting point. The GOP should use terminology which focuses attention on the problems created by the policies they oppose and the benefits of the things they support - eg: using terms like 'job creators' instead of 'capitalist'.

  • ||

    Plus, calling it "waste" opens the door to the lefties dragging out sympathetic people who depend on govt spending and saying, "those awful conservatives think this poor person is 'waste'!"

  • IHC||

    Just reply with 'SOLYNDRA BIATCHES!'

    Seriously though, they'll drag out the poor and old and sick for 'excessive spending' and say 'they think keeping grandma alive is excessive'

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "So you're against fire stations and roads?"

    Just because I am against being forced to pay for others to have these things, does not mean I am against these things existing at all.

  • ||

    In the case of modern paved roads, it's difficult to see how they would exist without forcible financing.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    I never claimed that I should be entitled to the existence of modern paved roads.

  • IHC||

    That's too libertarian to not spook people. And in a soundbite media environment you're not going to get a chance to explain the thinking behand a statement like that.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    I aspire to be in a professional position that develops and applies these concepts to maturity. Someone else can promote them with soundbites.

  • we'll use "Hero Industrialism"||

    Capitalism, the "unknown ideal," is rigged to support those with capital.

  • ||

    Not so true. People who are holding capital are always desperately looking for quality places to invest it. And that's where "capitalism" is naturally disposed towards supporting those who have good ideas, talent, and ability to get things done.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    True enough, but that sounds like claiming crack would have a better reputation than regular cocaine if it didn't remind people of what they see when the plumber bends over.

    It's not the name. It's what people have been led to believe about using it.

  • Robert||

    No, the name really is a problem. Think about the meanings of similar "-ism" words.

    And crack would have a better reput'n if it didn't have a ghetto name like that but was called "amorphous free base" or even better a fancy trade name.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Don't say "Red light camera."
    Say "Revenue-positive safety-enhancing device."

  • ||

    If you did, you would be lying twice.

  • Zeb||

    Lots of words are coined as insults, but end up being used by those to whom it was applied. Some other good examples are "suffragette" and "impressionist" (as in the painters).

  • Southerner||

  • ||

    I believe "Austrian" school of economics was a pejorative term used by German economists.

  • Southerner||

  • Robert||

    Sheesh, why'd I jump to writing my comment when I didn't have long to dive into the thread to see that the very first commenter made the same point as me -- and I got mine from Clarence Carson in The Freeman decades ago.

  • Joe M||

    Fuck you, Frank!

  • Nicholas Sarwark||

    I knew someone would get to that before I did, but I concur.

  • ||

    Let's break down his list:

    1. Don't say 'capitalism.'
    Rather than show why capitalism is good, let's obfusicate some more. That will win hearts and minds.

    2. Don't say that the government 'taxes the rich.' Instead, tell them that the government 'takes from the rich.'
    Why is that change of wording supposed to make people happier? If you only see people as "rich", do you really care if their money is taxed or taken?

    3. Republicans should forget about winning the battle over the 'middle class.' Call them 'hardworking taxpayers.'
    Condescension, go!

    4. Don't talk about 'jobs.' Talk about 'careers.'
    Great, let's see if a bunch of out of touch white guys like one word over another. To the out of work single mother, let's ask her what she wants, a job now or a career later? I wonder...

    5. Don't say 'government spending.' Call it 'waste.'
    Yep, all government spending is waste. Too bad that's not what he means.

    6. Don't ever say you're willing to 'compromise.'
    Reflexive partisonship FTW, not. Are you here to govern and legislate or win constant re-election..oh wait, nevermind.

    7. The three most important words you can say to an Occupier: 'I get it.'
    More condescension YAY!!

    8. Out: 'Entrepreneur.' In: 'Job creator.'
    Also on the menu, more freedom fries!!

    9. Don't ever ask anyone to 'sacrifice.'
    Probably the only decent comment.

    "10. Always blame Washington.
    Except where republicans live, cause they were innocent bystanders, lol

    BONUS:
    Don't say 'bonus!'

    Just lie!

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Lost_In_Translation:

    Just lie!


    That is Mr. Luntz's whole prescription for political "success," in a nutshell. Kudos, L.

    +1

  • ||

    OK, heck yeah dude now thats what I am talking about. Wow.

    www.surf-anon.tk

  • DJF||

    It does not help the republican defense of capitalism when many main stream republicans supported various bailouts and special deals for some corporations.

    Nor does it help the defense of capitalism when people blindly defend all Wall Street when some of it is guilty of being in bed with government.

    Just because its a corporation does not mean that it is capitalist or free market.

  • Spoonman.||

    But if they admitted that they'd have to get out of bed with Wall Street.

  • ||

    and beds are so warm and comfy. Especially when spooning your BFF Ken Lewis or something.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    So wait -- are bailouts and special deals for sole proprietorships OK? How about for individuals? See, if you say you believe in "individualism," some may think you're implying that bailouts and special deals for individuals are ok. Better to use the term "one-ship" so there's no misunderstanding.

  • DJF||

    Good point, while it appears that most of the bailouts passed through corporations, those going directly to individuals are equally non-free market.

  • Strawman||

    Isn't a BANKRUPTCY a bailout?

    As oppose to the TAX payer holding the burden, the creditor bails out the defaulted entity.

    So, if GM is allowed to file for bankruptcy, dump all of their pension liabilities on the TAX PAYER and STILL remain in BUSINESS making a Profit, WHY Can't the LITTLE GUY Be BAILED OUT AS WELL.

    You guys (libertarians) want NO ONE BAILED OUT. You gotta help out your fellow man sometimes ;>

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Strawman,

    Isn't a BANKRUPTCY a bailout?


    YES! We used to throw the bums into debtors prisons. What happened to that?

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Bankruptcy is sort of an auxiliary function of a contract, that institutionalizes the punishment that a lender should take anyway for taking stupid risks.

  • Warty||

    Fuck you, Frank!

  • free2booze||

    Capitalism is a means of achieving economic freedom. I have no problem with that substitution.

  • Catechism Parrot||

    Capitalism is a means of achieving economic freedom.

    SQUAWK!

    Polly wanna cracker?

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Don't say "parrot." Add gravy and say "lunch."

  • Strawman||

    It is What it is.

    A "prisoner of war" should NOT be called an "enemy combatant" just to get around the Geneva Convention and the US Constitution.

    The public is STUPID. But they're not THAT STUPID.

    It's called "Capitalism". No need to change names.

    It has its PROS and CONS. It's not perfect. It's better than the collective owning everything from what I've seen. And, the ONLY reason it's better than the collective owning everything is that we can't seem to effectively address the issue of Cronyism and Corruption. These are the things that KILLED Russia...not necessarily communism itself. And, corruption and Cronyism is having its effects on Capitalism.

    History has shown time and time again that when the "HAVEs" don't take care of the "HAVE NOTs", the "HAVEs" get their heads cut off.

    In America, we've probably have more "HAVEs" than ever in history. However, they're still out-numbered.

  • ||

    They're just words, not sacred objects.

    Calling capitalism "free enterprise" or "free markets" INCREASES the amount of information in the term, so it's not the same as euphemisms which aim to decrease the amount of information.

  • Bam!||

    I think people overuse the term "free market." People think that the US is a free market, that US health care is a free market, so on and so on.

  • Socialism/Capitalism are both||

    ...slightly different flavors of agricultural city-Statism.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: White Imbecile

    has a problem with concepts. Must've been that 3-day dead carcass he had to eat in his "original affluent society" which made him cry like a little wussy girl.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Don't say "starving, louse-ridden, walking corpse," say "hunter-gatherer!"

  • Zeebs||

    One would think Frank could afford a better toupee. Maybe he's not a capitalist?

  • Tony||

    It would pay to listen to Luntz. Most people are skeptical of capitalism these days and have every reason to be. Libertarians have every reason to be too, except for the fact that they worship capitalism as something that is perfect by definition.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony the Pederast,

    It would pay to listen to Luntz.


    I would ask for my money back.

    Most people are skeptical of capitalism these days and have every reason to be.


    Yes: They're mediocre and envious assholes. That's a very good reason.

    Libertarians have every reason to be too, except for the fact that they worship capitalism as something that is perfect by definition.


    You're an idiot, sockpuppet. What you say carries the same intellectual weight as saying that a person worships evolution because it's pure and perfect, despite the fact that neither capitalism or evolution are inventions.

    But since your best days were, as you said, in college, it is clear you've been going downhill since then, intellectually speaking.

  • Tony||

    If capitalism is like natural selection, that's all we need to know to endorse significant controls for it.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony the Pederast,

    If capitalism is like natural selection, that's all we need to know to endorse significant controls for it.


    Tony here is the result of the futility of a modern college "education":

    - He conflates concepts.
    - He makes an argument based on that fallacy.
    - He proceeds to make an irrelevant conclusion.

    Capitalism and evolution are both examples of spontaneous order, Tony the Pederast. That does not mean they have the exact same mechanisms. You cannot put controls on spontanous order systems as this would be like trying to hold water in your hand.

    Your lack of sophistication is pitifull. I would ask for my money back if I were you, unless you paid to have 4 years of partying in Indonesia.... oh, all those avaialble kids that don't work!

  • Tony||

    If you spent less time lecturing other people about things you think you know and more time reading books, you'd understand just what "spontaneous order" entails and why it is nothing anyone who does understand would consider a quality to appreciate as a holistic economic system.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony the Pederast,

    If you spent less time lecturing other people about things you think you know and more time reading books,


    You mean the books YOU read, right?

    [...]you'd understand just what "spontaneous order" entails and why it is nothing anyone who does understand would consider a quality to appreciate as a holistic economic system. [sic, and stoopid term.]


    Yep, as I suspected: You meant read the books YOU read in college, during the "best time of your life" which just means it has been downhill from there for you.

    You throw around adjectives without even realizing what they mean or how to use them cogently.

  • Maxxx||

    If capitalism is like natural selection, that's all we need to know to endorse significant controls for it.

    Proof that progressives hate evolution and love creationism.

  • sarcasmic||

    free markets = choices of millions of self interested individuals determining the winners and losers

    crony capitalism = the edicts of a few self interested politicians determining the winners and losers

    free markets != crony capitalism

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: sarcasmic,

    free markets != crony capitalism


    S, Tony the Pederast is simply too committed to the idea of not letting people be free to pursuit their interests, as that would lead to "inequality." He would snatch the shotgun from Diana Moon Glampers to shoot Harrison Bergeron himself just because she would be too slow for him.

  • Tony||

    There is no such thing as a free market as you define it. It's like saying we wouldn't need government as long as everyone behaved decently all the time.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony the Pederast,

    There is no such thing as a free market as you define it.


    You haven't been to flea markets much.

    It's like saying we wouldn't need government as long as everyone behaved decently all the time.


    Nobody made such argument. You're a Goddamned liar.

    What else do you hide in your little box of surprises, sockpuppet?

  • sarcasmic||

    There is no such thing as a free market as I define it because assholes like you gain power and use that power to choose winners and losers in the economy.
    If assholes like you weren't making choices for other people, then we could indeed have a free market.

  • Tony||

    If your political worldview doesn't factor in an essential element of reality (like human beings' tendency to assert control over others) then what value is it?

    You might as well say we could all be shitting rainbows if only we were capable of shitting rainbows.

  • sarcasmic||

    You've got it backwards.
    My political worldview understands that people seek power for the purpose of abusing it, and the surest way to keep power from being abused is to limit it.

    Your political world view assumes that if we get the right people in charge (people who agree with you) then it will all be unicorns and rainbows.

    I think my political worldview is much more realistic than yours.

  • Tony||

    So how do you go about "limiting" that power?

  • sarcasmic||

    It was tried with federal and state constitutions, and failed miserably.
    An incentive needs to be created to limit power, like, say, having one chamber write legislation and another repeal it. So then people run for office not on what they will do but what they will undo.
    Or put a sunset on all legislation and regulation, requiring it to be reviewed and revoted or by default it goes away.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony the Pederast,

    If your political worldview doesn't factor in an essential element of reality (like human beings' tendency to assert control over others) then what value is it?


    Oh, it does factor in that - which is why we say "Government sucks," as government becomes the perfect venue for thieves, murderers and rapists to act on their impulses with impunity.

  • Old Mexican||

    "I'm so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I'm frightened to death," said Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist and one of the nation's foremost experts on crafting the perfect political message. "They're having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism."


    I don't think so, Mr. Luntz. Rather, and after hearing listening stoically to your opinions for about 4 years now, I know [not suppose; *know*] that you're nothing more than a closet socialist.

  • Frank Luntz||

    "I'm coming out...I want the world to know..."

    "I'm not just the hair club president..."

  • ||

    I'm so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I'm frightened to death.

    He's just talking his book here. People who aren't afraid don't hire consultants, so he needs to gin up fear of something to keep the business coming in.

  • ||

    Good point. Every consultant needs his or her own personal existential threat.

  • moosecat||

    libertarians should be promoting the concepts of freedom and the free market over capitalism. Does capitalism imply the principle of the free market? I doubt it does to the public. Free market economics is self defining. Luntz is right on this one.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: moosecat,

    Libertarians should be promoting the concepts of freedom and the free market over capitalism.


    Why can't we do the three?

    Does capitalism imply the principle of the free market? I doubt it does to the public.


    The public knows a lot of things that ain't so like, for instance, that politicians are accountable to the voters.

    Free market economics is self defining. Luntz is right on this one.


    Luntz would simply turn around and say "Don't say 'free markets'!" The guy is an ass, M.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    For a long time I've considered "capitalism" to broadly refer to benefiting or "capitalizing" on opportunities, independent of the type of market the action is conducted within. In a sense, North Koreans doing certain things to avoid being executed is capitalism on their part.

    The type of market is more important to libertarians than the ability to capitalize on all opportunities (such as getting the government to grant one favors). "Free market" is a better term for labeling the types of capitalizing that we are okay with.

    The guy is still an ass.

  • Robert||

    Clarence Carson wrote that what was then the USSR was a more appropriate example of "capitalism" than were free enterprise countries, because in the USSR the people who had the capital really did rule.

  • Colin||

    If all the occupiers wanted was democratic socialism they wouldn't be so bad. After all, that's all Obama wants, too.

    But what they really want is socialism without the democracy.

  • ||

    Someone hasn't been paying attention.

  • waffles||

    This thread needs more fuck you frank.

    Fuck you Frank!

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Don't say "Fuck you, Frank!"
    Say...ah...never mind. Say "Fuck you, Frank!"

  • WWJGD||

    How has no one posted this?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViYI1BkhyRk

  • Colonel_Angus||

    The biggest threat from the socialists is that they are doing a lot to continue redefining our beloved words as if they don't mean anything. Just like they did with "liberal".

  • ChrisO||

    If the GOP takes this muddleheaded advice, they deserve to lose.

  • ||

    The "free market" is not "capitalism." We need to distinguish the political framework from the underlying economic organization. Politically there should be no government interference with the market beyond defense of life, liberty and property from force or fraud by third party actors. This system would inherently avoid both perversions of capitalism like bailouts, subsidies, pollution licenses, etc., as well as the intrinsic government-invented moral hazards of modern capitalism like limited liability and bankruptcy.

    As a free market inherently would not interfere in private, voluntary and consensual enterprise, it is not the role of government to favor one system of economic organization over another. Capitalism, communitarianism, primitivism and total self-sufficiency can coexist in a miniarchist free market:

    - Capitalism will no longer socialize risk and responsibility will correlate much more closely with profits. Enterprise will likely be smaller and more competitive without the market distortions, socialized risk, etc.

    - Communitarianism/cooperative economics only really works effectively on a small scale where all parties actually want to be involved and agree on collective divisions of labor. A system where the commune is owned property, and the owners have the right to determine who can stay and who must leave would prevent freeloading on communal resources while not contributing labor.

    - Primitivism could thrive in a system where public and unclaimed land is free for camping and hunting. Those who claim exclusive use of land should pay voluntary land value taxes (the ideal primary fundraising apparatus for a minimal government) to pay for police, fire, military and legal protection of your exclusive control of that land and the property built upon it - all the other land can be freely used until one formally claims the land and assumes tax responsibility.

    - Finally, you can live in privacy as a hermit and not participate in any economic exchange whatsoever.

    There obviously has to be an baseline economic framework to maximize freedom for all and the best basis is protection of property rights with voluntary land taxation. But the government has no right to interfere with alternative methods of economic organization that are voluntary.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    "Those who claim exclusive use of land should pay voluntary land value taxes (the ideal primary fundraising apparatus for a minimal government) to pay for police, fire, military and legal protection of your exclusive control of that land and the property built upon it"

    You lost me.

  • ChrisO||

    "voluntary...taxes"

    These two words do not go together in any possible system.

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    +1. Voluntary tax = oxymoron.

  • ||

    Land value taxes is a logical form of taxation from a miniarchist perspective because governments are essentially political jurisdictions over a land mass. As the exclusive owner of a division of that land, you are expecting legal and military protection of the property you build upon that land. That costs money.

    If you make the taxes voluntary, taxation = theft no longer applies, and land value taxes are merely user fees for government protection of land and the property upon it. Your claim to exclusive control stops when you stop paying the taxes. Your property won't be seized by the government when you stop paying, but it won't be protected by it either, and someone else can claim the land exclusivity rights after a certain grace period even though you still own the improvements.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    I should not have to pay rent for property that I own. Rightful land ownership comes from nothing more than making legitimate continuous use of it with no conflicting claims.

    Government does not exist to protect only land property. Taxing (individual only) income or consumption is not perfect, but it taxes only value that is created, not value that already exists and has already been taxed.

  • ||

    One does not create the value in land, but one adds value via the improvements (which would not be taxed). Land within a political border, unlike most other aspects of markets, is a zero sum game, and if you wish to have the government enforce your right to exclude others from increasingly less free or valuable land, you should pay for the enforcement. You don't have to, of course, but don't expect state enforcement of your property rights if you don't.

    Taxing income and consumption are the worst possible taxes, requiring more invasive government and adding deadweight loss because the activities you are taxing are productive. Taxing land value has no deadweight loss.

    Geolibertarianism

  • ChrisO||

    Maybe we should just start with ending bailouts and corporate welfare and see where it goes from there.

    Utopianism isn't a very good sell to people who have things like families and houses and cars and stuff.

  • ||

    I'm not claiming it would be utopian by any means - there would certainly be conflicts - but I think its important to have an ideal end-State in mind. The fact that a free market allows anti-authoritarians of all economic leanings to organize voluntarily however they desire makes it preferential to an authoritarian system that forces individuals to accept the monetary, labor, regulatory and capital premises of the majority.

    I recognize a free market is a radical idea that would upset existing balances of power and won't appeal to moderates entrenched in a polluted, distorted system. But someone has to advocate for it so it gradually starts to move in that direction instead of away from it.

  • ChrisO||

    I believe in free markets, but I also don't believe that it is possible to design socio-political "end states" and have the result be anything but tyranny.

    Human beings are messy, contradictory and often intractable things. There is no ideal situation to be had, only the least-worst. Libertarianism (not necessarily the minarchist variety) works for me because it works WITH both our best and worst angels, rather than trying to mold society into someone's idea of perfection.

  • ||

    I think all libertarians want, if not a specific "end state" (could be a minimal state or a non-state), minimizations of tyranny (the least-worst, if you will). I'm not sure it's ever possible to eliminate tyranny, but orienting the direction of political movement towards a minimum of tyranny and a maximum of liberty indicates knowledge of a more ideal (if not utopian) sociopolitial state. My only point is that different non-authoritarian economic organizations can be realized in a "true free market". In a libertarian state, the divisions between "Left" and "Right" would be competition in convincing individuals to accept their economic premises (or use both), instead of hyperpolitical conflicts of coexistence and majoritarian imposition of economic orders.

  • Robert||

    Clarence Carson and others have pointed out that "capitalism" is a misnomer, so I do avoid it. It was coined by Marx, and if its construction follows that of similar "-ism" words, it would indicate rule by capital, or at least by those who have it. In other words, "capitalism" should mean political favors to business owners, while the term you really want is "free enterprise", which carries no such taint.

    People have had the idea for at least 35 yrs. that "free enterprise" is some kind of weak-kneed phrase used by those afraid to say they're for "capitalism", but what the hell, you going to be cornered into using & defending an inappropriate term by your opponents? I'm for free enterprise, not capitalism. Once in a while I'll slip and accede to "capitalism", but it's not a good habit to be in.

  • ||

    ...roughly zero percent chance of OWS converting Americans into democratic socialists, let alone Norweigians

    Alt for Noreg!!

    ("Norwegian", by the way...)

  • Metazoan||

    Wait, if people who hate us called this system capitalism...

    Can we now be all empowered and use it as a term of pride, simultaneously forbidding the lefties from using it against us?

  • Strawman||

    You mean like the N word ?

  • Metazoan||

    No, actually, I wasn't thinking of that. I was thinking of the myriad groups pseudo-oppressed by the Patriarchy or whatever who "empower" themselves by doing this.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Capitalist, please!

  • ||

    re: Don't say 'capitalism.'

    Totally agree with him on that one. It's Karl Marx's terminology, and I no longer feel any obligation to defend it.

    Let the Left define "capitalism". When speaking with people on the Left, we libertarians can do the simple translation in our head of saying "capitalism" instead of "crony capitalism".

    We can then go on to distinguish "free markets" or "economic freedom" from "capitalism".

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Cap'talist please!

  • ||

    This criticism would hold a lot more weight if so many Reason members hadn't supported the Occupy Wall Street movement, whose very basis is anti-capitalism.

  • ||

    Very basis is anti-corporatism. Not anti-capitalism.

  • 16th amendment||

    I've been inventing my own terms.

    (1) government gouging - when government takes too much of your money through taxes.

    (2) the iron law of taxes - when government votes themselves new benefits and programs when times are good (like SB400), and when times turn bad they raise taxes to keep the cushy benefits flowing.

    (3) take your fair share - we keep hearing about the rich having to pay their fair share, meaning they must not pay too little. Well, I think they pay too much. Instead, the government needs to take its fair share, and not too much!

    (4) we need to keep "America in the balance" by cutting excessive spending. The budget has gone from $2.8T to $3.8T since Bush left office. That's too much, especially when tax collections are low.

    (5) OWS is right to attack greedy corporations, but they need to set their sights on the biggest corporation in the world: the corporation of the USA (federal, state, county, and local governments).

  • Jumbie||

    Fuck you, Frank.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement