E.J. Dionne Picks a Bad Week (Month? Year?) to Bad-Mouth Libertarians

"the independent-minded scholar" |||There are about four basic options available for responding to Michael Lind's typically obtuse column in Salon last week attempting to ridicule libertarianism as a self-evidently crackpot idea because it has never been tried. One is to point out the absurdity of Lind's basic premise, as Will Wilkinson did over at The Economist. Another is to unpack and fact-check his arguments one by one, as Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey did to convincing effect right here.

A third tactic, increasingly defensible, is to simply ignore the latest brain-fart from a political writer whose rancid imagination has given us such thankfully untried ideas as zeroed-out immigration, "single-payer" K-12 education, and federally managed re-population of the Great Plains.

But the Washington Post's E.J. Dionne, no stranger to anti-libertarian brain-fartery, chooses Door #4: The hail-fellow high-five. Here's how Dionne's piece opens:

In politics, we often skip past the simple questions. This is why inquiries about the fundamentals can sometimes catch everyone short.

Michael Lind, the independent-minded scholar, posed one such question last week about libertarianism that I hope will shake up the political world. It's important because many in the new generation of conservative politicians declare libertarianism as their core political philosophy.

The nut of Dionne's argument is that since the philosophers Robert Nozick and Murray Rothbard made statements supporting radically pared-down notions of government, then therefore Tea Party members of Congress have their marching orders for how to vote, except that their constituents are hypocrites because hands off my Medicare! Ergo, gridlock. (If you find my characterization unfair, please do read the link.)

We just need to get beyond our discontentment. |||To grok the inaccuracy of Dionne's conflation of Rothbardian anarchism with "liberty movement"-style conservatism, look no further than Reason's recent interview with arguably the most libertarian member of Congress, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan):

reason: You also have a picture of Murray Rothbard. Rothbard is a big time anarcho-capitalist bomb-thrower. What do you find particularly compelling in his work?

Amash: He gives an interesting, more anarchist perspective. I'm not there; I fall more in the Hayek camp. I think it's important to understand his work, to understand his way of thinking. Because when you have discussions with those who are on the anarcho-capitalist side of things, it's important to understand where he's coming from and where they're coming from so you can make your arguments to persuade. 

I ultimately think there's got to be some government. I believe in a minimal state, and you're going to have different amounts of government at different levels. At the federal level, it should be very small in how it affects your daily life; it should just deal with things of national scope. And at closer levels—local government, or your neighborhood association—well, it might have a huge impact on your daily life, but it's certainly not going to protect you from an invasion.

Why, it's almost as if the limited-government impulse isn't a single, simple Commandment etched in marble, but rather a variegated tendency interpreted in many different ways by those who discuss policy from a libertarian-influenced point of view!

"the libertarian moment has passed," and "will not come again." |||Dionne and Lind, like others in the cottage industry of anti-libertarian punditry, are fond of arguing with (in Dionne's words) "small-government libertarian utopia[ns]," preferably from "the late 19th century," rather than with contemporary office-holders or commentators who make libertarian arguments. Why is that? I reckon that in addition to subjecting libertarianism, uniquely among modern political/philosophical groupings, to the intentionally marginalizing, let's-take-it-to-the-logical-extremes test, such strawmanning is an excellent way to change the subject from how the world we actually live in is actually being misgoverned by the non-libertarian majority.

For evidence of which, just look around you. I don't know whether, as Matt K. Lewis asserts today in The Daily Caller, "we're all libertarian today," but I do know that in this entrenched battle between the national security state and what remains of the Fourth Amendment, I'd rather have Justin Amash in my corner than E.J. Dionne or Michael Lind. It's a good thing for the future of this country that Lind's 2006 claim that "the libertarian moment has passed" and "will not come again" was as wrong-headed and inaccurate as Dionne's 2009 fret that anti-Obamcare protesters were bringing back "the politics of the jackboot."

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  • ||

    Well, thanks Matt for reminding me that there's a member of the political commentariat that is more retarded than Michael Lind (as small as that grouping might be). I forgot why I stopped reading the Post's columns until now.

  • Bruce Majors||

    Why do most leftover pundits have speech impediments?

  • Mainer2||

    hands off my Medicare!

    Tangentially related, but I did a google search on that once, and while there were lots of matches, it seemed like alot of repeats. i.e. it didn't seem that common, but boy do they like to bring it up as a trump card.

  • ||

    Well, it is a pretty big and common inconsistency.

  • Mainer2||

    Oh, I'm sure it happened, people marching with Hands Off my Medicare signs. I just don't think it was as common as portrayed, nor is it the trump card progressives seem to think.

  • robc||

    Cant be that common. Most of us below age 65 or so dont give a damn about it.

  • MiloMinderbinder||

    Keep telling people that they "earned" SS and Medicare after paying into it for all those years and surprise, they really do start to believe it.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    I believe it came from the Taibbi article on the Tea Partiers.
    http://www.rollingstone.com/po.....y-20100928

  • John||

    OF course to the extent the argument was made it was made in the context of Obamacare. The argument was don't cut medicaide to fund Obamacare. Yeah, don't take money from a program I use to fund a program I think is horrible.

    Not quite the message dickheads like Taibbi portray it as.

  • Zeb||

    Medicare.

  • ||

    Well, quelle surprise. E.J. Dionne did say this with a straight face, after all: "Forgive me for noting that conservatives seem to believe that the rich will work harder if we give them more, and the poor will work harder if we give them less."

  • Matrix||

    so not taking from the rich is giving?

  • GILMORE||

    Matrix| 6.10.13 @ 10:44AM |#

    so not taking from the rich is giving?

    Duh. Standard progressive logic. Not-taking = "Subsidy".

    Taking = "Justice"

  • Mainer2||

    Whose this "we" ?

  • sarcasmic||

    Government. Government is us. "We the People" and all that. So when the government takes less money from the rich, it is actually us giving our money to the rich. See? It makes perfect sense.

  • Mainer2||

    47 % agree

  • Irish||

    So he thinks that wealth is just 'given' by the government?

    Is Dionne literally a communist?

  • Killazontherun||

    There are only two types of people that work in Washington. Communist and cowboys, and, well, in the intelligence alphabet soup, communist cowboys. All a bunch of overgrown children who have found a way to extend their recess playtime on the people's dime.

    Except for the reporters who siphon indirectly off the teet. They are playing a game of Clark Kent and Louis Lane, by the way.

  • LynchPin1477||

    conservatives seem to believe that the rich will work harder if we give them more, and the poor will work harder if we give them less

    It is laughably easy to counter this if you actually understand incentives. Lower taxes incentivize work (for everyone, not just the rich), so yes, people will work harder. Welfare disincentivizes work (for everyone, not just the poor), so yes, people will work less.

    The only real distinction between rich and poor in this regard is that someone who is or aspires to be rich probably wants a higher standard of living than what welfare provides, which is why they work hard in the first place instead of sitting back and collecting the government check. Someone who's resigned them self to poverty already decided to settle for less.

  • sarcasmic||

    Leftists do not understand incentives. They only understand intentions. Higher taxes on the rich are intended to make them work longer hours to maintain their lifestyle, while the tax revenues are intended to help the poor. They never let facts or logic get in the way of their good intentions. This is how we pave the road to Hell.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    You have identified the "Tony" school of thought quite well, ifh.

  • ||

    Maybe Tony is Fists of Fury Dionne!! The ideology fits, the looks probably fit.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Strange, I heard Tony say the exact same thing.

  • AlmightyJB||

    But sidewalks are socilized. Without socialist programs eveyone would walk in the mud.

  • Duke||

    So i followed Matt's advice and looked at the article. Actually, I went straight to the comments and found this from "foo2":

    Ironically enough, just as the U.S.S.R. showed us the ultimate failure of Communism, Russia is now running the closest model of Libertarianism that the world will likely see on a large scale. And it's failing badly - far worse than Communism, and miles and miles worse than socialistic capitalism.

    Reading things like this raises my blood pressure and increases my anxiety and anger. Why do you hate me Matt Welch?

  • ||

    That really is stupider than Somalia = Anarchy Failure.

  • Irish||

    ...They think that modern Russia is worse than when they were Communist?

    Obviously Russia is hyper unlibertarian, as can be seen from Freedom House ranking them as one of the least free countries in Europe and as overall 'unfree,' but I don't know how anyone can look at modern Russia and think they're worse than the old Soviet Union.

  • Jordan||

    It's easily done when you don't give a shit that the NKVD was pulling people randomly out of the phone book for torture and execution. That guy's political philosophy probably doesn't extend beyond "healthcare is a right!"

  • Irish||

    You could also look at them economically. Corporatist though Putin's Russia might be, it's miles better than the starvation level rations that peasants were on under the USSR, and their primary export is no longer the AK-47.

    That's a step in the right direction. Still horrible, but not nearly as bad as the old USSR.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Ignorant asshole. Russia is a crony capitalist, corporatist haven for thugs and mafia types. It's a direct outgrowth of the time they spent under top-down centralized communism. The only systems that worked were the illegal ones. The only organized groups were the illegal ones. Combine that with the former KGB types who saw an opportunity in the chaos right after the fall and you get modern Russia.

  • John||

    Yeah, Russia is pretty much everything Obama is trying to create.

  • Duke||

    As you can easily glean from the comment, what they really want is communism, or some form of socialism that closely resembles it.

    But what is most surprising to me is how un-intellectual the NYT and WaPo are. Europe is in shambles due to the conglomeration of government power and high taxes (socialism), Russia is all about authoritarianism and crony capitalism (so is China in some senses) YET, these folks will still argue in favor of this form of government. No matter that human history is replete with big government failures, they still lust after it. I don't get it and I never will.

  • Brandon||

    There's also this (By someone who cannot successfully spell "Amused."):

    konnie
    9:51 AM MDT
    I'm always amuzed by libertarians. They are more than likely to milk the system every way they can for as long as they can for as much as they can and then stand on their soap boxes bemoaning that same system should anyone else milk that same teat. it's pretty easy to use the government and infrastructure created by an existing governmemt that has already done all the heavy lifting and then turn around and say "its wrong". they breathe clean air, eat safe food, drink clean water, enjoy nationwide electricity, relish the court system, benefit from an educated citizenry, relax in regulated hospitals and operating rooms,drive on federal roads, fly in inspected airplanes, none of which would exist under their model.

    the best description i ever read was: get rich, build a club house, and pull the ladder up behind them.

    when you ask a specific question they are stumped. the only answer is - well there would be a period of adjustment. ya think?
    I asked a simple: what would you do with elderly criminals released from prison? or complicated: what would the libertarian response have been to the 1930's Dust Bowl? How would a libertarian system deal with international law?

    that anyone much less the media gives this fringie thinking more than a scoff insults the intelligence of the american people

    LikeLiked by 2 readers · Reply · Share
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  • MJGreen||

    LOL, "relish the court system." That's us!

    (of course, this guy is basically admitting that he thinks the court system is great as-is)

  • Contrarian P||

    I don't know about you, but I relax in hospitals and operating rooms all the time.

  • Zeb||

    Another person who thinks libertarians are anarchists.

  • Irish||

    NOOOO! The Gillespian use of 'grok' is spreading to other Reason writers? When will we be rid of this curse?

  • Libertymike||

    Hail to Heinlen!

  • Matt Welch||

    Oh, I've been "grok"king for a while now. My high school English thesis paper was titled "The Martian and the Hippies," discussing (as you might imagine) how Valentine Michael Smith's blueprints for utopia were self-consciously embraced by Haight-Era communal types....

  • Irish||

    Clearly you and Nick were made for each other. It's like a nerdy, libertarian love triangle: Nick, Matt and the Jacket all groking away at their D.C. cocktail parties.

  • sarcasmic||

    Don't forget the Horn Rims. They are to Matt what the Jacket is to Nick.

  • ||

    So is he "The Glasses" now?

  • sarcasmic||

    "Rims"

  • Mainer2||

    I've been "grok"king for a while now

    Well cut it out.

  • robc||

    What I hate is when grok is used in a mild sense.

    You cant sorta grok something or partially grok it or kinda grok it.

    Grok literally means to drink.

    To grok something is to understand it as if it were a part of you.

  • Mainer2||

    So the definition is somewhat unique.

  • robc||

    not really, almost every language has a verb meaning "to drink".

  • Agammamon||

    In not many does the verb "to drink" also mean to understand something as if it were a part of you. Like English, for example.

  • Zeb||

    You missed the joke.

  • RBS||

    I pretty much only hate it when dunphy uses it.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Libertarianism terrifies people like Dionne, because their left wing authoritarianism is based on the notion that people are fundamentally evil and dangerous. Without the firm guiding hand of an army of jackbooted thugs controlled by Top Men, people would engage in the most monstrous depravity imaginable.

  • Mainer2||

    You're ignoring the fact that Dionne is agreeing with Michael Lind, "the independent-minded scholar". See. Lind isn't partisan. And he's a scholar for god's sake.

  • ||

    I don't know why anyone would trust a scholar anyway. These are the people that couldn't, or chose not to, get real work after age 22.

  • ||

    I thinks its more that they think people are evil, dangerous and stupid. If people don't have that guiding hand they will do dangerous stuff like drink sugary soft drinks and smoke cigarettes.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Without the firm guiding hand of an army of jackbooted thugs controlled by Top Men, people would engage in the most monstrous depravity imaginable.

    Without government, I would devolve into a complete sociopath. Instead of trying to make money in the markets today, I would just go down to the corner liquor store and rob it. Of course, I can probably make some decent cash in the markets, more than the liquor store has. And, I like the Indian guy who owns the liquor store. And I like the booze he sells. Okay never mind.

    Without government, I would constantly be ill because the butcher shop I go to each week would sell me tainted meat. Of course, I can tell what a good cut of meat looks like, so I would avoid any questionable cuts. Also, the guys at the butcher shop are really nice. The owner seems to like my money, and after 13 years of going there, we are heavily invested in each other. Hell, I helped pay for his kids to go to college! Okay never mind.

    Without government...

  • sarcasmic||

    Without government we'd have roving gangs of thugs demanding tribute in return for a false sense of security... Not much different than what we have now.

  • ||

    Well, they would be mobile, rather than the relatively stationary ones we have now.

  • Mainer2||

    See: Apple hauled before congressional committee.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Obviously if people are inherently evil, the only solution is to have a strong system that can be captured and abused by said evil people.

  • John||

    No. They think the opposite. They think that people can be perfected. If government would just step in and show them, people can be changed into something better.

    Also, people like Dione are terrified of uncontrolled change. They really at heart are the most conservative people on earth. They want the world to stay exactly like it is and any change that is allowed be controlled and initiated by the government. Everything they advocate for is driven by that fear.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    As an example to complete your idea, I present this comment from Dionne's article post:

    smaller government isn't a partisan or party line issue. shrinking government, along with all it's rules and regulations designed to limit and control our tendencies to behave poorly, can only occur when we start behaving better without being forced by government to do so.
  • Mainer2||

    I've seen comments along those lines with regard to gun control. And it's pathetic. Adult Americans admitting, advocating actually, that they be treated like children.

  • tarran||

    Also, people like Dione are terrified of uncontrolled change.

    This!

    Every time a new innovation comes out, these people write essays and books fretting about all the bad things the innovation will bring.

    Plonk Dione down in Egypt in 6,000 BCE, and he's be marking up 10% of the annual Papyrus production to rail against the dangers caused by irrigation unless it was directed by the Pharaoh.

  • John||

    At Army CGSC we read Friedman and Dionne and various other "thinkers" who wrote about big trends. And that is what struck me about all of the Washington based leftish thinkers, they were all terrified of uncontrolled change. Their arguments always boiled down to "there is all of this stuff going on, everything is changing, and no on is in control!!" The rise of globalism and decentralization terrifies all of them.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    The rise of globalism and decentralization terrifies all of them.

    It's funny because when I was in business school, globalization and decentralization were considered the future, and we studied ways to promote it and profit from it.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Or as Taranto puts it, "Everything is seemingly spinning out of control."

  • Zeb||

    Wasn't Egyptian irrigation just "the Nile floods every year for some reason".

  • Rasilio||

    You mean it'd be like The Purge 24/7

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Russia is now running the closest model of Libertarianism that the world will likely see on a large scale.

    IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I don't know how anyone can look at modern Russia and think they're worse than the old Soviet Union.

    In the USSR, teh PEOPLE (as opposed to the Nomenklatura) were equally impoverished.

    duh

  • The Late P Brooks||

    such strawmanning is an excellent way to change the subject from how the world we actually live in is actually being misgoverned by the non-libertarian majority.

    Anybody who questions the value of teachers' aides wants to put children to work in coal mines. Don't you get it? there's no room in this tent for that camel.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The reason they can't grok libertarianism is because of what they're projecting. Libertarians have no central leadership, so they just see us however they want. The purpose of libertarianism is not to seize the reigns of power and shove our ideas down everyones' throat--but that is the purpose of the Republican and Democratic parties.

    Actually, the purpose of the Democratic Party has been to support whatever Barack Obama is doing. You may have a few whiners and foot-draggers, but being a Democrat is about supporting Barack Obama--however reluctantly. Being a Republican has been about opposing Obama, but as Obama starts walking and quacking like a lame duck, the Republican purpose is now to seize the White House.

    The proper place for libertarians in this fight is always to oppose the emperor--no matter which party he's from. Right now, that means the Democrats hate us. They'll write all sorts of terrible things about us, and they don't care whether it's accurate. The important thing to them is that their side seizes the White House and uses the government to impose their opinions on the rest of us.

    They could care less about who we really are and what we really think. Their true target isn't usually us, anyway. Their real objective is usually to smear the Republicans as whatever they've demonized. And it often works! A whole lot of people out there think a libertarian is some extreme form of Republican.

  • Irish||

    A whole lot of people out there think a libertarian is some extreme form of Republican.

    Unless a Republican is in power. Then we're hippy NPR addled liberals, swilling PBR ironically and talking about hemp while unpatriotically opposing war with Eastasia.

  • Ken Shultz||

    +1

  • ||

    That's a pretty silly thing to say. Everyone knows we've always been at aid with Middleastia.

  • sarcasmic||

    They can't grok libertarianism because they can't grok liberty. All they understand is taking orders and asking permission. "Who told you to do that? Who said you could do that?" The concept of liberty doesn't make any sense to them. Who gives permission? Who issues orders?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    They can't grok libertarianism because their own philosophy is based around the possibility of creating a utopia in the manner that they adhere to. Lbertarianism is the opposite of that. That's why it's so common for them to refer to libertarian "utopias". They're projecting.

  • sarcasmic||

    Like when Tony talks about how libertarianism is something to be imposed on people.

    Some people cannot comprehend the idea of a lack of imposition.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Some people cannot comprehend the idea of a lack of imposition.

    What would we do? All that disorganization! How would we ever achieve anything? Bad stuff might happen!

  • sarcasmic||

    Who gives permission? Who issue orders?

  • Mainer2||

    Bad stuff might happen!

    Not like the status quo where bad stuff never happens. Seriously, this is an angle that I try to take with people. Take education. Someone plays what they think is a trump card, "how will libertarians educate the poor" ? And I point out that the system today does a lousy job of providing good schools to poor people. (see inner city Chicago, or Detroit or DC.) So I ask how do THEY propose to give poor people a better education, since the current system is failing them. Then I get to point out that their answer amounts to more of the same. Which is the definition of insanity. And sometimes, maybe, I start to break through that the problem is that the government is running the schools.

  • Zeb||

    Then I get to point out that their answer amounts to more of the same. Which is the definition of insanity.

    No, goddamnit, it's an example of insanity.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Like when Tony talks about how libertarianism is something to be imposed on people."

    Excellent example.

    I know some of you may not like the analogy, but I see Libertarianism as more like Christianity than a political movement. Our primary purpose is to spread the libertarian gospel--not to seize power.

    There's this part when the disciples are arguing over "who will be first in the kingdom", which of us gets to be Attorney General; which of us gets to be Vice-President; etc.

    Jesus tries to explain to them that the kingdom government of God isn't of this earth. The kingdom of heaven is within you. It's in your heart.

    The disciples still don't get it. They think the whole purpose is to seize political power and throw the Romans out of Judea. That's St. Tony right there!

    But the real purpose of Christianity was to preach the gospel--which eventually did lead to Christians taking over the whole Roman Empire. And preaching the libertarian gospel--that's what libertarianism is really about (to me, anyway), too.

    It's a thief's mind: con artists think everyone's trying to rip them off. Liars think everyone is lying to them. And people devoted to seizing power and forcing themselves on the rest of us think everyone else is trying to do that, too.

  • ||

    Great example! But I don't know that Tony could be compared to a disciple, as he doesn't really believe in any part of libertarianism. Other than that, though, it came across really well.

  • Irish||

    The reason they can't grok libertarianism is because of what they're projecting.
    They can't grok libertarianism because they can't grok liberty.

    STOP IT!

  • Ken Shultz||

    The reason Irish can't grok the grok grok is because grok grok grok grok grok grok grok.

  • Rasilio||

    One of my favorites, I did a double take the first time I encountered a town where they hat trick or treating on some night other than Halloween because the town police considered this alternate night safer. Who ever gave the town police the authority to determine when people could engage in s holiday tradition which has never had anything to do with government and more importantly why did ANYONE listen to them? Yet there everyone was, trick or treating a few days before Halloween and no one ever questioned why.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    I think Dionne and his ilk are starting to fear us (actually more like Rand Paul and Justin Amash) a tiny little bit.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Why doesn't Lind just go ahead and take a page from the Chinese playbook and enact forced migration policies to remove the unfavored classes and put the favored ones in?

    To even suggest a migration policy of any sort is authoritarian in the extreme. The guy has no concept of what freedom means.

  • Bruce Majors||

    My. My foul moth and short temper seems to have infected some reason writers.

    Another check off on my bucket list!

  • Citizen Nothing||

    The guy has no concept of what freedom means.


    Oh, no. He knows. He knows.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    They believe that democracy = freedom. If you get to vote every few years, you're free.

  • sarcasmic||

    I remember one time I tried to point out that society and government are not the same thing, and the response was "I'm glad you don't vote." When I pointed out that I do indeed vote, the response was something like "Well then you're part of government." Superderp.

  • ||

    Striving for small government never gets anywhere. Lets try switching the horse and the cart.

    Small government is not an end within itself. When the protection of individual rights and respect for self-ownership are the primary goal of government the logical product is a small government.
    Perhaps we should be pushing our values more than our goals. Those notions shouldnt be too difficult to sell if packaged right.

    If people are aimed in the right direction we wont have to lead them, they will end up in the right place all on their own.

  • triclops||

    That is a fair point. Of course the Tonys of the world will accuse us of being de facto Koctopus enablers, but it would neutralize much of the other idiocy libertarians face.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I think Dionne and his ilk are starting to fear us (actually more like Rand Paul and Justin Amash) a tiny little bit.

    For some reason, a quote from A Scanner Darkly just popped into my head:

    If I had known it was harmless, I would have killed it myself.

  • ||

    I assumed Lind's and Dionne's pieces were to remind good liberals to stay away from us before they catch something. Progressives are always trying to make sure liberals don't Nader this mofo.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    But this inconsistency (or hypocrisy) contains a truth: We had something close to a small-government libertarian utopia in the late 19th century and we decided it didn’t work. We realized that many Americans would never be able to save enough for retirement and, later, that most of them would be unable to afford health insurance when they were old. Smaller government meant that too many people were poor and that monopolies were formed too easily.

    As usual, E.J. errs. Retirement wasn't something that the average man did up until the middle of the 20th century. Also the cost of medical practice was less expensive then than it is today. Third, what is an "acceptable" number of poor people in Dionne-land, since there were too many at the time. And monopolies were formed then much as they are formed today: with the contrivance and blessing of the government under which they operate.

    This matters to our current politics because too many politicians are making decisions on the basis of a grand, utopian theory that they never can — or will — put into practice.

    The most convincing argument against socialism I've seen from Dionne.

  • sarcasmic||

    And monopolies were formed then much as they are formed today: with the contrivance and blessing of the government under which they operate.

    That's only because the corporations control the government! And they only control the government because it isn't powerful enough! We need to give more power to the government so it can control the corporations that control it, bringing power back to the people!

  • Brandon||

    You see this exact comment on every single HuffPo article that mentions any type of collusion between government and big corporations. Government is never at fault.

  • Rasilio||

    fourth, judging how many people could save for retirement in a society producing just barely enough to feed itself might not map to a society which could feed the entire world if it wanted to.

    The reason we had abject poverty in the 19th century is we were relatively speaking much poorer as a species, we had not developed anywhere near the level of technological innovation that we have today. What we consider living in squallor today was what the people of the late 19th century considered a respectable middle class lifestyle (plus some extra bonuses which simply did not exist back then like clean water, health care, and TV)

  • MJGreen||

    Dionne and Lind, like others in the cottage industry of anti-libertarian punditry, are fond of arguing with (in Dionne's words) "small-government libertarian utopia[ns]," preferably from "the late 19th century," rather than with contemporary office-holders or commentators who make libertarian arguments.

    Really? Because I'd love to see these guys take on Herbert Spencer, at least to a greater extent than, "But he was a social Darwinist! Everyone knows that!!"

    Hell, they can go with easier targets like Benjamin Tucker or Voltairine de Cleyre. Taking on the most respected philosopher of his time is a big task for hack bloggers.

  • John||

    They refuse to admit that there are any inherent limitations to government or any decisions that involve the cure being worse than the disease. They have a religious faith that government, if done properly, can solve any problem. No matter how much the empirical evidence shows that to be false, they won't give it up.

  • sarcasmic||

    Well, how else are you going to solve problems? With corporations and profits? That's immoral! Certain problems should not be solved with profits! Like health care! It's immoral that insurance corporations give profits to rich people! Those profits could help needy children! That's why the government should do it! It's immoral to profit off of basic needs! So government should be the source of all our basic needs since it doesn't give profits to the rich, making it more efficient in everything that it does!

  • wareagle||

    the point is to discredit libertarianism or, for that matter, anything that falls outside of liberal dogma. There is no need to fairly deconstruct it; why bother when it is so much easier to put up a couple of scare quotes and caricature something the majority does not know about so that those people won't even be curious enough to find out for themselves.

    Personally, I love the "no one has tried it" argument. Because as we all know, history is full of people who have sought to minimize their own power.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Wareagle,

    the point is to discredit libertarianism or, for that matter, anything that falls outside of liberal dogma.


    True, and the reason behind those attacks is because libertarianism is stealing what was once the liberals' spotlight: civil liberties. Of course, they considered it their spotlight because they hijacked it, not because their principles (as far as they are) are particularly friendly to human rights.

    Liberals paid for decades lip service to civil rights as long as the political environment was advantageous for them. But now that the "Oh, he's so dreamy" Barack is showing his true autoritarian colors, liberals are caught in a true intellectual bind. Do we protect one of our own despite his actions? Or do we keep the 'pro-civil liberties' charade? What is there to do? Oh, the usual: Lash out against anyone convenient - e.g. the libertarians - as a distraction away from their own intellectual contradictions and dishonesty.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Good points. Justin Amash, Rand Paul and the gang of libertards is making the "liberals" look bad, bad bad on civil liberties. So of course they must be silenced.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Yeah, they're weirdos, not like genuine civil-liberties champions like Woody Wilson, FDR, and Johnson.

  • ChrisO||

    Whenever I read the WashPo comments section, I get a sense of despair. Those people vote.

  • Juice||

    And they're in the majority.

  • Loki||

    E.J. Dionne: still the most punchable retard on the planet.

  • CE||

    Krugman? Brooks?

  • Bruce Majors||

    If your government is keeping secrets and going through your email and cell phone, it's time to break up.

  • CE||

    I'm with Rothbard. Government is a criminal gang writ large. We don't need any, and shouldn't condone it, and the sooner we can end it the better off we will be.

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