Libertarians for Regulation?


Virginia Postrel does some propositional calculus and ends up with interesting results. She observes that some libertarians love Howard Dean; Dean loves regulation; therefore some libertarians must love regulation. Sound, but is it true?

Although I don't think I could ever vote for the guy, I think I understand the reasoning of reg haters embracing Dean. Much the same way I've voted for any number of staunch anti-abortion candidates over the years, figuring their bent on that issue would never make any real policy difference, one might assume that Dean's send-in-the-feds playbook will not make it past a GOP-controlled Congress.

Certainly with Congress a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bells danger always lurks, but were Dean to roll in with a Hillary-for-telecom deal he'd get stopped halfway up Pennsylvania Ave. Other sectors, particularly the airlines, are more ripe for DC meddling.

'Tarians might also conclude that, yeah, we might get more regulation, but that we've got to get that bi-partisan tug of war over spending back up and running. One-party control, it seems, just turns on the spending spigot regardless of the party.

These arguments do not convince me—I fear having to drive to Vermont to buy milk before I could get my cable modem provisioned—but I think it would be a mistake to dismiss their effect on some folks. In fact, the whole Dean campaign has had to stay one step ahead of preemptive dismissals all along. The guy faces an uphill climb all the way, but he isn't George McGovern. His operation is the only one out there potentially nimble enough to give the Dubya steamroller fits in the general.

Maybe being a part of that is all Dean libertarians really want.