The New New Libertarian

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Jon Henke writes to note that the fourth edition of The New Libertarian, which focuses on health care, is now up and at 'em:

This edition has excellent articles–health-care related and otherwise–by a variety of writers and bloggers. Plus, a brief roundup of thoughts on the major developments from the past month (The Review) and a roundup of important posts from various bloggers (The 'Sphere).

More info and download info here.

TNL is a self-styled "neolibertarian publication" that touts itself as the place for "Free Markets, Free People."(Hmm.) For more on what that means, go here.

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  1. Hmm…it seems to say “Free Markets, Free People”….

  2. Isn’t it, “Up and atom!”?

  3. The quiz defining anarchists and paleos and neos is ridiculous. Some very specific questons about America do not define anarchists, and one is not a paleo- simply because one is not an interventionist.

  4. Hmm…corrected my mistyping of the tag line for The New Libertarian. Though the original “hmm” stays in effect.

  5. Our mission is to promote a new concept of Libertarianism, and unshackle it from the doctrinaire utopianism of traditional Libertarianism.

    (emphasis mine) That sounds like a good idea to me.

  6. mathew,
    What quiz? Link please.

    Rhywun,
    Right, it’s our stubborn adherence to principal that keeps us down. We should be more like the Repulocrats and Demicans, look how successful they are. Good idea, yup.

  7. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

    If the goal of the neos is simply to package libertarian (or even libertarian-lite) ideas in a way that appeals to more people, well, I applaud.

    If the goal is to draw more distinctions and castigate other libertarian factions, then I shall refrain from arguing with them because that would defeat the whole purpose of my stance.

    Applause or silence, those are my basic options here. Time shall tell which is best.

  8. Its hard to tell the neo-libertarians from your run of the mill statist. 🙂

  9. it’s our stubborn adherence to principal that keeps us down

    Frankly: yes, it is. For example, every time some of you guys advocate abolishing all public schools, you lose me – because it ain’t never gonna happen. I find advocating something is never, ever in a million years going to happen to be rather pointless.

  10. It would be a shame if the libertarian voting bloc got splintered…

  11. Thoreau: “If the goal of the neos is simply to package libertarian (or even libertarian-lite) ideas in a way that appeals to more people, well, I applaud.”

    —-It is very much that, and very much not an attempt to continue the suicidal battles of “who can be most pure”. That latter may be an interesting philosophical exercise, but it is not a productive political exercise.

    Speaking for myself, I simply don’t hold with the more “rigid, doctrinaire” libertarian ideas (i.e., varioius flavors of anarchism) but I do believe that, so long as we share some similar tendencies, we ought to be willing to work together as far as those tendencies will take us.

    And if we agree along the way? Well, that’s fine. I should hope we do so productively.

    I am utilitarian, not absolute. My goal is progress, not perfection.

  12. Jon Henke,

    Hmm, you don’t understand the nature of anarchism if you think that most libertarians are anarchists. Minarchists yes, anarchists no. I mean, how grossly misinformed can you be?

  13. D’oh! That should read: “And if we [disagree] along the way? Well, that’s fine. I should hope we do so productively.”

  14. if you think that most libertarians are anarchists

    I’m not aware that I ever claimed “most libetarians are anarchists”. I simply disagree with those who are.

  15. Jon Henke,

    Please, don’t get Clintonian on me.

  16. thoreau,

    Neo-libertarian/statists want to viciously attack libertarians while at the same time arguing that they aren’t.

  17. Jon,

    An anarchist of any stripe is unlikely to pass a libertarian “purity” test. A support of human and property rights will pretty much always lead down the path of a “rule of law” implemented by Government. An entity always has to act as the enforcer of rights.

  18. Please, don’t get Clintonian on me.

    If I’ve misunderstood you, please clarify it for me. I know quite a lot of libertarians who fashion themselves anarchists, or quasi-anarchists.

    I think minimizing government intervention in many areas would be productive, but politics is not about fashioning the perfect government; politics is about balancing competing interests. The very widespread “tendency towards liberty” can be brought to bear, if we can form a coalition of the people with that tendency. Anarchists and (too many) paleo-libertarians, in my experience, tend to reject the notion of compromise.

    Well, 10 out of 10 for principle, but minus a few thousand for missing the point of politics.

  19. MP,

    Well there are few libertarians that consider themelves anarchists. Of course slapping the label of anarchist on libertarians is a nice way to smear people that neo-libertarians don’t agree with.

    What knits together the neo-libertarians is their desire for an aggressive (and foolish) U.S. foreign policy; if you read their publications you’ll see this theme over and over again. They treat every foreign policy issue as if it were the Cold War over and over again without realizing that historical periods are fairly specific in nature. Its the sort of historicism generally eschewed by many libertarians.

  20. Jon Henke,

    I’ve met exactly two libertarians (out of the hundreds I’ve met) who consider themselves anarchists. Sorry, I’m not buying into your smear campaign.

    What is a quasi-anarchist? The term anarchy means “without government” and anarchism generally refers to a broad set of ideas concerning the eradication of hierarchy, especially the government variety (but also referring to non-government hierarchy – see the Anabaptists for an example). Quasi implies that they “resemble” anarchists; as a “quasi-contract” (something you learn in your contracts class in law school) resembles a contract. Yet a “quasi-contract” is not a real contract, nor is a “quasi-anarchist” a real anarchist. You are either an anarchist or you are not; its a binary condition like pregnancy.

    What I suspect is that you like to slap anarchist on any libertarian you happen to disagree with in order to smear that libertarian.

  21. “The very widespread “tendency towards liberty” can be brought to bear, if we can form a coalition of the people with that tendency.”

    If you dilute what a libertarian is enough, I’m sure you’ll get a sizable number…possibly a number great enought to influence elections. But what’s the point?

    “Anarchists and (too many) paleo-libertarians, in my experience, tend to reject the notion of compromise.”

    If by “compromise” you mean accepting a 5% income tax cut with the eventual goal being no income tax at all, then yeah, that’s a “compromise” I’ll accept. If you mean compromising on basic principles (which is what it sounds like to me), then count me out.

  22. Glad to see that there’s no factional arguing in this thread. Everybody can blame everybody else if they like (“It’s the neo’s fault!” “No, it’s the paleos’ faults!”) but regardless of who started it isn’t pretty.

  23. RE: The New Libertarian’s tag line. Jon Henke has given some background in an email (which he said was fine to throw in the mix here):

    our “free markets, free people” slogan is actually derived from the Wall Street Journal, which once wrote:

    “…our editorial pages espouse a clear and consistent philosophy that we summarize as “free people, free markets” and that encompasses a passionate belief in the virtue of individual liberties, free markets, free trade and even the free movement of people. We stand by this philosophy not just in the U.S. but around the world. Whether you call our philosophy conservative or classical liberal or libertarian matters little. The point is that we espouse it with clarity and consistency regardless of its popularity in any particular time or place. ”

    I actually chose to reverse their “free people, free markets” text, because I believe that free markets tend to produce free people (i.e., “free markets [tend to] free people), whereas social freedoms don’t necessarily result in economic freedoms, and sometimes cause people to demand their restriction. (see: Europe)…

    –Jon Henke–

  24. It seems to me that any libertarian splinter group that defines itself against mainstream libertarianism is by its very nature divisive.

    …perhaps this is just a funcdtion of perspective, but whenever I come across their pitch, it seems to be aimed at other libertarians. Wanna be inclusive? …Why aren’t all those pitches aimed at Republicans instead?

  25. The editorial pages of the WSJ do what? In a pig’s eye. 🙂

    thoreau,

    I’m not discussing any issue related to fault.

  26. Tom Crick,

    Because neo-libertarians are Republicans. 🙂

    matt,

    What has these folks in a bunch is that many libertarians don’t agree with their post-9/11 foreign policy positions. That is essentially the basis of their “break” with libertarian “orthodoxy” (as if the latter could ever exist).

  27. I find it fascinating that on a libertarian website there are so many people that don’t recognize that a large number of libertarians are anarchists. Hell, one of the founders of the Libertarian Party (ironically), Murray Rothbard, was. Certainly, most libertarians are minarchists at the very least, but there are quite a few anarchists as well (in the no-gov’t sense).

  28. Marcvs,

    I must not be running into them. 🙂

  29. Can I just point out that this thread provides an absolutely laboratory-pure example of what Henke is trying to get beyond?

    And we have the usual semantic nonsense, where someone declares their willingness to compromise, but only if they don’t compromise their principles. Of course, that’s the only kind of compromise their is. If you believe that there should be no income tax, how is agreeing to a 25% income tax (down from 30%) not compromising your principled belief in a 0% income tax.

    I wish Jon all the luck in the world, but libertarians are bloody hopeless when it comes to making a difference in the political world.

  30. I think the political compromises that need to occur for libertarians to be viable must occur at every individual position. That means that if a libertarian is looking to fashion a political compromise around an issue that concerns the priniciple of non-intervention, then clearly a compromise must allow for some intervention/projection of power. However, the neo-lib position does not appear to be a compromise, as the next level beyond neolib/neocon force projections is simply a policy of global conquest. Thus, how can their position be considered a compromise with the classic non-interventionist libertarian position?

  31. Many of us are willing to compromise.

    …I’m questioning tactics, and, quite frankly, I’m not sure I understand their motives.

    The “New Libertarians” (and by the way, I’m accustomed to referring to them by the “Neo Libertarian” moniker.) seem to want to project themselves as being all about broadening the libertarian appeal. If the Republicans manufactured an appeal to libertarians, in what way would it be different from what I see coming from the Neo Libertarians?

    …Indeed, in what way are the Neo Libertarians different from the Republicans?

  32. R.C. Dean,

    You don’t know much about science it seems. Where is the control group, for example? 🙂

    You are confusing compromise of specific policy positions with principles.

  33. libertarians are hopeless politically because we want the opposite of what government is all about – more control and power. We actually want less of both. How political is that? It’s almost the reason that I am a libertarian. If you realise that everyone in politics wants something, the philosophy that rails against that seems right.

    Yes, very metaphysical, I know, but what can I say?

  34. Basically neo-libertarians stand for incremental change and hooking up with Republicans to bring this about. But as we’ve seen since the early 1980s that has always been a complete and total failure. Thus, if any group is useless its the neo-libertarians and their policy of attaching themselves to a discredited tactic.

  35. When did Gary Gunnels begin posting again?

  36. I don’t ask where blessings come from Mike, I’m just thankful for them.

  37. Basically neo-libertarians stand for incremental change and hooking up with Republicans to bring this about. But as we’ve seen since the early 1980s that has always been a complete and total failure.

    I disagree. There hasn’t been enough change, but there has been some (oil deregulation, reduction of the ’68 Gun Control Act, lower taxes, welfare reform, etc.). There is also the potential to reform SS and Medicare.

    On the other hand, a pure libertarian approach hasn’t achieved anything.

    So we have a choice: slow improvement–or none.

    I have corresponded with several libertarian anarchists. My only problems with them are: they throw away their credability (most people I know can’t comprehend society w/o public schools, let alone w/o any .gov), and while no .gov may work, it won’t work for long, as “nature obhores a vacuum”, and some .gov will arise to fill “the vacuum” (as gangs currently do to fill the drug/.gov vacuum).

  38. I haven’t ready any Rothbard. Does someone have a short answer on how an anarchist can credibly call themselves a libertarian? Isn’t the existence of an arbitor/enforcer for natural and property rights a necessary part of a libertarian utopia? How can that entity be anything but something agreed upon by the consent of the governed…i.e. government?

  39. Don,

    Please. We have a more bloated government today than we ever have. No, there is no potential to reform SS or Medicare; Bush’s bribe on the latter made sure of that and his fake reform of SS is dead in the water. Further, when you hooked up with Republicans you are instantly tainted with their Christian statist message.

  40. If anything, its the neo-libertarians who are the unjaded idealists; what with their unmitigated faith in the Republican party.

    MP,

    Well, in all reality, a libertarian who calls themselves an anarchist is an anarcho-capitalist.

  41. There are several anarcho-capitalists that regularly comment on this site. I don’t agree with them, but, I promise you, they’ve already thought about the “it won’t work for long” issue. I doubt they’ll respond to your simplistic criticism.

    …This does point to the bigger question, of course–is the Neo Libertarian tent big enough for anarcho-capitalists? …The answer appears to be no.

    I consider myself an old-school conservative Republican–I want deep cuts in federal taxes, accompanying cuts in federal spending, free trade, a pragmatic foreign policy and, by the way, I lean pro-life. The standard Libertarian tent is big enough for me to fit in, just fine thank you. …the same tent’s big enough for pro-choice, anarcho-capitalists too. …as well as Democrat leaning, anti-war civil libertarians, etc., etc.

    That is to say, from where I’m standing, the standard Libertarian tent seems bigger and more inclusive than the tiny tent the Neo Libertarians are trying to put up. …And I keep hearing them say that they’re putting their little tent up ’cause the big, raucous tent we’re already in–big enough for all these divergent views–isn’t big enough for them.

  42. Tom-

    To be fair, many of the people inside the big tent go around denouncing each other. And they insist that all differences be put aside for the sake of uniformity. Which is rather ironic in a movement ostensibly devoted to individualism.

    P.S. When will you go back to your old name?

  43. Tom Crick,

    Wow, that’s an interesting take on the issue. You may indeed be right. Neo-libertarians are simply pissed because many libertarians won’t keep their ideas to themselves and conform.

    thoreau,

    I like the big tent and don’t expect anyone to conform.

  44. I hear what you’re saying thoreau. …but I still contend that compared to the Neo Libertarian tent, the standard libertarian tent seems like the bigger one to me.

    P.S. When will you go back to your old name?

    Between cyber-stalking ex-girlfriends and people who go to church with my Mom–I don’t know.

    …There was a time when I didn’t give a damn. Maybe I’m just gettin’ old.

  45. Tom Crick,

    You may also be right because neo-libertarians (despite their rhetoric about pragmatism) are essentially a single-issue constituency – that is they support an aggressive, neo-imperialistic foreign policy.

  46. The idea of basing a party along a big tent structure is a good one, but what needs to be kept in mind here is that for such a structure to work, the views of the leading political figures within the party have to represent some kind of middle ground among the various factions within the big tent.

    For the Democrats, Clinton was a quintessential “middle ground” candidate, someone who could triangulate between the attitudes of the different shades of left within the Democratic Party, while taking some heed of teachers unions, lawyers, civil libertarians, and other such special interest groups. Likewise, Bush I was something of a Republican middle grounder. Bush II initially pitched himself as one, but his obseiance to “neocons” at the expense of “realists”, and big-government religious conservatives at the expense of fiscal conservatives and social moderates, threatens to create major fissures within the party.

    Anyway, to get back to the point, it’s clear that the views of the Libertarian Party’s most prominent figures don’t represent any kind of middle ground among the big tent of potential voters whose beliefs could be accurately described as libertarian. Rather, they pander to an anarchist-isolationist base that represents only a tiny fraction of the libertarian tent. If you don’t believe me, just take a survey of the beliefs and voting habits of H&R posters, Reason writers, and various libertarian bloggers, and see what the results are.

    I say this all, I should add, as someone who wants a hell of a lot less government than what either the Democratic or Republican establishment is comfortable with, and who has a number of complaints about the Bush Administration’s foreign policy.

  47. Eric II,

    Perhaps that is why I don’t see any small tent people amongst libertarians; I have never, ever been associated with the L.P. and know very little about it. I came to libertarianism through books (primarily Hayek and Nozick).

  48. “Does someone have a short answer on how an anarchist can credibly call themselves a libertarian?”

    Well, to sort of answer your question, MP, I believe the correct application of libertarian principles (like the “non-agression axiom”) should eventually lead one to accept anarchism. I also don’t think simply wanting “less government” necessarily makes you a libertarian.

    “Isn’t the existence of an arbitor/enforcer for natural and property rights a necessary part of a libertarian utopia?

    David Friedman’s book “Machinery of Freedom” is a great place to start for how an anarchist society might function. One chapter “POLICE, COURTS, AND LAWS—ON THE MARKET” is online here:

    http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Libertarian/Machinery_of_Freedom/MofF_Chapter_29.html

    “How can that entity be anything but something agreed upon by the consent of the governed…i.e. government?”

    What constitutes consent? To preemptively answer any constitutional appeals, Lysander Spooner provides what I think is an excellent argument against it here:

    http://www.fourmilab.ch/etexts/www/NoTreason/NoTreason.html

  49. Hakluyt,

    More bloated? Sure, but big ships take a long time to turn around. The trajectory we were on in ’70 was such that, had we continued, we would have been much more bloated w/o changes in policy.

    What was fake about Bush’s SS reform? I know that lots of “libertarians” on this blog opposed it, mostly w/o having any details to put any teeth in. Fact is, only a moderate reform is possible, not a radical one libertarians would prefer. But, better is better IMO.

    Statist Christians? I know East coast/West coast types have a profound fear of Christians, but why should we worry that Christians might taint libertarians? More likely, the Christians should be concearned that “libertarian anarchists” would taint them . . .

  50. There are several anarcho-capitalists that regularly comment on this site. I don’t agree with them, but, I promise you, they’ve already thought about the “it won’t work for long” issue. I doubt they’ll respond to your simplistic criticism.

    I corresponded with one anarcho-capitalist (I responded to an article she wrote–she writes books and articles), and I asked her how her society would work when groups organize to form the .gov–like the mob and gangs currently do in areas where no .gov exists. Her response was that she views more freedom as better, and she never really worked out the problem.

    Seriously, if a solution for this exists, I’d like to know. And if my concearn it “too simplistic”, they should be ready with a simplistic solution.

    …This does point to the bigger question, of course–is the Neo Libertarian tent big enough for anarcho-capitalists? …The answer appears to be no.

    I don’t think anarcho-capitalistism would work, for the reason I mentioned above. I’d rather have a small .gov that operates under a constitution than no .gov that turns into a mofia. But, that’s my only oppsition to anarcho-capitalistism, so I’m not opposed to it in principle, I just don’t see how it could work. So I’m fine being in a tent with anarcho-capitalists.

    I tend to line up well with neo-libertarians, given what I’ve read, but this is the first time I’ve actually looked into them.

  51. Don,

    Sorry, the we would be worse if not for X fallacy doesn’t work for me. That is at best a lazy rationalization for failure.

    Then do give me the “details” of Bush’s statist reform. Oh, that’s right; it was a completely centralized program with no freedom for real investment choices. That’s not SS reform.

    Don, I’m from Alabama, specifically Coden, Alabama. Please, before you start applying stereotypes to me, know a little bit about me. I am more than aware of the statist, anti-freedom tendencies of many Christians.

  52. Don,

    Two quick points…

    First I think your comment:

    “…nature obhores a vacuum”, and some .gov will arise to fill “the vacuum” (as gangs currently do to fill the drug/.gov vacuum).”

    is not accurate since government actively prevents any legitimate businesses from selling illegal drugs. For example, I don’t see Miller, Coors, and Budweiser fighting gang wars to attract customers. Why would the market for marijuana or cocaine be any different?

    Secondly, you ask:

    “I asked her how her society would work when groups organize to form the .gov–like the mob and gangs currently do in areas where no .gov exists.”

    If you knew someone who was currently organizing a mob for the purposes of robbing/extorting/killing you would you not defened yourself or hire someone to do the job for you?

  53. Isn’t the existence of an arbitor/enforcer for natural and property rights a necessary part of a libertarian utopia? How can that entity be anything but something agreed upon by the consent of the governed…i.e. government?

    MP-

    In a nutshell, it would involve practically everything being privatized. For example, judges would be private entities that would be mutually agreed upon by the parties included and paid.

    Most other governmental functions would be taken over by private entities/businesses that would resemble insurance companies.

    Really, I think the bigggest advantage such a system would offer is that an individual is theoretically free to opt out of or shop around for such services as they see fit.

  54. FYI: The libertarian magazine Liberty once took a poll of its readership, and roughly 1/3 of its respondents identified as anarchist (anarcho-capitalist) and 2/3 as minarchists. Liberty is pretty hard-core, and I suspect that among the total number of people who call themselves libertarians, less than 1/3 are anarcho-capitalists.

    I’m one of them, by the way.

    Simplistic critiques of anarchism are easy; it’s not possible to respond in kind because you have to root out all the implicit statist assumptions that most of us have. The resources in the Comment by: matt at July 18, 2005 03:59 PM are a good source of pro-anarchist arguments.

    I especially recommend the Web site www. daviddfriedman.com for starters on the Web. It’s full of info (if not especially well-organized). It includes a link to a detailed and better-argued-than-most criticism of anarcho-capitalism by one Mike Huber. Friedman also provides a rebuttal to Huber’s arguments.

  55. “Seriously, if a solution for this exists, I’d like to know. And if my concearn it “too simplistic”, they should be ready with a simplistic solution.”

    Off the top of my head, you seem to be making an arbitrary judgment about the value of stopping gang violence. …as opposed to the kind of injustice we’re served daily at the whim of Soccer/Security Mom types in a police state …And (I live in LA by the way), what makes you think the government is an effective solution to the problems associated with gangs?

    …But that’s all blah, blah, blah. …Is the Neo Libertarian tent big enough to include anarcho-capitalists? …’cause what I keep hearing is that the Neo Libertarians have a great, big tent; but every time I look at it, the tent seems to keep gettin’ smaller.

  56. Sorry, the we would be worse if not for X fallacy doesn’t work for me. That is at best a lazy rationalization for failure.

    Was oil deregulation good or bad? Was welfare reform good or bad? Tax cuts? Reducing the scope of GCA ’68? Leagalizing gold?

    Our last big push for big .gov was in the 60s under LBJ. The “bloat” that bothers you is a fleshing out on the New Deal and Great Society, for the most part. It was already in the works.

    . . . is not accurate since government actively prevents any legitimate businesses from selling illegal drugs. For example, I don’t see Miller, Coors, and Budweiser fighting gang wars to attract customers. Why would the market for marijuana or cocaine be any different?

    By banning cocaine, etc., the .gov is essentially giving up the regulation of these items to the mob, gangs, etc. Put another way, the .gov denies property rights in these areas; someone else has stepped in to oversee these property rights.

    If you knew someone who was currently organizing a mob for the purposes of robbing/extorting/killing you would you not defened yourself or hire someone to do the job for you?

    Certainly; my dad and his dad were both real cowboys. I know several family stories of shoot outs and hangings and range wars. But, in the absense of some .gov, someone is going to try to fill the role of “tax dude”. Frankly, a minimal state, well controlled, is a better risk.

    Off the top of my head, you seem to be making an arbitrary judgment about the value of stopping gang violence. …as opposed to the kind of injustice we’re served daily at the whim of Soccer/Security Mom types in a police state …And (I live in LA by the way), what makes you think the government is an effective solution to the problems associated with gangs?

    No, I see gangs as just a form of government, that crops up where no other government exists. It isn’t a coincidence that gangs arise around any forbidden item or activity. Someone has to enforce property rights. If Uncle Sam won’t, the mofia or the crips will.

    My point being, absent some form of .gov, some gang will take its place.

    The libertarian magazine Liberty

    Bastards for not updating their web site . . .

    Simplistic critiques of anarchism are easy; it’s not possible to respond in kind because you have to root out all the implicit statist assumptions that most of us have.

    First, I’m not sure my argument is as simplistic as some of you claim; for one thing, y’all haven’t consistently grasped my argument, and, no one has presented a good counter.

    Second, even if my mind is clouded with “implicit statist assumptions”, you should still be able to provide a good argument; you may have to provide further insight, etc., but the argument should be in place.

    I do understand what you mean by “implicit statist assumptions”. These occur when discussing (horrors of horrers) legalized drugs, over the counter machine guns, ending public education, killing of the SEC, etc. I’m in favor of all of the preceeding. I was persuaded by arguments, not by claims about how hard it was to argue against such things.

  57. “My point being, absent some form of .gov, some gang will take its place.”

    I live in LA–we have a govenment here. The gangs are everywhere. The government may or may not be part of the solution, but a lack of government sure as hell wasn’t the cause.

    Do you consider yourself a Neo Libertarian? …Is the Neo Libertarian tent big enough for anarcho-capitalists or not?

  58. . . . but a lack of government sure as hell wasn’t the cause.

    By outlawing certain items, the .gov ruled itself out of regulating/taxing/mediating property rights for these items. Consequently, other, smaller .govs (otherwise known as gangs) filled the gap.

    Do you consider yourself a Neo Libertarian?

    Give me some time to research it. I have come to the conclusion that a gradual, pragmatic approach is nessesary for our success. I’d take big steps if I could, but if I can’t I’ll take small steps.

    …Is the Neo Libertarian tent big enough for anarcho-capitalists or not?

    As it stands, I believe in a very minmal .gov, much more minimal than most of the people who post here. I’m not an anarcho-capitalist due to some lingering reservations (the core of which I argue above), but if good arguments are forthcoming, I’m willing to reconsider.

    Put another way: I’m not in full agrement with anarcho-capitalists, but I’m not inclined to kick them out of the tent. Might not mean much, as I’m not officially a “neo” yet.

  59. One gradual improvement has been “shall issue” laws for concealed carry that have gone through in many states. A doctrinare approach is that these really are bad, since they send out the message that it is a proper sphere for government regulation. However, I take the “more freedom is better” stance, and I have to go along with the idea that this is a major improvement.

    Any guess on how state legislatures have voted on these? How many (D), how many (R), how many (L) have voted in favor of “shall issue”? Obviously, this didn’t come about because of (L) alone . . .

    So, until the other states go the way of Vermont, “shall issue” is a big step up, and gun rights activists are probably smart to continue playing to major party candidates who can actually get something done . . .

  60. Then do give me the “details” of Bush’s statist reform. Oh, that’s right; it was a completely centralized program with no freedom for real investment choices. That’s not SS reform.

    The Bush plan provided for the option of private accounts investigating in the market. In other words, you had some choice (as to what we have now–no choice), and furthermore, this money wouldn’t be feeding Leviathan (as it currently does).

    My concearn with the Bush plan is how the decision to invest would be made (I wouldn’t want .gov PC ideas on things–smoking, guns, porn, whatever–to dictate investments); but I never saw any details on that. So, I’m not sure that Bush’s plan was good, but it sure had the potential to improve on what we have.

  61. Another aspect of the Bush plan: it had the potential to cut off AARP reactionaries off at the knees. Once done, the statists would have less control of the political process.

  62. I asked Jon about some of those questions on the “you might be a neo-libertarian if..” thing on my own blog not too long ago. That post would be below:

    “New Libertarians and Old Questions”

  63. I asked Jon about some of those questions . . .

    I found those questions to be a bit too forign policy specific for my taste. I’m a bit of a hawk on the Iraq war, but I can see reasonable anti-war positions. There are some antiwar arguments that I wouldn’t want in my tent, along with some prowar arguments. But I would keep in some of each.

    FWIW, don’t the randians support the war? If the big Ls are dominated by the randians, wouldn’t the big Ls support the war?

  64. “By banning cocaine, etc., the .gov is essentially giving up the regulation of these items to the mob, gangs, etc. Put another way, the .gov denies property rights in these areas; someone else has stepped in to oversee these property rights.”

    Don, banning something is just a particularly egregious form of regulation. The government just makes the acceptable quantity of a good equal to zero. Gangs appear because criminals tend to be risk-loving individuals. They are willing to take the risk of being arrested when there are huge profits to be made.

  65. matt,

    By banning something, or even just severly taxing/regulating it, the .gov is writing itself out of mediating property rights. The prostitute can’t make a claim with the .gov that her pimp or john cheated her. Likewise, the guy buying pot. The criminals are provided an opening, which they exploit to advantage. My basic point being: .gov & gangs are similar things, except we think we have some control over the .gov via our vote, and we think they are accountable to a consistent legal document.

  66. I want to add (wishing here I could edit my previous post) that I agree with matt that banning is simply an extreem for of regulation. My poist remains, however, that this extreem regulation opens the door for a “nitch market” government, which can then tax, regulate, and provide some form of property law. It’s as if the .gov gave up a sphere of interest, and a mini-.gov stand in took its place.

    So I agree that matt’s perspective is valid, but I think this alternate perspective is useful. In the complete absense of any .gov, some is going to form, around the lazy yet strong, who will decide they can tax the productive on the basis of force, or the threat of force.

    An example would be the Indians who Lewis & Clark encountered, who were taxing river travel, because they had the power to do so. In this case, Lewis & Clark had the fortitude and firepower not to be intimidated (and the Indians quickly responded by begging). This would be, I suppose, a success for the archno viewpoint, however I don’t think your average divorcee or retired couple is going to support a society where such fortitude and firepower are requisites. Seems to me that a restrained, minimal state remains a better solution.

  67. Regarding big tents and small tents:

    I dare say that there?s a significant number of people out there with libertarian sympathies. Not enough sympathies to satisfy the purists, and not on every issue, but enough that some changes could be made if these people coalesced into a voting bloc of voters who are generally economically to the right of center and socially to the left of center. Obviously their views would still fall far short of what some on this forum would like (you know who you are), but if these people had a real influence on elections then they could push for some real reforms.

    One thing we can immediately conclude is that this bloc is less numerous than either major party?s base. Or maybe it?s comparable in size (always possible, since both parties over-estimate their base), but it isn?t particularly coherent or energized. Otherwise a major party probably would have ditched its base in favor of libertarian sympathizers.

    Still, I?m going to go out on a limb and say that this group is bigger than the 0.4% or whatever that Badnarik pulled. If this group is, say, 10% of the population (a not-inconceivable number if you take a broad view of what constitutes a sympathizer) then it could be a real power broker: In some elections it could act as a spoiler by pulling away from the 2 parties and instead supporting a third party candidate (probably a party that?s sufficiently polished and moderate to pull 10% instead of 0.4%), in other races it could act as a king-maker by supporting a maverick in the two parties, and now and then, with the right candidate and the right locale, it might even win a partisan office (i.e. state legislator or higher).

    The key, of course, is to reach out to this diverse group and get their support, and then persuade them that there are benefits to coordination.

    Great, now, how to do that? That is the Big Question. Everybody has their own opinion on why that is, and no doubt some of it has to do with the way that libertarians promote their ideas. (We can have a long argument about exactly what our mistake is in that regard, but at the end I?d venture that the argument itself is 50% of the problem.)

    The bottom line is that if anybody actually knew the answer and had the means to act on it then things would be a lot different in this country. But, alas, nobody knows how to do that.

    Regarding the ideal size of the state:

    I don’t know what the ideal size of the state is. I mean, I know what the basic libertarian theory says, and the theory has a lot going for it, but until I see it in practice under applicable circumstances I can’t be convinced of anything.

    What I am convinced of is that the overall quality of life in this country would be better if the government were smaller than it is now. I think the libertarian movement would be more coherent and more successful if its goals were defined with respect to the what the next step should be, not what the final step should be.

  68. FYI, Liberty would seem to have updated their website.

    I’ve been an anarchist, at least emotionally, for a long time. As a practical matter, though, I support a minarchist political program. Once we get the state whittled down to the point that we can contemplate ditching it altogether, I’ll make up my mind if that’s a good idea. As an analog, think of the difference between strong and weak atheism.

    Kevin

  69. thoreau,

    Third-parties don’t work in American politics due to the nature of our government. It was thought by some that we could take over the Republican party, but that effort has clearly failed.

    Don,

    Your response regarding Bush’s statist SS reform merely enhances my comments on it.

    And again, your argument regarding government growth remains fallacious no matter how you want to state it. If all this incrementalist approach of neo-libertarians means is that government only grows slower, then its not a particularly worthwhile position to take.

  70. Regarding Bush’s proposed SS reform:

    I can see the point about how even heavily regulated but nominally private accounts are better than the current system. If this were the only politically feasible option then I would give it serious consideration.

    The problem is that I can think of a politically feasible proposal that diverts more money to private accounts (which is A Good Thing), still keeps some elements of the SS system in place (political feasibility) but doesn’t enlarge the scope of the program and size of the bureaucracy significantly the way the regulation of private accounts would (the comparative advantage relative to Bush’s plan). It’s simple really:

    1) Many more tax incentives, including credits or deductions against your payroll taxes, to put money into an IRA or 401k (a pre-existing program).

    2) Means testing of SS benefits (to reduce the number of people dependent on the government in old age, and reduce the amount of cash paid out by the government).

    Really pretty simple. Sure, there are details to hash out, but it’s still simpler than accounts that are nominally private but heavily regulated. (Yes, I know, an IRA is regulated too, but not to the same extent that Bush was proposing.) I’m really quite bothered by Bush’s proposal because (1) it would create a system of accounts similar to IRAs, increasing the complexity for citizens and bureaucrats alike and (2) it would expand the government’s role in regulating investments. (Which is A Bad Thing.)

    Hakluyt-

    I know that third parties can’t thrive in our system. I am well aware of the limitations of a first past the post voting system, as it’s frequently called. My only point was that in our system a large and organized bloc of voters could become a swing faction that can be a king-maker, a spoiler, or (in rare cases which happen now and then even in our current system) elect one of their own now and then.

    How to do that? That’s the Big Question. And I admit to having no answers.

  71. Is the Neo Libertarian tent big enough to include anarcho-capitalists?

    Yes.

    The point of neolibertarianism is practicality, not specific policy doctrine. We differ on a wide variety of topics, including foreign policy. The important thing is to recognize that, insofar as we (roughly) agree, we ought participate in electoral politics as a coalition. I don’t agree with anarcho-capitalism at all, but I’m happy to participate in a coalition with anarcho-capitalists and, hell, even social conservatives on areas of mutual interest.

    I also think it’s important to recognize some basic components of human nature and politics when we make political decisions — i.e., while you might think that total privatization of the road system is a grand idea, it’s not going to happen unless human nature and the US political system does a complete 180.

    And if we had ham, we could have ham and eggs, if we had eggs.

    The sooner libertarians come to terms with realities like that, the sooner we can start coping with political realities and possibilities. The opportunities are on the margins, and so are the costs.

  72. Jon Henke,

    No, the point of the neo-libertarianism is aggresive U.S. foreign policy. There is really nothing else involved in your single-issue constitutency.

    And for all your talk of practicality, there really isn’t any substance to that at all either.

  73. thoreau,

    There are simply not enough libertarian inclined people for that to happen. You have to realize that 80%-90% of Americans are statists of one variety or another.

  74. 80%-90% of Americans are statists of one variety or another

    Fortunately they’re more-or-less evenly divided into two warring tribes. Even 5% can make a big difference in that case.

    How to organize that 5%? I have no clue.

  75. thoreau:

    the proportional system often gives a small party power over the coalition – the “radical left” (the social liberal party that is not radical) in denmark has tremendous power in the parliament, even though it barely clears their hurdle for representation. you’d find there that the debate is as asinine and as troubling as it is here.

    what we can do is elect various representatives – instead of falling for the tempting, easy fallacy that “rep=rep=rep” and “dem=dem=dem”. Just compare the former rep Connie morella, MD (probably would have been yours) with, say, Henry Hyde or some of the southern or great planes fireballers. or NE dems with southern or western, etc.

    basically, we cannot nor should we try to nationalize that 5%. that is not the system. instead, how about a libertarian check list or something – endorse positions and what not – hell, the fundie church a buddy of mine has to endure because his inlaws go there, does that all the time. he is never sure if it’s religion or political babbling. but god apparently recommends fox news…

  76. No, the point of the neo-libertarianism is aggresive U.S. foreign policy.

    You are quite simply wrong. I didn’t vote for Bush, because my agreement on some issues was outweighed by the damage I believe Bush is doing to the Republican Party.

    You’re certainly welcome to disagree with those of us who have a non-isolationist position on US foreign policy. We disagree amongst ourselves on foreign policy. If we discuss it a great deal, it is because many of us believe it is timely, important and interesting.

  77. The reality is that we aren’t going to be changing many people’s minds. That’s why Henke’s incrementalist agenda is the true utopian position.

  78. basically, we cannot nor should we try to nationalize that 5%

    I agree. In some places the 5% might tip the tide one way if that party has the lesser evil in a given legislative race, and in other places the 5% might tip the tide the other way. And maybe, just maybe, in a few places they’d be more than 5% and might actually elect one of their own.

    How to get to 5% or more? And how to coordinate them? I have no clue.

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