Kos for Concern


Over at Cato Unboard, Markos "Daily Kos" Moulitsas publishes his longest essay yet on the idea of "Libertarian Democrats." The innovation I see in this version of Moulitsas' thesis is the idea that Silicon Valley/the Bay Area is a libertarian utopia.

My libertarian tendencies have always found a welcome home in the Silicon Valley culture (and in all of the nation's great technology centers). It is a place where hard work and good ideas trump pedigree, money, the color of one's skin, nationality, sex, or any of the artificial barriers to entry in most of the rest of the world. It is a techno-utopia that, while oft-criticized for a streak of self-important narcissism, still today produces the greatest innovations in technology in the world. Where else could such a motley collection of school dropouts, nerds, brown people (mostly Indian), and non-Native English speakers (mostly Chinese), not just rise to the top of their game, but dominate it? This is free market activity seemingly at its best, and it works precisely because these individuals are able to take risks and be judged by the results of their work, rather than be judged by who they are, where they've been, or who they know.

But there are other reasons why this outpost of libertarianism works. The government has put in an infrastructure to support the region including, among many other things, roads, the Internet, government research grants, and the most important ingredient of all: education, from the lowliest kindergarten to the highest post-doc program. Such spending, while requiring a government bureaucracy that makes a traditional libertarian shudder, actually provides the tools that individuals need to succeed in today's world. If our goal is to promote and champion individual liberty and the free market, we need government to help provide those tools to all Americans, not just a privileged few. This isn't a question of equality, it's one of opportunity. Some people will take advantage of those opportunities, and others will not. That will be up to each individual. But without opportunity, there is no freedom.

Jesse Walker's original counterblaste to Kos is here. Anyone want to tackle the new material?