Economics

"Do Libertarians Fit in a Liberal World?"

And if they do, are they still libertarians?

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Two weeks before the 2008 election ushered in a period of Democratic dominance of government, a panel of scholars gathered at Princeton University to discuss the question "Liberals and Libertarians: Common Ground or Separate Agendas?"

The faction of the panel jokingly referred to as "Team Liberal" included three sociology professors from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, as well as journalist Chris Hayes, the Washington editor of The Nation. If the goal of the panel was peacemaking, Hayes' comments may have been the most encouraging.

He noted that cooperation between the left and libertarians has grown in reaction to the government-expanding excesses of the Bush years: "As the national security state has grown, that alliance has deepened." He also remarked, in friendly and pragmatic fashion, that coalitions tend to start out political and become social. "You start out going to protests and end up going to birthday parties."

Hayes said he thinks more ideologues of all stripes are beginning to notice that real-world government tends toward neither a social-democratic nor libertarian ideal. "The problem of the U.S. economy in the past eight years has been a kind of corporate socialism…[a] hydra-headed monster of corruption and malfeasance." He added, "In the current financial crisis, the two groups who come out looking good are the Marxists and the Austrians," since both schools of economists predicted that government will tend to come to the aid of the already-wealthy amidst cyclical booms and busts.

Those were the only kind words said about Marxism during the panel, however, as the three Woodrow Wilson School sociology professors generally defended middle-ground, mixed-economy views.

Doulgas Massey said modern liberals had learned that in a command economy, "tyranny inevitably results"—but also said, "It was President Clinton who arranged for balanced budgets," and that "rather than talking about government interventions in markets," we should ask what governments can do to make markets possible. "Where you draw that line is an empirical discussion," he argued, is not a matter for deductive philosophy or ideological extremes.

Paul Starr, on the other hand, sounded more willing to defend modern, welfare-statist liberalism on philosophical grounds. "What do liberals and libertarians have in common? The fundamental value of liberty. What do liberals and libertarians disagree about? What liberty means." Liberals, he argued, see threats to liberty from concentrations of private power and will continue to defend government as a means of combating those threats: "The value of these programs," such as Social Security, he said, "isn't just security but liberty itself."

Paul DiMaggio offered the more conciliatory and cautious observation that in areas where our legal definitions are still in flux, such as intellectual property, libertarians may have a great deal to teach liberals, as with the efforts by "cyber-libertarians" to generate non-governmental rules for regulating a commons such as cyberspace.

Surprisingly, though, it was neither in such nebulous areas of law—nor on the apparent common ground of opposition to military and police excesses—that most of the panel's "Team Libertarian" half sought to make concessions to the liberals' worldview. Brink Lindsey and Will Wilkinson, scholars from the Cato Institute, which co-sponsored the panel with the Woodrow Wilson School, actually had some kind words for elements of the welfare state.

Lindsey coined the term "liberaltarians" for an imagined alliance meant to replace the decades-long, arduously-constructed "fusionist" alliance between libertarians and the right. He voted for conservative Ronald Reagan as a young libertarian (calling himself a "con-symp") but voted for Democrats in 2006. He said he can no longer stomach the pretense by the two near-identical major political parties that, as he put it, "a 35% top marginal tax rate is Social Darwinism but a 39% rate is socialism."

Indeed, he echoed Massey's call for open empirical discussion of how large a welfare state would be effective, saying that countries like Sweden suggest that once nations are wealthy enough, they can "afford" welfare states. "That just doesn't seem like a matter of great importance," he argued. Instead of an all-or-nothing, "yes or no" argument about whether to have a welfare state at all, Lindsey envisioned a collegial conversation about the size of the government safety net. "Bottom line: I'd rather hang out with the liberals and argue about economics than hang out with the Republicans and argue about Darwin and stem cells."

Wilkinson also sounded a sympathetic note about the idea of a social safety net, saying he sometimes feels ideologically "lonely" when he tells friends that he likes the positions of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman—including their sympathy for policies such as a guaranteed minimum income. Wilkinson's friends on the left denounce him as "a market fundamentalist," but the libertarians can be almost as negative: "They tell me I'm not a libertarian at all."

Brown University political science professor John Tomasi offered a plan for bringing together such feuding factions. Theatrically arranging three cups in front of himself on the podium, Tomasi encouraged libertarians (and liberals) to drink three metaphorical cups of potentially strange-tasting philosophical ideas: (1) Accept that there is a real distinction between classical liberals (who share a somewhat flexible bundle of ideas such as democracy, constitutionalism, and individual rights) and libertarians, adherents of a strict version of property rights that "not many people believe;" (2) accept that some version of "social justice" will seem intuitively appealing to most political thinkers and must be part of our agenda; and (3) recognize that once 1 and 2 are accepted, a friendly empirical conversation about economic policies can proceed.

Compared to the comments above, McGill University political science professor Jacob Levy sounded like the least welfare-statist member of the panel, since he did not endorse any specific non-libertarian policies (though he said we should prefer progressive to regressive policy results). He was as harsh as any of the panelists, though, in calling for libertarians to part company with Republicans (a position on which he and I have had a friendly disagreement since being fellow undergraduates at Brown two decades ago).

Said Levy: "If our core liberalism—if our roots in the struggle of common law against the absolutist king, or in Locke, or in Montesquieu, or in the American Revolution mean anything at all to us—then it means a four percentage-point difference in income tax rates is less important than removing the party of torture and detention without trial from power. That's morally so overwhelmingly important as to make my traditional arguments about libertarians leaving the fusionist alliance with the right seem kind of silly."

Todd Seavey blogs at HealthFactsAndFears.com and ToddSeavey.com.

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  1. Common ground, for sure. I want to live, they want to live. I want to eat, they want to eat. We all want to breathe. What’s to quibble?

  2. Talk about the Ivory Tower.

  3. I don’t think it’s a liberal world, but if it were and I were a libertarian I would try to use that opportunity to push for the things liberals and libertarians are likely to agree on that are facing us now. Like medical marijuana for instance.

    I think this is a perfect time for libertarians to try to make a real gain here: Reason and its readers should really try to hold Obama’s feet to the fire about ending the federal medical raids in places like CA.

  4. anarch: You aren’t eating enough organic food, and your air isn’t in ozone compliance.

  5. Libertarians have, as yet, been unsuccessful in selling the concept of limited government, especially to the Obama generation. We can agree with Liberals that overseas adventures in social engineering have wasted huge amounts money; and we are better off wasting money domestically.

  6. “Bottom line: I’d rather hang out with the liberals and argue about economics than hang out with the Republicans and argue about Darwin and stem cells.”

    Brilliant! Actually, I have to admit that I found this piece interesting. Must send the fundies into a tail spin,though.

  7. “Reason and its readers should really try to hold Obama’s feet to the fire about ending the federal medical raids in places like CA.”

    Reason doesn’t have enough readers to hold Tinkerbell’s feet to the fire.

  8. Short Answer:
    No.

  9. Damn,now my Obama poster’s all sticky.

  10. Bottom line: I’d rather hang out with the liberals and argue about economics than hang out with the Republicans and argue about Darwin and stem cells.”>>

    Can’t I hang out with both, and argue about both?

    My friends are about 50/50. I can’t figure out what makes me laugh more. The Bush apologists or the Obama followers.

    Of course if *liberals* we classic liberals, and Republians were truly for small government, I wouldn’t have to argue with either about much.

  11. I’m moving in with the liberals now. I’m sure they won’t be abusive.

  12. Abused Libertarian,

    Are the women better looking on that side of the fence? Report, please.

  13. Are the women better looking on that side of the fence? Report, please.

    I’ve heard there’s more than five of them! Good enough for me!

  14. Well, I guess we’re going to see how much difference there really is between “the party of torture and detention without trial from power” and his democrats.

    I’m betting little.

    Kodos and Kang would like to thank you humans for peacefully accepting 4 more years of domination by your alien overlords, however.

  15. With the way “small government conservatives” shrank the size of government, I expect the civil rights loving liberals to increase the use of SWAT teams for any and all attempts to regulate our bodies and interstate commerce.

    /surprised that no one else came up with that before me.

  16. Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos’ estranged brother Xanatron.

  17. zig zag man,
    It’s been implied numerous times.

  18. zig zag man,

    I like my snarks to be oh so subtle. Like that SWAT ninja sneaking up behind you.

  19. Edward’s been on a roll lately. Thank god he decided not to stop posting here.

  20. Edward? Where?

    *tips hat at Hannibal Lector’s cell mate*

  21. If our core liberalism-if our roots in the struggle of common law against the absolutist king, or in Locke, or in Montesquieu, or in the American Revolution mean anything at all to us-then it means a four percentage-point difference in income tax rates is less important than removing the party of torture and detention without trial from power

    No argument there. But then again the Democrats want to put people in jail for the crime for offerring to pay too much for stuff they buy, offering to pay too little for labor services, etc.

    And of course, I am sure a trial for “excessive speculation” will give the accused plenty of opportunities to protest his innocence of such a well defined “crime”…

    To be honest, there’s a good chance the libertarians cheering Obama’s victory are much like the Ukranian peasants cheering the German panzers as they rolled into town having chased the hated Red Army away…

    Given that many of our current political and economic problems have at their root the attempts of American liberals to forcibly rework society in the directions they desire, I see little common ground between the two camps.

  22. I can’t see it happening. As a practical matter, the liberals are too tightly allied with the statist, redistributionary policies of the Democrats.

    If it’s a matter of spanking the Republicans the current short term alliance works fine, but it won’t hold up past inauguration day.

  23. Hazel M.,

    I don’t think anyone knows what to think right now. Clinton despite his rhetoric turned out to be a proponent of free trade. Also, Democrats tend to not close ranks as much as Republicans. As far as I’m concerned, no one knows enough about Obama to really understand the direction he will take.

  24. Naga Shadow,

    Well, a large number of the Democratic dominated Congress will be in favor of protectionism, and I can’t say whether Obama will resist that or will even want to.

  25. Couldn’t they have at least invited some libertarians to this get together?

  26. Seward,

    I would agree except that when you think about it, ALL Congressmen are protectionists. I remember Bush’s tariffs on steel causing the steel using industry to complain and point out that higher steel prices would cause some of them to lay people off or even go under. Entrenched interests fighting other entrenched interests is what I expect.

  27. Guess I better just come out and say it. Gridlock on an epic scale. Gonna be a tossup as to who gets what.

  28. MNG, shouldn’t you be posting as “Crow Eating Dumbass” for the next 29 days?

  29. Douglas Gray:

    The government is already limited.

    What you refer to is not that liberals don’t get that, but rather what the definition of “limited” is.

    Libertarians tend to want an even more limited government … completely unobtrusive.

    Liberals tend to want minimal government intrusion but also want their tax dollars to go toward supporting the society at large, both as a measure of their open hearts and as a measure of security. Without relative stability there can be no security, and support for at least a nominal welfare state (and that’s what we have … a nominal welfare state) provides that in many ways.

    Arguments about removing the welfare element without any proposals to mitigate the insecurity that would certainly follow such removal are falling on deaf ears because libertarians tend to be an arrogant bunch who don’t typically provide alternatives. Their primary interest is in self-sufficiency, so replacing the welfare state is not part of their program.

    It’s both an intellectual and pragmatic schism that could only be resolved by quelling liberal concerns by providing a reasoned argument in support of a welfare-free society; one that makes sense to the average liberal.

    Hint: Replying along the lines of “the government is not even close to limited” is the wrong approach because it simply isn’t true. Government could be a LOT less limited.

  30. Yes, sorry BDB, force of habit. It’s like “Mr. Nice Guy” just authomatically goes into that Name above.

    I’m still suprised about VA. How could Obama have outperformed Webb? It’s unfathomable really. Was the GOP brand that hurt this year?

  31. “As a practical matter, the liberals are too tightly allied with the statist, redistributionary policies of the Democrats.”

    Isn’t libertarianism about more than just opposition to redistribution? I mean, as I mentioned above how about medical marijuana where liberals are commonly in agreement with libertarians? Or euthanasia? I mean, now’s the time to press for what libertarians want and liberals want, because you’re likely to get it. To say “oh, shit, I can’t fight aloneside liberals for medical marijuana because they on the other hand support progressive taxation” is the kind of attitude that gets a group nowhere as far as getting their ideas translated into actual policy.

  32. Dammit, MNG, no matter how much sense you talk, I can’t take you seriously with that temp moniker.

  33. Edward? Where?

    I prefer not to say, as he made me swallow my own tongue after the last time I outed him.

    *tips hat at Hannibal Lector’s cell mate*

    *nods, flings gooey substance in Naga’s general direction*

  34. Crow Eating Dumbass,

    Well, okay, I agree we can work with them on social issues. Just don’t really see this as forming an “alliance” of the political kind that had libertarians grudgingly supporting Republican social conservatives. Libertarians can stomache a social conservative because we know they will lose on those issues in the long term. Are losing. Have lost. So we’re left with the core economic philosophy.

    However, with a liberal Democrat, we know they’ll win on gay marriage with or without our support, so really, why the fuck bother trying to get them elected.

    We can support them once in office. I just don’t see this translating into lots of libertarians voting for Democratic candidates. Unless the Democrats move rightward on the economy.

    Which is highly unlikely in the near term. They are going to be in an orgy of federal spending and regulation for the next few years.

  35. I can’t believe the quote about the American revolution to support liberal ideas.The revolution was about unfair taxes and economic freedom..If a person can not control his wealth and property then he is not free.Look at eminent domain takings,smoking and trans fat bans,and of course the drug war.To be free one must be allowed to own himself also.

  36. I have a better solution: classic liberals should buck the Democrats and true conservatives should ditch the warmongering, ignorance-loving Republicans. We can all form up a real third party founded on civil liberties and free trade, if the Libertarians will only concede (or at least set aside for the sake of alliance) the most fringe of their ideals.

    As long as party loyalty and entrenchment guarantee the republocrats are running this government as a schizophrenic single party we will never make any progress except toward a bigger and more oppressive state.

  37. James Butler,

    We have far more than a nominal welfare state. A nominal welfare state would not have – for example – a subsidized agricultural sector. Let’s face it, most of what passes as part of the “welfare society” is really job security for those who are already relatively successful. Down that road leads stagnation.

    Government could be a LOT less limited.

    Yes, it could be. We’ll likely find out how much less limited it can be as time goes by.

    Anyway, there are numerous reasoned arguments for a welfare-free society. Indeed, dozens of books, articles, etc. have been written on the matter.

  38. CED-
    I approve of the moniker change.

  39. Hazel
    I don’t think libertarians make their influence in the traditional political sense, they do so by influencing the ideas debate. Getting the Democrats to prioritize getting the feds out of medical marijuana, for example, is a good thing to work on for the next four years.

  40. “Brown University political science professor John Tomasi offered a plan for bringing together such feuding factions. Theatrically arranging three cups in front of himself on the podium, Tomasi encouraged libertarians (and liberals) to drink three metaphorical cups of potentially strange-tasting philosophical ideas: (1) Accept that there is a real distinction between classical liberals (who share a somewhat flexible bundle of ideas such as democracy, constitutionalism, and individual rights) and libertarians, adherents of a strict version of property rights that ‘not many people believe;’ (2) accept that some version of ‘social justice’ will seem intuitively appealing to most political thinkers and must be part of our agenda; and (3) recognize that once 1 and 2 are accepted, a friendly empirical conversation about economic policies can proceed.”

    Some good points – I’m neither liberal (modern) nor libertarian, nor classical liberal. Social justice is vitally important, but I won’t get into the details just now.

    I wish he hadn’t made his point with three cups. It makes me think he was about to put a coin under one of the cups . . .

  41. “I’m still suprised about VA. How could Obama have outperformed Webb? It’s unfathomable really. Was the GOP brand that hurt this year?”

    The Republicans lost white suburban voters. When he outdid even Kaine’s numbers in Chesterfield, I knew it was over for the GOP in VA.

    Some people are saying Palin alienated them.

  42. Same thing happened in NC, to a lesser extent. He will hold on there and get the 15 EVs soon.

  43. “Dammit, MNG, no matter how much sense you talk, I can’t take you seriously with that temp moniker.”

    Yeah, it’s going to be a long month. But hey, I made the wager I gotta live with it.

    Hazel
    It’s also going to be a time where the GOP can be influenced too.

  44. we can work with them on social issues. Just don’t really see this as forming an “alliance” of the political kind that had libertarians grudgingly supporting Republican social conservatives. Libertarians can stomach a social conservative because we know they will lose on those issues in the long term. Are losing. Have lost. So we’re left with the core economic philosophy.

    However, with a liberal Democrat, we know they’ll win on gay marriage with or without our support, so really, why the fuck bother trying to get them elected.

    Thanks for coming up with a pretty good explanation of where I and other libertarians have been for some time, at least in North America. I never quite thought of it that way, but it might partly explain our psychology.

    However, the trouble is that the “liberal”-“conservative” division on social issues is really a “liberal”-traditionalist or modernist-traditionalist, or even establishment-antiestablishment division. Neither side is (across persons, time, or details) reliably pro- or anti-freedom on social issues, which is why the Nolan chart has only an approximation of that scale. For example, so many “liberals” are anti-freedom regarding firearms, tobacco, and even foods that I now see as much pro-freedom sentiment on the “conservative” side as among them, which means that if “conservatives” are still better on economic matters — and they are — then the attraction to them is still there, foreign affairs being a matter on such a different scale that I never know which way they’ll cut.

    Even if you try to narrow your focus to a particular area of interest such as food & drug law, which covers such areas of controversy as marijuana, vaccinations, fattening foods, and dietary supplements, it’s hard to figure out whether you have more friends on the “liberal” or “conservative” side. For instance, sometimes I just find more affinity with extremists generally than with moderates.

  45. BTW, CED, Goode will most likely lose and so did Drake. Davis’s seat is blue now.

    The RPV is destroyed.

  46. Could this be true? Libertarians hardly ammount to more than a pimple on the electorate’s colletive ass. How do you keep going? Donate now, I guess

    Candidates % Votes

    McCain (R) 46% 56,404,917
    Obama (D) 52% 63,893,037
    Barr (I) 0% 489,661
    Nader (I) 1% 658,393

  47. CED, as a former Virginian you will enjoy this fact:

    The only locality in Virginia outside of SW that Obama did worse than Kerry in?

    Colonial Heights!

  48. I wish he hadn’t made his point with three cups.

    Better that than 3 political science professors 1 cup…

  49. Mr. Goodman, I read that twice. I’m going to read it again to try to figure out just what in the holy fuck you are talking about.

  50. If I donated 1$ to the LP for every time Lefiti posted an inane comment, maybe they’d actually win an election in 2012.

  51. Robert Goodman,

    Well, in a lot of ways they are merely reflecting the fears and paranoia of the general populace (of course the government whether in the hands of liberals or conservatives does a lot to create and inflate those fears).

  52. Douglas Gray | November 5, 2008, 6:15pm | #

    “… we are better off wasting money domestically.”

    Ugh

    noting that you didnt caveat “wasting” in any way whatsoever. Maybe there’s the difference, homie.

  53. “Bottom line: I’d rather hang out with the liberals and argue about economics than hang out with the Republicans and argue about Darwin and stem cells.”

    It is annoying how many Republicans have become science haters (or, at least, pretend to be at election time). This is thanks to their courting of the Salafi Christians.

  54. Recovering Republicans,

    Well, there are numerous aspects of science and technology that liberals despise, are fearful of, etc. as well.

  55. MNG(currently crow-eating dumbass),
    Sorry to hear that you lost your bet. That truly sucks ass.

  56. Seward–

    Liberals don’t make, say, animal rights or opposition to genetically engineered foods central, non-negotiable platforms in the Democratic Party. Big difference there.

  57. Seward, you do have a point but in the case of (modern) liberals they at least pretend to care about science – so it is easier to have a quasi-rational debate. In the case of religious conservatives you are basically debating the merits of Bronze Age mythology.

  58. Seward, perhaps I am just more anoyed by the Conservatives because of their motivations. The motivations of the Conservatives is to protect thier own world view. The liberals, even when I disagree with them (and I do, a lot) have motivations that (at least from the rank and file) seem more genuine. But that may simply be by own bias.

  59. my own bias

  60. what would happen to crow eating dumbass if mccain had won virginia?

  61. would someone else have to be crow eating dumbass?

  62. I think there’s potential for common ground on taxation with liberals.

    It’s a little-known fact that New Hampshire’s tax code, despite not having a broad-based income tax, is more redistributionist than Massachusetts.

    New Hampshire taxes capital and those with assets more than it taxes labor and those with minimal assets. Indeed, it’s possible to live in New Hampshire without paying taxes to the state (by not owning real property, a car, or having investments), but receive services from the state (or even better, work for the state).

    The reason is that taxing income (read: productivity, whether we’re talking about labor or capital) is a rather ineffective way to redistribute and it has perverse effects on the marketplace to boot.

    Asset-based taxation is simultaneously more redistributionist (because it actually taxes wealth as opposed to something at best peripherally related to wealth, it will at least do a better job of taking from the rich) and more market-compatible than income-based (including capital gain) taxation.

    Consider that a minarchist government fundamentally does little more than enforce property rights. It is readily apparent that those with more valuable property rights generally derive a greater benefit from this minarchist government than those with less valuable property rights (consider that valuable things are more likely to be appropriated…). Consider that in an anarcho-capitalist world with private arbitration/enforcement services taking the place of government, such services are akin to insurance services, wherein premiums generally tend to be proportional to the value of the insured property (allowing for largely fixed expenses in writing policies, etc.); insurance on a million-dollar home runs roughly double the insurance on a half-million-dollar home next door. Accordingly it’s reasonable to expect a market rate to develop based on the value of rights protected. If we accept the argument (which I do accept, for what it’s worth) that the best case end result of an anarcho-capitalist system is a minarchist state, then it is probably better to just go straight to a minarchist state and skip the middleman and fund such a minarchist state with an asset tax.

    The benefits to the market of an asset-based tax are obvious. If such a tax were to be computed based on the cost basis of an asset, it would offer the benefit of a highly predictable tax expense and would tend to restrain people from buying high (since if you bought a million dollars of Cisco stock in 2000 with an asset tax of say 2%, you would still be paying $20,000 a year to hold the stock). It would also tax those whose assets are not productive (since if your income is 6% of your assets, your tax burden as a percentage of income would be half of what someone who only earns 3% on their assets), thus tending to redistribute assets to their most productive uses.

    From a libertarian perspective, this tax could even become optional, with the caveat that failure to pay tax on a given asset being renunciation of recourse to the government to enforce the property rights relevant to the asset (don’t pay tax on your house? Then don’t expect to be able to call the police to evict squatters). If the government sets the rate too high, people will opt out.

  63. reformed republican –

    with my personal bias (and i’m a reformed democrat), it’s the other way. probably because i don’t actually know any anti-science republicans. but the science discussions among liberal friends of mine often have an argument-from-(scientific!)-authority quality that irritates me, because they just adopt it as part of the Moral and Intellectual Superiority Upgrade they think their tribe has. people who can’t stand someone who doesn’t believe in evolution or global warming (fwiw, i’m a skeptic of the latter) but don’t actually know anything meaningful about either. that shit irritates me more than social con caveman stuff because of its smugness and, probably, my greater proximity to it.

  64. BDB,

    That may vary by state. I don’t believe that creationism is in the Republican Party’s national platform. For me it doesn’t matter though; you will see significant pressure in the coming years by liberals to at the very least label (and perhaps outright ban) GMOs which enter the marketplace.

    Anyway, what do you think of NCCAM?

  65. leviramsey,
    Or, in other words, you want libertarians to advocate for a federal property tax.

  66. We don’t have common ground with anyone in the political arena, because all politics is based on one difficult question “How can we continually screw people over without them killing us, going into hiding, dying en masse, or simply refusing to produce things for us to take away?”

  67. economist,

    Actually, historically politics was often designed to lead to the dying en masse bit.

  68. “Or, in other words, you want libertarians to advocate for a federal property tax.”

    I oppose taxes period. But, but, I do have a sentimental reason to support this type of theft over others. For one, it is often the “old money” types and the trust fund babies who often support high taxes knowing they will (they think) not be impacted by them.

  69. Seward, you illustrate my point perfectly.

    We have far more than a nominal welfare state.

    Compared to what? I say nominal, you say notnominal. Sure we have subsidized agribusiness, but we don’t have The Great Firewall of America.

    Anyway, there are numerous reasoned arguments for a welfare-free society.

    Yes, I have exposed myself to several, but they did not satisfy the criteria; mitigate the societal security concerns and speak to the average liberal. They need to bridge the divide.

    You already know what the liberals think is “limited government”. If you want them to really understand your definition, then the onus is on you (or whomever) to communicate it. Once both definitions are clearly understood by both parties it will be much less effort to find and exploit the common ground.

  70. Seward,
    They don’t want their citizens (at least the productive ones) to die en masse, because then they would be parasites without hosts. Essentially politics is the art of being a successful parasite.

  71. How to make a libertarian critique of the welfare state speak to the average liberal:
    “The welfare state is bad because it’s not funded well enough.”

    Oh, wait, that’s not a libertarian critique.
    Never mind, then.

  72. James Butler,

    Sure we have subsidized agribusiness, but we don’t have The Great Firewall of America.

    We have jundreds of thousands of people in prison for crimes that shouldn’t be crimes. Just because the U.S. isn’t the USSR of say the 1930s or even the 1970s doesn’t mean that we have a nominal welfare state.

    You already know what the liberals think is “limited government”.

    I have no clue what they think “limited government” in large measure because what liberals think government is competent at doing seems to grow larger by the decade.

  73. Seward,
    In all fairness, I don’t think the high incarceration rate can be attributed to the welfare state. Lots of other bad things, sure (like loud, obnoxious people who are sure that Obama’s election means they’ll never have to worry about paying for gas or mortgage again), but not the high incarceration rate.

  74. Seward,
    It’s better not to argue with liberals. If you win on one point, they’ll move the goalposts.

  75. I intend to rip on liberals constantly for the next four years, because we’ll have to deal with their bullshit for at least that long. At least it’ll be a change of pace. To tell the truth, I was getting a little tired of telling neocons to go fuck themselves.

  76. Nominal::Notnominal

    Not gonna cut it, if you’re serious about addressing the topic at hand.

    And I think you could suss out liberals’ “limited government” if you put your mind to it. There’s plenty of evidence.

    As for why libertarians need to be doing the heavy lifting if there is ever to be a narrowing of the rift, check out the poll results. 400,000 something votes, nationwide? Libertarians should be grateful they’re mentioned as a “party” at all. It’s not a big leap down to “cult” … no offense intended.

  77. “removing the party of torture and detention without trial from power”

    Calling the republicans the party of torture based on the reaction to 9-11 is an overreach. It is unknown how Gore would have behaved but whatever he did I am guessing people’s liberties would have been compromised. Consider some of the 20th century democratic presidents. What would Wilson have done? How about the beloved FDR, JFK and LBJ?

    As for respect for due process maybe some of you should head on over to durhamwonderland.blogspot.com to see how the liberals in my home town of Durham, NC treat due process.

  78. James Butler,
    I’d rather be right than be relevant
    (Apologies to Henry Clay, the proto-statist son of a bitch).

  79. And it’s great fun to watch liberal policies backfire. Of course, they’ll claim it’s because they need more liberalism and at some point I’ll probably get screwed over by it, but since there’s nothing I can do to stop it, I’ll might as well have a few laughs at your expense.

  80. another issue with “limited government for liberals” is that i don’t think liberals are just after some kind of minimal social safety net. i think there’s a good bit of the “fatal conceit” in liberalism, that government should have a role in shaping and planning the future, that i think is pretty incompatible with libertarianism.

  81. Hogan,
    Now where could you possibly get an idea like that?

  82. some book or something. and my education and career in urban planning, i suspect…

  83. I agree with Hogan.

    economist, why you hatin’?

  84. James Butler,
    How am I “hating”?

  85. Sorry, “hatin'”

  86. economist,

    My point was that if we merely had a nominal welfare state then that issue wouldn’t exist. But we have far more than a nominal welfare state, we have a very large welfare state tied to all manner of other government programs meant to control/coddle the population. In many ways each provides a justication for the other.

    James Butler,

    As for why libertarians need to be doing the heavy lifting if there is ever to be a narrowing of the rift, check out the poll results.

    There never will be a narrowing of the rift. That’s because in general the libertarian starts with the individual as the locus of measurement whereas in general the conservative and the liberal starts with the group. Indeed, methodological individualism is probably one of the bedrock notions of libertarianism, and I do not see it much practiced by liberals or conservatives.


  87. And I think you could suss out liberals’ “limited government” if you put your mind to it.

    Erm…ahh…

    It’s just not coming to me. No matter what small-government policy comes out of the liberal line of thought, it’s usually accompanied by their advocacy for mitigating risk at the expense of the taxpayer.

    For example: liberals want to end the War on Drugs…usually provided that we increase addiction treatment and social services. Oh, and that we tax the hell out of the drugs.

  88. It seems that libertarians are doomed to irrelevance. In politics, this sort of makes sense. After all, where else is the person who talks about scaling anything back a lot going to command a wide following?

  89. AO,
    Embrace the peace of the Obama.

  90. I’d like to point out that, even though the post-mortem isn’t finished yet, it looks like (from the numbers I have) that Barr potentially cost McCain Indiana and North Carolina. I’d say Missouri too, but Nader’s numbers cancel that out.

  91. Hogan,

    Oh, I think I could live with a minimal social safety net; then again, one could argue that government growth would never stop with just that.

  92. Embrace the peace of the Obama.

    I’ll change my handle to “The Peaceful, Converted Obamacon”.

    On a more serious note, I’m thinking about starting a Church of Obama and fleecing the stupid. Consider it my part to advancing Darwin.

  93. TAO,

    Do liberals want to end the WoD or do they wmerely want to fight it somewhat differently?

  94. We could have an opposite of the Mormon idea. If you hate yourself for being white, you can make yourself not white by joining. I’ll explain how I used to be really white, but when I embraced the Peace Of Obama, I became not white.

  95. Seward,
    It depends on the liberal.

  96. I am Lord Xenu XXV, prophet of the Great Obama.

  97. Seward –

    I see your point…I was just being generous! But, yes, they want to “battle” the WoD with treatment and ooshy-gooshy therapy, instead of just leaving people the hell alone.

    Without painting with too broad a brush, liberals want to legalize MJ (to satisfy their hippie buddies), but battle against tobacco. Or take the fight to (certain kinds) of food.

    As a matter of fact, we’ll have to call the liberal impulse to control food “The War on (Some) Food”.

  98. economist, callin’ implying that I’m a “liberal”.

  99. I love how libertarians talk about liberals becoming more centrist on economic issues as if would happen in a lab somewhere for them to observe. Maybe if libertarians started hanging out in democratic circles, democrats would move to the right on some things.

    Mathematically speaking, if libertarians called themselves liberal, American liberalism would instantly be further right. It may feel weird, and be weird, but it’s not like the current “strategy” is working.

  100. James Butler,
    Sorry, I’m a little drunk.

  101. can anyone refer me to a liberal blog comparable to h&r in the quality of its threads? i feel like i should spend some time at one in case i’m missing something.

  102. I’ll explain how I used to be really white, but when I embraced the Peace Of Obama, I became not white.

    I once was a free-marketer, but Obama laid his hands on me and instantly I realized that we’ve progressed beyond capitalism, to a new way of societal organization.

    The Prophet Obama didn’t tell me exactly what that new way is just yet. It’s expected to be released when the White House reveals “The Third Secret of Obamita”.

  103. .. erm … implicallin’ …

  104. AO,
    A liberal “war on food” wouldn’t be unprecedented. Look at FDR’s agricultural policies.

  105. I forgot to mention, the term liberaltarian has been around.

    Oh and arguing with religious people is the funnest thing ever. Most of them speak an entirely different language. Arguing economics with liberals? Shoot me (although the emotional appeals are similar to religion, it’s just not as fun to make fun of socialism as theology).

  106. AO,
    Blashphemy, to suggest that Obama is merely a prophet! It is known to all whose eyes have truly been opened that he is the messiah, the kwisatch haderach, the lightworker.

  107. Besides, only one of us can start his own church centered around Barack Obama. Who ever heard of multiple different churches organized around the same religious figure?

  108. I think that the Church of Obama has Chuck Norris viral-internet-joke potential.

    For example, every time I write “Barack Obama” maybe I’ll follow it with a (PBUH).

    Or, perhaps like the Jews where you can’t actually spell the name: “B*rack O*ama”.

  109. “B*rack O*ama”

    heh. plus you have to cross yourself whenever you say, type or think it.

  110. AO,
    What does PBUH stand for?

  111. I see that the wingnuts have retreated into their shells of denial. Have fun on your irelevance trip!

  112. Peace Be Upon Him

  113. CO,
    Normally, I would ignore you, but I have to say it:
    Go.
    Fuck.
    Yourself.

  114. going over the threads, Economist seems especiallly belligenrent today. Is he sad that his candidate lost? youknow the one who got all of 500,000 votes?

  115. concerned observer,

    Are you making an appeal to poularity?

  116. JB sez And I think you could suss out liberals’ “limited government” if you put your mind to it. There’s plenty of evidence.

    Just none you’re willing to share, right?

    I’ve seen more support from conservatives than from liberals for ending the WoD. And that isn’t near enough to actually end the farce. The only difference between a social-con and a liberal is that the former wants you to behave in order to please God while the latter wants you to behave in order to please Himself. You’re damn lucky to get either one to leave you the hell alone.

  117. Don’t worry about CO, folks. He’s just another troll (or the same one – I think he’s just Lefiti/Edward with a different name).

    What does PBUH stand for?

    As anonymous said, it’s “Peace Be Upon Him” and it’s usually appended after references to the Prophet Mohammed.

    I’ve decided that January 1st, 2009 shall be renamed January 1st, 1 A.O. (Anno Obamini).

  118. or perhaps Barackuary 1st, A.O. he can go niyazov style.

  119. Hey CO, are you still at war with Urkobold?? Wasn’t there some sort of litigation in the works against them?

  120. concerned observer | November 6, 2008, 12:12am | #
    going over the threads, Economist seems especiallly belligenrent today. Is he sad that his candidate lost? youknow the one who got all of 500,000 votes?

    Cheer up, economist. Election results only affect your life to the extent you let them. Well, not entirely true, I’ll be moving out of the compound soon, wouldn’t want to get immolated, with a Democratic president around and all of that, you can’t be too careful.

  121. Robert Goodman:
    You can break it down as a matter of what each side’s preferred vices are. For Republicans it’s alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. Also fried food. For Democrats it’s sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
    Everyone wants to regulate the other guy’s vices but keep their own.

  122. no time to read all these responses; must to bed and work. However …

    To the main point of the posting, it has been conveniently forgotten that WE were the original “liberals” — believing in civil liberties, non-intervention abroad and free markets. When populist/democratic socialist/etc. folks adopted the term, and then poisoned it perhaps forever (so that even THEY have now taken the term “progressive” into the toilet, having befouled “liberal” so completely), we had to take on the anarchist term “libertarian” (originally held by the Wobblies, among others).

    Second point: when you denigrate the left for challenging “private” concentration of power, and fail to identify such as the corporate, mercantilist, lobbyist-based atrocity that passes for “the private sector” (and has for generations now), you undermine the good work done by a lot of us libertarians who figured out about two decades or so back that the real avenues to expansion of the liberty movement lie with people whose natural inclinations are toward diversity, community, compassion and open heartedness — all we have to do is show them how CHOICE plays a role far more powerful than any compulsion, how leadership by example beats the crap out of orders and edicts and passing more laws.

  123. Someone tell Lindsay that while he is sick of quibbling over a 35% or 39% marginal tax rate, that the number is only likely to increase, drastically over time with both of the moronic monolithic monsters in power.

  124. “Lindsey coined the term “liberaltarians” for an imagined alliance meant to replace the decades-long, arduously-constructed “fusionist” alliance between libertarians and the right.”

    I’m all for it, but get rid of the name.

  125. Replying along the lines of “the government is not even close to limited” is the wrong approach because it simply isn’t true. Government could be a LOT less limited.

    Unfortunately, I think we’re about to find that out.

    Liberals don’t make, say, animal rights or opposition to genetically engineered foods central, non-negotiable platforms in the Democratic Party. Big difference there.

    But then we get to gun control, and my willingness to bend over comes to a screeching halt.

  126. “show them how choice plays a more powerful role than coercion”
    Tried it. Doesn’t work.

  127. @LarryA:
    Yeah, then you go back to the Republicans and get complete abolition of first and fourth amendment rights, and judging by California’s recent constitutional amendment, separation of church and state. Which is worse, really?

    That Republicans are somehow better about protecting essential rights is a joke. I can’t even decide what’s more terrifying: a completely disarmed population or a state that has the ability to kidnap and imprison you indefinitely on vague accusations based on information derived from torture.

    The only thing I can say is it’s a hell of a lot easier to simply disobey gun control laws than it is to disobey a law that says that you’re not allowed a writ of habeas corpus if the state has reason to believe you might be involved in ‘terrorism’.

  128. The writer should get informed. Liberals and Libertarians co-operate all the time.

    Go to the Liberal International and you’ll see a picture
    of Mises or Rand. Go to http://www.ERCPinellas.org for a local coalition.

    These articles are getting more superficial from people who don’t understand the movement. Journalists, get to work.

  129. ‘Indeed, he echoed Massey’s call for open empirical discussion of how large a welfare state would be effective, saying that countries like Sweden suggest that once nations are wealthy enough, they can “afford” welfare states. ” ‘

    The problem with the Swedish model is that few Americans who are clients of the welfare state are Swedes.

    Tens of thousands of years of long brutal winters constitute heavy selective pressure in favor of those who tend to plan ahead, defer gratification, set aside resources for the future, cooperate rather than defect during prisoners’ dilemmas, form lasting pair-bonds, invest heavily in caring for each child, and engage in abstract long-term thinking. That genetic heritage combined with the beneficial effects of a healthy culture (the “Protestant ethic”) is in a much better position to resist the initiative-sapping and culture-decaying aspects of the welfare state than peoples that have been shaped for tens of thousands of years in a radically different environment in which an entirely different set of attitudes, traits, and behaviors was more effective in spreading one’s genes.

  130. Libertarians want to government to leave them alone.
    Liberals want government to help their special interest.

    The only real common ground is stopping the Orwell-ian Christian Right policies of the Bush Administration.

  131. Wow,

    Shockingly, another article in Reason about the happy flower grove of liberalism and libertarianism.

    I love the new agenda, Reason! When should we get our Democratic Party registration cards? “Libertarians: Vote Democrat” would make a great new cover story. Admittedly, it’s redundant to the subtext of the past year’s articles, but hey, it’s less subtle, right? Slightly?

    Oh, what’s the point. Libertarianism is dead if we’re just cozy demo-bitches.

  132. A great article. As I’ve mention before, I’m working on designing the foundations for a new moderate-libertarian-left party.

    Some aspects that are both libertarian and progressive:
    – replace the income, payroll, property and sales taxes with a land value tax. (naturally progressive, taxes those who profit from scarcity of a limited natural resource. Endorsed by economists from Smith and Friedman to Marx, Keynes and Henry George. Pays for government protection.)

    – replace capital gains and corporate income taxes with a corporate value tax. (as the corporate entity is a protection of one’s personal wealth, the owners should pay for that protection. Corporate value is more efficient and fair than corporate income, and discouraging congolomeration is better for market competition and protects the economy from becoming anchored to an oligarchy of multinationals.)

    – zero taxation (besides land value) on non-incorporated proprietorships, partnerships and cooperatives (specifically to reward entrepreneurs who put their own wealth on the line for their businesses)

    – more corporate-veil-piercing to hold corporate criminals accountable for fraud and violations of rights and property. (corporations act irresponsibly because the individuals in them aren’t held accountable)

    – making both employer-provided and individually-purchased healthcare tax exempt.

    – localization (instead of automatic elimination) of federal programs. Transition extraconstitutional federal programs to states and local governments and let the citizens of each area determine what they want and what they don’t want.

    …etc.

    I want the party to be classically liberal: free market and progressive at the same time. It is possible to justify the two – many great thinkers and economists already have.

  133. @Nick Wilson

    Yeah, dude, That’ll totally work. No, seriously, what we need now is ANOTHER party with goals so unattractive and incomprehensible to the mainstream that we’re reduced to taking late night talking heads spots on Red Eye as the comic relief guest.

    Good thinking.

  134. push for the things liberals and libertarians are likely to agree on that are facing us now. Like medical marijuana for instance.

    Except they don’t agree on it. Anyone want to take bets on how far drug laws are rolled back under Obama/Democrat/Democrat White house/Senate/Congress control? Anyone?

    I mean, let’s put some stuff in perspective about the “horrors of ‘drugs'”. This morning on NPR, I heard a report about teenagers taking up smoking that had the exact same tone and tenor of any story about a teenager taking up hard drugs.

    I’m sorry, but I’m not realy seeing a rollback in the WoD with liberals. Certainly not with Democrats. What you put in your body is very much in their interest, and, in their opinion, should remain under the purview of government officials.

  135. Yeah, then you go back to the Republicans and get complete abolition of first and fourth amendment rights,

    And then we turn to the Dems and got… THE SAME THING! Neither party has been great on Civil Rights over the last few years. Yes, the Republicans are certainly worse in some key areas. But both parties have become “The Party of Government” and as such, hold individual rights in disdain. The Party of Government always wants to do what’s best for the group, but fears the individual.

  136. They used us to get elected again. Shocker o’shocker.

  137. From a libertarian lesser-of-two-evils analysis, the Democrats look better than the Republicans right now.

    On civil liberties and war, the Democrats at least talk a good game, even if they lacked the guts to do something about them in Congress.

    In the economic arena, despite libertarians long thinking that Republicans were on our side in the smaller government debate (the 35% vs. 39% tax rate), the D and R parties are virtually indistinguishable.

    In 2000, Gore threatened to increase federal spending by 8% per year. Bush threatened only a 6% annual increase, but increased spending by 8% per year anyway.

    So while crushing civil liberties, privacy, and the Constitution, and invading and occupying a nation that posed no threat to us, Bush stuck us with Gore-like spending too.

    I don’t expect much from Obama, but it can’t be much worse than what we’ve been getting.

  138. A few modest proposals for liberals who want to compromise with libertarians, thus solidifying their grip on federal power:

    1. Fully back the 2nd Amendment. Shouldn’t a woman be free to choose an effective means of self defense?

    2. Let young people opt out of Social Security when they enter the workforce. Shouldn’t young people be free to choose their own retirement plan?

    3. Cut government spending by 5% across the board, for starters. Thanks to Bush and the Republicans, Obama takes office with a federal budget 35% larger than Clinton had. Isn’t 30% larger more than enough?

    4. Means-test Social Security. If it’s really about keeping impoverished old people from eating dog food, why force the young working poor to subsidize seniors, no matter how wealthy they are?

  139. Craig,

    As one of the few admitted liberals who frequents this place, I’ll respond.

    1. The value of the 2nd amendment vis a vis liberty is nil in the 21st century. Unfortunately, the citizens will never be able to take up arms against this government and win. The amendment is not about people being able to protect themselves against hoodlums. Also, gun technology has advanced somewhat since the 18th century. I believe the 2nd amendment has to be rethought entirely. Liberals believe that unrestricted access to (especially powerful) guns is a huge threat to liberty.

    2. Social security isn’t a retirement plan, it’s a social insurance program, a wildly successful one at that. If we get rid of social security all it means is more old people in poverty.

    3. I like Obama’s “scalpel not a hatchet” approach to the budget, but agree that spending must be cut. Let’s start with the Pentagon.

    4. I agree with you here. I think the social security tax should be more progressive.

  140. Yeah, dude, That’ll totally work. No, seriously, what we need now is ANOTHER party with goals so unattractive and incomprehensible to the mainstream that we’re reduced to taking late night talking heads spots on Red Eye as the comic relief guest.

    I don’t think that’s true with anything I have proposed. Classical liberalism is “incomprehensible?”

    First of all, getting rid of the income tax was something mainstream Republicans fought for for years, as holding corporate criminals accountable for fraud and violation of property has been a Democratic goal.

    This new party would be distinctly different from the major parties but much more incrementalist and realistic than the third parties – targeting to the center who like ideas like school choice, to the right who like, in theory, less government involvement in the economy and to the left who strives for a meritocratic society. Localism can appeal to all sides by arguing that federal programs are less efficient and accountable than local solutions and that routing money through different levels of government is wasteful and should be ended.

    Neither party is representing the voices of small business, and while the Democrats cater to the poor and the working class, the economics of their policies tend to be counterproductive for those groups. As long as all policies are based on real-world economics, I have trouble figuring out what is unattractive or incomprehensible about it? Compared to two giant conglomerations of unrelated special interests who both want to expand government in their own corrupt ways, it seems it would be downright appealing to the majority of people sick of the two-party duopoly.

  141. “corporate value tax” vs. “no tax on non-corporate proprietorships”
    Define “corporate”. Are we referring to companies that sell shares to raise their startup capital, or to LLCs, or something else entirely?

  142. If all that libertarians give a shit about now is drug legalization, I guess I’m a conservative.

  143. Wow…reading that made me hate the left even more. Not only do they not favor liberty, but they basically insulted our intelligence. If raising the highest income tax bracket from 35% to 39% is not a big deal to them, why don’t they NOT DO IT and really try to get libertarians.

  144. Bucky,
    Because it is a big deal. They just saw that we put up with Republican abuse for a while and said “Gee, maybe we could pull off something similar”. I, however, have simply become bitter and cynical, and I say they can shove that common ground into their own assholes.

  145. Define “corporate.”

    Having filed articles of incorporation that protect the legal status and financial assets of the owners as distinct from the business. I think the details of what qualifies could be debated. However, by removing the personal income tax, sole proprietors and partnerships would owe no taxes on their business profits (i.e. they take all of the risk and make all of the profits.) They would pay the land value tax as would any other owner (or indirectly as a renter), but that be basically the only tax on them.

    However, I would also suggest zero taxation on corporate values below, say, $100,000 in order to spur small business startups without significant capital. Either way (incorporated or not), lower-income entrepreneurs have a chance to start a business with fewer government complications and burdens, which is in my opinion the easiest way to combat poverty.

  146. I just can’t let this one slip by: “the party of torture and detention without trial”. If that is a fair description of the Republicans then “”the party of torture and detention without trial and without anybody knowing about it” would be an accurate description of the Democrats. Let’s not forget which party gave us “Extraordinary Rendition” by order of Clinton. The policy of grabbing suspected terrorists and then dumping them into “friendly” countries to be “interrogated” so we could pretend we weren’t involved in “torture and detention without trial”. Bad enough that we would hold foreign nationals in prisons for indefinite periods of time but at least there is some recourse when we openly hold… but to secretly grab them and ferret them away to some third world prison for torture to we can publicly keep our hands clean is the Democrat alternative. Honestly, which is a more egregious violation of basic human rights?

    One way that might get the Republican’s attention might be to run a “dual party” candidate AND invite the Republicans to do the same, that is find Republicans who are willing to run for the Libertarian nomination at the same time as the Republican one. That approach might just push/pull the Republicans to a more Libertarian view point as they find candidates who appeal to both groups, with the knowledge that if the Republican nominee was also the Libertarian nominee they would only be on the ticket once with the support of both groups. Ron Paul might have been the man for it… someone like him next time might want to try this tactic… just a thought to kick around.

  147. “I agree because libertarians have such common ground with the stalinist Democratic Party such as pot and uh more pot. We’ll smoke all the pot we want as the country is swallowed up by socialism because I’m a useful idiot with no political sense and will gladly give up the principles of Liberty so long as I get to fuel my drug addiction.”

    This is what this article and most of the comments sound like to me. This is like a parody of the insane stalinist-libertarian alliance nonsense I hear. The Kadetists at Reason disgust me.

  148. The problem with liberals is the concept of “social justice.” That said, free markets are only the best allocators of goods and services under conditions approximating perfect competition. If those conditions do not arise, government faces the question of whether or not intervention will be worse than the current situation. I believe there is a solid argument for a minimal social saftey net based on the idea that if individuals, especially children, get screwed for situations beyond their control we will lose many potential productive members of society.
    Take education, society benefits from having educated members in addition to the benefits accrued to those who give and receive education. Thus private markets will underprovide education so there is some role for government to pay for the education of the poor and partially subsidize the education of others (not a virtual nationalization of k-12 though).
    Now liberals believe things like education are human rights and must be provided in the name of social justice. This thinking leads to a sense of entitlement and to the idea that government should provide this service to all members of society, regardless of whether or not they could privately afford it. When you give to those that could afford it you don’t serve any public good but merely redistribute wealth from the well off to the slightly less well off and greatly distort the market in the process. Those distortions are later played as “market failures” and used to then justify addition government grabs for power (with the best of intentions).
    As for social issues, liberal tolerance only extends to their slightly expanded view of acceptable behavior. Try being a Republican on a liberal arts campus. Liberals accept gays and some accept drugs, but most hate drugs, smoking ,fatty foods, guns, prostitution etc. I hate liberals even more because they pretend to be tolerant while claiming people only like guns and religion because they are bitter about their economic circumstance. I’m proud to be Christian, but I would not legislate my beliefs because doing so would deny others their free choice thus destroying any value of them making a moral decision.
    We should always try to work with liberals and convince them that our economic policies are better for the poor, however, I believe, especially after the loss of McCain, that we should take this chance to re-awaken fiscal conservatisim and convince the religious right that they can have moral values without legislating them. America’s young people today beleive in keeping what you earn, helping others, and are social moderates. Convince them that conservative economics are the best way to help others and they are libertarians. Unfortunately the drug issue will have to be taken slowly if Libertarians want a real chance simply because of all the anti-drug propaganda that we have grown up with.

  149. Let’s face it: There are center-left libertarians and center-right libertarians within the greater libertarian movement. Center-right libertarians tend to place more emphasis on issues of taxation and economic liberty over social issues and civil liberties, and tend to regard Republicans as the lesser-of-two evils to the point in some regions of not running a Libertarian candidate in a partisan race that has a Republican candidate that passes the libertarian litmus test on taxation and economics, even though the otherwise Theopublican might be in favor of overturning Roe vs. Wade, and be opposed to equal rights under the law for gays; opposed to the abolition of victimless crime laws, and not be opposed to the Demopublican interventionist foreign policy.

    Center-left libertarians on the other hand tend to regard the “Demosocialists” as the lesser of two evils and regard issues of individual rights and liberty not necessarily related to taxation and economics as just as an important priority as economic liberty.

    Based on my nearly 30 years of experience in the movement within the U.S., I’ve found that most center-right libertarians are former Republicans and that most center-left libertarians are former Democrats and leftists.

  150. justen.. i couldnt agree with you more. schizophrenic is such an appropriate term. where do i sign up? also, bob barr is a jackass

  151. justen –
    “I have a better solution: classic liberals should buck the Democrats and true conservatives should ditch the warmongering, ignorance-loving Republicans. We can all form up a real third party founded on civil liberties and free trade, if the Libertarians will only concede (or at least set aside for the sake of alliance) the most fringe of their ideals.

    As long as party loyalty and entrenchment guarantee the republocrats are running this government as a schizophrenic single party we will never make any progress except toward a bigger and more oppressive state.”

    TAKE NOTE REASON EDITORS or more appropriately REASON POSTERS

  152. TQ- “2. Social security isn’t a retirement plan, it’s a social insurance program, a wildly successful one at that. If we get rid of social security all it means is more old people in poverty.”

    Please research the history and purpose of Social Security, especially Flemming V. Nestor and Social Security and the Amish.

    http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=5776

  153. “Liberal” would be a far more fitting title for Libertarianism had Liberals not already stigmatized and contaminated the word, for contemporary Liberals are anything but liberal, or progressive

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