Stossel on What It Means to be a Libertarian


Last night on Fox Business, John Stossel pulled together a great panel of folks to discuss what it means to be a libertarian. Among the congregated were The Cato Institute's David Boaz, Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, syndicated columnist Deroy Murdock, and's Wendy McElroy. Also holding court were the incomparable Judge Andrew Napolitano and P.J. O'Rourke.

The topics covered ranged from economic regulation to lifestyle issues to wars against drugs and terrorists (two very different groups!). Kudos to the Stossel squad for bringing together principled voices that also represented divergent perspectives.

It's good clean fun and will help clear up any confusion in readers and viewers who are struggling with impure thoughts toward maximizing freedom and liberty for all.

Watch big chunks of the show at the Fox Business channel site here.

And read Stossel's syndicated col right here at every Thursday. His latest, from yesterday, discussed just what the hell it means to be a libertarian.

NEXT: Brace Yourself

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  1. You should have had Beck on the show just to say, “And here’s what someone who isn’t a libertarian may look like.”

    1. Charity, Goodness, Faith.
      That’s all you need.

      1. What about two turntables and a microphone?

  2. Were they all wearing top hats and monocles? Were they starving brown children and smoking dope while voting Republican? Were they really just anarchists? If not, they weren’t libertarian.

    1. Thumbs Up!

  3. I hope the panel explicitly denounced slavery.

    1. It isn’t enough! Reparations!

  4. Deroy Murdock?

    Were Rudy Giuliani and Dick Cheney unavailable to explain the virtue of unbridled freedom?

  5. Focusing on the poor, as Stossel’s article did, is a losing argument (politically) and beside the point. It’s the dead weight loss that government inflicts that makes the society as a whole poorer – wealthy and less so alike. It’s also the inherent violence — or threat of violence — implicit in a system underpinned by confiscation. It’s these and others that are good arguments for libertarianism, not really how it affects the poor.

    A better approach might be a “soft” libertarianism in which markets were free to work, but with a modestly sized government whose focus was defense, communicable disease control, and, yes, a basic support system for the worst off. The tremendous benefits of deregulation would easily afford the costs associated with a safety net.

    1. BTW the net is mostly to make the rest of it more politically possible.

      As for disease control, I had plenty of polio victims in school when I was a kid. Big fan of vaccination.

    2. Splitter!

    3. …a modestly sized government

      How do you keep it that way?

      1. Simple: pass a balanced budget amendment. Do you think the public will be able to support a government any larger than, say, 40% of GDP?

  6. Caught the tail end of this. Judge Napolitano was in top form, smackin down both teams Blue and Red.
    We can complain about Stossel’s watered down libertarianism, but at least the message is being heardby a wider audience.
    Up until now there’s never been anything like this on TV.
    There was an insightful segement where he quized some random people on the street if they knew the meaning of the term ‘libertarian’. Obviously there may have been some …. selecting which to air, but none had a clue.
    Hopefully his show will do it’s part to change that.

    1. Agree strongly with DaliJr. It’s far more important to get any version of our message out there than to quibble about ideological correctness.

    2. I hope that “wider audience” tuned in AFTER the clip of Beck claiming to be libertarian. That would have turned off many immediately.

      The Judge was strong, as was the woman from iFeminist and the economist from Harvard, and of course Boaz.

      While the overall presentation lacked much depth, I agree that exposure to a wider audience is good, if that exposure results in people doing some research.

  7. In other news Jesse Ventura is going to substitute for Larry King tonight.

    He’s interviewing Ron Paul.

    1. One step forward, two steps back.

  8. I gave the show three and a half mustaches out of 5.

  9. It’s also the inherent violence — or threat of violence — implicit in a system underpinned by confiscation.

    This is the main idea right here. A lot of right-thinking people point out – with a straight face – that “it’s volunatary.”


    1. This was supposed to be a reply to Khan. Oh well.

    2. Voluntary or not, it’s the definition of a state to have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. In what fantasy world do you live where people do not impose on others’ rights without coercion from the state preventing it?

      1. In the ‘real’ world we live in Tony, the state you worship more often than not uses it’s monopoly ILLEGITIMATELY, and it’s hardly a monopoly. Either you’ve never heard of, or reject the Castle Doctrine.

      2. Voluntary or not, it’s the definition of a state to have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.

        So, on planet Tony, no one is allowed to defend themselves.

        Don’t you mean the state has a monopoly on the initiation of force?

        1. Tony must live in Canada.

          1. Or an insomniac from the UK.

        2. I’m sure that Tony will be the first to claim that by your very state of being, you consent to be governed.

          But in the same breath, he would condemn any institution that would profit from exploiting his personal information without express consent.

        3. People are allowed to defend themselves with force… with permission granted by the state. Private security guards can use force… with the permission of the state.

          1. Nope. You have it exactly backwards. The people retain the right to defend themselves. An inquiry is held into the circumstances of that defense, and if justified, the state is barred from prosecuting them. At least that’s how the law works down here. Wherever you live it may be different.

            More broadly, the state doesn’t grant me permission to do shit. I, in concert with my friends and neighbors, have agreed what the state shall be permitted to do. It doesn’t work the other way around. The state can only forbid, it cannot permit. Whatever is not forbidden is allowed and no permission is required.

          2. Funny, I thought defending my life was a natural right. Jesus fuck, Tony, what did your ancestors do, before the state told them what they were allowed to do?

  10. Stossel is a good honest and intelligent man, so rare to find in the media these days.

  11. Libertarianism means never having to say you’re sorry.

    1. I thought that’s what Pro Libertate meant.

      1. It means professional who liberates people named Tate. It’s an obscure specialty.

    2. …which makes libertarianism almost, but not quite, entirely unlike marriage.

  12. Street interview scene, take one:

    Interviewer: “Excuse me, Sir, can you tell me what libertarianism means?”

    Man on Street: “LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!”

    1. I’m curious: How many reacted just like that and more so, did any actually had a clue.

      1. Crap … epic fail on teh ‘snark o meter’.

  13. I liked Ms McElroy, the Harvard economist,and of course the Judge.

    Who says we have to have an army and navy! And who says we have to pay for it with taxes?

  14. Just a couple of days ago, I was wondering if there are any of my city’s ordinances that are really vital. I don’t know. Since we can’t deregulate ourselves from state and federal laws, if we reverted everything back to just those, would we be somehow “under-regulated”? I’m guessing the suffering would be relatively minor, and the liberty would increase dramatically.

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