Taxes

Awful Things Most Liberals Don't Believe Anymore

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In a contribution to the larger "liberaltarian" debate, monetary economist Scott Sumner, who describes himself as a "pragmatic libertarian," offers an encouraging list of the sorts of things most standard American liberals used to believe, but don't any longer:

Let's review what liberals used to believe, before libertarians knocked some sense into them:

1.  In the US, they believed the prices of goods and services should be set by the government.  Ditto for wages.  This took the form of the NIRA in the 1930s.  It took the form of multiple industry regulatory agencies like the ICC and CAB.  By the late 1960s and early 1970s they favored "incomes policies" which were essentially across the board wage and price controls.  Today they generally favor letting the market set wages and prices.  Very liberal Massachusetts recently abolished all rent controls.

2.  In the US, they believed the government should control entry to new industries.  They have abandoned that belief in many industries, and based on recent posts by people like Matt Yglesias, are becoming increasingly disillusioned with remaining occupational restrictions.

3.  They favored 90% tax rates on the rich.  Today they favor rates closer to 50% on the rich.

4.  In most countries liberals thought government should own large corporations.  Today most liberals around the world think large enterprises should be privatized.  Over the next few decades there will be trillions of dollars in new privatizations, and very few nationalizations.

I used to say and write similar things when contemplating the victories of the libertarian movement, around when my book Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement, came out. The bailouts and the industry takeovers post-crisis made me a little less sure that certain of these victories were secure, and I'm still a little less optimistic than Sumner is that those bad ideas are dead. Still, encouraging to contemplate.

Sumner was part of our October 2009 roundtable on inflation.

NEXT: Wally Olson on The Great Egg Recall

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  1. So?

    We changed our minds. It’s not that we are less Liberal.

    1. you’re a bunch of waffles, and not the delicious kind either!

      1. Newspeak has a way of changing things, Alice.

      2. I’m so accustomed to the H&R commentariat making sexual references I don’t understand that I was trying to figure out what a “delicious waffle” would be in sex-speak.

        And then I realized you meant literal waffles.

        1. Don’t worry – with the talent we have on hand, “delicious waffle” will be sex-speak for something by the end of the day.

    2. I think you’re missing the bigger picture — the article is about how much libertarians can work with liberals to achieve a better, freer society. The “awful things” are things liberals used to hold that they’ve abandoned under the influence of libertarians — showing that, yes, libertarians can have positive influences on liberals and, yes, libertarians can work with liberals for positive results.

    3. i thought i was a liberal, with the major exception of gun control policies

      I think it’s patriotic to pay taxes. I dont want to pave my own roads. i dont want to depend on my neighbors to help extinguish a burning house. I say, taxation for respresentation.

      and as far as nationalization/privatization goes, i was never a fan of either one when it comes to “too big to fail companies”, nor trusts nor monopolies. i think we need to break them down and localize them like we did to Ma Bell. I think nearly everything should be more localized, and less centralized, for that matter.

      And I think to repair the market we need to stop trading in “complex securities”, and all derivatives for that matter, and only trade equitable shares, real estate and commodities – things with real, physical value beyond bits on drives and ink on paper. We need to convert from a “free market economy” (which is tragically misnomered) back to a consumer-driven economy, and hang all the investment bankers, ad-men and pr-men out to fuckin dry.
      So what does that make me?

    4. Good for you! You learned something.
      That’s always a good thing when people change their minds due to what they see in the real world. Not trying to be sarcastic or mean.

  2. T Boondoggle Pickens was on CNBC this morning bellowing about our dire need for a National Energy Policy (which, oddly enough, would directly benefit the windbagger). The rubes sat there nodding and drooling.

    1. On “Morning Squawk”? I’m surprised Joe Kernen didn’t rip Pickens a new wind hole. He’s been on a tear lately. The dude needs a higher profile.

      1. I think Joe Kernan’s a smart guy, and I usually find him on the correct side of an issue (especially when it comes to government intervention in the economy), but I find his presentation and interviewing style makes him less convincing.

        He doesn’t shy away from poking holes in guest’s arguments, but he does it in a semi-joking manner, using a “cranky old curmudgeon” persona, and people don’t seem to take him seriously.

        Among the supporting cast, Rick Santelli, who never hesitates to call it like he sees it, has become my CNBC hero. Watching him rant from the exchange floor in Chicago never fails to make my morning.

        That said, seeing Becky Quick usually makes my morning too.

  3. Define “most liberals”?
    1. Comparable worth, restricting executive pay and bonuses…

    2. In the US, they believed the government should control entry to new industries. They have abandoned that belief in many industries, and based on recent posts by people like Matt Yglesias, are becoming increasingly disillusioned with remaining occupational restrictions.

    Who besides Yglesias? And did any liberal openly agree with him?

    3. CLAWBACK!

    4. See TARP and other bailouts. Even some “conservatives” are in favor of government ownership.

    1. 1. I don’t think most liberals want the government to determine if pay is excessive. But the argument can be made that 1. Executive pay and bonuses for financiers was grossly inflated and should have been a sign of something wrong and 2. Once the government gets involved in an industry, distortions occur, and the big G has a vested interest to control those fluctuations. BTW, they never really ended up restricting pay/bonuses.

      2. Plenty of liberals agree with Yglesias. Check out the Economist blog Democracy in America. Hell, libertarians have been making the argument for years that these policies hurt the poor.

      3. When Sweden’s 2 prime minster candidates are campaigning for lower taxes, then obviously a paradigm shift has occurred.

      4. TARP, the bailouts, and GM weren’t nationalizations. GM is going to be sold back pretty soon, a fully private company. The reasons for all of these weren’t the normal socialist “the people should control machinery of production,” but more along the lines of “the need to stabilize the economy.” Regardless of the wisdom of these policies, they are clearly from a different breed of liberals.

      Yeah, liberals still have their #1 defining quality of thinking the government as a benevolent actor for progress. And they’ll always differ with libertarians on that ground. But you have to admit that libertarians won a lot of arguments and liberals noticed.

    2. SIV, on #2, see ICC.

  4. Never underestimate the deadly threat of zombie ideas.

  5. Is Pickens a liberal? Probably not. But he will happily ride piggyback on their undiminshed love of large scale government industrial policy.

  6. Can Lindsey and and Wilkinson take Doherty with them on the way out?

    And can it can anymore ridiculous that one off-the-cuff post by Matthew Yglesias about how he thinks barber regulation is cumbersome somehow becomes the ‘Rosetta Stone’ of bringing liberals to the libertarian flock. It’s unbelievable the amount of attention such a mundane observation has garnered. If Ezra Klein posts that the tax system is somewhat over-complicated, I fear it may kill a few ‘Liberaltarians’ from sheer excitement.

    A notable section of
    ‘libertarians’ have basically soaked up Left-liberal socially-based elitism. They don’t know how to realistically square that with core political views on limited government (and the practical reality of the bureaucratic Left), so we get long bromides putting the Left in the most charitable light while putting the Right in the most negative. We get it already.

    1. A notable section of ‘libertarians’ have basically soaked up Left-liberal socially-based elitism.

      See, also, “cosmotarians”. Easily identified whenever a split occurs within the libertarian community along social/cultural grounds – they are the ones who align with the lefty/elite/urban side of the split.

      1. Cosmotarian? Present and accounted for, sir.
        Yeah — I’m more aligned with the social/cultural left than the social/cultural right (on most things, not all).
        Why the fuck does that matter? I’ve never voted Dem, or Rep for that matter.

        1. It only matters if you spend your life making excuses for liberals and telling yourself how they will come around one day, which is what people like Brink Lindsey and Will Wilkerson spend their lives doing.

        2. Same here. I’m one of the most socially liberal individuals you’ll ever meet.

          1. But are you an elitist? Or are you actually socially liberal and believe people should live however they want to live even if it means they do things you don’t like? Most people who claim to be socially liberal are just elitists. The love freedom as long as people only use their freedom within the bounds of what they consider to be good taste.

            1. But I am an elitist.
              I believe most people are morons.
              I believe they should be free to live out their moronic lives in the best manner they can find.
              I believe that I (or anyone else) cannot compel them down a path that would lead them to more fulfillment or to a better society, and even if I could, I lack the moral standing to do so.
              This, I believe.

            2. The love freedom as long as people only use their freedom within the bounds of what they consider to be good taste.

              Like you, for example.

              You’re all for freedom unless someone wants to build tacky condos in a neighborhood of so-called historic homes.

              Then you grab a latte and jump in your Volvo and turn on NPR and scream about how that’s too much freedom.

              1. Only if there is a covenant. Read my other post. And you are all for using state coercion to make sure that every one lives by your code, no contracting or private civic institutions allowed.

                1. OK, that’s a little better, at least.

                  Of course, I do think that if you attempt to sell a piece of property in a manner which binds the purchaser and prevents their discretionary use and control of that property, then you haven’t really sold it at all but have merely leased it.

                  So if we want to continue to exploit the historical conventions of real property title to serve as an end-run around property rights, that’s fine – but I don’t think we should play along and acknowledge these ersatz “sales”. The seller should retain tax liability and insurance liability as the true owner of any property so bound.

              2. Like you, for example.

                You’re all for freedom unless someone wants to build tacky condos in a neighborhood of so-called historic homes.

                Or build a place of worship in lower Manhattan.

        3. I’m more aligned with the cultural left than ‘social conservatism’, but the difference is ‘Liberaltarinism’ is a chimerical ‘movement’ whose basis is cynical social maneuvering rather than any practical policy.

          I don’t object because I find it offensive politically, I object because I find it a snide, unserious, socially-aimed avenue for certain commentators. It’s ‘cosmopolitan’ not because the social views don’t line up with evangelical Christians, but because the goal is to fit into a comfortable, elite social circle by playing the false-flag Righty (See: Brooks, Frum, Sullivan, etc.)

          1. It’s socially aimed, but I’m not unsympathetic. It’s not necessarily about “elite” social circles. It’s pretty fucking hard to be a libertarian anywhere, and unfortunately, the liberals and progressives are more tolerable than the Christian fundies socially. So if you want to have any kind of fun, you’re pretty much forced to try to get along with the liberals.

            Ergo, you end up feeling compelled to confabulate and rationalize all sorts of reasons to believe that they are even slightly amenable to free-market thinking. When of course, they are NOT. Hating the free market is first principle #1 for them, even beyond gay marriage and civil rights.

            1. I find the Christians to be a hell of a lot more open minded than liberals, at least politically.

              1. …at least politically.

                Meaning what exactly?

              2. I find the Christians to be a hell of a lot more open minded than liberals, at least politically.

                I have found this to be true as well.

                You can get in a debate with Christians and conservatives. The left you have to agree with everything or they will hate you and take it personal.

                I am far more comfortable talking to conservatives about libertarianism then I am with members of the left.

                Also with Christians you can always pull the argument that poeple do not get into heaven by being forced. A christian requires temptation and must have faith through their own free will. If there is no freedom there is no free will and no faith.

              3. i agree…most christians are pretty open minded about the church being corrupt and most don’t take the bible very literally.

            2. Unfortunately, my social circles are laden with regressives and socialists. I once though I could rid myslef of liberals socially, but that would mean abandoning some very good friends solely because of their political views, which is a very urban liberal SOP.

              They just know better than to talk politics with me.

              1. That is how I am. I just don’t talk politics with them. Interestingly, I have family and friends from my younger days who are pretty serious Christians. And I disagree with them politically about a lot of things. Yet, we talk and disagree politically all the time. No way could I do that with my liberal friends.

            3. “and unfortunately, the liberals and progressives are more tolerable than the Christian fundies socially”

              I’m the very definition of a big city, condescending East Coaster who doesn’t think much of ‘social conservatives’. Yet, it’s bunk to assume that the Right is made up of fundamentals and the two Paul boys. There are plenty of right-centric folks who don’t share socially conservative views. Some of them used to be called ‘Libertarians’.

              And when I say ‘socially-based’, I really don’t mean so much ‘Moral opinions’ (Gay marriage, drug use, etc.). I mean the good ol’, plain vanilla ‘High School’ use of the term. Being popular with the cool crowd.

              I think you could see this a bit with the Weigel affair; the world of academics/wonks/journalists/elites is it’s own fishbowl. I live and work around DC/Georgetown, my wife is an arts professor involved with myriad cultural institution/events. Socially, your experience is a hell of a lot better if you lean to the Left. To me, that’s the lure that draws guys like Brooks, Frum, Lindsey, etc.

              I don’t lame them for that, people do what they wish. Just don’t sell me that a cynical, socially-based stance is ‘REAL SERIOUS POLITICAL CONCERN’. That’s downright offensive.

              1. My experience is that you can actually talk about issues and politics with conservatives without them turning into panty-wadding, hypersensitive twats with daddy issues. I mean, you can actually talk to them.

                I just default to screaming with liberals. It’s a learned time saver.

              2. The kind of bigorty that goes on on hit and run against the religious right is just amazing and funny at the same time. It is obvious the worst of the bigots have never actually been around or known anyone of the religious right. But they are still sure they know exactly what they are all like.

                1. The “religious right” keeps sending Ron Paul back to Congress.

                  Down in Dixie a hard-core libertarian is often a home-schooling,armed-to-the-teeth evangelical Christian.

                  My background is more urban and “libertine” but I learned long ago that a lot of super-fundies are a lot closer to anarchists than “theocratic” statists.

                  1. SIV,

                    Yes they are. And you have to understand that most evangelicals were mainline protestants before the 1960s. They or their families left the big protestant denominations because liberals took them over.

                    The people who use religion to justify the state are generally liberals not conservatives.

                    1. That is how I am. I just don’t talk politics with them. Interestingly, I have family and friends from my younger days who are pretty serious Christians. And I disagree with them politically about a lot of things. Yet, we talk and disagree politically all the time. No way could I do that with my liberal friends.

                      That too is true. It has also become more difficult to make and keep friends of the liberal persuasion because the shrill level and expectation of conformity has increased markedly.

                  2. ^^same^^ (except I dont live libertine as I wish :P)

                2. The kind of bigorty that goes on on hit and run against the religious right is just amazing and funny at the same time. It is obvious the worst of the bigots have never actually been around or known anyone of the religious right. But they are still sure they know exactly what they are all like.

                  Oh irony.

                3. John |8.25.10 @ 12:08PM|#

                  The kind of bigorty that goes on on hit and run against the religious right is just amazing and funny at the same time. It is obvious the worst of the bigots have never actually been around or known anyone of the religious right. But they are still sure they know exactly what they are all like.

                  Well, there is context for that. My reading of classical theology has taught me to never blasphemy on a small scale as that is picayune which is a sin against both heart and mind.

            4. the liberals and progressives are more tolerable than the Christian fundies socially

              Depends on what the conversation is about.

              1. They sure aren’t when it comes to politics.

                Many liberals are extremely bigoted and close-minded. I have had two people de-fried me on Facebook over politics…both liberals.

                Little minds and controlled markets.

      2. I guess that would make Lew Rockwell and Ron Paul cosmotarians given they sided with leftist elites on the mosque matter.

        [eyes be rolling]

        1. BTW, Dean, I like you and you are one of my favorite commentators here, but I don’t find cultural division between libertarians to be very constructive. We should be using our time more productively in devising ways to deal with America’s leftist problem which is a greatest problem at this time in the most humane way possible, building brick walls, making blindfolds and manufacturing bullets, training firing squads, that sort of thing.

          1. substitute ‘our’ for ‘a’, eh.

    2. They don’t know how to realistically square that with core political views on limited government (and the practical reality of the bureaucratic Left), so we get long bromides putting the Left in the most charitable light while putting the Right in the most negative.

      My leftward leaning friends have all consistently exhibited one tendency which, in my opinion, makes them great people. They are open to new ideas and having their minds changed in light of new evidence. Sadly I cannot say the same for anyone I’ve met from the social conservative side of the political spectrum.

      1. You’ve been talking to the wrong Christians.

      2. They are open to new ideas and having their minds changed in light of new evidence.

        If they still believe in AGW, the need for federal health care “reform”, the efficacy of the regulatory state, the absence of agency capture, the need for government stimulus to get the economy going, the beneficence of the Democratic Party, or any of the other lefty pieties and nostrums, than I would say that they are not open to new ideas and haven’t had their minds changed by new evidence.

        1. How about an oversimplified anecdote? I have had much greater success in arguing to my left-leaning friends the superior efficiencies of the free market in making health care affordable and accessible than I have in arguing in favor of gay marriage with the evangelical street preacher that helpfully informed me my soul would burn for all eternity for being a libertarian just last week. At least when my friends call me a pot smoking Republican they do so in jest.

          1. So your sample size is the liberal professional next door and some nut running around screaming at people on the street. Yeah, that is a fair sample. Do you honestly believe every right leaning Christian is like some nut screaming at people on the street? Are you really that ignorant?

            1. Did you read the first sentence? And the “nut screaming at people on the street” was from a minister from an outreach whose buses appear regularly throughout various parts of the city. Hardly a frothing-at-the-mouth lunatic even by my definition. And liberal professor? Seriously, my friends? Are you really that ignorant?

              1. Not professor, but professional. And yeah, some minister who does “outreach” and has buses all over the city is more than likely not going to be very mainstream. And you said

                “with the evangelical street preacher that helpfully informed me my soul would burn for all eternity for being a libertarian just last week.”

                And you honestly think that guy is typical an “evangelical street preacher”. If you honestly believe that you are just a bigot looking for people to confirm your biases.

              2. He said professional not professor. Wouldn’t you want him to be ignorant of your personal life?

                An outreach (whatever that is) with a fleet sure seems like a bunch of kooks. And it’s still funny that you don’t know any Wednesday and Sunday churchgoers, so you compare your friends to a guy on the corner.

        2. If they still believe in AGW,
          Didn’t know this one had been conclusively decided..
          the need for federal health care “reform”,
          The status quo was the best possible policy?
          the efficacy of the regulatory state,
          Meaningless claptrap…it is never about regulation for regulations sake.

          the absence of agency capture, the need for government stimulus to get the economy going,
          You have evidence one way or the other on this one? Show your work.

          the beneficence of the Democratic Party,
          Not sure who believes in this.

          or any of the other lefty pieties and nostrums, than I would say that they are not open to new ideas and haven’t had their minds changed by new evidence.

          Pot-kettle-kettle-pot

      3. They are open to new ideas and having their minds changed in light of new evidence. Sadly I cannot say the same for anyone I’ve met from the social conservative side of the political spectrum.

        You can’t change anyone’s mind about anything. It doesn’t matter what ideology they follow. But between the left and social conservatives at least i have found you can still have a debate with social conservatives.

        To be honest i think Christians like it. In debate they get to have their faith tested. They tend not to hate you. How can you when you by have brought them closer to their god.

        1. agree.

          It’s hard to change anybody’s mind about anything. It’s probably marginally easier to change a lefties mind about something. But Christians tend to not hate you for you ideas as much as often as lefties.

          1. at least the religous conservatives admit that faith(not reason or logic) is what guides them and they are proud of it, and sure the worst of the lot is willing to blindly support nuclear war on muslims because of their refusal to think things through too much…

            BUT the religous democrats actually think “science” is behind their beliefs and INSIST that all those who oppose their religon are “anti-science” and lacking of mental capacity.

            THAT THERE IS BATSHIT DELUSIONAL CRAZY

  7. “In the US, they believed the prices of goods and services should be set by the government.”

    Unless those goods and services are healthcare.

    “Ditto for wages.”

    Unless doing so ensures “fair wages” for women.

    “They have abandoned that belief in many industries, and based on recent posts by people like Matt Yglesias, are becoming increasingly disillusioned with remaining occupational restrictions.”

    First Yglesias is an idiot. Second, he said one fucking thing about barber licensing. Is he ready to go after the lawyer guild? Are liberals ready to go after the trade unions? If not, this is just boob bait for the boob libertarians who want to hang out with liberals.

    “They favored 90% tax rates on the rich. Today they favor rates closer to 50% on the rich.”

    Only if you think that federal income tax is the only tax anyone pays. Liberals want 50% for that and then a whole lot more for state and local taxes.

    “In most countries liberals thought government should own large corporations. Today most liberals around the world think large enterprises should be privatized.”

    Even if they don’t advocate outright ownership anymore, liberals still advocate government control in the form of regulation and government mandates.

    Sorry, liberals are still stupid and economically ignorant.

    1. He did like 5 posts on the subject. He went after the lawyers guild, the requirement for hygienists to be part of a dentist’s office and the overrequirement of doctors when a NP would suffice.

      But yes rail against people who try spread their ideas.

      http://yglesias.thinkprogress……-services/

      1. So he went after about 10% of the economy. And further, what the other dumb ass shit that he advocates? Color me unimpressed that two or three of his long dormant brain cells happened to fire that day.

        Also, I think he is figuring out that the economy is really in a no shit depression and his side is about to get blamed. I chalk that whole post up to Yglesias intellectually being a cornered rat claiming that he wasn’t really into government that much any way.

        1. Color me unimpressed that two or three of his long dormant brain cells happened to fire that day.

          Dude….relax. You have a left winger making libertarian arguments to deregulate. THIS……IS…….A…..GOOD…..THING.

      2. Does Yglesias still not support Obamacare? Does he still not support government mandated equal pay for women? Does he still not support government regulation and control of pretty much every sector of the economy? But he thinks barbers shouldn’t be licensed and maybe we should be able to see a nurse sometimes when the laws says a doctor is needed. Big fucking deal

        What is your deal with these fuckheads Mo? Seriously, what about Yglesias is worth defending?

        1. WTF is wrong with you? Did I defend his other positions? No. I merely pointed out that, contrary to your statement to the contrary, he’s been on an anti-licensing kick (which is worth defending). Frankly, that’s progress. He’s still way left of me and I disagree with him on most issues. But guess what, I read lots of people I disagree with, I like it when ideas spread and, unlike you, don’t care whether they listen to Johnny Cash or Arcade Fire.

          1. Mo, after recording four albums with Albini, plenty of lefties will listen to Johnny Cash. And for good reason – this is one of the few times I can honestly say a song performance gave me goosebumps.

            1. I think you mean the four albums (six if you count the posthumous albums) produced by Rick Rubin. Steve Albini has not, to my knowledge, produced a Johnny Cash record.

              1. Correct. Rick Rubin.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Steve_Albini‘s_recording_projects

          2. Yglesias is a moron.

            Good that he is slowly becoming less of a moron, but that isn’t much of a feat.

            He shouldn’t ever be cited as anything but an idiot until he makes a lot more progress.

  8. Piffle.
    Liberals still believe in all those things. And except for taxes, so do conservatives.

    Libertarian progress has only come from divided government when teams Red and Blue are screwing each other. When in power, they invite their friends to the public trough and hand out bigger buckets. When out of power, they poke holes in the other guys buckets.

    1. Conservatives believe in public ownership of corporations and wage and price controls? Really?

      1. I think you have a Nixon shaped stain on your tie.

        1. Nixon was a conservative? That will be news to most conservatives. And in case you missed it, he has been out of office for 36 years now.

        2. You should have a Republicans does not equal Conservative stain on yours.

          1. That kinda ruins some of the TEAM RED stuff if you can’t call Nixon,Schwarzenegger, David Brooks, the Bushes, Lindsey Graham, Trent Lott, Orin Hatch et al “conservatives”.

          1. Not really. He rose to the bait splendidly. Score.

            1. No, you just said something utterly stupid. Nixon wasn’t a conservative. He passed the clean water act, created the EPA and EEOC and implemented wage and price controls. There is nothing conservative about that.

              Only dumb fucks like you who think that every Republican is a conservative and who think the world began in 1980 and don’t understand that there used to be tons of liberal Republicans (good Rockefeller Republican sometime) would think the Nixon was a conservative.

              It is only a score for bringing the stupid.

              1. Nixon was the Republican Clinton.

                “Arrrrooooooo!”

                1. In many ways.

              2. Ah. So who are the real conservatives within today’s Republican Party?

                1. Jim DeMint, Michelle Bachmann, …

              3. By that logic, Jimmy Carter isn’t a liberal because he deregulated airlines, trucking and beer and reinstating registration for the draft

                1. Jimmy really wasn’t that liberal. He was a pretty conservative guy. He was the most openly evangelical President in my life time. He was also a total moral scold.

                  He continued the failed policies of the Nixon and Ford Administration that gave us stagflation. That is true. But people forget how radical Reagan’s economic policies were considered in the late 1970s.

                  Other than his whinny human rights first foreign policy, there really wasn’t that much that was liberal about Jimmy Carter. Why do you think Ted Kennedy challenged him for the Democratic nomination?

                2. Reinstating draft registration IS liberal policy. As I’m sure you’re aware.

      2. well as Bush said if it is needed to save capitalism…then yes.

  9. That Yglesias guy might be on the outs from the tone of his posters. Lots of insults about dating Cato staffers and turning libertine.

    Also this:

    Econ 101 seems to be a very popular class for Libertarians. In fact, it seems to be the only class for Libertarians ? they try to apply it to everything, and they never bother taking the advanced classes that show you what’s wrong with Econ 101.

    Okay, so what’s wrong with Econ 101?

    The problem is that (a) you apparently never went on to take Macro 301, which even at a conservative school will acknowledge many of the problems and failures of the simple “perfect competition; markets are always Pareto optimal; Pareto optimality generates best social outcome” foundation underlying 101. And you pretty clearly have not taken Micro 401 or 501, nor Political Economy xxx

    Odd, I thought the entire economics field was known as ‘political economy’ and thus subjective bullshit.

    1. I took all of those classes. And micro 101 still offers the most usable explanation of human behavior. Macro economics is interesting and makes some good points about how markets can and do sometimes get out of whack. But what liberals fail to understand is that when markets are left to their own devices they don’t stay out of whack that long and that in the real world the number one cause for putting markets out of whack is the government.

      1. People respond to incentives, everything else is commentary (a stolen quote).

        What libertarians occasionally fail to understand is that businesses like free markets for everyone but themselves. Monopolies are far more profitable… so a profit seeking firm will naturally seek a monopoly (or or duopoly or oligopoly) when given the chance. To this end, they will use institutions, laws, etc., to gain an advantage. How does a society keep markets free and open when some (perhaps all) have an interest in distorting them?

        1. You have a limited government. And monopolies and cartels never last. People either come up with alternatives to the product or someone new enters the field or the members of the cartel act in their own interest and start cheating. Monopolies and cartels are generally a boogieman. The only way they can last is by using the force of government.

          1. The only way they can last is by using the force of government.

            Or by responding as if there were competition – e.g., keeping pricing down, aggressively looking for cost savings, etc.

            I once wanted to write a book about how every single one of the government’s major antitrust cases would have been settles by the free market had the government not gotten involved. Too bad I’m lazy.

            1. I had the same idea. And am just as lazy. Remember the microsoft case? All the money was going to be in browsers and that was why microsoft had to be stopped. Meanwhile, at the very time that the government was running down that rat hole, people were inventing Youtube, facebook and search engines and rendering microsoft’s monopoly pretty damned meaningless.

              1. DARPA invented all that stuff.

            2. major antitrust cases would have been settles by the free market

              I still have no idea what the Microsoft antitrust case solved.

              It sure did not break up Microsoft and had far less of an effect then Firefox, Google or iphones have.

            3. BakedPenguin|8.25.10 @ 12:25PM|#

              The only way they can last is by using the force of government.

              Or by responding as if there were competition – e.g., keeping pricing down, aggressively looking for cost savings, etc.

              Well, they can use their own force and violence to keep competition out…see Mexico.

              1. I’m supposing you are referring to drug gangs

                You do realize that they operate under government enforced prohibition, right?

                1. Sam,
                  Sure, but within that context they use violence to enforce/gain a monopoly. Leveraging the government to do the violence for you is not the only choice.

        2. How does a society keep markets free and open when some (perhaps all) have an interest in distorting them?

          By not having a gummint that can hand out favors to them like samples from crack dealers?

        3. What libertarians occasionally fail to understand is that businesses like free markets for everyone but themselves.

          Huh?

          For at least the 4 to 5 years i have been reading reason hit and run there has a been a constant stream of libertarians both from the columnists and the comments making that very point.

          you are beating a straw-man.

        4. I dunno, but arguing about how to get economic freedom means you’ve already accepted that economic freedom is a desirable goal.

        5. What libertarians occasionally fail to understand is that businesses like free markets for everyone but themselves.

          Citation?

          It has long been observed in libertarian circles that the two greatest opponents of free markets are the left, and business.

          1. Which isn’t really a shock to anyone who isn’t an idiot. It should be as self-evident as pointing out that the two greatest opponents of freedom of religion are militant secularists and organized religions.

    2. Just because the market finds a suboptimal solution, doesn’t mean the government can find the optimal solution.

      1. Even less likely when the people in Government are unlikely to find their own asses with both hands, a map, and a flashlight.

    3. Macro 301, etc. won’t do you a damn bit of good unless you understand Econ 101, you ignorant leftist tool.

      1. I keep telling the missus that “everything is economics,” being that everything has a price point that you are either willing or unwilling to pay, in any form of value. She doesn’t roll her eyes as much, since she has yet to find an exception.

        Oh wait, did I just mansplain that?

    4. Is there some sort of universal economics numbering system the kids are using with their facebooks and picture phones?

  10. Shorter Sumner:

    Liberals have become more corporatist, favoring indirect control on entry to businesses via overwhelming regulation, and shared ownership and control of corporations via tax, regulation, and revolving doors.

    They are still top-down Total Statists. They have just figured out that they can make more money for themselves as corporatist/fascist statists, rather than outright socialists.

    1. In other words, they are more Whole Foods statists rather than Communist Party statists.

      1. Considering what Mackey had to go through recently with his rent of the orthodoxy over socialized medicine, I would never saddle Whole Foods with such a slur ever again.

        Its customer base may largely be certified epistemological enema bags, but Mackey at least walks the walk. My hat is very off to him.

      2. Statists still suck, Jose. Evil is evil.

    2. And it also gives them the additional political benefit of blaming those same rapacious pirates in neckties when the whole shebang blows up.

    3. Even liberals have had to accept that only markets work in the production and distribution of goods and services.

      What they haven’t admitted is that ownership includes control of what is owned.

  11. Liberals still believe in taking guns from people. They still believe the government can protect us from ourselves. They still believe in using the power of the state to interfere with individual choice, all in the name of “our own good.” They still believe government can end poverty. They still believe corporations are basically bad while gov’t agencies are basically good. They still believe that they are right and that only really mean people don’t agree with them.

    1. That’s more fantasy than the entire LOTR series.

    2. That describes most of the liberals I know.

  12. I don’t think they have changesd as much on #1 and #4.

    For one thing, Obama nationalized GM and Chrysler, and they don’t seem opposed at all.

    And secondly, they certainly favor wage and price controls in the health cdare sector. It’s the only way to control costs with “universal” care.

  13. I’m surprised Joe Kernen didn’t rip Pickens a new wind hole.

    No Kernen today.

    I’m getting to the point I cannot even stand to watch CNBC anymore. Mark Whatsisname is getting stupider and more obnoxious every day. And he’s had that nattering Limey shithead keeping him company this week.

  14. Liberals don’t believe there is anything wrong with the torture any more.

  15. 1) National Healthcare isn’t a government mandated price heavily supported by liberals.

    2)Financial reform barriers in the new legislation seem to be supported, along with supporting large US automakers GM and Chrysler which act as barriers to new automakers entering the market.

    3) They favor 50% because 90% combined with the more recent ability and willingness to just up and leave makes 90% taxes unrealistic. They are just lowering their maximum per the exogenous variables, not because they changed their minds.

    4)Across the world maybe. In the US the government now owns large swaths like the auto industry, housing lending and healthcare.

    I don’t know what the writer is smoking, but I want the hook-up. Cause that is some good shit.

    1. In a crisis, people think you have to do something. Not sure the last year is the best one to look at to see how liberals have changed over the last 20 years. These all set really bad precedents though. Actually we had the same things in the 80’s with the Chrysler bailout and the S&L crisis just on a smaller scale.

  16. Does thinking “I couldn’t give a fuck less what you do” (as long as it does not negatively affect me, of course) make me a Cosmotarian?

    1. No. You have to not give a fuck but also slyly believe those doing what they want, but which you don’t agree with, are stupid.

    2. Perhaps
      depends how you define “negatively affect me”

      We need to clarify the definitions of small “c” and large “C” cosmotarian while we’re at it ;^)

    3. Cosmotarians think that the Federal Reserve is a good idea…and most will support any war if the Democrats support it too.

  17. Princess Bride redux –

    Liberals only THINK that we think that they don’t think the way we think they think any more.

    1. That’s what you WANT to think …

  18. Does thinking “I couldn’t give a fuck less what you do” (as long as it does not negatively affect me, of course) make me a Cosmotarian?

    Depeds on how you define “does not negatively affect me”. If you have a broad definition that encompasses the sort of social/cultural things that lefty urban elites find offensive, then yes, you are a cosmo.

  19. “conservative” versus “liberal” is rapidly becoming more like a pro football game — people rooting for a particular uniform, regardless of who’s wearing it.

    Liberty vs. statism is the only relevant political debate, as far as I’m concerned.

  20. Liberty vs. statism is the only relevant political debate, as far as I’m concerned.

    THEM vs me.

  21. Can we stop calling them liberals.

    They are left wingers.

    I am a liberal.

  22. 1. In the US, they believed the prices of goods and services should be set by the government. Ditto for wages.

    Uhh, yeah no, they still believe that. They just use more complicated methods to drive those policies.

    Same for the other three. They believe in all that stuff, nothing has changed except that they obfuscate it in high-falutin’ byzantine economic policies that make it look all economic-ey and stuff.

  23. You can get in a debate with Christians and conservatives. The left you have to agree with everything or they will hate you and take it personal.

    The nice thing about sitting in the center, I don’t have a stake in painting one-side as better or worse than the other in these kinds of discussions. I don’t see the “they will hate you and take it personal” trait being a characteristic of either “left” or “right.” It is more a function of how self-assured they are…how convinced they are correct that engenders that reaction. It also tends to accompany a world view that sees things as black & white rather than shades of gray. Trouble with nuance and complexity seems more correlated with difficulty debating than a left or right tilt.

    Indeed, I see it happening here at H&R just as frequently as anywhere else. Libertarians that are convinced they have found the true path and see it as a black and white choice of the “correct world view” will frequently take it personally when you question their basic assumptions. Others, who recognize that the issues are complex, will have a discussion with you.

    1. Indeed, I see it happening here at H&R just as frequently as anywhere else.

      We are libertarians…no one gives a shit about us and we make up less then 5% of the population.

      yes here if you are not a libertarian you will be treated like shit. We have a club mentality here. It is a blog for a libertarians

      Out in the real world I would treat you far differently then I do here.

      On the same token if i was in a church and started talking about gay marriage i expect to not be treated nicely or if i was at some left wing function talking about free markets ditto.

      When i wrote “You can get in a debate with Christians and conservatives. The left you have to agree with everything or they will hate you and take it personal.” I meant on neutral ground.

      Perhaps the left think they own everything so in their minds there is no neutral ground.

      Also i am speaking from experience. So it is anecdotal, take it with a grain of salt.

      1. I meant on neutral ground.

        Perhaps the left think they own everything so in their minds there is no neutral ground.

        Also i am speaking from experience. So it is anecdotal, take it with a grain of salt.

        Well, I think everyone anchors their view on this kinds of things to their own perspective. So, for instance, if one self-identifies as “conservative” there is a much greater tendency to see opposing views as both “liberal/progressive” and “incorrect” and to take offense to any suggesting that the “conservative” view is incorrect. Same thing for self-identified “liberal/progressive” or “libertarian” or whatever. And this reaction is going to be stronger the more strongly the individual identifies with the particular philosophy.

        So when you, for instance, identify “the left” as “thinking they own everything” you are identifying the position that is most “anti-libertarian” and this position is the one that is most likely to lead to an unproductive discussion.

    2. “the center”

      PUKE. “The center” is wrong on nearly everything.

      1. To a degree…and, of course, also right on everything, to a degree.

  24. Most people who claim to be socially liberal are just elitists.

    Fixed.

  25. Make no mistake, most “liberals” are full-on Communists who just happen to know that’s a losing argument.

    50% taxes on the rich? Please!! Do you think leftists in Denmark think…”well, looks like we got our 50% tax rate, I guess we can all go home.”

    Hell no! They’re in the streets protesting for higher taxes.

    The one thing the left gets that I wish Libertarians would get is that things happen in steps.

  26. “The problem is that (a) you apparently never went on to take Macro 301, which even at a conservative school will acknowledge many of the problems and failures of the simple “perfect competition; markets are always Pareto optimal; Pareto optimality generates best social outcome” foundation underlying 101. And you pretty clearly have not taken Micro 401 or 501, nor Political Economy xxx”

    This line of thought is so fucking tiresome. It’s just more blabber about “asymmetrical information” and “externalities”, which is all just rehashed Marxist criticisms, minus the heavy rhetoric, and has been either debunked or absorbed into the bigger picture so many times it’s not worth responding to.

    It’s like an engineer building a bridge using Newtonian Mechanics, and some dipshit comes along talking about “hey, that shit is all outdated, haven’t don’t you know anything about QM and Relativity?”, as if any of that is practically relevant at all.

    1. ^this

      That sort of empty oneupmanship from the left was common and just as vapid when Obama was elected and they were buzzing with euphoria, now after a year and a half years (two counting TARP, two and half counting the 400 billion reinvestment act) of muscular, activist central planning, it is a crusty old turd that just needs one fell wind to swoop it on to the dustbin of history.

  27. Liberals are ignorant fools.

  28. Still, encouraging to contemplate.

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