Libertarian History/Philosophy

Pundits From Our World and an Alternate Dimension Look at Libertarianism, Like and Loathe

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Ross Douthat at the New York Times admits that while too much libertarianism would be too much, a little more than we got could be just right.

Meanwhile Ezra Klein at the Washington Post reports from an alternate universe apparently without loose Federal Reserve monetary policy, revolving doors between big finance and big government, and a history of "too big to fail bailouts." And in a further sci-fi twist that really starts to get a bit much, it's simultaneously a world where the government doesn't spend half of health care dollars, doesn't shape the costs or extent of insurance coverage with its tax laws and regulations, doesn't artificially limit the number of people who can sell medical services, and where people buying health care know or even have any way of knowing the costs of what they are paying for beforehand.

From that world, he blames libertarianism for the financial crisis and out of control health care costs.

Klein does know–mentions it four times in about 800 words–that rich people and their influence are benefiting from and pushing libertarian ideas in that world, and I suppose this one as well. I feel for him: If only, if only, there were any power and money pushing the idea that government should spend more and do more. Well, that could make an interesting little sci-fi story in and of itself, I guess.

NEXT: "No one ever accused Waxman of having a light touch"

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  1. Klein knows that this country started out a totalitarian regime, with all enterprise centrally planned (if anyone could decipher the 100-plus-year-old Constitution, this would be provable). It’s what built America at its height into a prosperous nation. The billionaire libertarians have been effectively chipping away at that well-ordered machine for years, until we’re left with the hollowed shell of a regulatory state that we now see in smoking ruin before us.

    1. **standing ovation**

      Fist, that was an absolutely BRILLIANT synopsis of the column. Well done!

      **continued standing O**

      1. What Almanian said!

    2. You just don’t understand. Freedom is dangerous in the wrong hands. It’s probably better to just do without it.

      1. I tried to explain that to you people decades ago, and what did I get?

  2. “From that world, he blames libertarianism for the financial crisis…”

    There’s a concerted effort from weak-minded people everywhere to blame everyone for the bailouts–except the politicians who voted for them.

    Just for the record (and my own sanity), there’s this thing called the economic cycle. …and the smartest, most well educated, best motivated people in the world can’t call the tops or bottoms of it…

    The downturns come like a thief in the night, and there isn’t anything anyone can do or has done to stop them from coming after us again.

    All they’ve done is make it that much harder to work our way out of future downturns. …but insha’Allah, the downturns will happen again.

    And a sure as the sunrise, willfully ignorant people like Klein will blame libertarians for those too.

    1. This is absolutely false. Everything about the financial crisis was foreseen. The issues just went unaddressed.

      1. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

        1. Oh, so you’re saying there weren’t people in government and in banks warning about a housing bubble, risks associated with mortgage-backed securities, and faulty credit ratings? Is that what you’re saying?

          1. “Everything about the financial crisis was foreseen.” /= “people in government and in banks warning about a housing bubble, risks associated with mortgage-backed securities, and faulty credit ratings?”

            People also said the body would be found near a body of water; what are YOU saying?

          2. You do of course realize that the people in government who were doing the most warning were in the Bush administration, and the people who refused to listen and instead pushed more and more mortgages out the financial industry’s doors were Christopher Dodd and Barney Frank. Right?

            If so, I admire your giving credit to Bush. It’s one of the rare things he tried to do right.

            1. Bush pumped up the housing bubble with his $10,000 downpayment gifts for low-income homebuyers —

              http://archives.hud.gov/news/2003/pr03-140.cfm

              his refusal to reign in the GSE’s (killing HR 1461), and his relaxation of banking’s Net Capital Rule which subsequently allowed 40/50-1 leverage.

              1. “Bush pumped up the housing bubble”

                Yep, one more statist (see Clinton):
                “The National Homeownership Strategy began in 1994 when Clinton directed HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros to come up with a plan, and Cisneros convened what HUD called a “historic meeting” of private and public housing-industry organizations in August 1994.”
                http://www.businessweek.com/th…..drive.html

              2. Karl Rove may not be the best messenger, but he summarizes the battle between the administration and Congress over GSEs pretty well.

          3. “This is absolutely false. Everything about the financial crisis was foreseen. The issues just went unaddressed.”

            You want to explain to me why Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns bought the loan portfolios of subprime lenders like New Century out of bankruptcy court in July-August of 2007?

            …that was a year before the big collapses of 2008. In fact, it was those purchases of subprime assets out of those subprime lender’s bankruptcies that put Lehman and Bear Stearns out of business–that was what ignited the crisis in July of 2008, AIG and everything else!

            They were trading on their own accounts, Tony.

            …and that isn’t my opinion. That isn’t anybody’s ideology–that’s a fact.

            Anybody who thinks there’s a secret cadre of Wall Street professionals who can somehow time the market–and just won’t tell the rest of us how they do it? Is somebody that doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

            Timing the market is a joke. Credit gets looser toward the top of cycles and tightens after the top–but nobody knows where the tops are. We could fall off the edge again next week.

            Regulation hasn’t and never will make the tops any easier to spot either. The future is uncertain. It always has been, and it always will be–and nothing anybody’s done since July of 2008 has changed that equation one bit.

            1. It certainly isn’t the fault of libertarians that the future is uncertain.

              It certainly isn’t the fault of libertarians that credit expands as the economy grows.

              1. Dammit Ken! I like being viewed as a shadowy elite! I like for people to think I wear a top hat and monocle and attend meetings to decide peoples fates while sipping fine cognac. Don’t take that away from me!

                1. You’d think people (especially young people) would be afraid those jobs would go overseas–there isn’t a rule anywhere that says the financial capital of the world has to be New York. It could just as easily be Singapore, London or somewhere else. ..and those are high paying jobs.

                  But it isn’t easy work, sitting around all day rubbing their greedy little hands together with a big greedy smile. …eating their greedy food, workin’ in their greedy office, living in their greedy house, counting all their greedy money!

                  The Wall Street Bad Guy will be one of the last stereotypes to die–if it ever dies. People love to hate Wall Street. …and of course, there’s no better way to formulate public policy–than to base it on class envy! What could be smarter than that?

                  P.S. Anybody else notice Tony seems to disappear any time somebody hits him with some facts?

                  1. I am all for hedge funds’ complete freedom from regulation (as they are now) but deposit banks are a different story since they are subsidized or regulated by the taxpayer through the FDIC/Fed/OCC.

                    It begs many questions though – like how much investment banking can a Morgan or a Citi do and still not risk taxpayer money?

                    The Volcker Rule is the best I have seen yet.

                    1. shrike|1.5.11 @ 9:52PM|#
                      “I am all for hedge funds’ complete freedom from regulation”
                      Which they are not. Do you ever post without lying?

                      “The Volcker Rule is the best I have seen yet.”
                      I’m sure you do; brain-deads are in love with regulation.

                    2. Bear Stearns and Lehman paid the ultimate price. They’re extinct!

                      Game over.

                      Oh, if only the rest of them had winked out of existence like Lehman and Bear! Why put the taxpayer’s money at risk when they could have just let them wink out of existence like Lehman and Bear did?

                      I understand people doing stupid things when they’re scared–George W. Bush made a whole presidency out of doing stupid stuff when he was scared! But those people really shouldn’t be allowed to make important decisions, not just about what the financial landscape is going to look like today–but how it’s going to work tomorrow?

                      In finance? People who do stupid stuff when they’re scared get driven out of the industry–and I trust that industry’s judgment better than I trust regulators, who always do the stupid thing when they’re scared.

                      There was no reason to put me on the hook for some Wall Street firm’s mistakes. Making it harder to give people loans and credit doesn’t make the financial world a safer place–it makes it a lot less resilient actually…

                      Take a look at all the banks that have failed since 2008–when they supposedly stabilized everything.

                      http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/banklist.html

                      Why would any of those banks going out of business or staying afloat have had any effect on me? I didn’t own any of those stocks. I didn’t own any of their loans.

                      I’d understand if they had used FDIC to protect bank’s depositors, but when Washington Mutual was seized, most of Washington Mutual’s depositors probably never even knew their bank had changed hands!

                      If there are any banks out there that would have gone under without putting me on the hook for their losses–what difference would that have made to me?

                      It’s a lot harder for start-ups, small businesses and individuals to get a loan now. Look at the list! Most of the banks that would have failed without putting me on the hook failed anyway–and what benefit did saving any of them do for me?

                    3. —“It begs many questions though – like how much investment banking can a Morgan or a Citi do and still not risk taxpayer money?”—

                      How about all of it? Why should taxpayers back the banks and cover their loses?

                  2. P.S. Anybody else notice Tony seems to disappear any time somebody hits him with some facts?

                    Fun fact: Tony is like Tyler Durden in Fight Club; he is a liberal figment of our collective imagination.

          4. You’re right there were people who saw portions of what happened coming. The problem with this hindsight line of thinking is there were people who saw a million other issues that never came to fruition. There are as many predictions as there are assholes so someone is going to be right at some point in the future. This, however, doesn’t mean those predictions were actionable or that they should have been. To believe so requires the same kind of delusional thinking used by the, “We just didn’t stimulate enough.” or “It would have been much worse.” crowd. And no one wants to be a part of that throng of retards.

      2. Everything about the financial crisis was foreseen.

        Link it didn’t happen.

        By the way I did predict the housing bubble.

      3. The big issues such as the US real estate bubble were publicly known. But nobody knew when the house of cards would begin to fall. Meanwhile, as long as the house of cards did not fall, betting on the US real estate bubble to keep growing for a few more years was quite profitable.

        In simple words: everybody knew that there would be a big hangover, but not many were willing to miss the party.

      4. its not that there werent some people seeing this, but by the very nnature of a bubble, if most peopel saw it, it wouldnt have happened. We had a bubble because the vast majority of people, including your beloved regulators didnt see it until it was too late.

  3. Sorry so long, but this was my fave ‘tard response to the Kleinenkugel post.

    “I don’t care what “libertarians” have to say about entitlements, frankly. If I’ve learned anything from this group based on their effect on the GOP and the crude philosophy they spread around the web, it’s that they do not take into consideration the people who most need safety nets at all.
    There are the nice “libertarians” who assume that the market will magically save the poor and there is the Ayn Rand variety who just view the poor as worthless parasites that we’re better off without.
    It’s against every fibber of their being to admit that some people might need help sometimes and that members of a society owe some portion of their success to that society and improving the lot of all those involved.
    At least real conservatives, when pressed, will be engaged in reality, and, when pushed on the issue, have some compassion for the poor (as well as a belief that the miserly should at least be publicly shamed into giving privately rather than put on a pedestal as moral examples for us all).

    Posted by: RCBII | January 5, 2011 1:30 PM | Report abuse

    I’m reporting this jackwagon for abusing my tolerance for stupidity. He/she/it put me RIGHT up against the rev limiter. Good thing it’s so goddamned funny, or I might be irritated that someone this stupid roams the Earth and has the WaPo read to it by its mother.

    1. Once again, libertarians are the devil incarnate; note that they are even worse than TEAM BLUE’s mortal enemy, TEAM RED, in that person’s comment.

      It’s the left’s own mass conspiracy theory; their own Bilderberg or Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It’s fucking amazing watching them go 100% full speed ahead to turn an almost powerless group of people–who advocate not harming others–into demonic, shadowy infiltrators.

      The best part of it is seeing how much hate spews from their growing conspiracy, and how totally unaware they are of it. They actually think they’re good people. So. Fucking. Laughable.

      1. how much hate spews…and how totally unaware

        Hahahahaha!

    2. I have spread something crude around the web…but it ain’t philosophy, BOOM!

    3. Lysander Spooner on “Poverty”:

      The existing poverty would be rapidly removed, and future poverty almost entirely prevented, a more equal dis?tribution of property than now exists accomplished, and the aggregate wealth of society greatly increased, if the princi?ples of natural law, and of our national and state constitutions generally, were adhered to by the judiciary in their decisions in regard to contracts.

      Complete legal argument:

      http://lysanderspooner.org/node/32

      1. Listening to dicklords like Klein will eventually turn me from a minarchist to an anarchist. Must… keep… away… from… Spooner… and Tucker…

        1. Spooner will really get to you. So read him already. Join the dark side!

          1. Are you familiar with the videos Mike Shanklin has on YouTube?

            http://www.youtube.com/user/mikeshanklin

            1. No, but maybe I’ll check that out. I don’t much like videos for stuff like this; I much prefer the written word.

              1. There’s no substitute for the written word, but…

                He’s good. Very well informed, and entertaining. To you and me it’s preaching to the choir, but for people too lazy to read, it’s the next best thing.

                1. “Spooner is a left libertarian, and his individualist anarchism is just as anti-capitalist as the ideas of, say, Bakunin, Kropotkin or Chomsky. Spooner was no more a capitalist than Rothbard was an anarchist.”

          2. Join the dark side!

            NOOOOO!!!

            Your dirty anarchist fingers will never touch my pure libertarian flesh.

        2. Listening to dicklords like Klein will eventually turn me from a minarchist to an [individualist] anarchist.

          Walk into the light, my friend.

        3. Q: What’s the difference between a libertarian and an anarchist?

          A: About two years, if you’re paying attention.

          … Hobbit

      2. “a more equal dis?tribution of property”

        “Distribution”? Nice. He wants to spread the wealth around. Who else said that? Hmmm…

    4. That actually strikes me as rather sane compared to a lot of what the progressives have to say about Libertariana.

    5. It’s against every fibber of their being to admit that some people might need help sometimes and that members of a society owe some portion of their success to that society and improving the lot of all those involved.”

      This purile argument is always good for a chuckle. How does one’s success make one indebted to “society”? At the bare minimum, one might argue that one’s success is a product of a small number who have been influential to his/her development, but to ALL of society? By what logic is a successful person in Louisiana indebted to people in Alaska? California? Washington?

      And if it is only “success” which makes one indebted to “society”, then those who are not “successful” must not be indebted to society. Are they still owed a debt by the successful members of society? By what reason?

  4. “From that world, he blames libertarianism for the financial crisis and out of control health care costs.”

    Yep, we libertarians are pulling the hidden strings the world over!

    1. It’s the invisible hands.

      1. I love invisible hand relief.

        1. The Stranger?

  5. Klein is a fucking twit. Why the hell does Tyler Cowen give him such respectability? Assuming away all arguments of your opponents is the usual dishonest hackery that every NYT/Wapo liberal twit learned in Columbia Journo School

  6. I’m still confused as to what qualifications Ezra Klein brings to the table as a political writer.

    1. That’s because you’re assuming he does, or that the Post requires any qualifications other than partisan hack.

      1. I believe his smarminess fools some into thinking they’re supposed to be amazed by his words.

        1. Plus those glasses. They make him really all like ironic and smart and diverse and stuff.

      2. He’s twice the partisan hack you’ll ever be!

        1. Only twice?

          1. you should show up an demand half his salary

      3. I took a shit wrote a column at the WaPo once.

    2. I’m still confused as to what qualifications Ezra Klein brings to the table as a political writer.

      Mostly a face that says “spit here”, I think.

  7. Desperate storytelling about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac aside, the financial crisis was, in large part, the product of the idea that massive financial markets that we didn’t understand would effectively regulate themselves.

    Does this guy even know what a GSE is? Does he realize it was Freddie that packaged and sold the first “passthrough” (RMBS)?

    “Glass-Steagal, Glass Steagall!!!! Those libertarians repealed Glass-Steagall!!!”

    The funny thing is, The FRB had regulatory power under HOEPA, to regulate mortgages. They CHOSE not to. Gramm-Leach-Bliley was a compromise with The Community Reinvestment Act.

    Then there’s all of the little accounting tricks on the repos, Mr Fuld.

    It’s funny how the facts elude theses liberal assholes. The financial crisis, aside from the availability of massive amounts of cheap, easy credit, was in large part due to fraud. All of the regs in the world is not going to prevent fraud anymore than a cop can prevent someone from breaking into your house. When there’s fraud, you need enforcement, not regulation.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ld5tERIBvsg

    1. The amazing thing about Glass-Steagall is how the Obama Administration (and Bush Administration) played both sides of that fence.

      Out of one side of their mouths, they’re trying to split companies that are “too big to fail”, and out of the other, they forced mergers between Bank of America and Merrill Lynch and between Washington Mutual and JP Morgan Chase!

      They wouldn’t let Bank of America back out of the Merrill Lynch merger–even when they wanted to.

      …but you’re right–they say getting rid of Glass Steagall was the problem!

      I’ve heard ’em take both of those positions in the same breath–they don’t know what they’re talking about.

      1. They wouldn’t let Bank of America back out of the Merrill Lynch merger–even when they wanted to.

        This is still, technically, speculation. However, there are rumors that the next Wikileaks release will be about this, and how Paulson and Bernanke strong-armed BoA into the deal.

        1. I will welcome that confirmation when it becomes available.

          But there have already been lots of reporting on that, some people have changed their story from time to time–but I followed that story really closely while it was happening, and it seemed pretty obvious to me at the time that they were getting strong-armed…

          They may benefit enormously from being made to do something they didn’t want to do–but that doesn’t mean they wanted to do it at the time.

          And it wouldn’t be the most egregious thing the Bush and Obama Administrations did during that period. Chrysler’s bondholders were subjected to wholesale theft!

          The Washington Mutual deal looked awful suspicious to me too. At certain points, the acquirers in those deals stopped negotiating with the principals and started negotiating directly with the government for a takeover…

          If the FDIC can seize you, sell your assets off to another company–and not even give the proceeds to the shareholders you seized the company from?

          …then strong arming BofA during the same period (within days) isn’t hard to imagine.

          The government made an example out of Washington Mutual like the Mob makes examples out of businesses that won’t pay protection money!

          I’d love to see that all come out into the light.

  8. I asked a friend recently why Buffet is so in favor of the estate tax. When he glibly responded “because he doesn’t want his children to inherit billions”, I pointed out what Buffet’s primary business was, and how it benefited from a draconian estate tax (well, any estate tax at all, to be honest).

    “Huh. I did not know that.”

    And this guy’s not dull by any stretch of the imagination. It boggles my mind that people don’t understand the extent to which Crony Capitalism runs this country, and that it is NOT a fundamental principal of libertarianism.

    Keep chipping away at the ignorance, gang. One person at a time. It starts to add up.

    1. Can you please illustrate to this dullard how Buffett’s Berkshire-Hathaway benefits from the estate tax? Can you shelter an inheritance by investing in such a holding company?

      1. At the very least, life insurance is a way to ‘shelter’ some wealth from the death tax.

  9. “It is as if socialists realized that their policies created poverty so they changed their name to environmentalism and made poverty their goal.”

    1. *80’s Movie Slow-Clap*

  10. The comments on that article will make your fucking head explode. The caricature of libertarianism they have is in fact the exact opposite of libertarianism. It is, bizzaro libertarianism, where we’re all jackbooted crypto-confederate corporate fascists clubbing baby seals and fouling the pristine waters with their offal on the orders of the Koch brothers and Rand Paul. What the hell? Have any of those assholes ever bothered to familiarize themselves with even the most basic tenet of libertarianism, the non-aggression principle? To ask is to answer.

    1. Libertarians did it to themselves.

      For instance look how LPers defended BP and the lack of regulation that allowed them to bypass drilling standards then had the gall to suggest that holding BP financially accountable for their self-inflicted disaster was a “shakedown”.

      Cro-Magnon libertarians ruin the gig for basic small-government people.

      1. You capacity for delusion is breathtaking, shriek. You truly do live in another world. Are you sharing one with Klein?

        1. No, that is exactly what you fuckers did. You-

          1- defended the lack of drilling (or any) regulations

          2- then got all pissed off when BP wisely negotiated a settlement (calling it a shakedown).

          1. Maybe you could go get some links proving that, shrieky, then? Maybe we get you a Happy Meal too, big guy? Some ice cream? Maybe a Go-bot?

          2. shrike|1.5.11 @ 8:59PM|#
            “No, that is exactly what you fuckers did. You-”

            Cite, goat-ass-sucking bastard?

            1. Eat this – and I am finished with you – you dumb, commentless fuck.

              https://reason.com/archives/201…..wer-rushes

              1. shrike|1.5.11 @ 9:26PM|#
                “Eat this – and I am finished with you – you dumb, commentless fuck.”

                Well, goat-ass-sucking brain-dead lefty, that link says nothing about your ignorant claim.
                How’s that goat shit taste?

                1. How’s that goat shit taste?

                  Oaky, not too tannic. It’s a primo vintage.

              2. You are so fucking stupid, shriek; it’s so delicious. And it made one thing clear to me: you don’t fucking read reason posts; or at best you read the first paragraph and that’s it. Because that’s the only explanation for your take on that link you posted.

                I guess your ADD makes it hard to read, buddy. It’s OK; you’re special! You want that Happy Meal now, big guy?

                1. “You are so fucking stupid, shriek; it’s so delicious.”

                  By now, I’ve learned to read the links the goat-ass-sucking brain-dead posts, since it’s become obvious that the g-a-s b-d never bothers to read them. And they typically contradict the claims of the g-a-s b-d.
                  Amusing………..

          3. 1- defended the lack of drilling (or any) regulations

            no we said the current liability loop holes caused moral hazard which encouraged risky behavior. We also pointed out is that current regulation and oversight failed to prevent the disaster. ie government failure.

            2- then got all pissed off when BP wisely negotiated a settlement (calling it a shakedown).

            No we said that Obama over reached his powers as president.

            One thing you forgot to mention is that we also talked about how Obama by shutting down all oil drilling punished those who conducted their businesses safely.

            1. Let me be clear. I can’t overreach my powers, as they are limitless.

          4. “Lack of drilling regulations”

            Are you fucking kidding with this? Seriously, how stupid can one possibly be?

    2. It is, bizzaro libertarianism, where we’re all jackbooted crypto-confederate corporate fascists clubbing baby seals and fouling the pristine waters with their offal on the orders of the Koch brothers and Rand Paul.

      Speak for yourself. Now, where’s my monocle and seal-club?

      (Everybody knows you don’t wear the tophat when you go clubbing. Seal Clubbing. Clubbing at clubs is another matter.)

  11. I tell you, libertarians are the Jews of the 21st century. Except we don’t have a good sense of humor.

    1. Don’t project your dourness on everyone else, killjoy.

    2. Except we don’t have a good sense of humor

      Don’t make me laugh.

      … Hobbit

    3. Great name for a band! “Jews of the 21st century”

      1. They would certainly cover “Jewish Princess” by Frank Zappa, yes?

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zF4N-lvduG0

      2. Jews In Space
        by Jews Of The 21st Century.

        (Quintuple-Platinum.)

    4. Plus the food isn’t as good.

  12. I just want to know how I get out of the Bizarro universe where Ezra Klein is, for some reason, taken seriously rather than dismissed as someone who can’t even figure out Netflix (see: http://voices.washingtonpost.c….._with.html).

  13. A fantastic takedown of this ridiculously uninformed piece from klein. Well done.

  14. Meanwhile Ezra Klein at the Washington Post reports from an alternate universe apparently without loose Federal Reserve monetary policy, revolving doors between big finance and big government, and a history of “too big to fail bailouts.” And in a further sci-fi twist that really starts to get a bit much, it’s simultaneously a world where the government doesn’t spend half of health care dollars, doesn’t shape the costs or extent of insurance coverage with its tax laws and regulations, doesn’t artificially limit the number of people who can sell medical services, and where people buying health care know or even have any way of knowing the costs of what they are paying for beforehand.

    Say, wasn’t that the premise of The Probability Broach?

    1. So, Klein is a plagiarist as well as a complete waste of oxygen. Color me surprised.

  15. It’s also important to note the one libertarian (Paul) in congress actually voted against the repeal of Glass Steagall.

    1. thats only because he thinks its bad with a fiat money system. With a gold standard he would support repeal.

  16. Libertarians, the persecuted minority.

  17. Fuck you, Ezra Klein.

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