Coronavirus

Yes, There Are Libertarians in Pandemics

Your coronavirus prepping would be a lot tougher in a world without free markets. Libertarians might be the only ones who recognize that.

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It's almost never a good idea to use a public health crisis to score points against your political opponents—and if you're going to do it, you really ought to try to describe the situation accurately.

Actually, that second part applies even when there's no public health crisis.

It has, however, become fashionable for certain elements of the Very Online Left to use the ongoing coronavirus outbreak as evidence that libertarians either don't actually exist or that we quickly abandon our principles in the face of a pandemic. This recent outbreak of libertarian bashing—which makes only slightly more sense than the claims made by some on the right that libertarians are secretly running everything in Washington, D.C. and plotting to get your kids addicted to porn—seems to have started with a pithy tweet from Atlantic writer Derek Thompson on March 3. But it's become a ubiquitous online "take" since Sunday afternoon, when Bloomberg opinion writer Noah Smith logged on.

The take may have achieved its final form—at least let's hope so—with The Atlantic's publication on Tuesday of an 800-word piece from staff writer Peter Nicholas carrying the headline (sigh) "There Are No Libertarians in a Pandemic."

Lazy? Yes. Inaccurate? Yes.

Nicholas' article opens with a scene from CPAC—that's the Conservative Political Action Conference, by the way—and proceeds to detail all the ways in which the Trump administration has botched the federal response to the new coronavirus, called COVID-19. You know, the same Trump administration that is just full to the brim with libertarians. The same administration that is raising barriers to free trade, making it more difficult for people to move to America, giving bail-outs to politically favored industries, considering more bailouts to more politically favored industries, trying to regulate free speech online, suing newspapers in an attempt to curb the First Amendment, and launching missiles into foreign countries without congressional authorization. That administration? That's the libertarian one?

Nicholas tries to get away with this nonsense by setting up a false equivalency. Trump is campaigning against socialism, you see, and libertarians also dislike socialism—so therefore the Trump administration must be libertarian. Right? Therefore, when Trump starts talking like a socialist himself—by promising coronavirus bailouts and the repurposing of disaster recovery funds to cover people who come down with COVID-19—it is proof positive that the libertarian world has abandoned its commitment to smaller government. Voila!

Perhaps The Atlantic's editorial staff has self-quarantined from its duties—how else to explain how an otherwise thoughtful publication could allow a headline that confuses libertarianism with anything that the Trump administration is doing? For that matter, maybe Smith and Thompson believe that an army of strawmen are an effective defense against COVID-19. I hope it works out for them.

As a libertarian in a pandemic, let me first assure you that we do in fact still exist.

And, in fact, it is the free market—and, to a lesser extent, its defenders—who will help you survive the new coronavirus. All those groceries you're stocking up on in advance of the expected collapse of civilization? They didn't end up on grocery store shelves because government officials ordered it to happen or because someone was feeling particularly generous today. That gallon jug of hand sanitizer delivered to your front door less than 48 hours after you ordered it online? It didn't show up because Trump tweeted it into existence or because the surgeon general is driving a delivery truck around the country.

Bottled water? Face masks? They're available because someone is turning a profit by making and selling them. The first latex gloves were invented in the 1880s but the disposable variety that are so useful right now have "only been available since 1964, as innovated by the private company Ansell, founded by Eric Ansell in Melbourne, Australia. Thank you international trade," notes Jeffrey Tucker, editorial director of the American Institute for Economic Research.

Sure, one consequence of the success of private enterprise in reshaping the world is an interconnected planet that allows for something like COVID-19 to spread more rapidly than would have been possible in the past. But modern technology has also allowed doctors, private enterprises, and (yes) governments to respond more quickly than ever before.

It also means that you'll have access to nearly every piece of film, television, and music ever recorded by human beings if you have to self-quarantine for a week or two. It means that humans have the ability to live far healthier lives than they did in 1918, when a global flu pandemic killed 50 million people. The people who live through the current coronavirus outbreak because of stronger immune systems made possible by steady diets won't show up on any list of statistics after the coronavirus has passed, but capitalism is at least partially to thank for their survival.

In short, if you had to pick any time in human history to live through a global pandemic, you'd be incredibly foolish not to pick the current time. And the reason you'd pick this moment in history probably has less to do with who is running the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the World Health Organization, and more to do with the technological and medical advances made possible by free enterprise.

"What is the mighty contribution of government these days?" asks Tucker. "To order quarantines but not to tell you whether you can step outside, how you will get groceries, how long it will last, who you can invite in, and when it will all end. Don't try to call the authorities. They have better and bigger things to worry about than your sorry plight that is causing you sleepless nights and endless worry. Thank goodness for digital technology that allows you to communicate with friends and family."

Yeah, there are libertarians in a pandemic. We're the ones willing to acknowledge how much more all of this would suck if the market didn't exist.

NEXT: Yes, There Are Private Donors—and Not Just Bill Gates—Helping Fund the Coronavirus Response

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140 responses to “Yes, There Are Libertarians in Pandemics

  1. Nicholas tries to get away with this nonsense by setting up a false dichotomy. Trump is campaigning against socialism, you see, and libertarians also dislike socialism—so therefore the Trump administration must be libertarian.

    That’s more of a false equivalency than false dichotomy

    1. It’s a 3-part fallacy.

      1. Plus a confusion

    2. Nicholas likes pizza. Trump likes pizza. Therefore, Nicholas is Trump.

      1. I hear Hitler also liked pizza.

        1. OMG!

        2. You know who else liked Hitler and pizza?

          1. Anders Breivik?

            1. I didn’t know about his frozen pizza connection.

          2. Erik Cartman?

            1. Oops. Accidentally “flagged” your comment. Stupid/novice me. I thought it was a “like” button. (I ACTED like Erik Cartman by accident)

          3. Rob Misek?

          4. Mussolini?

            1. No, no, no. We’re trying to be cute by AVOIDING the obvious answer, newb.

  2. Perhaps The Atlantic’s editorial staff has self-quarantined from its duties

    Not yet. First it needs to become the “in thing” among celebrities. Then the media elites will follow.

  3. …how else to explain how an otherwise thoughtful publication could allow a headline that confuses libertarianism with anything that the Trump administration is doing?

    There oughta be a law.

    1. otherwise thoughtful publication

      long-winded and elitist = thoughtful?

      1. This is the same rag that hired one of the best writers in America just so they could fire him immediately over a Twitter brouhaha, right? That “otherwise thoughtful publication”?

        1. Someone who imagines himself to be one of the best writers, anyway. He shouldn’t have been fired, but I wouldn’t have hired him to begin with.

          But yea, I don’t consider The Atlantic necessarily thoughtful, since I consider substance over style, but at least it has virtues in its stylistic approach.

        2. Remember, it was Atlantic journalist Rose Eveleth who forced Rosetta project scientist Matt Taylor to offer a tearful on-air apology because he wore a Hawaiian shirt with girls and guns on it.
          The Atlantic is full of people like her. Awful, evil poseurs who use the platform as a scourge so they can indulge their garbage natures.

        3. Maybe not thoughtful, but certainly no balls.

    2. “allow a headline that confuses libertarianism with anything that the Trump administration is doing?”

      For Boehm libertarianism is a way of announcing that he’s a contrarian, but that he’s socially left and totally cool with the way that sex and drugs works for the American upper-middle class elite.
      He can’t admit that Trump has probably has done more for actual libertarian principles than any other president in the last fifty years.

  4. As a libertarian in a pandemic, let me first assure you that we do in fact still exist.

    It’s gaslighting all the way down.

  5. Awful editorial.

    It starts out by pointing out false dichotomies in other media sources which would say you’re either a socialist or a libertarian, thus Trump must be a libertarian. Which is obviously stupid.

    But then it continues by implying if you’re not a libertarian, you must be a socialist, because not being a libertarian means you’re against a market economy or against all international trade. Trump is thus a socialist because he’s not a libertarian. And only libertarians support people getting groceries and hand sanitizes from market entities, because only libertarians support the market or trade, and everyone else is a socialist.

    So its recycling the same false dichotomy that its criticizing, just standing on the other side of it.

    1. I prefer my vape products unregulated.

      1. I prefer my ice cream vanilla. Lol. Not sure what your point is.

        1. I was making a crack about the uncomfortable fact that Reason keeps writing articles about how the only vape products that caused people problems were the unregulated ones.

          1. Just sort of tying in to your comment.

          2. Not just unregulated, made and sold by black market forces due to their illegality in most jurisdictions or high prices due to special taxes where legal.

      2. I prefer my lungs full of vitamin E acetate.

    2. He didn’t say Trump was a socialist. What he actually said was

      “Therefore, when Trump starts talking like a socialist himself—by promising coronavirus bailouts and the repurposing of disaster recovery funds to cover people who come down with COVID-19—it is proof positive that the libertarian world has abandoned its commitment to smaller government. Voila!”

      He doesn’t say Trump is a socialist, just that he started talking like one.

      1. And by the way- Boehm is paraphrasing the argument from the atlantic here. He isn’t saying that Trump is socialist. He is saying that the Atlantic is arguing that Trump calling for all these government interventions is socialist.

        And by the way, while there are many anarchist libertarians, there are still plenty of libertarians who argue for a limited role for government, and it is not at all un-libertarian to consider epidemic response as perhaps one of those limited roles.

  6. I’m so glad for these articles, sometime I forget I exist at all. I need to be reminded that I, libertarian, do in fact occupy the corporeal realm.

    People who are hostile to liberty will always have an axe to grind with libertarians, that’s how it works.

  7. >>Bloomberg opinion writer

    barely different than Reason Commenter

    1. I would argue that Reason commentators are more articulate, but then I remembered Hihn.

  8. There is no hand sanitizer, toilet paper, or other necessities left on the shelf because “free market”. So we need government to manage the panic buying or as in the case of NY State to step in and manufacture our own hand sanitizer. All the free market does is take advantage of the opportunity to make a buck on other people’s suffering. Thank you very much.

    1. Yeah, right, think of all the bucks NOT being made because manufacturers are out of stock. You’d think those greedy capitalists would plan better.

    2. I wonder who made all the hand sanitizer, toilet paper and other necessities available in the first place?

      Who will replenish those critical items now that they’re in demand?

      1. Hrm…

        To choose one brand, Purell is made in Ohio and France. Seeing as libertarians aren’t well represented in either place, I’m gonna say “not libertarians”.

        1. Not libertarians. The (purportedly, mostly, hopefully) free market, such as it is.

          1. So you agree, the premise of this article (which is to conflate libertarians with capitalists) is bunk.

            1. The premise is that libertarians continue to hold their beliefs (such as support of the market), not abandon them as otherwise alleged.

              Did you really not understand that?

              1. That’s the stated premise, yeah. But if you actually read it, all he talked about was capitalists. All the supporting details? Were about capitalists. Nothing was presented about libertarians in either direction.

                It’s like if someone starts an essay saying “in this essay I will argue that A is B” and then spends the entire thing talking about C and D, never tying them back to A or B.

        2. Purell is made in Ohio and France. Seeing as libertarians aren’t well represented in either place, I’m gonna say “not libertarians”.

          Ahem

          We got us libertarians here in this place you obviously distain.

          We also produce the best hand sanitizer on the market

          What the fuck do you do?

          1. We got us libertarians here in this place you obviously distain.

            … ?

            Dude, if you’re offended on the behalf of Ohio and/or France because they both (A) make Purell and (B) aren’t well-represented by libertarians, that’s on you. I made no expression of judgement, just gave the facts.

            What the fuck do you do?

            Not delude myself with false senses of self-importance.

    3. The government (politicians) in many cases is promoting the panic buying by promoting this as a panic situation. So, if that’s your argument, then its a wash. Businesses are taking advantage to make a buck, politicians are taking advantage to get a vote.

      On the other hand, I’ve been at stores where they’ve been rationing sales of those items, so to keep them in stock, so many businesses are taking responsibility.

      1. It’s not so much “responsibility” or civic-mindedness as it is trying to keep everyone happy. If you show up for a thing and they don’t have it, you have the potential to be the pain in an ass. If everyone shows up for that same thing and they don’t have it, it’s a disaster for the store.

        By rationing, the store can ensure everyone gets some of the thing they showed up for, keeping tempers low. If demand is sufficient they’ll sell out anyway, so there is no downside for the store. Doubleplusgood if people think they’re being civic-minded.

        Or at least that’s my working theory.

      2. I was at the grocery store 2 days ago and there were no shortages of anything. They had disinfectant hand wipes in a sale case at 30% off no limit. I’ve yet to meet anybody who changed their normal routine due to this “crisis”. In about 3 months the coronavirus will be completely forgotten and the media will be obsessed with some new outrage.

        1. Grimsrud, I have had a somewhat different experience, but I agree the media’s behavior has not served the American people well. In fact, it has been utterly irresponsible. And our elected congressional leadership is not winning any prizes. Glad Congress passed the package; but shit, really guys/gals? It took you over a week to get it done?! WTF will Congress do in the face of a national emergency and how long will it take?

          POTUS Trump gets good marks, in my book. We have ~3X the population of South Korea and ~5X the population of Italy and they both have way more cases than the US. He shut down inbound travel in late Jan/early Feb in a limited fashion and bought us time. There was no way to stop the Wuhan virus from coming here. China is just too vast and too spread throughout the world. He put VP Pence as point to co-ordinate a truly enormous federal-state-local-private response to the Wuhan virus. He is making the right sorts of noises about blunting the economic impact, but I’d like to hear more on how that is going to work before getting on board with that concept. In sum, he is doing what we can reasonably expect a POTUS to do.

          Now here in the People’s Republic of NJ, there were shortages, and retailers are now smartly limiting purchases of supplies (usually max of 4 per person) that are available. Hand sanitizer was gone. I mean, just empty shelf space….for 1.5 weeks. Retailers could not keep sanitizer on the shelf. It still sells out quickly. I got a little worried until I found the recipe to make your own. Ridiculously simple. Then I relaxed a bit. Why? Just hand washing and sanitizer is a huge help.

          A word on my routine. I have changed it…a lot. Most are little things. Not drastic. Examples: Shopping is done only at store open (like I am standing there when the doors are unlocked), with a very specific written list. Plan the most efficient route through the grocery store. Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet distance whenever possible from other people. Wipe down the bar of the cart, do my thing in 5 minutes, out the door. In and out. Hand sanitizer in the car, used immediately upon getting back into the car. Boogie on home.

          And a few bigger routine changes: Restaurants are out. Delivery is Ok, take-out can work also, but is riskier. Believe it or not, Chinese takeout is amazingly quick. 🙂 Airline travel is out. Trains are out. Mass transit is out. Large crowds are out. For how long? Not sure, but I am planning for a few months. By Memorial Day, a lot of this will have shaken out, one way or the other. We’ll know.

          The one biggest change in routine: I went to religious services during the week (usually afternoon minchah 2X or 3X weekly), and on Shabbat. I have stopped temporarily. That one hurts. No joke. My feelings are hard to describe in words, but I will try. It is not that I feel far from God’s presence; it more like something very familiar and important is missing. And not exactly missing, but what was once clear and transparent now feels opaque. Hopefully my description does justice to communicate the feelings.

          On the investment side, I am more calm than I ever thought I would be. I mean, after 2007-10 this is peanuts. In the aftermath of the Great Financial Crisis, I wrote my own investment policy statement. I am following it. When equities dropped 10%, I rebalanced from bonds to equities. When it dropped an additional 10%, more systematic rebalancing. It is working.

          My biggest fear is my job. I work in an industry that is highly vulnerable to downturns. So I am looking at the economy, and seeing how companies are reacting. And hoping to ride this out.

          1. Your experiencing a loss of community feeling.
            Me?
            I just wear a full biohazard suit.
            Seems to be a conversation starter.

          2. Well written, XY.
            Here in South Florida, nothing has changed.
            I went to Publix last night and everything was available.
            I am still buying shares in my s and p mutual fund as each dollar now buys more shares for the eventual revovery.
            I am still looking for a Synagogue to join and went to a Reform one in Delray that had a choir. First time I have seen that. It was well attended and I liked the lady Rabbi. I do want a more politically conservative place of worship, so I will keep looking.
            I survived the Swine Flu scare, the SARS scare and the Zika scare.
            I get a flu shot every year and am in excellent health.
            So I am doing nothing special for Corona virus.
            I live where there are hurricanes, so I already have a month of food, water, toilet paper and ammo.
            Actually lots more than a month of ammo as I am a gun enthusiast.

        2. Here, just 50 miles from the Purell plant, there is no hand sanitizer To be had anywhere. Even Lysol is scarce.

          I have 2 family members with compromised immune systems (one on chemo) so we have gone full bomb shelter isolation. Just cancelled an important business trip and stocked up on staples and canned goods. Wipe down the door handles and such twice a day (grandkids here frequently) or more.

    4. “All the free market does is take advantage of the opportunity to make a buck on other people’s suffering. Thank you very much.”

      You’re welcome, it’s called motivation.

      1. For I was an hungred and ye sold me an 8-piece chicken McNugget, I was thirsty and ye sold me a Big Gulp, I was a stranger and ye invited me to join your golf club, naked and ye sold me a Knicks jersey, I was sick and ye sold me a bottle of Nyquil, I was in prison and ye came to sell me a pack of Newports.

        Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

        And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have sold shit unto one of the least of these my brethren Walmart shoppers whenst they needeth the shit, ye have sold shit unto me.

        1. When jesus fed a crowd of thousands it needed a miracle. Now we feed crowds of tens of thousands every NFL Sunday and no one blinks an eye. Capitalism is indeed miraculous , except that Adam Smith explained the magic away over 200 years ago.

    5. If they let prices rise instead of crying about “gouging” then maybe people would not try to buy 10 gallons of hand sanitizer. It may be $10 or $20 or eve $50 a bottle but you could buy some. Anti-gouging that says keep it at $3 a bottle means people will buy 3 or 7 or 15 bottles. At at $50 per bottle, someone would figure out how to get you some. Yeah, it’d be $50 but you could buy some if you really needed it that much.

      1. Yep. The opposite of gouging is hoarding.

    6. “There is no hand sanitizer, toilet paper, or other necessities left on the shelf because “free market”.”

      Idiots like this think that a centrally-planned market would have these goods even in a panic-buying circumstance.
      Hint for LeeBee: there isn’t any toilet paper on Venezuela’s store shelves on and average Saturday.
      Did you come here to prove how stupid lefties are? You’re doing a good job.

    7. LOL at NY State “manufacturing your own hand sanitizer”. Sure, with slave labor. If we let the free market do that they could produce tubs of the stuff pretty cheap too.

    8. LOL at NY State “manufacturing your own hand sanitizer”. Sure, with slave labor. If we let the free market do that they could produce tubs of the stuff pretty cheap too.

    9. There is no hand sanitizer *because* government stepped in to prevent normal, market-driven, regulation.

      But you don’t want ‘price-gouging’ either, amirite? Far better to set up the American Staples Rationing Office and let a bunch of ‘Top Men’ decide how much to be produced, how much you get, etc.

      Because top-down command of the economy works, right?

  9. There are no free markets,
    Your coronavirus prepping would be a lot easier in a world with free markets. Anarcho-capitalists might be the only ones who recognize that.

    1. Coronavirus prepping would be a lot easier if we had matter replicators in our homes.

    2. A TV preacher was told this week to stop hocking his “coronoavirus cure”.

      In your “free market”, he’d still be selling.

      For that matter, you’d have snake oil salesmen hocking useless “hand sanitizer” and “face masks”.

      The bona fide medical supplies that actually work? Would still be hard to find, because that’s a supply issue. But there’d be a lot more fake stuff going around gobbling up money.

      How’s that for “efficient application of resources”?

      1. Counterfeit merchandise is illegal. You can buy as much of it as you want if you know where to look. Laws didn’t stop anything.

        1. Counterfeit merchandise is illegal.

          In a managed market that includes laws against fraud, false advertising, and such? A market that includes the FDA policing medical claims? Sure.

          You know, all those bothersome regulations that aren’t present in a “free market”.

          1. Laws against fraud are consistent with the NAP and libertarianism. You’re confusing free markets with anarchy.

            1. Which is common here.

            2. He’s confusing it with lawlessness, which is not the same as anarchy (or to use a less ambiguous term, anarchism).

              1. You’re confusing a lack of market regulation and government interference in business or customer/merchant behavior with lawlessness.

                You can have a market where the government doesn’t meddle without anarchy. It just includes snake-oil salesmen.

                1. How do you manage to consistently read comments in a way so detached from their meaning?

                  Snake oil salesmen always exist in some capacity. You can have laws against snake-oil salesmen without government, which you miss because you think laws and the state are intrinsically tied. Vernon Depner correctly noted that you incorrectly associate libertarianism with a lawless/unregulated system that “allows” for snake oil salesmen, but he incorrectly labeled it anarchy when he should have called it lawlessness.

            3. Laws against fraud are effectively laws against lies.

              Are lies now a violation of the NAP? That’d be… novel.

              1. No. Laws against fraud are laws against theft. Theft is a violation of the NAP, whether committed with force or with lies.

                1. Next time you’re in a grocery store or pharmacy, you should wander over to the homeopathic aisle of products.

                  Every single one of those products if fraudulent. They’re all over-priced placebos that don’t do what they claim to do. They trivially meet a common definition of “fraud”, though they fall just short of the legal definition.

                  You going to accuse Walgreens of “theft” for selling you one?

                  The only difference between those homeopathic products and the current rounds of “coronavirus cures” is that the severity of the outcome to someone putting their faith in it.

                  1. If those products are being sold in compliance with the law, then every one says exactly what it is on the label. They are not “fraudulent”. Libertarians reject the idea that the government should tell people what to believe, or prohibit people from choosing to take risks.

          2. Seems like a pointless argument, since libertarians aren’t anarchists, and I’ve never met a libertarian who was against laws dealing with fraud. Yea, sure “free market” is an asbtract concept that can be postmoderned to death to mean either anything or nothing. But it seems if you’re arguing with libertarians, you should at least start with their concept of what a free market is.

            1. But it seems if you’re arguing with libertarians, you should at least start with their concept of what a free market is.

              Sure.

              Their concept doesn’t include the FDA, or an FDA-like government entity, that regulates medical claims of market products. It doesn’t include the FDA, or an FDA-like government entity, that prevents companies from bringing unapproved drugs to market. It doesn’t include the FDA, or an FDA-like government entity, that puts regulations on testing, effiacy, and side-effects on market-products.

              In short, all the government work that makes sure that the pharmacy aisle at your local Wal-Mart is full of real, bona fide medicine? None of that happens.

              At best, there is the ability to sue after the fact if you are harmed. But only reactive action is allowed, no preventive action. And even then, it requires harm, not just failure to perform.

              Y’all haven’t been shy about this before. So seeing this many of you jumping up saying “nuh-uh, snake-oil salesmen don’t exist in libertopia!” right now is kind of hilarious.

          3. You don’t need a managed market to deal with fraud. Fraud is an informational warfare attack. Its violence. Its a crime. There are ways of dealing with fraud that predate government. And I’m not talking about stabbing a dude.

            ‘Market regulation’ – free markets are regulated. By their participants.

            1. You would restrict a man’s god-given freedom to make unsupported claims about his miracle cure?

              Slaver.

              1. No, not if he were transparent about the nature of his claims. If he says, “here is a jar of clam juice, which I believe will cure your gout”, and I buy it hoping he’s right, there has been no fraud. If he says, “here is a jar of clam juice, which has been proven by a study by Johns Hopkins to cure gout”, that would be fraud. If he says, “here is a jar of clam juice”, but it’s actually tuna broth, that would be fraud. Are you getting it yet?

                1. Are you getting it yet?

                  Yeah, I get it.

                  In your insistence that your idea of a free market wouldn’t have snake oil and miracle cures, you’re ignoring what the actual people that are actually being shut down have actually said.

                  Fact is, Jim Bakker didn’t meet your definition of “fraud”. So in your ideal world, he’s still out there selling his useless “miracle cure” to gullible fundamentalists.

                  1. Does the current market, regulated as heavily as it is, not also have snake-oil? Lot’s of it?

                    So in your ideal world, he’s still out there selling his useless “miracle cure” to gullible fundamentalists.

                    Yes? Unless *you* want to go out and do violence against him. Which is fine. That’s all on you. But here you are insisting we all pay some other group of people to go do violence on your behalf.

                    1. In the end, its still the use of violence to stop Baker. Libertarian violence just doesn’t hide behind the ‘legitimacy of the state’ to justify it.

      2. Yes. And your point is?

        1. Refuting the claim that “Your coronavirus prepping would be a lot easier in a world with free markets.”, since that “free market” would include significantly more tiger stones.

          1. Would it? Because there are a lot of tiger stones already.

            *And* there are OBJECTIVELY fewer cures – because of the very government regulation that you are supporting.

      3. EscherEnigma said:
        “A TV preacher was told this week to stop hocking his “coronoavirus cure”.
        In your “free market”, he’d still be selling.”

        And thanks to the first amendment, that preacher is free to sell books full of mumbo jumbo about curing the virus.

        That’s what you get with “free speech.”

        #Repeal1A

  10. Right up there with “There are no atheists in foxholes.”

    I really really wish government were compartmentalized, with a toothless budgetless one setting basic rights (don’t hurt people and don’t take their stuff) on top, and all the fake “rights” (free housing, free food, free everything) in voluntary associations underneath. Let those damned socialists huddle by themselves and sign over their property and income.

    Fiscal reality would make them excellent constant reminders of why government sucks, and especially why grabby governments (is there any other kind?!?) suck the worst.

    Too many old folks have forgotten how grabby governments are, and too many younguns have been educated in government schools and never learned how grabby governments are. 30 years since the last example, and the grabby US government did its best to emulate the USSR anyway, so there wasn’t a really good example.

    1. “ 30 years since the last example”

      The world is teeming with grabby governments. Is there any other kind?

  11. That administration? That’s the libertarian one?

    Listening to the self-professed libertarians around here? Yes.

    No, I don’t get it either. But it’s not for me to police the political boundaries of groups I don’t identify with. So if you want non-libertarians to stop pointing out that libertarians love conservative politicians and Trump, then you, the self-professed libertarians, need to do a better job of protecting your brand.

    […] how else to explain how an otherwise thoughtful publication […]

    Is this supposed to be a laugh line? If you knew your audience, I would think so, but this isn’t reading as satire, so I think you’re earnest here. Maybe it’s you who aren’t libertarian.

    And the reason you’d pick this moment in history probably has less to do with who is running the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the World Health Organization, and more to do with the technological and medical advances made possible by free enterprise.

    Managed enterprise. As libertarians love to point out, we don’t have a free market.

    Yeah, there are libertarians in a pandemic. We’re the ones willing to acknowledge how much more all of this would suck if the market didn’t exist.

    Yeah, this is nonsense. What you celebrate here is not because of libertarians or libertarianism (which have never, in any government or point of history, held power or sway). It is because of capitalism. And not even particularly “free market” capitalism, as it’s always been heavily regulated, with the government propping up different players, taxing and tariffing, etc. and so-on. Your attempt to purposefully conflate the two is dishonest.

    1. I suppose I should be clear, I’m not taking a shot at the actual claim “there are no libertarians in a pandemic”. I don’t care. But this argument is awful.

    2. Libertarians protect their brand? Methinks you are unclear on the concept.

      1. Libertarians protect their brand?

        No. But they should.

        1. Wouldn’t be libertarian then, would it?

          You are unclear on the concept. You said you should be clear. I agree.

          1. I think you are unclear as to what a brand is or why libertarians would protect it.

          2. You do know that the best kind of brand-protection is purely social, right?

            You said you should be clear.

            I was, quite obviously, being clear on how I wasn’t addressing the premise of the article, just critiquing that the author didn’t address it either.

  12. And also, there’s no such thing as ‘price gouging’ but very few people understand that even so -called free market supporters.

    1. Language is highly politicized. 1984 wasn’t a prophetic novel, it was an instruction manual.

  13. A little off topic, but does anyone find it funny that anytime something bad occurs everyone demands that the president do something about it, but then in the very next breath they complain that the president has too much power and needs to be reined in?

    It’s always been a little like this, but with such polarization as Trump creates, it just seems over-the-top now.

    1. About 50 times a day in these comments.

    2. The left creates polarization. Trump is just noticeable for being one of e first prominent people to not put up with their shit.

      And maybe he wouldn’t be so defensive if they hadn’t started publicly plotting his impeachment since April 2016.

  14. “Nicholas’ article opens with a scene from CPAC—that’s the Conservative Political Action Conference, by the way—and proceeds to detail all the ways in which the Trump administration has botched the federal response to the new coronavirus, called COVID-19.”
    Remember when the biggest oil spill in history happened in the Gulf of Mexico when Obama was in charge? Remember how he was excoriated in the press for his administration’s response? Yeah me neither.

    1. Remember how H1N1 (swine flu) was going to kill us all in Obama’s term and how the press demanded that he give us a solution? Yeah, me neither. Or Zika, later in Obama’s term?

      Before that, remember when SARS and bird flu were going to kill us all? Did Bush get blamed for that, I really don’t remember.

      1. Ticktock ticktock

        You got another two weeks to play I’m a stupid DeRp before you get hit upside the head with the obvious.

        Yes – this time is different.

        1. Folks, let me introduce the be-headed chicken! Watch while he dances in panic because of something which might happen!
          Have you sold all your worldly goods, JFree? When is the rapture?

    2. I do remember that there were plenty of people saying “See? If libertarians had their way and we had no regulations, this is the sort of shit that would happen!” They say that after every disaster where government regulation failed – “This is what happens when you don’t have regulations!”

      1. Why, ever since the FDA was established, not one person has died from contaminated food!

        1. And I most certainly did NOT have food poisoning yesterday.nor did I shit twelve times because of it.

          1. Now I finally understand your handle.

  15. I’ve got everything I need to survive whatever our government and media decide to throw out there. Short of an assault by law enforcement on my place, I can hold out just fine. If the Man and his dogs decide to come at me, sure they could win. But it seems likely they would rather I stay put and I am fine with that. I have no problem undermining them in the meantime.

  16. In both China and Korea, people – ACTUAL entrepreneurs – developed apps to track coronavirus cases so that people could track them and avoid those locations.

    That’s actually something helpful. It’s something where a political philosophy that was worth a shit might – oh – you know – insist on making sure that government was transparent re the results of tests. Might – you know – insist that those tests actually be done. Might – you know – link those results with GPS info so that those results can be used. Might- you know – promise that if they are elected, they will take a rotorooter to those parts of government that are clogged up with fat ass bureaucrats and fat ass ‘I’m a capitalist crony’ pigs snarfing at the trough.

    Apparently all we have in this country are:
    Those who say ‘Let’s thank all our bureaucrats for their good intentions’
    Those who say ‘Lets deliver 50bp cuts and payroll tax cuts to those crony pigs. So sayeth Dear Leader. His will be done.’
    Those who say ‘What Me Worry’

    What could possibly go wrong?

    1. I have an interesting question along those lines. If a person’s phone is constantly monitoring location, then can that data not be sifted through and contrasted with other confirmed cases over a defined period of time to show a potential field of contamination and isolate other likely cases?
      As long as we have all this big brother monitoring, why not put the metadata to good use? Not saying it’s good that this is done, but i see potential here for the helpful spread of information (albeit only if participants give consent to use their location data)

      1. I think Pirate Parties are on the right track to be able to figure out having an effective ‘in case of emergency’ capability while also knowing when to break/disable it.

        1. I think you are
          Full.
          Of.
          Shit.
          And you’ve yet to suggest that I’m wrong.
          Fuck off and die; make the world a better place.

    2. “That’s actually something helpful. It’s something where a political philosophy that was worth a shit might – oh – you know – insist on making sure that government was transparent re the results of tests. Might – you know – insist that those tests actually be done. Might – you know – link those results with GPS info so that those results can be used. Might- you know – promise that if they are elected, they will take a rotorooter to those parts of government that are clogged up with fat ass bureaucrats and fat ass ‘I’m a capitalist crony’ pigs snarfing at the trough.”

      Did they promise you a pony after they deliver this wonderful government? Have you found the RIGHT Top Men?

      1. Run along now. Dear Leader needs his butt polished

        1. “Run along now. Dear Leader needs his butt polished”

          Run along now; the hag’s ass needs sucking and it’s either you or Tony, you fucking lefty ignoramaus.

    3. Who are you talking to?

  17. as evidence that libertarians . . . quickly abandon our principles in the face of a pandemic.

    I think this is because libertarianism is not necessarily a ‘lifeboat’ political philosophy. It can certainly work during emergencies, but its a guide to how to live life during the other 99% of the time.

    It also builds people that will *think* about it when that 1% situation shows up – is this really worth giving these people power to save me in this situation. There’s natural pushback against those that will take any emergency as an attempt to gain more power.

    Socialism, on the other hand, might be perfectly fine in a lifeboat. There will be hard decisions where a part of the collective may have to be sacrificed to give the rest a better chance. In a lifeboat, that’s how it is sometimes. Its the other 99% of the time, when you’re not in a lifeboat, that its horrible.

  18. Perhaps The Atlantic’s editorial staff has self-quarantined from common sense and accurate reporting. But I suspect that they did that some time before.

  19. The Atlantic wrote a shit article. Shocked I tell ya. Shocked.

  20. So the motto of the new libertarian moment is ‘If it wasn’t for us, you’d have to wipe your butt with your hands’?

    1. Were you born in a barn?
      Get civilized and get a bidet .

    2. Do any of the other movements have a better one?

      They all seem to be some variant of ‘freedom is slavery’.

    3. JFree
      March.10.2020 at 10:40 pm
      “So the motto of the new libertarian moment is ‘If it wasn’t for us, you’d have to wipe your butt with your hands’?”

      No.
      The slogan of fucking lefty ignoramuses is ‘you will wipe your ass with your fingers’, you fucking lefty ignoramus.

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  22. Libertarians would be building community.

    I have not seen that in the commentary here at reason. Personal attacks and little else.

    Sharing information openly. What do you know? How has the epidemic impacted you and your family and local community? What are you doing differently now?

    We have people here from a broad spectrum of expertise and population distribution. This is not a game to attack each other. It is a time to come together and demonstrate that the government is not the answer to all of life’s problems.

    I am medical. Not an expert in infectious disease, virology, or epidemiology yet I can interpret and understand medical literature. I know diagnostics. I would like to offer that in an open forum where we could do that and others in their fields and opinions. This impacts us all.

    So I ask this community to put aside our differences. Give what we can as individuals. Share information.

    1. I’m up for that. This is now going local and will be getting personal as it ramps up. Local physical isolation is going to create more of a need for the Internet v1.0.
      This site will never work for that though. Unverifiable sock puppet capabilities create the problem here just like on FB and all the other Web2.0 stuff. And changing article topics mean loss of continuity.

      I’ve got a decrepit old wordpress site that I set up during the Greece/Eurocrisis a few years ago just to blog my thoughts on markets then. If enough are interested I’m willing to blow it up and repurpose that site into more of a forum structure. Just comment there if you’re interested. Shouldn’t take any time to set that up – esp if someone has some wordpress/web skills (which I’ve lost interest in keeping updated)

      1. Damn lack of edit. Here’s the decrepit site

    2. Gotta love the “No True Scotsman” buried in this plea,

  23. Libertarians would be building community.
    I have not seen that in the commentary here at reason. Personal attacks and little else.

    If you have been around Reason for a while you will realize their are very few Libertarians here. Mostly frustrated Conservatives and Liberal trolls. Yet the site is Libertarian enough to let them all post their views and comments. Try that at some other sites and see how long you are allowed to post.

  24. This is a hilariously amateurish take. Good god, it’s like reading my old university newspaper. Did you dash this piece out in an hour in between mouthfuls of fries you picked up at the student union, Jacob?

    Sure – let’s concede that free, unregulated markets can get needed supplies to those who need them, and that they can enable the development of technologies that can help people during a global pandemic. But these are ancillary concerns. The question is, how do libertarians keep deaths from global pandemics down?

    This piece has no answer, and I suspect it’s because libertarianism has none. The strategy of containment, social distancing, and coordinated shutdowns of mass gatherings is designed to slow the spread of the pandemic to a rate that our existing health infrastructure can handle. Nothing about libertarianism prepares our health infrastructure for demand spikes like you’ll see in a global pandemic. Nothing about libertarianism empowers governments to make hard decisions to slow the spread of disease, in ways that act contrary to individual freedom and our limited rationality. Nothing about libertarianism encourages employers to adopt leave policies that shift the economic decisions people must make when they have to choose between prophylactic self-quarantines and going to work.

    So I can buy all the Purell I want, at whatever price I’m willing to bear. Great! But the NAP gets me precisely nowhere when I’m going to work with a bunch of people who are carrying the disease and spreading it, without me knowing.

  25. > COVID-19. You know, the same Trump administration that is just full to the brim with libertarians. The same administration that is raising barriers to free trade, making it more difficult for people to move to America, giving bail-outs to politically favored industries, considering more bailouts to more politically favored industries, trying to regulate free speech online, suing newspapers in an attempt to curb the First Amendment, and launching missiles into foreign countries without congressional authorization. That administration? That’s the libertarian one?

    The one that’s deregulating everything in sight, trying to cut and defang almost every govt. agency, passed huge tax cuts for the wealthy & corporations, is obsessed with economic growth?? yeah that libertarian administration. Somebody must’ve cranked the “intellectual dishonesty” dial on the Reason.com servers up 500 notches higher than it normally is this morning.

  26. The coronavirus comes from a “Progressive” country with nationalized, universal health care. It got to be a pandemic because the government not only refused to admit that there was a problem, but also used the power of the State to persecute health professionals who spoke about the disease, and the power of the media to suppress information.

    Which part of this is “libertarian” . . ?

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