Monday, November 14, 2011

"Libertarian" Des Not Mean "Extreme Republican"

Why is it that some folks -- the Left most visibly, but that may only be because they think they're slinging mud -- believe that libertarians (small-l and capital-L alike) are some kind of hyper-GOP?

Is it Barry Goldwater and Ron Paul? --Lovely men in many ways, but alas, neither one anywhere near their party's mainstream. In fact, despite radically different ways of talking about what government ought to do and what appear to be very different philosophies, the actual actions of Democrats and Republicans are remarkably similar. When big businesses start to tank, Congress and the President bail 'em out. Oh, with a little pro forma bickering, to be sure; with a different collection of pretty phrases to justify it -- but George W. Bush bailed out banks and Barack Obama bailed out the big carmakers, Congress colluding (and public opinion running against it, to a greater or lesser degree) in both instances.

In so doing, both men showed me that there is no place for me in their party. Business -- what Marx dubbed "capitalism" -- is about both reward and risk; the U.S., especially the post-FDR U. S., has removed the second part for the biggest companies. Unsurprisingly, many of those companies are deeply entangled with government. Result? Two parties, one rule.

Then there's that favorite canard, used (almost reflexively by MSNBC commentators) against Republicans and libertarians alike: "They're against regulation," most often with "...that keeps us safe," added. I guess Ronald Reagan started it -- even though his "unregulation" efforts were largely cosmetic and there's no evidence they reduced safety. I don't know if this opposition to regulation is actually true of Republicans: the EPA was a creation of Richard Nixon's administration, after all. It's not true of me -- I'm quite fond of ANSI and even more so of Underwriter's Laboratories, not to mention all their competitors. Oh, if things went my way, you'd probably want to keep your subscription to Consumer Reports up-to-date, to be sure; but what all these groups have in common is, they're private organizations who rely on end-user trust to stay afloat and work by consensus and sharing information; while this doesn't guarantee perfect immunity to regulatory capture, it is considerably better than a government regulator that operates with the force of law and, these days, is likely to have its own SWAT team. Once one of Uncle Sam's regulators has gotten into bed with some industry or group, they rarely get back out. The regulatory burden undergoes cancerous growth and the field of endeavor invariably tilts to favor larger and larger players (case in point: in most cities and towns, the local radio stations are now owned by one or two enormous companies, headquartered in some distant city).

Or take civil rights -- civil rights for everybody who refrains from initiating fraud or force against others. I'm in favor of it. The GOP wants to decide which couples can get married; the Dems favor quotas that resemble a bad James Watt punchline. Me, I favor people minding their own darn business and letting their fellow citizens mind theirs; I favor businesses hiring the competent, the skilled and talented;* I favor naming and/or shaming racists and haters for the very simple reason that they are always outnumbered, not, perhaps, so much by folks who have in their heart a deep lovingkindness for each and every person but by the vast majority of us who don't care about your skin color, religion, national origin or choice of adult partners, as long as you keep your lawn picked up and aren't too noisy when we are trying to sleep.

For that matter, I think we ought to help out the downtrodden; I just don't think it's effective to go about it by letting a government agency take our money at what amounts to gunpoint and skim off most of it to pay for nice people in nice suits in nice offices before applying one red cent to a poor child diggin' dinner outta dumpsters. We need lower taxes -- and a lot more charities with collection plates.

Alas, I am out of time and nowhere near the end of the list. I wanted to at least try. I get tired of being accused of being a superRepublician or a weak-kneed dupe of Democrats. I ain't neither. I'm me. I'm a libertarian and I wish hoi polloi had a slightly broader streak of not-meddling. But the majority of voters out there don't and the pols they vote into office are even worse that way.
* Interestingly, the behind-the-scenes parts of business I work in has small margin for fools and doesn't pay terribly well compared to the work; you get people who do it because they're good at it and they like it -- and you get a workplace slightly more diverse than an After-School Special. Ain't that many folks who both can do what we do and who will do it; it's a "level field" for anyone who makes the grade.


perlhaqr said...

I think a lot of the oppobrium from the Left stems from the fact that Republicans are (notionally) pro-capitalism, capitalism is the worst part thing in the world to many of the left, and libertarians are actually pro-market where Republicans just chat it up.

Yeah. "Libertarian does not mean 'A Republican who smokes marijuana'. We're actually way more extreme than that."

Ken said...

There is exactly as much difference between the Republicrats and the Demopublicans as there is between Tide and Cheer.

Dave H said...

I rememeber the shouting when Lee Iacocca got the to bail out Chrysler, then got an Entrepreneur of the Year award for doing it. The real entrepreneurs didn't like being associated with someone who they thought was a sellout. But that's politics.

(What's wrong with radio stations being owned by the same corporation? Thanks to Clear Channel I can now hear the same ten vapid pop songs in every city in America.)

BobG said...

**Thumbs up**

"Political tags - such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire."
- Robert A. Heinlein

Earl said...

I like my name, and do not like being boxed by some fool's label of my character or politics. Even Independent doesn't mean "Earl" so it misses me, too.

Drang said...

You keep this up and I'll nominate you for President again.

@Dave H: Lee Iococca did not get the Federal Government to "bail out" Chrysler. He got the Federal Government to co-sign a loan, which was paid off in full, on time, by Chrysler. Cost the taxpayers bupkus, just like it cost my father bupkus when he co-signed my first auto loan.

Whether he had a great plan that made Uncle say "We can't lose", or whether it was crony capitalism, well, I wasn't in those meetings. (Although I was working summers on those assembly lines...)

And you could hear the same 10 vapid pop songs in every city in America 40 years ago, the pop charts were well ensconced on the airwaves long before Clear Channel came along.

Roberta X said...


Panamared said...

The left seems to divide between those who want to be in control of others, and those willing to be controlled, [taken care of]. They can't see past their self imposed limits, so everyone else is other not to be trusted.

Cincinnatus said...

Its simply because to the Left, everyone that disagrees with them is "The Right". Its an artifact of the adoption of Marxian vocabulary. Marxists call everyone that opposes them, whether from the right, middle or left, "reactionary", "fascists", "Wreckers" or "the Right".

Labeling is the key to "winning" a debate to the Left and the actual merits unimportant.

Dave H said...

Drang: My mistake. Thank you for explaining that. I do rememeber the money was paid back. I didn't mean to cast aspersions on Mr. Iacocca, I just noted the debate over calling him an entrepreneur.

I'm aware that Top 40 was a popular format for a lot of stations, but not for all the stations. It was once possible to find a good jazz station in a small market now and then. These days it seems like in each market the conglomerates go down the same list of formats in order until they run out of stations. Current Hits, Classic Rock, Country, and some sort of light rock seem to be the most popular.

Anonymous said...

This might be at least obliquely pertinent to a discussion of libertarianism:

William's Doll

I could only find the Rifftrax version, but it seems to be complete, with the original soundtrack audible under the commentary.

The Leftists can say, "What's wrong with that?" Rightwingers can say, "Whose civilisation is it, anyway?" And I'll guess, and Libertarians please correct me if I mischaracterize, that Libertarians would point out that Rifftrax used mockery, and not government action, to set the miserable thing in perspective.

I lean toward the "Whose civilization is it, anyway?", argument. The original would make my skin crawl.

Mike James

Mark Alger said...

As long as this can get oxygen and be delivered with a straight face, I despair of your lesson ever hitting home outside the choir loft. More's the pity.


The Freeholder said...

Well said.

Skip said...

Very well typed, young lady.

Don M said...

The link has a wiki list of OSHA recognized testing laboratories.

I would be more interested in a testing laboratory list of government agencies.

And the Council of Rabbis isn't there. They are the fellows who approve food as kosher. Been in operation for a long time. Have to answer to a Higher Standard.