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The Libertarian Case for Legalized Plunder

9 Dec
The Libertarian Case for Legalized Plunder is Craig Biddle’s fairly accurate characterization of Matt Zwolinki’s argument at Cato’s website for something like a negative income tax or reparations to the victims of past coercion.  This “Bleeding Heart Libertarian” idea has some traction.  In the past one had heard liberaltarians like reason editor Matt Welch (who gets more libertarian I think as each year passes, so you will have to check with him for his current beliefs) on FOX shows profess allegiance to some minimal “social safety net.”  (But then Matt Welch does go bravely preach to the whores and lepers and tax collectors, appearing on MSNBC on the Medusa Hairy Kerry show.)  But I’ve also heard it from interns and associates at the Charles Koch Institute.

I think libertarians have been unsympathetic to the BHL enterprise before, putting up with it because they wanted some place to hangout if they viewed themselves as feminists or socially liberal personally, or because as a practical matter they think engaging and persuading people in free market ideas requires attending to consequentialist arguments, not just moral ones.
I think the idea is that because the public already thinks in terms of a moral/practical dichotomy, and to engage it it is good, one must lead with consequentialist discussions. I know when I read Ayn Rand the summer after my freshman year of high school, even though I was a socialist I immediately identified with Rand’s sense of life and view of how one should live. But I wondered about how society would not even have more poverty, racism and depression, as my previous influencers at NPR and NBC had told me, if we had capitalism. I had to spend the next few years, pre Internet, buying books or using inter library loan to find Capitalism, The Unknown Ideal, and then from there find von Mises, FEE,  Hayek, Rothbard, reason, and other discussions of how economies work.
That said I think Zwolinski, even as he cast this as a Freidmanite plan of making the welfare state more efficient (dangerous since Milton brought us withholding for the same reasons), has gone just far enough to exhaust what patience libertarians, as opposed to liberaltarians, had for him.
Maybe that is why Cato published this; give him enough rope…. Or maybe they like the idea of “enlivening” their blog with a “debate,” which they do need to have, since he claims to be a libertarian.
It will be interesting to see who takes up the Biddle “challenge.”   I’m not going to elaborate an argument for individual rights there, at this time, since my own ideas about that are more or less the same as Rand’s, with a little Straussianism tossed in. It is sad that the libertarians who used to work in that area, like Eric Mack and Tibor Machan, aren’t being followed up by a new crop of people saying something interesting about rights theory.

Libertarianism vs. Radical Capitalism: Is this contradiction fictional?

27 Nov
Libertarianism vs. Radical Capitalism – The Objective Standard

The enterprising Craig Biddle actually discusses various libertarian authors, including Objectivism friendly ones, at slightly more length than his predecessors have.

I think he misses at least one minor and one major point.

The minor one is that Ayn Rand called her politics “libertarian,” and recommended that word to Joan Kennedy Taylor when she gave Joan advice on her young Manhattan Republican club magazine Persuasion, in the 1960s, until Miss Rand had a tiff with her friend John Hospers leading her to abjure libertarians (having already had cross personal words with Murray and Joey Rothbard).

The major one being that many libertarians who use the phrase “natural rights” do think of themselves as discovering and articulating those rights by means of Ayn Rand’s or similar neo-Aristotelian philosophies. And when they say people can be libertarians even if they are Zorastrians, Rastafarians, Muslims, or Jews, they aren’t saying any of those religions supply sound foundations for ideas of justice or rights. Just that people do in fact hold libertarian policy positions motivated by their (often new) interpretations of those religions.

More Thursday’s top libertarian updates – Syrian intervention/March On Washington edition

29 Aug
1) Eric Bolling On FaceBook

I’ve been saying we should back off bombing Syria… we need more proof before we kill more people (Egypt, Libya). What say you______?

2) The Objective Standard on FaceBook*

“If men want to oppose war, it is statism that they must oppose. So long as they hold the tribal notion that the individual is sacrificial fodder for the collective, that some men have the right to rule others by force, and that some (any) alleged ‘good’ can justify it—there can be no peace within a nation and no peace among nations.” —Ayn Rand

J Buzz Webb via Tyler Trent on FaceBook
Seriously, these “Syrian rebels” are the people that congress and the Obama administration are giving (your) money, training, and material support to. It’s all part of a bigger picture of regional destabilization in the world of geo-politics and resource wars. There are no winners in this conflict, yet the US gov’t has been stirring the pot for quite a while. What could possibly go wrong? This is why *interventionism* and falsely labeling it as “national interest” is a really, really bad idea. But this is the modus operandi of what governments do. How do you think al Qaeda got started in the first place??

4) reason magazine on Facebook

Freedom needs no lengthy explanation. It needs no five-year plan, or 10-point agenda, or 30-percent tax, or 200-person bureaucracy. Freedom asks for none of those things. In fact, it doesn’t ask for anything – except to be left in peace.

*(Disclaimer –  Craig Biddle and The Objective Standard do not call themselves or Ayn Rand “libertarians.”  Because it’s not sex if, as with Bill Clinton, it’s only oral.)