STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
New Critiques Seek to Adapt Libertarianism to the Warfare/Welfare State
By Daily Bell Staff - November 07, 2016

Updating Libertarianism for the 21st Century  … A little while ago, I wrote that libertarianism — the small-government philosophy codified by Robert Nozick and others in the mid-20th century — is looking a little shopworn. As efforts to slash government yield diminishing returns, and empirical evidence piles up that many government interventions are very beneficial, the minimalist state envisioned by Nozick et al. doesn’t seem up to the challenges of the 21st century.- Bloomberg

Bloomberg’s Noah Smith, who famously has derided libertarianism in many articles, now has decided it would be a good idea to update it.

In this editorial, excerpted above, he announces an ally … a new libertarian think-tank, the Niskanen Center. His editorial builds on one recently posted at the Niskanen website by its vice president of policy, Will Wilkinson. You can see the initial editorial here.

Noah calls the longish essay “brilliant” and endorses the approach, which he claims is trying to find ways “to update [the libertarian] doctrine to address today’s problems, while retaining and amplifying the useful parts.”

More:

Instead of invoking airy axioms, Wilkinson begins with a hard-nosed look at the data. He confronts libertarians with a stark fact — the richer a country is, the more its government tends to spend.

This is true when we look at different countries, and also when we look at each country over time. Today, the top spenders include countries such as France, Denmark and Finland, while the small-government ranks include Sudan, Nigeria and Bangladesh.

… Wilkinson … says that whether government spending is a luxury good or a parasite, rich countries are almost never able to keep it low. Other than a few states like Singapore and Lichtenstein, every rich country chooses big government.

The basic thrust of the essay, and Smith’s endorsement of it, is that to remain relevant in the 21st century, libertarians will need to be more pragmatic and less idealistic. Stop talking about eliminating government and concentrate on making “government spend more wisely.”

Rather than promote “theories of unfettered markets,” economists and other serious observers of the market should be “guided by pragmatism.” Libertarians “should be diving into the gritty details of the regulatory state, or gathering evidence on how best to curb government’s excesses.”

Interestingly, despite his manifest contempt, Noah ends his article by suggesting that he hopes Wilkinson et. al. have a major impact on libertarianism because as “modernizers” instead of “purists,” they can help the “ideology” stay relevant.

From a libertarian standpoint, this argument is surely a rehash of the one that took place long ago between Murray Rothbard and the Cato Institute.

At the time, Rothbard had hopes of turning the Cato Institute toward a robust, Misesian approach to free-maket economics. But Cato was in the throes of a coup by the Koch brothers. As a result, Rothbard resigned and concentrated on Mises.org with Lew Rockwell.

Mises and Rothbard were roundly ignored up until the expansion of the Internet era when their version of libertarianism exploded like a metaphysical supernova and virtually took over portions of the English speaking Internet.

While this was exactly what Cato and others had hoped to avoid (it was the realization of all the fears that had led to the suppression of Misesian economics in the first place), it’s not hard to understand.

People want to be free. Misesian economics as taken to its logical conclusion by Rothbard and Rockwell became known as anarcho-capitalism.

There are certainly criticisms that be leveled at Rothbard, especially regarding his addiction to a full gold standard as the only non-criminal form of money, but generally speaking anarcho-capitalism provides a pretty good basis and justification for freedom.

Anarcho-capitalism is based on generally accepted economic principles that culminated in the creation of the free-market Austrian school in the mid 1800s based on the refinement of what has become known as marginal utility.

Marginal utility is essentially the basis of all modern economics. But its assertion and elaboration irritated German economists so much that they called its economic backers “Austrians,” a term the Austrian-located, free-market economists of the day took as a badge of honor. Thus “Austrian economics” came to be named by its enemies.

Austrian economics at root is very simple. Under the Misesian concept of “human action,” humanity’s future behavior can’t be predicted. People will always take action as they choose to in order to confront threats to their survival.

This is why government rules and regulations almost never work as intended. And why economic forecasts have significantly decreasing value over even short spans of time.

Marginal utility shows us clearly that the marketplace develops prices and that this has a powerful impact on prices at the margin. This is a second insight provided by Austrian economics: When government tries to “fix prices” via monopolies or even by passing laws and regulations, the market is distorted and prosperity gradually leaks away.

One can marry the impossibility of forecasting to the damage done by passing laws and regulations to come to the conclusion that nothing government does (short or offering protection, perhaps) is either especially valid or useful.

This is simply not a tolerable insight for most people, even now. It was obnoxious to the Germans who continually insulted “Austrians.” It was obnoxious to British economists who invented a whole new dysfunctional form of economics – econometrics – to try to displace the Austrian free-market approach. (The hope was that by making economics sufficiently mathematical and complex, basic dysfunctions could be overcome, or more likely disguised.)

Fundamentally, markets work and governments don’t. Laws don’t work, nor do regulations because they are predictive and “human action” is not predictable. Laws and regulations also fix prices. Central banks can’t create prosperity because they have monopoly powers to fix the price of the money and price-fixing always ends in disaster and drains prosperity.

It is obvious we are seeing a resurgence of the Cato/Koch approach to restraining and rolling back Misesian anarcho-capitalism. That it is happening now along with Hillary’s evident or possible ascension, is perhaps no accident.

The idea is that people ought to stop repeating that government is injurious to people’s aggregate welfare and to focus on ways to make government “work better.” But government cannot work “better.” It can only work “less worse.”

One counter-argument is that government provides for the poor. But in free-market environments, we can see historically that people take it upon themselves individually, or via spiritual or religious institutions, to do the same thing.

Additionally, there are other reasons to attack anti-authoritarian arguments such as anarcho-capitalism. The urban paradigm that is currently in the ascendant supports the globalist manipulations of a handful of elite bankers who seemingly control monopoly central banking and thus much of the money in the world.

Free-market economics shows us clearly that the current urban/authoritarian approach is rife with cogitative dissonance and contradictions. It cannot be justified logically. It can only be insulted. Humans do not need to live in a perpetual state of war, nor is it necessary that handful of people control the production and debasement of money.

Conclusion: If one is interested in these issues, one faces a choice as to whether to argue privately or publicly for “adjustments” to the current system or to argue holistically for a system of freedom and voluntarism. This will evidently be a defining argument for libertarians as this century wears on.

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  • windsor1

    This is an exercise in intellectual masturbation. This is wild thinking from the mind of an economist detached from reality. Von Mises is unworkable in the corrupt oligarchical economy which we live in today, so why put it on a pedestal.
    There are still those people out there, and unfortunately many of them who will be voting tomorrow, who believe that they live in a democratic republic with a free market economy. America is too far down the drain for a lesson in the Austrian School of Economics.
    The reality is that the oligarchy, Establishment or whatever other term you wish to apply, controls the economy and all levels of government and they want a globalized political and economic and judicial system controlled by an elite. In their own words they claim this to be a superior system than a democracy created by ill informed voters and in some respects I am inclined to agree.
    To achieve this means breaking down the existing capitalist system and replacing it with a Fascist global one world government with a small elite ruling over a neo-feudal underclass in a totalitarian system. Instead of embracing competitive commerce this system will be ruled by a handful of super corporations and banksters who think like J. D. Rockefeller who stated “Competition is a sin”. If someone can explain to me how the Australian School of Economics fits into such a system please explain.
    I am told there are 1,000 PHD economists working at the Federal Reserve the pinnacle of the banking system. These 1,000 academics have through their collective brain power managed to destroy the value of the currency whose value they were created to defend. It was assured that the Fed would stabilize the banking system, and once again they managed to bring it even closer to the brink than in 2008. There are bail-in and bail out provisions that protects the bankers but not corporations that produce products with added value. So who runs the American government, the people or the bankers?? How can an economic managed by the brightest economic minds on the planet create a financial system on the threshold of total debt collapse. Any person with an IQ higher than room temperature has to ask what is the real agenda here?
    These same bankers through their bought and paid for politicians, have gutted the American Economy by passing trade agreements like GATT, WTO, NAFTA and now on the table TPP and TTIP. The net effect is the transfer industry, the engine of any economy, to locations where slave labor is employed and there are few if any regulatory, environmental requirements, no litigation worries and no employee benefit or pension plans. The decision to manufacture overseas is a no brainer.
    The American political system has been auctioned to the highest bidder, the bankers running the corrupt and untouchable Federal Reserve System and top corporations.
    The Military is owned by the Military industrial Complex.
    The Media is owned by 6 large pro globalist corporations.
    Bubba, the typical dumbed down non intellectual American is oblivious to the economic disaster facing him. He needs to consult his wide screen to feed him the propaganda that guides the life of him and his family. These ill informed “deplorables” are focused gay marriage, locker room talk and climate change and who will win the weekend football game.
    In my opinion the key issue at hand is not about introducing Von Mises economics into a sick and sinking economy but whether these same mad financial engineers who run the system will engineer us into a new devastating world war to cover for their destruction of the financial system so that they can retain control over a new and improved non- Von Mises system.

    • disqus_QZX8ENhLyb

      Mises goal was to contrast the existing system with the truly free market and to highlight every governmentally-caused distortion of the truly free market.

      EVERY SINGLE Governmental intervention DOES distort the marketplace, whether its is “free” or not.

      As I see it, the MAIN cause is that we, the sheeple, allowed the government to commandeer the monetary system.

      Are you aware that Milton Friedman, a “great free-market economist,” actually proposed a constitutional amendment to establish a constant increase (inflation of) the total currency stock at 3% to5% per year?

      Fortunately it was defeated, but the banksters and politithugs found ways to accomplish that or worse. “Uncle Miltie” did not understand money at all. His Chicago School comprised statists with some market leanings.

      Instead of being a truly free market in money, we have a FIAT-currency system. Fiat-currency is NOT real, true money.

      Real, true money is determined by the day-to-day subjective evaluations of INDIVIDUALS and what they accept in exchange for their labor and products in the everyday markets of the world.

      A “hard-money” definition: Real true MONEY is a commodity
      World governments have been at this fiat-currency system for so long that not one person in a million understands why currencies keep losing purchasing power on a steady basis.

      BitCoin and the BlockChain have the POTENTIAL to bring about true economic freedom by eliminating the ability of governments to control and manipulate the currency.

      CHARACTERISTICS OF AN IDEAL
      MONEY

      1. An ideal money
      is, first-and-foremost, a commodity that serves
      as an intermediate-step in the process of indirect-exchange
      in commerce:
      a medium-of
      exchange and
      store-of-purchasing-power
      over
      an indefinite
      period of time.

      2. An ideal money is
      valued not only as a
      medium-of
      exchange,
      but even more so as a store-of-purchasing-power
      for an indefinite period of time.

      3. An ideal money
      is also valued for its inherent, intrinsic qualities and all the uses
      derived therefrom. Precious metals are highly-valued
      and widely-used in industry and commerce for decoration, jewelry,
      ornamentation, electroplating, chemical catalysts, electronics
      circuitry, scientific instrumentation, etc. in addition to their use
      as
      media-of
      exchange
      and stores-of-purchasing-power.

      Over thousands of years, many
      different objects and substances found in nature were used as
      candidates for an ideal medium-of-exchange. Some of the things
      that were actually used as media-of-exchange and
      stores-of-purchasing-power over the centuries in
      ancient or isolated societies are: animal furs and skins,
      beads (wampum), bills-of-exchange, bronze objects, cigarettes,
      company-scrip, copper bars, cotton bales, cowrie (sea) shells, gold
      dust, gold coins, gold nuggets, iron rubles, knives, leather strips,
      liquor, salt crystals, silver coins, silver objects, and tobacco
      sheaves.

      The customs, experiences, and
      traditions that developed in the market-places of the world
      “winnowed-out” all those objects and substances except gold
      and silver. Gold and silver come
      closest to
      meeting the ideal.

      4. An ideal money
      is relatively rare. The most
      abundant substance on earth is oxygen, next is silicon. These two
      elements combine chemically to form silica, a hard, glassy mineral
      that occurs in several forms:
      quartz, sand, opal. Silica is far too plentiful to be a good
      candidate for an ideal money. The precious metals are relatively very
      rare. They are not found lying around in great abundance for someone
      to pick up from the beach and use as a
      medium-of
      exchange and
      store-of-purchasing-power.

      5. An ideal money
      is a physically-stable solid that is durable and not
      amorphous over an indefinite period of time. Because gases
      and liquids are fluid and volatile, they require closed
      containers in which to handle or transport them. They are definitely
      not candidates for ideal money.

      6. An ideal money
      is chemically-stable, inert, and non-volatile for an indefinite
      period of time. [There is nothing in the known universe that is
      completely chemically-inert under all conceivable conditions ―
      near the sun, or in extremely hot and corrosive atmospheres,
      for instance.]

      Gold comes closest to being
      chemically-inert under “normal” conditions found on earth.
      It cannot be dissolved by most liquids; it takes Aqua
      Regia
      (Latin, kingly
      water

      a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acids) to dissolve gold and
      platinum.

      Gold that has been immersed at
      the bottom of the ocean for centuries is unaffected; when recovered,
      it glitters as brightly as on the day it sank to the bottom. Silver,
      however, does tarnish slightly after long exposure to the atmosphere,
      its pollutants, or the ocean and its dissolved contents.

      7. An
      ideal money
      is readily refined, tested, weighed, and authenticated. It is not
      easily
      counterfeited.

      8. An
      ideal money
      maintains a constant weight (mass) during storage under any
      conceivable conditions for an indefinite
      period of time.

      9. An ideal money
      is easily divisible into small pieces or units without changing its
      nature or desirability.

      10. An
      ideal money
      is highly-malleable and highly-ductile; it can be worked easily into
      different shapes and can be minted easily into coins. Gold can be
      pounded or rolled into a sheet so thin that it is translucent. The
      dome of the capitol building in Charleston, West Virginia is clad
      with a very thin layer of gold foil.

      11. An
      ideal money
      is denominated (measured) by its mass (weight) in its pure (0.9999)
      form contained in the coin or bullion. Gold coins frequently are
      alloyed with copper or some other base metal to make them harder and
      wear less-rapidly from handling. Gold coins frequently consist of 11
      parts gold to 1 part alloy.

      12. An
      ideal money
      is easily transportable; it is neither bulky nor too heavy to handle.

      13. An
      ideal money has perfect
      financial liquidity;
      it is the premier, single-most-widely-accepted
      medium-of-exchange
      and store-of-purchasing-power
      the world over; and it is readily-convertible into any currency.

      14. An
      ideal money serves as a
      stable reference-measure of value and pricing-standard against which
      to compare the purchasing power of all other media-of-exchange,
      and the prices of commodities,
      goods, and services on the market. This serves to make it an ideal
      for use as a unit-of-account.

      15. An
      ideal money is the basic
      key-to-development of a division-of-labor
      society
      that enables individuals to specialize in producing commodities,
      goods, and services in the most-efficient manner, thus vastly
      increasing the total wealth and living standards of a society.

      There is and always has been only ONE real true money in the world for over five thousand years: precious metals: gold, silver, bronze, copper. Money-substitute certificates are “just as good as gold” when government’s greedy fingers are removed from the pot. BitCoin has the POTENTIAL to do so.
      We, the sheeple also have the POTENTIALl to reject and refuse to use fiat-currency for anything except to pay your TAXES to the government.
      Any number of nations and communities are beginning to use “local currencies” and converting to fiat-currency only when absolutely necessary.

      The KEY is WHO controls the monetary system: all the players and stakeholders in the overall market, or governments. Right now sheeple are allowing the banksters and their allies , the ruling elite (all government officials and hangers-on) to get away with money-murder.

      Daily Bell’s statement about Rothbard’s insistence on a strict gold standard was incorrect. Rothbard was merely stating how a truly free market works so that perceptive individuals could understand all the distortions caused by governmental interventions.

      Rothbard advocated a truly free monetary market in which each individual decided what it was that he was going to accept in payment for his goods and services. If someone wanted to take cigarettes versus “George Washingtons” that was His business. Parties to the trade or exchange make the decision, NOT government. That is a free market.

      If every individual insisted on receiving precious metal coins or 100% redeemable paper certificates in payment for his goods and services rather than meekly accepting fiat-paper-currency in the long run, government fiat-paper would be used only for starting fires and plastering walls. [Maybe in the short run, we’d see a lot of individuals shot dead by government enforcers.]

      Reject collectivism/communitarianism/mercatilism/socialism in ALL its variously-named forms.

      Set a goal of taking charge of your own life.

      OWN YOURSELF COMPLETELY. Be your own person, a SOVEREIGN INDIVIDUAL!

      Deal with the entire world as if you were worth something, and MEAN IT!

      ******************************************************************************************

      • Great post. But Rothbard wanted a full gold standard and advocated putting bankers in jail if they lied about their gold coverage. Rothbard also stated famously that money could be virtually anything and had been throughout history. Your post is nonetheless a good example of why the standards of freedom ought to be stated and restated regardless of where a society is on the parabola of its decline. We should keep the verities of freedom and prosperity in mind, always.

        • disqus_QZX8ENhLyb

          Is not a banker’s lying about his gold coverage fraud?

          Is not fraud illegal in every (even civilized) society?

          My point is that money evolved over the years. Early on (as you can see from my prior post) many, many things were used as “money.” But for about 5,000 years, under my definition, money is precious metal. All else, I classify as currency.

          My major point is that money differs from currency in that money serves MAINLY as a very long-term store of purchasing power. Since ALL the different currencies serve as media-of-exchange, money also serves as a medium-of-exchange; but the thing that makes it money is it long-lasting stability in purchasing power.

          As illustrated by all present-day currencies, some of them lose purchasing power so fast they rival Zimbabwe’s shenanigans. Z$ are NOT money but lousy currency. There is a difference. To say that money is ANYTHING used as a medium-of-exchange is in correct and lazy usage.

      • Samarami

        disqus_QZX8ENhLyb:

        “…As I see it, the MAIN cause is that we, the sheeple, allowed the government to commandeer the monetary system…”

        My only disagreement here, disqus, is use of the dangerous word, “we“. “We” had nothing to do with it.

        I’m convinced that “our (true) founding fathers” were the likes of Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun — conquerors of antiquity. They saw the benefit of keeping as slaves the inhabitants of the conquered cities and villages and eventual empires who survived the original slaughter. They’re the ones who first “coined money”, had their images inscribed thereon, (and then began “clipping” as needed).

        The genius idea of US Federal Reserve was merely a concluding chapter in recognizing the tendency of the masses to group themselves into herds and behave with docile “Stockholm syndrome” toward those who would deign to rule — the Trumps and the Clintons of antiquity. Sam

    • autonomous

      Spoken by a true elitest.

      • windsor1

        I’ll have to work on my wordsmithing skills. I hardly intended to sound like an elite. I intended to be critical of the Establishment who have destroyed all that was great about America.

        • sadstateofaffairs

          The fed’s stated goals must not be their actual goals because they have been failing at their stated goals for over a century. So to paraphrase Hillary, their public goals must be different than their private (actual goals) https://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/what-economic-goals-does-federal-reserve-seek-to-achieve-through-monetary-policy.htm
          I think that if you start with the belief that everything the government tells you is a lie, you will be well on your way to understanding.
          Also I think that if you research deeply, the elite created the U.S. for EXACTLY what it has become, an empire. Otherwise the constitution makes no sense.

      • Samarami

        I won’t agree with your assessment here, autonomous. Although perhaps a mite wordy, windsor1 appears to have “the-grand-plan” well in focus. Sam

    • Dude

      So if I understand you then you believe we should either 1) do nothing because it is hopeless, or 2) support and work with the new feudalism in hope the technocrats and our masters get it right, in spite of all the evidence you present of how they can’t get it right?

      • We’ve always suggested people free themselves, internally and externally, not wait for a political process to do it for them.

        • Dude

          I can’t argue with that. My micronation is in agreement with yours on that one.

  • Sebastian Puettmann

    Libertarianism come from the Latin word ‘Libertas’, meaing freedom. It is not fair to rob somebody of his personal freedom and responsibility. The superior case for freedom is made on a moral philosophical case. It has nothing to do with how much stuff each one of us currently has. Moral behaviour, and therefore Libertarian’ism’, cannot be updated on grounds that have nothing to do with the core of its doctrin. Maybe today it is true that ‘richer countries spend more, can spend more, or should spend more’. But as Stefan Molyneux would say: Not an argument!

    (By the way. if a specific amount of wealth could be an argument against individual freedom, proponents of the wellfare state or socialism should be able to name the exact amount, at which point to reinstall capitalism would not be ‘unfair’ anymore. Surely, if everybody would be a billionaire, there would not be any point in arguing that the system is unfair for reasons of inequality, right?)

  • rahrog

    The best way to put libertarian philosophy into ACTION is to SECEDE from the central governments that are owned by central banks.

    • autonomous

      Only an individual can secede from a government; an organized secession is merely an establishing of a competing government, as the Confederacy

      proved. And the stronger and more brutal decides the outcome.

      • Samarami

        Fully agree, autonomous. I am a sovereign state. Sam

        • Dude

          I tend to act as a sovereign state where reasonable and practical lol. Too bad extremist sovereign citizens have given all of us mini states a bad name lol.

          My micro nation is very peaceful and open to exchange with the rest of you micro nations out there.

      • FEEuser

        True. Each and every human being is absolutely sovereign in the eyes of the Almighty, if not in the eyes of his envious neighbors.

        However, individuals, unless they intend to live like Robinson Crusoe, will seek to trade and interact with their neighbors. No man is an island, as they say. They will also seek to form alliances and covenants with their neighbors for mutual protection. Thus, civilization is born as wealth is produced and exchanged. Perhaps this is also where secession comes into the picture, and not just once? Since the world is in a constant state of transformation, and civilizations rise and fall, secession would appear to be a natural and periodic phenomenon necessary for the extirpation of decivilization and tyranny.

        At any rate, it usually proves to be exceedingly difficult for an “individual” to secede from a government. It takes the spread of a great idea to make this happen so that the idea becomes like a giant hand of fate which sweeps all before it. Mises called it “public opinion,” the REAL government of the world.

      • rahrog

        What if 50 million individuals currently residing in what we call the USA decide to form new societies with different forms of government?

        • FEEuser

          That is their right. Is the present oppressive system any better? Is central banking, fiat money, and perpetual war better? Is centralization better than decentralization?

          Are they free to do as they wish or not? In the status quo, they are not.

          Nobody should have to live in a political unit not of his own choice. Any country which forces people to do this is not worthy of the name “free.” That is tyranny.

          Life will go on. International trade will flourish for those who wish it and can understand its advantages. Most will fervently wish to live peacefully with their neighbors and to accommodate them to the extent that it fosters free trade. There will be no room for central banking, fiat money, and perpetual war.

        • autonomous

          They are welcome to do so. Just don’t tread on me.

    • FEEuser

      Right. People must give up the idea that they need a supra governmental body over those they already have. Such bodies are superfluous, parasites, virtually nothing but organized crime. That’s all there is to it.

      • rahrog

        People who insist on kowtowing to their government should be allowed to get what they ask for good long and hard.

        The rest of us are free to live in Galt’s Gulch.

  • autonomous

    Mises came close to expressing a libertarian philosophy. As usual, that visionary stood on the shoulders of giants. Also as usual he has been primarily opposed by pygmies. Liberty results in apparently chaotic action. Mises’s flaw was in thinking that it was not chaotic, but predictable. True, at sufficient distance, chaos reveals patterns, but of beauty, not pure symmetry, much as the beauty of the universe–revealing only surface-deep laws. He who thinks he grasps the essence is doomed to be refuted om further study.

  • FreeYourMindinSC

    This is where the world is headed in the near future if Hillary Rodham Clinton wins this election:

    http://batr.org/stevenyates.html

    • Dude

      Fortunately she didn’t.

      Authoritarian style “globalism” lost.

      One is not an anti globalist mouth breathing racist merely because one opposes allowing any turd worlder to walk across the border and stay in any country of his choosing.

      The turd world is an accurate description in my judgment. So therefore it is not racist. Have you noticed the smell and state of plumbing in poor countries?

  • Ernie Hopkins

    Excellent Piece DB!!!!

  • Samarami

    “…People will always
    take action as they choose to
    in order to confront threats
    to their survival.

    “This is why government
    rules and regulations almost never
    work as intended. And why economic
    forecasts have significantly
    decreasing value
    over even short
    spans of time…”

    A genuine keeper! Sam

    • Thanks.

    • Dude

      That is a very classic tenet of Austrian economic theory. We actually do almost always maximize personal utilities, so all efforts to create leftist utopia through a command economy fail. Crony capitalism, another economic system highly dependent on top down control and regulations (in the form of hidden barriers to competition via regulatory capture) also generally fails to deliver robust economic growth.

      We seem to have a combination of the worst aspects of socialism and crony capitalism hindering first world growth and high growth third world economies seem to be losing their mojo too due to the same thing.

      The law of unintended consequences is another way to discuss this concept.

      This was fully fleshed out in a couple of books.

      Human Action, and Why Socialism Must Fail by Mises. Hayek also discussed it. The complexity and mass effect of all the decisions on personal utilities at the micro level can’t be replicated by top down regulations in command economies.

      Venezuela is a very recent and very crude example of ham fisted authoritarian economic control. Straight out of Atlas Shrugged lol.

      People don’t change their nature just because government passes some high minded but poorely thought out regulation lol.

  • Steve

    I see Smiths comments of an attempt to de-fang libertarianism, its a bit like saying to someone who believes the Bible to be true and inerrant to “water it down” to suit the fact that morals have slid downhill – its just not going to happen.
    Smith is trying the “frog in the pot of water” approach to try and create a neutered version fo libertarianism so it can be fully wiped out….the fact they are stratingthis nonsense tells me they see it as a danger to the Elites

    • Dude

      Well. Shall we moderate and be realistic that none of us will get everything we want, or continue to watch from the sidelines.

      Half a loaf is better than none. If we could cut the size and regulatory capacity of the feds so they stay out of minutia and leave that to the states we would have accomplished a lot. Constitutionalists are very similar to libertarians. We should start there with the base broadening. There are many shared beliefs with the radical left such as anti militarism. We need to engage in outreach with the greens. Libertarians do recognize there is a commons that requires oversight although we disagree with the left on how large it is.

      If you are comfortable in your coalition then it is not broad enough to be fully effective.

      • FEEuser

        Half a measure of poison is WORSE than none.

  • gringott

    So an enemy of freedom and liberty, advises advocates of both to “tweak” their philosophy to support the goals of government by “tweaking” the system and making it work.

    Isn’t this what the Republican “revolution” did in 1994? Tweaked the system to kick the can down the road when Clinton’s leftist direction started to take down the same system?

    Newton Gingrich’s inclusion as a insider with Trump after the election makes me think the same process is going to take place again. Personally, I’d rather see the system torn down.

    I left the Libertarian Party as a voter and a dues paying member since my first election in the 1970’s. A party that can run two Republicans like Johnson and Weld is not the party of Harry Browne. R.I.P.

    • Dude

      I tend to agree we have to be a bit more realistic if we are to win. SS is here to stay until it eats us all alive lol. Medicare, medicaid also.

      We could focus on ending militarism, advocating free trade, and making government more efficient and federalism more robust again. Our current high intensity political conflicts are a result of each side being afraid of the other side winning federal elections and subjugating the other.

      Block grant everything to the states. End regulatory requirements except environmental and interstate commerce regulations and we can Co exist peacefully again, a collection of cooperative blue states and red states. If you want gay marriage and your bathrooms liberated then either move to a blue state or work on your state legislature.

      An intrusive, winner take all, powerful central authority will get us to seriously fighting among ourselves some day. Now the leftists want to secede lol.

      Handcuff the Feds again by a more robust 10th Amendment, limit its power to attach strings to block grants and you will see less political conflict as neither side feels the other is a threat after a federal election

  • Dude

    Singapore and Lichtenstein are the only beacons of first world style libertarianism, eh? I know Lichtenstein proly
    won’t let me stay. They got a nice little thing going and no need to let in the riff raff, but Singapore might.

    The Asian Miracle was predicated on free trade and limited government, but people seem to ignore that. It lifted all boats, some more than other, compared to Malaysia and other places.

    Libertarianism is a bit autocratic lol. We are suspicious of democracy but is there any other possible check on government?

  • FEEuser

    The coopting of a great movement. It’s an old trick. It has a fatal flaw. One cannot improve on perfection.

  • As I wrote on the Niskanen Centre article (doubtless it will fall victim to “moderate” moderators…)

    “Wagner’s Law” is nonsense, and is easily explained: the greater the GDP per capita, the greater the amount of above-subsistence output there is for parasites to funnel to themselves and their cronies. In societies with lower GDP per capita, attempting to take a larger chunk of output would result in societal upheaval because the higher tax rate is taking dollars with very high marginal utility.

    In other words, it’s fully explained by a parasitic entity plus technological-change driven productivity growth: that is a far easier ‘get’ than the notion that government growth Granger-causes output growth (which is ludicrous on its face, since introducing a constraint on a system cannot drive it to a higher local maximum).

    It might have helped the attempts to white-ant the anti-government movement if you relied on some correlation that had such an obvious cause under a standard anarcho-capitalist framework.

    Journalists again show their less-than-dilettante understanding of any subject that requires non-trivial analytical competence: it’s 3rd-quintile morons subject to the Dunning Kruger Effect, who rely on the Murray Gell Mann Amnesia Effect plus median-IQ audiences, to push tropes that only convince those whose income depends on them remaining convinced.

    Think hard about the sum of all the Harberger Triangles that were demolished in 20th century wars (not least due to the death of ~200m civilians), and then compare that to the putative Harberger benefits of solving ‘market failure’ problems. The former swamps the latter by orders of magnitude – making States welfare-reducing institutions, a fortiori: even assuming that governments intervene only to solve public goods problems, and they always do so in non-distorting, fully-efficient ways – and neither of those things is true which further tilts the scales against the idiotic idea that government does any good whatsoever.

    Take the deaths of civilians in major 20th century wars, and using conservative assumptions about wage rates, unemployment rates, productivity growth and employment lifespan, calculate the lost output potential: it adds up to almost 3 years’ worth of global GDP… and that’s assuming that none of the dead would have invented anything that changed productivity growth, and that none of them reproduced.

    Government is a cancer that attracts megalomaniacal sociopaths: even if it did Granger-cause higher GDP per capita, it should be opposed… if slavery induced higher rates of output growth, it should be opposed.

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