Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Short, Simple Dismissal Of Libertarianism

99% of libertarianism is obviously untrue or unacceptible.
How can we know that so easily? Here are some simple principles that make it obvious (though these problems are not unique to libertarianism.) For brevity and clarity, "many" and "most" are omitted: presume they are there.
  • Libertarians can only agree with each other if they get so vague that their statements have no fixed meaning. It's the same way we know that no more than one religion could be right, and probably none are.
  • Libertarians use vague glittering generalities of propaganda (terms like "liberty") rather than specifics such as "liberty for A to do B at an uncompensated cost C to D".
  • Libertarianism is based on imaginary "natural rights" (including property rights.) Real rights are creations of coercive human institutions such as law.
  • Libertarianism privileges property rights (their "liberty") above all other values, redefining liberty in terms of property.
  • Libertarian economic arguments are based on multiple, conflicting, unrealistic economic models such as "economic man".
  • Libertarians prefer the feudal property relations of business and markets to democracy.
  • Libertarian philosophy is a "one size fits all" procrustean bed that doesn't address the other human needs of women, children, elderly, incompetent, sick, minorities and others who resent being forced into unjust market competitions.
  • Libertarianism is domineering and totalitarian: nothing and nobody is excused from ownership and markets. No matter how impractical markets might be.
  • Libertarians want to dictate which freedoms we get for all time, and don't want to allow others to choose their freedoms.
  • Libertarians ignore ideas of equality and justice except to make the ludicrous claim that markets provide them.
  • Libertarians demonize government while ignoring the benefits of government.
  • Libertarians argue as if government is monolithic when there are hundreds of competing nations and most contain balances of powers and many independent levels.
  • Libertarians shill for the wealthy.
  • The intellectual structure of modern libertarianism has been funded from the start by the wealthy and corporations as propaganda to serve their interests.
  • Libertarians engage in corporate-funded denialism of science, history and economics.
For a more extensive list, see: What Is Wrong With Libertarianism.

If you have other straightforward, one or two sentence additions, please suggest them.

Thursday, November 08, 2012


This latest election continues to show the irrelevance of libertarianism as anything but a cats paw for the rich.

After roughly 30 years of support for the Libertarian Party, the Kochs very successfully showed their true colors by funding/founding the Tea Party movement.  Essentially, the idea that rich white males ought to run society in their own interest because that will keep THE OTHERS subordinate.  Others such as the poor, the non-white and females.

As far as the Kochs are concerned, libertarians are just "the help", and ought to be hired or fired at will. Thus we had the spectacle of the ownership of CATO becoming publicly disputed.  Golly, it was so funny to hear the true believers squeal when they discovered that belief doesn't mean squat against ownership.

Now that CATO is governed by a board instead of by shares, we can easily see who CATO represents.    Let's look at the 16 or so board members.

Only two are women.  One, Nancy M. Pfotenhauer, is a long-time lobbyist for the Kochs: part of the hired help.  The other is Ethelmae C. Humphreys from the Mackinac Center, part of the system of interlocking directorates that so closely resembles the Robber-Baron era corporate practices prohibited by the Clayton Act.  She's got family wealth.  So it doesn't look as if women are really represented in the board at CATO.

The rest are (judging from names) apparently rich, white males from the financial industry, heads of corporations, or provide interlocking directorates with other Koch-supported organizations.

What do these people represent?  Why liberty, obviously: the liberty of the 0.01%.  The liberty of the first class citizens -- the large corporations and the ultra rich.  Certainly not the liberties of the poor, sick, immigrants, minorities and women.  They allow their hirelings to write about those groups, but it is all lip service.  And people know it is lip service, which is why those groups are so under-represented in libertarianism.

Libertarians are applauding some of the electoral drug-war rollbacks that have taken place.  But those are not thanks to libertarianism: libertarians do not own drug issues.  As a matter of fact, they are very peripheral to drug issues.  Liberals have long opposed the drug war, and called for regulated usage of drugs.  Not freedom to use drugs.  And that is what has prevailed.  The heavy lifting has not been done by libertarians, but instead has been done by groups like NORML.

It would be very interesting to see libertarianism actually try to do something like get drugs legallized: if  a fraction of what libertarians spent on rights for corporations to poison and pollute got spent on promoting regulated legalization, it could happen very rapidly.  But it won't, because libertarianism is primarily a cats paw for the rich and their interests.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What's new

It has been two months since I last updated: the new school year is always busy.

There is no need to wait for these updates: the navigation menu in the wiki sidebar has a What's new link.  You could treat that page as another blog with updates the moment I enter a new resource.

I've added many new indexes as I've added roughly two dozen new resources.  This is expected, and my wiki tools make this easy.

Plenty of interesting new things to read on slavery, Ron Paul, economics, and much more libertarian craziness.  Enjoy!

What's new

NEW 10/21/2012: America the Possible: A Manifesto [More...]
James Speth provides a two-part overview of his book, a progressive vision of the USA. He details the problems, their causes, the transformations need to solve them, and the values needed to achieve those solutions. [more...]
NEW 10/21/2012: America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy
A progressive vision of how the USA has gone wrong and how to simply repair the economic inequality, plutocracy and corporatocracy that are the real cause of so many problems. [more...]
NEW 10/20/2012: Our Daughter Isn't A Selfish Brat; Your Son Just Hasn't Read Atlas Shrugged [More...]
An excellent satire on what Objectivist child-rearing might be like, if any Objectivists could be socialized enough to actually bear children. [more...]
NEW 10/19/2012: Libertarian philosophy is consistent.
What a whopper of a lie. Perhaps it might be true for a sufficiently weak measure of consistency, such as "parroted from the same source." But there is no one libertarian philosophy: there are zillions of variants and interpretations based on wildly contradictory assumptions. If there are any that are philosophically consistent (meaning not leading to contradictions), I haven't seen them. And almost all fail the basic test of consistency with reality. They make claims that are scientifically testable, and fail. (Rand especially.) [more...]
NEW 10/18/2012: Parable of the ship: why Austrian Economics fails.
The great fault of Austrianism is that it is not scientific. It is structured as a medieval philosophy based on authority, rather than systematic adherence to real-world data. [more...]
NEW 10/17/2012: Libertarian Schisms
Libertarians are very fond of disagreeing with everybody else, including other libertarians Maybe especially with other libertarians. [more...]
NEW 10/17/2012: Noble Matching [More...]
Alex Tabarrok provides an explanation of Matching Theory, provides some examples, and discusses work beyond that of the Nobel prize winners. [more...]
NEW 10/17/2012: A Nobel Prize for Work that Matters in Our Everyday Lives [More...]
Explains Matching Theory to those without economics backgrounds. [more...]
NEW 10/17/2012: A Nobel for economics that really works [More...]
Noah Smith reports the basics of Matching Theory. "Matching Theory is basically an algorithm - a mathematical technology - for finding optimal matches between pairs or groups of people. It incorporates human preferences, optimization, and strategic behavior, so it is economics." [more...]
NEW 10/17/2012: Matching Theory
(Also known as Stable Allocations.) Lloyd Shapley and Alvin Roth won the Nobel prize in economics for this theory. Noah Smith says "Matching Theory is basically an algorithm - a mathematical technology - for finding optimal matches between pairs or groups of people. It incorporates human preferences, optimization, and strategic behavior, so it is economics." [more...]
NEW 10/17/2012: Pareto Optimality
Markets can theoretically produce Pareto-optimal results. There are plenty of reasons why they might not. And there are other solutions (including centralized solutions) which can also produce Pareto-optimal results [more...]
NEW 10/14/2012: Ludwig von Mises Institute
Llewellyn Rockwell's shrine to Ludwig von Mises. A minor competiitor and rival to the Cato Institute, with a separate source of funding. Specializing in comically extreme Austrian Economics[more...]
NEW 10/14/2012: For Mises' Sake [More...]
Tom G. Palmer savages Llewellyn Rockwell, the Ludwig von Mises Institute and Hans-Hermann Hoppe for Austrianism above and beyond the call of sanity.[more...]
NEW 10/09/2012: Debt and the Decay of the Myth of Liberal Individualism [More...]
We are not, in any way, “men who owe no obligation to one another”. Our entire social system is founded on obligation and interconnectedness. This was likely true even in Smith’s time, but his genius was to have hidden it from view and in doing so to construct the founding myth of liberal individualism as it exists in modern times. [more...]
NEW 10/08/2012: Private Prisons
There is a reason why prisons were changed from private to publicly operated as a reform long ago. Private imprisonment has corrupt incentives from the top on down, anywhere a profit can be made from an enslaved prisoner[more...]
NEW 10/08/2012: What Color Tie Do You Vote For? [More...]
The relationship between "freedom" and "economic freedom" is not as simple as Milton Friedman would have it. [more...]
NEW 10/08/2012: What’s wrong with Milton Friedman’s economics? [More...]
A good look at the important problems with his views that Friedman just ignores. [more...]
NEW 10/02/2012: I am a job creator: A manifesto for the entitled [More...]
A fine mocking of the double standards of various rich people. [more...]
Fiscally Conservative, Socially Liberal
Glittering generalities that conceal crucial differences. If you got your wish for fiscally conservative and socially liberal from the libertarians, it would be like wishes from a monkey's paw. The results of the wish would be so horrible you'd unwish it. [more...]
Natural Rights Don't Exist [More...]
Jonathan Wallace skillfully uses Hume's condemnation of deriving an "ought" from an "is" to show errors in Locke and Hobbes. He then endorses non-cognitivist interpretations of rights talk. [more...]
Stateless in Somalia, and Loving It [More...]
The Mises Institute praises The Law of the Somalis, written by Michael van Nottenthat. It claims Somalia is now a country based on customary law. As if customary law is any less restrictive or harmful than laws created by governments. Slavery, we must remember, was customary law before all else. [more...]
Regulation Vacation Celebration! [More...]
Andy Cobb's one-minute Youtube send-up of libertarian anti-government looniness. Somalia, the libertarian paradise! [more...]
Life Spans Shrink for Least-Educated Whites in the U.S. [More...]
Educational inequality correlates strongly with decreases in life expectancy in whites, and especially among white women. High inequality isn’t just unfair, it kills. Libertarians generally suggest market solutions: but equality is not something the market provides. [more...]
Libertarians usually think they should have a total freedom to discriminate however they wish. They are wrong. Discriminatory choices which affect markets undercut the assumptions of free markets, and thus destroy market efficiency which libertarians claim to want. In addition to harming others. Our society is a commons, and rampant discrimination is a tragedy of the commons. [more...]
Cultural norms is no excuse for sexism [More...]
Why "the market" is not the right way to choose what speech to use on a radio program. The central image and its caption illustrates the heart of the matter.[more...]
Political Correctness
World English Dictionary: "demonstrating progressive ideals, esp by avoiding vocabulary that is considered offensive, discriminatory, or judgmental, esp concerning race and gender". Since WWII, there has been an enormous success of political correctness. Right wing (and libertarian) press mercilessly mocked PC in the 1990's with exaggerated examples, making stereotypes of it. [more...]
Fiat Money Versus Gold
Austrians tend to spout weird theories about depressions being due to "fiat money", and how the one, true currency is gold which will solve all those problems. Despite the fact that most of the world operated on the silver standard for centuries. [more...]
Paul Krugman Asks a Question: On the "Austrian" Hatred of Fractional Reserve Banking, Paper Money, etc. Weblogging [More...]
Brad DeLong wades into the cesspool of Austrian gold versus fiat money and depressions arguments from Ludwig von Mises and his ilk. [more...]
Libertarians hate 'em! But minarchist libertarians (the vast majority) have no coherent answer to how to pay for even a minimal government. Libertarian and Republican criticisms of taxes usually overlap. [more...]
Too much stuff: the deadweight loss from overconsumption [More...]
Deadweight loss can be due to overconsumption. "Overconsumption is pervasive. It happens when there are negative externalities, and market participants do not take into account the full social cost of their production and consumption decisions." [more...]
Deadweight Losses
Libertarians love to complain about deadweight losses due to taxation, and frequently exaggerate their size visually. But plenty of market activities also cause deadweight losses. And deadweight losses can be offset many times over by the actions government can take with tax money. [more...]
Economics 101
Libertarians are fond of applying standard Economics 101 microeconomics principles to bash the state. They forget the many concealed ideological biases of Economics 101, they forget market failures and they forget that microeconomics is not enough: you need macroeconomics too. [more...]
Honduras shrugged: Two start-ups want to try out libertarian ideas in the country’s new special development regions [More...]
"[...] creating such an enclave has been the dream of many fans of small government (or of none at all). Several have had a try at it, but their efforts have always ended in disaster [....]" Has a nice table of failed libertarian nations. [more...]
Honduras to build new city with its own laws and tax system to attract investors [More...]
"Critics say it will allow a foreign elite to set up a low-tax, sympathetically regulated enclave where they can skirt labour standards and environmental rules."[more...]
Charter Cities
Libertarians want to experiment with Charter Cities: being given a region of their own to manage themselves. What we will probably see is is a corrupt autarchy controlled by international corporations and dependent on second class citizens or workers commuting in or out. You cannot assume democracy or civil equality for charter cities. [more...]
A parable of one-way free trade [More...]
The benefits of international trade can be subverted by strategic interventions by governments. An "always free trade" policy leaves us vulnerable to the strategies of other nations. [more...]
Economix: How and Why Our Economy Works (and Doesn't Work), in Words and Pictures
A cartoon guide to economics. [more...]
One-Sided Delusions of a Libertarian [More...]
"Shorter Ron Paul: Property Rights Superior to Civil Rights" Why Ron Paul would allow private segregation. [more...]
To Get Ron Pauls Insanity, You Have To Understand Libertarianism [More...]
Don Feder, a former libertarian now conservative, explains the numerous failings of Ron Paul[more...]
Ron Paul and Cranky Libertarianism [More...]
Libertarians disregard empirical evidence against the programs they espouse, just as Marxists and others do. This makes them cranks. [more...]
Libertarian Philosophy
No philosophy is unified: liberal, conservative, marxist and libertarian philosophies are numerous and varied. Libertarian philosophies are all based on fundamental fantasies which are easily contradicted by common knowledge and science. If they claim to be based on firmer foundations, they make magical, unexplained leaps from those foundations to their conclusions: the logic that would connect them is missing. [more...]
Libertarians play fast and loose with ideas of rights. If they are not resorting to Natural Rights or claiming that all rights are property rights, they are making up rights out of thin air that serve their purposes. Rights are human-created social relationships: we create the many and varied rights we are willing to enforce.[more...]
Libertarians: Call Them Irresponsible [More...]
Ron Paul as a lesson in libertarian public irresponsibility. [more...]
Libertarians regard government policies of responsibility as tyrannical burdens. [more...]
TNR Exclusive: A Collection of Ron Paul’s Most Incendiary Newsletters [More...]
Some especially inflammatory passages from the Ron Paul Political Report[more...]
TNR Exclusive: More Selections From Ron Paul’s Newsletters [More...]
Three pages of snippets illustrating bigoted and conspiratorial thinking. [more...]
Night Watchman State
The "night watchman" idea is fundamentally stupid. There is no real-world equivalent where ONLY a night watchman is used. [more...]
Libertarians for slavery [More...]
Mike Travers (mtraven) points out that Murray Rothbard is happy to support the collective rights of slavers over the individual rights of slaves. [more...]
Libertarianism creates slavery [More...]
Points out that free-market ideology and neoliberalism have created large markets for slave labor. [more...]
Neoliberal slavery and the imperial connection [More...]
"We are experiencing now a radicalization of human degradation in unexpected proportions to the point that slavery has come back to support economic growth and wealth accumulation, even though slavery is forbidden almost everywhere, reality is that in today’s world the economy is fed by slave work." [more...]
Slavery Contracts and Inalienable Rights: A Formulation [More...]
Roderick Long convinces himself that slavery is not libertarian by cleverly forgetting the basic libertarian myopia: all rights, including property are a coercive initiation of force. [more...]