Libertarianism is an astroturf pawn created by the first-class citizens (large corporations and the ultra-wealthy) in the class war against ordinary people (the 99%.) The first-class citizens have subverted representative government with propaganda, lobbying, campaign finance and revolving-door politics. The result is greater inequality due to state support of the wealthy.
"They only call it class warfare when we fight back." Otherwise, it is business as usual, the powerful players exploiting the powerless. Class war is a normal democratic competition; protecting the wealthy from it while they attempt to exploit the powerless would be an unjust support of wealth.
- A Simple Fix for Our Massive Inequality Problem [More...]
- "There’s a tried and tested way, within the system we have now, of giving everyone a share in the investment returns now hoarded by the wealthy. It’s called a social wealth fund, a pool of investment assets in some ways like the giant index or mutual funds already popular with retirement savings accounts or pension funds, but one owned collectively by society as a whole."
- Adhesion Contracts (1 link)
- Almost all consumer contracts nowadays are adhesion contracts, standard forms which you can accept or not accept. No negotiation. They are used to remove rights of consumers to judicial remedies (through enforced arbitration and prohibition of class-action lawsuits) and entrap employees through non-compete and non-disclosure clauses. This is a case where restricting freedom of contract (to contract away rights) retains other freedoms for the consumer.
- ALEC (7 links)
- The American Legislative Exchange Council, founded, led, and funded in part by the Koch brothers, is leading the class war by corporatists and plutocrats to disenfranchise ordinary people. ALEC opposes unions, voting rights, regulation, environmental law and other democratic countervailing power. ALEC relies on corrupt direct access to legislators, handing them already-written bills.
- Arbitration (8 links)
- Libertarians promote privatization of justice through arbitration. Supposedly it is more economical, but it is obviously biased towards employers who require workers to give up rights to take disagreements to court. It is also a common method for business to keep customers out of courts.
- Charlatans, Cranks and Kansas [More...]
- Paul Krugman takes the Kochtopus' ALEC to task for promoting long-discredited Supply-Side Economics policies. "And most of ALEC’s efforts are directed, not surprisingly, at privatization, deregulation, and tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy."
- Class War and the Lessons of History [More...]
- David Brin points out that class war has always been occurring according to Adam Smith, and that the founders of the US were levelers, creating institutions that broke up concentrations of wealth. Progressive leveling can work again.
- Commercial Trolling: Social Media and the Corporate Deformation of Democracy [More...]
- "As the phenomenon of online astroturfing demonstrates, online discourse is under constant assault from concentrated capital that deliberately hides both its identity and its strategies and tactics. The notion that the “internet democratizes,” especially with regard to the most important aspects of political communication, cannot and must not be taken on faith."
- Corporate Deadbeats: How Companies Get Rich Off Of Taxes [More...]
- Multinational corporations don't pay their fair share of taxes, and have a huge variety of advantages over ordinary people for avoiding taxes.
- Corporations Are Not People: Why They Have More Rights Than You Do and What You Can Do About It (book)
- "Since the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling that the rights of things, money and corporations matter more than the rights of people, America has faced a crisis of democracy... Jeff Clements describes the strange history of this bizarre ruling, its ongoing destructive effects, and the growing movement to reverse it."
- Economics for the Rest of Us: Debunking the Science That Makes Life Dismal (book)
- Shows how today’s dominant economic theories of economic efficiency and wages evolved, how they explicitly favor the rich over the poor, and why they’re not the only -- or best -- options.
- Governments, Markets and Class (and Libertarians) [More...]
- Class analysis is a far superior tool for analysis than the libertarian false dichotomy between government and market.
- How Class War Has Impoverished The Middle And Lower Classes (2 links)
- Gradual changes in wages, opportunity, debt, risk, tax policy and other factors have badly hurt the vast majority of families over the past 40 years.
- Inequality By Design: It Is Not Just Talent and Hard Work [More...]
- "If the 1 percent are able to extract vast sums from the economy it is because we have structured the economy for this purpose. It could easily be structured differently, but the 1 percent and its defenders aren't interested in changing things."
- Libertarian-splaining to the Poor [More...]
- "Entirely missing from this discussion is the primary, upward form of income redistribution from poor to rich, through structural intervention to reduce the bargaining power of labor and increase the monopoly returns on accumulated property — a redistribution which dwarfs, many times over, compensatory downward forms of redistribution through the welfare state."
- Libertarianism is not an ideology [More...]
- "... show me a libertarianism that does not inevitably benefit the rich against the poor, the powerful against the powerless, the boss against the worker. Then maybe libertarianism will be worth taking seriously. Until then, libertarianism will be a wink, a dodge, a clever ruse, an exercise in shamelessness."
- Limited Liability Is Causing Unlimited Harm [More...]
- "The original purpose of limited-liability protection was to encourage investment in – and risk-taking by – corporations, whose resulting innovations would benefit society. Yet by allowing shareholders to profit from the harms caused by corporations, limited liability has evolved into a source of systemic market failure."
- Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich--and Cheat Everybody Else (book)
- "Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter David Cay Johnston exposes exactly how the middle class is being squeezed to create a widening wealth gap that threatens the stability of the country."
- Private Limitations Of Liberty (28 links)
- Libertarians like to claim only government limits liberty. But that's not what people experience. First world government is actually a minor source of repression and loss of liberties. Private organizations, particularly business, employers and the workplace are the major sources of repression and limitations of liberty that we experience most frequently and heavily. For example, all lynching was private. See also: Corporate Threats to Liberty.
- Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy: An Agenda for Growth and Shared Prosperity (book)
- How the current economic system privileges the upper class (which libertarians support, though they claim not to), and how to reform it to foster the middle class with recommendations that libertarians oppose.
- Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer (book, online)
- The enormous upward redistribution of income in the United States in the last four decades was not the result of globalization and the natural workings of the market. Rather it was the result of conscious policies that were designed to put downward pressure on the wages of ordinary workers while protecting and enhancing the incomes of those at the top.
- Right-Libertarian “Free Trade” and “Free Markets”: The Exoteric, and Esoteric Version [More...]
- "So basically all large concentrations of wealth in this ostensibly “laissez-faire” period [the gilded age] were the result of past robbery and murder on a scale that boggles the mind, and its nod to “free markets” was simply to say “All right, no more robbery, starting… NOW!”"
- Silent Theft: The Private Plunder of Our Common Wealth (book)
- "Private corporations are consuming the resources that the American people collectively own at a staggering rate, and the government is not protecting the commons on our behalf. In Silent Theft , David Bollier exposes the audacious attempts of companies to appropriate medical breakthroughs, public airwaves, outer space, state research, and even the DNA of plants and animals."
- Silicon Valley billionaires believe in the free market, as long as they benefit [More...]
- "Google, Apple and other tech firms likely colluded to keep their workers' wages down. So much for that libertarian worldview."
- Squeezing the rich is good: even when it raises no money [More...]
- Three examples of how unrestrained income for the wealthy is socially harmful and should be taxed, even if it doesn't raise more money.
- Supply-Side Economics (11 links)
- A failed Reagan-era crank theory used to cut taxes and services. It promised a boom in productivity and never produced one. Instead, it created an ever-increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of the rich. Featuring the Laffer Curve. Also called voodoo economics and trickle-down economics. Considered a gross failure.
- Taxes And Growth (18 links)
- Low taxes do not produce more growth, though democracy does. Successful reduction of poverty by tax-funded programs does not reduce growth either.
- The 85 Richest People On The Planet Now Have As Much Money As The Poorest 3.5 Billion [More...]
- “The only way we will improve the lot of the poor, stabilize the middle class, and protect our democracy is by requiring the rich to pay more of the cost of governing the country that enables their huge accretion of wealth."
- The Class Divide in Libertarian Politics [More...]
- "Libertarian politics are expressed in a different manner by perennial wage laborers than they are expressed by libertarians who own or expect to own some means of production. These alternative perspectives are valid and rational for their possessors to hold and are in fact an astute grasping of their role within the existing political economy."
- The Davos Lie (4 links)
- A term coined by Larry Summers. The old idea that since free trade increases overall benefits, the winners could compensate the losers with some of the gains to create a Pareto improvement where everybody wins. But the real world fact is that this compensation does not occur, increasing poverty and inequality dramatically.
- The God That Sucked [More...]
- The results of roughly 30 years of market worship are a destruction of the American dream.
- The Invention of Capitalism: Classical Political Economy and the Secret History of Primitive Accumulation (book)
- An academic examination of how governments created the preconditions for capitalism by separating peasants from their land, following the advice of classical economists such as Adam Smith.
- The Iron Fist Behind The Invisible Hand [More...]
- Corporate Capitalism As a State-Guaranteed System of Privilege. An excellent history of the government and capitalist driven appropriation which resulted in capitalism. Makes the point that capitalism is theft, if not slavery. Libertarians ignore this history.
- The Legislative Attack on American Wages and Labor Standards, 2011–2012 [More...]
- There has been a huge, nationwide, state-level attack on workers led by ALEC and others. "This policy agenda undercuts the ability of low- and middle-wage workers, both union and non-union, to earn a decent wage."
- The Most Important Economic Chart [More...]
- "The gap between productivity and median real income is at an historic all-time high today."
- The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger (book) (1 link)
- Wilkinson and Pickett make an eloquent case that the income gap between a nation's richest and poorest is the most powerful indicator of a functioning and healthy society. -- Publishers Weekly
- The Techtopus: How Silicon Valley’s most celebrated CEOs conspired to drive down 100,000 tech engineers’ wages [More...]
- A conspiracy to fix wages by chief executives of Apple, Google, Lucasfilm, Pixar, Adobe, Intuit and Intel has been certified as a class-action lawsuit. "For all of the high-minded talk of post-industrial technotopia and Silicon Valley as worker’s paradise, what we see here in stark ugly detail is how the same old world scams and rules are still operative."
- The Tom Perkins system [More...]
- Libertarians often suggest one dollar = one vote schemes. Here's a satiric set of alternatives that illustrate the class interest in such proposals.
- Thirty Years Late to a Class War [More...]
- "The past three decades of market liberalism’s predominance has had a devastating impact on civil society. The transition and return to a more feudal arrangement that Hayek and others of a libertarian ilk have aspired to over the past seventy years is nearing completion. [...] Market liberalism is nothing short of an agenda to destroy fundamental bonds that tie us together as humans."
- Trends in Income From 1975 to 2018 [More...]
- "From 1975 to 2018, the difference between the aggregate income for those below the 90th percentile and the equitable growth counterfactual totals $47 trillion... those with incomes below the 90th percentile lost a sizable share of their economic power over the last four decades..."
- Understanding and Overcoming America's Plutocracy [More...]
- "This was the billionaires' election, billionaires of both parties... The political system is actually relatively united and working very effectively for the richest of the rich."
- Wage Theft (8 links)
- The simplest way for a capitalist to make more money is to not pay employees what he has promised and what he is legally obliged to pay. That's wage theft, and it is epidemic. Donald Trump exemplifies this problem, and is notorious for non-payment.
- We were shocked: RAND study uncovers massive income shift to the top 1% [More...]
- "The median worker should be making as much as $102,000 annually—if some $2.5 trillion wasn’t being “reverse distributed” every year away from the working class."
- What would constitute an end to the race war? [More...]
- "Whites coming out every day and asserting hugely disproportionate power over blacks through the proxy of wealth is not a cessation of conflict. It is renewed daily conflict, which can either be responded to or not."
- Why The Republican’s Old Divide-and-Conquer Strategy -- Setting Working Class Against the Poor -- Is Backfiring [More...]
- As note and more of the working class becomes insecure and approaches poverty, the chances of uniting against the wealthy grow better.
Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.
Bertrand Russell, Sceptical Essays (1928), Chapter 13
They only call it class warfare when we fight back.
A popular bumper sticker.
The state needn't punish men and women for their heresies; the private sector will do it for them. That's why during the McCarthy years so few people went to jail. Two hundred tops. Because it was in the workplace that Torquemada found his territory: some twenty to forty percent of employees, monitored, investigated, or otherwise subject to surveillance for their beliefs. The ruling elites in this country have always understood what Hamilton wrote in Federalist 79: "In the general course of human nature, a power over a man's subsistence amounts to a power over his will."
Corey Robin, "The Personnel is Political"
The funny thing is that whenever sensible policies produce episodes of full employment, as in the late 1990s, the long postwar boom, or the World War II economy, the supposedly feckless poor get decent jobs and their incomes go up.
Robert Kuttner, "David Brooks's Worst Column Ever"
If the 1 percent are able to extract vast sums from the economy it is because we have structured the economy for this purpose. It could easily be structured differently, but the 1 percent and its defenders aren't interested in changing things.
Dean Baker, "Inequality By Design: It Is Not Just Talent and Hard Work"
People who dismiss the unemployed and dependent as ‘parasites’ fail to understand economics and parasitism. A successful parasite is one that is not recognized by its host, one that can make its host work for it without appearing as a burden. Such is the ruling class in a capitalist society.
Jason Read, "How a USM professor became an Internet meme"
Entirely missing from this discussion is the primary, upward form of income redistribution from poor to rich, through structural intervention to reduce the bargaining power of labor and increase the monopoly returns on accumulated property — a redistribution which dwarfs, many times over, compensatory downward forms of redistribution through the welfare state. Missing are the fundamental ways the state has been in structural alliance with capital — not just some hand-waving at “crony capitalism” and “corporatism” — since the beginning of capitalism five or six hundred years ago.
Kevin Carson, "Libertarian-splaining to the Poor"
Show me a libertarianism where there might plausibly be support for unions, or for respecting pensions, or for public employees; show me a libertarianism where there is at least a real internal debate about orientation towards money and power; show me a libertarianism that does not inevitably benefit the rich against the poor, the powerful against the powerless, the boss against the worker. Then maybe libertarianism will be worth taking seriously. Until then, libertarianism will be a wink, a dodge, a clever ruse, an exercise in shamelessness.
Freddie deBoer, "Libertarianism is not an ideology"
The invisible hand of the market makes a very good pickpocket.
Against nature man can claim no right, but once society is established, poverty immediately takes the form of a wrong done to one class by another.
Hegel, "Outlines of the Philosophy of Right", 1820, paragraph 244.
To use one of Ayn Rand’s favorite words, this country is infested with looters: only they’re not the poor, they’re not the mythical “welfare queens”, they’re bankers and obscenely overpaid executives and corporations that demand the right to buy elections. And there stand the libertarians, the useful idiots who cheer them on.
PZ Myers, "So I invented a new law the other day"
[...] the idea that people have full liberal property rights in their pre-tax income is unwarranted. They participate in a co-operative venture with others in society subject to certain conditions, and those conditions include one that part of “their income” already belongs to the wider society, via the state. This point, hated by libertarians, defeats the widespread view that people are having “their money” taken off them: it wasn’t theirs to start with.
Chris Bertram, "Squeezing the rich is good: even when it raises no money"
There’s been class warfare going on for the last 20 years, and my class has won.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett, in "The 85 Richest People On The Planet Now Have As Much Money As The Poorest 3.5 Billion"
All Power to the Markets has never been too persuasive as a rallying cry.
Thomas Frank, "The God That Sucked"
The market is a god that sucks. Yes, it cashed a few out at the tippy top, piled up the loot of the world at their feet, delivered shiny Lexuses into the driveways of their ten-bedroom suburban chateaux. But for the rest of us, the very principles that make the market the object of D’Souza’s worship, of Gilder’s awestruck piety, are the forces that conspire to make life shitty in a million ways great and small. The market is the reason our housing is so expensive. It is the reason our public transportation is lousy. It is the reason our cities sprawl idiotically all across the map. It is the reason our word processing programs stink and our prescription drugs cost more than anywhere else. In order that a fortunate few might enjoy a kind of prosperity unequaled in human history, the rest of us have had to abandon ourselves to a lifetime of casual employment, to unquestioning obedience within an ever more arbitrary and despotic corporate regime, to medical care available on a maybe/maybe-not basis, to a housing market interested in catering only to the fortunate.
Thomas Frank, "The God That Sucked"
For all this vast and sparkling intellectual production, though, we hear surprisingly little about what it’s like to be managed. Perhaps the reason for this is because, when viewed from below, all the glittering, dazzling theories of management seem to come down to the same ugly thing. This is the lesson that Barbara Ehrenreich learns from the series of low-wage jobs that she works and then describes in all their bitter detail in her new book, Nickel and Dimed. Pious chatter about “free agents” and “empowered workers” may illuminate the covers of Fast Company and Business 2.0, but what strikes one most forcefully about the world of waitresses, maids, and Wal-Mart workers that Ehrenreich enters is the overwhelming power of management, the intimidating array of advantages it holds in its endless war on wages. This is a place where even jobs like housecleaning have been Taylorized to extract maximum output from workers (“You know, all this was figured out with a stopwatch,” Ehrenreich is told by a proud manager at a maid service), where omnipresent personality and drug tests screen out those of assertive nature, where even the lowliest of employees are overseen by professional-grade hierarchs who crack the whip without remorse or relent, where workers are cautioned against “stealing time” from their employer by thinking about anything other than their immediate task, and where every bit of legal, moral, psychological, and anthropological guile available to advanced civilization is deployed to prevent the problem of pay from ever impeding the upward curve of profitability. This is the real story of life under markets.
Thomas Frank, "The God That Sucked"
Working people are far, far freer than slaves or indentured servants, but they are not as free as their bosses and not nearly as free as they might be. [...] In a society that is forever boasting of its dedication to democratic ideals, employees are, however affluent they may have become, members of a subordinate, unmistakably lower, class.
Richard Cornuelle, "The Power and Poverty of Libertarian Thought", Cato Policy Report Volume XIV Number 1, pp. 12-13.
Class conflict is essential if freedom is to be preserved, because it is the only barrier against class domination.
Arthur Schlesinger, "The Vital Center: The Politics of Freedom" p. 173.
As with much libertarian posturing what they say and how they act are two different things. The libertarians are owned (whether they know it or not) by a group of super wealthy capitalists (Scaife, Koch, Walton, Coors, Mars, etc.). They get their ideologically motivated followers to spew things about "free" markets and maximizing profits, but all this is a cover for their true agenda -- making them even richer.
Robert Feinman, commenting in "What obligation? Maximise what?"