From Critiques Of Libertarianism
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Libertarians have no answers for the many problems of inequality, which markets do not solve. Problems such as: class war, disability, discrimination, minorities, poverty, privilege, real world power, women's issues and much more. Nor do libertarians have an answer for when inequality is caused by unfairness.


Libertarian Dismissals Of Inequality (27 links)
Rebuttals to libertarian's six dismissals for problems of extreme inequality: it is market-based just dessert, it is needed for incentives, it is freedom, it is the fault of government, it is impossible to be perfectly equal, and it is unimportant. All six are wrong.
Slavery (31 links)
Slavery is a free-market, capitalist phenomenon. Slavery has almost always been abolished by acts of government that regulate the market, making it illegal. 19th century slaveowners defended their property rights in slaves in "economic freedom"-like terms that are unmistakably libertarian, differing only slightly in terms of who had natural rights. Some modern libertarians continue to make cases for slavery, such as Robert Nozick, Walter Block, Murray Rothbard, Hans-Hermann Hoppe and David Friedman. The private prisons that libertarians endorse (and traditional "hard labor") are really an opportunity to revive slavery. The only way to eliminate prison slavery is for government to regulate against it.
Class War (44 links)
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.
Disability (1 link)
Libertarians have no solution to problems of disability: people who (often through no fault of their own) have physical or mental differences or impairments due to genetics, accident, age, etc. They sweep the problems under the rug, claiming that family and private charity are sufficient when all of history shows they are not.
Discrimination (33 links)
Including White Supremacy, Segregation, Racism and Sexism. 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.
Equal Opportunity (5 links)
Is insufficient to reduce inequality, and often used as a distraction. Everybody has equal opportunity in a lottery, but the end result is one rich person and many others who are poorer. We shouldn't manage society to concentrate wealth, but rather to spread it.
Estate Tax (3 links)
Also known as inheritance tax and "death tax". An important tool for breaking up concentration of wealth. They worked very well for roughly 60 years in the USA. There is no good philosophical justification for inheritance of wealth.
Minorities (5 links)
Libertarians are 94% white, and thus tend not to understand the obstacles (expecially discrimination) society creates for minorities. And they refuse to face the privately created obstacles that government can remedy.
Plutocracy (54 links)
Most of the world, including the USA, is a plutocracy: ruled by and for the rich, the .01% and their corporations. Libertarians with their obsession with property tend to favor this status quo. Also known as plutonomy and plutarchy, closely related to oligarchy.
Poverty (29 links)
Libertarians like to claim that poverty will be solved by "The Magic Of The Market" and charity. But high levels of poverty persist despite US markets and charity, and has been nearly eliminated in strongly socialist nations such as Denmark. See also inequality.
Privilege (3 links)
Libertarians tend to be unaware of their privilege from being male, educated, middle class, white, able, healthy, good looking or other indicators of social status. Born on third base, they assume they've hit a triple.
Progressive Taxes (7 links)
Suggested by Adam Smith, first implemented in the USA: reduces inequality and supported by economic theory. Libertarians are generally antitax, but when they tolerate taxation they tend to prefer regressive taxation that favors their rich sponsors. Progressive taxation means that as you earn more, you are taxed at a higher rate.
Racists (15 links)
There is a strong overlap between racists and libertarians. Because libertarianism obsesses about independence from social norms, racists are welcome, and actively courted by people like Ron Paul. No surprise that libertarians are 94% white, whiter even than the Republican party.
Real World Power (18 links)
Libertarians like to attribute all power to demon government, but refuse to face any other sort of oppressive power.
Women's Issues (3 links)
Women's issues (and feminism) are largely ignored by libertarianism, which is overwhelmingly male. In part, these issues are inherited from early liberalism which assumed male heads of household represented the whole family both politically and economically. No libertarians have really grown past this to address women's issues as strongly as they address the issues of big business. Worse, libertarianism shelters a great deal of misogyny in many of its most popular voices.
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."
Adam Smith on how to make the working class happier and more productive: pay them more [More...]
That famous socialist Adam Smith says: "If masters would always listen to the dictates of reason and humanity, they have frequently occasion rather to moderate, than to animate the application of many of their workmen."
Answering the Twittertarians [More...]
"[L]ibertarians claim to be freedom’s ultimate defenders but their actions during the great freedom struggle for Civil Rights show them to be indifferent or perhaps hostile to racial justice as a component of freedom. This is a particular problem for them because they claim to be concerned with freedom."
Capital in the Twenty-First Century (book) (15 links)
This book shows how policies concentrate wealth in the hands of the .01%, increasing inequality. Libertarianism has always been sponsored by the extremely rich, and their positions have favored these policies or worse.
College, the Great Unleveler [More...]
For-profit education, burdening of students with inescapable loans and absence of federal leadership are identified as major problems that perpetuate inequality.
Ebola and Inequality [More...]
"How countries structure their health-care system -- and their society -- makes a huge difference in terms of outcomes. America and the world pay a high price for excessive reliance on market forces and an insufficient attention to broader values, including equality and social justice."
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.
Economism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality (book) (3 links)
"This conviction that the world must behave the way it does on the blackboard is what I call economism. This style of thinking is influential because it is clear and logical, reducing complex issues to simple, pseudo-mathematical axioms. But it is not simply an innocent mistake made by inattentive undergraduates. Economism is Economics 101 transformed into an ideology—an ideology that is particularly persuasive because it poses as a neutral means of understanding the world."
Fighting Poverty And Inequality The Proven Way [More...]
David Brooks suggest improving education to fight poverty and inequality. 40 years of history demonstrates that does not work. Transfer programs do work.
Forget the 1 Percent: It is the 0.01 percent who are really getting ahead in America [More...]
"The top 0.1% (consisting of 160,000 families worth $73m on average) hold 22% of America’s wealth, just shy of the 1929 peak—and exactly the same share as the bottom 90% of the population."
Freedom and Money [More...]
G. A. Cohen points out the elephant in the room: property restricts freedoms of others, and money is the bribe needed to enjoy those freedoms. In this respect, the poor have much less freedom than others.
How Clones Can Experience Unequal Economic Outcomes [More...]
"[...] the earnings of workers with near-clone similarity in attributes diverged so much by the place they worked that rising inequality in pay among employers has become the major factor in the trend rise in inequality."
How Increasing Income Inequality Is Dampening U.S. Economic Growth, And Possible Ways To Change The Tide [More...]
Notorious commie group Standard & Poor’s says inequality hurting economic growth. "The challenge now is to find a path toward more sustainable growth, an essential part of which, in our view, is pulling more Americans out of poverty and bolstering the purchasing power of the middle class."
Human nature isn’t a persuasive objection to left-wing ideas [More...]
Comparison between cultures and current societies show most "limitations" due to "human nature" to be ridiculous.
Inequality Against Freedom [More...]
"What don’t go together – in the real world – are inequality and freedom. So-called right-libertarians therefore have a choice: you can be shills for the rich, or genuine supporters of freedom – but you can’t be both."
NEW 11/09/2020: Inequality and the Pandemic, Part 3: Risk and reward [More...]
"I want to consider the claim that we need inequality in order to encourage people to take risks. The simplest response is to point to the empirical fact that high income earners take (or, more accurately, are subject to) less risk than average not more."
Inequality Begins at Birth [More...]
The research is now undeniable. Inequality in America begins at birth, or, for those born to women who are ill during pregnancy or do not have adequate prenatal care, even before [...] Armed with the unambiguous findings of twenty-first-century neuroscience, we can no longer just tell children raised poor to study harder and find jobs as they grow up.
Inequality Is a Drag [More...]
"But American inequality has become so extreme that it’s inflicting a lot of economic damage. And this, in turn, implies that redistribution -- that is, taxing the rich and helping the poor -- may well raise, not lower, the economy’s growth rate."
Inequality Is Not Inevitable [More...]
"Ensuring that those at the top pay their fair share of taxes -- ending the special privileges of speculators, corporations and the rich -- is both pragmatic and fair. We are not embracing a politics of envy if we reverse a politics of greed. Inequality is not just about the top marginal tax rate but also about our children’s access to food and the right to justice for all. If we spent more on education, health and infrastructure, we would strengthen our economy, now and in the future."
Inequality Is Slowing Cities to a Crawl [More...]
"Traffic congestion in crowded cities is a tragedy of the commons. What seems most convenient for the individual in the moment—whether it’s driving alone, hopping in an Uber or a Lyft, or soaring over a gridlocked highway in a helicopter—is often the worst for everyone in the aggregate. Ultimately, the kind of freedom of movement that a service like Uber Copter promises can really only be offered at large scale by collective planning and government action."
It Matters How Rich the Rich Are [More...]
"[...] the poor can be made not-poor by reducing the wealth/income of the rich in order to increase the wealth/income of the poor. In that sense, then, the richness of the rich is a cause of the poorness of the poor."
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."
Market Incomes Will Always Produce Hideous Inequality [More...]
"Due to the fact that half of the population is locked out of market income, there simply is no path to low social inequality that does not rely heavily on the welfare state, aka taxes and transfers."
Median incomes aren’t keeping up with growth- however closely you look [More...]
"Over the period 1986–2015, the size of the economy per person grew by about 59%, whereas individual median salary income plus our estimate of non-wage compensation grew by about 31%."
Oligarchy, American Style [More...]
Paul Krugman points out the disinformation about income inequality from the hirelings of the wealthy, and sets the record straight.
People Don’t Actually Want Equality. They Want Fairness. [More...]
A discussion of Harry Frankfurt 's book On Inequality that points out that people are not bothered by inequality itself: they are bothered by unfairness that causes inequality and consequences of inequality (most notably poverty.)
Socialized Medicine (7 links)
The proven method to the most economical and broadest provision of health benefits to a nation's populace. Rejected by libertarians because it is a government program; that is more important to them than the life and health of people.
Starve The Beast [More...]
Beneficent corporate interests are unable to save Lucky Ducky from a raise in the minimum wage!
That’s Just Capitalism [More...]
"To put it in the simplest terms: the libertarian populist says that rigged capitalism creates huge inequality, but the truth is that unrigged capitalism does the same thing."
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 Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality (book)
The Cost of not Redistributing Money Part 1 [More...]
"... from a utilitarian point of view, the United States is ‘wasting’ (again, not factoring in the costs of redistribution), at least a third and a bit of its income through the distributive inefficiency of its income allocation."
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 Real "Takers" in America: The Unproductive, Rent-Extracting Rich [More...]
"To counter the domination of America’s rentier oligarchs, we need an Anti-Rentier campaign that would unite unlikely groups: owners of productive businesses as well as workers, populist conservatives and liberal reformers."
The Sneaky Ways Employers Are Stealing Our Wages [More...]
"In America, corporations are systematically stealing our wages. Virtually everyone in the bottom 95% of the income distribution now suffers from wage theft, including you!"
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..."
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."
Wealth Taxes (1 link)
Wealth taxes are one measure that could help reduce the dominance of the wealthy over society, along with corporate reform.
What it means to be libertarian (Anarchist) [More...]
A discussion of how left-libertarian precepts of liberty has been trampled by Lock, Mises, and others.


The actual case Brennan advances [in Against Democracy] can be devastated rather quickly, since it suffers from a central logical flaw that renders the whole core argument worthless. Brennan makes his case against democracy by pointing out all the ways in which people are stupid and fail to govern themselves well. Then, he makes the case for epistocracy by thinking through how smart people might make better decisions. All of this is very persuasive, until we remember that he is comparing “democracy as it actually exists” with “epistocracy as an abstract theory.” By comparing real democracy to hypothetical epistocracy (instead of epistocracy as it would actually be implemented), Brennan’s book doesn’t address a single one of the important questions around restricted suffrage: in practice, wouldn’t voting tests probably be used (as they have for their entire history) to disenfranchise the socially powerless? Wouldn’t such a system inevitably be abused, and wouldn’t “knowledge” just become a stand-in for “things powerful people believe”? (Brennan admits that wealthy white men will probably be considered the most “knowledgable,” but does not appear to have a problem with this.) By presenting democracy with all its warts, but giving no thought to how “epistocracies” work in practice, Brennan avoids confronting the difficult fact that his preferred system of government, if adopted, will almost certainly reinstate Jim Crow. Thus Brennan’s book is ultimately morally disgusting, since it amounts to a manifesto in favor of seizing a right from African Americans that took them centuries of bloodshed to win.
Nathan Robinson, "Democracy: Probably a Good Thing"
But at least Brennan [in Against Democracy] is honest in exposing the libertarian project as fundamentally opposed to the basic rights of human beings, its grand paeans to liberty being thin cover for taking the vote away from poor people.
Nathan Robinson, "Democracy: Probably a Good Thing"
"Let the Market Decide" Always Means "Let Rich People Decide."
Dale Carrico, "Dispatches from Libertopia: An Anthology of Wingnut Chestnuts and Democratizing Remedies"
Between the strong and the weak, between the rich and the poor, between master and servant, it is liberty that is oppressive and the law that sets free.
Henri-Dominique Lacordaire, speech given at the 52nd Conférence de Notre-Dame, Paris, 1848.
Jim Crow laws were not the primary cause of segregation in the South. In many places few laws, if any, explicitly restricted blacks from entry into desirable social positions, from purchasing property in white neighborhoods, from entering private schools and colleges, or from using hospitals, restaurants, hotels, and other private businesses frequented by whites. Still, these events rarely occurred due to tacit (often explicit) agreement among whites. Because of privately imposed restrictive covenants, discriminatory business practices, and blacks' abject economic status, there was little need for laws imposing segregation and discrimination. It could be left up to the invisible hand.
Samuel Freeman, "Illiberal Libertarians: Why Libertarianism Is Not a Liberal View" pg. 135
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"
[...] the inequality of incomes in our society is largely a matter of luck rather than inherent personal ability, and that it is only distantly related to the social value of the contributions people make through their work. These conclusions undercut the idea that taxing those on high incomes will harm society by reducing incentives to work for the most able and social valuable workers.
John Quiggin, "Inequality and the Pandemic, Part 3: Risk and reward"
We are going to need a bigger and better government. The private unregulated market does not do well at health-care finance, at pensions, or at education finance. The private unregulated market does not do well at research and early-stage development. The private unregulated market does not do well with commodities that are non-rival, or non-excludible, or produced under conditions of greatly-increasing returns to scale. We are, in all likelihood, moving into a twenty-first century in which these sectors will all be larger slices of what we do. Thus in the twenty-first century a well-functioning economy will need a larger government share in the economy than was needed in the twentieth century.
Brad DeLong, "My Take on the Seven Things We Need to Focus on for Equitable Growth in America: Thursday Focus"
This wish to believe that you are not a moocher is what keeps people from seeing issues of distribution and allocation clearly -- and generates hostility to social insurance and to wage supplement policies, for they rip the veil off of the idea that you deserve to be highly paid because you are worth it. You aren’t.
Brad DeLong, "Regional Policy and Distributional Policy in a World Where People Want to Ignore the Value and Contribution of Knowledge and Network-Based Increasing Returns"
No one ever considers the Carnegie libraries steeped in the blood of the Homestead Steel workers, but they are. We do not remember that the Rockefeller Foundation is founded on the dead miners of the Colorado Fuel Company and a dozen other performances. We worship Mammon....
Senator Harry Truman, speech to senate, December 20, 1937.
[...] 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"
In his book Free To Choose, Milton Friedman analyzes the difficult question of the inequality of rewards that is an obvious feature of the distribution systems we find in capitalism, and he raises for consideration whether this unevenness is "fair." If fairness means equality, he concedes, the distribution system under capitalism would not be fair, but Friedman goes on to say that inequality is part of life. Some people are born with better looks than others, some with more native abilities, some with musical abilities. Admitting that it is easier to interfere with the distribution of property than of talent, he asks "From the ethical point of view is there any difference between the two?" There is such a difference——although perhaps it escapes Friedman's eye——namely, that whereas the distribution of talents is a matter beyond human intervention, the distribution of property is not Friedman is a brilliant man, but in his attempt to defend capitalism from the charge of unfairness he is not. He cannot see the differences because he is an ideologue.
Robert Heilbroner, "The Embarrassment of Economics"
If you want to know why a bushman hunting party divides its kill as it does, you read an anthropologist, not an economist.
Robert Heilbroner, "The Embarrassment of Economics"
I wouldn't confuse conservative libertarianism with a genuine philosophy, open to considering reasoned objections. Bryan Caplan is a libertarian, because that's his job! It is a completely synthetic ideology, deliberately manufactured by a cadre of full-time professionals. And, I don't think their employers intend to make the masses any smarter about the economy or society. In short, libertarians are a product of increasing inequality; of course, they are in favor of increasing inequality, and would prefer that no one draw attention to its deleterious effects; libertarianism is one of increasing inequality's deleterious effects!
Bruce Wilder, "The libertarian solution to inequality"
But under capitalism some are more equal than others...
Iain McKay, "What it means to be libertarian (Anarchist)"
Libertarianism is like Leninism: a fascinating, internally consistent political theory with some good underlying points that, regrettably, makes prescriptions about how to run human society that can only work if we replace real messy human beings with frictionless spherical humanoids of uniform density.
Charles Stross, "Why I want Bitcoin to die in a fire"
For that matter, where was the libertarian right during the great struggles for individual liberty in America in the last half-century? The libertarian movement has been conspicuously absent from the campaigns for civil rights for nonwhites, women, gays and lesbians. Most, if not all, libertarians support sexual and reproductive freedom (though Rand Paul has expressed doubts about federal civil rights legislation). But civil libertarian activists are found overwhelmingly on the left. Their right-wing brethren have been concerned with issues more important than civil rights, voting rights, abuses by police and the military, and the subordination of politics to religion -- issues like the campaign to expand human freedom by turning highways over to toll-extracting private corporations and the crusade to funnel money from Social Security to Wall Street brokerage firms.
Michael Lind, "Why libertarians apologize for autocracy"