Ideas Libertarians Do Not Own
Some ideas are described as libertarian, but in reality have long been held by innumerable others. Drug legalization, for example.
Libertarians also "own" economics the way the religious "own" medicine. Medicine has nothing to do with gods, and economics has nothing to do with libertarianism. But religions build hospitals in part to conflate medicine and god, and libertarians build schools of economics in part to conflate their ideology with economics.
- Asset Forfeiture Abuse (4 links)
- Confiscating property "used in crimes" has been a public policy that was useful in attacking organized crime, but has been grossly abused by a number of states and localities in the US. The laws need to be revised according to the ACLU and others.
- Basic Income (16 links)
- A simple social welfare program that ensures everyone has sufficient income to raise them above the poverty line, whether or not they work. Most libertarians oppose this as "redistribution". Milton Friedman proposed this as a negative income tax. In Canada, an experimental version was called Mincome. In the US, the Alaska Permanent Fund is a basic income system.
- Cap And Trade (5 links)
- A very successful "deregulation" strategy that replaces government regulation and Pigouvian taxes on harmful externalities with government-limited, salable rights to externalities. In other words, government power can create markets and use market mechanisms. This brings market efficiency to regulation; thus businesses hate cap and trade.
- Capitalism Is Very Productive (1 link)
- With few exceptions, most people agree. But libertarians tend not to see the flip side of the coin that others see: capitalism needs government services and has huge flaws. Capitalism is only one tool, not an ultimate goal.
- Constitutional Rights and Civil Liberties (8 links)
- Almost all US political groups want Constitutional rights and civil liberties preserved or extended. Libertarians have their own myopic viewpoints that they want implemented. They oppose incorporation of Constitutional rights against individuals and business. They deny civil liberties such as privacy rights, except when government is involved.
- Corporations Are Government Creations (1 link)
- Libertarians love to whine about government handing our special privileges, but somehow seldom notice that corporations use special privileges to achieve social dominance.
- Crony Capitalism (8 links)
- Capitalist corruption of government for private gain. Sometimes mislabelled Corporatism. Libertarians use this term to describe any government/capitalist relationship they do not like and to excuse bad behavior by capitalists. But all capitalism is fundamentally crony capitalism because government favors owners with systems of property. Corporations, with their special privileges, are an especially clear example. Crony Capitalism is one type of Privatization of Power, and is practiced by the major funders of libertarianism.
- Drug Legalization (10 links)
- Long before libertarians advocated legalizing drugs, liberals advocated legalizing drugs. The difference is how they would be legalized: libertarians want unregulated drugs, and liberals want drugs regulated from a Public Health Approach by organizations such as the FDA.
- Economics (34 links)
- Libertarians love to claim that their philosophy is backed by economics. While it is true that a number of famous economists have been libertarian, the more economics seems to back libertarianism, the less it resembles science and the more it resembles propaganda. The vast majority of libertarians who actually learn some economics learn either Austrian Economics or Chicago Economics. Those conflict so seriously that one side (or both) MUST be wrong. Both choices are seriously afflicted with the idea that economics is about capitalism, rather than actual human behavior.
- Entrepreneurs (3 links)
- The importance of private entrepreneurs has long been widely appreciated, which is why the patent system exists. Libertarians ignore the historic importance of public entrepreneurship, product of government investment in research and development.
- Free Market Theory (8 links)
- Free markets cannot exist: they are an ideal model in microeconomic theory. While almost everybody accepts free market theory, the real world diverges from its assumptions very strongly. Also known as the Standard Model.
- Freedom (10 links)
- Freedom has many interpretations. Often it simply means Liberty. Libertarians want to enforce their idea of freedom, rather than engage in political negotiation for which freedoms we will enjoy.
- Futurism (2 links)
- Libertarians, with their tenuous ideological grasp of the present, are particularly vulnerable to the silliness of much futurism.
- Government Corruption Is Bad (5 links)
- Anti-corruption politics has been going on for millennia. It has been a major theme in Progressivism for well over a century. Corruption is a capitalist phenomenon: it is for private, self-interest. Government has a significant role to play in anti-corruption efforts, both for government and private industry.
- Human Rights and Civil Liberties (8 links)
- Libertarian talk big about rights and civil liberties, but they actually do extremely little to defend rights. These organizations actually do something!
- Immigration (6 links)
- (Especially immigration restriction.) Libertarians have many stands on immigration. Some take the position that the state has no right to restrict freedom of movement. At the other extreme, some (including Milton Friedman) say that the welfare state should be able to restrict entry to save on welfare costs.
- Intellectual Property Reform (11 links)
- Many others besides libertarians propose reform or abolition of intellectual property, in part because there has been substantial regulatory capture. Some libertarians oppose it ideologically because it is obviously a government creation, others scream "my property!" Many non-libertarians pragmatically question whether it actually advances the useful arts. When intellectual property expires, it is returned to the commons; thus shortening of terms is often desired. The US Constitution does not mandate intellectual property because even then it was controversial whether it was a net benefit. A good alternative has been public subsidy of research.
- Liberty (35 links)
- Liberty, or freedom, is a zero-sum game. For me to have a liberty, your liberty must be restricted by a duty not to interfere. The liberty of your nose depends on a coercive duty imposed on me to not swing my fist into it. Liberty can be redistributed, but not created or destroyed. Pretending otherwise is one of the great frauds of libertarianism.
- Polycentric Law (3 links)
- Non-monopolistic, competing law. We actually already have that in the USA, with federal, state, and local law plus local authorities and commonlaw. It may also include private law. Some libertarian academics have made careers describing other, rare or ephemeral historical examples. The big problem is preventing conflict over whose law prevails: this can be solved either with simple dominance or with division of responsibility. This is not a libertarian idea.
- Redesign Corporate Rights And Charters (4 links)
- Corporate rights are a toxic mish-mosh of judge-made law that in effect creates monsters. These first-class citizens dominate our society through control of media, contributions to non-profits and the legalized bribery of lobbying and campaign contributions. Some propose abolition of corporations entirely.
- Sex (5 links)
- Libertarian ideology proposes completely legal and unregulated sex, including prostitution, polyamory (bigamy and polygamy), child sex, child marriage, etc. Regulation for protection from disease, protection of family, exploitation of women, etc. is ruled out. But decriminalizing sex work is hardly a position unique to libertarianism, nor will it necessarily solve more problems than it causes.
- So I invented a new law the other day [More...]
- "In any discussion about libertarians, the comments by libertarians will invariably make the stupidity of libertarianism clear." A variant on Lewis’ Law.
- State Support Of The Wealthy (8 links)
- Supposed "makers" benefit much more from the state than the remainder of the populace. This is especially clear from historical and international comparisons.
- Too Much Criminalization and Imprisonment (2 links)
- This is a huge liberal/progressive issue that will not be solved by libertarianism. These are right-wing tactics used to create fear of others, to suppress minorities, and to enrich the private prison industry.
- War Is Bad (1 link)
- Libertarians like to pretend that only they oppose war and that they oppose all war. Almost all people oppose war, and everybody has a point at which they will engage in war, even if only for defense.
Those who would dismantle all democratic government and those who would demand good democratic government will point to many of the same instances of government abuse, corruption, malfeasance, and violence in making their separate cases, but it is only a fool who in noticing this would mistake them for allies.
Dale Carrico, "Dispatches from Libertopia: An Anthology of Wingnut Chestnuts and Democratizing Remedies"
There is nothing wrong with markets, private entrepreneurship, or incentives -- when deployed appropriately. Their creative use lies behind the most significant economic achievements of our time. As we heap scorn on neoliberalism, we risk throwing out some of neoliberalism's useful ideas. The real trouble is that mainstream economics shades too easily into ideology, constraining the choices that we appear to have and providing cookie-cutter solutions.
Dani Rodrik, "Rescuing Economics from Neoliberalism"
[W]e have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.
George Orwell, "Review of Power: A New Social Analysis by Bertrand Russell"