Public Expansions Of Liberty
Government creation of enforceable rights makes markets for those rights, as in cap and trade. Public safety protects us from crime and accidents, giving us the freedom to use our resources productively rather than protectively. Infrastructure such as roads lets us travel and do many things more freely.
- Central Planning (8 links)
- Central planning is responsible for the largest fortune in the world: Walmart. It is behind the most economical medical care in the first world: everywhere but the US. Central planning in the former Soviet Union and Communist China also had pretty strong successes. Economics and history show that where the market fails badly, central planning is often a much better solution.
- Civil Rights (5 links)
- The civil rights movement has been one of the great libertarian bugaboos: it is a classic example of non-market application of government to relieve widespread oppression.
- Do People Really Dislike the State So Much? [More...]
- A reversal of one point of "Seeing like a State": "Rather than fleeing from the state and resisting it, ordinary people are demanding the expansion of its authority in order to attain freedom from arbitrary and coercive local elites."
- Independence, Propertylessness, and Basic Income: A Theory of Freedom as the Power to Say No (book, online)
- "[A] new theory of Freedom [...] freedom as the power to say no... It shows that most societies today put the poor in situations in which they lack this crucial freedom, making them vulnerable to poverty, exploitation, and injustice despite other policies in place to help them. People who have no other option but to work for someone else to meet their basic needs are effectively forced laborers and are fundamentally unfree.
- Infrastructure (7 links)
- We use infrastructure as we breathe the air: we hardly ever think about it unless it fails. But the infrastructure of roads, communications, education, science, defense, law, and many other institutions is largely a product of government efforts.
- Institutions (18 links)
- Libertarians cannot see the forest for the trees. By focussing on individuals, they ignore the fact that individuals comprise, reside in and utilize institutions. Institutions such as property, law, governance, capitalism, marriage, etc. Libertarians pretend that rights are "natural" when in reality they come from institutions. See also Institutional Economics.
- Libertarianism's Time Has Come and Gone [More...]
- "Government actions can lead to more individual freedom, not less."
- Markets Are Created By Government (6 links)
- Modern markets rely on stable property, transportation, currency, educated workers and customers, and other factors with enormous market failures. Remove the government infrastructure of these, and markets will shrivel.
- Marxism of the Right [More...]
- "The most fundamental problem with libertarianism is very simple: freedom, though a good thing, is simply not the only good thing in life."
- My Take on the Seven Things We Need to Focus on for Equitable Growth in America [More...]
- Brad DeLong presents seven progressive ideas that promote growth and simultaneously reduce inequality.
- Reclaiming the Politics of Freedom [More...]
- "[The politics of freedom] views the state the way the abolitionist, the trade unionist, the civil rights activist and the feminist do: as an instrument for disrupting the private life of power. The state, in other words, is the right hand to the left hand of social movement."
- Regulation (24 links)
- Regulation can protect important liberties, such as freedom from poisoning by pollution. Regulation can benefit by eliminating some bad choices or protecting from side effects. Complaints that regulation "destroys jobs" are laughable because ordinary productivity increases routinely destroy vast numbers of jobs. How many of us have farm jobs any more? Meeting regulatory requirements may even create new jobs.
- Ronald Coase, a Pragmatic Voice for Government’s Role [More...]
- "Mr. Coase’s work cannot be read as a case for minimal government. On the contrary, his message was more purely pragmatic: Because we can’t negotiate efficient private solutions most of the time, we must ask whether laws and other institutions can help steer us toward solutions we would have chosen if negotiation had been practical."
- Timely Abraham Lincoln quote: Who defines Liberty? [More...]
- "The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty, especially as the sheep was a black one."
- When All Else Fails: Government as the Ultimate Risk Manager (book)
- "In policies as diverse as limited liability, deposit insurance, Social Security, and federal disaster relief, American lawmakers have managed a wide array of private-sector risks, transforming both the government and countless private actors into insurers of last resort... Well suited to a society suspicious of government activism, public risk management has emerged as a critical form of government intervention in the United States."
[...] the counter-mercantilist pattern imposed by Marshall's unusual Pax Americana favored transferring low level, labor intensive industries (e.g. textiles) en masse to poor regions around the globe in a cascade sequence that uplifted, successively, Germany and Japan, then Korea and Taiwan, then Malaysia and Singapore and so on, until right now this program of "foreign aid via WalMart" is raising up more than a billion people in China and India at the same time.
David Brin, "American Exceptionalism... versus what has made America exceptional"
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"
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"
Without question, Pax Americana was the best and least hated of all grand paxes. [...] the U.S. defense umbrella has, since 1945, allowed most nations to spend far, far lower fractions of national income on warriors than at any time in history, allowing them to divert more to education and development. Look up the stats and be amazed! And Steven Pinker's proof that violence has plummeted under the era of Pax Americana.
David Brin, "Pondering Pax Americana and the government shut-down"
Mr. Coase’s work cannot be read as a case for minimal government. On the contrary, his message was more purely pragmatic: Because we can’t negotiate efficient private solutions most of the time, we must ask whether laws and other institutions can help steer us toward solutions we would have chosen if negotiation had been practical.
Robert Frank, "Ronald Coase, a Pragmatic Voice for Government’s Role"
Urban street gangs in under-policed neighborhoods, mafias in under-taxed countries, and groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon invariably step in to fill the void where government fails. When the Japanese government wasn't able to adequately help the population after the earthquake and tsunami, the yakuza helpfully stepped in to do it for them. The devolution of local authority and taxation into the hands of criminal groups willing to provide a safety net in exchange for their cut of the action is the invariable pre-feudal result of the breakdown of the government-backed safety net. It happens every single time. The people will want a safety net where utter chaos doesn't prevent it: they'll either get it from an accountable governmental authority, or from a non-governmental authority of shadowy legality. Both kinds of authority will levy their own form of taxation, be it legal and official, or part of an illegal protection scheme.
David Atkins, "The "No True Libertarianism" fallacy"
It is really quite rare to find a buyer’s market for rented accommodation. Even if there is a slight oversupply of rental units for sale, time is almost always on the landlord’s side, because waiting is typically much more inconvenient for the party that has to wait without a house to do wait in. In general, when tenants and landlords are negotiating over the potential Pareto gain that could be made from renting the house, the landlord ends up capturing most or all of the surplus. The hot water and habitability laws are simply aimed at skewing things a bit in favour of the tenant and putting a floor on how bad a deal the tenant can end up accepting. It’s a standard game theory result that something which reduces your options can benefit you by reducing the number of bad options that you can end up agreeing to (most famously, the secret ballot has to be compulsory, because if you had the option to reveal your vote, you could be intimidated), and habitability laws are there for exactly this purpose.
Daniel Davies, "The correct way to argue with Milton Friedman"
The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty, especially as the sheep was a black one.
Abraham Lincoln, "Timely Abraham Lincoln quote: Who defines Liberty?"