More on liberaltarianism

August 25, 2010

Ok, apparently a lot people think this is a good article, so I’m going to rebut each point:

1. In the US, they believed the prices of goods and services should be set by the government. Ditto for wages. This took the form of the NIRA in the 1930s. It took the form of multiple industry regulatory agencies like the ICC and CAB. By the late 1960s and early 1970s they favored “incomes policies” which were essentially across the board wage and price controls. Today they generally favor letting the market set wages and prices. Very liberal Massachusetts recently abolished all rent controls.

The US government, for all intents and purposes, now runs the financial industry. Virtually every financial company that isn’t already quasi-nationalized may be quasi-nationalized at any moment. Honestly, is this really better than fixing gas prices from a libertarian standpoint?

Basically everyone now works for the government. If the government employees such a huge percentage of the population, it no longer needs to fix wages explicitly – it does so implicitly.

Finally, rent control has been abolished because it failed, not because of some liberal coming-to-Jesus moment.

2. In the US, they believed the government should control entry to new industries. They have abandoned that belief in many industries, and based on recent posts by people like Matt Yglesias, are becoming increasingly disillusioned with remaining occupational restrictions.

I’m willing to bet that the number of jobs requiring qualifications has increases substantially since the 1930s or the 1960s. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m not persuaded unless I see some aggregate numbers.

The government has also outlawed entire industries during this time – it’s not clear how this should effect any aggregate assessment.

3. They favored 90% tax rates on the rich. Today they favor rates closer to 50% on the rich.

Now we’re talking. This is the meat of liberaltarianism. If liberaltarianism succeeds, this will be a typical "success." The liberaltarians don’t want to take 90% of your marginal income, only 50%! Someone put that on some yard signs. Electoral success is sure to follow along with broader libertarian paradise. Murray Rothbard would be proud.

4. In most countries liberals thought government should own large corporations. Today most liberals around the world think large enterprises should be privatized. Over the next few decades there will be trillions of dollars in new privatizations, and very few nationalizations.

Except banks, companies that manufacture stuff, companies facing emergencies, pay-day lenders, rating agencies, healthcare providers . . .

Of course we no longer call these actions "nationalizations." Instead, we call them "emergency capital injections," which are totally different than nationalize because . . . er . . . for the reason that . . . well, never mind.


A new pinnacle of chutzpah?

August 25, 2010

At The Money Illusion, it is written – apparently in all seriousness:

But the long run trend around the world has been strongly liberaltarian, and will almost certainly remain so for the foreseeable future. Just the other day Denmark decided to cut unemployment benefit eligibility from 4 years to 2 years. Think about what that means. Two French researchers (Algan and Cahuc) found that Danes had the most liberal/civic-minded attitudes on Earth. They argued that Denmark was the country most suited to have social insurance programs, because the non-deserving would be less likely to abuse the programs in Denmark than in any other country. Yet even in ultra-honest Denmark it was found that a large number of workers mysteriously found jobs immediately after their unemployment benefits ran out. So they are cutting back. Denmark already has the freest markets in the world, and now they are shrinking their welfare state. No wonder the Danes are so happy, despite dreary weather.

Is this a new height of chutzpah?

During this same time, unemployment insurance in the US has been extended to basically forever! What makes this particularly ironic is that these benefits were extended by the Democratic majority in the US government, which is in place largely because of libertarian compromises with liberalism during the last election cycle.

I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, that virtually any system of government will work in Denmark, or Sweden, or Minnesota. The same is not going to be true in DC, for example. This fact is deeply un-liberal.

(HT: Aretae)


Defending SWPLs

August 24, 2010

Steve Sailer has some kind things to say about SWPLs.

I like living near SWPLs. I liked it a lot more in Minnesota and Seattle – when there were no NAMs around – than in DC or St. Louis. SWPL ideas do very little harm in NAM-free zones. Improving public transportation in DC, for example, isn’t always the best idea.


To Miss with Love

August 24, 2010

Seems to be blogging regularly again. Good stuff, as usual.


I’m back and hungover

August 24, 2010

I took the weekend off to gut the half-bathroom in my house. It’s re-tile and the plumbing is basically done. I’m still waiting for a faucet and a toilet to finish.

While I was working, it seems that Talleyrand and Alkibiades retired from blogging. They also deleted all their old writing, which sucks.

A while back, I mentioned Aristotle’s thoughts on friendship: "Aristotle, who saw friendship as essential to human flourishing, shrewdly observed that it comes in three distinct flavors: those based on usefulness (contacts), on pleasure (drinking buddies), and on a shared pursuit of virtue—the highest form of all."

I like to think to think that there are several bloggers with whom I share a "pursuit of virtue."

It’s sad to see some of them go.

So sad, in fact, that I had to drink quite a few of these.


GBFM goes nuts

August 22, 2010

In the comments here.


Class warfare: Who makes up the governing class?

August 20, 2010

By now, you’ve almost certainly read several stories about the great divide between the ruling class (generally, the bureaucracy) and the plebes (i.e. those that don’t work for government).

These stories have all missed something: the dividing line between the classes has been getting blurrier for the last 80 years. (Of course, this wouldn’t be news if you’d been reading your Old Right).

To repeat: FDR’s political strategy was to make everyone sort-of-dependent on the government. This strategy has continued to be the strategy of the Democratic Party since the days of FDR. It has been so successful that opposition to the strategy – i.e. the Old Right – has been destroyed. Neither political party will question this strategy. Its success makes it almost impossible to fight under any circumstances, and completely impossible to fight in a democratic system.

Let’s see how this works. The ruling class is often described as those who work for government. But whom does this description encompass? My wife is attorney at a private law firm that represents lots of defense contractors. Is she a government employee? If not, why not? My dad works for a nominally private energy company? Is he a government employee? The list goes on, but the point is that its gotten difficult to determine who works entirely independently from the government. My guess is that very few people do so.

Perhaps the bigger point is that creating a large, principled anti-government movement in such an economy is an impossibility.

Another example of how FDR’s strategy works is social security. Basically everyone over 40 has no chance of retiring if social security (or medicare) goes away. These people may realize the current system is unsustainable, but they don’t want to be the generation that has to work some shitty service job until they’re 95.

Again, creating a large, principled anti-government movement among such a constituency is an impossibility.

Finally, it’s probably worth pointing out that legions of people are net beneficiaries. About 50% of people pay no income taxes. Why would these people choose to end the system that gives them benefits in exchange for nothing – all they have to do is simply exist (often they get more for existing in more immoral states)?

The brilliance of FDR’s strategy is that once it gets past a certain point, it’s impossible to defeat in a democratic election – hence no one even tries to defeat it.

It is valid to point to a distinct ruling class, but it is incorrect to suggest that the priorities of the ruling class are at odds with the great majority of the population.

If you’re waiting for the great unwashed to rise up and overthrow their masters, you’re going to be waiting for a long time.


Progressivism and the mosque

August 20, 2010

Proponents of the mosque by the former site of the Twin Towers (i.e. Progressives) say that Muslims will be offended by a reaction against mosque-building at the site.

Progressives seem to assume that Muslims have the same values that Progressives have. In other words, Progressives assume that Muslims will value openness, dialogue, tolerance and acceptance among Americans.

This assumption is wrong.

Muslims still believe in honor – they kill female relatives that have sex outside of marriage, for example. These people do not respect "tolerance." They think tolerance is gay.

If you really want Muslims to respect you, then you should look to their culture to see what they respect. They don’t respect tolerance. I think they’re more likely to respect a society that would prevent a mosque being built in downtown NY. They may not like the decision, but "like" and "respect" are different.


Don’t shave like a girl

August 20, 2010

There was some discussion a while back about the expense of shaving.

You really should be shaving old school.

The start up costs are a bit high. At a minimum you’ll need a safety razor. This is the one I use and it will set you back about $35.

Then you’ll need some razor blades. I’d suggest a sampler pack to start – another $35. Once you do that, you can buy the razor blades you like best in bulk. This is my brand – note that’s about $0.11 per razor blade. You’ll recoup your start-up costs in no time. The 11 cent blades will give you several shaves each and the shave will be better than the crappy one you’re getting from your $8.00, 7-blade razor.

Plus, you’ll be shaving with something that you’re wife will be afraid to use to shave her legs.


Review of “Letters on the Spanish Inquisition” by Joseph de Maistre

August 19, 2010

This book is not for the faint-hearted. Maistre makes for interesting reading (and his work was one of Professor Hanson’s homeworks).

For example, here he is discussing David Hume:

Who has not heard of David Hume? Cui non no­tus Hy­las? Tak­ing ev­ery thing in­to con­sid­er­ation, I do be­lieve that the eigh­teenth cen­tu­ry, so re­mark­ably pro­duc­tive of in­fi­deli­ty, nev­er gave birth to so heart­less and in­vet­er­ate an en­emy to the Church of Christ. . . .

Let us sup­pose that Hume had been con­demned to death, or even ar­raigned at the bar of his coun­try, for one of those crimes which, ac­cord­ing to the black statute book, are punish­able with death; would not many of those of­fences which that code deems cap­ital, (for in­stance, the steal­ing of a sheep, or any ar­ti­cle of the val­ue of a shilling) be less criminal, in the eyes of eter­nal Jus­tice, than his de­mor­al­iz­ing works, where­in he so ob­sti­nate­ly and im­pi­ous­ly at­tacks the most sa­cred dog­mas of nat­ural and re­vealed re­li­gion, and where­by he en­deav­ors to con­vulse and con­found the Chris­tian uni­verse? Even with such an im­pres­sion on their minds, I am sat­is­fied that the Protes­tant and tru­ly fal­li­ble head of the En­glish Church, and his min­is­te­ri­al par­lia­ment, would not refuse the ded­ica­to­ry homage of this in­fi­del’s his­to­ry.

Anyway, the book is a defense of the Spanish Inquisition. Maistre’s argument is that the Church was not responsible for any excesses that may have occurred during the Inquisition. Instead, he makes clear that the Inquisition was conducted by the Spanish state. Further, he argues that the Inquisition was just – his argument here isn’t all that different from much modern scholarship. Finally, he argues that the Inquisition saved the Spanish state from the consequences Protestantism in other countries (think 30 years war, french revolution, english civil war, etc.).

He does all this with remarkable style. Here is his argument in a nutshell:

Truth must nev­er com­pro­mise; oth­er­wise it would change its na­ture and its name. The tol­er­ation of er­ror, in re­li­gious con­cerns, would be its ru­in. The In­qui­si­tion, there­fore, be­ing a pro­tec­tive law of the on­ly re­li­gion of Spain, the in­tro­duc­tion of re­li­gious er­ror, or heresy, must be con­sid­ered a species of coun­ter­feit, or con­tra­band goods — a pleas­ing but poisonous drug, which, by de­feat­ing or de­stroy­ing the law, would ru­in the in­dus­try, com­fort, hap­pi­ness, and lives, of all who are ben­efit­ed by the law. It is, there­fore, the du­ty of the sovereign to see the law re­spect­ed; but, should his civ­il agents tran­scend its pres­cribed lim­its, the law, or the monarch, and, least of all, the re­li­gion, of the na­tion and of the Catholic world, should not be cen­sured for it.

It is incumbent on the modern reactionary to try to understand how people who are long dead thought. This task is quite difficult. Maistre thinks very differently than anyone alive today. On the modern political spectrum Maistre is so far to the right as to be almost incomprehensible. I don’t think it a stretch to say that he would be physically repulsed by modern society. His arguments are interesting in that they provide a nice glimpse into this long-lost mindset.


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