The Koch brothers and rightwing fusionism

The Koch brothers and rightwing fusionism

Charles Koch was fascinated by Murray Rothbard's libertarianism

The billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch are often painted by the left as anti-worker elites working in the shadows to undermine labor unions, the middle class, and the New Deal. This is only partly true. They are also major philanthropists whose political ideology hardly reflects on their good works, whether or not it’s your cup of tea.

Besides, that political philosophy contains many good things outside of workers’ rights issues. The brothers have bankrolled anti-war and anti-war-on-drugs writing and research. Publications like reason are a mixed bag for sure, but reason-style libertarians tend to be socially liberal and represent, at least in the mainstream, a more liberal-ish version of libertarianism than is found elsewhere. And some of the work at that magazine – namely the investigative work of Radley Balko – has been extremely important. It’s even saved lives.

In 2008, as the Ron Paul revolution was gaining serious momentum, reason writers Julian Sanchez and Dave Wiegel dug into the Ron Paul newsletters in an attempt to discover who had penned the various racist and bigoted screeds back in the early nineties.

This was interesting for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the willingness of the libertarian magazine to go after the one candidate in the entire race with any libertarian credentials to speak of was, in some ways, remarkable.

At the same time, the article and the ensuing debate over Ron Paul’s credibility underscored a divide between libertarians that extends back to the days when the Ron Paul newsletter first started publishing paranoid race-baiting and conspiracy theories.

Back then, the libertarian movement was nowhere near as vibrant as it is today. Some of the leading thinkers in the movement were the same men that reason later hypothesized were behind the newsletters: Lew Rockwell and Murray Rothbard. At the time, Rockwell and Rothbard were championing what they termed “paleo-libertarianism” – an attempt to spread libertarian ideas by promoting a socially conservative, and at times downright nativist, narrative about government and society.

This contrasted sharply with the liberal wing of the libertarian movement, perhaps best embodied at the time by none other than Charles Koch, who found Rothbard’s redneck-libertarianism repellant, or at least unhelpful – a cynical ploy to promote libertarianism through fear rather than through the more pragmatic approach adopted by Cato.

The relationship between the Koch brothers and Murray Rothbard goes all the way back to the dawn of the Cato Institute, when Charles Koch founded the libertarian think tank in order to promote Rothbard’s views. The relationship ended badly, however, with Rothbard disgusted by what he saw as a compromise of pure libertarianism. The Kochs, it turned out, were just too liberal for Rothbard.

Writing at LewRockwell.com in 2008, David Gordon goes into some detail on those early days of Koch-Rothbard unity, noting that, “owing to Paul’s long association with Rothbard and Rockwell, his campaign had little appeal to Cato. High officials of Cato cooperated with James Kirchick’s malicious smears against him in The New Republic.”

Paul, like Rothbard, was once employed by the Kochs, but according to Gordon had been too principled to remain in their employ.

“It should come as no surprise that Matt Welch,” Gordon continues, “the new editor of Reason, has published a viciously negative piece against Rockwell and Paul. Koch is a large funder of the magazine, and, as Murray Rothbard learned to his cost, he expects those he funds to obey his dictates.”

In many ways, this contrast with the paleo-libertarian scene ought to make liberals more fond of the Koch brothers. After all, they would have none of the bad craziness that found its way into the Ron Paul newsletters; they refused to sign on to the paleo-libertarian sinking ship; they pushed Cato in a much better direction than Rothbard and Rockwell pushed Paul and other conservative libertarians.

And yet the Koch brothers are among the biggest financial of Republican causes today. They rub shoulders with guys like Santorum’s Super PAC sugar-daddy Foster Friess, whose take on liberty includes bad jokes about contraception. The Koch’s may care about individual liberty and other libertarian values, but they still help bankroll deeply socially conservative causes and would trade many liberties so long as economic liberty was preserved. Although Cato itself has remained staunchly anti-war, Koch money has found its way into plenty of pro-war pockets.

The problem with the Koch brothers isn’t that they’re too libertarian, or that they didn’t go for libertarian purity like Rothbard wanted them to, it’s that they exemplify the sort of destructive Republican fusionism that’s made libertarianism a movement of the right – even when it’s the more liberal wing of libertarianism so derided by Paul supporters.

I suppose I still hold out hope that a liberal-tarian movement will emerge somehow, but all the big money is behind a distinctly Republican libertarianism, at least when it comes to the Koch brothers. And the paleo-libertarianism of Ron Paul and others represents a social conservatism that makes me uncomfortable and that, I think, misunderstands liberty in serious ways (on states issues, immigration, etc.)

Ron Paul has said many refreshing things in the GOP debates. His take on the Iranian bomb threat, the war on drugs, and so forth has been music to my ears. Alas, his involvement with the newsletters is too big of an issue for me to ignore. The Koch’s may not have the same skeletons in their closet, but their perpetuation of rightwing fusionism has all but ensured that libertarianism, even in its more liberal manifestations, remain a creature of the right.

(cross-posted)

 

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283 thoughts on “The Koch brothers and rightwing fusionism

  1. The Koch brothers aren’t entirely in sync with each other.   David’s a remarkable human being.   I know somewhat less about Charles but he’s more closely associated with Rothbard than David, though this could be incorrect.

    Anytime someone gets demonized by either the Right or the Left, they pique my curiosity.   When they’re demonized by both, that provokes my deepest interest.   The Koch brothers, collectively and severally, are trying to clear out a logjam of regulatory deadwood.   But from what I’ve seen, neither of them fits the bill of Libertarian.   They seem to be funding a badly needed redefinition of the word.   The old canards about the Free Market are stale.   New times require new responses and new thinkers.

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        • That’s because, in Libertarian orthodoxy, there is no commons.  Everything is owned by a private entity (either an individual or an incorporation of individuals) and therefore everything is someone’s property, and pollution can be resolved via the tort system the same way you’d resolve your neighbor throwing his garbage into your yard.

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          • Nobody seems to have heard of the Green Party on this side of the Atlantic.   Boy howdy, Libertarians would get serious about pollution if they had their druthers, a lot more serious than the current crop of feckless Statists, wringing their hands over the Wicked Owd Cowpowations.

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          • You leave off the final step.

            The Kochs are the sort of people who believe that corporations ought to be able to actually own people, either in a slave-labor or “company store” sense.

            The Kochs are the sort of people who believe that OSHA and other worker safety laws – to prevent, say, the resumption of incredible death rates of high rise construction in New York that we saw around the 1800s and early 1900s – ought to be abolished. They don’t care about killing a few hundred or even a few thousand employees.

            And they’re 1000% against the idea of organized labor. They prefer that the exploiters hold all the cards when it comes to labor disputes.

            therefore everything is someone’s property, and pollution can be resolved via the tort system the same way you’d resolve your neighbor throwing his garbage into your yard.

            And of course, what this means is that THEY never actually have to fear – they have enough money to tie the court system up for years in lawyering and in their ideal system, every affected person must file their own, individual lawsuit which a paid-off judge can then just throw out.

            The Kochs are against class-action lawsuits just as much as they’re against the EPA, and lest you forget, the EPA’s main job is to file lawsuits against companies who break pollution laws.

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                  • Kimmi,

                    How does someone who’s only pretending to be Koch actually implicate Koch himself?

                    Please quit fucking around with this bullshit where you make an extravagant claim that you can’t back up with any actual evidence.  You’re getting quite the reputation for it, and it’s not a complementary one.  If you have actual evidence the Koch’s believe in slavery, put up or shut the fuck up.

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                    • Koch’s response provides enough implications, overt and otherwise.
                      I’m not doing Scott’s research for him.

                      And James, it’s better for all of us if you don’t believe me, so I’m not going to do your research either.

                      The truth needs no defenders — so I’ll merely mention it and be on my way. A bit of digging should get you what you need…

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                    • Well yes. This is a terrible indictment of Walker, freely granted.

                      It doesn’t, however, support the proposition that “The Kochs also believe that they ought to be able to personally own people.”

                      That’s the proposition we were trying to support or refute.

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                    • If Walker wasn’t already a bought, paid for, owned Koch stooge, he never would have responded the way he did.

                      You can stick your head in the sand and deny it all you like, but it’s the truth. Walker’s behavior in the transcript is JUST as damning of Koch as it is of Walker.

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                    • James and Jason,
                      please, feel free to go on believing that I’m just making up shit. This will make everyone’s lives easier.

                      THAT said, clearly the impersonation of Koch was done by someone with a rather intimate knowledge of him — both his vocal mannerisms, and what he was likely to know about. [not the person on air, fwiw].

                      Kenneth’s rather conflating what I’ve been talking about — there’s far more salient evidence than Walker about the Kochs believing that they should be allowed to own people.

                      Walker’s good evidence that the Kochs feel that they should be able to steal nuclear power plants bought and paid for using the public’s money (okay, pennies on the dollar during a trumped up civil war…)

                      But… really, what of it? Say I do produce evidence (that I probably ought not to know about)… What does that do to your worldview? At the end of the day, other than proving that I’m not bullshitting you… what have we accomplished?

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                    • please, feel free to go on believing that I’m just making up shit. This will make everyone’s lives easier.

                      Not only do I believe it, but you’ve just proven it. You said you’d killfiled me. You were done with me for good, you swore.

                      Like three or four times now. Heh.

                      If you were, however, to produce evidence demonstrating that the Kochs support people owning other people — a link will do nicely, thanks — I will, and this is a promise, I will post about it from an official Cato blog, and I will say that I disagree with them in the strongest possible terms, that they are morally reprobate, and that they have no place in polite company, much less in a movement that claims to value liberty.

                      So c’mon. Gimme a link. Anything. I mean it. I’ll risk my career over it, and gladly.

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                    • James and Jason,
                      please, feel free to go on believing that I’m just making up shit.

                      Oh, I will, just as long as you keep failing to provide any evidence to the contrary. I mean, in general I try to assume good faith, but that’s just an initial assumption–people ultimately have to earn good faith by providing evidence for their claims. People who in fact are operating in good faith rarely have much trouble doing so, and don’t expect others to believe them in the absence of evidence.

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                    • Jason Kuznicki,

                      That’s not the point I was making, and you are well aware of it.

                      My point was that the Kochs very much endorse the re-creation of the days when people were essentially indentured servants to their company via “company store” methods, and that in every policy on employment they have championed, this is readily apparent.

                      Your move. If you are up to an HONEST conversation rather than the strawman nonsense Kimmi served up to you.

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                    • he Kochs very much endorse the re-creation of the days when people were essentially indentured servants to their company via “company store” methods, and that in every policy on employment they have championed, this is readily apparent.

                      So is this an appropriate point to ask, again, for a source? Or are you claiming that any pro-free market regulation is a de facto pro-indentured servant regulation?

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      • I used to think that way about Libertarians.   I’ve amended my conclusions on this.

        The modern Libertarian is not averse to regulation.   He wants efficiency.   The Libertarian is exquisitely aware of the problem of the commons.   It’s in nobody’s best interests to pollute their own property, including the government itself.   Quit exempting government from its own regulations.

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        • The modern Libertarian may or may not be averse to regulation (frankly, it’s pretty hard to generalize about Libertarians in a way that won’t set at least a few of them squawking).  But the Koch brothers are absolutely averse (sample quote: “Of all the threats to our future prosperity, one of the most devastating is the push for extremist environmental regulation.”)  To the extent that they’re contributing to the definition of libertarianism, that movement will include the right of large polluters to trash the environment, governmental and private-sector alike.

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          • It took me weeks of steady reading to reach this conclusion about the Libertarians.    It warped my tiny little mind to realize they weren’t as stupid as advertised.   I had to step back a long stretch to put the matter in perspective.

            Let’s think about the government as a corporation, put aside every other consideration, no matter how reasonable.    Sort of like those company towns they used to have out in those coal mining areas of West Virginia.   “Sold my soul to the company store”  etc.

            Given this monopoly on power, let’s think about how we could fix things.   What steps would people take to address the abuses of power and get some semblance of self-governance?

            Let’s say an angel from Heaven came down and zapped the CEO and took over in his stead.   He’d correct all the abuses the miners could think of, but he’d still have a monopoly on power.   No matter how well-intentioned his actions, the miners would still have no control over their destinies.   They’d still be buying from the company store.   Even if the food was free at the company store and the streams were full of trout and the birds sang in the cherry trees and Uncle Remus sang Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, my oh my what a wonderful day — there’s still no self determination.

            Gotta start there.   If men were truly in control of their destinies and owned their own property, they’d defend it.

            Not saying I believe this, I’m a Liberal.   I see the need for the state.   But I’m enough of a realist to know the government is far too involved in every aspect of our lives.   It’s leading to a deficiency of will, somewhere down deep.    Some can argue against free will at a philosophical level, but deprived of the freedom to fail, there’s no drive to succeed.

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      • Your paraphrasing represent an… indirect… reading of what is being said there. Their argument is not that the environment is not worthy of being protected (“Environmental stewardship – which includes eliminating waste and the careful use of all resources – has been a longstanding tradition across Koch Industries. From ranches to refineries, Koch companies have worked hard to create real value while respecting our environment.”), but rather than the environmental regulation being proposed is ineffective, excessive, and economically damaging.

        They may be insincere, but they do not say what you quote them as saying.

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  2. I’ve wondered about this quite a bit myself.  I’m a child of the 60s, and it seems literally incredible that it would be the right, the authoritarian, militaristic, anti-progress Right that would grab and hold the mantle of “liberty” thirty yers later.

    It always seemed to me that the Left would have been a more natural coalition partner for the Libertarian movement.   After all, the right was more authoritarian, more vested in police and military authority, more apt to call for the banning of books, or ideas, or pornography, or symbolic actions like flag-burning.

    And I think that a libertarian-liberal fusion could have arrived at a conception of economic regulation that, instead of codifying actions and behaviors, concentrated on creating the infrastructure that would allow market mechanisms to work, instead:  policies like ensuring transparency, competition, and oligopoly behaviors.

    But to my surprise, the coalition was with the right, seemingly because “economic liberty” trumped individual liberty in the libertarian psyche.   And American liberalism went off in another direction, which was rather anti-libertarian in its own right:  the stuff we call nanny-statism, exemplified by seat belt laws, and hate crimes legislation that deigned to attempt to regulate the intent behind actions, rather than just actions themselves.

    But it is what it is.   I think that the a libertarian-left fusion would have improved both movements, and forcing both to focus more closely on what is central to their respective philosophies.

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    • Zackly.   I have a theory on how all this came about.   Classical Liberalism gave rise to political entities such as the Jacksonian Democrats.    Modern Liberalism emerges about the time of FDR.   The world “Liberal” completely changes meaning:  one of those slippery words which scampered away like the Stinky Cheese Man.

      Deleuze once said philosophy forms historically and saves us from having to think.   The Libertarians have preserved something from the Classical Liberal tradition the modern Liberals fail to recognize as their own.

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      • I might posit a more mundane theory.

        I think that back in the 80s the GOP started to come to believe (correctly, as it turned out) that they could get a lot of mileage off of people’s inherent dislike of taxation.  As that approach picked up steam and voters, it brought along with it people that were – to one degree or another – of a libertarian mind set.  Now, I don’t think that the GOP was a party that actually looked to reduce taxes, but it was an effective political message that allowed them a greater potential populist base then they were previously capable of assembling.

        I think it was this  anti-tax populism that cemented much of the libertarian movement to the GOP, and to the right.

        I think I’m most curious to know what Jason would say, though.

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        • The shorter the loop between taxation and perceived payout, the better people like it.    That’s why little countries like Denmark and suchlike can tolerate socialist schemes:  the loop’s very short.   Sorta like a property tax referendum to support the local schools:  everyone knows it raises property values, etc.

          The GOP capitalized on this dissatisfaction.    The Democrats never got wise to it.   Well, they did, after a fashion, but the public’s always been schizophrenic on this subject:  they all want their Congresscritter to bring home the Bacon to their district, huzzah!, but if anyone else gets some, it’s Pork, boo-hiss.

          The Libertarians kept pointing out this dichotomy but nobody would listen, preferring the glib stump speeches of the Two Parties.    It didn’t help that the Libertarian economists were a herd of braying lunatick jackasses.

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          • The dynamic of which you speak is definitely part of the program.   Before politics were quite so polarized, and America had a vital center occupied by both political parties, legislation was crafted largely to solve problems.   If it failed in its objectives, no single party was so identified with the policy that the failure couldn’t be acknowledge, and the problem re-approached.

            But it seems to me that what the current political parties are concerned with is primarily social signalling, with very little attachment o actual outcomes.   So the Democrats signal that the care, and the Republicans signal that they’re tough, and that seems, largely, to be enough.    Gay marriage is a perfect example:  if you look beyond the over-amped rhetoric, this giant symbolic fight was really not about a “civil right” that would be exercised by less than 1% of the population.   (For the record, I think that gay marriage is a desirable and inevitable long-term outcome, but nowhere worth the rancor and polarization it has engendered).

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        • I know I’ve fallen off the radar the last week or so, and will continue to mostly be off the radar for a few more weeks unfortunately, but I wanted to pop in and note that Blaise’s theory is pretty close to the truth.  True enough that the 80s strengthened the modern libertarian movement’s ties to the political Right in this country, but those ties go back a lot further, and they were already quite strong even before there was something identifiable as a modern libertarian “movement” in the mid to late 60s.

          Brian Doherty’s Radicals for Capitalism is indispensable on anything involving the history of the modern libertarian movement, though it bears mention that Hayek seems to have noticed these ties at least as early as his 1960 essay from Constitution of Liberty, “Why I Am Not a Conservative.”   In that essay, he talks about how he had been regularly characterized as a conservative in the previous decade and how, at that moment in time, a [classical] “liberal” alignment with conservatives made sense as a marriage of necessity to put the brakes on what he viewed as a global trend towards socialism, particularly insofar as at that time, “in the United States it [was] still possible to defend individual liberty by defending long-established institutions.”

          If you go back to 1943, he writes in the early portions of Road to Serfdom about how in the early 1900s, and especially around the time of the Great Depression, classical liberals (one of whom he very much considered himself), frustrated by the slow pace of progress became more or less deceived by socialists to the point that liberalism, especially of the European variety, became inextricably linked with socialism.

          I of course would argue, and have regularly argued, that the left-liberalism of 2012, particularly in the US, isn’t anything remotely like the left-liberalism of 1960, 1970, or 1980.  Meanwhile, the trend globally (not necessarily on the global Left so much as the global political trend as a whole) for the last 30 years or so has very much been away from the type of socialism with which Hayek was always most concerned.  The global mainstream and the American Left are now largely dominated by neo-liberals who, while not entirely libertarian or classically liberal, are at least in the same ballpark.  If the choices are alignment with neoliberals and alignment with conservatives,  alignment with neoliberals will tend to accelerate a trend towards liberty and less statism, while alignment with American conservatives (this is much less true of alignment with European conservatives, I jump to add) merely puts the brakes on a handful of specific (non-trend-setting) economic policies whilst emboldening a trend towards increased state authority over personal social freedoms, not to mention accelerating the whole “war as health of the state” thing.

          I’d also argue that the conservatism of 2012, though draped in the language of liberty and anti-statism like never before, is functionally a pretty far cry from the conservatism of Barry Goldwater or even, for that matter, Ronald Reagan.

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      • And as an addendum to this the savage dynamic of CYA (cover your ass) spins like a whirling blade reaping down any green shoots that arise in this matter.

        Liberal politician has some rediculous proposal offered “for the children” or “for safety” or what ever. Their options are:

        A-Oppose

        B-Support

        The outcomes are either 1: Nothing happens, 2: something bad happens 3: something good happens (note all of these are assumed to be related to the issue in the first part.

        In 1A, and 3A the politician reaps pretty much zero political reward from voters for their opposition standpoint. If 2A happens the poiltician suffers grevious political costs for their opposition.

        In 1B the politician suffers no cost. in 2B the politician can claim that something was done but not enough. Their damage is either minor or nonexistant. In 3B the politician claims victory and reaps significant political benefit.

        Considering the outcomes all else being equal and voters being lazy politicians are always advised to support interventionist do something legislation.

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    • Goldwater made liberal (ha!) use of using monetary terms in relation to personal liberties.
      He was fairly open about it.
      He wrote that it was easier for people to understand the movement of money.
      I suppose you could say that he intentional dumbed-down conservative political philosophy.
      Perhaps others came behind him to seize on this.

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  3. the kochs rightly realized the utility of having a different ideological group approve of the right wing-ish ideas they promote.  libertarians are patsies in this game.  sure, they get to diverge from the right on issues that the right either does not care about or knows will not advance.

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  4. I’m one of those folks who sees CATO as, if not an unalloyed good, an alloyed good.

    The world is better off for it existing than if it never had (and the same for such delightful magazines as Reason and websites such as Reason’s Hit&Run blog).

    If they’re planting seeds of Liberty in the Republican Party, that’s nothing but a good thing. More power to them. I only wish that the Democrats did more to co-opt some of those issues.

     

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      • I see both CATO and Reason* as jokes. We’re talking about organizations that exist as a cog in the alternate-fact-generating mill of the right wing as described by David Frum.

        To wit:

        Backed by their own wing of the book-publishing industry and supported by think tanks that increasingly function as public-relations agencies, conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics. Outside this alternative reality, the United States is a country dominated by a strong Christian religiosity. Within it, Christians are a persecuted minority. Outside the system, President Obama—whatever his policy ­errors—is a figure of imposing intellect and dignity. Within the system, he’s a pitiful nothing, unable to speak without a teleprompter, an affirmative-action ­phony doomed to inevitable defeat. Outside the system, social scientists worry that the U.S. is hardening into one of the most rigid class societies in the Western world, in which the children of the poor have less chance of escape than in France, Germany, or even England. Inside the system, the U.S. remains (to borrow the words of Senator Marco Rubio) “the only place in the world where it doesn’t matter who your parents were or where you came from.”

        There’s no taking CATO, “Reason”, CAP, or any of the other “alternative knowledge system” generation devices seriously, any more than we should have taken Pravda, Lord Haw-Haw, or Tokyo Rose seriously.

        *my use of the name in no way implies that I consider the website/magazine to ever employ logical reasoning.

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    • This assumes that there is a straight line between serfdom and liberty which is not always the case. So when Cato calls for 100% deregulation that’s a seed of liberty; but when the brothers who keep their lights on want deregulation of only the 1% they happen to own, that’s a sweetheart deal. And that relationship is worth keeping in mind once the seeds sprout and the fruits all seem to go one way.

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  5. It’s worth noting that Rothbard was into left-fusionism before he was into paleo-fusionism, and Rockwell started heading back in that direction during the Bush Administration. Libertarians are constantly trying to chart a course between Scylla and Charybdis, and it’s not at all clear which side it’s worse to err on.

    The Koch’s may care about individual liberty and other libertarian values, but they still help bankroll deeply socially conservative causes and would trade many liberties so long as economic liberty was preserved.

    Which sounds bad, until you consider that the alternative is to trade away economic liberty for abortion and gay marriage. There is no good option here.

     

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    • Also, too many people unestimate the danger of separating liberty into civil liberty, economic libery, gender liberty, gay liberty, etc. The Koch Brothers do what they do, but as far as libertarianism goes, there is really no fusionism with the Right — there’s only the lesser of two evils, and right now the Left as represented by the Democrat Party is as anti-liberty as parties in the US get. What’s important are individual rights, and although social conservativism raises the hair on my neck, I think the media is playing up the influence of social conservatives right now, because they know they are going to lose the economic battle. Democrats are attempting to scare independents with social conservative demons coming out of the graves and invading their bedrooms and wombs. Rick Santorum is helping that media narrative, but Santorum has also been pumped up by forces who want to convolute the Republican primary. Santorum will not be the nominee, and social conservativism will have very little influence over policy direction, if any influence at all. The Democrats act cocky, but behind the facade they are desperate — they know they are in big trouble in the coming election, in congress and the WH.

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      • I have a libertarian streak, but I treat Libertarianism less as bible, and more of a set of rebuttable presumptions:  if a solid case cannot be made to restrict liberty, in some way, then liberty should prevail.

        However, I consider “economic freedom” to be secondary to civil and political rights. Economic activity is protected and favored in a million ways, both large (the limited liability corporation)  and small (tax credits).    I do not share the Republicans’ cult of business primacy over other parts of the culture and society.   If an entrepreneur can bring something socially useful to society without rendering harm, fantastic.   But if he proposes to hide or obscure meaningful information about his product, or will degrade the environment, or collude to set prices or eliminate competition, regulate it.   Commerce is an aspect of society, but one in which interests constantly collide.

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        • Snarky, you miss the point — it’s about liberty, period. Yes, if any actions violate the rights of others then we should punish the violations, but when acitivity doesn’t violate rights, then it should be free activity. There’s no need to give economic liberty a higher value — just give liberty in general the highest value.

          When you assume all these evil effects of economic activity, you give the impression that these aspects are primary in markets, when in reality they are flaws of human beings and exist in humans who act in any realm, government included. Government pollutes, colludes, monopolizes, etc.

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          • No, it’s not about liberty, period.    Business exists out in the societal sphere, where every right granted one party is a right taken away from another.   So the right to “produce” may collide with the right to breath clean air, or the right of free choice or free contract, or the right to organize.    In these cases, the government must be arbiter.

            Giving commercial interests the same kinds and degrees of “liberty” as individuals leaves them with the right to deceive, to conceal, and to collude against the public interest.   Not only is it not ideal, it’s not even warranted.   Commercial life exists in a special protective sphere:  there is no such thing as a limited liability person.   And given that, it is reasonable to rebalance the rights towards the public, and the individual.

            So the Koch brothers may feel that regulation is onerous–that’s their right.  But while they see the right to dump formaldehyde into streams as a matter of liberty, it can be more fairly viewed as an unauthorized “taking” from the commons.   And the “right” of corporations to deceive (see Nike v. Kasky, 2003) imbues them the rights I feel are only appropriate to humans.   Because, ultimately, companies are instruments: tools.

            So the ideologue may scream that it’s “all about liberties,” while blinding themselves to the reality that people and commerce operate in different spheres, and the people sphere is both larger and supreme.

            All of which is not to say that commercial regulation must be onerous, or heavy handed, or rigid.   I think that all regulation should be done with the lightest possible touch, and in the least rigid possible way.   But the commercial sphere is where we allocate most of our goods and services, and–unregulated–economic power can overwhelm individual power and choice.   I think it is part of the role of government to maintain and reinforce choice, diversity, and veracity in the marketplace.

            But that’s just me.

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                • MFarmer –

                  1. Republicans have their fair share of hawks. Remember Iraq? We’re still neck-deep in Bush’s wars. Libya was small potatoes. That doesn’t make it right, but only a partisan hack would say that progressives have gotten us in more wars recently than conservatives.

                  2. Linking modern-day progressives to Wilson and other turn-of-the-century progressives is a smear tactic but very shaky when it comes to fact. These are very different movements with very different ideas.

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                  • You put words in my mouth. I said progressivism presents the greatest risk of war right now, not who has caused the most wars — you don’t read well, do you? But that’s what partisan hacks do, misread and spin.

                    You asked about the wars lately, and I gave you one.

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                • “only with a 21st century social justice twist”

                  Huh? It always seems odd to me when conservative buzzwords become so meaningless that they can be used to describe pretty much anything. It seems “social justice” had reached that point.

                  By the way, I don’t think Obama is a self-described progressive. I don’t think anyone, except people who use “social justice” as a pejorative (you’re not Catholic, obviously) in reference to a war (which I did not support, just so we’re clear) justified on the grounds that it prevented the slaughter of civilians, thinks of him as a progressive. I think progressives thought he might be one of them during the 2008 campaign, but we’re talking about a group of people that’s so starved for someone who will represent them in mainstream politics that they’re way too likely to delude themselves.

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              • <i>It’s placing pressure on us the enter Syria, then Iran.</i>

                As odd as I find your invocation of “social justice” in a context that has nothing to do with “social justice,” and your apparent ignorance of the history of the word “progressive,” I find it even more odd that you would say this when one of the main talking points among the Republican presidential campaigns in the last few weeks has been that Obama is too soft on Iran. I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that a Republican administration in 2013 means war with Iran, but the Republican rhetoric is certainly more geared to it than Obama’s.

                Also, as the civil war in Syria escalates, it’s going to be a shitstorm for whoever’s in the Oval Office.

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                  • Dude, folllow the bouncing ball. I didn’t say you said he was soft on Iran. I said the Republican candidates did. I said this because you seem to think that Obama is more likely to get us into war with Iran than the Republicans (that’s your point here, right?), when it’s quite clear that that’s not true.

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                    • OK man, I see how pointless engaging you is. You argued that “progressives,” and Obama specifically, are a greater risk for war right now. I point out that Republicans think he’s soft to make it clear that you’re full of it: the Republican rhetoric is much more likely to lead to war with Iran, because anything short of military posturing is being soft on Iran.

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                    • Erik, you hear what you want to hear, and anything that doesn’t fit your worldview and isn’t politically correct is rightwing, I suppose. I have no idea what you’re talking about. What rightwing tropes? I don’t even know what that means. Yes, on many issues, I’m in line with the Old Right, classical liberals — so frigging what? That doesn’t make me a partisan Republican. How does it in your opinion? I think you just don’t like me, and anything I say you attack.

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                    • How do I sound like a conservative? You all are making these claims, but you aren’t backing up the claims. How am I acting and sounding like a conservative? I’m for legalizing drugs. I’m for a dynamic economy/society that can change everything as far as I’m concerned, as long as rights aren’t violated. I’m for gay marriage. I’m for women having control over their bodies. I’m a non-interventionist when it comes to foreign policy. How do I sound and act like a conservative?

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              • I have more than my share of problems with the US’ involvement in the intervention in Libya (which, it should be emphasized, was driven far more by the French and British than by Samantha Powers).  But do not let us pretend for one second that it was anywhere within 50 orders of magnitude of the invasion of Iraq, much less the multitude of wars that conservatives are itching to start across the Middle East and South Asia.

                It’s not liberals who have long tried, and continue to try, to make military spending sacrosanct.

                If we had President Palin/Santorum/Gingrich/Limbaugh/[insert conservative bogeyman of choice] right now, we might not have intervened in Libya (and it bears repeating that even in Libya our involvement was highly limited), but we’d: (1) not have drawn down our troops in Iraq; (2) be doubling down in Afghanistan; and (3) probably have invaded Iran long ago.  Oh, and Ukraine and Georgia would be part of NATO…..

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      • “the Left as represented by the Democrat Party ”

        1.  Can we please retire the “Democrat party” schtick? As a courtesy if nothing else? It contributes nothing except for irking those who disagree with you.

        2.  The Democratic party does not represent the left…at all, really.  They’re not as bad as the GOP, but asymmetric polarization has rendered severe liberals politically homeless in a way that severe conservatives are not.

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      • …right now the Left as represented by the Democrat Party is as anti-liberty as parties in the US get…
        Can you substantiate that with a few examples? Historical comparisons?
        Democrats are attempting to scare independents with social conservative demons coming out of the graves and invading their bedrooms and wombs. Rick Santorum is helping that media narrative…
        Do Democrats are attempting to scare people by pointing to, say, the Republican Party actual Platform and the actual statements of a frontrunner for the Republican Presidential nomination? And that’s unfair because you believe that the Republican party is simply engaging in demagoguery and has no intention of actually carrying out those elements of its platform or allowing somebody who toes the party line on litmus test issues to obtain the nomination?

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  6. Because it’s not what the party chooses to go by, and it’s only used by political enemies.  It’s a sign of disrespect to not refer to someone/thing by the name they’ve chosen for themself, and doing it intentionally is basically the equivalent of blowing smoke in someone’s face, even if the name you’re calling them is other wise unobjectionable.

    There’s a whole Wikipedia article on the topic, which covers it in a lot of depth.

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  7. It’s not an insult, but is is a signal of contempt and dismissal.

    Say that your dame was Renee, but I refused to call you Renee, I called you Suzie, instead.   There’s nothing inherently insulting about “Suzie;”  America is full up upstanding Suzies.

    But, the fact is, the name of the political party is the “Democratic Party.”   Calling it the “Democrat Party” is just a way of signalling disrespect.

    Do you understand now, Suzie?

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    • My grandfather called it the “democrat party”. He was southern, union, and called Mondale/Ferraro “Fritz and Tits”.

      When I was young, he told me to do three things. “Buy American. Buy Union. Vote Democrat.” For the record, I don’t think he was signalling disrespect. (I also think that there are a lot of folks out there who don’t signal disrespect with the term “democrat”.)

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      • Tangential, but one of the irritating things is that while I wish to call parties and groups by what they wish to be called, or at least avoid using terms that they do not wish to be called by, “Vote Democrat” sounds better coming out than “Vote Democratic” to me. But I’ve been “called out” when I have said it, because it’s assumed that I am using it in the way that one would use “Democrat Party.”

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      • If you read the Wikipedia link that Dan provided, you’ll see that there used to be colloquial uses of “Democrat” as an adjective.   But the current Republican usage is intentional, childish, and designed to irritate.

        I’m sure your grandfather used it without intending any disrespect.   MFarmer, I suspect, had something different in mind.   And I am, once again, glad that Dan called attention to the it.   If he was not aware that it is considered disrespectful, he is now.

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            • It’s fun for you to come in and simply spit in everyone else’s soup?

              If you read through the threads on this post, you’ll see that the conversations have been interesting, respectful, and substantive.   Until you’ve stepped in.    Every single posting you make is bile-filled, with name calling, dubious partisan accusation, and unnecessary tweaks to the people you are “conversing” with.

              Really, can’t you please just find another sandbox to play in?

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              • Are you sure this is how it happened? You might want to read back through the posts. I didn’t start anything, but I see that certain ideas aren’t allowed here, so, I guess I will find another sandbox — this is so partisan, it’s boring. You can’t criticize the Left without being called a rightwinger, and you can’t use the “wrong” words without being accused of using buzzwords. The attempt, I suppose, is to control the language and, thus , the ideas. Most of the people here are afraid of free-thinkers — they don’t how to deal with someone they can’t label and button-hole. When the objective thinker, in a discussion on politics, happens to agree with Republicans on several discussed issues, he/she is automatically labeled a rightwinger. The ability of people here to think outside their political divisisons has been damaged by too much ass-slapping and group-think. Good luck with the group-think, but it usually devolves into running people off who think differently, or think at all.

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                • This is how I entered the conversation:

                  Also, too many people unestimate the danger of separating liberty into civil liberty, economic libery, gender liberty, gay liberty, etc. The Koch Brothers do what they do, but as far as libertarianism goes, there is really no fusionism with the Right — there’s only the lesser of two evils, and right now the Left as represented by the Democrat Party is as anti-liberty as parties in the US get. What’s important are individual rights, and although social conservativism raises the hair on my neck, I think the media is playing up the influence of social conservatives right now, because they know they are going to lose the economic battle. Democrats are attempting to scare independents with social conservative demons coming out of the graves and invading their bedrooms and wombs. Rick Santorum is helping that media narrative, but Santorum has also been pumped up by forces who want to convolute the Republican primary. Santorum will not be the nominee, and social conservativism will have very little influence over policy direction, if any influence at all. The Democrats act cocky, but behind the facade they are desperate — they know they are in big trouble in the coming election, in congress and the WH.

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                  • That’s a sad, sad story about how you, the “objective thinker” are being suppressed by the thought police.

                    In case you didn’t notice, I didn’t complain about your political views. I complained about your tone. Your nasty, divisive, contemptuous, hectoring, deliberately obnoxious tone. And the fact that virtually every comment you posted contained a dig designed to make someone else angry.

                    If you were open to it, you’d see that this blog has a wider range of opinion than just about any other wonk blog out there. And that is the case only because most of the commenters are civil, and interested in the views of others. There *are* a few hand-waving idealogues in here, granted. But no one has adopted a more contemptuous, derisive tone than you.

                    BTW: you might want to look up the word “partisan” in a dictionary: you don’t seem quite clear on the concept.

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                  • Seriously, I do warn against what I call groupism — I see it happening here at several levels, especially when anyone says something that doesn’t fit the modern liberal worldview. The few people here who call themselves libertarians really mean civil libertarians regarding the politically correct areas of support for liberty. There’s very little innovative thinking because the group-mind is too limited by a statist infection which can’t envision a private sector that takes care of most of its problems. The group mindset that claims government of some sort is necessary to achieve social justice, fairness, stability, etc, resists any movement to limit government and transition to a truly free society that depends on the market to react to needs and wants. When someone like myself comes in here and doesn’t waver on ideas of liberty and anti-statism, I’m some other who doesn’t fit in — I have to be dangerous if my ideas are that contrary to modern liberalism, so I’m smeared and marginalized, my humor is seen as personal attacks, and every word is twisted to beat my points down –that way the group mindset/worldview is protected.

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                    • The few people here who call themselves libertarians really mean civil libertarians regarding the politically correct areas of support for liberty.

                      Really? Then why have I had such long arguments with our local liberals over markets and regulation?

                      my humor is seen as personal attacks

                      It might have something to do with your delivery, old cock.

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                    • baka!
                      Instead of talking about it, do something about it.
                      When you’re running three things that can aptly take the place of the equivalent governmental functions, then we can talk.

                      I’ll even tip my hat to you if you do fire departments.

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                    • Mike, the warning is doubtlessly something everyone should try and watch out for but I do think you should examine your conduct and language as well. Not, I hasten to add, because of a need for political correctness nor even for a need for courtesy but as a matter of effectiveness and communication.

                      I recall that one of the libertarian regulars observed a while back that libertarians in general have internalized the very language and mores of the American right to such a degree that they have difficulty even talking to liberals. You took umbrage with the concept back then but I’d suggest you reconsider.
                      I have no doubt of your earnest belief in libertarianism but the way you talk, the terms you use and the emphasis and priorities you have in choosing which violations of libertarianism to take the most offense to all paint you like a right winger. You are a libertarian, I have no doubt, but you talk and argue like a conservative. You’re a living example of how libertarianism is captured and imprisoned by the right.

                      I’d submit, humbly, that badly compromises your ability to communicate libertarian principles to non-conservatives. Though it certainly makes you always very useful to read; real GOP politicians like to sound sort of like you but don’t believe a word of it. So holding them up to your example is like holding up colored paper cutouts beside the real thing.

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                    • I recall that one of the libertarian regulars observed a while back that libertarians in general have internalized the very language and mores of the American right to such a degree that they have difficulty even talking to liberals.

                      The reverse seems truer.

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                    • North, I haven’t internalized anything but the language of liberty which liberals don’t understand, obviously.

                      But don’t worry, rather than conform and fix my behavior and communication skills (LOL) I will disappear and let the group do its thing. I appreciate your concern though.

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        • The remedy is simple.  Shorten in return.

          They’re not Republicans.  They’re just Publicans:  Self-righteous, noisy, opportunistic, violent, religion-abusing frauds.

          I’m thinking in the battle of mangled party monikers, the left has the high ground.

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          • I’m not so sure that it it’s particularly useful to return the favor.  I know you are but what am I?   Once both parties descend into name-calling, conversations become even more  meaningless (hard to believe, huh?)

            I think the Democrats are better served by being the “adult” brand.

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    • Boy – I didn’t mean to thread-jack so apologies up-front to Erik (especially after the comment post!).  But being called Suzie honestly doesn’t bother me unless there is some context to make it irksome.  You can feel free to call me Suzie because since there is no context, I embrace it.  I have lots of nicknames that were not of my choosing.  (If you think you can choose your nicknames, than you become KoKo).

      The long context of history is the piece that I was missing.  I wasn’t sure when it started, or to what it referred.  Heck, many racial slurs aren’t obviously insulting – they usually have to do with a long history of race relations.  I simply hadn’t seen the history of this one.  I get it now though.

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  8. What is left unexamined in ED Kain’s post is how remarkable it is that the libertarian project can’t be separated from its funders.

    There isn’t really any independent think tank or organization that pushes for libertarianism, that isn’t wholly controlled by a tiny group of funders.

    There isn’t an libertarian NOW or GLAAD or MoveOn, groups that are aligned with political parties yet press an agenda independently of it.

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    • Which political party does Cato, the Reason Foundation, and so on decline to press an agenda independent of? They’re not exactly organs of the Libertarian Party. Definitely not the GOP.

      Regarding the second paragraph, anyone have any good statistics on how “tiny” the funding sources from the Reason Foundation and Cato are?

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      • anyone have any good statistics on how “tiny” the funding sources from the Reason Foundation and Cato are?

        Sourcewatch, drawing on Cato’s 2006 report, says they had revenues of just over $20.4 million, with $612,000 (3%) from 26 corporations (with a big decline in number and amount by 2008),  and just over $3 million (~15%) from 72 foundations.  About 8% came from programs (publications and the like), leaving about 74% of revenue coming from individual contributions.  No word on how many individuals, though.

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      • You must be joking.

        The job of CATO is to produce things for the use of right-wing talk shows when necessary, and to produce things nobody bothers to read the rest of the time.

        As shown earlier – when the funders come calling for CATO to dig up dirt on someone, or produce a “study” to back up some right-wing talking point, it’ll be produced, even if it has to ignore 90% of the historical record to match the point.

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        • Kenneth,

          Saying so doesn’t make it so.  But if you want to remain narrow-minded enough to insist that an organization that regularly criticizes the right wing’s war on terror and corporate giveways is in fact right wing, by all means, feel free to live in a state of blissful ignorance.

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          • CATO’s been on a slow purge of the non-right-wingers for years. Their latest two were Brink Lindsey and Will Wilkinson.

            Meanwhile,need a CATO backup to go after those “evil teachers unions in Wisconsin“? You know, those evil, “selfish” teachers who took a $6k/year average pay cut to help balance the state budget only to get Scott Walker shitting all over them anyways? Don’t worry – you’ve got a Koch-funded hit piece just waiting for you at CATO.

            Need a dishonest, right wing shill piece about “Obamacare”? Don’t worry, CATO has one for that too. Nevermind that once it hits full-on, Obamacare will take care of two of the biggest economic problems in the US today: workers held as slaves fearful to quit a job, start a business or move for fear of losing health insurance, and the “Pre-Existing Condition” trap.

            As a side note: I’m currently watching PEC crap destroy the life of a good friend, who’s visiting the USA as a doctoral study researcher for 9 months from overseas. His home country has universal health care, and he was told as part of the program to buy a specific policy of healthcare for while he was here. A month after he arrived, he had to go in to an emergency room for treatment of a kidney stone that was moving: the insurance company is now refusing to cover it, claiming it to be a “preexisting condition.” In his home country, an income of $10k/year is considered rich: they want to charge him that amount for one emergency room visit. So, to all you libertarians/republicans who think “repealing Obamacare” is a war cry, my war cry is fish you.

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            • Thanks. This is substantially harder for the Conservatives around here to shrug off.

              Just a note, in case you haven’t been reading people’s bios around here — one of the blokes’ around here does work for Cato as a writer.

              Jesus that’s rough. I’d point you to some places to get help, but we’re having enough trouble keeping Americans alive…

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            • “Nevermind that once it hits full-on, Obamacare will take care of two of the biggest economic problems in the US today: workers held as slaves fearful to quit a job, start a business or move for fear of losing health insurance, and the “Pre-Existing Condition” trap.”

              Obamacare does no such thing. Obamacare is not single payer in any way, shape or form. Nor for that matter is it anything approaching the Wyden-Bennett bill (even if it adopts some of the provisions thereof on a limited scale). To the contrary, it expressly doubles down on the employer-health insurance tie that is almost indisputably the very cause of the above-listed problems.

              Yes, it attempts to legislate away the PEC problem. It may or may not be effective in that regard when it is fully implemented. It will also most assuredly create all sorts of new problems.

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            • Don’t worry – you’ve got a Koch-funded hit piece just waiting for you at CATO.

              Ah, another allegation without evidence. Oh, not Cato’s (not “CATO”) anti-unionism, but that such a piece was Koch-funded.

              Ah, what am I saying, we don’t need no stinking facts. Veracity is for people who aren’t willing to get down in the mud and wrassle about their ideologies.

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    • Lib60, I see it as Rothbard losing support for Rothbardianism.  Even moving to the Mises Institute from Cato, a similar defention happens.  From David Gordon’s Part 2:

      The current Austrian program at George Mason, headed by Peter Boettke, stresses a combination of Austrian theory with other approaches, especially game theory, public choice, and institutional economics. Since Rothbard was critical of all of these movements, it is safe to say he would not have completely approved of this program.

      Is Rothbardianism “libertarianism?”  It appears not, at least definitively.  It’s gone all over the map.  An interesting question here

      http://us-intellectual-history.blogspot.com/2012/02/reception-history-new-word-for-old.html

      Isn’t it more important how ideas are received, how they grow and are put into play, than their purity?  With more of an interest in history than fancying meself a philosopher, I say yes—the “sociology of philosophy” is of more interest to me—as I say in the comments there, what John Locke “really” meant under his layers of obfuscation is secondary to what the American Founders thought he meant.

      [Not that the purity of philosophy isn’t more important in its way, but Locke was pretty much buried by the wave of modernity of Kant and Hegel, etc. anyway.]

      Anyway, if Reason Magazine and Cato institute and Mises and George Mason are where the action is, then that’s libertarianism.  And I question whether all the millions in the world—the Koches’ or Soros’—could create a complete astroturf set of ideas.   I think it’s just too hard to fake from scratch.

      [Or libertarianism is Ron Paul, at least far more than Rothbard’s epigones on the left are.  But I think if you interviewed the mob, the coherency factor would rather dissipate quickly, and you’d find a lot of one-issue voters who found a home, who agree passionately with Ron Paul on one thing rather than across the board on a lot of them.]

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    • “There isn’t an libertarian NOW or GLAAD or MoveOn, groups that are aligned with political parties yet press an agenda independently of it.”

      Is this your idea of humor? Please respect serious libertarians who don’t receive money from Evil Kochs. And please respect those libertarians in think tanks who can maintain integrity even though they have financial supporters. Jason is a person of integrity. A little respect, here, please.

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      • [replying to several comments at once]

        I wouldn’t claim that the Kochs are the sole puppet masters of the libertarian world.
        But I will say that organs like Cato and Reason are funded by a tiny grop of very interested parties, and they tailor their output to match expectations.
        In that regard, they are not one bit different than any other “think tank” that knows what side their bread is buttered on.

        But what “libertarian” means, both in theory and operationally, is largely defined by these entities, not by say, leading figures in the Libertarian Party, or independent thinkers.

        This is how the libertarian project is very different than the conservative project or the liberal project.

        Limbaugh is a major influence over who gets to define “conservatism”; but he is one of many, all of whom are free range, independent actors.

        The left has an even wider assortment of shot callers who get to define what “liberalism” is and how it operates.

        There are probably only a dozen or so people (Kochs, Pfotenhaurs, et al) who can effectively steer the libertarian ship, and none of them write blogs. Or need to.

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        • It’s partly a function of how small the libertarian group is, isn’t it? I know reading this blog I sometimes feel like the world is populated solely by libertarians, but in the real world, their numbers are small compared to liberals and conservatives.

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          • Over here in the real world, the libertarians are the liberals. Because RealPeople don’t fit in nice little philosophical boxes, but do what needs doing to get shit done.And when the levers of political power aren’t in their paws, they still Get Shit Done.

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  9. Whence the right libertarian fusionism?  (note : all uses of the l word below should be read as using the little l)

    The Technocratic Managerial State  – there is a strain of ‘scientific’ management of society and politics that begins during the Progressive Era, extends to the New Deal, and reached a peak in the Kennedy and Great Society eras.  It existed in both left and right (or more precisely, both Democrat and Republican sides; e.g Hoover) It still continues in the form of Bloombergism.  Libertarians tend to be instinctively against the strain.  But nobody else really was, at least, nobody important, until Buckley stood athwart history, yelling “stop. ”  This created synergy with libertarians

    Communism – Noam Chomsky’s self appellation notwithstanding, there wasn’t a single gorram thing libertarian about the way big C Communists practiced their craft in the 20th century.  So since the right was more reliably, and more virulently, against Communists in the 20th century, libertarians found a better synergy with the right.

    Race – (This is much smaller than the above two, but it’s still a part) Libertarians generally have a blind spot on race.  At the very least, they’re not fans of affirmative action and the like.  Insofar as the right tends to have similar views, libertarians make common cause with the right.

    Where can libertarians break with the right and create common cause (so to speak) with the left?

    Obvious – as already said above, regarding the Drug War, the War Wars, and general civil liberties, libertarians should find allies wherever they can, and many if not most of these are on the left these days

    Decentralization – there is a facet of libertarianism that meshes well with (for lack of better word) ‘hippydom’ that encourages local production of all sorts of goods and services (and not just pot – or raw milk) that the central managerial state tends to squash either directly (like in pot or raw milk) or indirectly (like keeping chickens in your semi-urban backyard).  And there’s plenty of other ideas that libertarians and #occupy folks can find agreement on

    Divergent points, things that are never going to mesh in a left-libertarian alliance

    Unions – there is obviously, due to ideology and history, much antagonism between libertarians and unions.  There is plenty of room for libertarians to simply abide by private sector unionization.  There is no room for libertarians to accept public sector unionization

    Wealth Distribution – this is something I don’t see libertarians getting on board with, due to apathy and disinterest in the managerial state as listed in the first section.

     

     

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  10. It always amuses me when people on the left, or anyone really, suppose that the Koch brothers have some nefarious string-pulling influence at Cato.  I’ll quote at length from Brian Doherty’s authoritative book Radicals for Capitalism:

    The empire of Koch-funded libertarian organizations saw some upheaval in the early 1990s, as Koch tried to develop in both his business and philanthropies what he dubbed “market-based management.”  While this concept and its operations remain opaque to many, it is an attempt to incorporate calculations of internal markets of sorts, applying principles of competition, knowledge, and discovery within the firm…  Charles Koch admits the entire MBM project is still, in the Austrian economics style, ongoing and experimental, not a set grab bag of obvious tenets and tricks…

    In the brouhaha over applying some of these ideas to the organizations he funded, Charles Koch eventually cut down his support of Cato and left the board of the think tank he helped found….

    As for what happened between Cato’s Ed Crane and his longtime biggest supporter, Crane himself insists “I don’t know what happened.  I’ll go to my grave not understanding what happened.”  Some movement watchers think it had to do with Crane’s resistance to the imposition of “market-based management” techniques at Cato; some think that Koch had been convinced by others in his orbit that Cato was saying or doing things that weren’t libertarian; some think that Koch’s fascination with the writings of Michael Polanyi led him to distrust the more old-fashioned ideological approach to politics that he saw at Cato and other parts of the movement as representing.  (p 602-03)

    Lefties who describe Cato as being under the Kochs’ thumb are describing a very different era than the one we live in now.  It’s actually hilarious how they so strongly echo Murray Rothbard in the depths of his late, paranoid, racist, paleo phase — right down to using the term “Kochtopus,” which Rothbard himself coined.

    My sense is that Cato scholars are socially fairly left-leaning, with the exception of the welfare state, on which they are gravely skeptical.  Cato, however, has a primarily conservative audience and donor base, and this creates some obvious tensions.  Never a movement without ’em, mind you.

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    • I simply don’t buy it. I’ve been around here, what, more than a few months now and I’ve been reading Cato for a good long while, trying to come to terms with the New Libertarianism. I think I’ve done my homework now. I’ve tried to say a few nice things about where Libertarians are correct.

      Whatever it is, Cato is not Left Wing by anyone’s definition. Why does Cato continue to attack unions? What leads you to believe I should take Cato’s positions as left-of-anything? They attack the working man where he might actually make changes in government. All I see is the very worst aspects of Jacksonian Democracy in present times.

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      • I acknowledged my error several hours ago.

        I tend to think, with Prof. Hanley, that it shows how little the board of directors intervenes in day-to-day affairs. Quite different from what many seem to imagine.

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      • Let’s try to avoid calling people liars. He said he goofed, it’s not that big a deal. The Koch influence can only go so far: if some Capitalist Roader goes to the trouble of funding the Cato Institute on the basis of what Murray Rothbard had to say in the dim and distant past, he’s not exactly working in his own best interests, is he?

        The Libertarians and the Marxists have an awful lot in common: they constantly misuse standard English words, forming up their own terms of art known only to the initiated, they’re constantly bickering among themselves and ultimately the gods that answer the prayers of fools will punish them as they punished the Marxists in the 20th century.

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  11. An enormously uninformed piece of writing in almost every way.

    The Paul newsletters for instance, number over 240. When a midwestern TV reporter, Ben Swann, looked into it, he found that only 9 had racially insensitive language and only one extensively so. It turns out that this one newsletter did contain a clear byline by someone other than Paul. But in the original New Republic reporting on that by Jamie Kirchick, TNR suppressed that fact, even going so far as to cut off the page with that author’s byline in the PDF to which they provided their readers with a link. I don’t think Sanchez or Weigel could have been doing much in the way of investigating, as opposed to opining, if they didn’t manage to uncover that Shattered Glass style fabrication. But then, I have been at an event before recording politicians speaking and then seen that one of those fellows tweeted that I was live streaming the event, when I was only recording it. When a simple question to me of “what are you doing” would have provided the needed fact check.

    Since you are a liberal you believe that your state helps the broad mass of people, and hence you are unable to understand the Koch’s strategy, which flows more from libertarian class analysis than from Ayn Rand’s ideas about philosophy as the queen of culture. They are funding a broad based popular anti-statist movement, regardless of whether it is libertarian on issues that don’t affect the average person’s life. The result may be very libertarian, as a tea party Congress finds that to balance the budget the American empire and the war on drugs may need to be refunded.

    European history, even before the American revolution, is a series of revolts by the tax serfs against the tax predator ruling class, beginning with the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. The tax predator ruling class and their court jesters and priests (today’s entertainers and media and academics) are attacked and cede some self-ownership back to the slaves, gradually sucking their blood more and more until the cycle happens again. The Kochs are just supplying contemporary peasants with axes, so we can take off your head. Don’t walk down any dark alleys.

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    • Bruce:

      An enormously uninformed piece of writing in almost every way.

      Yawn. When you start out like that my eyes glaze over. But I’ll give it my best. I’m sure your opinion of me throughout this comment is “informed” after all.

      The Paul newsletters for instance, number over 240. When a midwestern TV reporter, Ben Swann, looked into it, he found that only 9 had racially insensitive language and only one extensively so. It turns out that this one newsletter did contain a clear byline by someone other than Paul. But in the original New Republic reporting on that by Jamie Kirchick, TNR suppressed that fact, even going so far as to cut off the page with that author’s byline in the PDF to which they provided their readers with a link.

      This is nonsense. I looked into Swann’s reporting because, as someone who has spoken very positively about Ron Paul for his views on drugs and the wars, I would love to have seen his name cleared. Alas, it was not. The one piece with a byline was hardly a revelation. It was included in the original files published by TNR. I watched the Twitter back-and-forth between Kirchick and Swann and it was sort of painful. Swann thought he had this big breaking story, but it was all years-old-news.

      There may have only been a handful of very bad newsletters, but there was plenty of not-as-bad-but-still-absurd-crap in lots of the other newsletters. The point isn’t really about the worst of the newsletters anyways. The point is that Paul and his intellectual comrades at the time used paranoia to spread a libertarian message. I’m glad Paul doesn’t do that anymore, but it’s problematic that he did in the past.

      Since you are a liberal you believe that your state helps the broad mass of people, and hence you are unable to understand the Koch’s strategy, which flows more from libertarian class analysis than from Ayn Rand’s ideas about philosophy as the queen of culture. They are funding a broad based popular anti-statist movement, regardless of whether it is libertarian on issues that don’t affect the average person’s life. The result may be very libertarian, as a tea party Congress finds that to balance the budget the American empire and the war on drugs may need to be refunded.

      Dude, first of all, you obviously have no idea what my politics are. So please kindly refrain from telling me what you think I believe about the state. And I’m well aware of the Koch strategy. It’s exactly what I’m criticizing here, because I think it is failing to address liberty in a meaningful way, and is instead funding anyone who says they want to lower taxes or deregulate environmental laws. As I mentioned in the piece, they have done plenty of good things, too, but their support of the GOP is anti-liberty as far as I’m concerned, and that does matter.

      European history, even before the American revolution, is a series of revolts by the tax serfs against the tax predator ruling class, beginning with the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. The tax predator ruling class and their court jesters and priests (today’s entertainers and media and academics) are attacked and cede some self-ownership back to the slaves, gradually sucking their blood more and more until the cycle happens again. The Kochs are just supplying contemporary peasants with axes, so we can take off your head. Don’t walk down any dark alleys.

      I’m very glad that you can take seriously such a simplistic view of history. It makes me less bothered by the veiled threats of violence in that last line. Alas, history is far more complex than anti-tax revolts. Whatever helps you sleep at night, of course. Comfortable narratives help us avoid critical thinking.

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    • Ahh… you think you’re a serf do you?

      Kochs are part of the ruling class, and they pay their jesters and priests well.

      Kochs are indeed arming Brownshirts, with rhetoric if not axes… Whether or not this is a good thing? Time will tell.

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  12. Rofl.  Could you sound any snottier and more pretentious?  So typically “liberal,” in all your parochial stupidity.

    A sad performance.  You evade the fact that TNR clipped off the byline in the PDF they provided to their readers in the original article, and that TNR/Kirchick then took some time (I believe almost two weeks) to answer Ben Swann’s phone inquiries about the matter.  Your article is itself of a piece with the Ron Paul as racist hoax.  One could just as well latch onto Ron Paul’s agreeing to be interviewed by an unknown, flamingly gay Austrian celebrity journalist in the movie “Bruno” to claim he was gay.  Ron Paul simply used to talk to anyone who would listen, since the state cartelized media had shut him out, until he organized his army of 20-somethings to force them to cover him.  The only thing his name is sullied with is political fecklessness and a proselytizer’s promiscuity.  It’s obvious you never comprehended that, instead seizing on the tired catechism about race, that is the thin reed on which liberalism tries to support itself, even as it rounds up poor minority kids and sells them to the educrat cartels for campaign donations.

    You also evade the actual arithmetic, 9 of 240+ newsletters have anything even racially insensitive, and only 1 is extensively so, the one not only not written by Paul but with someone else’s byline.  I guess your computational inability is genetic to your tribe:  it explains Obama’s budget, why he thinks there are 57 states, and why his budget director thinks it takes 60 votes in the Senate to pass a budget.

    And you farted on, really saying nothing, and proving that you (followed by lil’ Kimmi, who thinks she is helping the masses when her masters bail out banks around the world) have no cognizance of libertarian writing on such topics as equality, class, poverty etc.

    It reminds me of when I google chatted Jamie Kirchik and told him that he shouldn’t keep saying (in his 2011-2012 anti-Paul screeds, written, curiously, while he is in government employ at Radio Free Europe, not TNR) that Ron Paul advocates a “gold standard,” meaning a government controlled and produced monopoly currency “backed” by gold, as Dick Morris has spent weeks accusing Paul of doing on FOX News.  Jamie was taken aback that he had anything in common with Dick Morris, politically (though for all I know they both supported Newt and were attacking Paul from that vantage).  When I told him Austrians generally advocate a  competitive market of private currencies, and that the economists Ron Paul reads, from F.A. Hayek to Lawrence White, have written books on that topic, Jamie replied “that’s even crazier.”

    Why do you people keep writing about libertarianism when you clearly don’t know anything about it beyond having read a pamphlet or a bumpersticker?

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    • You got that cite on private currencies (someone over on calculated risk used to link to it…). I’ve been looking for it for AGES. They seem like fun!

      The banksters are the masters (along with the Kochs and Scaife and that crowd too…).

      Buying people is so old school these days… For real leverage, folks use blackmail. And everyone up at a certain level is blackmailed. (a friend of mine who Ought To Know thinks that someone in the Big 5 Investment Banks threatened Obama’s kids).

      As long as you are against the banks (and that means setting cap gains as normal income, no 5% or god forbid 0% taxes on the stuff), you’re on my side.

      I may be cynical, but I’ll take allies where I can get ’em.

       

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      • I have never seen a link like that, but I have been meaning to read Hayek’s “The denationalization of money,” and Lawrence White’s “Competition and Currency.”

        I think the argument is actually related to your other topic. We are bought and sold, since we, our future income streams, and those of our progeny, are the only collateral backing fiat currency and government debt instruments held by banks and governments around the world.

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  13. How convenient for you.  You can “yawn” and be pretentious and evasive but if someone calls you on it you scream “civility.”

    Aiming for Jay Carney’s job are we?

    You can hiss all you want.  If you can’t defend your inability to defend your parroted notions your blog isn’t worth much.  It’s merely decorative.  And anyone can create all the internet identities they want and get around your mighty “blocking,” you Man you.

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