Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Low Blow after Low Blow: Tom Watson at Salon

Read it here.

At one point he uses the word authoritarian as a descriptor. Never does he approach the theoretical foundations. Instead he whines that libertarians oppose the notion that government solutions are superior. This quotation sums his position well:
The Libertarian Party itself – inaccurately described by Stop Watching Us as a “public advocacy organization” – is a right-wing political party that opposes all gun control laws and public healthcaresupported the government shutdowndismisses public educationopposes organized labor, favors the end of Social Security as we know it, and argues in its formal political manifesto that “we should eliminate the entire social welfare system” while supporting “unrestricted competition among banks and depository institutions of all types.”
Yet my progressive friends would take the stage with the representatives of this political movement? Why? The loss is much greater than the gain. Organizers trade their own good names and reputations to stand alongside – and convey legitimacy to – a party that opposes communitarian participation in liberal society, and rejects the very role of government itself. And their own argument for privacy is weakened by the pollution of an ideology that uses its few positive civil liberties positions as a predator uses candy with a child.

The loudest cry of libertarians (big and small "L") is that markets and voluntary societies provide the surest means of securing an enduring freedom and prosperity. Why? Because markets and voluntary societies allow the provision of needs to be internalized within communities, both small and broad. They provide solutions where gains are positive sum, rather than zero or negative sum. Solutions provided by government, at least thus far, tend to be of the latter type. Why? Because actors in markets and voluntary societies face the consequences of failure more immediately than bureaucrats in public agencies. If a business runs substantial deficits for an extended period, it will face bankruptcy. Government agencies, for example the post office, can consistently run deficits but never see an end.

The problems don't end there. Government provision of goods and services tend to bifricate society by class. Those who are poorer tend to have government services available for options like medical care, education, etc... Why? Because provision of these goods and services by government crowd out cheaper options, regardless of their effectiveness. The result is that in poorer communities where the provision of these goods and services have been internalized, or at least could be, lose the option of voluntary provision and with it, social cohesion. The relative cost of joining a local community for support increases as the provision of subsidized benefits increase. 

It's simple economics.

@ 1231 P.S. Steve Horwitz just pointed out a couple other responses here and here.

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