The inimitable EconStories gang, which includes the great John Papola, has just released their newest creation just in time for Christmas: Deck the Halls with Macro Follies. It lampoons the idea getting consumer spending going is how to jumpstart an economy. Contra those ideas of Keynes and Malthus (and Bernanke!), the real way to build prosperity is to save and thereby increase production. But watch the video, it’s really fun.
Romney bans certain kinds of guns; Obama supports war and Bush-era doctrines; Romney enacts (even more) socialist-fascist health care; Obama has a near opaque administration in spite of the desire to be transparent.
The so-called “left” promotes a policy (say, universal healthcare or the individual mandate or the health care exchanges). The “right” opposes it. The opposition is usually superficial and us used as talking points to obtain votes. The object of power is power, after all. Assuming the policy becomes law, and assuming (as is often the case) it receives widespread support, the right becomes less vociferous about repealing the law. At best they want to reform; usually either nothing happens or the mildest of cosmetic changes are made, if only to appease the fringe party supporters. Today’s progressive, becomes tomorrow’s conservative. Already, for example, the financially devastating Obamacare that was such a hot topic a year ago is starting to go away in the eyes of most–that is, if you don’t have a business facing ever-higher health care costs. Soon the right will stop talking about repealing it or replacing it with something else. Florida governor Rick Scott, who initially opposed setting up the FL healthcare exchange, has changed his tune–how unexpected!
On the other “side” of the political spectrum, the totalitarian and warmongering right wing, whose most recent icon and trend setter is GWB, pushes for war and empire and crackdowns on civil liberties. The left claims to oppose it. When Bush II was in power the progressives, ever irate, regaled us with their smugness (and, as we now know, insincere) opposition to the Bush administration’s policies and tactics. Enter a democratic president. Oh my–what happened!? Suddenly Obama adopts and relishes in continuing core Bush doctrines as well as expanding into new territories of despotism: droning and NDAA come to mind. Today’s warmongering conservative is tomorrow warmongering progressive.
I for one welcome our new unipartisanship overlords.
Jacob Huebert, author of Libertarianism Today and fellow TLS writer, gave a superb talk this past weekend on libertarianism and war at the fourth annual Students for Liberty Austin Conference. In short, Jacob argues that a consistent position against all aggression implies that one must also oppose wars of all kinds.
Perhaps my favorite talk at the conference this weekend was “Why Libertarianism is the Only Moral Choice” by Lawrence Reed of the Foundation for Economic Education. In his presentation, Reed tells the story of great men and women who devoted their lives toward the promotion of liberty in the world. It is eloquent and inspiring, and I hope you will take some time to listen intently.
You could also mention the regulatory state and the entitlement state, but the above makes a pretty good listing of the top things we libertarians would get rid of if we could.
How are we doing on these issues? I spoke with some radical libertarian friends—it’s fun musing as to which one you would abolish first, if you could—and here is the basic take:
war: not great, but they are getting harder for modern debt-laden welfare-states to afford;
the Fed/central banking/fiat money: not great, but bitcoin could pose a threat;
government schools: not great, but at least, in the US, homeschooling and private schools are legal;
taxation: not great, and getting worse, but there seems to be a limit to the level of taxes the state can get away with imposing on the economy;
the drug war: still horrible, but significant inroads have been made in the last election, with marijuana being legalized on a state-law basis by Washington and Colorado; and
intellectual property: getting more and more out of hand, but being seen as more and more ridiculous and unjust. Copyright is getting easier to evade with various technologies like encryption and bit torrent; and patents are being seen more and more as ridiculous and protectionist.
Overall, the biggest cause for hope is probably the recent progress made in the insane, evil war on drugs.