Signal Intelligence About The LP

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Only fashion/torts to police chemical assault?

I wouldn't rely on only fashion and torts to police chemical assault, any more than I would rely only on them to police spousal assault.  I don't think the LP has enough consensus to specify all the details of how the legal system should police chemical assault, but I will never agree with Platform language saying that torts and fashion are the only acceptable libertarian response to it.  Even a Rothschilds-control-the-Fed  government-planned-9/11 conspiracy enthusiast like Aaron Russo protested against having to run for President under the LP's torts-only environmental plank.

If the Platform should say that private lawsuits should be the only response to chemical assault, why shouldn't the Platform say that about all kinds of assault?  Why not hold high the Rothbardian banner of private defense agencies?   Why hide the lamp of liberty under a basket?

I just don't agree that the LP Platform should enforce the narrow dogma that there is no such thing as what economists call market failure.  That's technically a libertarian view, but the far more prevalent view among libertarian economists is that there are a small set of market failures that are worse than the corresponding possible government failure.   Specifically, those are the market failures related to 1) pollution of common goods, 2) network club goods (e.g. roads and pipes), and 3) protection of life and liberty.

These exceptions are why libertarian extremism is so easy to ridicule.  Ron Paul said in front of a cable TV audience of millions that "the market can deliver any service better than the government can", and even someone as clueless as Jon Stewart was able to force Paul to instantly backpedal: "Even defense, too?"  Paul: "No, we have defense, but this militarism isn't defense, this is opposite of defense."  Similarly, Sen. Mike Gravel instantly invoked streets last week when asked by Eric Sundwall about eliminating all government.  When Sundwall cited private turnpikes from the colonial era, Gravel pointed out that this is 2008.  Even self-described plumbline radical Steve Kubby says "some limited government is necessary" and doesn't begrudge the government sending you a water bill.

I'm tired of libertarians being dismissed as those who "lie awake at night worrying that somehow, somewhere, there are still a few miles of publicly owned sewer pipe".  The mainstream minarchist libertarian perspective is becoming almost the default view among policy analysts with formal training in economics.  If one wanted to conspire to undermine the effectiveness of libertarianism as a political agenda, it's hard to think of a more effective long-term strategy than to redefine libertarianism as  anarchism.  Sure, you might publish a few racist newsletters under the name of a leading libertarian politician, but that's only a short-term tactic, and few will buy the idea that libertarianism is inherently racist.

2 comments:

ESun67 said...

The point about the roads is that it possible to build them through private means without being under the aegis of a public good or necessity.

I recommend Francois Tremblays' book "But Who will Build the Roads?" This gives further elucidation to the concepts and cites many modern and pertinent examples that could not be approached in the context of a complicated interview. It has little to do with plumblines or their perceived extremism in the face of 'practical' politics.

Phil Maymin goes into a similar back and forth with Gravel in a more in depth manner;

http://www.fairfieldweekly.com/article.cfm?aid=7006

To my knowledge Phil is essentially a moderate by the Holtzian paradigm and holds a similar position without the villification and derision.

Jeff Wartman said...

Brian: I just don't agree that the LP Platform should enforce the narrow dogma that there is no such thing as what economists call market failure.

I completely agree with you, and I think this boils down our disagreement with the radical wing of the party.