21 Comments

  1. We have gone from “we are libertarians – we just use arguments based upon consequences” to “we do not mean by Social Justice what the socialists mean by it” to a minimum income guarantee. Not understanding not only libertarian principle (the principle that it is wrong to take stuff by violence from some people in order to give it to other people) – but also the practical work seen in such works as “Losing Ground” that if the government just gives whole classes of people money (taken by violence from the taxpayers) civil society is undermined and the underclass grows and grows (this was known even to Aristotle and Cicero).

    Well case closed on the Bleeding Hearts. Good riddance to them.

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    1. All well and good Paul, and there can be no question but that a Citizens Basic Income or a school voucher system are NOT congruent with fundamental libertarian principles.

      However they represent greater freedom for everyone when compared with the current welfare or state education system and, on that measurement, I think they should be supported by libertarians.

      Without practical policies to promote and an incremental move toward a more libertarian society, people like us will still be moaning to each other on sites like this in a thousand years from now.

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  2. Education vouchers perhaps Ken – although they may corrupt private schools (make them dependent on the state – and leave them over to control), Hillsdale found it had to reject every single Dollar (even from government “student loans”) as one Dollar meant it was subjected to political control. This means that the schools and universities who turn down the “vouchers” (because they do not want the state control) will be put at a massive financial disadvantage – BUT the voucher scheme could still do more good than harm.

    However, a “Citizens Basic Income” or “negative income tax” – NO.

    Milton Friedman massively misjudged the disutility of work to vast numbers of people – for vast numbers of people their jobs are a torment.

    Give people an “acceptable basic income” – and more and more people will not work, the present underclass will explode in size.

    This is not a practical policy – it is societal suicide.

    Anyway it is too later (much too late) for “incremental” moves any way.

    Most Western states (including the United Kingdom and United States) will soon see the de facto bankruptcy of their Welfare States.

    Milton Friedman may have been wrong about the specific policies he suggested – but he had the time right. The time for fundamental reform was 30-40 years ago. When people such a Mrs Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were elected. Incremental reform is no good now – it is too late for it.

    What we got instead of real reform of the Welfare States was the artificial “boom” in financial services – created by the easy money from 1983 onwards (especially by the terrible Alan Greenspan person in the United States – if he was a free market person then I am Gandalf the Grey) and the so called “deregulation” (which was actually a GOVERNMENT TAKE OVER) of the “Big Bang” of 1986 (when the rational ways of doing business worked out by experience – were overturned as “restrictive practices” even though there was more than one Stock Exchange and trading “off exchange” was perfectly legal).

    For the last few decades instead of real reform we have had Welfare States funded by taxes on financial services (the banks and so on). Well that option is coming to an end.

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  3. I agree with Ken, that this BIG idea gives more freedom to people than under this current system. And I don’t think people would stop working, on the contrary, I speculate that people would spend thier time trying to enhance thier lives, like take classes, go to school, work more so they can do the things they always wanted to do, buy the things they always wanted to buy, or, be lazy, do nothing, take a break, meditate, create things, think, make mistakes! Great thinkers and artists are born out of freedom, not oppressed by having to spend most of your waking hours paying for rent, food, trasport and taxes!
    Therefore, I disagree that the BIG idea would amout to an “explosion of the underclass”.

    Veering off topic here, but I keep coming back to this,

    The caveat to any “ism” is that by trying to mold an idea (which by its very nature is constatnly evolving) into one concrete definition, the idea becomes unmoving, stale, brittle.

    I’m all for debating about ideas, but something gets lost when an idea solidifies into a concrete “ism”. Especially when that ism is adopted by the masses.

    So, is Libertarianism an oxymoron?

    I keep coming back to an idea: That the only way to preserve freedom (there may be many more, but the only way I can think of), is to keep things small.

    Any and every group, be kept under 150 people. Free to move from group to group, but all in all, no more than 150. The question is HOW?

    My stomach hurts.

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    1. I think you’re right that freedom is most likely safe-guarded when there is a polycentric system with a multiplicity of autonomous units, resisting everything becoming centralised in a homogenous mass – axioms such as ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ and ‘let a thousand flowers bloom’ capture this principle. In such circumstances, things go wrong, but this will be limited, they cannot go wrong everywhere at the same time.

      However, historically such polycentric organisations are threatened by external aggression, when it is more centrally organised. I would proffer the conquest of Ireland by the English kings as an example.

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      1. The United States too, each State is meant to be as autonomous as possible. If one state wants to adopt a universal health care system, fine, but to have that dictated by the central gov., that’s aggression. How do we stop gov aggression? Guns, baby guns.

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      2. It is certainly the case that this was how the United States was supposed to be, but, as ever, power corrupts. The change to how senators are elected, enacted by the 17th Amendment about 100 years ago, was a particularly heavy nail in the coffin of states’ rights. The 10th Amendment Center are doing some great work reawakening the principles of 1798, i.e. of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions. http://tenthamendmentcenter.com/

        Regarding guns, amen to that.

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      3. It’s worth checking out Michael Boldin on YouTube, who’s the guy (I think) who set up the 10th Amendment Centre. Here’s an interview with him:

        Tom Woods has also talked a lot about it, and wrote a book called ‘Nullify’, and there’s been a lot of stuff that’s getting done in the various states, notably legalising weed and upholding the 2nd Amendment.

        Happy Christmas to you.

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      4. I am in favour of a system that does not prevent a plurality of providers existing in any given geographic domain. A localised monopoly does still enable people to move, but it is a far clumsier, far less accurate way to expose preference and efficiency IMHO, and ends up making people pay via house prices, which is today is often an indirect form of educational cost in which the providers of that education, good or bad, are not affected.

        I am also in favour of an incremental move away from a centralised state monopoly, for logistical and practical reasons. Even for the NHS, I do not think it is impossible to evolve. The fact that there are regional entities indicates one place to begin – end their geographic monopoly and allow hospitals, GPs and regional providers to decide who they deal with (both, either, neither).

        As for CBI, the idea might sound good, but what figure makes sense? Nationally? How to segue from a situation with things like housing benefit being a massive cost in the London area? These are non-trivial questions that I have not yet seen proper answers to. If I have missed any out there, I would be interested to follow links.

        I do feel, however, that even if CBI could be migrated to, it is an experiment that, to me, goes against human nature. It has the capacity to create an ever-growing dependent class. If the majority of voting people/households are net gainers from CBI, we are sunk. Truly. It would mean elections will see the numbers ratchet up, the definition of “basic” expanded. Think of today, only 10 times worse, in fact.

        There is one way I might be convinced otherwise – if one has a vote only if one is not a net gainer.

        I do think that the only way off the welfare teat is utter implosion forcing the issue. To have CBI with universal, unconditional suffrage would create, imho, a perverse form of HG Wells’ Time Machine, with the brute Morlocks idle, feasting on the hard working, domesticated Eloi.

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  4. “Freedom” is a word that anyone can use (even the Bleeding Hearts) – in this case the “freedom” of an automatic income from the state would mean the “freedom” of bankruptcy and social breakdown. That is not the freedom that libertarians want (so perhaps we should use the word “liberty” not “freedom”).

    As for the “Bleeding Hearts” – like the late F.A. Hayek they say nice things about John Rawls, but Hayek never read the late John Rawls’ “A Theory of Justice” (he says so on the same page of “Law, Legislation and Liberty” where he says the nice things about John Rawls) – the “Bleeding Hearts” have read this work by John Rawls (the former leading academic – and eccentric socialist who believed that the doctrine of the Holy Trinity proved socialism, a little detail he leaves out of his book) and they still like the ideas of John Rawls (having read them).

    This tells me all I need to know about the Bleeding Hearts – anyone who has actually read the works of John Rawls (the leading academic supporter of the government “redistribution” of income and wealth in the 20th century) and is still on his side, is no friend of libertarians.

    For an examination of the works of John Rawls by a person who actually read them – see Antony Flew.

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  5. I still stick to my point that an automatic basic income from the state would not necessarily amount to “bankruptcy” and “social breakdown”. On the contrary, I believe it would give a lot more “liberty” to the masses to do what they choose to do.

    Upon more consideration of this topic though, I came to change my opinion about the BIG idea.

    At first I thought this simplified wealth redistribution as a necessary evil, a step in the right direction, but quickly realized this would only TAME the masses, who then would have nothing to complain about would try to keep the Leviathan alive.

    I see this in England, where the welfare system is in place, as opposed to America, where the system is so broken down that you see a lot more passionate and desperate people trying to turn the tide around, because they’ve essentially got nothing to lose and a whole lot more to complain about.

    The trouble is this Giant, debt based fiat money Monster that’s causing bankruptcy at an unfathomable scale, which is instigating social breakdown (along with other reasons like population growth, resource scarcity, etc.) The masses are largely powerless to change this. Sure we can join a few demonstrations, write blogs, boycott, what not, but at the end of the day, we gotta slave just to keep afloat in this mess.

    …. if things aren’t working, it should be allowed to fail. (No matter the size of the failure)

    Which frankly scares me, and prompts me to act.
    When the financial system does fail, there’s going to be such a craving for a system that works, and I sure hope it’s not going to be something that takes away our individual liberties.

    I wrote about this before, that a sense of urgency is needed in the UK to stoke the Libertarian movement. An emotive cause. I suppose there was a bit of that when the riots happened?
    You feel the system failing in other places like the US -if you’re poor, (and Spain, Greece, Egypt, etc), but not here. Yet. Systems collapse from the periphery in, from the weaker people, weaker economies, eventually to the central ones. And this is why we need to speed the Libertarian cause forward, before people are in a panic to adopt whatever system that is presented them.

    For a comprehensive presentation of the state of the world, and why we should be acting now, take a look at the Crash Course Iinked below.

    http://www.peakprosperity.com/crashcourse

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  6. On the topic of income redistribution.

    Here’s a sentence that made a lot of sense:

    “This unargued assumption-that all income and wealth is available for redistribution free of any and all morally valid prior claims to ownership-should have astonished anyone with a knowledge of what philosophers typically said about justice in previous centuries.” – Antony Flew on John Rowe

    Creation of Israel in the name of Justice comes to mind.

    Thanks Paul for the suggested reading.

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  7. Ayumi – all land occupied by Jews in the area from the 19th century to 1948 was voluntarily bought, in spite of decades of attacks upon them (starting during the First World War).

    After the war to exterminate the Jews was launched (at the urging of the Grand Mufti – an ally and friend of the late Adolf Hitler) all bets were off. Although many Muslim Arabs in fact remained in Israel (I have personally visited towns which are Muslim Arab – sadly there are few Christian Arabs these days).

    Those who seek to exterminate the Jews should not weep tears when their own treatment is not gentle.

    As for your implied claims about the United States. Actually the American Welfare State has continued to EXPAND.

    You seem to have the idea that a rise in poverty must mean that the Welfare State has been cut back – that is far from the truth, in fact all the various “entitlements” have been expanded at an incredible rate.

    America is indeed “Loosing Ground” (to cite the classic study of the Great Society programs). BECAUSE OF the Welfare State.

    As for your idea that the Welfare State (in Greece of anywhere else) could be preserved in its present form if only it were not for the credit bubble banking system (and the government fiat money system that lies behind it).

    Max Keiser comes out with this line twice a week – but it is false.

    Actually fiat money and credit bubble finance have allowed the unlimited Welfare State to carry on longer than it otherwise. would have – but this is the end of the line for such tricks.

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    1. Hi Paul,

      Shall we put Israel aside?

      Regarding the US, you’re right, the Welfare System has expanded, and continues to do so. When I say the system isn’t working, and you feel it more if you’re poor, I don’t mean the Welfare state being cut back, I mean the banking system is failing and people feel it more directly in the US because there is no safety net (welfare) as the UK has.

      If you fall off a wall and hurt yourself, you’d learn your lesson. But if there was a safety net to catch you everytime you fall, you’d keep making the same mistakes. In this way, it’s alright that there’s no welfare sytem, but what’s hypocritical is that there IS a safty net for banks! They should be allowed to fail too, get hurt, so not to make the same mistakes.

      Student loans, debt, home foreclosures, ridiculous health care costs, etc. You feel these things in your bones in the US, it affects your life, hence, you try to change the system.
      Unfortunately, the Welfare State advocates have used this trying time to advance their agenda, but so has the Libertarians. People are easier to influence when they are desperate.

      I agree with you, that the fiat money system has allowed the Welfare state to continue than otherwise possible.

      Going back to wealth redistribution, how does one take into account money that’s printed from thin air? What when the debt that’s created with it is traded for profit? The entire system is designed to syphon money from the masses to feed the banks.

      It’s bound to fail, the king is wearing no clothes!

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  8. By the way – I did notice your misuse of the word “liberty” (you used it to mean money from the state).

    Please be so kind as to never misuse the word liberty in that way again.

    “Positive freedom” is bad enough – once that meant control of reason over the passions,, but in these degenerate days it has come to mean goods and services from the state (based on the argument that such things give people more “freedom to do things”, an argument that is philosophically wrong, and economically moronic – as it ignores the cost of this “free money”).

    However, the word “liberty” is not used in this way – people do not talk in terms “positive liberty” in terms of goodies from the tax gatherers.

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  9. Whenever we talk of introducing libertarian reforms, I am reminded of the old joke about asking directions to some place; “ah, you don’t want to start from here”.

    The patient has been long prescribed a rather pernicious drug. Unfortunately, the effects of sudden curtailment could be catastrophic. Therefore, a prolonged period of reducing the dosage is necessary to prevent an acute withdrawal crisis.

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    1. Hi Paul,

      Sure, that’s fine. If I may be a bit personal, (and I’m timorously mustering enough grit to put it on a Libertarian website), but the irony for me is that although I believe in the Libertarian ideology, reason I moved from America to England is due to a severe illness of a family member which, without financial gov. support, would have put our entire family on the streets to suffer unimaginably. Hence I’m sincerely thankful that we’re made to live by the gov. as long as this illness continues. So I get a bit sensitive to the idea of suddenly chopping off a hand that feeds us, although, in the long run, I understand that that’s what needs to happen for sake of a stronger, more resilient society.

      Richard put it well in describing gov. handouts as a “long prescribed pernicious drug”. One of the things that this has done, is destroy communities. Communities which allowed people to forsake gov. handouts in the first place. And unless we rebuild such communities, a sudden jump to the ideal would result in a massive crisis.

      Anyway, shucks, it’s almost Christmas.

      Blah, I need a pint.

      Happy days Paul 🙂

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  10. I was unaware you had moved here from the United States Sir.

    Sadly a United States where many decades of government intervention has basically killed off the Fraternities and made private insurance unaffordable.

    I am glad you found the NHS better than Medicaid (if you are poor person) or the County Hospital.

    Of course the system of State hospitals (“free at the point of use”) in Louisiana is actually older than the NHS – but I am told they are best avoided.

    My own experience of the NHS is less good.

    For example the treatment from my mother’s cancer (“a nice cup of tea in a real china cup”) was unsuccessful.

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