Libertarian Diskanen

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JasonL
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Libertarian Diskanen

Post by JasonL » 07 Jan 2019, 14:45

On the public break of Niskanen from libertarianism of any particular sort.

https://niskanencenter.org/blog/the-alt ... -ideology/

I am more libertarian in my views than the Niskanen median and I have lots of questions about the notions of social justice suggested by the Will Wilkinsons of the world, but I also am increasingly moderate in my policy views - I'm looking for a way to handle universal coverage that doesn't destroy private investment, not looking for a way to dismantle medicare for example.

I find myself in about 75% agreement with the gist of this project and what it means to break from libertarianism. To me, the problem is and has been that I don't get to choose a world where people fully suffer the consequences of their actions, I don't get to choose incentives that actually create more rational outcomes. If you don't buy insurance there isn't a world where you just die in the street at point of care - so you are going to be socially supported and I'm left trying to figure out the best shape of that support.

I think a moderate republican or market democrat focused around Niskanen type policy would be a dramatic improvement over what we have now.

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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by Warren » 07 Jan 2019, 14:51

Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by thoreau » 07 Jan 2019, 15:05

What Niskanen said about the problem with libertarians and climate change is similar to what some heterodox liberals say about liberalism and the genetic basis of human behavior and ability. One can have a liberal, benevolent, approach to a world in which humans are shaped largely by genes, just as one can have an illiberal approach to such a world. Liberals (of all sorts) can offer liberal insights into how to shape systems for people of varying abilities, but they have no particular insights into neuroscience, genetics, etc.
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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by Jennifer » 07 Jan 2019, 15:36

I remember long ago, on a pre-Gryll H&R discussion, wondering what it was about libertarians and climate change -- why so very very many of them were determined to deny it exists at all. Eventually I speculated it's because of the "When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" mentality: climate change is not a problem which can be solved by a free and unregulated market, a free and unregulated market is the only solution libertarians have for problems, ergo climate change cannot be a problem.
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JasonL
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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by JasonL » 07 Jan 2019, 16:09

I cringe every time I see Cato roll out a new Pat Michaels thing about climate.

My take is that libertarians are principle focused in the sense that they see principles as primary constraints and deviations from principles as slippery slopes to totalitarianism. It means that many libertarians don't see why there would be any brakes at all on a government empowered to do whatever it takes to save the earth. This view is furthered by lefty talk that goes exactly like this - "finally we can get rid of capitalism, climate is the lever".

The conspiracy minded, and there are plenty of those, simply think it's something academics and the media and liberal elites drummed up to create the world in their image and you can't trust a single word any of them say on the matter.

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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by Number 6 » 07 Jan 2019, 16:11

Team Jason L, I think.
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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by JasonL » 07 Jan 2019, 16:12

thoreau wrote:
07 Jan 2019, 15:05
What Niskanen said about the problem with libertarians and climate change is similar to what some heterodox liberals say about liberalism and the genetic basis of human behavior and ability. One can have a liberal, benevolent, approach to a world in which humans are shaped largely by genes, just as one can have an illiberal approach to such a world. Liberals (of all sorts) can offer liberal insights into how to shape systems for people of varying abilities, but they have no particular insights into neuroscience, genetics, etc.
Yah, I didn't think about that but the analogy is good.

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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by Highway » 07 Jan 2019, 16:13

I'm probably closer to 100% of that moderation platform, to be honest.
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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by Aresen » 07 Jan 2019, 16:20

Jennifer wrote:
07 Jan 2019, 15:36
I remember long ago, on a pre-Gryll H&R discussion, wondering what it was about libertarians and climate change -- why so very very many of them were determined to deny it exists at all. Eventually I speculated it's because of the "When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail" mentality: climate change is not a problem which can be solved by a free and unregulated market, a free and unregulated market is the only solution libertarians have for problems, ergo climate change cannot be a problem.
I think you are mostly correct here - as far as some of the "More Libertarian Than Thou" commenters on H&R are concerned. I previously noted on the climate change thread that the atmosphere and the oceans are inevitably a 'common' (in the economic sense) and the only way to deal with issues that damage a common is some form of regulation.

TBS, there is undoubtedly a group of 'environmentalists' whose agenda goes far beyond protecting the atmosphere and oceans in terms of controlling the behavior of others. We have all seen examples of policy declarations for 'green' organizations that contain more language about 'equitable sharing of resources' than actual environmental protection:

Platform of the Green Party of the United States:
Image

I think a lot of the Libertarian disdain for 'greens' grows out of the feeling that the 'environmentalism' is actually a cover for a left-wing agenda.
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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by Andrew » 07 Jan 2019, 16:45

That statement sounds like the usual "let disinterested technocrats run your life and everything will be great." Add in some pro-social justice language and some "what's so great about liberty anyway?" and I think I'll pass.
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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by Jennifer » 07 Jan 2019, 16:49

Aresen wrote:
07 Jan 2019, 16:20

I think a lot of the Libertarian disdain for 'greens' grows out of the feeling that the 'environmentalism' is actually a cover for a left-wing agenda.
If they're determined to insist "environmentalism" (at least in the "concern over climate change" sense of the word) can ONLY exist n the Green Party incarnation, sure. But then, similar logic is used by certain types to explain why (for example) "libertarianism" is merely a cover for a right-wing, white supremacist and/or "economic version of might makes right" agenda. I'll admit to a a bit of a double standard here (in that I expect "People who largely agree with MY ideology oughtta be smarter than the idiots who subscribe to that-there-other ideology"), but I'd think my fellow libertarianish people would not be so blind or obtuse as to conflate "What exactly is the problem here" and "exactly what solutions should we consider for it." The libertarian tendency to deny climate change exists due to dislike of the Greens is only slightly less asinine than pretending "drug addiction" does not exist because we hate the DEA.
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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by Aresen » 07 Jan 2019, 16:59

Yeah. I do cringe at a lot of the 'global warming is a hoax' crap I read from some libertarians. Climate change deniers are to libertarianism what anti-vaxxers are to the left.
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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by Hugh Akston » 07 Jan 2019, 17:08

Dude has run in libertarian intellectual circles, so I'm sure the libertarians he describes — uncompromising ideologues who view the world through the narrow keyhole of a single principle and fanatically apply a single solution to every problem with no regard for real world evidence or outcomes — definitely exist and are in no way strawmen. I just find it weird that in a couple decades of casual dabbling in those same circles I have never encountered one IRL.

This part however:
For instance, in my old circles, libertarians will argue passionately against the state but marshal little evidence about what sort of society might actually arise in the modern world were the state to largely disappear.
is just retarded. Saying that libertarians don't have a bottled city laid out in detail from the top down isn't a particularly useful critique of an approach that prefers local solutions and emergent orders.
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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by Eric the .5b » 07 Jan 2019, 17:25

Didn't we have this same discussion eight to ten years back, except it was the H&R staff saying you can't have a meaningful ethical basis for libertarianism, just a consequentialist basis?

(Notwithstanding that to a first approximation, nobody gives a flying fuck about consequentialist arguments and just dismisses them if they don't agree with their ethical/ideological views.)
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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by Jennifer » 07 Jan 2019, 17:25

Hugh Akston wrote:
07 Jan 2019, 17:08
I just find it weird that in a couple decades of casual dabbling in those same circles I have never encountered one IRL.
But they're everywhere in online libertarian haunts, and not just limited to climate change deniers, either. Any problem that can't be solved by the free market (let alone any problems or downsides caused BY a free market) is severely downplayed, or denied to exist at all.
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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by Hugh Akston » 07 Jan 2019, 17:32

Jennifer wrote:
07 Jan 2019, 17:25
Hugh Akston wrote:
07 Jan 2019, 17:08
I just find it weird that in a couple decades of casual dabbling in those same circles I have never encountered one IRL.
But they're everywhere in online libertarian haunts, and not just limited to climate change deniers, either. Any problem that can't be solved by the free market (let alone any problems or downsides caused BY a free market) is severely downplayed, or denied to exist at all.
I don't know where you're haunting, but over at H&R the editors are all about issue-specific granular critique and incremental policy change. And many of the commenters don't seem too interested in the free market or really the free anything.
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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by Eric the .5b » 07 Jan 2019, 18:09

Jennifer wrote:
07 Jan 2019, 17:25
But they're everywhere in online libertarian haunts, and not just limited to climate change deniers, either. Any problem that can't be solved by the free market (let alone any problems or downsides caused BY a free market) is severely downplayed, or denied to exist at all.
As someone who isn't one of those people, I'm gonna say something not everyone here will disagree with.

("Gee, Eric, you're posting on Grylliade, then?")

Bless those guys.

We live in a world where the mainstream of political thought will protect and expand human freedom only as a very last resort, only after spending great effort and inflicting horrible human costs through futile attempts to avoid doing so. Where the political mainstream, left and right, plays at trying to control the economy, whether that's out of left-wing dirigiste impulses or right-wing cronyism (or vice versa).

If the political mainstream ran through Grylliade, I might think doctrinaire libertarians constituted a problem and people worth trying to bring around to a degree of moderation..

But it doesn't, and It never will.

We here who consider ourselves even vaguely kinda-sorta-libertarian-ish-adjacent, "moderate" or otherwise, are not part of the political mainstream. We are fringe figures. We are political cranks. Next to nobody gives a fuck what we think or how "moderate" or ideological or consequentialist we are, because the moment we argue against some bit of received Team wisdom, we're fluffy-headed weirdos (or secret members of the other Team) in the eyes of the people we're talking to.

Liberals in particular won't and don't give us one damn bit of meaningful credit for acknowledging that the free market is not perfect. At most, it becomes a cheap gotcha-point to prove that whatever control they want to exercise is justified, because, unlike whatever bullshit they want, the free market isn't perfect.

Those doctrinaire guys, the ones our enemies would invent if they didn't exist? They hold the line. They give us a point from which to moderate. A point of view where government isn't benevolent/righteous/just/whatever management that everyone should willingly kowtow to and surrender anything demanded to (or at least when one's team is in office). A point of view where freedoms matter beyond carrots to wave in front of interest groups.
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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by Warren » 07 Jan 2019, 18:25

Hugh Akston wrote:
07 Jan 2019, 17:08
Dude has run in libertarian intellectual circles, so I'm sure the libertarians he describes — uncompromising ideologues who view the world through the narrow keyhole of a single principle and fanatically apply a single solution to every problem with no regard for real world evidence or outcomes — definitely exist and are in no way strawmen. I just find it weird that in a couple decades of casual dabbling in those same circles I have never encountered one IRL.
I can't say I never encountered one, but it's not the norm. "Let the market function" is the 'libertarian response' to global warming I hear most. It starts with a rejection that technocrats have the solution to such a complex problem.
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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by Eric the .5b » 07 Jan 2019, 18:40

Also, maybe I just live under a rock, but should I have actually heard of these people before this thread?
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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by Jennifer » 07 Jan 2019, 19:18

You never heard of libertarian climate change denier/skeptics? IIRC Ronald Bailey used to be a fairly prominent one.

And I don't have an issue with anyone who is immediately skeptical of any proposed government/collectivist solution to "a problem," but with those who deny said problem exists at all. Going back to my analogy about letting our justified dislike of the DEA lead us to insist there's no such thing as drug addiction or addicts in the first place -- of course my take on it (and, I suspect, everyone else's here as well) is "Addiction is real and does cause real problems for many people, but the government's responses thus far have been horrendous and only made matters worse."

And I can sympathize -- though not necessarily agree with -- someone who takes that a bit farther and says "Addiction is a real problem, and since the government's track record regarding drugs has been horrible I now oppose ANY government intervention in the matter -- not just the criminalization aspects, but even anything like 'government-funded needle exchanges' -- I oppose ANY attempt by the government to 'do something' about addiction."

But that is entirely different from "Drug addiction does not exist at all and any claim to the contrary is a lie."
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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by JasonL » 07 Jan 2019, 19:28

Eric the .5b wrote:Also, maybe I just live under a rock, but should I have actually heard of these people before this thread?
If you follow policy wonks, they are prevalent. High overlap with the bleeding heart crowd.

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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by Aresen » 07 Jan 2019, 19:45

Jennifer wrote:
07 Jan 2019, 19:18
You never heard of libertarian climate change denier/skeptics? IIRC Ronald Bailey used to be a fairly prominent one.
In fairness to Bailey, he did change his mind when he found the case for climate change overwhelming. He was definitely on the 'it's happening' side by the time I became a regular at H&R around 2003.
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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by Shem » 07 Jan 2019, 19:53

Hugh Akston wrote:
07 Jan 2019, 17:08
Dude has run in libertarian intellectual circles, so I'm sure the libertarians he describes — uncompromising ideologues who view the world through the narrow keyhole of a single principle and fanatically apply a single solution to every problem with no regard for real world evidence or outcomes — definitely exist and are in no way strawmen. I just find it weird that in a couple decades of casual dabbling in those same circles I have never encountered one IRL.
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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by Eric the .5b » 07 Jan 2019, 20:32

Jennifer wrote:
07 Jan 2019, 19:18
You never heard of libertarian climate change denier/skeptics?
No, I'd never heard of Niskanen.
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Re: Libertarian Diskanen

Post by Eric the .5b » 07 Jan 2019, 20:41

JasonL wrote:
07 Jan 2019, 19:28
Eric the .5b wrote:Also, maybe I just live under a rock, but should I have actually heard of these people before this thread?
If you follow policy wonks, they are prevalent. High overlap with the bleeding heart crowd.
I haven't followed policy wonks in a few years, I admit. It's related to why I don't actually look at Reason and H&R much, anymore. There's only so much I can read about how many/most things the government does are painfully wrong and what they should do instead that nobody is going to actually do.

I'd heard of the bleeding-heart libertarians, but what I'd seen of them just seemed tedious-to-pointless. Too much genuflecting to social justice concerns while still treating them as alien to and immiscible with libertarianism. I can definitely see why such people would abandon one or the other, eventually.
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