Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"Libertarianism for the real world"

This is a great article about the nature of Libertarianism by someone at the Cato Institute, one of Libertarianism's leading think tanks. Since these guys have been such cheerleaders on the subject for so long, I'm surprised that they are now being such realists on the topic.


In the real world, and more particularly in 21st-century America, encroachments on privacy, personal security, and the environment are as likely, if not more likely, to come from business as they are from the state, and these are threats that require state regulation if they’re to be mitigated or dispelled.

As for pure libertarianism, by denying a role for the state and dismissing the threat to liberties increasingly posed by the dominant corporate sector, it is about as germane to the American future as Trotskyism.

The European Union, for instance, has enacted stringent privacy regulations that protect consumers from having their banks, phone companies and other businesses that have data on them from sharing those data with one another. No comparably binding legislation exists on the federal level in the United States.

This is hardly to argue that all European regulation protects individual freedoms or maximizes social outcomes. It is to point out that regulation is often the only way to protect encroachments on individual freedoms.

In short, the free play of markets can be a threat to individual freedom, unless individual freedom is a term that applies only to businesses and not to their consumers or employees or the people who must breathe their pollutants.

This is great stuff.


BlackLabelAxe said...

These are very good points. For the free market to overlook the rights of its individuals will pave the way for a terrible monopoly of competition and/or a monopoly of ideas.

Among the rights that must absolutely always be upheld are the freedom of speech, our patent laws, and the right to never be harassed by the federal government as an individual (which the 16th Amendment actually repealed).

Good stewardship of these liberties is what seperates Libertarian governance from pure Anarchy.

B.L. Sabob: now "completely heterosexual" said...

this really could be the future of politics. If the Dems can get their shit together enough to peal off the best of Libertarian views on individual and social liberty, while still protecting the consumer and individual from abuses of private as well as government power, they could once again become a force for progressive values and leave the republicans to the religious nuts.

BlackLabelAxe said...

Yeap, and if the Republicans can leave the religeous nuts back in the stone age, then maybe they too could stand for freedom.

It probably won't happen, which is why I'm abandoning everybody but a very select few from the D's and the R's for this election.