[ExI] Call To Libertarians

Damien Sullivan phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu
Wed Feb 23 17:16:39 UTC 2011

On Fri, Feb 18, 2011 at 08:00:29PM -0400, Darren Greer wrote:

>    I am currently embroiled in an e-mail discussion where I find myself
>    in a rather unique (for me) position of defending free markets and
>    smaller government. I am a Canadian, and a proponent of socialized
>    democracy. However, I'm not naive enough to think that full-stop

You might get better responses if you gave the context.  Are you arguing
with fairly informed and fully dedicated socialists?  Social democrats
by default who don't understand economics and are dismissive of the
value of markets even if they don't outright call for getting rid of
markets?  Some other permutation?  Are you trying to convince people to
change their mind on policy, or convince them that libertarians aren't
all selfish or insane?

If you want policy convincingness for ignorant social democrats, you
might be better off asking informed social democrats, or mainstream
economists, who can share the assumptions of your target audience,
rather than libertarians who'll start out with "taxation is theft" and
make even less sense to your targets from there.

I actualy am a social democrat, so could help, but it'd be nice to know
the point.  I used to be libertarian, so I might be able to help with
"not totally insane" too.

>    socialization is a good idea. We tried that once, in the Soviet Union,
>    and it didn't work so well. I recognize the need for competition to
>    drive development and promote innovation.

IMO, evidence is good.  Total socialization has been failure.  Point to
the USSR, for that matter point to homeowner associations.  Not
everything needs to be or should be under social control.  Do your
friends believe the inside color of one's living room should be voted
on?  If not, there's a wedge for private spheres.  (But maybe this is a
silly extreme; again, who's your audience?)

Defending markets can be as simple as "people have different tastes and
like to trade things to get what they want, and that shouldn't be banned
unless there's a good reason to do so".  That can get you into when
private trades should be banned or regulated, and why some areas of
society are or should be subject to social control, which gets you to
externalities, natural monopolies, and minimum-income ideas of fairness.
Why is medicine typically socialized or socially paid for, and food
production private, and industrial production private but
pollution-regulated?  There are non-arbitrary reasons for this state of
affairs, for mixed economies being mixed and in the particular ways that
they are.

Many libertarians deny the existence, relevance, or morality of externalities,
natural monopolies, and economic egalitarianism, so they're not likely
to give you arguments that support "government should be somewhat
less intrusive than what you're saying but still significant".

-xx- Damien X-) 

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