« Midterm Round-Up | Main | "Low-Wage People" »

October 10, 2006

Trends

Without sucking up to the new boss too much, let me highly recommend this Harold Meyerson piece responding to Kos's Libertarian Democrats manifesto. I recommend it despite finding it an enormously frustrating piece of work -- I have, after all, spent the last few months of blogging and my September feature story trying to say what Harold does in these three paragraphs:

there are some basic Democratic principles that are not libertarian, and that even Markos’ Mountain State mavericks still affirm. None of them have called for privatizing Social Security. None of them have called for abolishing Medicare. They may be civil libertarians and to some degree social libertarians, but they’re not economic libertarians. And for good reason: Economic libertarianism has never been more preposterous.
For the dominant social fact in America today is this: The corporate safety net is fast disappearing. Risk has been transferred to the individual—a decision in which individuals, as such, haven’t had a say (though their apprehensions about privatizing Social Security did nip that idea in the bud). Corporate pensions are vanishing and 401(k)s don’t provide equivalent retirement security. Fewer and fewer companies are offering medical benefits, even though corporate profits are at a 50-year high as a percentage of GDP. Companies that persist in offering such benefits are placed at a disadvantage when their competitors don’t. And consumers clearly can’t afford those benefits, either. As some recent surveys have made clear, precious few Americans can afford to buy medical insurance on their own or to utilize the Health Savings Accounts that the president is peddling.

In short, as the balance of forces in capitalism shifts entirely towards investors and executives and away from employees, the need for a state that takes the burden of economic and health security off employers who won’t pick it up and employees who can’t pick it up is increasingly urgent. It’s hard to predict what exactly the tipping point will be as our private-sector welfare state continues to contract. But at some point, the Democrats will embrace a decisively larger role for the state in these matters because the public will demand it—not because the public will suddenly identify itself as liberal, but because there will be nowhere else to turn.

Quite so. It's not that the rhetorical cover of libertarianism isn't a clever or useful one, or that the American people will suddenly turn against the concepts of individualism and autonomy. It's simply that the trends will obviate all that. As wages stagnate, the corporate welfare state contracts, health costs go up, economic insecurity increases, inequality accelerates, and worker power continues to decline before globalizations, something will have to be done. Folks will demand it. And cute as it is that large swaths of the conservative movement are convincing themselves that Americans will respond to excess risk and financial exposure by demanding more risk and financial exposure, I'm just not seeing it.

October 10, 2006 in Big Business | Permalink

Comments

As nice as Meyerson's arguments are, I still feel like someone needs to be making the "libertarian" case for universal health care, in that benefits seriously distort the free market and discourage people from taking entrepreneurial risk.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Oct 10, 2006 2:08:17 PM

"...something will have to be done."

There is a third way, which looks unlikely at the moment, but I think ultimately necessary. Call it libertarian communism, federalism, syndicalism or anarcho-syndicalism, or devolution into local control. I will leave those words for anyone to look up who is interested.

The workers, may they be baseball players or journalists or fast-food workers or Wal-mart checkers must get organized. And organization by political party isn't looking secure of satisfying, has too many competing interests like rentiers, and isn't scalable or transferrable across int'l borders.

The gov't is not your friend and is not here to help you. You don't have to be conservative to believe that.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Oct 10, 2006 2:18:24 PM

"Corporate pensions are vanishing and 401(k)s don’t provide equivalent retirement security"

"at some point, the Democrats will embrace a decisively larger role for the state in these matters"

He believes SS will become "decisively larger"? I'd like some of what he's smoking. Must be really good.

Posted by: ostap | Oct 10, 2006 2:31:05 PM

I've found this whole "libertarian Democrat" thing a bit irritating for the reason stated in the first sentence of excerpted text. Regardless of what [big L] Libertarians believe, [little l] libertarianism, as a philosophical position, has little or nothing to do with what Kos and others have been espousing. While libertarianism is not inconsistent with opposing laws that give corporations an advantage in the market, libertarianism is inconsistent with the sort of pragmatic arguments bandied about by "libertarian Democrats." It is simply nonsensical to say "libertarian case for universal health care." There is no universal health care in a state of nature, and if you want health care you're either going to have to pay for it or find a good samaritan to give it to you.

Posted by: rexusnexus | Oct 10, 2006 3:15:11 PM

s wages stagnate, the corporate welfare state contracts, health costs go up, economic insecurity increases, inequality accelerates, and worker power continues to decline before globalizations, something will have to be done. Folks will demand it. And cute as it is that large swaths of the conservative movement are convincing themselves that Americans will respond to excess risk and financial exposure by demanding more risk and financial exposure, I'm just not seeing it.

It's the other chunk of the conservative movement that's got a better hook on what will happen: the pseudo-fascists know that insecurity breeds leader-worship and a hunger for structure that they're only too willing to supply. To the extent the free-market fundamentalists continue tearing down the social safety nets of the state, they are really clearing the field for the authoritarians.

Posted by: paperwight | Oct 10, 2006 3:38:20 PM

Myerson, "They may be civil libertarians and to some degree social libertarians, but they’re not economic libertarians."
Amazing the ignorance.
You either are a libertarian or your not. One cannot be a "civil libertarian" and not an "economic libertarian".
One cannot say you can associate, assemble with who you want to and at the same time say you must open your business to everyone or you will be fined and jailed.
That is a contradiction.
This is the problem with the left. They, literally, do not know what they are talking about.

Posted by: Terry | Oct 10, 2006 3:58:22 PM

"You either are a libertarian or your not"

Then nobody is, in theory or practice. There has been a lot of discussion since the Kos piece, and it pretty much the consensus that zero gov't or all-inclusive gov't are in no one's agenda, even in principle. So we are all talking about degrees, trade-offs, cost/benefits, compromise, different ares of emphasis, etc.

Save for the religious nuts.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Oct 10, 2006 4:26:15 PM

"You either are a libertarian or your not. "

Nonsense. One can be a free-market capitalist without opposing every last restriction on the market. One can be a Communist without entirely outlawing private property. When someone is 90% of something, it is entirely reasonable to call the person that thing.

Ideologues tend to demand absolute adherence to the canon, despite the evidence of manifest reality. That is why idealogies tend to be miserable failures in the real world (I include both communism and libertarianism among failed ideologies).

Some people who are less ideologically rigid will accept most of the tenets of an ideology, while rejecting the more loony and unworkable parts, in an attempt to get something close that actually works. And so you wind up with people who are 90% libertarian. They want the government to stay out of their lives, but they want a society that functions. To get the latter, they accept a violation of the former as a necessary evil.

Such a person can justifiably called a libertarian, cries of heresey notwithstanding. I'm reminded of some Christian sects that claim that those billion+ other people, who claim to be Christian, aren't on account of this or that doctrinal dispute.

Posted by: shargash | Oct 10, 2006 4:26:34 PM

Libertarians believe in very limited government.
That is it. Saying one can be a civil or social libertarian but not an economic one makes no sense, since if your not an economic libertarian, you support laws that infringe on your "civil" or "social" libertarian beliefs.
Make it easier.
Define a "civil" and a "social" and an "economic" libertarian and the difference between each.

Posted by: Terry | Oct 10, 2006 5:20:33 PM

One could make a good case on the basis of this analysis that the right's campaign against unions and for more corporate flexibility is leading to bigger government. Whoops.

Posted by: Sanpete | Oct 10, 2006 5:21:57 PM

You either are a libertarian or your not. One cannot be a "civil libertarian" and not an "economic libertarian".

So you honestly think that libertarians support anarchy? Because that is essentialy what you just said. Libertarian philosophy taken to it's logical extreme is simple anarchy.

The fact that I see taxation as payment for services rendered by the government I take part in, puts me at odds with libertarian philosophy, even though when it comes to civil liberties, I fall right in line with hardline libertarians. At the same time, while I am firmly against any restrictive legislation, that is not neccesary, I am firmly in support of regulating business and the economy.

Does this mean I call myself a libertarian? No. But I do admit to being a civil libertarian, something I have been called by libertarians. When it comes to economics, I am more of a mixed market socialist. While that puts me at polar odds with most libertarians I know, it doesn't change the fact that my views on civil liberties are entirely in line with that of the libertarian philosophy, thus making me a civil libertarian and a mixed market socialist.

As Bob explains, it is all about making trade-offs and comprimises to make society function. I tend to set some rather stringent limits to government intrusion, too extreme for the tastes of most people who comment here and oddly, too extreme for many at right wing sites I occasionaly visit. I do not think that businesses, at the retail level, should be compelled to serve everybody. I think that they should not be allowed to discriminate based on race, sex, sexual preference, religion, or disability. But I also think that they have a right to demand that their customers dress within certain standards, behave in a respectful manner, be clean and smell reasonably, comply with any and all rules and regulations that a business may wish to impose on it's patronage. I also believe that the government has absolutely no right to control anything I wish to do with my body - period.

Tell me Terry, do you believe that the government has a right to restrict any kind of sexual behaviour? How about drug use? Should physician assisted suicide be legal? What about allowing euthanisation in the place of removal from lifesupport and forcing a person to die of dehydration, hunger, or drowing in their own bodily fluids, as per instructions in a living will? What government regulation do you support? Or are you a flat out anarchist/libertarian?

Posted by: DuWayne | Oct 10, 2006 5:53:36 PM

"They want the government to stay out of their lives, but they want a society that functions. To get the latter, they accept a violation of the former as a necessary evil."

Precisely, which is why libertarians accept taxation to fund police and national defense, because those forces are necessary to enforce the strict doctrine of personal liberty espoused by libertarians. The term libertarianism has a meaning, that being the philosophical position espoused by Locke and perhaps most eloquently laid out by Nozick. Libertarianism cannot be a "failed ideology" because it does not rely on practical results for its evaluation. No matter what the poverty rate, unemployment rate, etc., libertarianism argues that it is still not justified to redistribute wealth. Redistribution of wealth is ethically wrong, and no ends will justify it. Libertarianism is not capitalism, it does not attempt to justify its existance in market terms. Progressives cannot be libertarians because they believe in government intervention to achieve what they believe are desirable results. It seems that when people say libertarian Democrat what they really mean is some sort of egalitarianism, which is not consistent with libertarianism. The only good thing about the term "libertarian Democrat" is that it is a turn of phrase that may convince some people who identify themselves as [big L] Libertarians to vote for progressives.

Posted by: rexusnexus | Oct 10, 2006 5:58:38 PM

You either are a libertarian or your not.

How libertarian of you.

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc | Oct 11, 2006 7:18:57 AM

Terry | Oct 10, 2006 2:20:33 PM

Libertarians believe in very limited government. That is it.

The problem that so-called "libertarians" have is that what constitutes "very limited government" is in the eye of the beholder. I've chatted with self-described "libertarians" over a number of years, and about the only thing that they seem to agree on is the "right" to keep and bear arms.

Posted by: raj | Oct 11, 2006 10:50:52 AM

Don't forget an unhealthy obsession with paying their share to participate in society i.e. taxes. I don't understand why more libertarians don't move to Somalia (pretty free country there and all those arms you want bear might actually get used).

Posted by: ligedog | Oct 11, 2006 2:21:00 PM

"As nice as Meyerson's arguments are, I still feel like someone needs to be making the "libertarian" case for universal health care, in that benefits seriously distort the free market and discourage people from taking entrepreneurial risk."

Believe it or not, there is a minority libertarian case for national health care, although it's more of a rear-guard action. We know that Americans want help with health care and that the libertarian prescription just won't fly. So some of us believe in emulating the Swiss system as a defense against single-payer.

The gist of it is that we all get private insurance. The Swiss system has dozens of choices. The poor are subsidized so they can afford the more basic plans.

"It's the other chunk of the conservative movement that's got a better hook on what will happen: the pseudo-fascists know that insecurity breeds leader-worship and a hunger for structure that they're only too willing to supply. To the extent the free-market fundamentalists continue tearing down the social safety nets of the state, they are really clearing the field for the authoritarians."

Um doesn't dependence on government breed authoritarianism? Looks to me like Chavez has that one down pat.

"Libertarians believe in very limited government.
That is it. Saying one can be a civil or social libertarian but not an economic one makes no sense, since if your not an economic libertarian, you support laws that infringe on your "civil" or "social" libertarian beliefs."

Exactly. We aren't free if we can't speak our mind. We aren't free if we don't own the fruits of our labor.

Posted by: Adam Herman | Oct 13, 2006 4:41:05 PM

Believe it or not, there is a minority libertarian case for national health care, although it's more of a rear-guard action. We know that Americans want help with health care and that the libertarian prescription just won't fly. So some of us believe in emulating the Swiss system as a defense against single-payer.

How many libertarians do your find sympathetic to this argument?

Posted by: Sanpete | Oct 13, 2006 6:51:17 PM

Frankly, the way things are right now, I'm not sure I'd want to play myself in my very own movie of the week.

Posted by: Designer Handbagsm | Jun 23, 2007 2:53:34 AM

http://televibe.org/blogs/order-levitra
http://televibe.org/blogs/color
http://televibe.org/blogs/mexican-viagra

http://televibe.org/blogs/levitra-uk
http://televibe.org/blogs/cialis-versus-viagra
http://televibe.org/blogs/soft-cialis

http://televibe.org/blogs/cialis-and-alcohol
http://televibe.org/blogs/mail-order-viagra
http://televibe.org/blogs/article

Posted by: blog_uioq | Jun 23, 2007 2:40:29 PM

Your know end news! What is this? Discounts!
Chutney music Download christian music video Christmas music download Play music on computer Beginner music piano sheet Willie nelson music Music video blogs Elton john sheet music Free download music mp3 Myspace flash music player How do you download music Free music notation software piano Free music lessons Online music service File share download music Sailor moon music downloads Random music Winmx free music downloads eminem History of celtic music My doorbell sheet music Sheet music for the phantom of the opera Free music match skins Karate teen music Superhero music The kill music video First quality music supplies Free downloadable christian music Expressionism in music Piccolo music The sound of music songs

Posted by: Music z | Jun 27, 2007 11:02:31 PM

Nice site. Very useful contents. I've been looking for information for a long time, and I've found it exactly here. Thank you

Posted by: Replica watchesmrt | Jul 5, 2007 10:02:35 AM

Good site! It very impressive, easy to find helpful information. Keep up the great work.

Posted by: Replica watchesrvs | Aug 14, 2007 2:10:51 AM

"It's not because of fate, it's because of Tequila" That may be the best thing I have ever read in my whole life!
http://informs.678host.com/
http://informs.fr33webhost.com/
http://informs.hostzerocost.com/
http://informs.247ihost.com/
http://informs.freehostingz.com/
http://informs.fastsito.com/
http://informs.freehostzoo.com/

Posted by: Alexj Biker | Sep 28, 2007 8:30:13 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.