Towards A Good Samaritan World

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Here is a manifesto on the "Libertarian Democrat" from Kos. This is a weird version of libertarianism:

So in practical terms, what does a Libertarian Dem look like? A Libertarian Dem rejects government efforts to intrude in our bedrooms and churches. A Libertarian Dem rejects government "Big Brother" efforts, such as the NSA spying of tens of millions of Americans. A Libertarian Dem rejects efforts to strip away rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights -- from the First Amendment to the 10th. And yes, that includes the 2nd Amendment and the right to bear arms.

So far, this isn't much different than what a traditional libertarian believes. Here is where it begins to differ (and it shouldn't).

A Libertarian Dem believes that true liberty requires freedom of movement -- we need roads and public transportation to give people freedom to travel wherever they might want. A Libertarian Dem believes that we should have the freedom to enjoy the outdoor without getting poisoned; that corporate polluters infringe on our rights and should be checked. A Libertarian Dem believes that people should have the freedom to make a living without being unduly exploited by employers. A Libertarian Dem understands that no one enjoys true liberty if they constantly fear for their lives, so strong crime and poverty prevention programs can create a safe environment for the pursuit of happiness. A Libertarian Dem gets that no one is truly free if they fear for their health, so social net programs are important to allow individuals to continue to live happily into their old age. Same with health care. And so on.

Kos is hardly "libertarian," but he has one characterological trait in common with a lot of libertarians: paranoia. "The freedom to enjoy the outdoors without getting poisoned?" Air pollution has been declining in the US for decades. Kos is paranoid about pollution. "No one enjoys true liberty if they constantly fear for their lives..." Where in America do people "constantly fear for their lives" because of crime? Well, maybe paranoid people like Kos do.

Kos adopts, and extends, the amorality and paranoia of a certain type of libertarian, without the philosophical bent, or the understanding of free-market economics. Still, it's an interesting exercise in triangulation.


  • Um, based on how he describes "Libertarian Democrats", how are they different from regular-old vanilla Democrats?

    I agree, he doesn't seem to undertand Libertarianism at all. In my opinion, pragmatic Libertarianism is basically Federalism, for all intents and purposes. It's not that government is bad, but rather the one-size-fits-all mentality of a big national government. In essence, a big national government, if it has significantly more power than local governments, has a virtual monopoly on policy making for the country (for certain kinds of policies). Now, we do have reasonably strong state governments, but as you pointed out earlier, it would be even better if municipalities had more power. This is the kind of Libertarian I am. I want to decrease the power and scope of the national government, and give the states and cities more power. Basically, I think the national government should make foreign policy (which includes national defense), settle disputes between states, build and maintain interstate infrastructure, and deal with national disasters (and maybe a few other details I'm forgetting). Everything else can be handled by states and cities.

    By Blogger Thomas Reasoner, at 8:10 PM  

  • I'm going to add another comment. Imagine if the United Nation was the government of the world, and it ultimately dictated to us what we could and couldn't do, and it collected taxes world-wide and distrubted the money un-evenly on pork barrel projects, subsidies, and entitlements. That would be a nightmare to most Americans, right? And yet, that's basically a hypothetical macrocosm of our own national government. The test of a good national policy should be to ask if a similar world-wide policy by the hypothetical UN would make us squimish or not: if we don't like the idea of the UN doing it, why should we feel okay if our own government does it?

    By Blogger Thomas Reasoner, at 8:24 PM  

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