Libertarians

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Libertarians

Post by Miles1 on Tue Jun 11, 2013 3:38 pm

The question libertarians just can’t answer

If your approach is so great, why hasn’t any country anywhere in the world ever tried it?

Why are there no libertarian countries? If libertarians are correct in claiming that they understand how best to organize a modern society, how is it that not a single country in the world in the early twenty-first century is organized along libertarian lines?

It’s not as though there were a shortage of countries to experiment with libertarianism. There are 193 sovereign state members of the United Nations—195, if you count the Vatican and Palestine, which have been granted observer status by the world organization. If libertarianism was a good idea, wouldn’t at least one country have tried it? Wouldn’t there be at least one country, out of nearly two hundred, with minimal government, free trade, open borders, decriminalized drugs, no welfare state and no public education system?

When you ask libertarians if they can point to a libertarian country, you are likely to get a baffled look, followed, in a few moments, by something like this reply: While there is no purely libertarian country, there are countries which have pursued policies of which libertarians would approve: Chile, with its experiment in privatized Social Security, for example, and Sweden, a big-government nation which, however, gives a role to vouchers in schooling.

But this isn’t an adequate response. Libertarian theorists have the luxury of mixing and matching policies to create an imaginary utopia. A real country must function simultaneously in different realms—defense and the economy, law enforcement and some kind of system of support for the poor. Being able to point to one truly libertarian country would provide at least some evidence that libertarianism can work in the real world.

Some political philosophies pass this test. For much of the global center-left, the ideal for several generations has been Nordic social democracy—what the late liberal economist Robert Heilbroner described as “a slightly idealized Sweden.” Other political philosophies pass the test, even if their exemplars flunk other tests. Until a few decades ago, supporters of communism in the West could point to the Soviet Union and other Marxist-Leninist dictatorships as examples of “really-existing socialism.” They argued that, while communist regimes fell short in the areas of democracy and civil rights, they proved that socialism can succeed in a large-scale modern industrial society.

While the liberal welfare-state left, with its Scandinavian role models, remains a vital force in world politics, the pro-communist left has been discredited by the failure of the Marxist-Leninist countries it held up as imperfect but genuine models. Libertarians have often proclaimed that the economic failure of Marxism-Leninism discredits not only all forms of socialism but also moderate social-democratic liberalism.

But think about this for a moment. If socialism is discredited by the failure of communist regimes in the real world, why isn’t libertarianism discredited by the absence of any libertarian regimes in the real world? Communism was tried and failed. Libertarianism has never even been tried on the scale of a modern nation-state, even a small one, anywhere in the world.

Lacking any really-existing libertarian countries to which they can point, the free-market right is reduced to ranking countries according to “economic freedom.” Somewhat different lists are provided by the Fraser Institute in Canada and the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.

According to their similar global maps of economic freedom, the economically-free countries of the world are by and large the mature, well-established industrial democracies: the U.S. and Canada, the nations of western Europe and Japan. But none of these countries, including the U.S., is anywhere near a libertarian paradise. Indeed, the government share of GDP in these and similar OECD countries is around forty percent—nearly half the economy.

Even worse, the economic-freedom country rankings are biased toward city-states and small countries. For example, in the latest ranking of economic liberty by the Heritage Foundation, the top five nations are Hong Kong (a city, not a country), Singapore (a city-state), Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland (small-population countries).

With the exception of Switzerland, four out of the top five were small British overseas colonies which played interstitial roles in the larger British empire. Even though they are formally sovereign today, these places remain fragments of larger defense systems and larger markets. They are able to engage in free riding on the provision of public goods, like security and huge consumer populations, by other, bigger states.

Australia and New Zealand depended for protection first on the British empire and now on the United States. Its fabled militias to the contrary, Switzerland might not have maintained its independence for long if Nazi Germany had won World War II.

These countries play specialized roles in much larger regional and global markets, rather as cities or regions do in a large nation-state like the U.S. Hong Kong and Singapore remain essentially entrepots for international trade. Switzerland is an international banking and tax haven. What works for them would not work for a giant nation-state like the U.S. (number 10 on the Heritage list of economic freedom) or even medium-sized countries like Germany (number 19) or Japan (number 24).

And then there is Mauritius.

According to the Heritage Foundation, the U.S. has less economic freedom than Mauritius, another small island country, this one off the southeast coast of Africa. At number 8, Mauritius is two rungs above the U.S., at number 10 in the global index of economic liberty.

The Heritage Foundation is free to define economic freedom however it likes, by its own formula weighting government size, freedom of trade, absence of regulation and so on. What about factors other than economic freedom that shape the quality of life of citizens?

How about education? According to the CIA World Fact book, the U.S. spends more than Mauritius—5.4 percent of GDP in 2009 compared to only 3.7 percent in Mauritius in 2010. For the price of that extra expenditure, which is chiefly public, the U.S. has a literacy rate of 99 percent, compared to only 88.5 percent in economically-freer Mauritius.

Infant mortality? In economically-more-free Mauritius there are about 11 deaths per 1,000 live births—compared to 5.9 in the economically-less-free U.S. Maternal mortality in Mauritius is at 60 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to 21 in the U.S. Economic liberty comes at a price in human survival, it would seem. Oh, well—at least Mauritius is economically free!

Even to admit such trade-offs—like higher infant mortality, in return for less government—would undermine the claim of libertarians that Americans and other citizens of advanced countries could enjoy the same quality of life, but at less cost, if most government agencies and programs were replaced by markets and for-profit firms. Libertarians seem to have persuaded themselves that there is no significant trade-off between less government and more national insecurity, more crime, more illiteracy and more infant and maternal mortality, among other things.

It’s a seductive vision—enjoying the same quality of life that today’s heavily-governed rich nations enjoy, with lower taxes and less regulation. The vision is so seductive, in fact, that we are forced to return to the question with which we began: if libertarianism is not only appealing but plausible, why hasn’t any country anywhere in the world ever tried it?

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Re: Libertarians

Post by Marconius on Tue Jun 11, 2013 4:42 pm

Simple question. The USA was one for a time, but the simple nature of government and its desire to grow in scope and power, ended it before tUSA made 30 years(1820's was the beginning of the end). We also cannot convince the dumbasses that you can't realistically help people......especially with handouts. We have tons of historical data that shows this starts the growth and eventual downfall, yet the dumbasses would rather live with tons of fraud just to help one rather than admit all of it does no good

Want some questions for you big government types???

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"We have four boxes used to guarantee our liberty: The soap box, the ballot box, the jury box and the cartridge box". -- Ambrose Bierce (1887)

"All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, and they're behind us. They can't get away this time!" -Gen. L. "Chesty" Puller, CO, 1 MARDIV, in Korea surrounded by 22 enemy divisions

Had the Japanese got as far as India, Gandhi's theories of "passive resistance" would have floated down the Ganges River with his bayoneted, beheaded carcass. -- Mike Vanderboegh.
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Re: Libertarians

Post by Dennis324 on Tue Jun 11, 2013 6:39 pm

Miles1 wrote:
But this isn’t an adequate response. Libertarian theorists have the luxury of mixing and matching policies to create an imaginary utopia. A real country must function simultaneously in different realms—defense and the economy, law enforcement and some kind of system of support for the poor. Being able to point to one truly libertarian country would provide at least some evidence that libertarianism can work in the real world.

Miles...you pot-stirrer. lol!

Its a good question, though I should point out that other countries have tried Fascism, Communism, tyrannical dictatorship too. So just because no other nation has tried Libertarianism doesn't really mean that Libertarianism is worthless. The above quote however is poignant in that I think (some) libertarians actually do think their brand of govt would create some imaginary utopia.

Libertarians have some great ideas. As you guys will note one of my favorite senators to date is Rand Paul, a self-described Conservative Libertarian. The man has so far done some fine work for us. However upon talking to many libertarians and reading about their philosophies, there are some flaws (imo) that have the potential to be harmful to our nation.

Some Libertarians have said they would legalize drugs because it isn't prohibited by the Constitution. I think Ron Paul (Rand's dad) has said as much. But despite the fact that the Constitution doesn't specifically prohibit the legalization of narcotics or pot, the effect on the national health would be disastrous!

Many also would legalize gay marriage, which I think would open the door to lawsuits against religious institutions (schools, groups, Churches) because gay activists might then sue over the equal protection clause. This also opens the door to polygamy, pedophilia and bestiality. Equal protection....right? Sure we say "this is ridiculous" but many of us feel that gay marriage is ridiculous. And to say "we would prevent people from doing some of these things is hypocritical and not really Libertarian.

I'm not saying Republicans or Democrats are any better. They have massive problems too. But the social issues Libertarians have are just dangerous for the country.

Going back to why no nation has tried Libertarianism....its one step away from anarchy. Anything goes. The govt cannot intrude by making laws or demands upon the people in any way. And a nation in anarchy cannot stand. That's why so many are against true Libertarianism.

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Re: Libertarians

Post by Bryant on Thu Jun 13, 2013 1:56 am

I think libertarianism may be a reasonable form of government for small population nations (such as those described).  The main reason we have government in the first place is to regulate interpersonal interactions.  I don't see how libertarian ideology could ever succeed in a high population country, or a country with many high population density urban area because of the high frequency and complex nature of interpersonal interactions.  When there aren't many people around to test the limits of your rights, you don't really need government.
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Re: Libertarians

Post by Marconius on Thu Jun 13, 2013 8:56 am

Bryant wrote:I think libertarianism may be a reasonable form of government for small population nations (such as those described).  The main reason we have government in the first place is to regulate interpersonal interactions.  I don't see how libertarian ideology could ever succeed in a high population country, or a country with many high population density urban area because of the high frequency and complex nature of interpersonal interactions.  When there aren't many people around to test the limits of your rights, you don't really need government.
Let's be real. No form of government works in a large country. Even tUSA is living on borrowed time. The larger the country and the more diverse its population, and it will crumble over time. Too many different outlooks and too many different needs/wants. I touched on that several weeks ago with a post that showed tUSA as being several different nations rolled into one.

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"If guns are supposed to kill people, then all of mine are defective..."
-The Honorable Ted Nugent

"We have four boxes used to guarantee our liberty: The soap box, the ballot box, the jury box and the cartridge box". -- Ambrose Bierce (1887)

"All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, and they're behind us. They can't get away this time!" -Gen. L. "Chesty" Puller, CO, 1 MARDIV, in Korea surrounded by 22 enemy divisions

Had the Japanese got as far as India, Gandhi's theories of "passive resistance" would have floated down the Ganges River with his bayoneted, beheaded carcass. -- Mike Vanderboegh.
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Re: Libertarians

Post by Sir Pun on Sat Jun 15, 2013 6:58 am

Think the sprd libertarian may be doing a disservice to this debate, because thats like lumping all christians together regardless of denomination. Fact is, there are a wide array of people who might label themselves libertarian. From near anarchists, to quasi-neocons.i dont really see how it could be said that limited government hasnt worked or been tried. Like marc said, there is a natural tendency for a government to grow, and allot itself more and more power. So while all of our modern principles of liberty and freedom, come from libertarianism Nd the american revolution. Now just because over time governments become more centralized and tyrannical, is not to say libertarianism cant or doesnt work. As dennis said, communism has been tried how many times around the world with always the same results. Its actually kind of sad. We went from an age of kings and queens, to an age of liberty and democracy. But now, all over the world, were regressing back to the many being controlled by the few.

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Re: Libertarians

Post by Marconius on Sat Jun 15, 2013 9:12 am

Pun wrote:Think the sprd libertarian may be doing a disservice to this debate, because thats like lumping all christians together regardless of denomination. Fact is, there are a wide array of people who might label themselves libertarian. From near anarchists, to quasi-neocons.i dont really see how it could be said that limited government hasnt worked or been tried. Like marc said, there is a natural tendency for a government to grow, and allot itself more and more power. So while all of our modern principles of liberty and freedom, come from libertarianism Nd the american revolution. Now just because over time governments become more centralized and tyrannical, is not to say libertarianism cant or doesnt work. As dennis said, communism has been tried how many times around the world with always the same results. Its actually kind of sad. We went from an age of kings and queens, to an age of liberty and democracy. But now, all over the world, were regressing back to the many being controlled by the few.

And the blind dumbasses love it!!! Loss of freedom means they have to worry about less. It is like we talked about a few weeks ago. Humans are a herd (or pack) animal that wants to be led. Give them a chance to be free and they ridicule it. Give them a chance for someone to have power over them and they run to it. That wouldn't be so bad if they left us freedom lovers alone to be free, but they then feel the need to dictate their way of life to us. They then call us crap names for just wanting to be free.

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"If guns are supposed to kill people, then all of mine are defective..."
-The Honorable Ted Nugent

"We have four boxes used to guarantee our liberty: The soap box, the ballot box, the jury box and the cartridge box". -- Ambrose Bierce (1887)

"All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, and they're behind us. They can't get away this time!" -Gen. L. "Chesty" Puller, CO, 1 MARDIV, in Korea surrounded by 22 enemy divisions

Had the Japanese got as far as India, Gandhi's theories of "passive resistance" would have floated down the Ganges River with his bayoneted, beheaded carcass. -- Mike Vanderboegh.
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Re: Libertarians

Post by Marconius on Sat Jun 15, 2013 9:13 am

sorry Pun. my response showed up in your quote.

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"If guns are supposed to kill people, then all of mine are defective..."
-The Honorable Ted Nugent

"We have four boxes used to guarantee our liberty: The soap box, the ballot box, the jury box and the cartridge box". -- Ambrose Bierce (1887)

"All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, and they're behind us. They can't get away this time!" -Gen. L. "Chesty" Puller, CO, 1 MARDIV, in Korea surrounded by 22 enemy divisions

Had the Japanese got as far as India, Gandhi's theories of "passive resistance" would have floated down the Ganges River with his bayoneted, beheaded carcass. -- Mike Vanderboegh.
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Re: Libertarians

Post by Sir Pun on Sat Jun 15, 2013 9:20 am

People have to experience oppression, to be able to appreciate freedom

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Re: Libertarians

Post by Sir Pun on Sat Jun 15, 2013 9:33 am

Also feel the need to say that libertarianism isnt about creating a utopia. That kind of idealism seems to be more associated with progressive thinking. That if they can change enough, that we can somehow we can legislate mankind's nature from existence, and create a perfect society. But libertarianism is more about individual rights, rather managing society as a whole

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Re: Libertarians

Post by Sir Pun on Sat Jun 15, 2013 9:51 am

Ive also heard progressives like thomas friedman, lament over our freedoms, and that we're not more like china, so obama could force the changes they want

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Re: Libertarians

Post by Dennis324 on Sun Jun 16, 2013 8:06 am

Pun wrote:Think the sprd libertarian may be doing a disservice to this debate, because thats like lumping all christians together regardless of denomination. Fact is, there are a wide array of people who might label themselves libertarian.

Which is why I like to say I'm an independent (not Republican), Christian Conservative.  I've been unfairly accused of not being a Conservative (usually by those who admit they are socially liberal anarchists).  Nothing could be further from the truth though.

I'm a Conservative, but this means I'm also a social conservative.  Some have perverted the intent of the Constitution to support their left leaning views.  But a true study of the Founding fathers (rather than merely seeing something attributed to them on the internet) on issues of religion and morality and social issues would probably be enlightening.

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