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I kind of think we need better labels to distinguish between moderate libertarians, (e.g. your average Keynesian economist, who, compared to the political norm, would tend to push policies favoring individual freedom and choice and tearing down unwarranted regulation or subsidies, without being allergic to the idea of useful regulation and provision of public goods), and night-watchmen and even more radical libertarians. Some way to say "I care about abolishing limited taxi medallions and hairdresser licenses and stupid (most) zoning" without implying "I want to abolish welfare and go on the gold standard and I think global warming is a hoax".

Alternately I'd be happy with some way of saying "liberal or social democrat who's more hip to economics and reasonably market and choice friendly", which would *also* describe the average Keynesian economist.

I guess most of my readership isn't particularly hip to economics so I should spell things out. Philosophically, being friendly to externality (free rider and public goods) justifications for government actions, while also being friendly to public choice theory warnings about democratic government (domination by special interests, regulatory capture -- really, it's the insight that democratic participation is itself subject to free rider and public goods problems.)

Policy-wise, being skeptical of rent control, zoning, most occupational licensing and even minimum wage, while supporting minimum income or guaranteed employment, certification, and pollution taxes or congestion charges. Instead of "you can't do X on your property", "you can do whatever as long as it doesn't bug the neighbors." Instead of "you must use efficient toilets and lightbulbs", charging appropriately for water and (CO2 generating) power use.

There's no Economist Party. The Democrats are too quick to leap to protectionism or specific regulation, the Republicans too plutocratic, the Libertarians too blind to market failure.

ETA: I'm reminded that with the space of a possible Economist Party, I'd still be way to the left, supporting regular job programs and free college and public art in public spaces and buildings, and strong progressive income and estate tax on top of land tax. Vs. the guy who supports job programs only in liquidity traps (like, now) and vouchers up to high school and screw the art and try to function only on land value and resource tax. But we'd both support universal health care and low barriers to market entry. Social Economist vs., I dunno.

The fun bit is that libertarian maestro Hayek has his social side, with text support social insurance and even back income. For that matter, even Rothbard granted that someone, somewhere -- maybe Latin America -- could use some redistributive land reform. Their followers tend to ignore these bits.

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/323780.html#comments


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 31st, 2012 07:38 pm (UTC)
Sounds like what you're advocating for is the return of the small "L" liberal. I usually go with "economic conservative" and expect to spend a couple sentences explaining what I mean.

I like my neighbors but I want more protections in place re my use of property. "What doesn't bug the neighbors" sounds direly like a nation-wide HOA. (In case it isn't obvious, this is an excellent time for you to go into more detail on this point.)

(who is hip to economics)
May. 31st, 2012 07:44 pm (UTC)
Somewhat. Probably a lot more government friendly than the 19th or early 20th century classical liberals, though. I mean, I do identify as social democrat now, I'm just one who doesn't think money and markets are suspect and that choice is worth preserving where possible. Which is perfectly compatible with social democracy -- arguably the main distinction between it and democratic socialism in fact -- but maybe not reliably present or called to mind.

(Also everything I described implies support for school vouchers and other choice supports, but I'm happy to look at Finland and think "okay, total government schooling can work great!")
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


Damien Sullivan

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