Thursday, August 25, 2016

A libertarian Breitbart?

How did Breitbart get so influential? Can libertarians pull a similar trick (or is it necessarily compromising)? Can the libertarian movement co-opt the anti-establishment sentiment that fuels the Trump campaign? Is there a libertarian version of Breitbart -- an 'in your face' culture warrior media outlet. Maybe Reason just doesn't seem angry enough. Is the problem that libertarianism will never find an establishment patron who will encourage its growth, thinking that it can be controlled. Or is the problem that libertarianism can never have the same visceral, thoughtless motivation as the desire for a "strong leader."

open borders advocacy

I've long figured that anti-nationalism (or post-nationalism) is likely the most productive approach to moving humanity towards a brighter, freer future (both here and abroad), and of course, open borders are a key component of that.

I've come across some open-borders advocates, and am documenting them here:
open borders website
open borders facebook
open borders discussion on Freakonomics radio

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

What are some contemporary resistance movements?

Hi all -- I need to crowd-source some information. In honor of Trump's possible coronation, I want to bring attention to current resistance movements around the world. But first, I need to get a list together. Nominate whomever you'd like, but they are most interesting to me if they are civilian led, popular enough and dedicated enough to have a realistic chance of toppling an oppressive regime. I'm not too interested in  counter-culture movements that fashion themselves as resistance, or militant groups that have been pushed to the margins of their society over the course of years.

Heres' what I can think of:

Recent past:
  • Color revolutions (e.g. Ukraine). Russian liberals.
  • Arab spring
  • Umbrellas in Hong Kong
  • Turkey's civil resistance (could use the anti-PDK or pro-PDK movements, though pro-PDK resisted the establishmet of a new oppressor) 
  • Anti-Apartheid
I'm sure I'm missing something...

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Johnson's tax plan is not libertarian

A progressive rips Johnson for the regressive nature of his tax plan. He's criticizing from a progressive (Sandersnista) perspective, but the tax plan is not libertarian either.

It's disappointing that the Libertarian candidate would give so much weight to this sales tax idea (the "fair tax"). At best, it is a massive distraction from real libertarian issues. It can't even be justified as the price of winning financial support from the Koch brothers. I can only assume that Johnson, like many conservatives, has a savings fetish and thinks that "libertarianism" is synonymous with capitalism (i.e. rules that favor the owners of capital). But at the end of the day, Johnson is proposing to expend massive political capital just to play an accounting game.

Johnson is also banking on the fact that income tax enforcement is particularly intrusive, though I doubt a massive sales tax would be much better. On a more substantial level, I believe that progressive taxation (higher rates for the wealthy) is more libertarian than other tax systems that raise the same revenue. This is because a person with more money (all else being equal) faces fewer constraints from losing any given amount of money. This is true even for losing the same percentage of their income -- it is worse to take 10% from a person with a thousand dollars than to take 10% from a person with a million dollars, even though the later involves 10x as much money. With this reasoning, it's clear that reducing taxes on the poor should be the first financial priority of libertarians. Let we are worried about being unfair to the rich, they are fully capable of advocating for themselves in government.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Ni una mas deportacion

I'm starting to see what the response will be if Trump starts mass roundups of immigrants...

On June 27, four activists were arrested for blocking the roads to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Downtown. More than 100 people calling for a moratorium on the deportation of all undocumented immigrants looked on as the activists were taken into custody.

Ni una mas deportacion

I'm starting to see what the response will be if Trump starts mass roundups of immigrants...

On June 27, four activists were arrested for blocking the roads to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Downtown. More than 100 people calling for a moratorium on the deportation of all undocumented immigrants looked on as the activists were taken into custody.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Right-libertarianism and left-libertarianism

After reading another sloppy take-down of libertarianism from a progressive (which of course emphasizes the "right-wing" currents in libertarianism), I was thinking of a concise way to distinguish left-libertarianism from right-libertarianism. Here's what I came up with:
  • Right-libertarians believe that the goverment is democratic.
  • Left-libertarians believe that the government is elitist.
This phrasing makes the distinction quite stark when you think about the implications of being "anti-government", and actually implies that there is substantial conflict between the two wings of the movement. Luckily, I think mainstream libertarianism is pretty "centrist" by this standard, believing that the USA's government has both democratic/populist and elitist aspects, both of which cause problems.

While there is also a "right/left" divide among libertarian cultural issues, these don't have a substantial impact on policy preferences (except abortion), so the divide I'm focusing on above is more about theories of power relationships (e.g. economics and social status). I see Ayn Rand as the quintessential right-libertarian. My impression is that these libertarians think that a free market would largely be organized around the same principles as today's economy -- the main difference being greater productivity as populist parasites are shed. In contrast, left-libertarians typically expect a radical restructuring of the economy as the existing large-scale organizations collapse without state support and are replaced by bottom-up organizations that give workers much more influence over the economy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Anti-gun libertarianism

Following the massacare in Orlando, the mainstream responses are either anti-muslim or anti-gun. And of course, these are presented as diametric opposites -- to the mainstream politicians, supporting gun ownership implies demonizing "dangerous" minority groups, and supporting these minorities implies being opposed to free ownership of guns. I suppose everyone wants to have a simple solution to the problem of human violence.

So is there anything for libertarians to say, aside from "that's life"? Apparently the standard libertarian response is pro-gun -- that if more (LGBT) people were armed, the gunman would have been stopped sooner. In this case, it may be true that more guns would have limited the carnage, but that protection would come at the cost of more gun accidents and crimes of passion -- which really are the main causes of gun injuries.

Anyway, I'm sad that I can't find any defense of anti-gun libertarianism. By "anti-gun", I mean libertarians who oppose gun controls (of course), but see guns as a pointless danger in our society, that ideally should be less common. From where I stand, most people (and most gun owners) are unlikely to ever be in a position where having a gun will provide meaningful protection. Holding this opinion puts me at odds with the "pro-gun" crowd that sees guns as vital tools to maintain security -- both personal and communal (not to mention recreation and productive hunting). It also gives me nothing to say about the political response to massacres. Saying "this isn't the time for politics" sounds evasive. Saying "the risk of being hurt in a mass shooting is minuscule" sounds cold. So I guess there's nothing to say -- and just cede the political moment to the gun-control advocates (because I will not refrain from disputing the bigots).