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September 30, 2006

Comments

Laurent GUERBY

"how comfortable are you with inequalities of wealth?"

I'd say this is not a good split question. A better one IMHO:

"how comfortable are you with inequalities of the initial (from birth) distribution of wealth?"

If you're looking at the present distribution, another question could be:

"do you think there's a level of inequality of wealth, whatever the reason, that would require a change in state policy to lower it?"

Steve bm

Large corporations are not free market entities - they are intimately attached to the state, and spend a lot of time lobbying politicians, and buying influence within political parties. This is especially true of Freddie Mac - surely a politically connected organization if anything is.

Your inference is therefore invalid - would corporations like this even exist in a free market? Dubious, methinks.

Bernie Hughes

"I'd split (right) libertarians and the left on a different issue - how comfortable are you with inequalities of wealth?"

I suggest it's not so much a question of being comfortable with inequalities as with doubting that government has the moral authority to intervene in the attempt to artificially iron them out.

TStockmann

"This issue, I guess helps explain why people move from the far left to right libertarianism more than vice versa. As folks get older, they get richer. And the richer you are, the easier it is to tolerate inequality, not just for reasons of self-interest."

Interesting as always to see how a potentially symmetrical move can always be phrased to disguise the symmetry in favor of one direction or another. Contrast:

"This issue, I guess helps explain why people begin on the far left and move to right libertarianism more than vice versa. As folks get older, they have invested much of their life in acquiring a call on society's resources and, with a shorter life ahead of them, have less risk tolerance. Since you start out with little invested, the easier it was to tolerate the confiscation of that investment, not just for reasons of self-interest."

I think there is probably a less nakedly partisan way of combining these two.


In terms of the conclusion, although libertarians are as various as leftists, I would counterpropose: libertarians are largely indifferent to questions of relative inequality per se; some remain sensitive to absolute poverty and some remain sensitive to a concentration of power in institutions other than the government that can act nearly as coercively against liberty as a government. Some don't care about either of these. Two other questions that may distinguish specific libertarian positions: the more general sense of a government's position in promotiing the common good defined by a time-horizon that exceeds individual self-interest; the moral status of children, as largely pre-choice actors.

TStockmann

Another possibily useful distinction:

Libertarians who believe property embodies a natural right versus libertarians who would call property (as opposed to possession) a government license, a social construct, but one that should be expansive and unfettered as a matter of common good, defined by their own values.

nz conservative

no money in socialism these days, may as well be a libertarian.

james higham

..As folks get older, they have invested much of their life in acquiring a call on society's resources and, with a shorter life ahead of them, have less risk tolerance...

Yes, I really think this is so, certainly in my case. I do believe the government which governs least governs best and like one fellow blogger's manifesto to this end [advocate in Scotland].

Phil

Personally I always find the opposition between leftism and libertarianism counter-intuitive and rather irritating - as a child of the sixties* *In the literal sense, at least I've been a libertarian leftist for most of my adult life. But I guess I am that much more suspicious of the state's ability to extend individual liberty than I would have been twenty years ago, so perhaps the pattern does hold to some extent.

What puzzles me about right-libertarians is their apparent starting-point, the freedom to *own* - particularly when this is extended, as it generally is, to cover the freedom for one person to own large chunks of another person's life. Freedom of action can be universalised much more coherently, surely.

Phil

Oops - embedded footnote. Should read:

...as a child of the sixties*, I've been a libertarian leftist...

*In the literal sense, at least.

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