Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Libertarian Clint...


  1. "Libertarian means you're sort of socially liberal--leave everybody alone. But you believe in fiscal responsibility and you believe in government staying out of your lie. --Clint Eastwood

    If that's all there were to it, I would be a Libertarian. You could say that this is why I take up the cause of imprisoned poets. For government to get involved with where on the page the muse has led poets, even bad poets, or even mediocre or good poets writing bad poetry, means we're all in legal trouble for having ideas. More than being so stifling as to make a society backward, ultimately and quickly, it gets to be a witch hunt, whereby the one accused of being a witch must be a witch to deny being a witch. How could she know what a witch is if she does not entertain sorcery? It's the problem with these moral idiots killing people because someone made an evidently mediocre film slamming Mohammed. Well Jesus Aitch Christ, if the boneheaded moralistic Muslims--not to be conflated with the good-hearted majority of Muslims---would just leave the Christians alone in Libertarian fashion, people would not start thinking that Mohammed was an evil fake. In this sense, Allah is a Libertarian, when we get the ten commandments, thou shall not kill, thou shall not covet, and so forth.

    But Eastwood says something so general about Libertarianism, that no one can disagree with it, the part about fiscal responsibility. Part of Libertarianism, that which has been applied to our economy, is to let the market be free. We have all been sold on the capitalist system, whereby it rewards the inventors and those who develop better means of production. It is superior to more socialist systems in this sense. But there are problem that require government intervention, or at least organized intervention.

    For instance, it is all well and good to make Bill Gates and Thomas Edison rich as rewards for them and incentives to all of us to come up with the better mousetrap. In fact, Bill Gates himself is giving money out to anyone who can make a better toilet. The other side, however, is to note that Gates simply beat everyone to the finish line on modern computers, windows and so much. We are reviewing Edison as, not the inventor, but the corporate head for most of what he took personal credit for inventing.

    I'd simply fall in the middle and say that we need to improve how our economic rewards are given out. And as soon as I say that, I am no longer libertarian--albeit not socialist either.

    But a more serious problem to a free market application of libertarianism, is to look at those who cannot be rewarded inventors, and those who cannot participate in the market system. We call people "disabled" when this happens. Really, though, as with most that is human, there is a sliding scale. I may be more overall disabled than you, who is more disabled than someone else. It's like height.

    Whatever economic system we strive for, or that I get behind, must serve all people of all degrees of ability and disability as fairly. The autistic, disabled high school student needs to be able to have a bright future just like the valedictorian jock. We see this issue arise in movements to privatize health care. True privatization means that as soon as our parents' or grandparents' meager estates are depleted by a nursing home tycoon, their bed needs to be filled by someone who still has money to pay. What happened to our Libertarian God there? Are we all his children?

  2. That Eastwood quote s/b: "Libertarian means you're sort of socially liberal--leave everybody alone. But you believe in fiscal responsibility and you believe in government staying out of your life."

  3. Hi Rus, I hear you. Thank you for your response. As with most ideologies, Libertarianism too, I trust, has its shades. The more nuanced an ideology, the better for everyone. I guess there are enough and more reasons for the government to be present in certain sectors, such as defence. As has been argued elsewhere, libertarians are not against the "size" of government, but its "role". Eastwood seems to indicate something similar. As Ludvig von Mises said: People who do not agree with [my conception] of the functions of government may say: “This man hates the government.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. If I should say that gasoline is a very useful liquid, useful for many purposes, but that I would nevertheless not drink gasoline because I think that would not be the right use for it, I am not an enemy of gasoline, and I do not hate gasoline. I only say that gasoline is very useful for certain purposes, but not fit for other purposes. If I say it is the government’s duty to arrest murderers and other criminals, but not its duty to run the railroads or to spend money for useless things, then I do not hate the government by declaring that it is fit to do certain things but not fit to do other things.

  4. Clint's definition of libertarianism is the same as mine. It sounds easy. But it often involves standing up and defending that friend of yours that others won't tolerate. Which means it can lead to some really good fist fights. But who knows about that sort o thing these days?

  5. Hi Rus,
    I think it important to remember that the notion that the use of capital amounts to a system was thought up by Karl Marx. Capital — the use of a token as representing a certain value — is a tool, necessary once a society gets past barter. You suggest that "we need to improve how our economic rewards are given out." The person who invests his time and money in a project that proves profitable has his just reward in that profit. I can't see how anyone has the right to insist that he share it with anyone else. I do believe in charity, but I don't see making it mandatory.