Monday, July 16, 2012

Liberals trying to understand the Right

Occasionally I spend some time watching, or listening to, the various shows on C-SPAN's Book TV.

A point an author made in his book, as shown on Book TV, reminded me of a series of political points where debaters have a hard time understanding their opponents positions or are not doing a good job of intelligently debating.

This author wrote a book because he wanted to learn more about Ayn Rand.  He is to the left politically and wanted to learn about someone on the right.  This sounds good, learning about the other side is always a good idea.

During is talk on his book he quoted a libertarian, from the seventies, who said something to the effect of "there is no politician today who is in favor of repealing things like: social security, medicare, minimum wage laws, unemployment, labor laws, the civil rights act of 1964, etc."  These listed laws are the opposite of what liberty loving libertarians would like to see.

The problem I found was when he pointed out at the end of his talk was that the depression that started in 2008 was caused by there being a lot of people who support liberty, like Ayn Rand, in charge of the economy.

If all of those anti-liberty laws, like social security, minimum wage laws, civil rights laws, etc, are still in effect, then how can we call the political environment a libertarian oriented one, and therefore liberty is responsible for our current depression?

Perhaps I'm making the same mistake, however, from the opposite direction.

I think that we all can agree that the United States in the 2010's is a mixture of freedom and tyranny of government. 

My argument would be that the federal government is the law of the land, and does things like bail out car companies and sets regulations for everything.  So it is the government creating, and promoting, situations where the greed of individuals can cause problems, because they know that if they are big enough (too big to fail) then the government can save them from any difficulties.  These people, and companies, can take risks without fear of failure because the government will save them if those risks fail.  And people are therefore encouraged to take risks.

Another thought that this author, and several others have pointed out is the apparent hypocrisy of liberty minded people.  These people on the left say things like, "How can [libertarian] be opposed to racism and opposed to the civil rights act of 1964?" or "How can [libertarian] be in favor of free trade and opposed to NAFTA?"

What these people on the left fail to understand about libertarian politicians is our ideology itself; even when they think that they understand and are merely pointing out our hypocrisy.

The reason libertarians oppose the civil rights act and NAFTA is because those are government laws interfering with private citizens and restricting liberty and freedom.

Just to be clear: our opinions on the goals of these, and other laws, are irrelevant.  When the government interferes the freedoms of the people are restricted.  And the laws are essentially always ineffective, cause more problems, cost too much, and generally make everything worse.

Some other leftist authors I have listened to on Book TV have claimed things like "opportunity cost does not apply in this case."  And "a deficit is like when you want a Ferrari but cannot afford one."

While I appreciate these authors on the left trying to understand those of us in favor of freedom, I think they have a long way to go before they understand us.  Once they do come to understand the proponents of freedom and liberty I think that they will be joining in our chorus for freedom.

As an example:  The author of the recently much talked about book: "The Righteous Mind," Johnathan Haidt, (Book TV show here) started as a liberal, but moved to the middle once he learned more about why those of us on the right think like we do.  The more the leftists learn of freedom and liberty, the more I expect that they will agree.

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