Thursday, November 6, 2014

A political manifesto from Oklahoma

From the libertarian Kids Prefer Cheese blog, here is the political platform of "Angus," e.g. economics professor Dr. Kevin Blaine Grier at my alma mater, the University of Oklahoma.

People, I am in favor of legalizing drugs, same sex marriage, LBGT rights, and a vastly smaller military. I am also in favor of increased immigration, increased trade, and drastically less regulation on economic activity. I favor increased funding for research into alternative energy, but I do not favor specific investments in specific companies. I favor abolishing the TSA, the BATF, and the Department of Agriculture. I am against the militarization of local police forces. I am ashamed of the size and racial makeup of our prison system. I despise constant government led erosion of our privacy. I would like to replace our weird, patchy safety net with a guaranteed basic income. I favor a single payer approach to providing universal health care. I would love to see substantial, revenue neutral, carbon tax.

I'm struck by two things when I read this: (1) This is the kind of thing that a surprisingly large number of self-identified libertarians believe and (2) although I've read this several times, I can't find anything I disagree with. Oh, rather than embracing single payer, I'd probably prefer a model closer to what Germany or Switzerland have, but I agree with the general point that we should cover everyone, and that single payer would be better than the patchwork we have now.

(And apparently we may not even disagree on that, because in a follow up post Angus writes, "I would prefer to bust up the AMA cartel, somewhat deregulate the practice of health care, increase the supply of doctors (through immigration), and have a free market in health care, but I still prefer single payer over the ACA.")

Angus wrote the post to explain why he doesn't bother to vote. "Oh, and I did I mention I live in Oklahoma? Exactly who I am supposed to vote for?" He could have written, "I live in Ohio," or any of the 48 other states. I suppose he could have cast a useless ballot for the Libertarian candidates, as I do, but apparently he doesn't vote at all. (The party isn't recognized in Oklahoma, so he would have had to vote for "independent" candidates who are actually Libertarians.)


Bobby Campbell said...

All of that stuff sounds great to me!

I feel like maybe the label of "libertarian" has so much flexibility that it obscures more than it reveals? Sort of like "Buddhism." I can identify myself as a Buddhist, but that doesn't actually tell you very much about me, and assumptions made from the variety of cultural associations of that term can give a completely inaccurate impression of what I think.

The kind of Libertarianism that would support guaranteed basic income and climate change legislation seems so radically different from mainstream Libertarianism that it seems like you might as well call it something else?

Though if I remember correctly you can't call it something else, because then it creates an ineffectual splinter group that no longer receives support from sources such like the Cato Institute, et al?

Which then puts this Libertarianism I like right back in league with the Libertarianism I don't trust, and worry could be using the other as a kind of ideological bait and switch.

Not an accusation, just a cards on the table, request for clarification!

Libertarianism offers all of this cool stuff that I really do support, but it seems to get a little messy in the fine print.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...


Dr. Grier supports abolishing the TSA, reigning in government spying, drastically scaling back the military, drastically reducing economic regulation and legalizing all drugs. All of those are hardcore libertarian positions that enjoy little support among Democrats and Republicans. By any reasonable definition, he seems to be a "libertarian" or "classical liberal," although I don't know what label he would apply to himself.

There are of course very very hardcore libertarians who favor little or no government and label everyone else "statists," including fellow travelers in the freedom movement. I sometimes call myself a classical liberal, just to put a little space between myself and the fanatics.

But even the ideological enforcers usually depart from orthodoxy on one position or another. Justin Raimondo, for example, who is quick to accuse other folks of heresy, opposes immigration reform.

I favor a reasonably broad definition of libertarianism. Regardless of how they feel about global warming, almost all libertarians favor free speech, ending the drug war, ending almost all foreign wars, ending government tax subsidies for private companies and leaving people alone to follow their own lifestyles.

But at the end of the day, people who define themselves as libertarians are individuals, and some of us actually try to think for ourselves, instead of worrying about what St. Ayn Rand and Pope Murray Rothbard would have said. If you want to know how I feel about a certain issue, you probably have to ask me.

I would also point out that libertarians have a bad reputation in the press because the powers-that-be like it that way. Even the people I consider a little bit fanatical believe in "live and let live." They aren't the reason the government is killing Asian peasants with Hellfire missiles, or still tossing black people into prison on drug violations.

I can only speak for myself and not for other libertarians, but I hope that helps.

Bobby Campbell said...

That does indeed help, and I very much appreciate your response!

Steve said...

This is the kind of Libertarianism I can get behind!

fyreflye said...

Since this is a blog about RAW, how is it that no one seems to understand the point that calling ones self anything and
banding together with others under any label kills free thought? I do agree with Angus' many causes (and I also don't vote) but the point is that people who agree with these policies need to forget about parties and labels and band together over issues, not what they like to call themselves, to get some of these thing made law. Call yourselves The Guns and Dope Party :) if you need a flag to fly under. There are more people in this country who support many of these ideas than you think.