Tuesday, October 07, 2014

The Central Liberal/Libertarian Divide

New Bern, NC
An article A.I.G. Bailout, Revisionists’ Version in today's New York Times inspired me to write this post. It discusses how the government decided to punish stockholders of A.I.G. to protect stockholders of the big banks (because it was in the national interest.) You should read the article. To me, the article is a perfect illustration of the central issue forever dividing liberals from libertarians.
The central issue as I see it, is whether "we" should decide something collectively or whether I and everyone else should decide it individually. For example, I decide who to marry. The sum of all "I" decisions determines the family makeup. The alternative would be if "we" (as represented by government) decide who marries whom. I find that idea offensive although Harvard undergraduates last year said that they see no problem with it. Let me use the coined term "II" to represent the "sum of all I decisions."
Liberals and the press, usually do not understand or even acknowledge this view. Choose the political hot topic of the day; policy A versus policy B on some proposition. The press runs out to learn which side liberals and conservatives lean on the question and report that; making it a wedge issue. They ignore the fact that libertarians are offended by the idea of putting the issue up for collective voting in the first place. They would prefer letting it be decided by the II process. They are offended by not having the choice "none of the above" on the ballots when they vote. Libertarians are offended by putting up the question as something "we" decide. The press ignores this while focusing on the A versus B wedge.
I am offended by not having the choice "abolish government" on the ballot when I vote. Never in my life have I been asked to vote on that question, nor have I been asked for my consent to be governed. The human right to "alter or abolish government" voiced in our Declaration of Independence, vanished when the US Constitution which specifically forbad insurrection.
I also believe that the liberal "we" view naturally arises from high density (city) populations, whereas libertarian (country) populations favor "II". If you study the maps of the USA showing red/blue counties by politics and compare that to population density in those counties, you'll see a strong correlation. The influence of density is natural. The higher the density, the more we are forced to think "we." For example, public transportation is an issue that must be a "we" decision. The growing population (I would say overpopulation) trend drives us in the liberal direction.
So, how does this relate the the article? Secretary Paulson unashamedly acknowledge his choice. A.I.G. was singled out as a scapegoat to be punished in order to assert the principle of "moral hazard" for misbehaving investors. I agree with the "moral hazard" principle, but in this case government chose to use it to punish misbehaving A.I.G. investors in order to shield equally misbehaving bank investors, because it was in the national interest. To me, this illustrates the inevitable corruption of the "we" approach. I believe that government should not have the authority to single out a minority to suffer to further the interests of the majority. That is corrupt. It reminds me of the famous quote:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.-- Martin Niemöller


  1. So you are in favour of banning restrictions on same sex marriage since the government has no role to play in this area? The restrictions are mainly found in the "II" states.

  2. Yes I am. Their equal rights argument is valid. I think marraige should be open to any people, any sexes, any number (not just two) because of the equal rights argument. Children don't have fully equal rights.


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