29 thoughts on “Weekend reflections

  1. Gerard, fristly let me say that the majority of self-described libertarians, fiarly obviously, don’t fit that description.

    I actually feel rather aorry the average libertarians who seems to me, despite the movement’s rhetoric, to mostly be examples of what is referred to as the right wing authoritarian personality type.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-wing_authoritarianism

    It must be terrible to go thorugh life constabtrly convinced you’re being oppressed and terrorised. )One striking difference between libertarians and anarchists is I don;t think I’ve ever heard an anarchist cite their own material wellbeing as a reason for their political views. Unlike libertarians who constantly talk about how much better off they’d be in the damn gub’mint would just stop taxing them.)

    Secondly, what describe is soemwhat similar to the strategy of “starving the beast” enunciated by some prominent libertarians which basically proposes bankrupting the US government so it has to spend most of its money on debt service and is unable pursue an activist policies.

    But while Cheney may be on-board with such a policy I don;t think McCain or most of the Republican Party. The thing about conservative oligarchs (unless there spectacularly stupid and afflicted by religious mania like Bush) is they realise they got to the top under the current system and are reluctant to make radial changes which could undermine their privilged position.

    I also doubt the Republcians will be in much of a position to do anything after November. Even if McCain wins by some miracle, he’ll probably be facing a veto-proof Democrat majority in both houses.

    (Not that the Democrats are anything special – Gore, Kerry and Kennedy are prime examples of the conservative oligarchs I was talking about earlier. They are however preferable to their Republican opposite numbers since they’re bright enough to realise some mininal changes need to be made to keep the gravy train on the tracks.)

    So I expect to see some grudging mix of spending cuts and tax increases. (If Prez McCain faisl to get the votes to extend the Bush tax cuts I’m sure he’ll cry all the way to the bank.)

    Then when the economy recovers in 2010 or 2011, libertaraisn will credit it to the Bush tax cuts and the next downturn whenever it comes will be blamed on the tax increase of 2009.

    (In closing, I’m goign ot say once again that there are soem libertarians here – like Terje and Andrew Reynolds – who I quite like despite our political differences. In both cases (and I’m sure there are others I’ll smack myself in the head for not thinking of as soon as I’ve posted this), their political views strike me as mistaken but I never doubt their good intentions.)

  2. What I find interesting about these discussions is that people talk about what is wrong with other people’s views but rarely talk about ways of getting differing points of view to be reconciled.

    The view that people are selfish and are continually trying to do everything for themselves and to hell with everyone else appears to be misplaced. The book Moral Markets reports some interesting experiments. The one that I found most fascinating is that at the personal level of individual transactions we find that the pleasure centres of the brain light up much more when we give than when we receive. However the flip side is that we really get upset when we give and think we have been cheated. We have evolved to be sharing animals and yet the underpinnings of our current economic system is exactly the opposite and the way we collect taxes is done in such a way that people think they are not getting a fair return on their gifts and so resent it.

    Why not start to discuss how we can better cooperate and share and pay taxes so that we feel good about paying them because we see they are fair. Most of the things I am suggesting in previous comments have come from thinking about how we make our community transactions fair so that we get pleasure from sharing.

    For example in order to reform taxes I would suggest that we do a lot more hypothecation of taxes and go even further and let the person paying the tax have a say in how it is spent. Simply paying a tax gives me little pleasure because I do not trust the people receiving it to spend it wisely. Paying a tax or levy where I have a say in how the money I pay is spent and also get a direct benefit from it while sharing in the benefit with others makes a lot more sense from our evolutionary history.

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