Friday, 14 August 2009

Link of the Day: ‘Liberaltarianism’ Debate

Primary version of this post, with visual content, at Barry Stocker's Weblog. Angry Crazy People, with Mark Kleiman and Brink Lindsey.

The title of this webcast is rather misleading. It refers to just one segment of the discussion, where Kleiman and Lindsey compare right-wingers who think Obama was born outside the USA, and disrupt town hall meetings on health policy, with left-wingers who think Bush organised the 9/11 attacks. It turns out that Angry Crazy Right-wing people are concentrated among southern whites, suggesting there is a racial component but it would be wrong to say that is the only component.

Lindsey is a libertarian, who invented the idea of ‘liberaltarians’ in a 2006 essay for the left leaning magazine The New Republic, and now available at the libertarian (leaning to libertarian-conservative fusionism) Cato Institute website. Lindsey was arguing, and still argues that libertarians and liberals, in the American post New Deal social democratic sense, can find common cause around the renewal of liberalism in its original meaning. Lindsey argues in the webcast, and elsewhere, that libertarians should give up on a state that only forces contracts and property rights, accepting a broader notion of public goods including some welfarism ; (left-)liberals should accept a smaller more efficient state to deliver those goods, in a more individualistic spirit.

As is pointed out in the webcast, this has not become a big movement, but as Lindsey points out, there’s big group of fiscal conservatives-social liberals in the middle ground of American politics who could open to ‘liberaltarianism’, As Lindsay concedes, fiscal conservatism is pursued by social conservatives in the Republican Party, while social liberalism is pursued by statists in the Democratic Party, squeezing out a possible fiscal conservative-social liberal liberaltarian movement.

Kleiman is one o Lindsey’s (left-)liberal interlocutors, open to market based solutions to social problems. He is a public policy academic at UCLA and Harvard, with many links to the world of politics.

They debate copyright and intellectual property in the light of file sharing of music; carbon tax and cap and trade in relation to global warning; liberalising regulation of legal, and illegal drugs, while taxing them more; the public choice part of Obama’s health policy proposals; financing of Medicare (public federal health care for the retired).

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