Thursday, January 5, 2012

Krugman: Economic efficiency makes us poorer

Several years ago, I wrote that Paul Krugman really is not an economist, but rather is a political operative, and he has done his level best since then to prove my point. He does it again in his latest column.

According to Krugman's writings on the subject of employment, he begins with jobs first, or, to be more specific, the number of jobs. To Krugman, there is no difference in jobs, economically speaking, if they are created because Apple expands its operations or if the government subsidizes a Solyndra. If Apple's expansion meant a thousand extra jobs, but the government payments to Solyndra resulted in 1,100 new (and, obviously, temporary) jobs, Krugman's logic would say that the Solyndra gig would be better for the economy, even if Apple were profitable and Solyndra was hemorrhaging cash.

(As I read Krugman, I get the sense that he agrees with the Left that economic profits really consist of funds "taken from the community" and that lower profits would mean more wealth is being created. Yes, it is convoluted, but Keynesian "economics" is convoluted, folks.)

In attacking Mitt Romney (which is fine with me, given I won't vote for him even if he wins the Republican nomination), Krugman claims that Barack Obama actually has been a net creator of jobs. That's right, Obama is good for the economy even though it is in depression, and has become worse since he took office. Krugman writes:
Americans have jobs now than when Mr. Obama took office. But the president inherited an economy in free fall, and can’t be held responsible for job losses during his first few months, before any of his own policies had time to take effect. So how much of that Obama job loss took place in, say, the first half of 2009?

The answer is: more than all of it. The economy lost 3.1 million jobs between January 2009 and June 2009 and has since gained 1.2 million jobs. That’s not enough, but it’s nothing like Mr. Romney’s portrait of job destruction.

Incidentally, the previous administration’s claims of job growth always started not from Inauguration Day but from August 2003, when Bush-era employment hit its low point. By that standard, Mr. Obama could say that he has created 2.5 million jobs since February 2010.
Now, given that a lot of these "jobs" either have been government jobs or jobs that came through government-subsidized industries, perhaps we should be asking if the Obama administration's policies have made it easier or more difficult for businesses to create new wealth. After all, if you want to create "full employment," it is easy: just tell everyone they only can do agricultural work but cannot use any tools in the process other than your hands. I can assure you that people will be busy, at least until they starve to death, but, hey, they will be employed.

Robert Higgs has some answers, writing:
Private net investment is currently running far below the rate required to sustain a rapid rate of economic growth. Real consumer spending, in contrast, peaked in the fourth quarter of 2007, fell only slightly (about 2.5 percent) to the second quarter of 2009, and by the fourth quarter of 2010 exceeded its previous quarterly peak (by almost 1 percent). Despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth among Keynesian economists and politicians with regard to allegedly inadequate consumption, a collapse of consumption is not to blame for the economy’s anemic recovery to date. However, looking elsewhere for the cause, we find that the economy’s true engine of growth – private business net investment – continues to sputter, running in the most recent quarter at less than a third of its previous peak rate and, for the entire year 2010, at only 40 percent of its rate for the entire year 2007.
Higgs adds:
Investors continue to view the future with major misgivings, owing to the unsettled condition of the government’s future actions with regard to health care, financial regulations, energy regulations, taxation, and other matters that have serious implications for business costs and the security of private property rights in business capital and its returns. Although ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank bill have already been enacted, these massive statutes leave scores of important details awaiting determination by administrative agencies and courts whose actions will be fiercely contested at every step. Future tax rates also remain up for grabs in Congress.
Krugman might call it the "Confidence Fairy," but government cannot make up for lost investment and, in fact, bears huge responsibility for the current lag in private investment.

Yes, Obama can throw money at "green energy" and create some temporary jobs and Krugman will claim that this is superior to any kind of economic restructuring that enables entrepreneurs to create more wealth while using fewer resources. In Krugman's mind, such a thing is anathema. Lest one think I am off-base, I believe Krugman exposes that view in this declaration:
At this point, some readers may ask whether it isn’t equally wrong to say that Mr. Romney destroyed jobs. Yes, it is. The real complaint about Mr. Romney and his colleagues isn’t that they destroyed jobs, but that they destroyed good jobs.

When the dust settled after the companies that Bain restructured were downsized — or, as happened all too often, went bankrupt — total U.S. employment was probably about the same as it would have been in any case. But the jobs that were lost paid more and had better benefits than the jobs that replaced them. Mr. Romney and those like him didn’t destroy jobs, but they did enrich themselves while helping to destroy the American middle class.
Paul Krugman demonstrates his utter ignorance at what happens in business restructuring and leveraged buyouts. When a firm like Bain purchases a firm and then sells its assets and makes money in the process, the Krugmans in the academic and political world scream that Bain is DESTROYING JOBS.

However, let us think about this and ask the obvious question: How can Bain do this in the first place? It can do it because when a business is successful, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. However, a failing business is going to find itself in the opposition situation: the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.

For example, would any capital firm try to purchase Apple today and then make money selling off the company's assets? Hardly, as the strength of the company is entrepreneurship, and that is not a commodity that can be bought and sold. Unfortunately, Krugman wants us to believe that Bain and other corporate raiders took perfectly healthy firms and then destroyed them, and that the markets were so twisted and so incapable of seeing that good firms unjustifiably were being taken apart that they stupidly purchased the assets for more than the raiders paid for the entire company.

Krugman never explains how this is possible, but perhaps it is because he simply cannot comprehend the simple aspects of Opportunity Cost. Whatever the reason, he clearly does not even begin to understand how markets work, not to mention the role of the price system. You see, Krugman actually believes that markets DESTROY wealth, but governments create it through vast networks of subsidies and regulations. He never has explained how and why this is so, but perhaps he believes that since he is Paul Krugman, he doesn't have to explain anything. ENTREPRENEURS? We don' need no stinkin' entrepreneurs!

43 comments:

Lord Keynes said...

"That's right, Obama is good for the economy even though it is in depression, and has become worse since he took office"

If your sole measure for declaring depression is high unemployment around 10%, then most of the gold standard 19th century was a depression.

"Despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth among Keynesian economists and politicians with regard to allegedly inadequate consumption, a collapse of consumption is not to blame for the economy’s anemic recovery to date. However, looking elsewhere for the cause, we find that the economy’s true engine of growth – private business net investment "

LOL.. neither you nor Higgs has the slighest understanding of Keynesian economics.

The essence of Keynes's General Theory is to show how private investment is unstable and volatile, owing to subjective expectations, where

GDP = C + I + G + (E-M).

Keynesianism concerns itself with both C and I, and I is in many ways more important than C.

William L. Anderson said...

Robert Higgs does not have "the slighest understanding of Keynesian economics." Yeah, right. Here is someone who has been teaching economics for several decades and is well-published.

I think you meant "animal spirits," LK, not "subjective expectations." And I am quite aware of Keynes, private investment, and the role of the Keynesian "multiplier," which is equal to 1/savings rate.

Under the multiplier, which is tied to investment, the less one saves and invests, the wealthier we become. Why? Because Keynes said so. As for capital investment, well, the government can do that.

I also need to address what you said about Mises. You quoted him, but did not add the next statement he made which put the first quote into context. In other words, you deliberately tried to mislead us into thinking Mises supported Hitler.

dchamil said...

Professor A., surely you're not going to vote for Obama, are you? Why not tell us who you're going to vote for and why?

William L. Anderson said...

I support Ron Paul. In fact, I even registered to vote as a Republican so I can vote for him in the Maryland primary this year. (After that, I change my registration back to independent.)

American Patriot said...

LK:

"Keynesianism concerns itself with both C and I, and I is in many ways more important than C."

The problem is that you guys believe in I made by government, not the free markets based on its merits.

Professor:

You have got to be kidding me. You mean you would rather not vote and Obama have another 4 years to circumvent the U.S. Constitution than vote for the RINO?
Come on. You have better sense than that.
We all know that Paul has as much chance to be elected the President as does David Duke. Not because he is anything like Duke, but it is simply unrealistic in that his econ views are against those held by a majority of this country and his other views can only be described as strange by not only the progressives but social conservatives.
I am afraid, the best we can do is someone like Rep. Paul Ryan that would appeal to the masses.

Lord Keynes said...

"In other words, you deliberately tried to mislead us into thinking Mises supported Hitler. "

(1) LOL.. I did no such thing. I merely demonstrated that 2 can play the game of ad hominem abuse: in your last post, I raised the issue of the reflexive Austrian use of Hayekian ABCT, which is based on neoclassical general equilibrium theorizing and a non-existent unique natural rate of interest.

In response to that, your childish comment was an ad hominem fallacy agianst Keynes.

And I'm well aware that quote refers to Italian fascism:

http://socialdemocracy21stcentury.blogspot.com/2010/10/mises-on-fascism-in-1927-embarrassment.html

Anonymous said...

The reason you come off like a crank instead of a reasonable economist who happens to be libertarian, Prof. Anderson, is because you've named your blog after an active economist whose views you happen to oppose. This smacks of envy and animosity, especially since you could have opted for credibility and dignity if you'd been able to control yourself. And while you take pains to suggest you're being objective about all this, you're obviously not content merely to say you disagree with everything Krugman stands for; you actually descend to the level of *delegitimating* him -- the equivalent of telling a self-identified black person they're not really black -- by calling him a "fraud," which (1) is a charge that will never stick and (2) makes you look both obsessive and unethical, since your argument itself uses an ethical straw man in the same way an opportunistic preacher or Tom Metzger follower might. Using those tactics isn't a mode of ideological opposition, it's blackening your own name in the hope of tarnishing someone else's. The desire to *negate* one's peers -- not simply disagree with them -- is the mark of someone who's a off-kilter and vengeful, not an expert a casual reader can respect. One thinks of the talented and misguided Norman Finkelstein, whose considerable scholarly chops are undermined by his myopic hatred of Israeli supporters like Alan Dershowitz -- because of his obsession, he's gone from tenured professor to unemployed scholar who's moved back to his father's house.

Bob Roddis said...

LK again demonstrates that he does not comprehend the basic Austrian concept of economic calculation.
In a comment on his blog, my major point was:

The job of the Keynesian in this debate is to provide evidence that government officials a priori have some type of special knowledge that allows them to plan the lives of the mundanes that the Austrians insist such officials do not and can never have.

Unadulterated market prices provide essential information that is nowhere else to be found (I‘m not a big fan of the term “equilibrium“ as it is somewhat presumptive). As always, LK and the Keynesians simply cannot comprehend this basic idea.

Follow LK’s petulant responses to my comment here:

http://tinyurl.com/755psuk

My first comment regarding that post concerned LK’s mention of David Graeber, a commie who claims in essence that “exchange” began long long ago with informal “debt” transactions. “If you give me a pig’s leg today, I’ll bring you five virgins, a bucket of slop and a hamburger on Tuesday”. Graeber is all excited because these transactions are not “formal” exchanges of alleged money equivalence which somehow refutes the wonders of the market. My point was that these informal transactions were completely consistent with Austrian analysis. That comment also went right over LK’s little head.

Note the comment from “Hank”. If Hank knows how to predict the price structure of the unadulterated free market days, weeks even months before those prices appear, he must be a very rich man and perhaps he can share his secrets.

Anonymous said...

Expecting hyperbole and character assassination, I came to see what your arguments might be and was pleased to read about your background and discern the technical specificity of your exposition. Because of that, and because you expressed yourself well, I stopped to read three of your entries and your piece on P.K. (to which you linked in this particular entry). But you've also revealed the utterly depressing willingness to be hateful and petty -- emotions more conspicuous in your thesis, argument and methods than your tone and evidence. Christopher Isherwood once wrote, "The deeply dishonest are adept at making the relatively honest appear deceitful and hypocritical," and that appears to be what you're about. Yet you yourself could easily be called a hypocrite everyone else took the same line with you that you do with Krugman and here's why: Your disagreements with his conclusions, arguments and analyses cant so inexorably, so reliably toward the right that your charges of bias nearly always apply to you. You yourself are a right-wing libertarian cheerleader and yet I'd never pay you the insult of claiming you were "not a real economist," let alone, a "bought political shill," "a fraud" or an otherwise evil hypocrite. We all live in glass houses, but yours is built on the top of the hill and it's conspicuously transparent.

Anonymous said...

I understand it can be annoying to be overlooked, but why can't you content yourself with saying you disagree with Krugman as he does with Friedman? He manages to voice his displeasure regularly without giving us the impression of a man in a raincoat whispering threats from a pay-phone booth. Also: deeply entrenched conservatives nearly always attempt to use their vociferous post-Iraq disowning of Bush as evidence of objectivity. But the mere fact that you define "the left" in the cartoon-propagandist Fox News manner -- as a term for *centrist democrats* instead of applying it, as the rest of the world does, to Marx and Lenin -- is proof you're swept up in the semantics-destroying orgy of anti-liberal hyperbole. Fact: Obama, Krugman and the rest are not "leftists," they are technically centrists -- yes, to the right of Richard Nixon in terms of social policy -- faced with a republican party that has veered further and further to the extreme right, and wishes to obscure that fact by mutilating the terminology of global politics, shifting the term "far right" to "right" so as to make its adherents appear more mainstream, "right" to "center" to appear to be the pivot point of politics, and "center" to "left" to lend conservative democrats and that vanishing species, the liberal republican, a certain fringe-marginalized craziness, and also reap maximum shrill associations and false hyperbole (use of the word "comrade" when discussing social security, etc.). If you were behaving credibly yourself, you'd simply call Krugman a mere liberal and not a "socialist," state your points of disagreement, offer alternatives to his solutions and have done. Instead, you're actually stalking him -- *despite* your background, *despite* your expertise and *despite* the fact you might have raised valid arguments against his positions and had them taken seriously. Instead, you've let your worst tendencies best you. You've traded in your laurels for a tinfoil hat and, now that I've read you, I really wish you hadn't.

Lord Keynes said...

(2) "I think you meant "animal spirits," LK, not "subjective expectations."

No, I don't. I mean subjective expectations as an idea in modern Post Keynesianism, and in, say, Chapter 12 of the General Theory ("The state on long run expectations") wher eKeyens invokes Knightian uncertainty:

"“It would be foolish, in forming our expectations, to attach great weight to matters which are very uncertain.(1) I .... The state of long-term expectation, upon which our decisions are based, does not solely depend, therefore, on the most probable forecast we can make. It also depends on the confidence with which we make this forecast .... The state of confidence, as they term it, is a matter to which practical men always pay the closest and most anxious attention. …

[footnote]
1. By ‘very uncertain’ I do not mean the same thing as ‘very improbable’…”
(Keynes, J. M. 1936. The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, Macmillan, London. p. 148).

You'd think you would have honesty to admit that most Austrians also think expectations are subjective in this sense, and affect the level of investment (e.g., as Lachmann did, who even praised Keynes's ideas on this issue).

But, no, you're obviously just a irrational ideologue. Whenever Keynes's name is mentioned, you foam at the mouth.

Bob Roddis said...

Whenever Keynes's name is mentioned, you foam at the mouth.

No. Your quote does not say anything other than obvious truims you accuse the Austrians of employing. The Austrian point is that UNADULTERATED FREE MARKET PRICES are the only guide in this lonely cold and heartless universe. And Keynesian policies gum up that information system. You simply refuse to focus on and answer how the predator state has better information a priori than the mundanes who engage in free and volunatary exchange.

American Patriot said...

At the risk of digressing and looking at the bigger picture, does anyone else here think that the Austrians as well as classicists are as different from Keynesians, almost as if they were different species of human animal?

I honestly do not believe that LK and others of his persuasion will ever see things in the same light as Austrians or even classicists. Same is true vice versa. It is an interesting phenomena to me. It is as if logic and reasoning gets thrown out the window. How can an enlightened, educated, and smart person listen to the other POV and never change their mind if what is being presented is facts? A jury does routinely in criminal and civil cases. When economics and political persuasions are concerned, all reason goes out the window. Both sides cannot be right about certain specific issues. It is as if there is a mental block.

Odd, very odd.

Bob Roddis said...

It is as if there is a mental block.

Of course it's all a mental block. That is why there is never a proper response to the basic Austrian concepts. Austrian theory depends upon allowing the mundanes to do their own thing subject to the enforcement of contract and property rights. There is no room for pseudo-intellectual Nazi totalitarian overseers (Keynesians) in such a world.

Keynesians cannot accept the fact that they are what they are, that they are the cause of the present catastrophe, and/or that they would have to give up on their wet dreams of running the rat maze (their view of folks who ain't as smart as they are).

Bob Roddis said...

LK has a video of Keynes biographer Robert Skidelsky on “Lessons from the Crisis” If you couldn’t discern before that Skidelsky is a major league cement-head, you’ll understand after watching the video.

http://tinyurl.com/8y2jk7v

Those who advocate “fiscal policy” could learn a lesson from this cartoon:

http://tinyurl.com/7lwohay

TheRightRadical said...

Oh LK
We know you objections to the foundations of what comprises a civilized society, and freemen. Scribe all you want. You will never be able to escape the fact, that you are nothing more the rambling shill.
For the Government Death Machine.
Just embrace what you are, and spare us the details,and justifications.
Death Maker

Lord Keynes said...

"My first comment regarding that post concerned LK’s mention of David Graeber, a commie who claims in essence that “exchange” began long long ago with informal “debt” transactions. "

LOL...

(1) in point of fact, Graeber is a libertarian socialist, though this fact is irrelevant to the truth of his assertions about the origin of money.

(2) The finding that money-less societies tend to have gift exchange or non-enumerated credit/debt systems rather than significant barter economies is a finding of modern anthropology - Graber just repeats those findings.
Anthropology and history find that money has emerged through means other than barter spot transactions, e.g. by wergild-like systems or even by collectivist planners in temple prodution systems (e.g., ancient Sumeria and Mesopotamia).

(3) "my point was that these informal transactions were completely consistent with Austrian analysis"

Wrong. Looks like you didn't even the read the post properly. The cultish Austrian dogma that money can only emerge by barter spot transactions is garbage. There are other ways it can emerge.

Bob Roddis said...

I thought I said that if exchanges took the form of “debt” transactions (as opposed to spot transactions), that this was consistent with basic Austrian theory (as opposed to someone‘s historical pronouncement). I’ve never claimed as a historical fact that people ALWAYS engaged in spot barter transactions and NEVER in barter “debt” transactions. I’m sure people engaged in both types of transactions. At some point, people realized that gold and silver had utility as stores of value and measures of account. It’s also likely that at various times, predatory states established uniformity of coinage and account throughout their Reichs. So what?

A "libertarian socialist" is a contradiction in terms. It's like saying "pacifist Nazi warmonger".

Fearsome Tycoon said...

Pro tip: Never respond to anyone who starts every post with "LOL."

JG said...

Dear Anonymous,

You are right to point out the petty tone and hyperbole that Anderson trades in. Measured, thoughtful disagreement doesn't draw visitors to your blog. Angry, snarky, petty one-liners apparently do.

P.S.

Anderson, if you like Ron Paul then may I recommend a book called "The Turner Diaries". It sounds like your kind of book.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous. Krugman is no more a socialist than Anderson is a National Socialist.

Bob Roddis said...

All Keynesians are socialists. The purpose of the entire enterprise is to reduce the protections of private property and seize the assets of citizens through the loss of purchasing power so that those assets might be handed off to others, but without the victims realizing what has happened.

Then, of course, there is the proposal for the socialization of investment. That'll work, fer sure. And how could that ever be called "socialism"? Such brilliant and original minds.

The alleged correlation between libertarians and Nazis is so pathetic as to be an automatic victory for us every time it is made.

Anonymous said...

Lord Keynes,

How does a man who wishes to be taken seriously wind up typing out "LOL" in every post?

Is "Lord Keynes" also your chat room persona?

Major_Freedom said...

Bob, Keynesianism is not just and enterprise that reduces the protections of private property and seizes assets of citizens through ONLY loss of purchasing power.

Not sure if you have been following the recent "Debt Debate" on the blogosphere, but Bob Murphy and Nick Rowe have shown that even if the Keynesian socialist technocrats succeed in financing their desired "stimulus" deficits via "voluntary" government debt, the cost of such profligacy will fall on future generations and become a burden for them.

Major_Freedom said...

LK, it is not true that Austrians hold that ONLY spot transactions existed, or that ONLY through spot transactions can money emerge.

Credit or spot are both consistent with Austrian concepts you liar.

It is a priori true that money evolves out of barter, and that includes bartering through spot exchanges or bartering through credit exchanges.

Any government that imposes coinage laws or legal tender laws must do so for previously established barter commodity that makes up the coined commodity in question. Governments cannot impose gold or silver legal tender or coinage laws unless gold or silver were first valued through barter prior, either by the government itself, or those external to the government, and that includes spot barter and credit barter. History can never refute this. If there is a claim to a history that contradicts this, the historian is necessarily in error, the same way one would be in error if they claimed to have found evidence that the law of supply and demand were violated.

That "credit" is a single concept, doesn't mean that single concept like money can arise from credit itself. Credit is not a "good". The things traded on credit are the goods.

If people traded goats for cows on credit, and pelts for copper on credit, after which a government imposes a silver coinage standard that "tallies" such credit transactions, that doesn't mean because money arose out of credit barter, that somehow Austrian concepts are violated. They are in fact consistent. The imposed silver standard is imposed AFTER silver itself is already valued through barter.

Governments cannot impose a silver standard if silver wasn't already valued prior, through barter transactions that include spot and credit, by either those in the government itself or those external to the government. Those in government and those external to the government must have already found silver to be a valuable good that was exchanged previously, either through spot or credit transactions.

You are totally confused.

And saying that Graeber is a "libertarian socialist" is like saying Graeber is a walking contradiction. Contradictions don't exist. Libertarian socialist is just another name for communist, and communism require a violent centralizing mechanism that confiscates all private property for itself "on behalf of society" in order to prevent everyone else from owning their own private property. Since violence advocating Keynesians like you are attackers of private property as well, in your own way, it is not surprising that you would foam at the mouth with lust and greed due to Graeber's assertions.

JG said...

"The alleged correlation between libertarians and Nazis is so pathetic as to be an automatic victory for us every time it is made."

Bull shit. Libertarians are notorious for their tolerance of racists in their midst. Read those newsletters that Ron Paul claims to have not written if need an example of this.

JG said...

"The purpose of the entire enterprise is to reduce the protections of private property and seize the assets of citizens through the loss of purchasing power so that those assets might be handed off to others"

You figured it out, Roddis. 70 years of Keynesian economic theory is nothing more than an elaborate government scam to take you stuff and give it away to undeserving poor people who didn't work as hard as you did.

For all the complaining about class warfare it's usually the libertarian, tea party crowd that loves to frame all discussions as an "us-versus-them" scenario. You people have a bizarre persecution complex and it's not healthy.

Major_Freedom said...

JG:

"Libertarians are notorious for their tolerance of racists in their midst. Read those newsletters that Ron Paul claims to have not written if need an example of this."

Utter garbage. Libertarians do not "tolerate" racism you moron. Libertarianism is antithetical to racism. If one is racist, one cannot be a libertarian. Given one is libertarian, one cannot be racist.

The controversial newsletters were written by James Powell. Ron Paul has disavowed them.

"You figured it out, Roddis. 70 years of Keynesian economic theory is nothing more than an elaborate government scam to take you stuff and give it away to undeserving poor people who didn't work as hard as you did."

Not undeserving poor people. Undeserving people period. Undeserving people who can be poor or wealthy, or anything in between.

Government spending doesn't just go to poor people, and the government doesn't just tax wealthy people, as anyone who doesn't have a hole in their head knows.

"For all the complaining about class warfare it's usually the libertarian, tea party crowd that loves to frame all discussions as an "us-versus-them" scenario."

When A violates the property rights of B, in the name of "stimulus", then yes, it IS IN FACT an "us versus them" scenario. One group is doing to another group that would be considered criminal if the other group did the same thing to the first group.

"You people have a bizarre persecution complex and it's not healthy."

YOU people have a bizarre anti-social parasite complex and THAT'S not healthy. It's healthy to expunge the body of needless parasites like Keynesian inspired governmental activity.

People like you are mentally ill and in need of psychological help. You have the delusion that violence can somehow solve complex social problems that themselves are not consequences of violence.

Major_Freedom said...

JG:

Do you think a racist person would do this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Rv0Z5SNrF4

Scott D said...

Major Freedom:

Thanks for that link. If Dr. Paul had never helped that couple, no one would ever have known it.

JG:

Racism is about irrational hatred and intolerance, the exact opposite of libertarian ideals. Unfortunately, many people hold beliefs that are logically contradictory. You see this with liberals who wish to help the poor but want to raise the minimum wage and outlaw sweatshop labor.

Anonymous:

Obamacare was not "centrist". The flurry of regulations on banking passed in 2009 and 2010 was not "centrist". Centrism strives for both social and economic liberalism, nominally the same goals as libertarianism, but with acceptance of greater state intervention. Left-wing politics does not mean communism. It means a push for egalitarianism, even if it comes a the expense of some loss of economic and possibly even social freedom.

Obamacare was an attempt at greater egalitarianism at the expense of economic freedom. So were the regulations in the banking sector. So are minimum wage laws and affirmative action. Because libertarians reject such measures as unjustified and harmful to both the economy and individual freedom, we often get lumped into the political right. Yeah, the same guys that wanted to go "kick ass" in the middle east and still think that the drug war is a neat idea.

Please.

JG said...

"Racism is about irrational hatred and intolerance, the exact opposite of libertarian ideals."

Racism at its root is a distrust and dislike of 'others'. Libertarianism is a distrust of government that is seen to serve 'others' through taxes it imposes on you. Racist views fit very nicely with Libertarian ideas, which is exactly why racist language keeps turning up in libertarian blogs and newsletters. And this correlation isn't limited to suvivalists and militia extremists.

JG said...

"Do you think a racist person would do this?"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Rv0Z5SNrF4

I think a racist person running for president would definitely produce a video like that to white-wash his past language and behavior.

But just for the sake of argument let's pretend that we believe Paul when he says he had no idea that racist comments were being published under his name for 20 years (emphasis on the word pretend). When those newsletters first surfaced in the 1990's he did not deny them, in fact he defended the comments therein.

http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/12/27/395391/fact-check-ron-paul-personally-defended-racist-newsletters/?mobile=nc

Even if he didn't pen those comments himself his defense of those newsletters speaks volumes about his attitudes about minorities. The man tolerates and defends bigoted language, he attracts bigots to his cause and he only backs away from bigoted speech reluctantly and only when it's politically necessary.

Scott D said...

JG:

"Libertarianism is a distrust of government..."

Yes.

"...that is seen to serve 'others' through taxes it imposes on you."

Convoluted rubbish. Taxes are repugnant not because government uses them to "serve others" but because they are an aggressive confiscation of property.

"Racist views fit very nicely with Libertarian ideas, which is exactly why racist language keeps turning up in libertarian blogs and newsletters."

Libertarians object to the use of force, even if this force is supposedly in support of some social good. For example, if there were a federal law that made it illegal to publish bigoted language, a principled libertarian would oppose it, not because he approved of the language, but because the law abridged people's freedoms.

I think that some racists (and yourself, apparently) do not understand the difference. Libertarians value consistency much more highly than other political factions. That means consistency of beliefs and consistency of actions. I think that we brag about that a bit too much, expecting people to be able to follow our train of thought, but sadly, it is often too much for some people to grasp. Racists who truly understood libertarianism would retreat to their true home in the far, far right.

I'm truly sorry that you aren't able to discern the difference, JG. To try to help you understand, here is an excerpt from the libertarian party platform. Interestingly, it uses some of the same terminology as my statement above.

We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant. Government should not deny or abridge any individual's rights based on sex, wealth, race, color, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference or sexual orientation. Parents, or other guardians, have the right to raise their children according to their own standards and beliefs.

Scott D said...

"I think a racist person running for president would definitely produce a video like that to white-wash his past language and behavior."

The group that produced that video is independent of Ron Paul or his campaign. No doubt his political enemies will claim that it is bogus despite having no basis but their own bias for doing so.

I've seen a lot of criticisms of Ron Paul supporters where the person is essentially saying, "Don't you see this? Are you blind to this racism issue? Why do you keep apologizing for Ron Paul?"

What these people don't realize is how ridiculous it is to (as you try to do above) hold contradictory beliefs in maximum individual freedom and bigotry. Those of us who are well-versed in libertarian thought find it laughable in a way that someone firmly entrenched in the statist camp cannot comprehend.

If you could somehow convince me that a firm belief in maximum freedom and in voluntary trade as the source of human welfare was inherently racist, I would have no choice but to abandon those beliefs. You can't, because the two are in no way related.

Scott D said...

And how about some proof that Ron Paul did not write at least some of the stuff attributed to him?

Exhibit A:

http://reagan-was-a-horrible-president.tumblr.com/post/13391606323/why-ron-pauls-racist-newsletters-matter

To quote from this hit piece:

"Boy, it sure burns me to have a national holiday for that pro-communist philanderer, Martin Luther King. I voted agains this outrage time and time again as a Congressman. What an infamy that Ronald Reagan approved it! We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day."

Exhibit B:

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=h1979-624

As we can see, the voting record proves that he did vote for the creation of the holiday, in contradiction to the claim made in the newsletter. At the very least, it shows that he did not author it. More than that, it shows an agenda very different than the one represented by the racist who wrote that comment.

I think that this opens the door sufficiently to argue that it is likely that Ron Paul neither wrote nor endorsed any of the racist comments.

(Actually, it's a little bit more complicated than that, which certain uninformed or hateful people have tried to spin to their advantage. There was first a vote to suspend the rules to vote on creating the holiday. Paul voted against suspending the rules. I've seen bloggers try to claim this means he opposed the holiday. The bill in that form never became law. The bill was then amended, and the listed vote is the vote to pass the amended bill.)

JG said...

Scott D,

I'm sure the Libertarian charter says wonderful things about tolerance and acceptance but that motto is just as empty and shallow as any corporate mission statement or campaign slogan. The facts on the ground are that the most prominent leader of the Libertarian was publishing racist comments under his name for 20 years and the best defense he could come up with is "I guess someone else wrote it".

Even if that pathetic excuse were true, what does that tell you about the audience for his newsletter? What does that tell you about the attitudes of Libertarians who subscribed to that newsletter? It tells me that Libertarians are no different than other far-right groups when it comes to the subject of race.

JG said...

Scott D,

"What these people don't realize is how ridiculous it is to (as you try to do above) hold contradictory beliefs in maximum individual freedom and bigotry."

Or course people hold contradictory beliefs. Lots of people pick and choose what parts of a political ideology they like and ignore the rest. How else would you explain all those pro-life activists who have no problem with dropping bombs on foreigners. Or all those Christian fundamentalists who insist on the authority of the Bible but then conveniently ignore the part about tithing their incomes.

Libertarians are no different. They rally around the part of the movement that says taxes are bad and they ignore the part about racial tolerance and equality.

Scott D said...

JG:

"The facts on the ground are that the most prominent leader of the Libertarian was publishing racist comments under his name for 20 years and the best defense he could come up with is "I guess someone else wrote it"."

I can see that you aren't really interested in trying to understand the facts. "for 20 years" is false. There were a few articles published around the late 1980s and early 1990s that contain racist remarks, not some ongoing campaign as you suggest. Also, I provided evidence above that Ron Paul is telling the truth.

"How else would you explain all those pro-life activists who have no problem with dropping bombs on foreigners?"

Yes, exactly. Republicans are not consistent in their agenda because it is not based on principles, but on maintaining status quo and tradition. Democrats are supposedly peaceful, but if you look at the record, Democratic presidents are just as likely to prosecute a war as Republicans. A better example would be pro-lifers who kill abortion doctors, but we generally acknowledge that those people are just plain crazy, ideology be damned.

That being said, I don't have a problem with you saying that there are racists in our midst. There are fools everywhere, and I couldn't falsify such a statement even if I wanted to. I had a problem with you saying that "Racist views fit very nicely with Libertarian ideas". They don't, and that is one statement I can falsify.

What you could say is that racists are drawn to revolutionary ideas, and the reason for that is that modern society marginalizes and denigrates them (rightfully so). They hope that a new social order might allow them to prosper once more. More foolishness from the fools.

JG said...

Scott D,

It goes beyond there being a few racists in your midst. There are features of Libertarian ideology that are very attractive to racists, which causes more racists to flock to that banner than they would to other political ideologies.

Spend some time on the Stormfront website (or any other racist blog) and you'll notice frequent condemnation of the federal government as being controlled by Jews and taxation as being a welfare system for blacks. Racists hate the federal government and when they identify another political ideology that justifies their hatred of the government they flock to it. That's what I mean when I say that racist ideas fit so well with Libertarian ideology.

Maybe I should have been more precise in my language. Maybe I should have said that racists are drawn to Libertarianism more than other politial labels. The result being that racist language and worldviews begin to absorb into Libertarian circles just as environmentalists influence Democrats or that Christian fundamentalism influences Republican discourse.

JG said...

Scott D,

Let me develop that last sentence a little more. There is no reference to Jesus or Christianity in the Republican party charter. However, Christians are drawn the GOP and over the years they have had a huge impact on the tone of the conversation that comes out of GOP debates and think tanks.

I believe the same thing has happened with Libertarians. Racists are drawn to the anti-government message of the Libertarian party (for reasons entirely different than genuine Libertarians are). The party itself may be about economics but as more racists flock to the movement they begin to have an effect on the tone of the conversation. The party itself becomes tolerant of bigoted speech among its members and supporters even if it doesn't overtly endorse racism. That's why the newsletter scandal is so telling, it doesn't matter if Ron Paul approved of the articles in question or not. It matters that the readership of the newsletters did not object to those racist statements when they were published. They may not have explicitly endorsed such thoughts but they didn't speak out against them either. Silence in the face of bigotry is tantamount to tacit approval.

Scott D said...

JG,

Since we've moved out of the realm of statements that can be proven or falsified, my experience and observations differ greatly. Racism is dead in philosophical debate whereas religion or environmentalism is not. There is one looming problem with your suggestion that tells me that you don't know libertarians as well as you think.

For better or worse, libertarians are notorious for being factionalized. You have your "beltway" libertarians like Cato, Randians (many who deny the label of libertarian), anarchocapitalists, and left libertarians, to name a few. These groups all have differing opinions on the size, shape and role of government, definition and origin of property rights, abortion, religion, foreign intervention, taxation, corporations, intellectual property and so on. The only concepts that can possibly tie all of these differing groups together (and loosely, at that) are "less government", "more economic freedom" and "more individual freedom".

We've certainly not been seeing the kind of compromise of integrity or ideology that you suggest or we would see a lot more cohesion between these groups. Not to mention how difficult it would be for an anti-intellectual sentiment like racism to take root in all of them at once.

All of this also highlights that you are thinking about this in collectivist terms (or, more disingenuously, that you are allowing your disdain for people who call themselves libertarian to muddle your thinking). There is no reason that an environmentalist cannot identify as libertarian (Tokyo Tom), or a self-professed libertarian cannot support the war in Iraq (as some did, often to their later chagrin and backpedaling). Whether these views are, in turn, accepted by the larger mass of those libertarians is related to your claim. What I see is that the stances most compatible with the non-aggression axiom and respect for property rights are the views that prevail.

In any case, I'm done arguing opinion with you. If you want to believe in a falsehood, I'm certainly not going to change your mind.

JG said...

Scott D,

Libertarians are certainly a diverse group, and perhaps I've painted them with too broad of a brush. But I cannot deny the trend I've noticed developing at the grassroots level of supporters of the most prominement Libertarian in the country, Ron Paul. He's attracting followers who are drawn to his small government message for cruder and more bigoted reasons than the intellectuals at Cato would like to admit. And while I can't quantify or measure the extent to which racist motives contribute to Ron Paul's appeal the fact that he has been reluctant to condemn that element of his supporters tells me that they're a significant enough part of his base that he doesn't want to alienate them by offering and real rebuke to them.

I know you don't want to hear this because you view my criticism as just some leftist attack but I'm not alone in my assessment. You're attracting bigots to your cause and you're tolerating their presence in your ranks. It's clear that you'd rather ignore or deny this trend but if I'm noticing this association then others are as well. The Libertarian brand is being damaged and discredited by association with bigots, if your leaders won't reject them then don't be surprised when the public views you all as bigots.

burkll13 said...

JG - ive been 'in these ranks' for about 6 years or so, in several communities, and i have not experienced what you are speaking of in the slightest, nor would i just keep my mouth shut if i had. that there isnt some movement against 'racist libertarians' isnt because libertarians are accepting of racists, its because it is one of the most insanely idiotic, self defeating, irreconcilable set of ideas you could hold and should be self-evident by anyone who isnt a complete moron. that said, there are morons out there, and of the half dozen or so people that your generalizations actually apply to, all i can say is they can go **** themselves.

but what i really believe you are doing is taking objections to policies like affirmative action, which openly separates and treats people differently based on the most arbitrary criteria imaginable, as being racist, when the exact opposite is true. i believe you are bastardizing the word 'racist'.