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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘libertarianism

[LINK] Edwin Lyngar of Salon on the problems of libertarianism in Honduras

Edwin Lyngar at Salon has written a widely-shared travelogue of how, in his view, his visit to Honduras where a libertarian city-state is set to be established demonstrates the terrible weaknesses of that ideology on the ground.

Is this fair? It could be argued that, given a predatory state, a libertarian hands-off policy might be better. (Might.)

People better than I have analyzed the specific political moves that have created this modern day libertarian dystopia. Mike LaSusa recently wrote a detailed analysis of such, laying out how the bad ideas of libertarian politics have been pursued as government policy.

In America, libertarian ideas are attractive to mostly young, white men with high ideals and no life experience that live off of the previous generation’s investments and sacrifice. I know this because as a young, white idiot, I subscribed to this system of discredited ideas: Selfishness is good, government is bad. Take what you want, when you want and however you can. Poor people deserve what they get, and the smartest, hardworking people always win. So get yours before someone else does. I read the books by Charles Murray and have an autographed copy of Ron Paul’s “The Revolution.” The thread that links all the disparate books and ideas is that they fail in practice. Eliminate all taxes, privatize everything, load a country up with guns and oppose all public expenditures, you end up with Honduras.

In Honduras, the police ride around in pickup trucks with machine guns, but they aren’t there to protect most people. They are scary to locals and travelers alike. For individual protection there’s an army of private, armed security guards who are found in front of not only banks, but also restaurants, ATM machines, grocery stores and at any building that holds anything of value whatsoever. Some guards have uniforms and long guns but just as many are dressed in street clothes with cheap pistols thrust into waistbands. The country has a handful of really rich people, a small group of middle-class, some security guards who seem to be getting by and a massive group of people who are starving to death and living in slums. You can see the evidence of previous decades of infrastructure investment in roads and bridges, but it’s all in slow-motion decay.

I took a van trip across the country, starting in Copan (where there are must-see Mayan ruins), across to the Caribbean Sea to a ferry that took my family to Roatan Island. The trip from Copan to the coast took a full six hours, and we had two flat tires. The word “treacherous” is inadequate—a better description is “post-apocalyptic.” We did not see one speed limit sign in hundreds of kilometers. Not one. People drive around each other on the right and left and in every manner possible. The road was clogged with horses, scooters and bicycles. People traveled in every conceivable manner along the crumbling arterial. Few cars have license plates, and one taxi driver told me that the private company responsible for making them went bankrupt. Instead of traffic stops, there are military check points every so often. The roads seemed more dangerous to me than the gang violence.

The greatest examples of libertarianism in action are the hundreds of men, women and children standing alongside the roads all over Honduras. The government won’t fix the roads, so these desperate entrepreneurs fill in potholes with shovels of dirt or debris. They then stand next to the filled-in pothole soliciting tips from grateful motorists. That is the wet dream of libertarian private sector innovation.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 2, 2015 at 10:13 pm

[ISL] “‘Seasteaders’ gather in San Francisco to develop ocean cities”

Seasteading is a concept developed by libertarians who detest the monopolization of the Earth’s habitable land space by states, so preventing the formation of libertarian stateless societies. Going to the ocean, the theory holds, and building artificial islands free of any terrestrial sovereignty is the solution necessary for libertarianism’s realization. Matt O’Brien’s Mercury News article provides his readers with a look at a recent conference held by the movement in San Francisco.

Colonizing the oceans to free human progress from the choking grasp of regulation has drawn a wealthy group of futurists, engineers, maritime lawyers and libertarians to San Francisco this weekend.

“We’ve run out of frontier. All land is claimed. And our revolutions have become superficial,” said Patri Friedman, who cofounded The Seasteading Institute four years ago with billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel.

They envision a floating city movement whose most immediate step is to launch a “visa-free” ship by 2014 to house and employ high-tech workers in international waters 12 miles off the Peninsula.

Next might be a medical tourism ship in a refurbished, $8 million casino ship recently donated to the institute, said Friedman, a Berkeley resident and grandson of the late libertarian economist Milton Friedman.

But those are just pioneer projects for “seasteaders” who want to populate the high seas with autonomous city-states that compete for the world’s residents by creating the best governments.

“We could let a thousand experiments like Hong Kong bloom,” Friedman said. “Politics can be like shopping for a country.”

Written by Randy McDonald

June 4, 2012 at 3:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • At Crasstalk, LaZiguezon posts pictures of five remarkable abandoned places: a Portuguese-built stadium in Angola left after independence, an island of broken dolls. and more.
  • Daniel Drezner notes that a Republican Congressman, Eric Cantor, went on the record as stating that the United States government should do nothing that would upset Israel. That makes Israel singular in that respect.
  • Eastern approaches notes that things are getting worse in Lukashenko’s Belarus, and that the current round of European Union sanctions may only have the effect of pushing the country into a tighter relationship with Russia.
  • At A Fistful of Euros, Edward Hugh makes the point that hidden debts and unacknowledged financial liabilities make Spain’s position far more awkward and dangerous than commonly assumed.
  • The Global Sociology Blog reviews Paul Mason’s new book Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere – The New Global Revolutions, which makes the claim that the mass protests and revolutions of the past couple of years are product of the conjunction between disastrous globalization and the technological enablement of large cohorts of educated young people.
  • At Registan, Michael Hancock-Parmer makes a brief post commenting on the similarities–phonetic and otherwise–between the Kazakhs and the Cossacks.
  • Towleroad notes Germany’s defense of its foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, from Belarus’ Lukashenko after the man public statement that it was better to be a dictator that to be gay.
  • At the Volokh Conspiracy, Ilya Somin describes the major perspectives of libertarians on the United States’ Civil War, covering everything from libertarian supporters of the Union who think the war was the best way of freeing the slaves to full-out supporters of the Confederacy who forget that blacks count as people.

[LINK] Some Yorkshire Ranter links

I’ve neglected this perennially insightful and provocative blog shamefully. Let me make up for it.

  • Libertarianism is criticized on the grounds that its basic principles are mistaken: the state is not completely illegitimate, but actually can be quite functional and legitimate.
  • He doesn’t like geoengineering on the grounds that it introduces more variable into an already erratic global climate system.
  • Are many Republicans driven by the fear of external disapproval?
  • Ever want to engage in social networking while you’re isolated? Like in an isolation tank?

Written by Randy McDonald

November 6, 2009 at 3:35 pm

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