Eliot Spitzer's Outrageous Attack on Libertarianism

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"Eliot Spitzer is out with a new book, Government's Place in the Market.

It's a tiny book, only 83 pages and Spitzer writes only 59 of the pages. The remaining pages are critiques of Spitzer's comments by Dean Baker and Robert Johnson. The book does need critiquing.

Spitzer's commentary is simply not in touch with reality. On the first page of the introduction, Spitzer writes that we have forgotten what we had learned from the crisis. What did we forget?

...in the immediate aftermath of the bankruptcy of the entire financial system, there was a consensus that the libertarianism that had dominated Washington for 30 years was an abject failure. (p.4)

Say what? Thirty years of libertarianism? A period when the United States central bank, the Federal Reserve, boosted the money supply from $1.6 trillion to $7.7 trillion. A period during which it became near impossible to start a brokerage firm to compete against the banksters, without spending literally millions to pass through all the regulatory hurdles. A period during which government attempts to regulate every nook and cranny of our lives exploded. This Spitzer tells us was a period of libertarianism

http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2011/07/eliot-spitzers-outrageous-a...

LysanderSpooner's picture
LysanderSpooner
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Comments

First, any "attack" on Libertarianism is not outrageous; it is logical.

Second, during this time period you also have massive deregulation of markets, a virtual abolition of any common sense tarrif system, and massive tax cuts followed by defunding of essential governmental functions. There were contradictory gestures during this time and some of them were Libertarian in nature.

ah2
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Dec. 13, 2010 10:00 pm

Libertarianism is nothing more the the philosophy of 'survival of the fittest'. In economic terms it espouses unfettered capitalism. In otherwords Libertarianism speaks to our baser and more animalistic instincts. Peace

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ymhotep
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Jul. 8, 2011 11:27 am

Well, yes and no. Libertarianism espouses personal liberty. That's something I agree with. However, it also esouses personal liberty even when it.has destructive social consequences. Something I disagree with.

Personal liberty to amass enormous concentrations of wealth is a part of that. It becomes economically and socially destructive..It's the concenrtations of economic power that have us where we are today. Those concentrations have the economic clout to direct government to serve their own interests.

Whenever conentrations of economic power .are encourged, government ultitmaely gets captured by it. When in history has this not been so?

I find it interesting that early libertarian thinkers didn't accept the idea that a living could be earned with capital, Wall Street and finance. It was seen as being predatory.That's pretty contrary to current libertarian thinking..

Retired Monk -"Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote ah2:

Second, during this time period you also have massive deregulation of markets, a virtual abolition of any common sense tarrif system, and massive tax cuts followed by defunding of essential governmental functions. There were contradictory gestures during this time and some of them were Libertarian in nature.

Examples of massive deregulation of markets, please? Has the Federal Register gotten bigger or smaller every year? Define "a common sense tariff system".

Are the EPA, OSHA, ADA, etc. examples of regulation or a free market?

LysanderSpooner's picture
LysanderSpooner
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote polycarp2:

Well, yes and no. Libertarianism espouses personal liberty. That's something I agree with. However, it also esouses personal liberty even when it.has destructive social consequences. Something I disagree with.

So, you are for individual liberty when the results are to your liking? If they are not, then you have the moral authority to use force to stop them?

Quote polycarp2:

Personal liberty to amass enormous concentrations of wealth is a part of that. It becomes economically and socially destructive..It's the concenrtations of economic power that have us where we are today. Those concentrations have the economic clout to direct government to serve their own interests.

Concentrations of wealth are dangerous to liberty but only if that wealth is used to get the government to violate people's rights. Libertarians would argue that concentrations of wealth are the result of big government. We object to this but we don't object to someone getting wealthy by serving their customers well.

Quote polycarp2:

Whenever conentrations of economic power .are encourged, government ultitmaely gets captured by it. When in history has this not been so?

Agreed. This is exactly why libertarians argue for the minimization or elimination of government.

Quote polycarp2:

I find it interesting that early libertarian thinkers didn't accept the idea that a living could be earned with capital, Wall Street and finance. It was seen as being predatory.That's pretty contrary to current libertarian thinking..

Retired Monk -"Ideology is a disease"

You must be referring to beltway libertarians or other statists who call themselves libertarians.

See Rothbard's Wall,Street, Banks and American Foreign Policy. http://mises.org/books/wall_street_banks_rothbard.pdf

Incidentally, Rothbard, who was an anarcho-capitalist, was greatly influenced by early libertarian thinkers like Benjamin Tucker and Lysander Spooner.

Here's the Table of Contents. Hardly, the type of libertarianism that you mischaracterize on this message board.

Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy

J. P. Morgan

An Aggressive Asian Policy

Teddy Roosevelt and the “Lone Nut”

Morgan, Wilson, and War

The Fortuitous Fed

The Round Table

The CFR

Rockefeller, Morgan, and War

The Guatemalan Coup

JFK and the Establishment

LBJ and the Power Elite

Henry A. Kissinger

The Trilateral Commission

Bibliography

Index

LysanderSpooner's picture
LysanderSpooner
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote ymhotep:

Libertarianism is nothing more the the philosophy of 'survival of the fittest'. In economic terms it espouses unfettered capitalism. In otherwords Libertarianism speaks to our baser and more animalistic instincts. Peace

Define your terms please. What is unfettered capitalism? What are animalistic instincts? Why is libertarianism the philosophy of "survival of the fittest"?

LysanderSpooner's picture
LysanderSpooner
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Well, technically we havent had 30 years of libertarianism since you cant have any years of something which is deeply contradictory and impossible and cannot and will not exist.

Now we have moved in a particular direction over the last 30 years and continue to do so today, and that is one of deregulation, free trade and low taxes.

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Dr Mario Kart
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote Dr Mario Kart:

Well, technically we havent had 30 years of libertarianism since you cant have any years of something which is deeply contradictory and impossible and cannot and will not exist.

Now we have moved in a particular direction over the last 30 years and continue to do so today, and that is one of deregulation, free trade and low taxes.

Can you give me examples of how taxes are lower and regulation is less than 30 years ago? Free trade is more of a loaded term. To me, it means that I should not be prevented from buying goods from anywhere that I want. I know that there is still an economic embargo on Cuba, which I oppose.

LysanderSpooner's picture
LysanderSpooner
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

As a percentage of GDP taxes paid are at the lowest level since Harry Truman was President. The deregulation of Wall Street, and banking and the insurance industry would be another example. If you disagree, can we repeal the bills that replaced Glass-Steagall?

As for Cuba being proof that we have no free trade, Cuba is a very small country. What is the tariff that the US imposes on imports today? Where were the tariffs in 1980, or 1960?

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Phaedrus76
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Sep. 14, 2010 8:21 pm

The problem with libertarianism is that it deems it "coercive" to have people pay taxes to support the common infrastructure. The roads, the water, the electricity, etc. when they are built and maintained by the government. Libertarians gladly use roads made with government resources and then complain when they have to pay taxes for it.

Another problem is with "externalities" where first/second party exchanges or transactions inflict harm on unparticipating third parties. I believe that a government is a good thing when it comes to maintaining infrastructure and using regulations to prevent third party externalities.

micahjr34
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Feb. 7, 2011 4:57 pm

Libertarians have forgotten their roots.

Benjamin Tucker: "the fact that one class of men are dependent for their living upon the sale of their labour, while another class of men are relieved of the necessity of labour by being legally privileged to sell something that is not labour. . . . And to such a state of things I am as much opposed as any one. But the minute you remove privilege. . . every man will be a labourer exchanging with fellow-labourers

He argued, "strikes, whenever and wherever inaugurated, deserve encouragement from all the friends of labour. . . They show that people are beginning to know their rights, and knowing, dare to maintain them." [20] and furthermore, "as an awakening agent, as an agitating force, the beneficent influence of a strike is immeasurable. . . with our present economic system almost every strike is just. For what is justice in production and distribution? That labour, which creates all, shall have all." [21] Tucker envisioned an individualist anarchist society as "each man reaping the fruits of his labour and no man able to live in idleness on an income from capital..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Tucker

Lysander Spooner became a member of the socialist First International

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysander_Spooner

Libertarians have forgotten their roots.

Retired Monk - "ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

If you're an Anarchist then say that you are an Ararchist. Don't claim to be a Socialist or a Libertarian or whatever. Peace

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ymhotep
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Jul. 8, 2011 11:27 am

Spooner was a little weak on economics but nobody's perfect. Just because he and Tucker may have opposed certain things does not mean that they favored the State getting involved. This libertarian has not forgotten his roots. You need to stop listening to some people who claim to be libertarians or who are given the libertarian label by the media.

Lysander Spooner (From No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority): "The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: “Your money, or your life.” And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat.

The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place, spring upon him from the roadside, and, holding a pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is none the less a robbery on that account; and it is far more dastardly and shameful.

The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a robber. He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a “protector,” and that he takes men’s money against their will, merely to enable him to “protect” those infatuated travellers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection. He is too sensible a man to make such professions as these. Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do. He does not persist in following you on the road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful “sovereign,” on account of the “protection” he affords you. He does not keep “protecting” you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands. He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villainies as these. In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave"

"A man is no less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years."

"To say, as the advocates of our government do, that a man must give up some of his natural rights, to a government, in order to have the rest of them protected the government being all the while the sole and irresponsible judge as to what rights he does give up, and what he retains, and what are to be protected is to say that he gives up all the rights that the government chooses, at any time, to assume that he has given up; and that he retains none, and is to be protected in none, except such as the government shall, at all times, see fit to protect, and to permit him to retain. This is to suppose that he has retained no rights at all, that he can, at any time, claim as his own, as against the government. It is to say that he has really given up every right, and reserved none. . . .

It is especially noticeable that those persons, who are so impatient to protect other men in their rights that they cannot wait until they are requested to do so, have a somewhat inveterate habit of killing all who do not voluntarily accept their protection; or do not consent to give up to them all their rights in exchange for it.

If A were to go to B, a merchant, and say to him, "Sir, I am a night-watchman, and I insist upon your employing me as such in protecting your property against burglars; and to enable me to do so more effectually, I insist upon your letting me tie your own hands and feet, so that you cannot interfere with me; and also upon your delivering up to me all your keys to your store, your safe, and to all your valuables; and that you authorize me to act solely and fully according to my own will, pleasure, and discretion in the matter; and I demand still further, that you shall give me an absolute guaranty that you will not hold me to any accountability whatever for anything I may do, or for anything that may happen to your goods while they are under my protection; and unless you comply with this proposal, I will now kill you on the spot," if A were to say all this to B, B would naturally conclude that A himself was the most impudent and dangerous burglar that he (B) had to fear; and that if he (B) wished to secure his property against burglars, his best way would be to kill A in the first place, and then take his chances against all such other burglars as might come afterwards.

Our government constantly acts the part that is here supposed to be acted by A. And it is just as impudent a scoundrel as A is here supposed to be. It insists that every man shall give up all his rights unreservedly into its custody, and then hold it wholly irresponsible for any disposal it may make of them. And it gives him no alternative but death.

If by putting a bayonet to a man's breast, and giving him his choice, to die, or be "protected in his rights," it secures his consent to the latter alternative, it then proclaims itself a free government, a government resting on consent!

LysanderSpooner's picture
LysanderSpooner
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The flaw with your analogy is two fold.

The first is that there is a third way this could go: The person being robbed can leave and go somewhere else.

The second is that the person with the bayonet could give the person with no bayonet one of their own bayonets, and say: "If I have a right to rob you, maybe you have the right to rob me... or perhaps we can negotiate this out." What this flaw suggests is that the person sticking the bayonet is not a tyrant or despot, and sets up "checks and balances of power."

micahjr34
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Feb. 7, 2011 4:57 pm

One more thing: Governments are formed to make for collective protection. Perhaps the person who is having the bayonet stuck into them is using the common resources while not paying for it through taxes.

micahjr34
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Feb. 7, 2011 4:57 pm

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