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Why Are Libertarians So Danged Libertarian?

Balloon Juice‘s DougJ is angry that institutional libertarianism — and specifically “Reason magazine, Megan McArdle, and the CATO Institute” — isn’t more angry about corporate excess.   He challenges readers:  “Go peruse Reason magazine and see if you can find a single article about corporate abuse of power.”

This strikes me as a strange criticism.  It’s like demanding to know why NARAL doesn’t spend more time advocating for the plight of stray cats or why PETA doesn’t seem to care about the homeless.

Libertarianism, by any definition, is concerned about intrusion on individual liberty by the government.  See, for example, the introductory paragraph for Wikipedia’s entry on Libertarianism.

Libertarianism is the advocacy of individual liberty, especially freedom of thought and action.[1] Philosopher Roderick T. Long defines libertarianism as “any political position that advocates a radical redistribution of power [either “total or merely substantial”] from the coercive state to voluntary associations of free individuals”, whether “voluntary association” takes the form of the free market or of communal co-operatives.[2] David Boaz, libertarian writer and vice president of the Cato Institute, writes that, “Libertarianism is the view that each person has the right to live his life in any way he chooses so long as he respects the equal rights of others” and that, “Libertarians defend each person’s right to life, liberty, and property–rights that people have naturally, before governments are created.”[3]

Now, like Doug’s co-blogger Erik Kain, I’ve got libertarian instincts but am by no means a big-L libertarian.  There are times when I think government action is useful when the gang at Reason, CATO, and even the lovely and talented McMegan would beg to differ.  And I actually worry about, and from time to time write about, corporate power and its abuses.  But that’s not the agenda of big-L libertarians, let alone house organs for the movement.

In fairness to Doug, in an earlier post on the subject,  he more-or-less recognizes all of the above but implies that what’s really happening is that libertarians are just doing the bidding of their corporate overlords:

Philosophically, libertarianism is about the rights of the individual. But in its current incarnation, it is just as often about the rights of corporations.

This is why libertarianism has no relevance in modern American politics. There are undoubtedly places in the world where governments have absolute power and corporations have very little. But this isn’t one of them.

While Doug and I would doubtless differ where the lines are drawn,  we agree that there is a role for governmental intervention to protect individuals against corporations.  For example, even Adam Smith recognized the need for state action to guard against the tendency of businessmen to collude to fix prices.   And it’s rather obvious to anyone who studies the matter that a good deal of regulation of business is actually done at the behest of industry rather than the best interests of consumers.

But, again, libertarians see the state as the chief problem.  Regulations intended to help individuals  actually hurt them by constraining choice and yielding unintended consequences.    Minimum wage laws help ensure that, on aggregate, people can earn a “living wage.”  But, at the micro level, a job that pays $2 an hour is better than no job if you’re homeless.  Or a teenager trying to make some spending money.  Social Security has helped keep our oldest citizens out of poverty. But being forced to save for a retirement you may not live to see means less money to invest in your shorter term future.  Pick a government program intended to protect the little guy from Big Business and there’s a libertarian argument for why it’s done more harm than good.

Too often, big-L libertarianism and Institutional Libertarianism winds up being the equivalent of a political theory seminar, ignoring larger social realities.   In that sense, Doug’s right that it has little relevance in practical politics.   But, for reasons that Ross Douthat outlines, small-l libertarianism — and even the philosophizing of the Reasonoids — can be a useful counterpoint to the arguments of mainstream Progressive and Conservative thinking and help move the debate.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. “But in its current incarnation, it is just as often about the rights of corporations.”

    As a libertarian, I actually think this is half true. There are many libertarians-such as Kevin Carson, or Roderick Long (the same one quoted in the wiki above) who regard the Cato, reason, Adam Smith Institute, etc side of the movement as “Vulgar libertarians”- and I think Doug is very close to hitting on the reason why.

    Modern “right” libertarianism does not consider the fundamental State intrusions that create the Wal-Marts, Tescos and Microsofts of the world; instead of critiquing the Statist policies that force the market to become oligopolistic, and thus create corporate structures as hierarchical and bureaucratic as any government agency, they have a tendency to view the current economy as basically just, bar a few annoying health and safety regulations and what have you. But take these away, and suddenly, the corporate structures created by the State will be hunky-dory.

    It’s a bit like a thief snatching every handbag he can, before suddenly declaring “Ok, no more thieving, as of now!” and expecting the rest to be happy about it.

    To go back to Prof Long, he not long ago wrote about a concept he called “Right conflationism”:
    “Right-conflationism is the error of treating the virtues of a freed market as though they constituted a justification of the evils of existing corporatist capitalism.”* It is this fallacy that modern “right” libertarians, the type Doug is criticizing, fall into. The Libertarian movement as a whole- and I mean that right the way through from Chomsky to Rothbard, with everyone in between- need to take more seriously the quite unlibertarian basis of our economy. Nothing in that means giving up free market principles- quite the opposite, in fact.

    *See here: http://aaeblog.com/2010/12/26/how-to-do-things-with-words/

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  2. sam says:

    I think they’re mainly pissed over there because the libertarians have been silent about the banks screwing people vis-a-vis foreclosures ( see, Yves Smith, Mass Supreme Court Rules Against Wells Fargo, Deutsche Case on Validity of Mortgage Transfers in Securitizations).

    “Too often, big-L libertarianism and Institutional Libertarianism winds up being the equivalent of a political theory seminar, ignoring larger social realities.”

    True dat. My take on big-L libertarianism is that it’s easy and the refuge of the intellectually lazy. And the arrested adolescent. And before anyone mentions Nozick, let me say that one page of Nozick contains more carefully argued positions than the entire output of Reason Magazine in one year. I’d certainly never confuse him with the current crop.

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  3. Han Solo says:

    You do realize that ‘corporations’ are created and given their powers by THE government correct?

    Only someone who has no idea what libertairianism is about thinks that it is for wild uncontrolled business and evil mega-corporations run wild. This is a common misguided opinion people have of libertarians, that libertarianism means business (corporations really) run wild

    The reality is that its the democrats really have the most to gain by having an economy dominated by mega corporations. Most libertarians don’t believe in faceless liability limited mega evil corporations but instead all business would be directly owned and the owners would be responsible for the actions of their business.

    The big secret is that big government likes big corporations. They are easy to control to their whims through threats and coorecion than lots of smaller businesses who are free to do as they please.

    FA Hayek predicted right after ww2 the more planned and government controlled the economy got the more it would be dominated be large mega corporations and he has been proven by history to be 100pct correct.

    The first step in Marxism is to CENTRALIZE the means of production in fewer easy to control entities. Democrats might complain about big corporations but the real truth is that they LOVE them.

    So, the answer to this question REALLY is… There would be no such thing as the corporation like you know them today in a libertarian ‘world’. There would be some monopolies but without all the special protections granted by government today they would be totally supceptible to market forces and not a problem.

    You need to check if you should believe those who feed you the ‘evil big corporations’ propaganda. Chances are those people(democrat socialists) are the ones who really gain from them.

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  4. sam says:

    “There would be no such thing as the corporation like you know them today in a libertarian ‘world’. There would be some monopolies but without all the special protections granted by government today they would be totally supceptible to market forces and not a problem.”

    Like I said, libertarianism is easy.

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  5. Steve Verdon says:

    “Right-conflationism is the error of treating the virtues of a freed market as though they constituted a justification of the evils of existing corporatist capitalism.”* It is this fallacy that modern “right” libertarians, the type Doug is criticizing, fall into. The Libertarian movement as a whole- and I mean that right the way through from Chomsky to Rothbard, with everyone in between- need to take more seriously the quite unlibertarian basis of our economy. Nothing in that means giving up free market principles- quite the opposite, in fact.

    Interesting point, the problem I have with the above is that corporations usually don’t have much power, except in very rare circumstances, without the backing of government power. Note he used the phrase corporatist capitalism. Corporatism is where the government makes decisions/implements policies that benefit corporations, usually large ones. Lets think….hmmm like government bailouts for financial firms? Gee, many libertarians were opposed to them, but many Republicans and Democrats were not. How about the current health care retrenchment and expansion…err sorry reform? That will help to further entrench our current system which I’m sure many of the large insurance companies will find is just wonderful in the end. Again, many libertarians opposed that too.

    A market transaction is a voluntary transaction, as such the idea that one side is abusing the other, aside from fraud, is kind of hard to take seriously. The exceptions are monopoly, monopsony, and other forms of less than competitive markets (e.g. a collusive oligopoly), but in many cases these kinds of markets emerge when there is government power at work as well. Natural monopolies have rather tough conditions to meet. Even a firm that has a large market share and is practicing limit entry pricing will still not be able to take much advantage of its dominant position in the market. That is it always has to worry about potential entrants so it has to keep its prices low…to limit entry.

    If the issue of wealth/money is going to have a negative impact on our liberties most likely it will be because of the nexus of money, politics and activist/discretionary government. A large incumbent firm will see it in its own self interest to say…impose costly environmental regulations on a smaller less well financed new competitor. Or to beef up existing intellectual property laws to make it harder to compete. Firms don’t like competition, it makes it harder to turn a profit. To the extent that they can limit competition via the political process the better for them. But that in itself is a limitation on the liberty of others. If it becomes harder and harder for you to start a business, your liberties have been curtailed.

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  6. tom p says:

    >>>Interesting point, the problem I have with the above is that corporations usually don’t have much power, except in very rare circumstances, without the backing of government power. Note he used the phrase corporatist capitalism. Corporatism is where the government makes decisions/implements policies that benefit corporations, usually large ones. Lets think….hmmm like government bailouts for financial firms?<<>>”A large incumbent firm will see it in its own self interest to say…impose costly environmental regulations on a smaller less well financed new competitor. “<<<

    Like Big Coal? Big Oil? Steve, I don't even know where you are coming from with this… This is the one example that argues against what you said above. Somebody fights back, they get a segment of the gov't to tell the corporatists, "No, you have to account for what you do to the environment." And you rail against cap and trade because it will favor…. a small bussiness making wind mills? You are against a "carbon tax" because…. big coal and big oil say it will harm the energy start ups making solar panels????

    No, they don't say that. What they say is it will harm the existing industries (coal, oil)…

    <<>>

    I don’t even have to go that far for corporations to curtail my liberties, I only have to go to the next election.

    ps: Here is the problem I have with Libertarians: They act as tho economic freedom is the SOLE measure of liberty. While it is one measure, it is NOT the only one: What about my freedom to breath clean air? Drink pure water? Sow crops on unpoisoned land? Ad infinitem…

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  7. tom p says:

    Don’t know what is up with comments tonight, but here is my 2nd attempt:

    >>>Interesting point, the problem I have with the above is that corporations usually don’t have much power, except in very rare circumstances, without the backing of government power. Note he used the phrase corporatist capitalism. Corporatism is where the government makes decisions/implements policies that benefit corporations, usually large ones. Lets think….hmmm like government bailouts for financial firms?<<>>”A large incumbent firm will see it in its own self interest to say…impose costly environmental regulations on a smaller less well financed new competitor. “<<<

    Like Big Coal? Big Oil? Steve, I don't even know where you are coming from with this… This is the one example that argues against what you said above. Somebody fights back, they get a segment of the gov't to tell the corporatists, "No, you have to account for what you do to the environment." And you rail against cap and trade because it will favor…. a small bussiness making wind mills? You are against a "carbon tax" because…. big coal and big oil say it will harm the energy start ups making solar panels????

    No, they don't say that. What they say is it will harm the existing industries (coal, oil)…

    <<>>

    I don’t even have to go that far for corporations to curtail my liberties, I only have to go to the next election.

    ps: Here is the problem I have with Libertarians: They act as tho economic freedom is the SOLE measure of liberty. While it is one measure, it is NOT the only one: What about my freedom to breath clean air? Drink pure water? Sow crops on unpoisoned land? Ad infinitem…

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  8. steve says:

    “Interesting point, the problem I have with the above is that corporations usually don’t have much power, except in very rare circumstances, without the backing of government power.”

    Interesting pont, but monopolies and large corporations have always captured whatever government was available. When government was smaller, they controlled it. When government is larger, they pay for and buy what they want. There is no historical example, that I know of, where monopolies have not used government. While they would prefer to write their own regulations, largely to exclude competition, second best is a lack of regulation. They can then concentrate on local government. If you ever lived in a small company town, you would know this from experience.

    While there is no perfect answer to this problem, concentrating only on government, the current libertarian approach, will leave us with less liberty AND less wealth.

    Steve

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  9. tom p says:

    OK… I give up. It STILL did not all come thru (I hate computers) Doug, If you feel like it, answer to the parts that did come thru and I Will try to elaborate on the parts that did not… Assuming that tomorrow morn my sattellite will work better.

    Wonder if this will….

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  10. DougJ says:

    Interesting. OTOH, Radley Balko said I was an idiot for not seeing how much work libertarians were doing to curb corporate excess.

    If libertarianism is truly only about curbing government — and not corporate excess — then I really am right that it has very little relevance in American politics today as a philosophy.

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  11. Herb says:

    “Too often, big-L libertarianism and Institutional Libertarianism winds up being the equivalent of a political theory seminar, ignoring larger social realities…..small-l libertarianism can be a useful counterpoint to the arguments of mainstream Progressive and Conservative thinking and help move the debate.”

    This seems quite accurate, but I think you’re overstating how “useful” the Big L “counterpoint” is. Conservatives and liberals often hold small-L libertarian positions, but they arrive there by a completely different thought process.

    For example, pick the idea that is unique to Libertarianism:

    A) advocating individual liberty, especially freedom of thought and action
    B) defending each person’s right to life, liberty, and property–rights
    C) that liberty is the only thing that can be legitimately demanded of others as a matter of legal or political right

    Take a poll of all Americans and I suspect you will find broad support for A & B, but very little support for C…except among Libertarians.

    In other words, the things that make Libertarianism unique from liberalism or conservatism are the very things that make Libertarianism unpalatable.

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  12. sam says:

    I also think it’s significant that Will Wilkinson and Brink Lindsey are no longer with Cato. See, David Frum, The Purge at Cato

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  13. Axel Edgren says:

    “even the lovely and talented McMegan would beg to differ. ”

    WHAT THE HELL! She’s a JOKE. A giggling, stupid, simplistic and girly JOKE and an embarrassment to libertarianism and womankind!

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  14. sam says:

    Dana Milbank’s column, Big business is back in business in the Post certainly lends credence to Steve V’s argument (if any more credence needed to be lent).

    But I have a question. Steve wrote:

    corporations usually don’t have much power, except in very rare circumstances, without the backing of government power

    That implies that absent government help, corporations would not grow in size and economic power. That seems counterintuitive. If one reason for the existence of a corporation is to maximize the return to the shareholders, why wouldn’t a corporation do everything it could to grow as big as it could so as to increase its profits? And to use this increased economic power to the detriment of its competitors? Now the argument, I suppose, is the corporation would be held in check by other corporations similarly situated. The corporations would mutually check each other. But here I’m reminded of Adam Smith’s observation that every time two businessmen get together to talk things over, the public gets screwed. Steve writes:

    Firms don’t like competition, it makes it harder to turn a profit. To the extent that they can limit competition via the political process the better for them.

    But why suppose at all that, in the absence of government help, corporations wouldn’t still attempt to limit competition by “getting together to talk things over”? By carving up markets; by agreeing to use their power to crush new entrants; and so on — in short, by doing all the things in the absence of government help that it is said they do now with government help? What is there in history and in human nature that would lead us to deny that all government does is to make it easier for corporations to do what they would do without government?

    If all that’s true, then government is not the real problem, the corporation is the real problem, and by ‘corporation’, I mean, of course, Behemoth, Inc. And as far as I can see, capitalism leads, inevitably, to Behemoth, Inc.

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  15. Ben Wolf says:

    The concept of the corporation has fundamentally changed since the country’s founding. Originally corporate charters were time-limited, and could be revoked via the legislature. Corporations were not permitted to engage in any activities outside the parameters of the charter, could not own stock in another corporation, and in fact could not own any property not directly related to the purposes outlined in the charter.

    Oh, and corporations were also banned from politics.

    Today there are in effect no limits to what activities corporations may engage in, which is why they’ve become so dangerous.

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  16. Steve Verdon says:

    Tom P,

    It would help if you actually…you know…did a wee bit of research. I’m not opposed to a carbon tax. In fact, I’ve been in favor of a gasoline tax vs. a payroll tax for some time now.

    You seem to have fallen into the common internet trap, you think you know my position on various issues and hence go about constructing these elaborate arguments against what you think is true and in the end turns out not to be true at all.

    Like Big Coal? Big Oil? Steve, I don’t even know where you are coming from with this… This is the one example that argues against what you said above. Somebody fights back, they get a segment of the gov’t to tell the corporatists, “No, you have to account for what you do to the environment.”

    Look, I’m not opposed to environmental policy, my problem is that when environmental policy is used for rent seeking it is no longer about improving the environment given that we still want certain products and services, but about improving the bottom line for the rent seeking corporation–i.e. a corporation capturing profits they didn’t earn. It has at least two bad effects:

    1. It hampers business formation and competition, not good at a time when you are say…trying to increase employment now is it.
    2. Those unearned profits they are capturing are coming from consumers. Consumers have to pay more for a product than they would in a competitive market so they have less to spend on other products. Again probably not a good policy.

    Now does that mean we should have no environmental policy? No, only a fool would read that into what I’ve just written.

    That implies that absent government help, corporations would not grow in size and economic power. That seems counterintuitive.

    Not at all, absent government power I’d argue that you’d have more competition. Competitive markets don’t have to lead to larger and larger firms, at least not for long. To get that situation you have to have a cost structure where the bigger a firm gets the cheaper it is to produce. It may be true up to a point, but for most industries decreasing returns kicks in. The basic idea here is that you can’t grow the world’s food supply in a flower pot.

    Consider the standard case everyone likes to point too, Standard Oil owned by John D. Rockefeller. At the time of its break up Standard was in the process of getting smaller. It had lost considerable market share. While it may have had some price setting power, due to entry into its market it had to keep prices low (kerosene prices during the time of Standard Oil dropped considerably, a boon for consumers). Standard was able to get as big as it did via the railroads. It played the railroads against each other getting substantial rebates not only the what it shipped but what competitors shipped. Given the nature of rail transport it made it possibly for Standard to grow big and gobble up competitors. Could it happen today? No, because while we still have rail transport there are other modes as well–trucking.

    If one reason for the existence of a corporation is to maximize the return to the shareholders, why wouldn’t a corporation do everything it could to grow as big as it could so as to increase its profits?

    Because after a certain point costs might start rising faster than revenue meaning a decrease in profits. Firms don’t maximize output they maximize profits.

    Graph

    A monopolist doesn’t make extra profits because it is big it makes extra profits because it has power to set the price.

    But why suppose at all that, in the absence of government help, corporations wouldn’t still attempt to limit competition by “getting together to talk things over”?

    They could, but there is a powerful incentive to cheat on such an agreement, and the more successful such a cartel is at raising prices the greater the incentive to cheat. Further, the more corporations you have the harder it is to monitor cheating.

    By carving up markets; by agreeing to use their power to crush new entrants; and so on — in short, by doing all the things in the absence of government help that it is said they do now with government help?

    It is much harder to do in the scenario you are describing than when there is a strong participant who has a legal monopoly on the use of force. A government would make a wonderful overseer for the type of cartel you are describing, and in fact that was part of Roosevelt’s “solution” to the Great Depression. A free market–i.e. free entry and exit means that cartels becoming considerably harder to maintain.

    DougJ,

    That is because you have a view of the issue that strikes me as simplistic. Lets say we have a large corporation that wants to increase its bottom line. What is the easiest way to do that? Through hard work via innovation and cost reduction or via government fiat making competition harder and harder? For example, a corporation getting a law that immunizes them against faulty products. Is that government, corporations or both? I’d say both. It is much easier and much less likely to result in problems down the road to use the massive and intrusive government that has grown over the past decades to legalize their abuses. Most libertarians I think, would oppose that.

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  17. Alex Knapp says:

    So, the answer to this question REALLY is… There would be no such thing as the corporation like you know them today in a libertarian ‘world’. There would be some monopolies but without all the special protections granted by government today they would be totally supceptible to market forces and not a problem.

    Just like in the 19th Century!

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  18. Steve Verdon says:

    Let me also add that despite the implications of some writers on the Left, monopoly is NOT the end stage of competition. Monopoly is at the opposite end of the spectrum of competition and is almost impossible for a firm to maintain except in two cases:

    Sub-additive costs-i..e a single firm produces all the output demanded cheaper than 2 or more firms producing the same level of cost. This is a rare case.

    Government power creating monopoly rights for a firm.

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  19. […] isn’t a reader blog in the usual sense, but James Joyner comments and links here, and he has a very good post on the question of whether libertarians do, or […]

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  20. […] Joyner’s explanation of why libertarians don’t care about corporate power, which DougJ links below, falls short. Joyner says “Libertarianism, by any definition, is […]

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  21. Anonymous At Work says:

    Corporations are government-fiat-citizens. They are personless entities invested with citizen-like powers by the government for economic reasons. Ergo, I would think that ANY corporate abuse of power would be of interest to libertarians, as corporations’ personlessness protects them against some consequences for their actions.

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  22. Mike says:

    I guess opposing using eminent domain for private companies, opposing corporate welfare, oppposing regulations that tend to harm small business more than larger corporations and trying to reduce the funding of the military industrial complex doesn’t count.

    And while the mainstream libertarian organizations are still more pro intellectual property than organizations such as the Mises Institute, even they realize that intellectual property laws have been pushed too far in favor of corporations, but again, that apparently doesn’t count.

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  23. Peter Buxton says:

    Aaaaagh! “Small-‘L’ libertarianism” is classical liberalism! /headdesk

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  24. DonM says:

    If wind generators could produce meaningful amounts of energy, a big corporation would produce them (perhaps as a sideline to their existing automotive generator line). All would happen without government subsidy.

    Wind chargers do produce some power, but are really good at producing dead birds. Other birds attempt to scavenge, and in turn killed. Ants do a very good job of scavenging without threat from wind driven rotors.

    When the wind doesn’t blow, an alternative source of power is needed. Oil works for me, at 43 MJ per gram, it is dense.

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  25. DonM says:

    Corporations can’t die, can’t pay death taxes, can’t get sick, can’t really represent themselves in a duel, nor can they vote, but seem to have most of the other characteristics of humanity.

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  26. Paul Risenhoover says:

    “Go peruse Reason magazine and see if you can find a single article about corporate abuse of power”

    Actually there are several about the Obamacare mandate. Other than that Reason constantly runs articles about rent-seeking.

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  27. Steve Verdon, I admire your willingness to try and explain over and over and over…

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  28. Ben says:

    Seems to me that most examples of corporations doing bad things can easily be reframed as government allowing the corporation to do bad things through meddling. They’re in bed with a politician, or lobbied to get an unfair advantage, or some idiot politician created a law that had the obvious but unintended consequence of giving some company an unfair advantage.

    Payday lenders, for instance, have been hurting a lot of poor people with high interest rate loans. But those same poor people used to be able to get lower credit rates from credit card companies… Till the government stepped in and decided those rates were too high, and made laws to protect the consumer. And that meant those credit card companies could no longer afford to lend to poor people, so the poor people were forced to go to the even higher rate lenders. So you can blame the payday lenders for being predatory, but the real fault is with the politicians who tried to “fix” a problem that didn’t really exist, and then created other problems through their stupidity and lack of foresight.

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  29. richard40 says:

    Any libertarian would support laws that keep corporations from defauding people by flagrantly lying about their products, or not delivering what was promissed to the consumer, or colluding to fix prices.

    What libertarians oppose is trying to protect individuals from their own stupidity. As long as the seller is truthful, and delivers what is promissed, it does not matter if the buyer is harmed in some way, they asked for it, and got it.

    Most regulation, especially restrictivel liscensing requirements, or hugely expensive product and testing or financial reporting requirements, or pricing regulations, purportedly intended to protect consumers, is far more likely to help big companies, at the expense of smaller ones, or new entries, because of excessive compliance costs, and corporate friendly rules via lobbying of regulatory agencies, and distortion of free market mechanisms. Thus most leftists, while claiming to protect us from evil big corporations, actually end up helping those corporations keep out new compeditors.

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  30. dr kill says:

    No big L or little l libertarians at the ATL. Only big A Aholes.

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  31. M. Simon says:

    In other words, the things that make Libertarianism unique from liberalism or conservatism are the very things that make Libertarianism unpalatable.

    Another statist outs himself.

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  32. M. Simon says:

    Drug cartels are a creation of government.

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  33. Paul Sand says:

    Just a small quibble: “big-L” Libertarian (I’m pretty sure) is generally used to refer to the Libertarian Party and its membership. Much like big-D Democrats, and big-R Republicans. The rest of us are small-l, despite our devotion to Cato, Reason, and Megan.

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  34. Bill Quick says:

    @ Alex Knapp: “Just like in the 19th Century!”

    Oh, you mean the period during which the US experienced the greatest increase of personal wealth in its history?

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  35. […] interesting pieces recently about libertarianism. (And as several of those posts mention, the November 2008 […]

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