Friday, March 9, 2012

Schadenfreude from Perry de Havilland

One of my libertarian heroes from England has made some sharp comments about the Republican party. 
Here's Perry de Havilland of Samizdata:

I see that Mitt Romney, a big government Republican statist who partially nationalised healthcare in his state and gave Obama the opening for more grandiose Federal healthcare nationalisation, is closing in on the Republican nomination.

Well so much for the influence of the Tea Party. If Romney wins, I can only hope Obama wipes the floor with him for exactly the same reasons I was delighted McCain was defeated... and do not see Romney as any less loathsome than McCain, so I am all for the Greater Evil winning again.

And I hope a large number of Tea Party figures make it clear they will be staying home next election day if Romney gets the nod.
No, no, no, no, no.  There is no need for anyone to stay home, Mr. de Havilland.  The Libertarian Party will be on the ballot, running someone as an alternative to the Obamneys.

I hope that candidate will be former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson !!!!
Please remember, the only way you can "waste" your vote is to support the political status quo, and we've got 16 trillion dollars worth of status quo to dig our way out of.  Unless you folks start supporting 2nd-party candidates, it ain't gonna happen.   


CenTexTim said...

Serious question: which do you think is more likely?

A: The Libertarian Party actually gets enough support to significantly influence national - or even state - politics?

B: The Libertarian Party and the Tea Party make common cause and significantly influence national - and/or state - politics?

CenTexTim said...

Oops - sorry - I got interrupted while typing the previous comment and lost my train of thought. Option B above should read:

B: The Libertarian Party and the Tea Party make common cause and take over the republican party, significantly influencing national - and/or state - politics?

Hot Sam said...

No doubt I agree with your friend from across the pond.

Some food for thought:

1. Romney was governor of an extremely liberal state with a Democrat majority in the legislature.

2. His primary role in that regard was DAMAGE CONTROL.

3. Our friends from Europe don't understand American federalism. Each state is like a mini-country with its own government. Unlike the federal government which is supposed to have limited power, states have 'police powers' which are much broader. 'Police powers' are not 'police' in the sense of guys in blue uniforms with badges and guns.

'Police power' is the general authority of state government to make laws to regulate behavior, preserve order, promote general welfare, morals, health and safety. The police powers of the early colonies were onerous- the Plymouth Colony had the death penalty for dozens of offenses including blasphemy and adultery. The interesting thing is that the community accepted these standards and penalties were rarely used.

While anyone may believe the extent of these police powers is imprudent and oppressive, no one can meaningfully argue that the exercise of these powers is unlawful. In no way, shape, or form is Massachusetts' health care plan 'nationalized medicine.'

It is government provision of a private good - conditions that are usually inefficient. Health care, though, does have some positive externalities, some extensive scale economies, some jointness of supply, and some adverse selection and moral hazard problems. Therefore government MIGHT have some role in its provision that increases efficiency. For example, awarding monopoly franchises to private ambulance companies within zones of operation seems to work fairly well. An ambulance can be at most people's door in less than ten minutes. The protected zones ensure profitability for the private franchises. The cities can extract some of the monopoly rents by auctioning the monopoly rights.

An individual mandate for insurance is about the only part of Obamacare that makes economic sense. Unless we intend to deny care to people who can't pay medical bills, then we need to force people who can pay insurance premiums to do so. This is the same rationale for mandatory liability coverage for cars, businesses, etc. It reduces moral hazard where cheapskates can impose their bills on the rest of us. We don't want that with taxes and expenditures, so we shouldn't accept it from insurance companies either.

I agree with CenTex Tim, as usual. Libertarians have a much better shot of influencing policy by being part of the more sympathetic party than trying to venture off on its own. Our winner take all, first past the post system creates an equilibrium of two parties. The only thing libertarians might achieve is to throw the election to Obama the way Nader threw the 2000 election to Bush.

If Republicans are "statists," then we're in a lot more trouble than we can ever fix. But I don't see a libertarian utopia anywhere else on the globe. There are many libertarian arguments that can and are becoming mainstream views. You should focus on those instead of pie in the sky.

What can you feasibly accomplish?
- firearm rights
- gay marriage
- flatter tax structure
- limiting eminent domain
- expanding freedom of information
- protecting freedom of speech
- protecting individual rights
- decriminalization of petty crimes
- holding government accountable
- prudent security measures

Forget about "ending the Fed" or returning to a gold standard. We're not closing all our foreign military bases. The nation won't legalize drugs nor end efforts to stop drug trafficking.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

As always, thanks for your comments. I'm looking at this from a somewhat historical perspective.

Do you know when the Roman and British empires shut down their overseas military bases? When they could no longer afford them.

Do you know when we ended our war with the Alcohol Lords of Canada by ending prohibition? When we could no longer afford to do otherwise.

Your share of the national debt is 50 grand, unless you're a taxpayer (SUCKERS !!) In that case, your share is 150 grand. How much more military and drug war are you willing to pay for, just to keep Dem and Rep politicians in the good graces of their military/industrial and prison lobby supporters?

That's what I thought.

We can still continue to defend the world from China by borrowing money from China for a few more years. If you vote for one of the Obamneys, that's what you're proposing that we do.

CenTexTim said...

Let me say it a different way. I agree with most of what Allen has to say as far as principles and concepts go. Where I differ with him is on tactical or pragmatic grounds. Unless something drastic happens, I doubt that the Libertarian Party as it exists today will ever gain enough political clout to significantly influence events. As Hot Sam points out, the game is rigged in favor of a two-party system. (Go here for a list of U.S. third parties and their effectiveness over time.)

What might be a more effective approach would be for the Libertarians and the Tea Party to combine forces and stage a coup to take over the republican party.

Start at the grass roots level - local offices, precinct conventions, etc. Leverage the enthusiasm and dedication of the respective members through the existing rules and structure to infiltrate and overthrow the existing establishment - or at least force it to make concessions.

But as things stand now, I'm afraid that voting for the Libertarian presidential candidate is a wasted vote, because there's no way he's going to win in 2012.

Yes, romney is just obama-lite. But if I have my choice between a disease that will kill me in four years vs. a disease that will kill me in eight years, I'll take the eight-year disease and work like hell to come up with a cure.

Sadly, I don't see the Libertarian Party as a cure. The theory is great, but the real-world application just isn't there.