For the Record . . .

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Over at The Nation, there’s a video interview with Patricia Williams titled Paul Ryan’s Libertarian America, in which the columnist explains how “Mitt Romney’s choice of running mate, the Ayn Rand-inspired Paul Ryan, reveals the GOP candidate’s ‘slow march to the right.'”

A few minor points:  Paul Ryan is not a Randian, nor would Ayn Rand have approved of Paul Ryan. Ayn Rand was not a libertarian, and libertarianism is quite different from Randianism. Most importantly, Paul Ryan is not a libertarian.

Also, Ayn Rand did not consider herself part of “the right,” and “the right” did not and still doesn’t claim Ayn Rand.

Finally, I would argue that libertarians aren’t really part of the right (and I can say for certain that this libertarian isn’t), though some on the right seem to disagree.

Otherwise, the description is perfectly accurate.

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92 Responses to “For the Record . . .”

  1. #1 |  jesse | 

    To the establishment, there is nothing other than the left and right. It is inconceivable for a 3rd, or alternate, philosphy or coherent viewpoint to exist. It’s all just degrees of the same spectrum.

  2. #2 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    In other words, the piece is entirely typical of Reporting out of The Nation.

  3. #3 |  Marty | 

    I grimace every time I see some nitwit twist Rand to fit their agenda.

  4. #4 |  KR | 

    They don’t really care about those differences. As far as they’re concerned, all those words are just synonyms for “things/people I disagree with”.

  5. #5 |  karl | 

    To your minor points:

    Ryan claimed that Rand’s work and ideas are fundamental to his thinking, that makes him a Randian (albeit a self-serving, pick-and-choose, hypocritical one) as much as his calling himself a christian (as opposed to Catholic) makes him one as well — it’s not up to us to tell him what he really thinks (of course, if Rand were alive, she would have that right and would agree with you);

    yes, Randism and libertarianism are not identical, but (I hope you’ll have the sense to agree) there’s a lot of overlap;

    yes, Ryan is not libertarian — absolutely true.

  6. #6 |  Radley Balko | 

    Actually, Ryan himself disavowed Rand’s politics. He said her thinking influenced him, but he ultimately rejected objectivism.

    And sure, there’s overlap between libertarians and objectivists. There’s also overlap between libertarians and progressives, and libertarians and conservatives.

  7. #7 |  (B)oscoH, Yogurt Eater | 

    The “right” should be more receptive to free markets, and not making more and more economic decisions centrally. They’re not. They pretend to be about making more and more central economic decisions better than the left. Pretty easy stuff, but a far cry from libertarianism.

  8. #8 |  karl | 

    Radley,

    I ignored Ryan’s recent conversion (or apostasy, take your pick), obliquely alluding to it in the parenthetical “self-serving, pick-and-choose, hypocritical” jibe — it was unfair of me, as I cannot see into his heart, mind, and soul.

    And if there were no overlap between libertarians and progressives I wouldn’t have your site on my daily list. Keep up the good work.

  9. #9 |  BamBam | 

    The right/left paradigm we are bombarded with is a falsehood. Since right and left are opposites, it implies that the political parties are also opposites. Their record indicates they are the same, with only minor differences in how they achieve certain goals.

    A real right/left paradigm is party/anarchy, as party is an affirmation of the existence of government, and anarchy is the absence of government.

  10. #10 |  Quiet Desperation | 

    It’s all just noise now. You have to be an insane fanatic to care anymore.

    Just keep your heads down, work hard, invest as well as you can, and get out of the rat race and out of the cities as soon as possible. That’s all that is left for anyone with a functioning mind that isn’t a power hungry sociopath.

    You can’t fight this shit. The lock is in. Obama’s 47% and Romney’s other 47% will only vote for *their* lizard.

    Relevant image: “Progress?”
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/21/Libertarian_Presidential_Election_Results_1972-2008.png

    Forget the video. You go online to get a feel for what younger folks think, and the Libertarian Party might as well be the Satan Party. Even the geekverse, once a haven for free thinking, is now just a morass of warmed over progressiveness oddly mixed with “fight the power… for free music… or something…”

    Winter is coming, sho’nuff.

  11. #11 |  sheenyglass | 

    Not a libertarian myself (more of a progressive fellow traveler), but these are understandable mistakes to make. I know a few people whose policy preferences are pretty straight moderate republican ones, but who honestly identify as libertarians because they’ve been led to believe that libertarians are republicans who don’t hate gay people and don’t mind pot. So its kind of a vicious circle, where a failure to distinguish between the two initially leads to the perception that they are the same, which leads more people to identify as libertarians for specious reasons.

    I would speculate that fusionism has something to do with this as well. It leads libertarians to be more prominent in the public eye on the issues where there is right/libertarian overlap (tax policy and deregulation) then the areas where there is left/libertarian overlap (war, criminal justice, crony capitalism). The fiscal conservative, socially liberal shorthand probably doesn’t help, as it elides quite a few important distinctions.

    Similarly it seems like libertarians who admire aspects of Rand’s thought publicly discuss their disagreements with her far less often than they defend her, as discussions of this sort tend to only come up when people criticize Rand.

  12. #12 |  Dave Krueger | 

    If the term libertarian becomes associated with “the right”, I will no longer call myself a libertarian. The term has been repeatedly corrupted by the likes of Glenn Beck and others who believe that anytime they have a thought that doesn’t involve dictating how others should live, they can meaningfully label themselves as “libertarian leaning”. In reality, both the right and left are so far from libertarianism that they, almost universally, have no clue what it even is.

    As they are currently used, left and right, conservative and liberal, republican and democrat are all commonly used to portray a distinction without a difference. Furthermore, all those terms can easily be grouped together at the opposite end of the spectrum from libertarianism.

    If you really oppose corporate and social welfare, foreign wars, the drug war (and the criminalization of other consensual activities), occupational licensing, big government, deficits, fiat money, nationalization of transportation, education, and health care, crony capitalism, trade barriers, etc, etc, etc, then republicans and democrats cannot and do not represent your views because they BOTH support every single stinkin’ one of those ideas.

    Yes, every stinkin’ one.

  13. #13 |  Mattocracy | 

    I don’t understand how anyone can look at Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s voting record and then say they are marching towards more conservative political stances.

  14. #14 |  Darwin | 

    Ryan requires people on his staff to read Ayn Rand.

  15. #15 |  SJE | 

    The media seems to keep wanting to pigeonhole ideas into left and right, DEM and GOP. Its lazy and stupid. Most Americans agree with libertarian ideas of less war, less government intrusion or nannyism, and a simpler tax system, but they cannot vote for a candidate who supports all of the above and who has a real chance of winning.

    Time for preference voting! That way, I can vote for Gary Johnson and then one of the big party candidates without my vote being “wasted”

  16. #16 |  Aresen | 

    I have seen more essays from the conventional left that were sympathetic to libertarianism than from the conventional right.

    The leftists tend to at least be in agreement (in principle, if not in practice) on civil liberties issues while the rightists tend to give lip service to ‘small government’ while supporting tarrifs and subsidies for special interest groups and completely disdaining libertarians’ opinions on personal choice.

  17. #17 |  Mattocracy | 

    sheenyglass is spot on.

    To elaborate, most people don’t strictly define anything nor do they care to. To be conservative or liberal can pretty much mean anything for anyone. Most people really don’t care to be accurate when they are throwing terms around.

    But there are people who should know better and they do know better. Politics isn’t about being accurate. It’s about slander, misleading people, and fear mongering. The Nation knows damn good and well what they produced is factually incorrect. It was done purposely to keep up the myth that Rand/Libertarian/Republican are the same because its easier to win hearts and minds when lump your enemies together.

    Then there are libertarians themselves. When it comes to the PR game, we kinda suck at it. We get lumped together with non libertarians partly because of lazy journalism and partly because we don’t do a good enough job seperating ourselves from faux libertarians.

  18. #18 |  Brad | 

    Classical liberalism!

  19. #19 |  alldayeveryday | 

    @#11

    “believe that libertarians are republicans who don’t hate gay people and don’t mind pot”

    well said

  20. #20 |  Aresen | 

    @ SJE | October 16th, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    The reason that the media is lazy and stupid is that their audience is lazy. It takes real effort to understand most issues, which are usually too complex for a soundbite. Libertarians themselves are often driven to the short, pithy statement rather than the complex arguments and analysis required to explain those statements. (How many of us have read all of Smith, Ricardo and Bastiat?)

  21. #21 |  DoubleU | 

    The libertarian movement was young in the 1971 when that interview happened.

  22. #22 |  DoubleU | 

    #18 | alldayeveryday:
    But we hate roads…. GAWD do I hate roads.

  23. #23 |  Steve Verdon | 

    If you really oppose corporate and social welfare, foreign wars, the drug war (and the criminalization of other consensual activities), occupational licensing, big government, deficits, fiat money, nationalization of transportation, education, and health care, crony capitalism, trade barriers, etc, etc, etc, then republicans and democrats cannot and do not represent your views because they BOTH support every single stinkin’ one of those ideas.

    Well said…well except for the fiat money part….The Gold Standard and the Great Depression.

  24. #24 |  JLS | 

    So what IS the difference between Randianism or objectivism or whatever, and libertarianism?

  25. #25 |  Xenocles | 

    It’s been a long time since I read her nonfiction, but the Atlas Society piece on Rand’s (non-) conservatism seems like a bit of retconning. I seem to remember her aligning herself with some sort of broad “conservative” movement, even though she intensely disliked portions of it. The citation in the article seems more like a lamentation that the movement is leaving her than anything else. The scare quotes she puts around the term add to that impression.

    It’s certain that she loathed libertarians, for some reason. All I remember is that she tacked on the epithet “hippies” most of the times she used the term.

  26. #26 |  tarran | 

    It’s certain that she loathed libertarians, for some reason. All I remember is that she tacked on the epithet “hippies” most of the times she used the term.

    She hated libertarians because they promoted freedom without declaring her their leader. She called that “stealing her ideas”. The woman was a textbook example of a raging Narcissist.

  27. #27 |  Mattocracy | 

    JLS,

    Some people could write an “Atlas Shrugged” sized novel about the differences. I suggest googling Ayn Rand and Native Americans to get you started. That made me start second guessing my Randian devotion.

  28. #28 |  tarran | 

    I should point out also that Rand was willing to throw away freedom if it got in the way of slaughtering people who might be commies.

    She was angry that libertarians refused to vote for Nixon for that reason.

  29. #29 |  Schmandian | 

    @QuietDesperation-

    Wy do we need to get out of the cities? What are you so scared of bro? Having some ruby ridge bunker isn’t gonna do shit for your except get your head blown off. You crazies give libertarians a bad name.

  30. #30 |  Aresen | 

    tarran:

    Worse than that, she (briefly) endorsed the detestable Henry (Scoop) Jackson in 1972 until someone pointed out that he had other policies besides anti-communism.

  31. #31 |  Danny | 

    If you click on the embedded links, they don’t say much to support Radley’s exasperation.

    The lady refers to Rand as Ryan’s “muse.” That hardly implies flawless congruence across all political questions, and it’s a pretty fair – even understated – characterization of Ryan’s history with Rand.

    As for the distinction between libertarians and objectivists, from the links, it looks like it comes down to a few discrete differences over long-past foreign policy and military questions. The core principles on society — viz., “go to the ER or drop dead, losers” — are pretty much the same.

    Ditto distinguishing conservatives from Rand and libertarianism. Yeah, we know conservatives sign on to some theocratic/drug-warrior social controls that the libertarians and Randians don’t, but the conservatives are making this election all about cutting taxes on the top ratepayers and somehow paying for it by kicking the losers off of food stamps, and that’s pretty much where the libertarians have been putting their stock in the last several election cycles. Look at the comment boards on any libertarian site and it’s all about how [blank] Republican sucks but [blank] Democrat is Satan-on-a-Rocketship.

    It hurts to think that demographics is destiny, but it’s hard to avert thine eyes from the facts: libertarians tend to be white and tend to be male, and white males in America just tend to see the world a certain way. Put white male self-styled libertarians into a corner and they will concede certain points to “the Left,” but their kneejerk reflexes almost always bend to the Right. They make a much bigger deal out of the Duke Lacrosse case than the Central Park Jogger case. They make a much bigger deal out of affirmative action than whites-only proms. They make a much bigger deal out of Supreme Court cases on eminent domain than on arresting people for seatbelt violations. People’s priorities are more decisive than their simple positions unranked. And libertarian priorities put them firmly on the Right of the spectrum as a practical matter, wherever they are theoretically on the Pournelle chart.

  32. #32 |  JLS | 

    Thank you Mattocracy!

  33. #33 |  Meiczyslaw | 

    The simple reason why libertarians are lumped in with “The Right” is that it’s liberals who are making the definition. From their point of view, any line that goes from liberal to libertarian passes through conservatism.

    We’re both the same kind of whack to a liberal; it’s just a matter of degree. In fact, when liberals have been wanting to attack Ryan and Romney, they’ve been casting them as anarcho-capitalists. To a liberal, libertarians are true evil.

    Also: I, too, hate the “socially liberal” label for libertarianism. Liberals want to control your diet, where your kids go to school, and pay for your medicine. How is any of that libertarian?

  34. #34 |  Rob | 

    I have seen more essays from the conventional left that were sympathetic to libertarianism than from the conventional right.

    Funny thing is, I have seen the exact opposite. Just depends on where you hang out on the internet, I guess.

    Fact of the matter is, the “left” and the “right” will both court Libertarians when they think it’s in their best interest, and they will spurn them the rest of the time. Right now it’s the right that’s courting Libertarians and the leftists spurning them. Back in 2008 it was the opposite. So it goes.

  35. #35 |  Rob | 

    Also: I, too, hate the “socially liberal” label for libertarianism. Liberals want to control your diet, where your kids go to school, and pay for your medicine. How is any of that libertarian?

    This is an example of the disconnect in how we use words in politics. Today’s “liberals” don’t really fit the definition of the term “liberal” very well (with a similar disconnect between the dictionary-definition of conservative and those that call themselves conservative). “Progressive” is somewhat more accurate, though I believe that term also carries unmerited connotations.

    Libertarians often refer to themselves as “classical liberals” for this reason. We actually fit the term better than people who call themselves liberals today, because we actually want to liberalize society. Unfortunately, since the progressives and their fellow travelers have stolen the term, we have to settle for libertarian instead.

  36. #36 |  shecky | 

    The big problem here is that “libertarian” has no meaningful definition. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if the vast majority of self described libertarians pretty much vote GOP straight down the line, every time. Furthermore, everyone is libertarian in one way or another.

    “Randian” might be a little more specific, but is still a useless definition, describing the spectrum from objectivists to libertarian leaning folks to neocons(!).

    A problem Ryan has is that he’s pulled out shallow descriptions to satisfy the flavor of the month, and has no problem shedding the description when it no longer has traction. He has plenty of company in that regard. But the “Randian” title he’s earned is pretty much of his own doing, regardless how it holds up to scrutiny.

  37. #37 |  Rob | 

    The big problem here is that “libertarian” has no meaningful definition. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if the vast majority of self described libertarians pretty much vote GOP straight down the line, every time. Furthermore, everyone is libertarian in one way or another.

    According to who?

    Generally, a libertarian is someone who wants to maximize human liberty. One of the core principles of Libertarianism is the Non-Aggression principle, which is that any person should be free to do as they wish so long as they do not aggress (i.e. commit force, fraud, or theft) against another. Anyone who orders their political policies around that core principle is one who could be considered a Libertarian. Sounds fairly definitive to me.

  38. #38 |  Rob | 

    That should be any person should be free to do as they wish so long as they do not initiate force, fraud, or theft against another. Libertarianism isn’t pacifism, and does not consider self-defense to be immoral.

  39. #39 |  Bergman | 

    Re: Rob, #33:

    I’ve often commented on blogs (often accompanied by massive down-ratings and even spam reports) that liberals in the U.S. aren’t like liberals anywhere else on Earth. Liberals want change; Ours are just like the others in that regard. The difference lies in the nature of change. In countries where government authority is maximized and the freedom of the people is minimized, liberals want more freedom. But the basis of law in the U.S. (however badly applied in practice) is maximized freedom and minimized government. Our liberals want to be less free, while our conservatives want greater freedom.

    Libertarianism is only Left or Right if your political scale only has one axis. But give the scale two axes (grinding optional, heh) making a box instead of a line, Libertarian becomes the top side of the box. Totalitarian becomes the bottom. And our current Democrat and Republican parties squarely occupy the lower left and lower right corners of the box respectively.

  40. #40 |  Judas Peckerwood. | 

    I’m gravely disappointed by the intelligent and respectful discourse on this comment thread.

    C’mon, this is the INTERNET, people!!!

  41. #41 |  Brandon | 

    Wow, Danny, that is an impressive collection of straw men that make up the libertarians in your head. But go ahead, keep telling yourself that anyone who disagrees with you just wants poor people to die in the streets, it’s easier than thinking.

  42. #42 |  Aresen | 

    @ Brandon | October 16th, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    anyone who disagrees with you just wants poor people to die in the streets,

    Of course we don’t want them to die in the streets. Their bodies might damage our limos.

  43. #43 |  Fascist Nation | 

    lol

    Right, left. I thought we were just wanting to be left alone.

    Classicly liberal

  44. #44 |  Elliot | 

    Putting aside the useless, archaic left/right metric, which nonsensically puts Hitler and Stalin at complete opposites :and leaves no room to measure individualism vs.
    collectivism:

    There’s also overlap between libertarians and progressives…

    Such as? Libertarianism, as with Objectivism, is a type of individualism. Progressives have historically been collectivist, though on particular points, their opposition to conservatives can coincide with individual rights, while it is useful. Notable progressives have supported nasty things like eugenics–actively weeding out the undesirables for the sake of the herd. Contrasted with an Objectivist, who promot

  45. #45 |  Elliot | 

    Contrasted with Objectivists, who promote the right not to be forced to pay for welfare, which is often incorrectly called Social Darwinism, the progressives who were advocates of eugenics, like John Maynard Keynes and Irving Fisher, actually intended to use government force to promote Social Darwinism.

  46. #46 |  Elliot | 

    So, an Objectivist can be a libertarian and vice versa, but one must decide whether to be a progressive or a libertarian.

    In other words, a libertarian will agree that your life belongs to you, and all that logically implies. A progressive won’t. To him, you always have a duty to the hive. You always owe some, or even all, of your life to society. Not because others helped you, but because the collective comes first, for the progressive.

  47. #47 |  Bergman | 

    Re: Aresen, #39:

    Hey, asphalt has to come from somewhere…

    =P

  48. #48 |  Rob | 

    Our liberals want to be less free, while our conservatives want greater freedom.

    I would disagree with this. Both conservatives and liberals advance a few certain freedoms; abortion, gay rights, and civil liberties for the liberals; gun rights and smaller government for the conservatives. However, they are often inconsistent promoters of liberty; when they get in charge, their promises are often left by the wayside (see Obama doing a 180 on civil liberties once he got into office and Republicans abandoning fiscal conservatism when they’re in charge). What they AREN’T inconsistent promoters of is statism. Neither party is really better than the other in this regard.

  49. #49 |  Aresen | 

    @ Bergman | October 16th, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    I prefer asphat made from Asian children. The low fat content means better tire traction. Also, it means more outsourcing.

  50. #50 |  John Thacker | 

    Are the sort of people who made this the same sort of people who get bent out of shape if Obama is called a socialist? (There’s a sophisticated case for calling him one, though only if you also call George W. Bush and Romney socialists as well.)

  51. #51 |  shecky | 

    Generally, a libertarian is someone who wants to maximize human liberty.

    No. A libertarian is someone who wants to maximize human liberty as they see it. Which means anyone who decides to call themselves libertarian as they see fit. Which is why the label is virtually meaningless.

  52. #52 |  Delta | 

    Oh, puh-lease. Paul Ryan is on record with: “[T]he reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.” (Atlas Society, 2005). And: “Ayn Rand… inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff”. So yes it’s the height of fairness for The Nation to use the exact same words and call him, “Ayn Rand-inspired Paul Ryan”.

    Paul Ryan did get some political distance from her, just this year, as the VP-hunt started orbitting him. If that’s not entirely a transparent tactical play for the GOP base, I don’t know what is.

  53. #53 |  Elliot | 

    shecky (#48):A libertarian is someone who wants to maximize human liberty as they see it. Which means anyone who decides to call themselves libertarian as they see fit. Which is why the label is virtually meaningless.

    I wouldn’t say “virtually meaningless”, but rather: “often meaningless”. There are plenty of people who understand the basic principles of self ownership, non-aggression principle, etc.. They may quibble about a few particulars, but they’re not far off. Then there are the cafeteria libertarians who think because they favor legalizing marijuana, that they’re a libertarian, even though they want to tax the hell out of it (a sin tax). Some even get on TV shows as the token “libertarian talk show host”, even though they inform people how to snitch to the IRS or post disgusting celebrations of a guy getting tasered at a baseball game.

    Sure, one could call this a case of “No True Scotsman” and demand to know who gets to define “libertarian”. Fine. That’s why I try to be careful about using the term. Sometimes I opt for “individualist”, even though that’s more general, simply because fewer people have learned to misuse the term.

    Noam Chomsky, apologist for the Khmer Rouge, calls himself a “libertarian socialist”, which makes as much sense as calling yourself a “friendly murderer”, but it does highlight the fact that people can completely distort the meaning of words. Like “liberal”, for example.

  54. #54 |  Elliot | 

    @Delta (#49): If Paul Ryan embraced Ayn Rand instead of disavowing her, I might have some respect for his intelligence. But then, if he were to integrate the ethical principles she advocated, he wouldn’t be running with Romney and if he chose to stay in Congress, he’d be there as a saboteur.

    Rand was without fault. But 99% of the time, people who bash her ideas, or smear others by association, stupidly bash the good ideas.

  55. #55 |  Rob | 

    No. A libertarian is someone who wants to maximize human liberty as they see it. Which means anyone who decides to call themselves libertarian as they see fit. Which is why the label is virtually meaningless.

    By that standard, all political philosophies are meaningless, because anyone can claim to be of any philosophy without actually adhering to its tenants. As I said, libertarianism has a number of core principles, and I gave you the main one. The fact that there are people out there who do not hew to those principles and yet still try to usurp its mantle no more makes libertarianism meaningless than the fact that Stalin did not fully implement Marxism–Leninism makes the label of Communism meaningless.

  56. #56 |  Herb | 

    “Paul Ryan is not a Randian, nor would Ayn Rand have approved of Paul Ryan.”

    Actually, I asked Ayn Rand’s ghost. She approves of Paul Ryan whole-heartedly.

  57. #57 |  Weird Willy | 

    #14 – “Ryan requires people on his staff to read Ayn Rand.”

    And Zionist organizations have been known to require their members to read Mein Kampf. I fail to see how this has any significance unless we know the full set of reasons *why* Ryan claims to require his staff to read Ayn Rand.

    #35 – “…any person should be free to do as they wish so long as they do not aggress…Sounds fairly definitive to me.”

    That’s odd, because that same construct seems rather simplistic, ambiguous, and readily subject to rationalization and selective application to me.

  58. #58 |  Weird Willy | 

    #12 – “If you really oppose corporate and social welfare, foreign wars, the drug war (and the criminalization of other consensual activities), occupational licensing, big government, deficits, fiat money, nationalization of transportation, education, and health care, crony capitalism, trade barriers, etc.”

    I wonder if this could be used to construct something of a litmus test to determine if a person is a Libertarian. What numerical scale could we use to render the data determinative? Must one oppose all of these things to be a Libertarian? Half of them? Only one or two? What definitions should we apply to such vague terms as “big government” and “crony capitalism” to make them both substantive and distinct from the other items on the list?

  59. #59 |  Cyto | 

    Weird Willy,

    Proposing litmus tests is not libertarian. (that’s kinda the libertarian version of Catch-22)

  60. #60 |  Herb | 

    #56. Yeah, I guess that’s why we needed this post to tell us that Ryan’s litmus test came out pink rather than blue…..

  61. #61 |  Dunmore | 

    Dave (#12) –

    “If you really oppose … occupational licensing,”

    Please explain what you mean by occupational licensing. Do you mean people calling themselves doctors, engineers, etc?

  62. #62 |  MH | 

    Occupational licensing refers to the legal requirement to obtain a government license in order to practice certain professions. That’s not the same thing as what people “call themselves.” For instance a license is required to practice medicine. I don’t think engineers, as a rule, must be licensed, but maybe specific types of engineers are licensed… I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong.

  63. #63 |  Elliot | 

    Elliot (#51):Rand was without fault.

    That should be, “Rand was not without fault.”

    Hopefully that was clear from context. I think Rand made a number of blunders, usually in failing to be consistent applying her principles to real world situations. Also, her choice of phrases left her arguments open to misunderstanding and distortion (e.g., “self interest” rather than “selfishness”). But most people who bash her either have far worse ethical principles (e.g., collectivists, who won’t acknowledge that each of us own our own lives) or are not nearly as intelligent or prescient.

  64. #64 |  MH | 

    “I wonder if this could be used to construct something of a litmus test to determine if a person is a Libertarian. What numerical scale could we use to render the data determinative? ”

    You can google the Nolan Chart survey to get a general sense of where you fall on the spectrum, but ultimately, any political test is the opinion of the test-maker. To say someone is libertarian is really a holistic judgment about what they believe, not something quantifiable.

  65. #65 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    When I read RB’s post I thought “Shit. Now a bunch of non-libertarians, non-Randians, non-Objectivists, and leftists will explain what libertarians, Randians, Objectivists, and the right is/are.”

    Paul Ryan mentioned Ayn Rand’s books and didn’t immediately call the writing “terrible”. This means he’s NOT a neckbeard…and it means to many that he’s a libertarian Objectivist who hates all people and supports gladiator-like societies…and maybe prima nocte.

    Seriously, I’ve never heard a worse chorus of stale, negative dogma launched at an author than the constant crap lobbed at Rand. Nothing new under the sun, but a new crop of web-heads insist on commenting the same way about her work. Give authors like Danielle Steele and bands like U2 a pass, but focus on Rand?

    PS: Nice debates last night. One multi-millionaire playing the rich guy card against another multi-millionaire and millions of people buying it. And, Obama didn’t fail miserably, so the webs are tripping over themselves to declare that he knocked Romney out. Journalism!

  66. #66 |  Dunmore | 

    Occupational licensing – I realize this is just a small part of the libertarian program, but I must be missing something. There are strict licensing regulations for PEs (Professional Engineers). Are you saying that you want to fly in a plane that was designed by someone calling themselves an engineer? Or let a “doctor” operate on you?

  67. #67 |  SJE | 

    @19 Aresen

    I agree that the audience is lazy, but this does not absolve the media who have descended so far that they are not even charicatures of themselves. Its the reason Jon Stewart and Colbert’s relentless skewering of the media is so profitable, and why more people get their news outside the MSM. The Economist, for example, has been growing in circulation while other magazines and newspapers are going down.

  68. #68 |  CyniCAl | 

    The Libertarian Party will win a Presidential election when the Democrats nominate a Muslim and the Republicans nominate someone Chinese.

    Political success at the national level in America depends on moving ever leftward. Anyone who hasn’t read Mencius Moldbug at Unqualified Reservations lacks foundation. Anyone who asserts that Republicans could possibly move rightward and win elections is wrong.

  69. #69 |  MH | 

    I can only crudely summarize the argument, but libertarians prefer voluntary methods to licensing, such as certification. If someone (your “doctor”) presents himself as having qualifications he doesn’t really have, that is fraud. In essence, libertarians won’t condone deceiving the consumer, but think it is up to the consumer to balance risk versus cost.

  70. #70 |  tarran | 

    Occupational licensing – I realize this is just a small part of the libertarian program, but I must be missing something. There are strict licensing regulations for PEs (Professional Engineers). Are you saying that you want to fly in a plane that was designed by someone calling themselves an engineer? Or let a “doctor” operate on you?

    Speaking for myself, I certainly don’t want to fly in a plane designed by someone who says they aren’t an engineer. I’m not sure why you are implying that’s a crazy position to take.

  71. #71 |  Dunmore | 

    Occupational licensing – OK, now I’m even more confused. I’ve always considered myself a libertarian, but clearly I don’t get it. What is the difference between certification and licensing? And what is voluntary about it? Either some official body examines and tests you, or it doesn’t mean anything.

  72. #72 |  tarran | 

    Dunmore

    UL is a certification body that certifies appliances as being safe to use in the home.

    They are privately funded (owned and operated by property insurance companies) and utterly lack any power to compel manufacturers to send them the products they manufacture.

    Good luck getting your widget on Target’s shelves without running it past them…

    And, if you are a manufacturer, good luck engaging in regulatory capture of a body owned by insurance companies.

  73. #73 |  MH | 

    No, with licensing you are forbidden by law from practicing without the government’s permission slip; with certification, an official body has tested you, which you can use to attest to your credentials, but non-certified people are not necessarily restricted from practice. Certification may be a requirement to obtain a license, but the concept of certification is different from licensure. Milton Friedman had some discussion of libertarian ideas in the book _Capitalism and Freedom_, for instance.

  74. #74 |  Brian | 

    There are strict licensing regulations for PEs (Professional Engineers). Are you saying that you want to fly in a plane that was designed by someone calling themselves an engineer?

    Actually Dunmore, most engineers are not licensed PE’s. Certainly there is no requirement that your typical aeronautical engineer at Boeing have a PE and most do not. The vast majority of all the engineers who designed the electronics that actually control the plane your flying in were likewise unlicensed. Most the engineers who design the engines that power the planes are also not licensed PE’s. Now that you are aware of this, are you going to refrain from flying in those planes designed by people only “calling themselves” engineers without government approval?

  75. #75 |  Brian | 

    you’re* :)

  76. #76 |  Dan McCall | 

    This woman is delusional. She begins by talking about how this election represents one of the most stark contrasts in the nation’s history. I don’t think I have to even comment on how silly that is, but her analysis of this hinges on her belief that Obama represents a form of “civil, secular form of governance based on consensus between the three branches of government.” That government “connects us” in a civil society, and therefore, then, must be the integral component of a civil society.

    So that’s batshit crazy. Maybe if she picked up a dictionary, or a freshman political science, sociology, or anthropology book she might just figure out that a Civil Society is that which is SEPARATE FROM GOVERNMENT, by definition. So really the policies she believes Ayn Rand, and then by extension Paul Ryan, would support of eliminating government programs actually is CLOSER TO empowering civil society the way she pretends to want.

    If you’re going to talk about things like civil society, libertarianism, objectivism, or whatever, at least know a little about what the hell you’re talking about.

    Sounding erudite might work for trolls ate The Nation, but it doesn’t work for the rest of us that know a few things about a few things.

  77. #77 |  Brandon | 

    Dunmore, it’s already been said in more words, but the difference is someone saying “I will not pay you for medical advice if you are not licensed by the American Medical Association or another agency that certifies medical competence” versus the government saying “If you offer another person medical advice (or talk about your success with the Paleo Diet on your blog) without being licensed by the American Medical Association you will be imprisoned or killed.”

  78. #78 |  Dunmore | 

    Brian, thanks for this info. I’m a chemical engineer, but not a PE. I cannot do some design work on chemical plants because of this. (That’s OK, because I don’t like doing design work.) However, I am confident that chemical plants and airplanes are inherently safe because some/most of the people involved in their design, construction, and operation are at least remotely qualified.

    I see licensing as society protecting itself from unqualified individuals.

    Milton Friedman: “A citizen of the United States who under the laws of various states is not free to follow the occupation of his own choosing unless he can get a license for it, is likewise being deprived of an essential part of his freedom.” – Capitalism and Freedom.

    So anyone who wants to practice medicine should just go for it? I mean, college, med school, internship, residency – that takes time and money. I’d be deprived of my freedom to make money if I followed all the rules.

    What’s the principle here? Does getting government off our backs trump the responsibility to the citizens?

  79. #79 |  Quiet Desperation | 

    @29 Schmandian

    Wow, you are not even on the same planet as what I said.

    I just meant retire away from all the noise and bullshit. It’s not worth it. There’s nothing you can do about it, so you might as well be somewhere quiet.

    I’m not a libertarian. I’m not any ideology. Rigid ideologies are for weak minds. There’s no point. It’s sound and fury signifying nothing while the sociopaths in charge laugh at you.

  80. #80 |  tarran | 

    What’s the principle here? Does getting government off our backs trump the responsibility to the citizens?

    I’m sorry; who has what responsibility to the citizens?

  81. #81 |  Dunmore | 

    Brandon, good comment. And timely, too – I’ve read about the diet case.

  82. #82 |  Meiczyslaw | 

    [i]I’m sorry; who has what responsibility to the citizens?[/i]

    You’ve got a responsibility to your family, right?

    How ’bout your closest friends?

    What about your not-so-close friends?

    Obviously, the responsibility to your 300 million closest friends is less than that, but do the lesser responsibilities overlap sufficiently to be scaled up for efficiency’s sake?

  83. #83 |  CK | 

    I believe that Mr Ryan was and is still influenced by Rand’s writing and characters; I am merely unsure if the character he aspires to be is Wesley Mouch or Mr. Thompson

  84. #84 |  liberranter | 

    A few observations:

    1. Most Amoricons, be they “journalists” (one of which Patricia Williams is obviously NOT), other white-collar professionals, or ordinary blue-collar working stiffs, have no clue what “libertarianism” really is. Ask any person at random to describe the key tenet of libertarianism (to most of us it is the NAP), and you’ll probably get anything ranging from “someone who wants to legalize weed” to “someone who wants to deregulate all businesses.”

    2. As a few other posters here have noted, most Amoricons, be they “journalists” (one of which Patricia Williams is obviously NOT), other white-collar professionals, or ordinary blue-collar working stiffs, lack the critical thinking skills to realize that there are any other ideological alternatives to the anachronistic, inaccurate, and irrelevant “left” and “right.”

    3. Patricia (obviously NOT a journalist) Williams is as ignorant, lazy, unprofessional, and ill-informed as everyone else in her (dying and increasingly irrelevant) profession.

    4. (Observation-combined-with-prediction): The Nation‘s readers will swallow Patricia Williams’s error-riddled nonsense at face value and hang on every word of it, as would readers of any other lie-and-error-spewing Establishment rag (see observation number 2 above as to why this is the case).

  85. #85 |  Delta | 

    Dunmore: You may find that “libertarianism just un-happens” once you know what some of its core tenets are. :-)

  86. #86 |  SJE | 

    Libertarianism is not inconsistent with licensing or certification. As to Uncle Milton’s quote, I agree that licensing of medical professionals DOES have negative consequences.

    Before WWII, local pharmacists did a lot of diagnosis and treatment of common ailments. This was especially true in poorer communities, who could not afford doctors. After WWII, they were forbidden from doing this because they were not licensed medical professionals, and this was upheld in the Supreme Court (I believe).

    The idea was that we would regulate ourselves to better quality care. Clearly we didnt: because there was a lack of competition, and high barriers to entry, MDs can charge a lot more. The poor, who used to go to their pharmacist, didn’t now go to the doctor: they just got sick, or went to the ER in emergencies. Some of the problems were mitigated by health insurance but, of course, this was merely shifting the problem to employers and taxpayers. America now has the most expensive health care in the world and worse outcomes than any comparable nation.

    Ironically, when you go to the doctor now, you are most likely to see a nurse.

  87. #87 |  Elliot | 

    Delta (#85):You may find that ‘libertarianism just un-happens’ once you know what some of its core tenets are.

    Libertarianism: the radical notion that other people are not your property.

    Some people, inculcated with statist notions of morality before being shown the ethical failures of using aggressive force to rule others, lack the character to attend to principles of individual rights, once they realize that the reality of respecting those rights is, like, hard, and stuff.

  88. #88 |  albatross | 

    Dunmore:

    The question is what mechanisms are appropriate for society to use to protect itself from the unqualified and incompetent. You might have:

    a. Some jobs or tasks or areas of work that are off-limits, unless you have some licensing recognized by the government. I think practicing law and practicing medicine are both examples of this–you can be (and people have been) sent to jail over practicing medicine without a license, even if you clearly state to your patients that you are not a licensed doctor. Another example might be commercial drivers’ licenses. And this is also where a lot of rather silly rent-seeking occupational licensing comes in–the local florists all get together and lobby to ban anyone selling flowers without a florists’ license as a way to keep out competition.

    b. Places where government or private entities require a license (perhaps from a government, perhaps not) in order to do business with you. For example, a given business may decide that they want a health office on their site, and that they want a real, licensed nurse to staff it. There is no legal requirement imposed from above about this–you could have a health office where the secretary handed out band-aids and tylenol with no training. But the boss might decide he’d rather have a nurse around in case someone really got sick. Similarly, regardless of licensing requirements, I won’t go to a chiropractor, accupuncturist, herbalist, or practitioner of reiki for my own health, and would not send my kids to one. There are a bunch of places around here where chiropractors and accupuncturists do business, and I think they’re licensed in my state, but I’d rather see someone with a lot more medical training. For that matter, I much prefer getting normal medical care from MDs and DOs than from PAs or NPs, all else being equal.

    c. Third parties might require some licensing. For example, I think if you have some kinds of insurance-covered work done on your house, you have to use some kind of licensed plumber or electrician or whatever. In that case, this is your insurance company not wanting to either write a check to your useless brother in law for miswiring your house, or to pay for the house after the wiring fails and the house burns down. Government need not be involved at all.

    All three of those are ways that society protects itself from unqualified people. The libertarian position is that (a) is almost always a bad way to do things, and that (b) and (c) are better. Personally (as someone who’s not a libertarian but at least is a fellow-traveler), I think actually banning the practice of some field without the state-recognized license should only be used in really critical stuff like practicing medicine or criminal defense law or in building code related stuff (where the risk of burning your house down or having it fall over affects more than just you). The problem is that (a) is a great way for some field that really ought not to need licensing for any public health or welfare reason to exclude outsiders and make some extra money. And so we get licensing for hairdressers and florists and interior decorators.

    By contrast, I think (b) and (c) are pretty good ideas. I am totally on board with not going to someone whose medical degree came from Crackerjack Box University for my health problems, and using state medical licensing is a reasonable first cut for that even if there’s no coercion, and I’m allowed to go to Dr Crackerjack or to the guy who has a real MD, did a real residency, and is licensed to practice medicine in my state.

  89. #89 |  Comrade Dread | 

    I think a pretty good clarification as to whether or not someone is a libertarian is whether or not they vote and which party they consistently vote for and whether or not they are actively involved in their chosen lesser of three evils party to try to spread their core political values to the rest of their chosen political partisans.

  90. #90 |  Elliot | 

    @Comrade Dread (#89): Casting a vote is a clear agreement that whoever gets the most votes will thus be entitled to the power of the office, and all that that practically entails.

    A libertarian might reason that a Ron Paul, Gary Johnson, or the like would best protect individual rights. However, voting for such a candidate also means that when Obama, Romney, or any other anti-individual-rights candidate wins the contest, he or she will maintain the status quo on drug prohibition, war, surveillance state, etc., as well as heaping new costs and rights infringements popular with the voters in that party.

    In short: If you voted for Bob Barr, John McCain, or Mickey Mouse in 2008 and you agreed to peacefully abide by Stimulus, ObamaCare, QE-1, QE-2, etc..

  91. #91 |  albatross | 

    Elliot:

    Only in the same sense that you agreed to peaceably abide those things by paying taxes, or continuing to live in the country. I mean, I am peaceably abiding those and many worse things, and presumably so are you. (Or maybe not. Are you planning a guerilla warfare campaign to shrink the money supply and cut government spending on stimulatory boondoggles? I’m visualizing something like helicopter ben in reverse–the helicopter flies overhead, vaccuuming up loose dollars and shredding them to undo quantatative easing.).

  92. #92 |  Elliot | 

    albatross (#91):Only in the same sense that you agreed to peaceably abide those things by paying taxes, or continuing to live in the country.

    That makes no logical sense.

    Paying taxes is a ransom on your freedom and your property. Don’t pay, lose your things and go to jail.

    Staying anywhere is just living. Why do you or anyone in Washington get to decide what living within lines on a map entails as implicit consent? There is nothing to substantiate such a claim, except popularity and force. Those things are not ethical justifications.

    Besides, my ancestors were here before the American Revolution, a few before Columbus. If anyone should leave America, it should be people who fail to abide by the fundamental principles of respecting the rights of the individual: life, liberty, and property. You want to use force? Go find a country with a history of monarchies or military dictatorships.

    I mean, I am peaceably abiding those and many worse things, and presumably so are you.

    So what? If you were held by pirates, you’d probably avoid anything which would cause them to shoot you. That’s not consent. It’s giving in to immoral, aggressive force.

    Voting, on the other hand, is a deliberate act which involves agreeing to the outcome.

    I can’t easily avoid taxes. I’m not going to leave my country. But I can refrain from participating in the pointless exercise in picking which of the Coke or Pepsi party bosses will hold the reins. Your vote is meaningless, mathematically, particularly in most states. Neither side rolls back the awful infringements on our rights, anyway.

    It’s the illusion of choice. Why be stupid and fall for that?

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