RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment
Print

Krugman writes: "If the shutdown drags on for months - which seems quite possible - we'll get a chance to see what America looks like without a number of public programs the right has long insisted we don't need."

The U.S. Capitol building. (photo: Erin Schaff/The New York Times)
The U.S. Capitol building. (photo: Erin Schaff/The New York Times)


Trump's Big Libertarian Experiment

By Paul Krugman, The New York Times

11 January 19

 

overnment,” declared Ronald Reagan in his first Inaugural Address, “is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” Republicans have echoed his rhetoric ever since. Somehow, though, they’ve never followed through on the radical downsizing of government their ideology calls for.

But now Donald Trump is, in effect, implementing at least part of the drastic reduction in government’s role his party has long claimed to favor. If the shutdown drags on for months — which seems quite possible — we’ll get a chance to see what America looks like without a number of public programs the right has long insisted we don’t need. Never mind the wall; think of what’s going on as a big, beautiful libertarian experiment.

Seriously, it’s striking how many of the payments the federal government is or soon will be failing to make are for things libertarians insist we shouldn’t have been spending taxpayer dollars on anyway.

Email This Page

READ MORE

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

Comments   

A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

 
+58 # BetaTheta 2019-01-11 12:32
As I tell my libertarian friends, there are libertarian paradises out there in the world. Countries with virtually no government and where they might feel more free and comfortable. Somalia and Yemen come to mind.
 
 
-21 # lnason@umassd.edu 2019-01-11 16:43
Beta Theta,

Libertarianism is not identical to anarchism. In fact, as the late Harvard philosopher Bob Nozick pointed out, libertarianism is the "sweet spot" between anarchy and governmental authoritarianis m -- as distant from anarchy as it is from dictatorship.

Krugman is of course making the same mistake in his op ed. Libertarians believe that the defense of natural rights is the proper and limited role of government. To the extent that the shutdown eliminates government functions that do not defend natural rights, the shutdown is something of a libertarian experiment. But to the extent that the shutdown eliminates functions that do defend natural rights (e.g., some EPA functions, border law enforcement), it is an experiment in anarchy. One expects that Krugman is trying to smear libertarians, as you have done with your libertarian friends, by labeling the lack of rule of law as somehow being libertarian.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
 
 
-8 # tgemberl 2019-01-11 21:56
I think you're right that it's a bit off to call this libertarianism. It's really just angry people wanting to have their way.

Krugman is kind of implying that if government isn't working, it's libertarianism. But let's say the government shut down because socialists wanted to have their way. Would that be libertarianism?
 
 
+4 # Texas Aggie 2019-01-13 09:52
Angry people wanting to have their own way? Isn't that a concise definition of libertarianism?

The Kochs are the poster children for libertarianism, and angry people wanting to have their own way is an apt description of them.
 
 
+5 # Texas Aggie 2019-01-13 10:08
The reason for the shutdown is irrelevant. That government is shut down is libertarianism. Removing constraints on people's rights to do whatever they want regardless of effects on others is what libertarianism is all about. The Kochs are Exhibit A.
 
 
+9 # Michaeljohn 2019-01-11 23:34
OK, now I'm interested. Would you please enumerate all of the Libertarian natural rights? Is freedom of religion one? Is one person, one vote one? Is the right to human respect independent of race, creed or sexual orientation one?
Thanks.
 
 
+5 # dbrize 2019-01-12 20:37
Quoting Michaeljohn:
OK, now I'm interested. Would you please enumerate all of the Libertarian natural rights? Is freedom of religion one? Is one person, one vote one? Is the right to human respect independent of race, creed or sexual orientation one?
Thanks.


Though I claim no political label for reasons pertaining to the bastardization of all political terminology as merely tribal labeling, it is my belief from a casual reading of “libertarianism ” that the answer to your questions is “yes” in each case. And, adding one persons right not to vote.

As to enumeration of “all the Libertarian natural rights” I suspect you are aware that this is a tendentious question. As I understand them, rights emanating from “natural rights” are based on the principle of nonaggression but a discussion here would require far more space, study and reflection than available.

To anyone interested in serious study of the concept, I recommend beginning with the works of economist Claude Frederic Bastiat and political theorist Lysander Spooner.
 
 
+5 # Texas Aggie 2019-01-13 10:04
Or how about the right to clean air, water and food? Or how about the right to a good education? Or how about the right to compensation for the value added to some product by their work instead of the profits all going to those who control the system?

Or aren't those considered rights by the libertarians?
 
 
+6 # dbrize 2019-01-13 16:53
Quoting Texas Aggie:
Or how about the right to clean air, water and food? Or how about the right to a good education? Or how about the right to compensation for the value added to some product by their work instead of the profits all going to those who control the system?

Or aren't those considered rights by the libertarians?


Well, my readings of influential left libertarians like Kropotkin, Bakunin, Spooner, Tucker, George and Chomsky tell me the answer is yes.

Libertarianism like many “isms”, is much richer in diversity and substance than sound bites would have us believe.
 
 
+11 # BetaTheta 2019-01-12 11:31
No, it is not anarchism. But, I would say that a lot of purist libertarianism is just the flip side of Marxism - a utopian ideal that works very poorly in the real world.

Marxism ignores the very human tendency to free-ride on a collective system. Libertarianism ignores the tendency of people to screw over their fellows if they can get away with it.

We see it all the time in unregulated business: profit is all, and the harmful "externalities" are pushed off onto the Commons.

Adam Smith's butcher and baker do indeed mutually benefit each other. Market forces are supposed to keep them in line through competition. But if the butcher is upping the weight of his meat with water from that cholera-laden well on the corner, there will be a trail of bodies before his customers catch on (if ever) and competition puts him out of business. Far better to have the Crown's inspectors looking over the butcher's shoulder, regardless of his protests about his “freedom.”

Our modern American libertarianism has become starry-eyed Utopianism, largely in the interest of those who would like government to look the other way from their depredations.
 
 
+1 # Robbee 2019-01-12 11:47
Quoting lnason@umassd.edu:
libertarianism is as distant from anarchy as it is from dictatorship ... to the extent that the shutdown eliminates functions that do defend natural rights (e.g., some EPA functions, border law enforcement), it is an experiment in anarchy

- you beg the question - which of "some EPA functions, border law enforcement" defend natural rights?

and, are natural rights anything more than the right to get away with whatever you can? - as in, in libertarian society, we are all dictators?

finally, if libertarianism is distant from dictatorship, why do fascists always hijack the word "freedom"? - your natural right to get away with whatever you can curtails everyone else's rights?

in other words, on the other hand, is libertarianism as CLOSE TO anarchy as it is to dictatorship?

where is baba on this? - as robbee always says - "libertarians be crazy!"

it is alert of krugman to note the libertarian impulse during periods of extended shutdown!

dickhead is our national emergency! and, unfortunately! repukee senators are our last line of defense!

suspend mcconnel! end the shutdown!
 
 
0 # dbrize 2019-01-12 22:37
Though it’s as near impossible as usual to find a serious point in your nonsense, you might take notice that intelligent thinkers from Henry George to Chomsky come from a libertarian left framework.

Now if the choice of who’s “crazy” is between you and they, I’m sticking with you.
 
 
0 # Texas Aggie 2019-01-13 10:01
Defense of "natural rights" may be the theoretical position of libertarianism, but when one person's rights intrude on another person's rights, under libertarianism it is the one who has the most money who prevails.

How do you decide when a person's right to breathe uncontaminated air intrudes on another person's right to spew toxic gas from their refinery into the environment? How do you decide when a person's right to drink pure water intrudes on a coal mine owner's right to push mountain tops into the streams? How do you decide when the natural right of the public to unsullied national parks runs into the right of a timber baron to clear cut everything in sight or an oil company's right to drill oil wells wherever they want? Under libertarianism, it is the public in general who gets the shaft while the money barons get the elevators.
 
 
+35 # kcmwilson 2019-01-11 16:42
The ground President Trump is standing on is shrinking, as one after another the reasons supporting his wall are being undermined as the realities of the border situation become ever more evident to the public. Arrests are way down, there are no terrorists, drugs come through portals, not across the desert or rivers or non-walled areas. And the immigrants on the whole do fewer criminal acts than the general American public. There is no invasion. These are not evil contagion infected hoards taking our jobs and causing suffering to our populace. In truth we need them to work here and do all those menial jobs we don't want to do. They don't want to do those jobs either, but if it is what they must to to provide for their families, they will do it and do it well. They pay taxes and get nothing back yet they persist. They work much harder than most of us do and complain less...k
 
 
+30 # hectormaria 2019-01-11 16:46
A typical call by a federal worker affected by the shutdown to his boss: 1) "I cannot report to work for the next couple of days because I have to organize a 'garage sale' to make some money to pay for my medications." Or, 2) I cannot report to cover my shift for the next couple of days because I have to paint an apartment in my complex in order to cover this month's rent." Hay bendito!
 
 
+21 # giraffee23 2019-01-11 18:28
Trump and the GOP will NEVER learn -- they either want the rich to get richer or too stupid to see how Orange and his gang will take away ALL their freedom and "entitlements" --- G-d help us if we don't get the GOP OUT and soon. Mueller: Please report as soon as possible. Ruth: please get well -- you are my shinning star forever.

VOTE next election and recruit as many left/progressiv es as you can
 

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.

RSNRSN