Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution-‘My Rand Paul Problem’

Full piece here.

‘The renewed attention to Paul exposes the critical tension between hard-line libertarians and classical liberals. The latter are comfortable with a larger government than hard-core libertarians because they take into account three issues that libertarians like Paul tend to downplay: (1) coordination problems; (2) uncertainty; (3) and matters of institutional design.’

Epstein has a wealth of practical knowledge and theory on law and economics, especially from the libertarian point-of-view:

‘It is important to understand the differences in views between the strong libertarian and classical liberal position. Serious hard-line libertarian thinkers include Murray Rothbard and Karl Hess. Rothbard believes nonaggression is the sole requirement of a just social order. For Hess, “libertarianism is the view that each man is the absolute owner of his life, to use and dispose of as he sees fit.” There are large kernels of truth in both propositions. It is quite impossible to see how any social order could be maintained if there were no limitations against the use, or threatened use, of force to enslave or butcher other people, which Hess’s proposition of absolute self-ownership strongly counteracts.’

He finishes with:

‘As Tanenhaus and Rutenberg note, Rand Paul knows that he must move to the center to become a credible political candidate. If he embraces a classical liberal framework, he can meet the objections of his critics without abandoning the best elements of his own libertarian position. ‘

Food for thought.

From the progressive and non-classically liberal-Left, I’m guessing Rand Paul criticism could move from the typical loony-libertarian stuff, to that of a middle-ground-seeking sellout/opportunist if he’s seen as more successful, and therefore more of a threat.  Typical battle-space preparation would likely ensue.

The Right has problems with Paul’s generally anti-war sympathies, and libertarian pro-individual freedom positions more broadly.  Pro-pot, pro-porn, and pro-legalized prostitution talk amongst libertarian circles won’t exactly bring-out the social and religiously conservative vote.  Also, it’s probably worthy of note that nationalism and patriotism have been taking big hits on longer trend lines, or at least in the current mood, it will be harder to justify military spending with a foreseeably unresponsive and bloated Federal Government (technology and globalization, Moore’s Law and the rise of Big Data are all thrown into the mix as well).

Americans are probably not going to be terribly happy with their politics for awhile, and it could be just as hard to justify high-military spending politically from the Right as it is the disastrous Obamacare and more government waste from the progressive Left.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

From Malcolm Greenhill: ‘I believe my good friend, Jeff Hummel, has made the best attempt so far at solving the public goods problem of national defense:’

Related On This Site: Anarcho-capitalism:  Pro-market, anti-state, anti-war…paleo-libertarian: Link To Lew Rockwell Via A Reader…Anarcho-syndicalist, libertarian socialist and sometime blind supporter of lefty causes:  Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of KnowledgeTwo Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’

Catholic libertarianism: Youtube Via Reason TV-Judge Napolitano ‘Why Taxation is Theft, Abortion is Murder, & Government is Dangerous’

New liberty away from Hobbes…rule-following punishers?:Repost-From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’

Steven Pinker curiously goes Hobbesian and mentions an ‘international Leviathan’:   At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas Hobbes

Covering the law and economics from a libertarian perspective: Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution Journal: ‘Three Cheers for Income Inequality’Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution: ‘Death By Wealth Tax’

I’ve got enough friends, thanks, and I’ll read about behavioral economics on my own: Cass Sunstein At The New Republic: ‘Why Paternalism Is Your Friend’Sheldon Richman At Reason: ‘Classical Liberalism Vs. Modern Liberalism’

Libertarianism In The Mainstream?: Rand Paul In The Spotlight

Full post here.

Rand Paul is having to answer some questions surrounding civil rights:

‘Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul scrambled to explain his criticism of the landmark U.S. Civil Rights Act, which outlawed racial discrimination, saying he agrees with its goals but questions the federal government imposing its will on businesses.’

Are you comfortable with?:

-The Federal Government enforcing legislation that seeks to protect and extend rights of citizens who were formerly held by the laws in slavery, so that they may have access to public resources and education, and be regarded as equal under the law? Do you think it’s the business of the state?

-Paying your taxes (property, especially) to state, local and federal entities so that they may maintain the schools and roads and law enforcement where you live? What about when they harbor unions?

-The Federal Government overseeing and enforcing legislation that would potentially require every citizen to acquire health insurance, and vastly extending its influence over the private insurers to reach its goal? (I think this is one of Paul Krugman’s key arguments:  the profound inefficiencies, irregularities and inconsistencies of our health care delivery system have led to spiraling costs that can only be corrected by the Federal Government which is the only entity large enough to do it…such an argument has won the day).

-The Federal Government passing and enforcing legislation to influence the economic activity of those who discover, refine, produce and consume fossil fuels due to the threat of the Climate Change interests?


I can be fairly sure that one reason Rand Paul was elected was to counter the liberal direction of the current administration and Congress, as well as the spending spree they’ve gone on, and their aims to increase federal authority.

I don’t know if I’m fully libertarian because I’ve worried that a narrow group of people would suddenly have political power and a lot bad policy at least could be the result.  I don’t find libertarianism necessarily dangerous (any more than any other set of ideas), nor a threat on the merits as many liberals now feel it necessary to claim.   Rather, it just seems that perhaps libertarians are now more mainstream and having to answer to the current mainstream (and there are important issues in the Civil Rights grilling that Paul should have to clarify).

I have noticed that libertarians grow particularly well in the soil of California (with big labor and big government and big business, perhaps less of a sense of fixed place and much more socially liberal attitudes) and I would posit not necessarily as well in the more socially and religiously conservative areas of the country (though Paul is in Kentucky).

I figure many conservatives haven’t moved all that much in worldview, and are still shocked and getting fatigued living under an Obama White House, and find the libertarian message more attractive.

Addition:  I should add that conservatives might be happy to just let the libertarians do what they do in California:  fight against liberalism.

Another Addition:  Is it fighting, arguing, or agreeing?:  David Bernstein at Volokh has more.

Also On This Site:  Liberaltarianism?:  Will Wilkinson And Jonah Goldberg On Bloggingheads: Updating Libertarianism?From Reason’s Hit And Run: What Kind Of Libertarian Are You?

Milton Friedman applies economic libertarianism to education. Trade Unions try and adapt to globalization.

Kant is a major influence on libertarians, from Ayn Rand to Robert Nozick:  A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”…Link To An Ayn Rand Paper: The Objectivist Attack On Kant

Can you maintain the virtues of religion without the church…?:  From The City Journal: Roger Scruton On “Forgiveness And Irony”…Are we going soft and “European”… do we need to protect our religious idealism enshrined in the Constitution….with the social sciences?…Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People

Nussbaum argues profoundly for more equality, but would this require enshrining ideals in State authority?:  From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum

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