Quote of the day

From Mark Kleiman, in a short, but spot-on dig at libertarianism (thanks to Rand Paul, we’re getting a lot of this now):

Once you understand that private as well as public power can threaten freedom, you’re ready to graduate from libertarianism and join one of the adult groups.

Big Steve had his own take on this on facebook.  Not as pithy, but an accurate and concise crtique:

Markets sometimes fail. The assumptions will not always apply. So, governments have a role in making markets work and ameliorating some of the nastier consequences (externalities, severe inequality, etc).

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

3 Responses to Quote of the day

  1. saideman says:

    When I was at TTU and taught Am/TX public policy at a time of debate about the role of government, I pitched two alternatives–nightwatchman and Sweden. And then I would talk about the assumptions behind markets (do you pick a mate based on income earning potential) and about market failures.

    Amazed that a libertarian argument would be playing at all today after the past two years of market failure: the financial sector, the housing industry, the car industry, the oil industry with BP’s mess, etc.

    • Steve Greene says:

      I think that the libertarian arguments will always be popular because they play into fundamental perceptual biases of all humans. We clearly believe that we are in far more control of our own destiny than we actually are and libertarianism simply rewards this false perception. The more one realizes the huge role of chance (right down to the fact that being hardworking is surely genetically determined to a degree) in one’s success, the less likely one is to fall for the libertarian illusion.

  2. We constantly see great examples of the inherent imperfection of markets (information asymmetry, opportunism etc..); so I too wonder have wondered how in the world the libertarian view has sustained itself.

    Steve, I agree that much of libertarianism stems from a somewhat naive belief of individual self-determination; but additionally (and largely related to your point) an overly simplistic view of the world and its institutions.

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