Thursday, September 08, 2005

The rich are different from you or me

You may have noticed that I'm not much of a liberal. I've grown more libertarian in recent years, and I think there are limits to what government can do to ameliorate poverty and other adverse social conditions. I also think there is plenty of room for reasonable people to disagree over the proper role of government.

But what I can't tolerate are those conservatives who claim that there are no class divisions in America, or that Americans don't think of themselves as belonging to a social class. Perhaps that's an illusion that comforts the middle class. But the very rich and the very poor know damn well that there are class divisions in this country. And no one who is honest with themselves can look at what happened in New Orleans and deny that. For further proof, check out how the very rich are getting by in the Big Easy.


Blogger Amos_thePokerCat said...

You may think of yourself as not being much of a liberal, but no one would mistake you for a conservative. Left of center libertarian? Possible in theory, but it seems like an oxymoron.

If you want to see hard core class divisions, work in Europe.

10:49 PM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

I never said I was a conservative. I'm sure my libertarian friends would say you either are a libertarian or you aren't. But I don't think a left-leaning libertarian is any more of an oxymoron than a right-leaning one.

8:47 AM

Blogger Amos_thePokerCat said...

Yes, I know you never said you were a conservative. No one would mistake you for one. You said you were not much of a liberal. Not convinced. Maybe it is more that the Dem party has moved some far to the left, and you have just been stationary.

Well, concider the history of well know libertarian figures from the 50s, and on. Buckley, Ayn Rand. Strongly anti-communist.

Ron Paul (born in PIT, Dormant actually), former Libertarian candidate during the 80's, now an elected Rep from Galveston, 14th Texas district.

I can not name one well known Dem now, or at anytime, has been associated with Libertarianism (little "l"), Objectivism, or the Austrian School of Economics, etc.

11:24 PM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

Actually, I wouldn't have been much of a liberal in 1965, either.

William Buckley is indeed a well-known libertarian-leaning conservative. He also never held elected office. Nor did Ayn Rand. (Who many libertarians take a rather dim of view of in any case.) And I'm guessing that Ron Paul is never going to rise much further than a backbencher in the House.

My point is that libertarians, true, hard-core libertarians, won't find much of a home in either of our two dominant political parties. When the Republican Party was dominated by economic rather than social conservatives, they certainly had more common cause with libertarians than Democrats ever had. But Reagan was no libertarian. Goldwater closer, but more in comparison to today's Republicans than in his own time.

8:21 AM

Blogger Amos_thePokerCat said...

Well, Kennedy was not much of a liberal in 1960 either. He actually ran to the right of Nixon, IMHO. Cut the top tax rate from 90% down to 70%. Yah, er, sort of. Well, it was a start. Tough on Cuba.

I disagree, libertarians and conservatives generally agree on limiting the size and intrusion of the Federal government into people's lives. The only thing the left is passionate about limiting government involvement in is regulating abortion, and maybe a few fringe hemp true believers.

I did not mean to imply that all the people listed had to be elected R's, or rise to party leadership. Just that there is cross fertilization between converatives and libertarians. There was an old book interview with Buckley on CSpan last weekend, and he made esentially the same argument. Buckley did run for Mayor of NYC, and lost with 15% of the vote.

From my point of view there is maybe 30% overlap between conservatives, and libertarians. There is maybe 1% overlap with liberals.

Of course, the hard core "Capital L" Libitarians agree with no one, on general principles.

12:30 AM

Blogger Amos_thePokerCat said...

Reagan is probably as libertarian as any one can be and still be elected Prez. He was a hard core fan of NR. A quote from a NTY's review of another Buckley book.

There remain those, some of them Bill’s comrades in arms, who find this hard to reconcile: the sailor who escapes it all with the man who helped give America Ronald Reagan (when I was there, the magazine had matchbooks printed with a picture of President Reagan reading NR under the caption: “I got my job through National Review”).

Then again Andrew Sulivan was a speech writer for Thatcher.

1:54 AM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

It is true that the conservative movement has long advocated for smaller government and minimal economic regulations. Those are certainly not liberal values. On those issues, you are absolutely correct.

But libertarians are not only concerned with free markets. Few conservatives--Buckley being a notable exception--have ever seriously called for an end to the drug war. (Though that is changing.) Most libertarians are anti-interventionists, and while they certainly were opposed philosophically to communism and Soviet totalitarianism, many took a dim view of some of our adventures in Central America, for example. (Of course, muscular anti-communism once was a Democratic virtue as well.)

And I'm being kind here by not bringing up the religious right, which has hijacked the conservative movement and poses a serious threat to intellectual and personal freedom.

1:42 PM

Blogger Amos_thePokerCat said...

The scarey religious right. What are some of the things they would like as actual legisition? School vouchers? Pretty libertarian. Ok, I was wrong, the overlap of libertarians, and conservatives is probably closer to 40%, not 30%.

Drug legalization? Is that part of the Democrat platform? Any mainstream Dems proposing it? There are more people left of center that want that than right of center, but not for any philosophical reason. They are just more likely to use illegal drugs, and don't want to get caught. Nice try, though.

Anti-intercentionists like Pat Buchanan?

Most Libtarians believe if there is one thing the federal government should tax and spend on, it is to provide for the common defense. (There are fringe Libertarians that disagree.) I would say that is the one thing the left least is willing to spend on.

I disagree that most practical libertarians are anti-interventionist on the war on terror. Clearly, it was a failure to close our eyes and hope it went away for eights years under Clinton. The only logical next step is an agressive interventionist war with a voluntary military. Other than giving up.

Then again, most libertarians would agree that people should be allowed to form private mercenary militias to engage in foreign interventionism. That was not an available option.

10:34 AM

Blogger Amos_thePokerCat said...

"a serious threat to intellectual and personal freedom."

Oh, please. ... but not much of a liberal. ROFLMAO.

10:37 AM

Blogger Jonathan Potts said...

I think my original point when we started this fascinating conversation was that neither mainstream political party provides much of a home for true Libertarians. Again, the lesser of two evils may be the GOP, but that was more true 10-15 years ago than it is today. And I never set out to defend the Democratic Party.

I may have exxagerated the religious right's influence, but not their intentions.

11:33 AM

Blogger Amos_thePokerCat said...

So the intentions of the religious right are ... a serious threat to intellectual and personal freedom, even if they really can't do that much? Ah, ok then.

I need to get back to work. Too much gaffawing at my screen is attracting unwanted attention.

1:18 PM

Blogger Amos_thePokerCat said...

I am sure of nothing so little as my own intentions.

-- Byron

1:25 PM

Blogger Amos_thePokerCat said...

Alright, alright, just one more data point.

In 1980, largest percentage ever, and since, for a national Libertarian candidate, 1.06%. If they found a home, would anyone notice?

1:35 PM


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