Sunday, September 03, 2006

Missed opportunities for outreach

Sheldon Richman, editor of The Freeman, has not-too-gradually thrown himself into the Left Libertarian camp over the past year. He posted yesterday on a major failing of libertarians — missing opportunities for outreach to the Left. If I may, here’s Sheldon:

“Libertarians constantly miss opportunities to appeal to good-faith left-leaners who are concerned that working people get the short end of the stick. Yes, they are subject to economic fallacies that should be addressed. Yes, they may misuse or misinterpret wage and total-compensation statistics. Yes, they may fall victim to demagogues such as Paul Krugman. Yes, people generally live far better today than they lived 20 and 30 years ago — although we don’t give enough attention to how the Fed’s easy-credit policies can create illusions of prosperity or how the government has inflated the price of housing, food, medicine, education, and energy. All those things should be explained patiently and clearly.

“But I fear that we miss the forest for the trees. We live in a corporate state, not a free economy. What are we arguing about? Whether the corporate state treats workers better than the left says it does? Big deal! What does that do to advance the cause of liberty?”

This post should really be read in its entirety. You’ll find it at the link above. Also see his related article, "Eye on the Ball," which you will find here.


At 12:22 PM, Blogger Per Bylund said...

Sheldon Richman was quoted saying:
But I fear that we miss the forest for the trees. We live in a corporate state, not a free economy. What are we arguing about?

This is exactly right. There are too many libertarians not understanding the world is not a free market. I recently read Swedish libertarian writer Johan Norberg's latest book (in Swedish only). He frequently repeats "this" is what happens in "a free market." What is it that he, and many others, don't understand?

I wrote a column on Strike the Root on this universally applied libertarian free-market logic. It is just that it is applied on a non-free market. That doesn't make sense.

At 2:07 PM, Blogger Sheldon Richman said...

Wally, thanks for the link. It is imperative that we wake libertarians up to this point. Thanks again.

At 5:27 AM, Blogger B.W. Richardson said...

Terrific articles (and responses) that helped me understand the issues, but I'm not sure how you reach out to the contemporary "Left," which can't seem to address any issue without turning to a public sector solution.

It's clear we live in a corporate state, but how do you get through to people who take that knowledge and seek ways to increase government's ability to punish corporations?

And of course, on the other hand how do you get through with people on the "Right" who constantly seek ways to increase government's ability to enhance corporate power?

I guess the answer is to keep referring people to articles like Richman's that point this stuff out so clearly even a government-control freak can figure it out ... Doh! I get it now ...


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