Operational Liberalism & unicorns

E.D. Kain makes the following statement in comparison about his views:

I think I’m probably equal parts liberal and libertarian – a sort of progressive libertarian or market liberal or something of that nature.

On the one hand, I tend to agree with libertarians on markets, incentives, bailouts, and any number of other economic issues. On the other hand, I tend to think that many libertarians are short-sighted when it comes to welfare programs. I think the social safety net enables markets, whereas many libertarians think it hobbles them.

Considering the binary nature of the social programs remark — that either they’re an unalloyed good or they’re pure evil — I can only assume he mostly had vulgar libertarians in mind as his target for this.  Yet, later on within this context he shades towards the 3rd view of state-run social welfare as revolt insurance, that the smoothing out of the market’s rougher edges buys acceptance of the larger system.

Problem: the system people are being paid to accept is not a natural market order.  He acknowledges as much by mentioning the bailouts, which were and continue to be welfare for the rich.  The various inputs placed at the top, between tax subsidies, regulatory favoritism, and the outright full backstopping of the largest players regardless of their behavior, far dwarf even a generous measurement of spending ostensibly to help the poor.  Despite that, look what gets targeted first when the time comes for the political part of the ruling class to mime knowledge of basic math…

Within the rigged status quo, the point of social welfare makes sense, if only because in a rigged system asking “well, where’s mine then?” is inevitable.  If you aren’t going to allow the market to work, people want their rations, and it’d be best for the safety of any remotely sane authority to provide them.  However, stating such as an add-on to enable market order is to call out an animal that isn’t in existence, and prompt a question: how do you get there from here?  If Kain’s vision is of limited, stream-lined social assistance alongside as much spontaneous market order as possible, then the institutionalized robbery (not to mention the rank militarism on display when people dare to point to it) is one huge elephant in the room.  Far as I can tell, the real point of the state is protecting that elephant at all costs.

Sure, if you remove the revolt insurance without yanking the reason for revolt the consequences are obvious.  As for the free market, its simple: we think it would be a good idea.

About b-psycho

Left-libertarian blogger & occasional musician.
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3 Responses to Operational Liberalism & unicorns

  1. Todd S. says:

    I like Kain just as I like Greenwald. Though Kain seems to think of himself as being less mainstream in his politics than he actually is, from what I can tell.

  2. B Psycho says:

    I don’t have a problem with either of them, just challenging something I felt needed to be challenged. As for Kain and mainstream politics, I think with him he’s trying to reconcile some of the systemic critique left-libertarians traffic in with desiring less of a wholesale scrapping than endorsed by it. I understand why someone would see it that way, I’m trying to explain why the conclusion he’s shying away from on things like this was reached in the first place.

    Speaking of Greenwald: the title of his latest book sounds like something one of the c4ss writers would kick themselves for not using first.

  3. Todd S. says:

    I had a brief Google reader comment exchange with Kain a month or two back on an article of his from The LOOG. My takeaway from it was that his idea of what to do about the state, the economy, etc. was pretty much just saying that we should go with liberalism, but actually enforce it this time.

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