Libertarian

‘London Whale’ upsets J.P. Morgan

As many of you may already know, insvestment banking firm J.P Morgan recently lost nearly $2.3 billion dollars on some very, very, bad bets.

Sources in the MSM accordingly, show a trader only dignified by the sobriquet ‘London Whale’ was able to hedge together larger shares of Morgan company money and place them on malevolent trade returns. They did not pay off.

Some circles call it business as usual. Other circles call this collusion, or extended risk. Yet others would call this, hedging- or: placing large assets on wide-open targets, at just the right time and place. I don’t need to mention the implications of this; we’re back to 2007, when the Recession we are currently in, evolved- by these means.

Now, clearly- you could claim- the company knew what it’s employees were aiming at with their stoked assets. They didn’t. This story is just emerging, but it seems clear that this is a perfect example of those who don’t know what they are doing, laksadaising large amounts of money; and wielding power so great, there could be serious repercussions.

Gladly, at least so far, there have been few.

Nevertheless, what this shows is not only nefariousness on the part of some, but also the evident close ties in finance between Europe and the United States. We may think this country is just pulling from a recession, when in reality we’re right back to 2007, or earlier.

Entire Markets and nations are tanking in Europe: acidic debt scouring away at the health of entire economies. The European Union ready to dissect into multiple breakaway-province nationalities. National furor is high, while economic support has hit all-time lows.

At first sight, the entire investments-gone-wrong scenario would yearn for more oversight- but beware of what you ask for! Oversight by whom? I don’t think market regulation is a particularly good example of solving fiscal ‘problems’ by any stretch of the economic imagination.

Gary Johnson Won’t Spoil Romney

Much hash has been made lately of Gary Johnson taking the Libertarian Party nomination. He is probably the highest-profile candidate to run for the party in the past twenty years, thanks to his eight years of executive experience in New Mexico as a Republican, his hard-hitting libertarian principles, and the fact that, well, let’s face it: the guy is just cool.

I mean, scaling Mt. Everest? Vetoing over 750 bills? Saying weed, gay rights, and gun rights are all a-ok? That’s just not something that comes around every four years. And he’s also (relatively) young, which is always a plus. (Sorry, Ron.)

Naturally, though, a lot of people are exhibiting signs of a disease calling “Spoileritis.” A perfect example comes from a comment on Bob Barr’s Daily Caller column about Gary Johnson. Our erudite fan writes

A vote for this party is a vote for Obama.  Period.  Consider yourselves responsible for the destruction of this country for good!

Except there is zero evidence that this is the case.

Gary Johnson’s calls to slash 43% of military spending, end the Drug War, and most importantly, unabashedly legalize same-sex marriage, none of which are positions held by most Republicans. Instead, those positions are decidedly liberal, more on the side of Obama’s supporters. So when people go to the polls this November, it is likely that he will draw more supporters from Obama’s camp than Romney’s.

Chris Barron, chair of GOProud, the GOP’s gay and lesbian group, said the same thing in an interview with the Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis:

Gary Johnson is not a…wait, what?

Last week, I read a very interesting op-ed by Thomas Mullen that went by the title of “Gary Johnson is not a libertarian”:

Throughout this election cycle, Gary Johnson’s name has been omnipresent as a libertarian alternative. There’s only one problem. Gary Johnson is not a libertarian.

This just seems to be occurring to some of the faithful after his disastrous interview with the Daily Caller. In it, Johnson proposes to cut the military budget by 43 percent. However, when pressed on one hypothetical military intervention after another, Johnson refuses to rule any out. He’d consider military intervention for humanitarian reasons. He believes that the United States should maintain a military presence in the Middle East. He would continue drone attacks in Pakistan. By the end of the interview, libertarians were likely waiting for Johnson to rip off a mask Scooby Doo villain-style, revealing he was really Dick Cheney in disguise.

This gets back to the point I made in my last blog post about problems with the libertarian movement, specifically foreign policy. We, as a movement, have gotten way too puritanical about what makes libertarians libertarians. Many insist on an absolutionist view of the non-aggression principle, when really, the entire goal of libertarianism is simply maximizing individual liberty.

Everything Wrong With The Libertarian Movement, Part 2: IP

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about what was wrong with the libertarian movement today, the mistakes and missteps we’ve perpetuated. I’ve been working on continuing the series, but there are several issues that are all complex. My initial post was more about the PR angle of it; the next three deal with actual philosophy. The three major problems that I see—and will explore in individual posts—is the current debate over intellectual property rights, the preoccupation with Rothbardian/Rockwellian anarcho-capitalism, and what I see as indequate foreign policy positions. All three of which, I think, make libertarianism look immature and unserious, and threaten its viability with the American public.

In this post, I’ll look into intellectual property rights; also, take a look at my first post, as well as read Tom Knighton’s excellent post on being more inclusive to moderate libertarians, and even letting them run the movement. But first, let’s look at IPR.

Many libertarians—not all, but many—are part of the anti-intellectual property movement. They argue that copyright is wrong, that one cannot have property rights in a mere idea, and that filesharing and data piracy should be completely legit and permissible. The main foundation for this position is that digital goods and intellectual goods cannot be scarce, thus you can’t have property in them. Stephen Kinsella, furthermore, argues over at Mises that this is theft—intellectual property rights would give A control over B’s property, by telling B not to use his or her property in certain ways.

All of this is balderdash.

The Coase Theorem in Action: Exercise Edition

 Emily is the in-shape person on the right.

Crossposted from The Dangerous Servant.

My girlfriend Emily, fierce competitor and endurance athlete, celebrated her first “Whole Iron Woman” blog anniversary over the weekend — you can count that among one of many proud boyfriend moments!

While it’s a bit late for Valentine’s Day, gushing over one’s significant other is never out of style. Emily and I met several years ago when I was on hiatus from college and working as a bartender at a small, independent restaurant in Nashville. Unbeknownst to me, I waited on her and her family a time or two before we actually met. After being introduced by mutual friends, we went out a couple times (and by “went out” I mean I dragged her to my favorite dive bar, and then to my bi-weekly all-night poker game), and we eventually lost touch after she moved to New Jersey to work on statewide races.

Cato and the Future of Libertarianism

An earthquake rocked the libertarian world last week when news broke that a lawsuit had been filed over the ownership of shares in the Cato Institute, the libertarian think tank founded some 30 year ago in the wake of Ed Clark’s run as the 1980 Libertarian Party Presidential nominee. It started, apparently, last year with the death of William Niskanen, who along with Ed Crane, David Boaz, and countless others, had spent three decades shaping Cato into not just the leading libertarian public policy think tank, but also an organization that has become well-respected on both sides of the political aisle.

It’s difficult to list everything that Cato has done in the past thirty years, because they’ve done so much. They publish numerous publicy policy analyis reports on every subject that the nation’s leaders deal with. For many years they have published a guide book for each new Congress. Since the late 1980s they have run Cato University, an opportunity for young libertarians to learn from an interact with some truly great minds. Indeed, yours truly particlpated in one of those seminars at Dartmouth College in 1989 and I still remember it as one of the most intellectually engaging weeks of my life. That’s just a short list, I’m sure I’m missing something.

In any case, the dispute that is rocking Cato now is, as I said rooted in the death of William Niskanen last year, and a shareholder agreement with Charles and David Koch:

The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch filed a lawsuit Wednesday for control of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington.

What’s More Important: Liberty or Nonpartisanship?

I had an interesting discussion with Doug Mataconis and Brian Lehman on Twitter last night about partisanship and polarization in American politics. It was, of course, initiated over the death of Andrew Breitbart, conservative “journalist” extraordinaire, who infuriated many on the left and whose death brought out a number of deplorable comments that were akin to dancing on his grave. As Brian wrote:

And as Doug Mataconis tweeted later:

Who Has The Party Delegates?

What all the GOP candidates are after, are so-called ‘delegates.’Elected officials that will broker the convention of either party this fall. Officials are parcelled by the amount of votes, the candidates receive in the primary.

During Michigan’s primary recently, for instance, there were 30 official delegates, state-wide. Two were ‘at-large’ candidates, which meant they could be assigned individually to any winning candidate. The other 28 were ‘proportional’ ones, alotted through 14 congressional districts. During the push for the nominations in Michigan last night, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum spent millions of dollars to influence the voting population; with TV ads, pamphlets, media, interviews, rallies, stickers, and much more. Michigan’s grand sum of politcal expenditure was near six million bucks.

Delegates are what really counts at the GOP convention. What looks to be happening, is that no clear winner will come out victorious. There’s a righteous number: 1444 delegates will win any nominee the victory-nod of the Republican National Committee. Nationwide, 2169 delegates are extended for contestation, until the RNC celebration in Tampa, Florida. From the RN Committee, an additional 117 delegates are added into the mix, ostensibly to keep debate lively and clear-up dead locks. So what appears, on first looks, to be a rather hot-headed and fast paced Republican rocket-launch to the RNC, is more like a jammed or misfired pistol in a duel.

Momentarily, Mitt Romney is in the lead, with 167 total delegates. Rick Santorum is second with roughly half, at 87. Newt Gingrich won only one state and has 32, while Ron Paul has 19 carefully collected delegations. The count may reshuffle at any moment, since constitutionalism and populism together, ring alarm-bells in states such as Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

Why The Libertarian-Conservative Alliance Can’t Survive Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum, after his recent wins in Minnesota, Colorado, and Missouri; appears to be the GOP frontrunner. If you look at Santorum’s record and rhetoric, he would appear to be the best fit for the Republican Party. Indeed, it is almost hard now not to imagine a scenario where Santorum is not the nominee.

However, if the GOP decides to nominates him, it will put an end to the fiction that the GOP is a limited government party. It will also put an end to what is left of the conservative-libertarian alliance.

Santorum is the only candidate running for president who is openly hostile to libertarianism. Santorum’s record is abysmal on fiscal issues. He voted for the Medicare prescription drug entitlement, No Child Left Behind, numerous earmarks and pork barrel projects, voted against NAFTA and is generally opposed to free trade. His proposals on foreign aid have won praise from Bono, the rest of the Third World poverty pimps, and their allied Tranzi NGOs. The Sweater Vest also wants to maintain a tax code that is riddled full of deductions and loopholes rewarding selected constituencies, instead of proposing a simpler system that is fairer to all. Rick Santorum, far from being the next Reagan, appears to be a compassionate conservative in the mold of George W. Bush. Finally, Rick Santorum last summer in a speech declared war on libertarians.

In a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon in Harrisburg last summer, Santorum declared, “I am not a libertarian, and I fight very strongly against libertarian influence within the Republican Party and the conservative movement.”

Is Libertarianism Part of the Conservative Movement?

Last night I attended a debate held at the American Enterprise Institute between Jonah Goldberg of National Review Online (and the Institute itself), author of Liberal Fascism and other notable works, and Matt Welch, of reason fame and the author of The Declaration of Independents. The question posed by the debate has been argued over ever since Franklin Delano Roosevelt began the New Deal, and conservatives and libertarians—then known as “classical liberals”—allied in order to present a unified front to keeping the massive new nanny state at bay. It was reinforced in the fifties when William Buckley formed National Review, and presented his argument for a “fusionist” political movement. It’s been going on for a long time, and it will continue to go on long into the future. Despite the jokes about it, the debate did not solve the question for most people. I, however, left convinced more than ever that libertarianism and conservatism do not mix.


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