Did libertarians enjoy the reduction of the government’s influence during the shutdown?
According to Scott Shackford, no.
Last week, the columnist for the libertarian magazine, Reason.com, wrote an article titled, “The Government Shutdown and Our Permission Society: Many private harms caused by the government shutdown are due to its own insistence on meddling in our lives.” Its clear to see that many private enterprises are negatively affected by the shutdown. According to Scott Shackford, the adverse affects on private commerce during the shutdown demonstrate the dangers of too much bureaucracy.
Rather than feeling angry about the government shutdown, Shackford argues that people should be angry about, “having to jump through so many hoops in the first place.” Its no secret that “hoops” such as laws and regulations take their toll on the profitability and efficiency of businesses. But without these regulations, businesses would threaten the collective good. For example, the degradation of the environment would be exacerbated by a libertarian economic system. At its core, regulation exists to protect and preserve the wellbeing of the public.
Libertarian ideology is based on upholding individual freedoms; therefore the Laissez- Faire market is the ideal economic system for libertarianism. Shackford’s argument that regulation hurts businesses and the economy is short- sighted because unregulated markets are more subject to market failures. Some economists argue that when the government does not intervene in the market failures, monopolies or oligopolies may result and stifle innovation (Bruce Domazlicky). For this reason, free markets do not always create the best market outcomes.
Little to my surprise, the quiz categorized my political viewpoints as “solid liberal.” Liberals promote active government involvement (of the environment, the poor, and the economy), support diversity, and engage in political activism. As I read (and objected to) the opinions expressed in Scott Shackford’s article, my natural impulse was to disregard the piece, and move on to the next one. It is more comfortable to read the news when it validates what I think I already know. In taking the time to analyze the author’s argument I gained a better understanding of libertarian economics through their application to the government shutdown. While my opinion didn’t waver as a result of reading the article, interpreting divergent opinions helped me to strengthen my own understanding of the purpose of the government and the meaning of the shutdown.
More on “Solid Liberals”
What They Believe:
- Strongly pro-government and very liberal on a broad range of issues
- Very supportive of regulation, environmental protection and government assistance to the poor
- One of the most secular groups; 59% say that religion is not that important to them
- Supportive of the country’s growing racial and ethnic diversity
- Two-thirds disagree with the Tea Party
Who They Are:
- Highly politically engaged
- 75% are Democrats
- Concentrated in the Northeast and West
- 57% are female
- Best educated of the groups: 49% hold at least a bachelor’s degree and 27% have post-graduate experience
- A third regularly listen to NPR, about two-in-ten regularly watch The Daily Show and read The New York Times
- 59% have a passport
- 42% regularly buy organic foods
- 21% are first or second generation Americans
- Scott Shackford on the Government Shutdown and America’s Permission-Based Society (reason.com)
- Silk Road Online Drug Bazaar was a Libertarian “Economic Simulation” (junkyphilosophy.wordpress.com)