Milton Freidman

Libertarianism is like the new communism, dude

Michael Hamilton is a libertarian writer living in Washington, D.C. His main interests are economics, drug legalization, immigration, and land-use policy.

Libertarianism is the new communism, at least if you ask Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu:

Most people would consider radical libertarianism and communism polar opposites: The first glorifies personal freedom. The second would obliterate it. Yet the ideologies are simply mirror images. Both attempt to answer the same questions, and fail to do so in similar ways.

This colorful lede suggested they might offer a new critique of libertarianism, but my hopes were quickly dashed. The authors end up retreading old arguments—seemingly unaware that others had done so many times before. Their failure to offer a substantive appraisal of libertarian ideas may stem from low familiarity with libertarianism itself.

Hanauer and Liu start with a decent definition of libertarianism, namely that it is “the ideology that holds that individual liberty trumps all other values.” This is fairly accurate characterization of the moral beliefs held by many libertarians. Unfortunately, the authors struggle to trace these moral foundations to basic philosophical  or policy positions held by actual libertarians.

Jim DeMint Gets Milton Friedman’s Immigration Views Wrong

Michael Hamilton is a libertarian writer living in Washington, D.C. His main interests are economics, immigration, and land-use policy.

Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint took to the pages of the Washington Post this morning to defend his institution’s latest report on immigration, in which the ludicrous claim that “amnesty” would cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion is made.

I’ll leave analysis of the study itself to others (and boy, are they really piling on), but I take exception to the very first sentence of DeMint’s op-ed:  ”The economist Milton Friedman warned that the United States cannot have open borders and an extensive welfare state.”

Every now and again a particular clip from a larger Milton Friedman speech is brought up, and this debate is rehashed in libertarian circles. In it, Friedman says, “it is one thing to have free immigration to jobs. It is another thing to have free immigration to welfare. And you cannot have both.” This is what DeMint is referencing, and he seems to think it supports either his general point of view or his immigration policy prescriptions. I believe that either is unlikely.

What is America Becoming?

A few months ago, I was temporarily immersed in the recent history of Eastern Europe. I was devouring Ayn Rand’s We the Living, Michael G. Roskin’s The Rebirth of East Europe and Joe Sacco’s Safe Area Gorazde.

Is it time we adopted a Universal Basic Income?

One of the reasons that Mitt Romney and the Republicans lost Tuesday came down to one simple thing: people like free stuff. No, really. They want politicians to give them free stuff. The 47% comment rings true. It is, as Bastiat said, legal plunder, and people will totes vote for guys who will make sure they’re on the receiving end of the plunder.

Maybe conservatives and libertarians should go for more of this.

Okay, now that you’ve picked yourself up off the floor, having fallen there in shock, or reinflated your forehead, having violently flattened against your desk, hear me out. I’m not suggesting that conservatives and libertarians give up their principled stand for the free market and become socialists. Quite on the contrary, what I suggest has been supported and proposed by no less conservative/libertarian luminaries as Frederich Hayek, Milton Friedman, and Charles Murray.

You can probably see where I’m going with this: I think it’s time we start to seriously discuss the idea of a basic income guarantee. In a nutshell, this would be an annual payout to all citizens, establishing a “floor” of sorts for people’s income. Charles Murray, an intellectual titan residing at the American Enterprise Institute, put this idea into book form in 2006 with In Our Hands. He explained his idea in a publication by the Foundation for Law, Justice, and Society in the UK [PDF]:

Happy Birthday, Milton Friedman

Today would have been Milton Friedman’s 98th birthday. To celebrate, here is the Nobel Prize Laureate and school choice advocate explaining why there is no such thing as a free lunch. To learn more about Friedman and his ideas, check out the Free to Choose series.

Schwarzenegger on Freidman

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I’ve been a supporter of Arnold Schwarzenegger since the 2003 California recall, and I don’t regret it one bit. Alot of Californians (along with those just living there temporarily) like to beat up on Schwarzenegger for the sorry state of California, but it is painfully obvious that the problems California faces are the result of national economic decline combining with problems California has had for years. Schwarzenegger has been serious about his job since day one. Unfortunately, the problems that state faces are too momentous for one man to tame.

In this appearance on Milton Freidman’s “Free to Choose” television series, Schwarzenegger makes a lovely and warm endorsement of Freidman’s ideas. In addition to his appearance on Freidman’s program, I recommend that you watch his appearance on, in which he talks much needed sense about the need for the US to develop a high-speed rail system.

The Rise of Authoritarian Capitalism?

There is a podcast which I believe readers of this blog would thoroughly enjoy. It’s called “Common Sense with Dan Carlin.” Dan Carlin refuses to label his political views along the familiar lines, but he would be best placed as a libertarian of the angrier variety. In his latest episode, “Intoxicated Priorities,” Carlin argues that together Russia and China both qualify as “authoritarian capitalism.”

The term struck me because it instantly made sense. In China, you can go to McDonald’s and get a Big Mac, buy a big screen TV and sell your used stuff on eBay. There are plenty of entrepreneurs in Moscow. The aggressive socialism of Stalin and Mao is gone. However, there isn’t personal freedom. Bloggers are jailed in China and journalists are murdered in Russia.

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