Couldn't agree more with the thoughts in this post from TJIC:
I was discussing this with Dan Geer the other day "“ the fact that individual liberty (social, economic, etc.) is the goal, and democracy (political "liberty") is just a tool to get there "¦ and not even a particularly good tool.
I'd be all in favor of a limited constitutional monarchy, if the result was "“ integrated over time "“ more social and economic freedom....
Leftists don't understand this at all "“ they think that the freedom to vote for your choice of bully who will lord it over everyone else is the paramount right, and they don't recognize economic liberty at all.
I said something similar in this post on why I don't necessarily treasure the right to vote.
Now, don't get me wrong, the right to vote in a representative democracy is great and has proven a moderately effective (but not perfect) check on creeping statism. A democracy, however, in and of itself can still be tyrannical. After all, Hitler was voted into power in Germany, and without checks, majorities in a democracy would be free to vote away anything it wanted from the minority "“ their property, their liberty, even their life. Even in the US, majorities vote to curtail the rights of minorities all the time, even when those minorities are not impinging on anyone else. In the US today, 51% of the population have voted to take money and property of the other 49%.
I go on to discuss what things are more important to a good government than voting.
Arthur Laffer and the ALEC have a report out with lots of economic, tax, and regulatory data about the individual states. This chart caught my eye:
They have a hundred pages explaining why these trends might be, but you and I already know, don't we, just from looking at the names of the states. It is fairly clear that the current Administration is emulating the policies of the bottom 10 in its recovery plans. Which brings me back to the question I have asked before: Where do we all migrate to for freedom when we have screwed up this country?
TJIC has the silver lining nailed for libertarians:
Let us not forget the good news from the election: one statist, speech limiting, freedom-agnostic candidate lost.
I'm kind of ambivalent this morning - I knew in advance that freedom was going to lose again in this election, no matter what the outcome.
If I am depressed this morning, it is more about propositions and side issues than about the President and Congress. Had this been a leftward shift in the county, I could have been satisfied that at least losses in freedom in one area might be substituted by gains in others (though for me personally, changes in economic freedom tend to have far more direct and immediate impact than changes in social freedoms).
But the only pattern I could see yesterday was not leftward but government-ward. In the same states where Democratic candidates won with economic interventionist messages, Constitutional bans on gay marriage also won by sizable majorities. In Arizona, gay marriage was banned, an initiative to limit future tax increases was defeated, an initiative to protect health care choice was defeated, an initiative to soften last year's anti-immigrant legislation was defeated, and a payday loan ban was confirmed. The voting in some way defies a traditional left-right explanation and is only consistent in that it was almost all the reverse of the libertarian position. And to make the results even more irrational, nearly the biggest defeat of any ballot initiative in Arizona was for a pay increase for state legislators -- the voters seem to like government but don't trust or respect the individuals employed there.
After the last Bush election, a number of leftish folks claimed they were moving to Canada or France or wherever. But that's the problem for libertarians in this country -- there is not place to run. Those who want to run away to a country with a more controlling government have 180 or so choices. Those of us who seek more freedom have approximately none.
Update: This slight paraphrase from the movie Zoolander encapsulates my thought on this election:
They're the same! Doesn't anybody notice this? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!
I am actually less frightened by the candidates than by people who seem to get so excited by one or the other of them.
In 1850, the hottest topic in politics was slavery. But an awkwardness developed in the political parties. The Democrats were pretty clearly the pro-slavery party, or at least the conservative maintain the status quo party. But the Whigs, their opposition, were internally split on slavery. What that meant was that there was no obvious home for the voters who were against the expansion of slavery into the territories, or more radically, were for slavery's abolition. A Free Soil third party emerged, but the US has always seemed to seek out a two-party equilibrium. In just a few years, the Whigs collapsed, and the anti-slavery wing merged with the Free Soilers to form the Republican party. In the end, having no real contrast among the two major parties on the major issue of the day was unstable.
The only faint hope from this election for libertarians, particularly those concerned with economic freedom issues, is that it may finally highlight to lack of choice we have on these issues between the two major parties. A few examples like Jeff Flake notwithstanding, the Republican party under GWB and McCain have become virtually indistinguishable from the Democrats on most economic freedom issues. While I might have had hope 15 years ago that the Republicans could reinvent themselves as classical liberals, I now think this is demonstrated to be hopeless. Unfortunately, an 1850's style breakup of the party seems unlikely too. So I guess I don't have much hope after all.
Postscript: Remember, it was Republicans who did this:
The chief executives of the nine largest banks in the
United States trooped into a gilded conference room at the Treasury
Department at 3 p.m. Monday. To their astonishment, they were each
handed a one-page document that said they agreed to sell shares to the
government, then Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. said they must
sign it before they left.
"They weren't allowed to negotiate.
Mr. Paulson requested that each of them sign. It was for their own good
and the good of the country, he said, according to a person in the
At least one banker objected. "But by 6:30, all nine chief
executives had signed "” setting in motion the largest government
intervention in the American banking system since the Depression."
In a previous post, I observed that there did indeed seem to be two Americas: the one productive people want to live in, and the one productive people are trying to escape because the local government is so controlling and confiscatory. I further observed that, unfortunately, both Democratic candidates appeared to be from the latter.
This is an interesting follow-up:
"When California faced a Mount Everest-sized $14 billion deficit in
2003, one of the major causes for the red ink was the stampede of
millionaire households from the state," says a report called "Rich
States, Poor States" by economists Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore.
"Out of the 25,000 or so seven-figure-income families, more than 5,000
left in the early 2000s, and the loss of their tax payments accounted
for about half the budget hole."
I am not sure how they got to this number, but holy crap! 20% of the wealthiest families left the state? I'm not sure even Hugo Chavez is doing that poorly.
Update: Even more here, comparing inward and outward migration rates of states vs. a state-by-state economic freedom index.