August 09, 2005

Hey, Big Spenders?

I discuss embryo-research in a column today at TechCentralStation, and argue what a lot of libertarians seem to have forgotten: federal spending hikes are bad.

Posted by John Tabin at August 9, 2005 03:15 AM

I read your column. I do not agree that there's any real evidence that Libertarians are supporting big government, simply because those you list as supporting such are certainly not by any stretch of the imagination libertarians. For example, Glenn Reynolds seems to be a nice guy with a few libertarian leanings, and he may well describe himself as libertarian, but that's where it ends: I don't think Glenn really knows what the word means. The same goes for the others mentioned in your column, in my view. I would think a more accurate description of them would be liberal Republicans (or perhaps "libertarian" Republicans), good candidates for the Republican Liberty caucus, if they were in Congress.

Posted by: Henry Bowman at August 9, 2005 11:28 AM

I largely agree with "Henry's comments.

You make the mistake of using the large "L" in "Big Government Libertarianism",
implying the the LP has come out in support of increased government spending,
based not on LP press releases or PR campaigns but the comments of people that are
not directly associated with the LP.

Instead, what you offered was three people that have libertarian leanings,
but as far as I am aware are not LP members, much less LP candidates
or party spokespeople.

You should correct the mistake by changing the title of your article and clarifying
that you are referring to self described libertarians, not the LP directly.

Posted by: smallgovisbest at August 9, 2005 04:36 PM

Henry: Whether or not Ron Bailey and the bloggers mentioned are pure enough to be called libertarians isn't a particularly interesting question to me. (I think the answer is yes, by the way.) I'm more concerned with why they're wrong on this particular issue, and wrong in a way that betrays their generally libertarian instincts.

smallgovisbest: The only reason there's a big "L" is because titles of articles are capitalized. I use the small-l form throughout the column. I doubt many people were confused.

Posted by: John Tabin at August 9, 2005 07:48 PM

John Tabin:

You're correct, of course, in that it is curious that many who claim to be libertarians are pressing for more government spending, despite the fact that the current Administration in particular seemingly "can't say no" to any proposed increase in government spending. Sometimes I think such people have simply given up whatever ideals they may have once had.

However, there seems to be an increasing number of writers these days who call themselves libertarians but who advocate many positions that would make traditional libertarians groan. Glenn Reynolds fits into this category, as well as most of the contributors to the Volokh Conspiracy, nearly all of whom describe themselves as libertarians. I think such writers give those ignorant of libertarianism (which is the majority of readers, I'm sure) a distorted view of the philosophy.

Posted by: Henry Bowman at August 10, 2005 08:40 AM

Really enjoyed this article John. I've been telling people for the last several years that I supported President Bush's position on stem-cell funding. I don't suppport it for the same reason as Pres. Bush but quite simply because the Federal Gov't has no business funding stem cell research. I just wish the President would take the same no federal funding stance on about 10,000 other government programs! I have no problem with this type of research when funded by private enterprise and investors.

I'm glad you pointed out the hypocrisy of those so-called libertarians on this issue. It shows me that more and more people out there are finding it trendy to call themselves Libertarians without really knowing what the principles of Libertarianism are.

Posted by: Mark Ward at August 10, 2005 10:05 AM