Other people, they have to work

Julian Sanchez of Cato says he’ll quit if the Kochpaclyapse comes to fruition, admitting that it’s easy for him to lose his j-o-b temporarily since he doesn’t have kids or a mortgage. Corey Robin makes a smart point about what this says about libertarians attitudes towards FREEDOM:

Sanchez’s youth, his lack of a mortgage and kids—all these material factors and conditions make his exercise of freedom less costly to him and thus more likely to occur. (Indeed, this afternoon he tweeted, “As I wrote, not in a huge hurry, but have fine options if it comes to that.”) Presumably someone not so unencumbered would not be so likely to exercise her freedom. That, it seems, is the clear implication—the presupposition, in fact—of his claim.

[….]

More to the point: is one’s individual freedom not increased by measures such as unemployment compensation, guaranteed health insurance, public pensions, higher wages, strong unions, state-funded or provided childcare—the whole panoply of social democracy that most libertarians see as not only irrelevant to but an infringement upon individual freedom?

In one sense, of course, the libertarians are right: such measures require taxation and redistribution, limitations on what people can do with their property, all of which do infringe upon some limited group of people’s freedom. But by providing to others some version of the freedom from material constraints that Sanchez already enjoys—state-sponsored childcare, for instance, being in one limited respect the financial inverse of not having children at all—such measures would also enhance the freedom of a great many more.






50 replies
  1. 1
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    What a surprise, a kid is a libertarian because who needs to worry about the uncool stuff that the adults worry about.

  2. 2
    Bort says:

    Oh please. The sugar daddy wingnut welfare system will take care of all these “intellectuals”.

  3. 3

    Well of course. The idea that women should just “find another job” if their employer doesn’t, say, offer contraception coverage as part of her insurance plan is just another Libertarian fantasy.

    I really hate Libertarians. You know what another Libertarian fantasy is? Ron Paul for president. He has yet to bring in ONE electoral vote and yet RonBots still hammering up his damn campaign signs everywhere. And when he loses it’s always because of some big conspiracy, like, Ooooh the crazy old guy with the funny eyebrows is such a threat!

    Please.

  4. 4
    Dr. Loveless says:

    Cracked.com is on point here:

    6 Things Rich People Need to Stop Saying

  5. 5
    Sly says:

    It is a truly noble soul who comforts both the aristocrat and the peasant with the assurance that they are equally free to sleep under bridges.

  6. 6
    Not Sure says:

    @Southern Beale: And you gotta wonder just whose freedom Ron Paul and his merry band of retards are defending. Sure ain’t yours…or mine. Freedom to starve? Freedom to lose your house? Please.

  7. 7
    shortstop says:

    There’s even some evil mothers…they’ll tell you that the nonwealthy are just dirt.

  8. 8
    Egg Berry says:

    Second: I hereby tender my pre-resignation from Cato, effective if and when the Kochs take command. I’ll be sad to go, if it comes to that, but sadder to see a proud institution lose its autonomy.

    I’d honestly wish he had to spend two years or so looking for another job, but there seems to be a bottomless pit of employment for pundits.

  9. 9
    Steve says:

    I think Nancy Pelosi made this argument when she talked about how universal health care would encourage entrepeneurship by giving people more options and flexibility, but of course no one listens to that old commie.

  10. 10
    BGinCHI says:

    Heard an interview on NPR one day with Jason Reitman, the guy who directed Up in the Air, etc. He was asked about his politics and said “I lean libertarian.”

    I thought to myself, “yeah, I bet you do. Father a big time, wealthy Hollywood director. You grew up with all the advantages and then followed him into the profession.”

    Right there it is: all of the benefits of society with none of the responsibilities or acknowledgement of what that affords you.

  11. 11
    Mnemosyne says:

    I’m guessing that Sanchez is demonstrating the common libertarian attitude towards “freedom,” which is that it’s something that he earned by making the right choices. People who made the wrong choices — like, say, buying a house or having kids — don’t deserve freedom like he does.

  12. 12
    Scott says:

    This reminds me of the time about 4 years ago when my college son took one of those online quizzes to find out where he fell on the political scale. He called me up and said he fell into the libertarian spot. Without thinking, I replied “Of course, you do”. Intuitively, I realized that he is libertarian because he has no responsibilities. Lots of freedom because he had no outside constraints. Of course, we didn’t mention that his financial freedom came from dear old Dad. Fortunately, he has grown up since then.

  13. 13

    I also like (& linked to) the piece Robin links to from James Grimmelmann noting that libertarianism has nothing to do with how humans act:

    The irony here is that the nation’s preeminent libertarians—who ought to be exquisitely attentive to freedom of contract, institutional design, and observing the letter of the law—couldn’t get their rights right. … If so many libertarians are now so worried about a Koch takeover, one has to ask, why have they spent so many years building a brand with an unshielded thermal exhaust port? …

    [Libertarians argue:] don’t worry about all the other groups that find themselves on the wrong end of a bargain that always seems to tip against them in the long run—if they wanted better protections, they could and should have negotiated for them up front.

    Except they don’t. They never do. And really. If the uber-libertarians of the Cato institute can’t watch out for themselves, what hope is there for the rest of us?

    Libertarianism is ethnocentric identity politics for rich white people.

  14. 14
    BGinCHI says:

    I suggest we call this guy Dirty Sanchez from now on.

    If the mustache fits….

  15. 15
    Gordon, The Big Express Engine says:

    @Southern Beale: my favorite libertarian is my “friend” on facebook that forwards links from reason, freedonworks and cato ALL the time. He has 105 friends and is a public school teacher in Virginia. He rails against (in his mind) the obvious crony capitalism of the Obama administration and than unironically forwards thought pieces from Freedomworks…

  16. 16

    So can we just acknowledge that libertarians are emotional adolescents with no sense of responsibility, and get on with our lives?

    Thanks so much.

  17. 17
    harlana says:

    Sarah Palin can go fuck herself with a vaginal probe for defending Rush. sorreh.

  18. 18
    Gordon, The Big Express Engine says:

    @Democratic Nihilist, Keeper Of Party Purity: No – we need to push past at least 50 comments before we can do that.

  19. 19
    JGabriel says:

    Via the update at the end of Corey’s piece, James Grimmelman nails the irony of Cato’s fight with the Kochs:

    The irony here is that the nation’s preeminent libertarians—who ought to be exquisitely attentive to freedom of contract, institutional design, and observing the letter of the law—couldn’t get their rights right. They built this Streeling of libertarian thought, with its $20+ million annual budget and world-wide reputation, on a shareholding structure that is either actually or nearly under the control of people who do not share many of their values and have not for decades. The entire enterprise may well have been for years only one death away from Koch domination. If so many libertarians are now so worried about a Koch takeover, one has to ask, why have they spent so many years building a brand with an unshielded thermal exhaust port
    __
    […]
    __
    I could not tell you how many times I’ve encountered libertarian arguments about law that assume that individuals can and ought to use contracts to protect themselves against just this sort of contingency. Don’t worry about users clicking “I agree” to overreaching terms of service; if they truly cared about the terms, they’d negotiate for better ones. Don’t worry about people who refuse to buy health insurance; they’re making a rational choice for themselves. Don’t worry about minority shareholders, don’t worry about franchisees, don’t worry about all the other groups that find themselves on the wrong end of a bargain that always seems to tip against them in the long run—if they wanted better protections, they could and should have negotiated for them up front.
    __
    Except they don’t. They never do. And really. If the uber-libertarians of the Cato institute can’t watch out for themselves, what hope is there for the rest of us?

    *Reposting here, where it’s more relevant, from where I posted it in this morning’s thread.

    **Update: Looks like reflectionephemeral got there too. Same quote and all.

    .

  20. 20
    russ says:

    So the Libertarian walks into the unemployment office….

  21. 21
    harlana says:

    here’s what i have to say about libertarians every time. they talk about liberty, liberty, liberty. but all they want to do is remove whatever few, paltry remaining protections we, the little people, have against monied corporate interests. PERIOD.

    these guys, with all their guns. they really think they will be able to protect themselves from that kind of power with their little guns? Their guns are always gonna be much bigger. where’s your liberty then?

  22. 22
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    Yeah, you high and mighty Barksdales can sit back and play low-key, but some of us gotta work for a goddamn living.

  23. 23
    Calouste says:

    When libertardians talk about one’s individual freedom it sounds abstract but in fact they think about it in a very concrete way: that “one” is themselves. AKA IGMFY.

  24. 24
    Mark S. says:

    Oh come on, people, Sanchez has known hardship in his life. He once got his PS3 stolen.

  25. 25
    Redshift says:

    @Southern Beale: If the Paulites really had the fervent grassroots army they constantly claim, he would have won Virginia. Two-man race, low interest, not a lot of campaigning or any advertising, really — prime ground for an “outsider” campaign if they have the kind of support they’re always claiming they do.

  26. 26
    Redshift says:

    @harlana: Politics in general exists because people’s rights and wants come into conflict, and there have to be ways to resolve those conflicts that both reflect the majority view while protecting minority rights as far as possible.

    Libertarianism assumes that rights never come into conflict, and maximizing my freedom cannot possible result in you having less freedom, so anything that constrains my freedom must be wrong. It’s the spherical cow of political philosophies.

  27. 27
    RSA says:

    Some libertarians have this weird understanding of liberty that’s totally divorced from the real world. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but long ago in a discussion with a libertarian I asked about someone who’s fallen down a well and can’t get out. Is he free? In a word, yes.

  28. 28
    BGinCHI says:

    @Redshift: I thought it was the Fight Club of political philosophies.

  29. 29
    Redshift says:

    @BGinCHI: That, too. Do libertarians make lists of top “libertarian” movies and songs, the way conservative bloggers do?

  30. 30
    trollhattan says:

    @shortstop:

    Beat me to it [shakes fist at cloud]

    Also, too, any discussion of great covers must include the Cowboy Junkies “Sweet Jane.”

  31. 31
    Ben Franklin says:

    @Redshift:

    Case in point…

    Libertarianism assumes that rights never come into conflict, and maximizing my freedom cannot possible result in you having less freedom, so anything that constrains my freedom must be wrong.

    http://www.ideasinactiontv.com.....rring.html

    The Jim Crow Bus Company

    In Libertopia, the Jim Crow Bus Company has a “whites-only” policy for the front half of the bus. If non-whites try to sit in the front half of the bus, the bus driver will make them move. If they refuse, the bus driver will call the police, who will enforce the property rights of the bus company.

    In Paternafascista, there is a law that says that non-whites must sit in the back of the bus. If they refuse, the bus driver will call the police, who will enforce the law.

    To non-whites boarding a Jim Crow bus, Libertopia and Paternafascista look the same. If they try to sit near the front of a bus operated by Jim Crow, ultimately they may be forcibly removed from the bus by the police.

  32. 32
    harlana says:

    being a libertarian means you believe you got where you are because you were just born special, whether you worked for it or not. you’ve worked harder, suffered more than anyone else. everybody else who’s not as special as you are does not deserve to have what you have and actually deserves less, if anything at all.

    the concept that they could just as easily have been born a child in a war-torn country, or in some slum somewhere, or came into this world addicted to some drug or with some serious disability, etc., is completely beyond their comprehension.

  33. 33
    Can't Be Bothered says:

    Never bother trying to talk sense into a libertarian. Just point and laugh. It’s much simpler, more fun, and accomplishes more in the long run.

  34. 34
    Jim C says:

    Sleepin’ in a Stutz Bearcat, Jim
    Those were different times

    But for some people, those times are now.

  35. 35
    gocart mozart says:

    “Other people, they have to work”

    What is, the Velvet Undergound “Sweet Jane”
    What do I win?

  36. 36
    Steve says:

    @Ben Franklin: But in Libertopia, there will be an infinite supply of non-racist bus companies, so the guy can just take a different bus! Problem solved. Also, too, that racist bus company will probably be shunned and people will call them out on Twitter so that’s plenty good enough.

  37. 37
    harlana says:

    @Redshift: it’s all about what you intend to do and what you do with that freedom, imo. i’d wish they’d really define what liberty means to them. they want to talk about the Founding Fathers and the Constitution all the time, but while America was being formed, there were differing definitions and concepts of “liberty” and often liberty was limited to property owners (the liberty of whites to own slaves, for instance)

  38. 38
    Judas Escargot, Your Postmodern Neighbor says:

    Obviously, those who deserve liberty will be provided for.

    Scratch the mask off of a Libertarian, and you’ll always find the closet Feudalist that lurks beneath.

  39. 39
    JoyfulA says:

    @Steve: I’ve been saying for at least a decade that universal health care would lead to a flowering of self-employment and entrepreneurialism. As a long-time freelancer, I’ve seen many colleagues take jobs they hated because a child developed a medical condition or a spouse lost a job that provided health insurance for the family.

  40. 40
    Scamp Dog says:

    The contraception dust-up made me realize what the GOP/libertarian concept of liberty is: freedom from government constraint. Any constraints imposed by businesses or religious authorities are simply justice in action, so when the government tells the Catholic Church or a business what their health insurance plan must cover, liberty is being threatened. When the Church or a business tells the employees what their health insurance will cover, that’s just decisions being made by the right people. If you want to do your own thing, make yourself a pile of money or get a high religious office.

  41. 41
    harlana says:

    @JoyfulA: but that would mean empowering the individual, oh wait

  42. 42
    harlana says:

    @Scamp Dog: zactly, it depends on whose liberty and what kind of liberty you are talking about. liberty to do what? to whom?

  43. 43
    Ben Franklin says:

    there will be an infinite supply of non-racist bus companies

    @Steve: ,

    They can never escape the human dilemma, so they obfuscate by sectoring the conversation to government coercion.

  44. 44
    harlana says:

    haha, Tweety called the republican candidate field a bowl of cold mashed peas

  45. 45
    Slugger says:

    Sanchez will quit his job right after Alec Baldwin moves to Canada. I am tired of bullshit of all types.

  46. 46
    Citizen_X says:

    such measures would also enhance the freedom of a great many more.

    Ah, but to want that, we would have to acknowledge the existence of other people. And that infringes upon mah LIBERTAY.

  47. 47
    Pococurante says:

    @Gordon, The Big Express Engine:

    my favorite libertarian is my “friend” on facebook that forwards links from reason, freedonworks and cato ALL the time. He has 105 friends and is a public school teacher in Virginia. He rails against (in his mind) the obvious crony capitalism of the Obama administration and than unironically forwards thought pieces from Freedomworks…

    Useless apocrypha of course but for my half century of life every libertarian I’ve ever met was either a kid in college, a middle aged adult coasting on family money, or a public school teacher.

  48. 48
    chopper says:

    life would be a lot easier if i didn’t have kids, but if i and everybody else decided not to for the sake of an easy life then the human species would disappear completely in a few generations.

    then again, maybe these assholes have a point.

  49. 49

    This is a letter I had printed in my very right-wing area and paper; the North County Times (nctimes.com) in San Diego County. They print all letters (200 words max) so it makes a lively read every day.
    My letter, printed last fall 2011 :

    Libertarians should lean Left

    TITLE : Libertarians should lean Left

    Excepting primaries, most elections are binary, Democratic or Republican; leaving Libertarians where? Libertarians are denied their platforms, yet vote Republican.

    I see 3 major Ron Paul platforms and little actual Republican agreement. Republicans are rabid for war with Iran and are to the right of most Israelis on Mid-East matters. Democrats and Republicans both have heavy deficit spending, but the Dems seem to understand economics better and face it more responsibly. I must spend words to mention the Republicans inhumane lack of sympathy and decency as policy. It may be fiat money, but Democrats get something for it like infrastructure and economic stimuli; Republicans empower the already wealthy, And Paulites can forget about abolishing the Fed – ain’t gonna’ happen from either side. That leaves individual Liberty. Republicans are in our bedrooms and wombs, legislating the difference between conception and implantation while disregarding the woman’s opinion. Legislating who can marry who.

    I see National Health Care as a basic of Modern Freedom, Freedom to change jobs, leave to care for loved ones, free to be an independent entrepreneur or student without fear of medical financial disaster. I see it as a modern Freedom. It elevates our citizens to world-class level.

  50. 50
    samara morgan says:

    oh plz, sanchez is a marked man after his ressentiment post.
    live by the sword, die by the sword.
    cry meh a rivah.
    ;)

    wallah……this is intersting. like Culture 11, True/Slant is gone gone gone.
    that is what conservatives do.
    purge the archieves.

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