Murray, Friedman, are NOT libertarians; we are unique

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Today, Charles Murray attacks the withholding tax system, without mentioning that this is a legacy of the supposed libertarian, Milton Friedman:

Mr. Murray also sees taxes as “an essential ingredient in the civic glue that binds us together,” rather than as a compulsory levy. Is there no tyranny of the majority?

Charles also says “America is supposed to be a democracy in which we’re all in it together. Part of that ethos, which has been so essential to the country in times of crisis, is a common understanding that we all pay a share of the costs …. (through) taxes”

He ought to read Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s book Democracy—The God That Failed: The Economics and Politics of Monarchy, Democracy, and Natural Order.

I am a BIG fan of these books written by Charles Murray: The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, Losing Ground: American Social Policy from 1950 to 1980, and much of his other writing. I even consider him as a friend. I wouldn’t mind it, so much, if today’s article on taxes “binding us together” were written by an ordinary conservative. But he is the author of What It Means To Be A Libertarian, and is thus widely seen as a libertarian spokesman. I view Charles Murray as the most libertarian of the conservatives now active. But, he is no libertarian. The label “libertarian” is an honorific, and should not be used to describe conservatives such as Charles Murray, who, obviously, has some libertarian sympathies.

I see libertarians as equidistant from both conservatives on the right, and liberals on the left. The former are slightly better on economics, and the latter on civil rights/civil liberties. Both are just about equally horrid on foreign policy, the third leg of political economic philosophy. In my view, libertarianism is neither of the right nor of the left. Rather, we offer a unique philosophy, which (slightly) overlaps with both.

As for Milton Friedman, don’t get me started on him. I’ve published quite a few articles attempting to call into question his so called libertarian credentials. Let me just now briefly mention the following: Support for educational vouchers (instead of full private schools), the Fed and flexible exchange rates (instead of gold as free market money), anti-trust law, the withholding tax (to be fair to him, he later apologized for this), the negative income tax (a supposedly more efficient welfare system); eminent domain, government roads and highways, “public goods” such as education, libraries, museums, based on his neighborhood effects argument. He too was a conservative with strong libertarian tendencies. But “Mr. Libertarian?” No.

11:48 am on August 13, 2009