January 4, 2014

An Objectivist Objection to "Mincome"

"Why do we see an article at the leading libertarian think tank (Cato) advocating legalized plunder on the basis of a philosophy that denies the possibility of rights? Because other libertarians characteristically ignore or deny the need to focus on philosophy at all--and, because, in philosophy, as in physics, nature abhors a vacuum." --Craig Biddle
The legalized plunder being the Basic Guaranteed Income (BIG), discussed on these pages by brother jg. You can put Mr. Biddle down as a "no." I am not compelled to abandon the idea based on his TOS article. His points are likely all true, but I think he is making the perfect the enemy of the good. Yet I have to give him points for the term "Bleeding Heart Libertarians." That's good. Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at January 4, 2014 11:02 AM

Rand herself consistently explained that Libertarians have no principles. She referred to them as "hippies of the right".

Posted by: johngalt at January 4, 2014 11:25 AM

In reply to Biddle's question "why" I give you JK's answer above. If even JK does not recognize that a government which violates individual rights is immoral then who will? (Except Objectivists.) How is there any alternative but the current or the proposed "more efficient way" of violating rights that could be realized in our republic that is, at present, so thoroughly corrupted by democracy?

Posted by: johngalt at January 4, 2014 11:36 AM

And it's a fair cop, guv.

I'm laughing/crying at the Objectivists blasting the Libertarians for their pragmatism. I don't think anybody who stays on this blog cherishes the thought of government checks. It contravenes libertarian principles. And I see how it is surrender to the Objectivist.

But if it can successfully be traded for many less efficient and transparent programs, I find it worth considering.

Posted by: jk at January 4, 2014 11:42 AM

As do I but only under the conditions I specified, most importantly a flat tax with no low-income phase out. But how likely does anyone find that to pass Congress?

I assure you that I have no interest in egalitarianism. I am, after all, an Objectivist. I also have little to no confidence that a BIG would prevent, any more than the Constitution has failed to do so, any future redistribution programs. My proposal was offered at arms length, as an academic exercise. To their credit, none of my Republican friends or family took the bait. I suspect Zwolinski's proposal will go nowhere unless voters decide they haven't gotten liberalism "good and hard" enough yet and repeat the Democrat control era of 2009.

In conclusion I will explain how Biddle's prescription is more practical than it seems. First I must excerpt the paragraph that follows jk's excerpt:

When people fail to undergird political policy with morality and deeper philosophy, other people fill in the void with some philosophy or another. And if the basic premise of that fill-in philosophy is widely accepted or goes intellectually unchallenged—as egalitarianism is and does today—then the policies that follow from that philosophy will seem viscerally reasonable and, over time, will affect political policy.

Biddle's (and my) objective is to expose the immorality of the supporting philosophies of anti-liberty policies. Rather than explain to others how they will not "work" (as was attempted with the Obamacare debacle) we explain to others that they are inherently, morally and objectively "wrong." Why? Because man can choose whether or not to act in furtherance of his own life. Most who choose government aid over self-reliance would not do so if they recognized such behavior as "wrong." It has taken world socialists over fifty years to dismantle the Christian beliefs of "right and wrong." We have secular prescriptions for right and wrong at our fingertips, in the philosophy of Objectivism. Ultimately, those are the only antidote to the dominant philosophies of the left. Their adoption will herald a new renaissance. And yes, it may take another fifty years. In the meantime the legislative prescription is, to the greatest extent possible, gridlock.

Posted by: johngalt at January 5, 2014 11:45 AM

I didn't feel a groundswell of support either. I reckon it's not philosophically interesting enough for the work.

If a presidential candidate were to take it up, like The Herman Cain and 9-9-9, it might have legs.

Contra Biddle (and you?), Larry Kudlow calls for a Kemp-ian, safety net that is pro growth but can be sold to moderates as compassionate. It might not account for a recognition of the source of rights, but it might be a good sell.

Posted by: Jk at January 5, 2014 1:55 PM

The problem with moderates is the same as the problem with Libertarians - both are rudderless. It seems the best pro-liberty solution is "no new programs."

Posted by: johngalt at January 5, 2014 9:19 PM

Forgive me if I've plowed this fecund ground before, but . . .

I think the best pro-liberty solution is to win. Let a thousand lesser-evil memes bloom on Facebook, but the nation got ObamaCare® when our courageous Democratic compatriots controlled both houses of the legislature and the executive. Curiously, the same experiment in Colorado ended badly as well.

Moderates are worse than rudderless but are required to win. And the objectivist and libertarian positions both need some amelioration to succeed at the polls.

Posted by: jk at January 6, 2014 10:31 AM

I'm looking for places to agree. Winning is good, but is winning without principle likely to deliver pro-liberty results? That hasn't been the case in the post-Reagan era.

Sometimes an idea wins when its unadulterated opposite gains sway for a time. This is the reason why George Will recently wished Comrade Mayor Bill DeBlasio every success in his pursuit of egalitarian socialism in New York City. "I give him three years before voters are ready for another real mayor."

Posted by: johngalt at January 6, 2014 3:23 PM

If Rep. Tandredo (Populist Lunatic - CO) is the GOP nominee for gov, you'll get a chance to test my pragmatism live and up close. I have no prediction.

On "no principles," I guess we agree. But aside from a handful, I see many shades of grey (50?) in GOP principle. Ron Johnson's lawsuit against the Congressional ObamaCare waiver brings tears to my eyes. But, offered a Mulligan, I would nominate Lt. Gov. Jane Norton for the Senate race in 2010. I voted for Ken Buck and will do it again in a few months. But she likely would have won -- and she could and would have stopped ObamaCare. She shares fewer of my principles than AG Buck, but many more than Sen. Bennett.

I concede that it took courage on the part of Badger State GOPers to nominate Johnson. We've erred on both sides and need to find principles and packaging that win. I just do not trust Mister Biddle to be useful in finding that balance.

If the mincome were popular, I'd enjoy its strengths and accept its weaknesses as the pragmatic price or reform.

Posted by: jk at January 6, 2014 5:18 PM | What do you think? [9]