Friday, July 16, 2010

What Libertarians can learn from Conservatives

Bryan Caplan's article was very interesting. He looks at a strict libertarianism (as opposed to the marginal libertarianism I usually advocate for), so the pieces I excerpt below are the pieces I see as the non-obvious things (unlike things like "the government still has a role to play in the economy in the face of monopoly,  externalities, etc", which I see as obvious)
"I think we should cautiously modify existing laws instead of abolishing them willy-nilly."
"A few liberals - and many libertarians - literally advocate open borders.  I recognize that immigration is the greatest foreign aid program in human history, and I sympathize with the plight of would-be immigrants in the Third World.  Most immigrants - legal or not - are nice people.  But open borders is crazy.   It seriously risks killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.  I'm very open to more cost-effective and humane ways to deal with the negative effects of immigration.  But as long as immigrants are eligible for government benefits, hurt low-skilled native workers, and vote, the only people we should readily admit are the highly-educated and clear-cut humanitarian cases. "
Foreign Policy:
"[L]et me turn to foreign policy.  Here again, liberals engage in much wishful thinking, and libertarians compound their errors.  Modern warfare is terrible.  Most of the people the United States kills in places like Iraq and Afghanistan are innocents.  If there were some way to spare them and successfully fight our mortal enemies at the same time, I'd strongly advocate it.  Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any way to do so.  Muslim terrorists really do want to wipe us off the face of the earth, and they're happy to use fellow Muslims as human shields to do it. 

I know, they "only" murdered 3000 people on 9/11, but the distribution of terror has a long right [tail].  Slightly better planning by the terrorists could have multiplied the deaths by a factor of 10.  The next big attack could easily be bigger by a factor of 100.  And if you think Americans "overreacted" the first time, wait and see what they'll support the next time around.  Liberals and libertarians who impede decisive action now are probably paving the way for worse things to come"

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