I'm a huge fan of your blog and was fascinated by your post on the Libertarian Bitch. I accept the overall premise, but as a fellow hardcore libertarian, I've been wrestling with a few things.
As a recovering neocon, who slowly converted over to the cause of liberty, I was taught that the following are bad, but are they acceptable to support?
1) Earmarks/pork barrel. I know Dr. Paul did this by redirecting funds in bills he voted against, but if it's adding more spending I'm not sure...?
2) Non-aggressive contracts (often no-bid I might add) given to companies like Booz Allen done in the name of efficiency. I'm in the DC area so I see tons of federal money being poured in.
3) Advocating for an increase in non-aggressive spending (e.g. social programs, non-defense discretionary)
Obviously the broken window fallacy applies to all spending and it is funded by taxation (so this money is still stolen property), but as you noted, it's not like this money is going to be returned to us or is going to be used to buy drones or kill people.It is important to keep in mind that in my earlier post I created a model where I assume that the government in question will tax and print as much money as they can get away with. Although, I didn't mention it in my first post, this also goes for government borrowing.
I believe that the United States government is such a government. My model does not hold if a claim for more spending results in the government spending increasing. Again, I believe the U.S. government will tax, borrow and print money to the degree they can get away with it.
U.S government spending should be thought of something along the lines of the econ 101 "production possibilities curve" but instead of total economic spending being considered, total government spending is considered. Here's the classic production possibilities curve:
Instead of production possibilities, think of it as government spending possibilities curve, with spending moving along the X axis resulting in more spending on "aggressive government product", i.e. spending for tanks, bullets, drones, tracking software, professors studying military weaponry design etc. and the Y axis representing "non-aggressive government product" spending, i.e., for food stamps, the study of the mating habits of monarch butterflies, sponsoring professors studying Shakespeare. etc.
Now, if we assume that in a given society, such as the one we live in, where I believe that the amount that can be taxed, printed or borrowed can not be readily increased, so that the government spending possibilities curve can not be moved out to, say, point D, then it is noble for a libertarian to try and move spending along the curve toward the Y-axis, i.e. in the direction of "non-aggressive government product" spending. Thus, it is okay for a libertarian to suck up government spending on non-aggressive spending, so that spending isn't moved towards aggressive spending.
While it is okay for a libertarian to accept money to keep it away from aggressive government spending, it should also be noted that a libertarian should never be in favor of any increase in taxes, the money supply or government borrowing, which would move the curve outward in the direction of point D, which expands the amount of spending done by government.
The libertarian should always be in favor of less taxes, less money printing and less government borrowing, so that the entire curve shrinks as a percentage of the entire economy toward point C and even lower, all the way to zero.
Thus, as to point 1, although I am not familiar with the specifics of earmarks, they appear to be nothing more than shifting the direction of spending on a given government spending curve. As long as this spending shifts money away from aggressive government spending and toward non-aggressive government spending it should be hailed as a plus by libertarians, e.g., more goofy spending on trying to determine why ducks paddle versus spending on improved government cell phone listening device development is a plus from a libertarian perspective.
As for point 2, I would argue that Booz-Allen people are a mostly bunch of evil bastards, working on projects that help the government become more evil. I would view money going to them as mostly evil. Indeed, I would argue that even money going to Booz for non-aggressive products is not a good idea, since it would only strengthen Booz and its relations with the government and allow Booz to try an get the government to spend on aggressive products Booz might have on its shelf, thus moving spending positively along the line of the X axis. So, yes, we can still hate the military-industrial complex and be against any government spending going in their direction.
Point 3 becomes a little tricky for a libertarian, in that a libertarian is against all government spending. However, when the choice is between government spending on bullets rather than lollipops, the libertarian should always be in favor of the spending on lollipops, i.e. non-aggressive spending. It's not that a libertarian should not be against spending on lollipops when presented the question in isolation on a theoretical basis without reference to the real world. However, given the current views of most in society, major spending on lollipops, given where most money is spent now, would be a major positive.
Total spending in the United States for fiscal 2012 will be over $6 trillion. If all that spending was directed at lollipops spending. Think of the wars that couldn't be fought, think of the money that couldn't be spent on government healthcare (which would result in the development of free market healthcare). Yes, if it is impossible for me to get government spending down, my second option is the advocacy of $6 trillion being spent on lollipops.
Yes, I know I am not going to be able to get far with my advocacy of spending on lollipops, but my point is that if the amount of spending can't be reduced than spending on non-aggressive products is much better than spending on the manufacture of bullets and government tracking systems.
But, remember my rules in my initial post, a libertarian should never put government in a positive light. Thus, say, advocacy for unemployment should be stated along the lines of:
"You guys are nuts for wanting to provide unemployment benefits, it just decreases incentives for people to find work, but it's better than spending the money to provide bullets so that a soldier can go to foreign lands and start shooting people".
Remember, its about moving the government spending curve toward the Y-Axis, given a specific curve. But it is also trying to get the overall curve lowered.
Bottom line: If a given amount of government spending is pretty much fixed, it is okay for a libertarian to suck it up so it doesn't end up being spent by the government aggressively, but don't think for a minute that the money you are sucking up proves your market value in any way. Money value can only be determined in the free market. Your value "to society" by sucking up government money is likely limited to sucking it up so the money is not used in a more aggressive way against the rest of us, certainly the kind of sucking up that I think there should be more of, but remember that is what a sucking money role is, and nothing more.