At a more theoretical level, think of this tension as Keynes vs. Hayek and Rawls vs. Nozick. What do I mean by that? The worldviews of Obama and Romney are really proxies for the theoretical debate about Keynesian economics vs. the more libertarian views of Frederick Hayek. Obama's support for a government stimulus and expenditures to invest are traditional Keynesian; Romney's shrink-government-at-all-costs view is akin to the hands-off approach of Hayek and the Chicago school. Keynes won, as well he should have. Likewise, John Rawls' view of a government that is concerned about the well-being of the least well-off member of society is akin to Obama's interest in a progressive income tax where the wealthier pay more, and ensuring access to health care and food stamps for those who are needy. Romney's statements about the 47 percent—even if one credits that he is more compassionate than those words might suggest—are more akin to the libertarian world of Nozick, where one eats what one kills, and if there are shortfalls, private charity not government should fill the void. When the choice was made, Rawls won over Nozick. As well he should have.First, of all, Romney is as Keynesian as Obama. Second, putting Hayek and the Chicago School next to each other in the same sentence, suggests there is a link between the two. The truth is that Hayek, because of his views, was blocked from teaching in the economics department at the University of Chicago.
Further, "Obama's interest in a progressive income tax where the wealthier pay more, and ensuring access to health care and food stamps for those who are needy," sure sounds a lot like Milton Friedman's negative income tax.
Here's Jacob Levy on Spitzer's confusion with regard to Rawls and Nozick:
Wow. Where does one even begin?
Rawls’ “property-owning democracy” is not the American-style tax-and-redistribute welfare state, even if the latter were greatly expanded.
“One eats what one kills,” apart from being a singularly bizarre way to talk about someone with Nozick’s views on animal rights. is not even loosely a reasonable way to talk about Nozick’s views on cooperation in the market.
Rawls endorsed the inviolability of the basic liberties and the lexical priority of liberty; and Nozick, using different language, agreed with both thoughts. Their views on individual human liberty found not the faintest echo in a presidential election between two candidates competing to see who could expand the security state and the police powers brought to bear on the drug war the fastest.Bottom line: Spitzer's analysis is complete confusion that suggests a surface understanding of what is going on, perhaps created by such things as Rand Paul's endorsement of Romney. This is one of the great dangers when libertarians believe they can cozy up to the elitists. The libertarian message gets twisted and distorted to make it appear that the central planning, crony, war mongering elitist is a libertarian. Thanks, Rand Paul.