Sunday, August 10, 2014

Krugman: "When it comes to substance, libertarians are living in a fantasy world."

By Robert Wenzel

Paul Krugman went off on a bizarre rant, yesterday. He blogged against "libertarianism." But it was a distorted view of libertarianism that has nothing to do with pure libertarianism.

His first point of attack was Paul Ryan:
Paul Ryan thinks that we’re living in an Ayn Rand novel. More to the point, however, the libertarian vision of the society we actually have bears little resemblance to reality.
Who the hell thinks Ryan is a libertarian? Here are just a few of the posts in which I have written about Ryan, which shows he is nowhere near being a libertarian:

From there, Krugman comments on the supposed current:
trendy idea among libertarians that we can make things much better by replacing the welfare state with a basic guaranteed income. 
This may be a position held by the Koch-funded crowd and libwaps (who would like to be funded by the Koch brothers), but it has ZERO to do with pure libertarians. Laurence Vance explained:
It is the wackiest “libertarian” non-libertarian proposal I have ever seen. Or perhaps it is the wackiest non-libertarian “libertarian” proposal I have ever seen. I’m not sure yet. Either way, it is nothing short of libertarian statism.
For many years now, some libertarians have promoted educational vouchers in the name of “school choice.” But as I have pointed out many times (see herehereherehere, andhere), since the state has no business funding any child’s education, government-issued vouchers for education are just another income redistribution scheme like food stamps, WIC, TANF, and refundable tax credits.
But support for vouchers is a mild aberration compared to the latest wacky “libertarian” scheme.
Writing in “The Libertarian Case for a Basic Income,” Matt Zwolinski argues not only that “guaranteeing a minimum income to the poor is better than our current system of welfare,” but that “it can be justified by libertarian principles.”...
In a recent article of mine—“Shall We Abandon the Non-Aggression Principle?”—I pointed out that once you reject the libertarian non-aggression principle (see Zwolinski’s rejectionhere and Michael Rozeff’s reply here), you open the door to justifying state aggression. The state taking money from some and giving it to others is an act of naked aggression.
The federal government’s welfare programs don’t need to be reformed, simplified, better managed, made more efficient, block granted to the states, used as a form of reparations, or made less bureaucratic, they simply need to be abolished.
Then Krugman goes on:
 For sure there are wasteful and unnecessary government regulations — but not nearly as many as libertarians want to believe.
Here, Krugman again misses the point that Vance makes, the state is about aggression and pure libertarians  object to all government aggression. Thus, Krugman may be arguing against a distorted carnival mirror version of libertarianism, but he isn't coming close to touching the arguments and positions of pure libertarians. His attack  is really against supporters of government who are pretending to be libertarians.

In other words, Krugman is attacking a distortion mirror, charging that it isn't reality. Paulie, it really appears you have no idea how far from reality your discussion is. You are really fighting a battle from inside the distortion, fantasy land yourself.

Let's see you, Paulie, take on a real libertarian, say Murray Rothbard.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of and author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank.


  1. Krugman probably knows he's attacking straw men, but he also knows his groveling fans have no idea what libertarianism is.

    Profiting off the ignorance of your customers, selling them snake oil. His fears of capitalism all stem from projection.

  2. Part of Krugman's job is to keep people who don't know what libertarianism really is from ever learning what it really is. He's just doing the job he is very well paid for.