Sunday, November 06, 2005

Pol. Ideology 3: Liberal vs. Libertarian

This is a short exchange we have in MG yahoogroups sometime in July 2004:

Liberal vs. Libertarian

During the MG's QC meeting 3 weeks ago at QC we bumped into Chito Gasco (former UP USC chairman, 1987 Con-Com member, now DepEd UnderSec. He's also a member of the Liberal Party), he has also a meeting in another table. I gave him a copy of the MG Manifesto, he read it.

After his meeting, he approached us, said, "Pare, ikaw ba 'to? Malayo sa UP image mo noon a!... Pare, we are liberal but not libertarian. Kasi sabi nyo dito, 'education, health, etc. should be mainly parental responsibility, not state responsibility'. Paano, iyan ang hinihingi ng mga tao". I countered, "Kasi pare, iyan din pinapangako ng mga pulitiko". Tawanan na lang kami.

A person or politician can be liberal with doling out welfare -- education, health care, housing, basketballs, trophies, financing a kasal-binyag-libing (KBL), etc. But the same politician can be liberal in taking away -- partly of fully -- your earnings, your income, your wealth, your inheritance. A government that is big enough to give everything you want is also big enough to get everything you've got. Right? So, liberal with welfare, liberal with more or higher taxation.

A libertarian, on the other hand, emphasizes individual liberty, coupled with individual responsibility. I included this philosophy in the opening paragraphs of The MG Manifesto, minus the label.

So you work hard, you keep your earnings and income. You pay those goods and services that give you, your family, your friends, happiness and comfort. You don't expect that other guys will pay for your child's education, for your spouse's hospitalization, etc. Government practically has no role here. That's an ultra-libertarian view.

The Minimal (or limited, small) Government movement is not ultra-libertarian. Otherwise it will be a Zero Government movement. We're liberal with economic policies because we advocate freer markets, foreign trade and investment liberalization, free mobility of people/technology/ culture across countries. But we're not that liberal with welfare and taxation.

Still, as I mentioned earlier, we shall have that "Vaporize Government" section in our MG website. It will accommodate the ultra-libertarian views and papers. Submit to me such papers, other documents,

-- Nonoy

mang nonoy:

as a recent article in Tech Central Station said, the trouble with libertarianism is that there is no single libertarianism but many libertarianisms. so i cannot really say if the animal you are referring to is "ultra libertarian".

if MG is not liberal on taxation, then philosophically, MG supports theft. taxation is extortion. under the threat of force by the "state", an individual is asked to "pay" taxes. for one's own protection, one has to pay tong/taxes (walang pinagkaiba sa mafia). if an individual is not free to use his/her income the way he/she wants it (because he has to surrender a large part of it to the tong collector), then essentially, he is a slave of the tong collector. an individual works for the tong collector/MG. in essence MG is no different from a regular "government". an individual still has to pay the mafia to leave him alone. what will MG do if an individual does not give the MG the tong? aber?

-- ariel

Dear Ariel,

The problem with us, people in a modern day society is that we are defined basically by our proprietary rights. For instance, we have an official name that we need to tag ourselves with in order to deal about anything in the society. That alone needs government. Secondly, we need to own things, basic as they may be. We need clothes, shelter and food. When we buy clothing or a roof over our heads, we want to be sure we can keep it, meaning, we can "own" it. Otherwise what would stop your 6-foot four neighbour from barging into your house and throwing you out and keep all your clothes and including perhaps your children and wife for himself. We need government to uphold that, don't we. Becuase if you start owning a gun to keep the cro-magnon away, then he starts owning a bazooka. We need government to keep those simply things working, eh? But let's say cro-magnon elects to uphold your property ownership rights, you'll have to pay him don't you? And in the way of the world, cro-magnon becomes the leviathan we now call government.

We pay him, by way of taxes, and going back to the olden situation, we are actually paying him by choice. Because we need him now as much as we need the basic stuff like clothing, shelter and popcorn, este, food.

The mafia you don't need. The government, you do. I mean we can split hairs here until we all turn blue, of course.

I am in this MG thingy because consistent with what the MG manifesto advocates, i believe in max. efficiency in governance, and the need to increase self-dependency. I believe that there are excess fat somewhere that we can do without in the bureaucracy. We can merge, we can cut, we can dissolve some parts. But we have to support our claim with detailed analysis on where the excess fats are. Anyone can easily claim that we should streamline the leviathan, but what others can not do, that we can do, is start looking in specific dark corners of the bureaucracy. We have enough libertarian philosophies and collection of motherhoods e.g. just in the MTPDP of NEDA alone. MG has to be different by going the extra mile of detail.

GMA is slashing OP of 16 attached agencies, but on the other hand, is also creating 2 new offices to suit her "needs". MG can be aligned in these moves by presenting papers that zero in on the excesses, and coming up with workable methods to minimize the collateral damage to those who will lose their jobs, in order to make a step realistic, not only for thinkers like us, but also for the real people out there who will be in the cross-fire of the change we want to happen.

Oh. and as to the MG general philosophy/equation of Minimal Government = Minimal Bureaucracy = Minimal Taxes, somehow it gives the semblance that the final objective of MG is minimal taxes. I was made to believe that this is about individual freedom and increase in self-dependency and responsibility. Maybe the equation requires to be extended up to that point.

By the way, re: this liberal vs. libertarian thing, I think MG is closer to Ayn Rand's objectivism than anything else. At least objectivism might not have as many shades of grey than libertarianism.

-- Ozone

Yeah, Ariel, MG supports consumption tax, not income tax. We need tax bec. we still need a small govt. We still need a Supreme Court and lower courts. We still need a foreign affairs ministry or dept. and an Armed Forces. We still need a public works ministry where private road construction firms still feel they can't absorb into revenues the benefits that a particular road will bring. We still need a President or Prime Minister as head of the country, even for just symbolic function.

If you accept that we need a small government (say, only 5 departments + the Judiciary), then we need small taxes. If you accept that we need no govt., then we need no taxes and fees.

But if you believe that absolutely we dont need taxes, no government, go ahead! Start a Zero Government (ZG) organization or movement. No problem, man. I'm sure there are other individuals who believe in the same philosophy.

-- nonoy

believers in zero government do not need any movement. they just do their thing, produce, enrich themselves, trade with other free market believers, etc. and evade as much as possible the claws of the terrocrats. that's their main difference with the libertarians. The libertarians (like the libertarian party in the US), they still run for government positions. zero gov't believers just enjoy life without further complicating it. they don't impose on others, either their views or taxes.

– Ariel

Noy, I must express similar apprehensions about ultra-liberatarianism because I don't feel comfortable with its extreme utilitarian leanings. While stressing the principles of individualism (private choice and individual rights as well as individual responsibility) and limited government, we should also stress the rule of law, the natural harmony of interests, and the common good (and NOT the greatest good for the greatest number) which consists of both the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity.

The question of whether the State should provide for education, health care and the like will depend on, I think, whether state intervention will generate greater positive externalities compared to leaving it to the private sector. Even Adam Smith thinks there should be some role of government in these sectors. The term "Vaporize Government" suggest we want to do away government, when it fact we just want to the State to promote the public interest without sacrificing private good. I think the State infringes on individual preferences when some fool of a congressman proposes that the government should mandate a 2-child policy!!! I guess that's why we need to discuss these core ideas in our first workshop this Tuesday. cheers,

-- John

Allow me to inject a cautionary remark. I think we are all agreed on the basic principle, that we are trying to achieve minimal government. My understanding of this group effort is to form opinions, formulate strategies and wield them in such manner as to achieve changes in the present scheme of things. From where I sit, mingovt is not -nor do we want to be- a rant and
rave group. Even as we may get long winded, in the process we must be resolute, seeing as we have to work within a system rather than having to nfight the multi-headed monster on all fronts.

John makes an excellent point: The term "Vaporize Government" suggest we want to do away government, when it fact we just want to the State to promote the public interest without
sacrificing private good

It's good for us to blow off steam, but if to achieve our objectives effectively, it is best for the group to sit down and discuss core issues, devise strategies, divide work, and proceed in an organized fashion.

Having said that, I realize the movement (if I may call it that) is in its birth Wehen...
and I am pleased to be part of it.

-- Rica

* See also: Minimal Government Manifesto

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