Monday, February 16, 2004

Picking Fights with Libertarians

I enjoy Mark Kleiman’s blog, despite often disagreeing with it. But Mark does have an odd penchant for picking fights with libertarians even when we agree with him. This happened a year ago, on the subject of laws that allow health insurance companies to break their contracts (see my responses here and here, both reaching into topics we do disagree on). It happened again last month, when he skewered Bush’s risible moonbase proposal (see my response here). And now it’s happened again, in a post on the FDA’s decision on the morning-after pill. “Once again,” he writes, “we can expect a deafening silence from the libertarians, whose sincerity about personal liberty I keep doing my level best not to doubt.”

Weird. It’s true that libertarians haven’t said much on this specific issue, though some have – read this and this and this. But on the other hand, libertarians generally argue that the FDA should be either emasculated or abolished entirely; here's a page articles from Cato, and an entire website run by the Independent Institute. I’m pretty sure Mark would not support eliminating the FDA, but the point is that doing so would make the morning-after pill issue moot; as long as abortion remained legal for even the first three days of pregnancy, the morning-after pill would be readily available. (As an aside, I should point out that there are many pro-life libertarians, though I’m pretty sure they are in the minority.)

I’m guessing the bigger issue is that Mark wants to know why libertarians aren’t opposing Bush. But more and more, they are. I, for one, have stated my opposition to George Bush repeatedly on this site. Radley Balko has been so critical of George Bush that he had to declare a week off from Bush-bashing – a pledge that he’s been unable to keep. Indeed, Bush-bashing is a favorite activity on most every libertarian site I visit. From Cato, here is a scathing indictment of his fiscal performance, here's another, and here's another from two years ago, before it got popular; here is an article criticizing the civil liberties record of John Ashcroft, and here is page of links on civil liberties under the Bush administration. If the question is why libertarians aren’t flocking to the Democrats, Mark should know the answer to that one: it’s because the Democrats are awful, too, on almost every front, including civil liberties. Lest we forget, Democrats voted for the civil-liberties-violating Patriot Act, Democrats voted for the political-speech-restricting Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, Democrats voted for the nonpolitical-speech-restricting Child Online Protection Act, Democrats support hate speech laws, Democrats stand should-to-shoulder with Republican drug warriors. Even so, most libertarians I’ve spoken to are hoping a Democrat wins the next presidential election so that we can return to the glory days of gridlock.

UPDATE: In an update to his original post, Mark admits the silence has not been so deafening after all, posting a link to this post by libertarian Jacob Levy.

No comments: