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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Defending Gravel-style Vouchers

Susan, it's ironic that your "choose between two forms of socialism" false dichotomy came right after Steve's false dichotomy of 1) the present semi-socialized healthcare system or 2) the present system plus vouchers.  Gravel isn't advocating the latter, which again confirms Holtz's Law Of Libertarian Polemics: "Every statement that is disputed among libertarians embeds a strawman or a fallacy of the excluded middle -- and this statement is no exception."
Ditto for the strawman of the state "overseeing" capitalism.  Gravel could plausibly make a minarchist libertarian case for a free-wheeling market in health care that happens also to include a safety net of guaranteed financing for health-insurance vouchers if there aren't enough voluntary contributions toward it.  That would be a serious libertarian argument, similar to those advocated by such serious libertarians as at the Cato Institute (  I personally wouldn't include it in the official LP Platform, or advocate it for libertopia unless it were implemented at the local level and linked to local collection of the resulting increase in ground rents.  But I don't think any LP candidate's policy should be condemned as "socialist" if it's one that the Cato Institute has advocated.  Gravel is rather to be commended for reminding the LP that there is more to libertarianism than is dreamt of in Rothbard's anarchist philosophy.
Ditto for the fallacy of the excluded middle between "socialism" and "freedom".  "Freedom" and "anarchism" aren't synonyms, and you preach to your choir (hi Steve) when you assume they are.  Steve, you are correct that all substantive responses to Susan's anarchism depend on the assumption that humans are not angels, but rather will e.g. free-ride when doing so is in their rational self-interest.  That is the very heart of every minarchist reply to anarchism.  See by George Mason economist Tyler Cowen for a balanced capsule overview of the free-rider problem.
Steve, your argument that anarchistic "libertarian theory" kept Milton Friedman from joining/supporting the LP is a good one -- for making the LP ecumenical toward all the major schools of libertarianism.  (Susan, would you agree that anyone who wants to make the LP ecumenical toward Chicago-style libertarianism shouldn't vote for you for LNC?)