Libertarians on tsunami relief

Matt - For the libertarian who believes that a government is necessary to provide for the national defense, what greater provision of defense can there be than to cause millions of other people to think "hey these gringos are are right decent folk"?

As for this anarchist, I'll just point out that had the affected nations been more free-market longer, they would have been better able to cope.

Hat tip to John T. Kennedy.

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And yet U.S.-government

And yet U.S.-government sponsored emergency aid probably won't improve many people's opinions of the U.S. At the best, it denies them yet another reason to hate us.

Meanwhile, dispensing international aid is a curiously expansive conception of national defense for an ideology so concerned with minimizing the state as libertarianism.

Yes, well, then, that neatly

Yes, well, then, that neatly sums it all up. Duhhh, any foreign aid that causes the recipients to hate us a little less is thus justified. Then where does it end? Who decides whether it has a positive effect on the foreign-folks-hate-O-meter? Being a libertarian who believes in "national defense" is one thing. But he's using that one small caveat as a segway into redefining the term to include whatever the hell he wants. Damn, the Iranians might hate us a little less if we spent $45 million to give them all internet access. BAM, that's "national defense", and thus it is justified by Yglesias' definition. In addition, it furthers the neocon's notion that "the best defense is a good offense", and that anything we do around the world that might lessen the probability of us being attacked can be defined under the umbrella of "national defense". Preemptively attacking Iraq was in the name of "national defense". Doing away with the Geneva convetion was in the name of "national defense". Yglesias is doing nothing but abusing the narrowly defined notion of national defense.

Yglesias also says,

"Since tsunami relief is surely not necessary to secure the basic rights of Americans, Canadians, Western Europeans, Japanese, and others, every sent spent by these and other governments is a token of injustice. Yet, strangely, the Ayn Rand Institute aside, you don't see many libertarians and conservatives sticking up for this view, though as we all know, all it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing. So where are the libertarian bloggers on this massive injustice being perpetrated by first world governments?"

I have to agree, where are the libertarian bloggers? I've heard whisperings, but no real concerted effort to criticize this massive forced transfer of wealth. Why? Well, of course, libertarians and anarcho-caps don't want to seem cold-hearted. Hell, that's one of the main reasons why they catch so much shit to begin with. And as long as the world is still collectively weeping over this natural disaster, it isn't wise, I suppose, to step on any toes and further our image as heartless monsters.

Of course, we aren't heartless monsters. Most, I would surmise, have no problem with voluntary charity, and the singular act of giving to help those in need. Where the problem stems from is that this is not a voluntary act of charity; instead, it involves theft by force of our wealth. However, since most non-libertarians don't look at taxation as theft, they don't really understand this, and revert back to the old "heartless monsters" meme.

So, in terms of principle, yes, the libertarian blogosphere should be denouncing the current forcible welath-transfer scheme. But in terms of our collective self-image, it's best to wait until the initial shock has worn off before we start criticising the act of "forced charity".

Actually, one of the best arguments I've heard comes from Catallarchy, regarding voluntary charity to tsunami victims: Patri's post on Efficient Giving from January 3rd That is the single best argument I've heard regarding why we should not suddenly shovel our savings at the Red Cross. My favorite quote: "That means, every month, each of these scourges [AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis] takes a tsunami-sized toll on humanity." It's so plainly obvious! 150,000 people die in some freak disaster, and suddenly, the world starts forking over money like it's going out of style. But every year, those 3 diseases kills over a million people. That is a continuous, unending death toll. The tsunami was a one-time event. Yet, we don't see too many people chomping at the bit to donate to malaria relief (save Bill Gates).

I think you're misreading

I think you're misreading Matt Yglesias's post - he didn't say that libertarians should support tsunami relief because it helps national defense. Precisely the opposite - he said that libertarians should not support government-sponsored tsunami relief, and is wondering why so few libertarians are condemning it.

Let's make a deal with Matt:

Let's make a deal with Matt: All of us libertarians will loudly rail against the injustice of gov't sponsored tsunami relief efforts in the wake of the disaster, no matter how cold-hearted it might sound in the immediacy of the suffering and devastation. In return, Matt and his leftist buddies in the Democratic Party will spend every election season from now on loudly proclaiming the motivating philosophy behind his desired hyper-redistributive state: namely, since one's success is life is simply the sum of a bunch of lucky coincidences, you're not deserving of whatever wealth you have managed to acquire; as such, any wealth the state decides to let you keep is a pragmatic concession to the realities of the need to keep greedy humans working for the good of the collective.

Andrew: Yeah, I saw the end


Yeah, I saw the end quote marks, and mistakenly thought that the first paragraph from the "Libertarians on Tsunami Relief" post was actually Yglesias, rather than what it really was: David Masten being sarcastic and putting exaggerated words in his mouth to illustrate a point.

Or maybe Masten wasn't being sarcastic? Um, I can't tell for sure. Grug, too much tongue-in-cheekiness here! me so confoosed.

OK, well, if there actually is any party involved here, Yglesias, Masten, etc., that truly believes that, under the libertarian definition of "national defense", you can justify anything that might make other peoples hate us less, then, that first paragraph of my last post is directed at you. Otherwise, well, at least my point was succinct.


BWAH-HAH-HAH-HAH. Let confusion reign!! Oh wait, that's chaos not anarchy.

The big "L" party shouldn't have any problem with the defense I offer for them. Once you except coercive redistribution for anything, everything becomes a just cause for coercive redistribution.

It seems to me that Matt would likely attack libertarians for bringing up libertarian principles during "this time of crisis". Since most libertarians are now learning to choose their battles carefully, most libertarians are being silent.

Surely a better idea is for

Surely a better idea is for libertarians to encourage private donations as a counter-balance who call for tax-payers money to be spent on aid. I think the public's generosity in both the US & the UK have demonstrated that when there is a real need, individuals will react without government coersion.

Even, some of us have been

Even, some of us have been blogging about this topic, and were even disappointed by ARI.