Economics, Literature and Scepticism

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I am a PhD student in Economics. I am originally from South Africa and plan to return there after my PhD. I completed my M. Comm in Economics and my MA In Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Cape Town, where I worked as a lecturer before starting my PhD.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

The Libertarian Candidate Pt. 2

Posted by Simon Halliday | Monday, July 14, 2008 | Category: |

Some of you may have read my little rant when I first encountered Mike Munger's (the Libertarian Party candidate for North Carolina) youtube advert. Have a look down at the comments and you'll notice that Dr. Munger replied to my post. I won't hesitate to say that I found this a bit surprising, but I took up his challenge. I watched the whole speech that he gave at the convention, rather than the clips from the advert as well. I read each of the sections from his 'Issues' page on his website, as well as several other things on his site.

Image:Capitalism and Freedom.jpg
Anyway, I agree with a number of his policies. I don't believe that, for me, he goes into enough detail for the implementation of some of his policies. For example, although I believe his education policy is interesting and could be good for North Carolina, I don't believe that changing education alone is likely to alter the outcomes for poor individuals living in North Carolina. He does not comment (on the website that is) on the relevance of neighbourhood effects, as discussed by the famous libertarian Milton Friedman, as a constraint on alleviating poverty in his book Capitalism and Freedom. I know that this is largely a problem for the more academically inclined individual, but I believe that it is and will be, one of the persistent barriers to overcome poverty, particularly because it is difficult to intervene neighbourhood dynamics and social networks. Moreover, this could be a particularly difficult area for libertarians to intervene in because of the sacrosanct nature of liberty to them - why should an individual include others in their social circle when it would (in terms of economic benefits) be entirely to the benefit of the other individual and probably not to the individual libertarian who is sharing the superior social networks? I think Ayn Rand would probably have a hernia, or at least she'd definitely turn in her grave.

I was really glad that Dr. Munger replied to me. I think that his positions on the death penalty, victimless crimes, marriage, election reform, corporate welfare and school choice are all fantastic. I cannot legitimately comment on his positions on eminent domain and annexation as I do not know enough of the background in North Carolina, or US federal law. Regardless, the Democrats and the Republicans could take a page from his book.

Do I think though that libertarianism is the solution for a country such as South Africa? Well that's another story entirely. I don't really, but that we can discuss on another day in the not too distant future.

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