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Libertarians Suck At Marketing

May 31st, 2013 Posted in Civil Liberties, Economics by

Honestly, I’m beginning to think it’s even worse than I originally thought.

It’s almost become a cliche that when you say you want a Libertarian state people turn around, laugh in your face and say ‘Move to Somalia!’ So much so that Libertarians have started to make memes mocking this phenomenon. And even though there were roads, railways, health care, education and infrastructure hundreds of years before any government in the world spent over 12% of GDP (1914), people act like were it not for our lords and masters we would all digress into illiterate cavemen and then die from lack of health care the minute government is removed.

The thing is this: Libertarianism is wonderful. Look at Hong Kong, look at Estonia and look at the UAE. Even though none of them are perfect, and the UAE is socially conservative and not secular, since the 1950s and the 1980s respectively they have all clawed their way out of poverty and today their residents enjoy a higher level of prosperity than ever before. Even though Hong Kong is probably the closest thing to Libertarian state, I still have to deal with morons coming up to me and throwing Somalia in my face. A strong, low-tax state is obviously not the same as a failed state.

Imperfect libertarian leaning states look like Hong Kong. Imperfect socialist states look like Venezuela. We don’t even have to hit the target of complete purity and people still get pulled out of poverty.  How else could an idea as bad as socialism be so popular even though it’s consequences are a litany of woe and misery? They are just better at marketing their ideas. Libertarians need to acknowledge this and take some responsibility for it. Socialist ideas are emotional, not rational and human beings are emotional creatures rather than rational ones. The powers of the market are strong and on our side, but unfortunately so is public choice creep. We are at a disadvantage and we need to up our game.

6 Responses to “Libertarians Suck At Marketing”

  1. Richard Says:

    You could start by not sneering at people who want to protect the pleasant countryside round their local communities.

  2. Sara Scarlett Says:

    The countryside is not under threat. I’m not wrong to point out harmful delusion. The countryside is not under threat and yet planning policy is being swayed by wholly emotional arguments and irrational fears. Kinda proves my point, really…

  3. Peter Andrews Says:

    The were roads in 1914 but no motorways

    There were some railways in 1914 but not a national rail network

    There was healthcare in 1914 but only for those that could afford it

    There was some education in 1914 but unless you were rich this was mainly provided by Churches and the majority left school with only a basic education at best.

    IF you want to go back to life as it was in 1914 you had better damn well hope you are rich as life for the common person was no picnic. I much prefer how our Country is run now to how it was run in and before 1914 thankyou

  4. Sara Scarlett Says:

    Well done, Peter Andrews, for completely missing the point. Don’t whine at my blogs posts about education when your own reading/comprehension is so blatantly poor…

    Considering how few cars there were in 1914, motorways weren’t really needed yet. 92% of the population had some sort of health care coverage and that number was increasing day by day. You’re completely wrong about education. Many, many people were well-educated and well-read and it wasn’t just the rich.

    Life in 1914 was better for a common person than life in 1864. Life in 1864 was better than life in 1814. Significantly. That’s what economic growth did – not government spending. I want to go back to lower government spending and a higher rate of poverty reduction.

  5. W. Peden Says:

    Absolutely. For one thing, we violate the first rule of successful politics: concentrate the benefits and disperse the losses. The losses caused by an intrusive state are generally dispersed, whereas conservatives and left-wing politicians have special constituencies that benefit from their largesse e.g. farmers and public “servants”.

    That’s why any success we have has to be driven by changes in people’s attitudes towards governance. Unless people can think, “Well, this sure benefits me personally, BUT…”, then we really can’t get very far politically.

  6. W. Peden Says:

    Less internal warfare would help as well e.g. rather than defining the word ‘libertarian’ so as to draw lines of division, wouldn’t it be better to consider how we can convince people who think “I agree with libertarians about 50% of the time…” to think “I agree with libertarians about 60% of the time”?

    For example, Rothbardians spend an inordinate amount of time attacking Hayek, Friedman and at the extreme everyone who isn’t a very uncompromising anarcho-capitalist (e.g. there was a hit piece against George Selgin of all people on such that the only reason they don’t attack Mises himself is because Rothbard was his student and liked him. Compare that to Rothbard himself, who was willing to very publicly ally with Trotskyists and Maoists against the Vietnam War.

    Actually, someone else has already put this point much better than I can: