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3 Quick Points

1. Owen Barder tends to let slip his collectivist leanings, by using "we should" to mean "the government should", or "lack of action" to mean "lack of government action". Regardless of political inclination, portraying democracy as a perfect preference aggregator is simply incorrect. Not only this, but it implicitly says that the classical liberal position is untenable. Such a claim should be made explicitly and subject to analysis, rather than as a hidden tool that's not to be questioned.

It propogates the myth that people who are against state spending on X, are against X.

2. Jim Gleeson let slip that his belief that water supplied in developing countries should be done publicly is based on a prior assumption that private markets should not be allowed to function:

Clearly, private companies don’t see the poorest parts of the world as particularly profitable, and so aren’t going to invest there.

My point is simple:

You’[ve] said that “given X, Y is the solution”. I’m saying “X isn’t a given”

In other words, if we notice that private markets aren't functioning effectively, it's wrong to simply declare government as the only possible solution. Often government is the reason a market cannot function, since it's the duty of government to provide sound property rights, a stable monetary system, an independent judiciary etc (i.e. institutions). A sensible person (interested in real change and results) should therefore ask Why isn't the market providing? The institutions required by markets are variables, and it's wrong to treat them as given.

It propogates the myth that free markets only work in a world of perfect competition.

3. Chris Dillow makes two excellent points:

1. The left-right division dominates our thinking about politics too much. It's often less a way of organizing ideas, than a way of splitting us into tribes. Shouldn't we think of other axes for dividing political views?
2. Those who support markets (as distinct from business, obviously) are on the side of the people against those in power. As Thomas Sowell says, the idea of a free market was/is deeply revolutionary.

I added:

Whilst socialists and fascists argue about the correct use of government intervention, they're in agreement over the fundamental issue of the appropriate mechanism for social change.

This distinction (between collectivism and anti-collectivism) was very well made by Robert Skidelsky in "The Road from Serfdom"

People on the left have a tactic of portraying free-marketeers as "right wing". This is either ignorance or dishonesty, since the fascists and socialists are fundamentally different to (classical) liberals.

This diminishes the myth that advocates of free markets are "right wing" and are therefore racists, imperialists and intolerent

See Dan Klein's 14 Bullshit Tactics used against Libertarians.pdf


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