OK, this is getting silly

by John Holbo on April 12, 2010

Leaping heroically into the Golden Age of the 1880’s fray, Bryan Caplan now has a post up on EconLog arguing that … well, I’ll just quote the final paragraph:

I know that my qualified defense of coverture isn’t going to make libertarians more popular with modern audiences. Still, truth comes first. Women of the Gilded Age were very poor compared to women today. But from a libertarian standpoint, they were freer than they are on Sex and the City.

I cannot honestly say that the author provides any serious defense of this proposition.

UPDATE: pending a better explanation, heur wins the thread:

Caplan has a friend, also a libertarian, who said something stupid to his wife concerning the 1880s, and is now in a great deal of trouble. Caplan owes his friend a very large favor, and so now makes good on his debt by writing this post, intended to make his friend appear less stupid (and therefore less offensive to his wife). Since Caplan’s marriage is stronger, contractually, he is better able to bear the brunt of his wife’s annoyance. Thus what appeared at first to be ideological obstinance turns out to be an interesting application of the concept of comparative advantage, and an illustration of the bonds that can be formed between persons even in the absence of coercive state power.

Which Road to Serfdom?

by John Quiggin on April 12, 2010

While we’re on yet another libertarian kick, can anyone find me a copy of Hayek’s prescient 1944 book, The Road to Serfdom, which predicted that the policies of the British Labour Party (policies that were implemented after the 1945 election) would result in relatively poor economic performance, and would eventually be modified or abandoned, a claim vindicated by the triumph of Thatcherism in the 1980s? This book, and its predictive success, seem to play an important role in libertarian thinking.

Despite a diligent search, the only thing I can find is a book of the same title, also written by an FA von Hayek in 1944. This Road to Serfdom predicts that the policies of the British Labour Party, implemented after the 1945 election, would lead to the emergence of a totalitarian state similar to Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany, or at least to a massive reduction in political and personal freedom (as distinct from economic freedom). Obviously this prediction was totally wrong. Democracy survived Labor’s nationalizations, and personal freedom expanded substantially. Even a defensible version of the argument (say, a claim that, Labor’s ultimate program included elements that could not be realised without anti-democratic forms of coercion, and that would have to be dropped if these bad outcomes were to be avoided) could only be regarded as raising a hypothetical, but unrealised, cause for concern.. Presumably, this isn’t the book the libertarians have read, so I assume there must exist another of the same title.

More Libertarianism Thread

by John Holbo on April 12, 2010

Let me continue the discussion I started in my previous thread. [click to continue…]