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Peikoff on working with libertarians

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I just had a quick browse around the LP website, and on every issue they take the same kind of perverse stance that statism is bad because the statists measures are counter-productive. That welfare is bad because it doesnt actually help the poor, that foreign aid is bad because it doesnt actually help the africans, that enviromental restrictions are bad because the government itself pollutes etc. etc. It is clear from reading their stance on issues, that if they have any underlying morality, it is altruism, just with different kinds of policies as other altruists.

I mean, see for yourself:

http://www.lp.org/issues/foreign-policy

That's no different from the conservative stance, anyway...

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I just had a quick browse around the LP website, and on every issue they take the same kind of perverse stance that statism is bad because the statists measures are counter-productive. That welfare is bad because it doesnt actually help the poor, that foreign aid is bad because it doesnt actually help the africans, that enviromental restrictions are bad because the government itself pollutes etc. etc. It is clear from reading their stance on issues, that if they have any underlying morality, it is altruism, just with different kinds of policies as other altruists.

I mean, see for yourself:

http://www.lp.org/issues/foreign-policy

I fail to see your point. What part of the it was wrong? How is an article against foreign aid altruistic? At what point in the article does it say helping others is "good" ? The point of the article was stated in the first sentence:

"Foreign aid is little more than welfare for nations -- with the same disastrous effects as domestic welfare programs."

What part of it is altruistic? Where in this article did you get the impression that our moral duty is self sacrifice? The article actually states the opposite. It states that the altruistic stance of US foreign policy is self defeating because the only way to wealth is to produce it.

They do not state an LP foreign policy however, that was not the point of the article. It was to show how foreign aid is a waste, its not a foreign policy manifesto.

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"Foreign aid is little more than welfare for nations -- with the same disastrous effects as domestic welfare programs."

What part of it is altruistic?

It is utilitarian, pragmatism assuming altruism as the standard of what is disastrous or not. If foreign aid was effective, they would be compelled to argue in favor of it.

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It is utilitarian, pragmatism assuming altruism as the standard of what is disastrous or not. If foreign aid was effective, they would be compelled to argue in favor of it.

I disagree. I think you assume too much. I fail to see how stating that altruism does not work in theory or practice is altruistic. The end the article they promote free trade as the standard for men to deal with one another not altruism.

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I disagree. I think you assume too much. I fail to see how stating that altruism does not work in theory or practice is altruistic. The end the article they promote free trade as the standard for men to deal with one another not altruism.

Because free trade is better for the welfare of foreigners. Altruism.

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No. Free trade is better because its better for the individual and foreigners. Capitalism is the best and most efficient means for not only for individual but also the masses because of the wealth it creates. Just because something is good for a population does not mean that altruism in nature. Individual ambition rights and ambition lead to a common good.

The ARI released a similar article some years ago called "Paying More Blood Money to the IMF." it claims that the pouring of money into the IMF does more harm than good. The same premise that the LP had about foreign aid. And the conclusion was the same as well:

"What happened to the lessons we supposedly learned from the worldwide collapse of socialism? If we see the evils of a government-managed economy, why can't we see the same evils of a government-run global management agency that offers additional subsidies and controls? It's time that capitalism--true, laissez-faire capitalism--be allowed to function. That is, no subsidies, bailouts, or controls, not for the smallest wage-earners or the biggest banks."

They both claim the same thing: Handouts makes the problem worse and should stop. The solution is capitalism.

Edited by Rearden_Steel
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I fail to see your point. What part of the it was wrong? How is an article against foreign aid altruistic? At what point in the article does it say helping others is "good" ? The point of the article was stated in the first sentence:

"Foreign aid is little more than welfare for nations -- with the same disastrous effects as domestic welfare programs."

What part of it is altruistic? Where in this article did you get the impression that our moral duty is self sacrifice? The article actually states the opposite. It states that the altruistic stance of US foreign policy is self defeating because the only way to wealth is to produce it.

That is bs, so let's go through every paragraph of the article, with higlights added by me:

Foreign aid is little more than welfare for nations -- with the same disastrous effects as domestic welfare programs.

And in their "Welfare" section, they base their whole argument on why it doesnt actually help the poor, and how charity is so much better, and how people who give to charity should get tax breaks. By "disastrous effects", they dont mean theft from individuals, but to the non-help of the poor.

The U.S. currently spends approximately $14 billion per year on foreign aid -- far less than most people believe, but still a substantial sum. Since the end of World War II, the United States has spent more than $400 billion on aid to other countries. But there is little evidence that any of these programs has significantly improved the lives of the people in countries receiving this aid. Instead, foreign aid has typically slowed economic development and created dependence.

It does not say: The idea of foreign aid is based on the notion that it is our duty to help people in poor countries. We Libertarians oppose to that view, as foreign aid through taxation is theft, like any other form of taxation, and it completely violates a mans right to his own life. It can also be noted, that in addition to foreign aid being theft, it does not even help the people it is "intended" to help.

Notice the word "but". It clearly shows that their opposition to foreign aid is not because it is theft, but because it does not actually help the people in the poor countries. If they had switched that "but", to an "also", after first explaining what is actually wrong with foreign aid, then i'd have no problem with it.

Indeed, the U.S. Agency for International Development itself admits, "Only a handful of countries that started receiving U.S. assistance in the 1950s and 1960s has ever graduated from dependent status." In fact, despite massive amounts of international aid, the average annual increase in per capita GNP has declined steadily in developing nations since the 1960s, with many of the Third World's heaviest aid recipients actually suffering negative economic growth.

Once again, only talking about the effect it has on the poor countries....

Tanzania provides a perfect example. Since the early 1970s, Tanzania has received more international aid per capita than any other country. Yet, the country remains the world's third-poorest nation and has had no per capita GNP growth between 1980 and 1992. During the same period, inflation averaged 25% and energy and agricultural production declined dramatically.

....and again.....

A recent study by Peter Boone of the London School of Economics and the Center for Economic Performance confirmed that U.S. economic aid does not promote economic development. Studying more than 100 countries, Boone concluded that "Long-term aid is not a means to create [economic] growth."

Implying that "economic growth" in poor countries is something that the US government should be conserned about.

There are many reasons for the failure of foreign aid.

Here are the "many reasons" they name:

First, foreign aid has a widespread record of waste, fraud, and abuse. U.S. aid programs have built tennis courts in Rwanda, sent sewing machines to areas without electricity, and constructed hospitals in cities where a dozen similar facilities already sat half empty.

Frequently, the aid is stolen by corrupt foreign leaders. The Agency for International Development admitted in 1993 that "much of the investment financed by AID between 1960 and 1980 has disappeared without a trace."

In other words, it is wasteful because it built tennis courts in poor countries, sewing machines where they were inoperable, and hospitals where they weren't needed, implying that if they just had built nice schools in poor areas, power plants before bringing the sewing machines and hospitals in areas with none, they would have nothing against it.

It is fraudlent and abusive, because the aid is stolen by corrupt foreign leaders, once again implying, that if the leaders were benevolent honest "men of the people", then they would have nothing against it.

Even when aid reaches its intended beneficiaries, the results are often counterproductive. Just as domestic welfare prevents Americans from becoming self-sufficient, foreign aid keeps entire nations dependent. According to one internal AID audit, "Long-term feeding programs . . . have great potential for creating disincentives for food production."

Once again, implying that if only the long term feeding programs didnt cause disincentives for food production, there would be nothing wrong with using tax money, and if just the poor became self sufficient in America after getting welfare, theres nothing wrong with using tax money.

Specific examples of counterproductive aid policies are easy to come by. For example, following a devastating earthquake in Guatemala, farmers trying to sell their surplus grain found the market flooded by the U.S. Food for Peace program. As a result, according to the Institute for Food and Development Policy, "food aid stood in the way of development." According to journalist Michael Maren, a long-time volunteer with such groups as the Peace Corps, Catholic Relief Services, and AID, aid to Somalia aggravated the country's famine, disrupted local agriculture, and turned nomadic tribesmen into "relief junkies." Similar results have been documented in countries as diverse as Colombia, Haiti, and India.

Moreover, foreign aid has often been used to prop up failing Socialist economies, preventing countries from moving to free-market economic policies. Yet, an examination of world economies clearly shows that those countries with free markets experience the greatest economic prosperity.

As a result, Alex de Waal, president of the human rights group, Africa Rights, concludes that foreign aid is "structurally bad because it undermines the incentive to take responsibility. The more aid a country receives, the less the government of that country has to answer to the people."

....more of the same.

If Americans truly want to help other countries, they can best do so not through failed foreign aid programs, but by improving the U.S. economy, so that U.S. businesses have funds to invest abroad, and pursuing free trade policies. As the Congressional Budget Office recently admitted, "Critics rightly argue that the broad policies of the major Western countries -- trade policies, budget deficits, growth rates, and the like -- generally exert greater [positive] influence on the economies of developing countries than does aid."

This is the last paragraph. As you can see, nowhere in the article do they adress the fundamental problem, just insignifigant details. This just leaves these people philosophically disarmed, because in the cases where little Ndukwe from Kenya, whose elementary school was built by american tax money, becomes a succesful doctor and wins the Nobel Prize. What can the libertarians say then? Just like in the case of Thomas Sowell, who i otherwise respect a whole lot, was totally disarmed in his opposition to affirmative action, when Charlie Rose told him that Judge Clarence Thomas got into Yale due to affirmative action in an interview. If you base your opposition on something other than the actual principles, your opposition is worthless, when your detractors finds counter examples. They will never find a single counter example to a real principle, because it is impossible.

This is actually one of the major problem with libertarians. They spend their time trying to convince everyone that everyone will be better off in a libertarian world, with no regard on philosophy. A poor is poor today because of welfare, they say, a drug addict is miserable because he's persecuted by the government, Africans are poor because of foreign aid etc. The libertarians have a knack of creating principles out of insignifigant corollaries of actual principles....

So, how do you get the impresison that the article "states that the altruistic stance of US foreign policy is self defeating because the only way to wealth is to produce it.". Nowhere in the article do they even border on the subject of the payer, or the looted, so its absurd for you to claim that it opposes altruism. And about the fact that they dont say that it is your moral duty to help others: Well guess what, neither do the democrats. Your not going to find a single democrat who says that it is your moral duty to help others. But it is implicit in what they say, just like in this case. They spend the whole article on one argument, the fact that the aid doesnt actually work. Not one word, about he one who is being taxed, not one.

I mean, this reminds me of the debate about Obama's anti-americanism, where a couple of posters claimed that Obama opposes wealth distribution even when the evidence is right in front of them.....

------------------------------------

They do not state an LP foreign policy however, that was not the point of the article. It was to show how foreign aid is a waste, its not a foreign policy manifesto.

On their site, under the title "Issues", that is the only article that comes up when you click "Foreign Policy". It's clearly not just some random article on page 596, against why foreign aid doesnt help the poor, its the article they want people to see when quickly browsing through the LP positions.

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I disagree. I think you assume too much. I fail to see how stating that altruism does not work in theory or practice is altruistic. The end the article they promote free trade as the standard for men to deal with one another not altruism.

No, they dont, and stop your obvious lying, please. They say:

If Americans truly want to help other countries, they can best do so not through failed foreign aid programs, but by improving the U.S. economy, so that U.S. businesses have funds to invest abroad, and pursuing free trade policies. As the Congressional Budget Office recently admitted, "Critics rightly argue that the broad policies of the major Western countries -- trade policies, budget deficits, growth rates, and the like -- generally exert greater [positive] influence on the economies of developing countries than does aid."

They dont say that pursuing free trade policies is what helps you, but that "if you truly want to help other countries", pursuing free trade policies is good. They dont talk about a standard for men to deal with one another, they explicitly state that this is what a man should do, if he wants to help other countries. If your purpose is "helping other countries", then it is altruistic. Other countries do get richer by free trade, and it does help you, but they dont talk about that. They talk about helping other countries as such.

No. Free trade is better because its better for the individual and foreigners. Capitalism is the best and most efficient means for not only for individual but also the masses because of the wealth it creates. Just because something is good for a population does not mean that altruism in nature. Individual ambition rights and ambition lead to a common good.

True, but the LP does not adress the fact that free trade is better for you. The fact that it is good for others as well is a corollary of the principle of individual rights, but they state it as the primary concern. Nowhere, and you can read the article as many times as you want, do they adress that free trade is beneficial to you.

"What happened to the lessons we supposedly learned from the worldwide collapse of socialism? If we see the evils of a government-managed economy, why can't we see the same evils of a government-run global management agency that offers additional subsidies and controls? It's time that capitalism--true, laissez-faire capitalism--be allowed to function. That is, no subsidies, bailouts, or controls, not for the smallest wage-earners or the biggest banks."

They both claim the same thing: Handouts makes the problem worse and should stop. The solution is capitalism.

They dont both claim the same thing, at least not in the paragraph you quoted. There is no mention in that paragraph that the "evil" is that it doesnt help the poor. Yes, handouts makes the problem worse and should stop, but even though they are talking about the same conclusion, they are not talking about the same "problem".

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On their site, under the title "Issues", that is the only article that comes up when you click "Foreign Policy". It's clearly not just some random article on page 596, against why foreign aid doesnt help the poor, its the article they want people to see when quickly browsing through the LP positions.

Who's lying I honesty do not believe that altruism is their intent. Here is the LP statement of principles from their official platform:

We, the members of the Libertarian Party, challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and defend the rights of the individual.

We hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.

Since governments, when instituted, must not violate individual rights, we oppose all interference by government in the areas of voluntary and contractual relations among individuals. People should not be forced to sacrifice their lives and property for the benefit of others. They should be left free by government to deal with one another as free traders; and the resultant economic system, the only one compatible with the protection of individual rights, is the free market.

Again your looking too much into this. It clearly states in their national platform that individuals should make up their own minds about charity and hand outs and it should not be the role of government is not to make people " sacrifice their lives and property for the benefit of others".

As their platform goes on to say:

"Individuals should be free to make choices for themselves and to accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make. No individual, group, or government may initiate force against any other individual, group, or government. Our support of an individual's right to make choices in life does not mean that we necessarily approve or disapprove of those choices."

I see where you are coming from and I think this particular article was poorly worded. However, as you can see they clearly don't support altruism.

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Here is the LP statement of principles from their official platform:

If you read that platform, you find that they just oppose the political enforcement of altruism, not altruism itself as is evident by the quote you provided:

People should not be forced to sacrifice their lives and property for the benefit of others.

The generous interpretation of this quote is simply that they are indifferent to whether people are selfish or altruistic, and just want govenrment out of the "altruism" business, but there is nothing that denounces altruism in that quote. If they took the "be forced to" out of there, id agree with them.

Compare it to : "People should not be forced to refrain from sacrificing their lives and property for the benefit of others."

I agree with this statement, but it doesnt make me an altruist nor selfish. Similarily, the quote from their platform does not either. It's just a political statement, that either is grounded on principle or not.

"Individuals should be free to make choices for themselves and to accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make. No individual, group, or government may initiate force against any other individual, group, or government. Our support of an individual's right to make choices in life does not mean that we necessarily approve or disapprove of those choices."

Yes, but that does not mean that they are selfish. Also, note the last sentence, where their subjective ethics lifts its ugly head. I most certainly either "approve" or "disapprove" every choice an individual makes, and on their part its just a cop out so that they can bring the biggest amount of "liberty lovers" to their party without making any judgement on anything.

I see where you are coming from and I think this particular article was poorly worded. However, as you can see they clearly don't support altruism.

Well, that article clearly did. The LP may or may not, because they have so many conflicting ideas that it's difficult to make the distinction, but that article was clearly altruistic by nature.

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If you read that platform, you find that they just oppose the political enforcement of altruism, not altruism itself as is evident by the quote you provided:

The generous interpretation of this quote is simply that they are indifferent to whether people are selfish or altruistic, and just want govenrment out of the "altruism" business, but there is nothing that denounces altruism in that quote. If they took the "be forced to" out of there, id agree with them.

I agree. However, as I said earlier you have to remember the LP is a political party and not a philosophy. They believe that individuals should be able to live what ever philosophy and moral standards they see fit so long as it does not harm or interfere with other individuals rights or property. The LP is looking for the right to live your right as you see fit. Its up to the individual to choose what morals they decide by themselves rather then the government making that choice for them. The LP mission is not to tell people how to live but rather let the individual makes that choice for themselves.

Well, that article clearly did. The LP may or may not, because they have so many conflicting ideas that it's difficult to make the distinction, but that article was clearly altruistic by nature.

Which is exactly why the LP needs Objectivist like yourself to help make this distinction. I would have no problem with altruist in the LP so long as they understand that their self sacrificing morality is not the proper function of government (although many altruist are not going to take that view which is why there are few in the LP) .

The LP makes no official stance on altruism because its not their fight. This is a debate that should be done through philosophy with private individuals and organizations. The LP merely takes the teeth out of the liberals and altruist by removing the force out of their policy. It should be the job of organizations like the ARI to fight the moral battle of altruism. The LP and Objectivism go well together because they both spout the importance of rights of the individual to be entitled to the rewards of their own work. Where the two must separate is where as you can not force a person to be productive or live for himself you can only give him the opportunity.

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The LP merely takes the teeth out of the liberals and altruist by removing the force out of their policy. It should be the job of organizations like the ARI to fight the moral battle of altruism. The LP and Objectivism go well together because they both spout the importance of rights of the individual to be entitled to the rewards of their own work.

No, the LP takes the teeth out of individual rights and capitalism, and arms the liberals and altruists, because they offer no justification for individual rights and actually try to pamper to the latter(altruists) in their statements to get them to become libertarians. You cant start in the middle/end, and then figure out the start. The LP and Objectivism dont go well together, and even though you could say that both in a very broad sense "spout the importance" of capitalism, it begs the question, importance by what standard, and importance to whom. If the reasons for this "importance" differs, there is nothing that combines us.

It's like saying that the KKK and Objectivism go well together because they both spout the importance of not forcing companies to hire minorities.

I mean, a simple "why?" is enough to refute the libertarians claims that capitalism, individual rights and liberty are important.

Edited by JJJJ
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However, as I said earlier you have to remember the LP is a political party and not a philosophy.

Yes, and as a political party, the LP has been remarkably unsuccessful over the years. As a practical matter, actively supporting and participating in the LP has proven to be a waste of time and money. Given that the two major parties control the political process in this country, one can be far more successful in achieving political goals through either of those parties than will ever be possible through the LP. Take for example, Ron Paul's recent run for the Presidency. Even though he lost the Republican primary, Mr. Paul had a far greater impact on setting the agenda than he ever would have had if he had run as a Libertarian. Whoever coined the term "Losertarians" wasn't too far off the mark.

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No, the LP takes the teeth out of individual rights and capitalism, and arms the liberals and altruists, because they offer no justification for individual rights and actually try to pamper to the latter(altruists) in their statements to get them to become libertarians. You cant start in the middle/end, and then figure out the start. The LP and Objectivism dont go well together, and even though you could say that both in a very broad sense "spout the importance" of capitalism, it begs the question, importance by what standard, and importance to whom. If the reasons for this "importance" differs, there is nothing that combines us.

It's like saying that the KKK and Objectivism go well together because they both spout the importance of not forcing companies to hire minorities.

I mean, a simple "why?" is enough to refute the libertarians claims that capitalism, individual rights and liberty are important.

The KKK does not spout individual liberties, also again the KKK is a theological movement not a political party looking to protect individual rights. Jon Galt mentioned in his speech that:

"The only proper purpose of a government is to protect mans rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence." " The only proper functions of government are: the police to protect you from criminals, the army to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes bu rational rules, according to objective law."

The role of government is not to give you a sense of life. It is not the governments job combat altruistic ideals. This is up to the individual. As long as the LP promotes: "People should not be forced to sacrifice their lives and property for the benefit of others. They should be left free by government to deal with one another as free traders; and the resultant economic system, the only one compatible with the protection of individual rights, is the free market." . That's all that is important to me. I care not if someone is an altruist, they can live their own lives however they see fit. So long as they recognize my right as an individual to do the same is all that does matter to me. I don't believe its the proper role to warn individuals about altruism or give them a sense of life. This is the job of philosophy.

The LP takes the teeth out of altruism because with the other parties they wish to put their ideas into law and force me to participate. That the proper role of government is to take care of its people like a giant sheep herder. Once you take this idea out of government the altruist and their like are forced to carry out their ideas through voluntary means and their own money. Once they lose their force from the government who cares what they do.

The only thing that matter to me so far as the LP is concerned is that they continue to protect individuals rights from others and promote free trade. What the individual libertarians believe about anything else don't make any difference to me so long as they recognize my right to exist for myself. If a day comes were they no longer support these ideals, they will lose my support. But until then I will support any party that believes I have the right to exist for myself.

Edited by Rearden_Steel
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Yes, and as a political party, the LP has been remarkably unsuccessful over the years. As a practical matter, actively supporting and participating in the LP has proven to be a waste of time and money. Given that the two major parties control the political process in this country, one can be far more successful in achieving political goals through either of those parties than will ever be possible through the LP. Take for example, Ron Paul's recent run for the Presidency. Even though he lost the Republican primary, Mr. Paul had a far greater impact on setting the agenda than he ever would have had if he had run as a Libertarian. Whoever coined the term "Losertarians" wasn't too far off the mark.

Doesn't matter I'm not going to vote for the current two party system just because their currently successful. If you think these zebra are going to change their stripes anytime soon think again. Unfortunately we are not going to wake up tomorrow and have all the Dems overnight decided that maybe Keynes and Marx were wrong or that the Republicans all of sudden will think 'maybe religon has no role in government'.

Political parties come and political parties go. The LP is still a new party. Its not going to achieve success right away. I believe more and more of the moderate republicans will abandon their party and move to the LP which holds a lot of their values without all the theology. The RP has became so discredited that just saying their name in most circles sounds like a punch line. Futher more I have complete faith that the liberals in the DP will screw up the county enough that they will lose most of the independants. This is already starting to happen:Poll: Independents reject Obama, agree with Libertarian Party Polling shows independents aren't buying Obama’s promises of prosperity through Big Government

Most successful parties come out of some crisis or another. I think that the current economic situation may be enough to shake the county up enough for the LP to take the reigns.

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  • 2 weeks later...
I think that the current economic situation may be enough to shake the county up enough for the LP to take the reigns.

No economic situation could ever do that.

The good about having a philosophical framework to understand life, the universe, and everything is that it comes with a theory of history. Once upon a time the U.S. abolitionist movement toiled in futility for decades and then overnight the abolitionists had their own political party. That wasn't due to economics.

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