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Reblogged:An Opening for Small-L Libertarianism?

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Political Commentator Ruy Teixeira, alarmed at Democrat uncompetitiveness among working-class voters, has been outlining a plan for "reform and renewal" for them.

It makes for interesting reading, and could just as easily be a winning blueprint for Republicans, whose theocratic tendencies are just as unwelcome to what I think of as normal Americans (many of whom also fit within the demographic Teixeira focuses on) as the green/anti-energy tendencies of the Democrats.

Two broad points really stand out. The first of these -- which will be obvious to anyone who isn't either invested in pushing the green agenda or frightened witless by the ceaseless, surround-sound propaganda of the former -- is that most voters do not place global warming above their own ability to make ends meet as a public policy priority:
They could support abundance -- or keep on scolding us and making our lives harder... (Image by Jina Lee, via Wikimedia Commons, license.)
Maybe the median voter isn't terribly interested in a Green New Deal, which is predicated on getting rid of fossil fuels entirely and fast and replacing them with renewables. The median voter's view is more an "all of the above" approach as captured by a recent Pew question. Pew asked the public which energy supply approach it preferred "Phase out the use of oil, coal and natural gas completely, relying instead on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power only" or "Use a mix of energy sources including oil, coal and natural gas along with renewable energy sources". The all of the above approach was favored by an overwhelming 67 percent to 31 percent margin. [links omitted, bold added]
It gets even better in the next paragraph, where Teixeira manages to sound a little bit like fossil fuel proponent Alex Epstein:
Maybe instead of a Green New Deal, they'd rather have abundance. It has been a huge mistake for the left to lose sight of the need for faster growth. Growth, particularly productivity growth, is what drives rising living standards over time and Democrats presumably stand for the fastest possible rise in living standards. Faster growth also makes easier the achievement of Democrats' other goals. Hard economic times typically generate pessimism about the future and fear of change, not broad support for more democracy and social justice. In contrast, when times are good, when the economy is expanding and living standards are steadily rising for most of the population, people see better opportunities for themselves and are more inclined toward social generosity, tolerance, and collective advance. [links omitted, bold added]
Now, this is a Democrat, and it's a safe bet that by agenda of abundance he means ... to be achieved by central planning, but if there is one thing Democrats are often good at (and Epstein knows a thing or two about), it's framing -- or setting the terms of -- a debate.

Central planning won't achieve abundance because central planning can't achieve abundance, but what a brilliant name for an agenda appealing to a healthy desire for prosperity and (actual) progress!

I wish the Republicans would adopt that name -- and the pro-freedom, capitalist agenda that goes with it.

And this leads me straight to my second point, which is that Teixeira knows or senses that this is a direction many would like to go, if only it were an option. Here, he quotes a British science journalist:
Once upon a time, the Left ... promised more innovation, faster progress, greater abundance. One of the reasons ... that the historically fringe ideology of libertarianism is today so surprisingly popular in Silicon Valley and with tech-savvy young people more broadly ... is that libertarianism is the only extant ideology that so substantially promises a significantly materially better future. [bold added]
The left has never been able to deliver on such a promise, but at least it once had enough contact with reality to know that most people want prosperity. Teixeira is correct in that he sees this as a way to appeal to voters.

I agree, although I am also afraid that most voters do not have a strong-enough grasp of economics to appreciate that government cannot create or guarantee prosperity. (It can only and protect freedom and get out of the way of innovation and trade -- i.e., set the necessary conditions for the people to create their own prosperity.)

And our culture is miles away from the philosophical revolution necessary to see that the pursuit of one's own happiness is morally superior to taking orders from a god or "society", or self-sacrifice to a "cause greater than oneself."

So there are dangers here -- of the left once again coopting the ideal of progress (which Teixeira calls abundance), or of the right continuing to treat it as a morally neutral consideration at best.

But it would give those of us who understand prosperity and fully appreciate its value much-needed time to help make that case while the politicians at least take their feet off the accelerator towards Democrat blackouts on the one hand and a Republican Dark Age on the other.

-- CAV

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