Libertarian-Left Alliance, Once Again: This Time, Health Care

By Kevin Carson

Entry 13418


From: holdoffhunger [id: 1]


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Kevin Carson is an American political writer and blogger. While he originally identified as a mutualist, he now describes himself as an anarchist without adjectives. He works as a Senior Fellow and Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory at the Center for a Stateless Society. Carson coined the pejorative term "vulgar libertarianism" to describe the use of free market rhetoric in defense of corporate capitalism and economic inequality. (Source: Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory. Formerly a mutualist/individualist anarchist, he now identifies as an anarchist without adjectives. In addition to the classical individualists, he is influenced heavily by theorists of post-capitalism and commons-based peer production, Elinor Ostrom’s natural resource governance theory, and autonomist Marxism. His written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Orga... (From: /

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Libertarian-Left Alliance, Once Again: This Time, Health Care

Mutualist, at the livejournal blog of the same name, writes on “Building Consensus with Egalitarian Liberals in Healthcare Reform.”

His argument is that libertarians and egalitarian liberals are likely to disagree on demand-side issues like single-payer insurance vs. medical savings accounts, because they’re so closely tied up with differences in purchasing power. But liberals are more likely to be sympathetic to proposals to open up the supply of healthcare to competition. Breaking the power of the license cartels and the patent system, and eliminating barriers to a fully functioning market (i.e., permitting price competition through advertising) would drastically reduce the price of healthcare and greatly empower the consumer.

And, I’d add, if we did that, discussion of demand-side reforms might be a lot more politically feasible.

Liberal welfare-statism is a pretty natural--if misguided--reaction to a society in which the state, through privilege, creates great disparities in income. Privilege creates massive distortions, made cumulative through the process of feedback, that must be dealt with somehow. One way of dealing with the consequences is through a Rube Goldberg device like redistributive welfare policy, another layer of policy to counteract the first layer, to prevent underconsumption from becoming too destabilizing and the underclass from becoming too radicalized. The other way is to eliminate the privilege itself--a lot simpler.

But make no mistake. If the privilege remains, statist “corrective” action will be the inevitable result. That’s why I don’t get too bent out of shape about the statism of the minimum wage or overtime laws--in my list of statist evils, the guys who are breaking legs rank considerably higher than the ones handing out government crutches. All too many libertarians could care less about the statism that causes the problems of income disparity, but go ballistic over the statism intended to alleviate it. It’s another example of the general rule that statism that helps the rich is kinda sorta bad, maybe, I guess, but statism that helps the poor is flaming red ruin on wheels.

Libertarians need to stop admiring the emperor’s clothes and pretending that disparities in income reflect the triumph of industrious ants over lazy grasshoppers. Liberals might be a lot easier to talk to then. That Galt’s Gulch bullshit can be kind of hard to listen to sometimes.

I’ve argued elsewhere myself, by the way, that we need to go beyond cooperative solutions to healthcare finance, and get into cooperatively organizing delivery of service, as well.

(Source: Retrieved on 4th September 2021 from

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February 2, 2022; 6:29:05 PM (America/Los_Angeles)
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