These are the rants of an anonymous Left-leaning Libertarian. Libertarian views are generally socially liberal but fiscally conservative. I view George Bush as the anti-Libertarian, he is socially conservative and fiscally irresponsible. Unless you are a very wealthy person, religious fundamentalist, or a racist redneck, I cannot understand why a person would support George Bush.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What is a left-libertarian?

I've figured out what I mean by Left-Libertarian. It means that I am a huge proponent of markets to deal with many issues. However . . . and this is a big difference between me and other Libertarians . . . I take a much bigger view of what 'the market' should be.

What that means, is that I feel products and services must fully incorporate their costs into the price of the products and services. And when some cost is not being accounted for in the price of the product/service, the government should add a tax to add that cost into the product/service.

The most obvious example is fossil fuels. Fossil fuels appear to be a relatively inexpensive source of energy. However, one of the reasons for this is that a huge amount of the costs are not being incorporated into the product. Let me list several:
1) The cost of wars waged in part to secure access to fossil fuels. (If you don't believe oil had anything to do with the Iraq war, you are kidding yourself.) Tax-payers pay for this, not the oil companies.
2) The cost to defend supply lines. Those navy ships that patrol the Persian gulf do so in part to protect those oil tankers. Tax-payers pay for this, not the oil companies.
3) The cost of terrorism from terrorists that are funded in-part by oil money. The Saudis fund madrassas world-wide and some of those kids become terrorists.
4) The cost of pollution on public health. Many respitory ailments are caused by particulates from pollution. Coal-fired power plants release particulates, mercury, etc. . . . even the ash from such plants is a toxic waste issue. Cities often have to declare 'spare the air' days when weather patterns trap the pollution close to the city such that the danger is increased for vulnerable people.
5) The cost of pollution on property. Ever walk through a tunnel and see that black grime covering the walls? That's from cars & trucks (largely from diesel vehicles).
6) The cost of climate change. The effect of climate change is real. It is clear from the ice record that the amount of carbon in the atmosphere has greatly increased since the industrial age has begun. And the costs from climate change are very long term and very difficult to calculate. There are things like increased storm damage, droughts, increased disease as tropical diseases spread northward, etc. And I'll admit, there are even some advantages that might need to be taken into account . . . Canada and Russia will probably get longer growing seasons in their higher latitude areas. However, it is clear that the damages vastly outweigh the benefits.

Due to all of these costs that are not reflected within the price of fossil fuel energy, the government should tax fossil fuels. Taxing fossil fuels accomplishes two things at once.
1) It creates a source of funds that can be used to pay for at least some of the costs that are not reflected in the price of the fossil fuel. For example, these funds can help pay for the military costs of securing access to fossil fuels and supply lines to get the fossil fuels. These funds can help pay for some of the healthcare problems created by the use of fossil fuels. This funds can also be used to pay for research into alternate energy sources that will not have so many hidden costs.
2) The tax raises the price of the fossil fuel such that demand decreases and alternate energy sources that do not have such hidden costs are more economically viable.

Now many Liberatarians would accuse me of meddling in markets with such taxes. However, I feel the opposite is true . . . such taxes would fix broken markets where hidden costs are being foisted upon others instead of being included within the cost of a product/service. For example, innocent victims of ailments directly caused by fossil fuels are subsidizing the low cost of fossil fuels. Tax-payers are subsidizing the energy companies by waging wars for access to fossil fuels and securing the supply lines. These costs should be factored into the price of the fossil fuels.

By incorporating these 'hidden' costs into the price, the true real market is created.

Another way that such market repair can be done is with tariffs. If a country produces very inexpensive products for export to America but part of the way they accomplish such low prices is by slave labor, massive pollution of riviers, child labor, dangerous working conditions that kill workers, massive pollution of the atmostphere, etc. then those products should have tariffs that compensate for such hidden costs.


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