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News Link • Philosophy: Libertarianism

Rand Paul’s Problem, and Ours: He's not half the man his father is

That sounds to me like he’s in favor – given the right circumstances – of nuking Iran. This is something that not even the wildest-eyed neocon has seriously proposed. That an alleged “libertarian” could mouth those words is appalling, but hardly surprising: it just means that, in a world where even a loudmouthed statist like Bill Maher can claim to be a “libertarian,” the word has lost all meaning. No wonder Bill Kristol wants to give the kid a break. I don’t even want to go into the rest of his symptoms of foot-in-mouth disease, but Rand’s characterization of the President as “anti-American” for holding BP responsible for the consequences of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico cannot go unremarked. To begin with, as Chris Hayes pointed out in his excellent discussion of the issue while filling in for Maddow, the oil companies are one of the biggest examples of the sort of crony capitalism libertarians are supposed to abhor. As the recipients of numerous subsidies and government subventions, the oil companies are also the beneficiaries of a legislated cap [.pdf] on damages which limits their liability. In a free market, it’s likely they couldn’t drill off the Florida coast at all because they couldn’t afford the insurance. As in the case of all the other governmental bodies and agencies we have that are supposed to “oversee” the activities of the corporate world, the overseers have been subjected to a strategy of “regulatory capture.” They’re in bed – literally – with the very companies they are supposed to be overseeing.

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