Monday, December 13, 2004

The Social Gospel and Libertarianism?

A Green Conservatism wittily wonders whether my articulation of a limited government principle in the post below amounts, ironically, to preaching a Social Gospel of Libertarianism.

Two things in defense.

First, in general, my last post was intended to convince my oft-times allies on the Left to change their rhetoric with respect to what they believe. In other words, it was a post more about rhetoric and strategy than about first principle. I assumed for the sake of the discussion the positions of the traditional Left in suggesting a less alienating strategy.

Second, I think I do substantively agree that "government coercion against immoral behavior should be limited to immoral behavior that has effects beyond the individual committing the action." However, I would define the category of "immoral behavior that has effects beyond the invididual" in a far different way than a Libertarian. For example, I believe that excessive consumption in the face of others' real need is immoral behavior effecting others. Thus, supporting a radically progressive income tax with generous social welfare programs is consistent with my understanding of a liberty principle. Surely no self-respecting Libertarian would conclude that Government coercion to reduce economic inequality and poverty is justified.

Libertarians say "hands off" on economic matters. The Social Gospel emphatically posits our economic decisions as public decisions that can have either wonderful or ruinous effects on others.

3 Comments:

At 8:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I believe that excessive consumption in the face of others' real need is immoral behavior effecting others"

A definition of "effecting others" that broad opens the door to conservative Republican social engineering, too. They always claim other people's sex lives effect the culture, their kids, etc.

 
At 2:09 PM, Blogger jj said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2:09 PM, Blogger jj said...

Concerning what the Republicans want to regulate, I would think that many of their proposals fail the threshold condition of being immoral. Take homosexuality for example.

 

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