The Libertarian Minority

From What Happened to the ‘Libertarian Moment’? by Henry Olsen in National Review

Now it is true that the Republican party is overwhelmingly conservative and that most conservatives oppose high taxes and government direction of society. Polls have shown for decades that Republicans of all stripes believe that the government is doing too much that would be better left to business or voluntary charity. But being opposed to passing something new does not necessarily mean you are also in favor of repealing or modifying something old. And it is when you examine the depth of that sentiment that you find how shallow the commitment to small government is among GOP voters.

In our book The Four Faces of the Republican Party (2016), University of New Hampshire professor Dante Scala and I looked at 20 years of exit-poll data to discern what Republicans believed. We found that at most one in six could be called liberty-minded conservatives, people who wanted both smaller government and lower taxes and made that their principal priority. These voters, whom we called “very conservative seculars,” were the smallest of the GOP’s four factions and had been since at least 1996, when our data series began. Their favorites for the nomination, candidates such as Steve Forbes and Fred Thompson, always lost, and usually quite early, as the favorites of the other GOP factions trounced them in the early states, where momentum is built.


The political parties are a coalition of ideas priorities designed to win elections. The harsh reality is that liberty minded voters are in a minority in the Republican Party. They remain there only because they are nonexistent in the Democratic Party.

The only chance this minority has is to bond with others to gain power.  Reagan won because the evangelical movement was motivated by Roe v Wade and united with the Laffer supply siders to form a winning coalition, even though they were not mutually supportive.

Libertarian third party efforts fail consistently because they refuse to address this reality.  Without a coalition partner, as odious as they may be, they will remain a minority.

Discuss Among Yourselves

from Matthew Continetti at National Review, Pop Goes the Liberal Media Bubble

What passes for news today is speculation and advocacy, wishful thinking and self-fashioning, mindless jabber and affirmations of virtue, removed from objective reality and common sense. The content is intended not for the public but for other media. In a recent interview with Peter J. Boyer about her institution’s study of press coverage of Trump, Amy Mitchell said, “One of the things that was interesting to see was that, while the topic of the news media was not a huge percentage of overall coverage, journalists were both the second most common source type as well as the second most common ‘trigger’ of the stories.” The CNN anchors aren’t talking to you. They are talking to one another.

The conversations that journalists in New York and D.C. and L.A. trigger among themselves have very little to do with the conversations between most people, in most places, at most times. The conversations are self-referential, self-sustaining, self-validating, and selfishly concern one topic: the president of the United States. That may be why his critics in the press are so fixated on his tweets. Twitter is his way of talking back. It’s how he pops the liberal media bubble.


Media bias is partially how they cover, but largely what they choose to cover, and not choose.  The media lost credibility long before Trump.  Every lefty who has demonized Fox News has engaged in the same disrespect for the press that they accuse Trump of.

Marginalized Knee Jerk Journalism

from Matthew Continetti at National Review, Pop Goes the Liberal Media Bubble

There is still excellent journalism. I would point, for starters, to the work on charter flights that led to the resignation of Tom Price. But the overall tone of coverage of this president and his administration is somewhere between the hysterical and the lunatic. Journalists are trapped in a condition of perpetual outrage, seizing on every rumor of discontent and disagreement, reflexively denouncing Trump’s every utterance and action, unable to distinguish between genuinely unusual behavior (the firing of Comey, the tenure of Anthony Scaramucci, the “fine people on both sides” quip after Charlottesville) and the elements of Trump’s personality and program that voters have already, so to speak, “priced in.” Supposedly authoritative news organizations have in one case taken up bizarre mottoes, like “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” and in another acted passive-aggressively by filing Trump stories under “entertainment,” only to re-categorize the material as news with the disclaimer (since dropped) that Trump is “a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist, and birther.” The mode of knee-jerk disgust not only prevents the mainstream media from distinguishing between the genuinely interesting stories and the false, partisan, and hackwork ones. It also has had the effect of further marginalizing print and broadcast journalists from middle America.


Obama and his supporters demonized Foxnews.  How is that any different from the comments Trump is making. Rage has comprised much of what used to pass for standards in journalism. The distrust of the media began long before Trump.

Let California Be California

From Kevin Williamson at National Review, A Conservative Tax Hike

Eliminating deductibility for state and local income taxes is of course politically satisfying for mean-spirited conservatives such as myself — it constitutes a very substantial tax increase on the sort of well-kept and comfortable lefty Californians and New Yorkers from whom we tend to hear more than maybe we really want to on all sorts of political issues. Rich Democrats in Santa Monica and on the Upper West Side think we should have higher taxes, and we knuckle-dragging right-wingers down in Texas and Florida disagree. This way, everybody gets what he wants.

California is very expensive by American standards and a bargain by world standards. As it turns out, people are pretty good at figuring that out: California has for some years been losing its native-born population to the other 49 states, but those emigrants are more than replaced by immigrants from around the world, many of them from places that make California look lightly taxed and well governed. (Which it is, by comparison with India or Venezuela.) That isn’t how I’d do things if I were the Emperor of Malibu, but Californians, so far, seem to be content with their own way of doing things. Let California be California.

And let Californians pay for it.


Organizing Knowledge

From National Review Kevin Williamson writes McHealthcare Deluxe- The Affordable Care Act is a failed political product.

Emotionally mature people and highly effective institutions are quick to admit error. The best of them in fact embrace periodic failure as a necessary part of experimentation, learning, and institutional evolution. (Megan McArdle covers this ground brilliantly in The Up Side of Down.) McDonald’s, you may have noticed, rolls out a lot of new products, most of which do not end up staying on the menu. You cannot predict what products will succeed in a brutally competitive marketplace like the one McDonald’s plays in: That information cannot be calculated in advance — it can only be discovered. Discovery, not efficiency, is what competitive markets are really good at — organizing capital is secondary to the real function of free markets, which is organizing knowledge. But you can’t do that discovery work in the boardroom or in a laboratory: You have to go out into the pitiless real world and see what actually happens. Nobody walking the Earth knows as much about consumers’ soft-drink preferences than the beverage geniuses laboring away at the Coca-Cola Company, but they got it wrong big time with New Coke. The ACA was put together in part by some very smart people who have spent their lives studying health care and health insurance. It still stinks. They messed up.



The health care debates is so contentious because it focuses the differences in political and economic philosophies into a single issue. Does this require a central government solution or is it better served  by solving it locally in the 50 laboratories we call states?

One of the greatest advantages of market solutions is not that it always picks better solutions, but that it recognizes failures quicker and better. The opposite happens in government. Self serving bureaucracies institutionalize failures.  Instead of admitting failure and redeploying assets into better and different solutions we profess infallibility and increase the funding.

Trying to agree on component solutions is so arduous that we think that systemic solutions is the preferred path. But these solutions are so plagued with compromise that it has become impossible to make them effective. One side wants to build a bridge, the other side does not. We compromise by building half a bridge, spending 90% of the money and failing to provide the perceived need to cross the river.

The unwillingness to admit failure and implement corrective action is a big reason to be skeptical of expensive central solutions.