Are There Moderate Libertarians?

Are there any moderate Libertarians (as in active in the Libertarian movement rather than just socially liberal Republicans or whatnot) in the sense of supporting some but minimal regulations on the economy and/or involvement in non-defence/police/court spending such as infrastructure and education? After all most socialists in Europe are moderate and support large amounts of capitalism.

The only ones I can think of are Milton Friedman and FA Hayek. And a few people on the Internet.

It depends as a given definition of moderate libertarianism could be essentially interchangeable with a like-definition of moderate liberalism, so it’s a question of preferred self-identification and the skew in nomenclature.

I wouldn’t really classify Hayek as a moderate despite his endorsements of public provision of medicine and education.

Will Wilkinson is a moderate liberatarian who is actively involved in the movement though he dislikes the label.

I’m one of those few people on the Internet that are moderate libertarians.

There are very few regulations that I support, but the ones I do, I support wholeheartedly. An example would be the Pure Food and Drug Act, epidemiology and disease control, pollutant controls, etc. Another example is I strongly support occupational certification, but strongly oppose occupational licensing. I strongly oppose public administration of education, but strongly support public funding of education, so long as the actual education part is not influenced by the government.

I strongly oppose general stimulus spending, but I moderately support specific, targeted, and progressive infrastructure development.

I believe that every problem has the right amount of regulation, and the right type of regulation, and that the majority of problems and issues are regulated too much rather than too little, or regulated in the wrong way. I believe that all regulations should be reviewed and passed by citizens groups that have no conflicts of interest, ideally, as juries are taken from the citizenry at large.

When I say I oppose regulations, what I am actually saying would probably be more along the lines of, “I oppose regulations that have even the slightest bit of special interest involvement, either implicitly or explicitly.” I believe government should be impartial, and act both in intent and actuality in the strict interest for the general well-being of society, favoring no institution over the other in administration, either implicitly or explicitly.

I am a “progressive” Republican, and believe in strictly enforcing obscenity laws, and believe in few regulations, but with the regulations that are truly necessary, strict enforcement. (I’m not one of those “if it feels good do it” libertarians).

super-If gov’t is footing the bill, shouldn’t they have a say in how it’s run? (you favor gov’t financed, but not gov’t run education)

There are actually a lot more moderate libertarians than Libertarian Party members. Actually, I’d say that the country as a whole leans moderate libertarian, as we’re incrementally moving in the direction of more freedom socially and economically all the time. The problem with the LP is that they want to move a lot faster than the public is ready for.

No, you’re not.

IME, the vast majority of people who self-identify as libertarian or even Liberatarian (including me) are not full-bore, “privatize the sidewalks” types (And that’s not even including all the people who hold effectively-libertarian views but do not identify as such). Look at the articles on Cato or Reason or Mercatus websites: they’re not abstract political theory, they’re focused on applying libertarian principles to practical problems in the real world and (usually) given the political realities on the ground.

Moderate libertarians, in my experience, tend to be Republicans. Not social conservatives, but Republicans nonetheless.


I have a buddy who is pretty libertarian in the principles he supports. Big Ron Paul supporter. He has agreed that some regulation is necessary. Does that qualify as moderate.

At my UK university the libertarian society was an offshoot of the conservative party (UK equivilant to Republicans, less evil but still with evil tendencies). I consider myself fairly libertarian and agree that normally I would vote conservative.

I consider myself something of a moderate libertarian. Possibly something of a “Libertarian-Democrat.” Unlike many libertarians who seem to start as Republicans but want the party to move towards social freedom, I start more as a Democrat but want the party to move towards more efficient government systems.

I believe in social services, public education, and business regulation, but I believe there should be a focus on making government systems more streamlined and efficient and minimizing tax loopholes and exemptions.

I consider myself a libertarian, broadly, because my preferred utopia is a libertarian one. I don’t believe it’s realistic or smart to expect to achieve it by simply cutting the head off the current government.

Yep. I’m a libertarian leaning Republican myself. In addition to being anti big government/anti big business/anti big religion, I confuse people by being both prolife and pro same sex marriage/adoption.

two more appropriate terms for your view that are often given are a DLC Democrat, or the more derogatory “googoo”, for “good government Democrat”. I think Bill clinton did a lot of good things in that regard, which is why despite my greater sympathy for the Republican Party, Bill Clinton is my favorite President of my lifetime.

I have to agree. I am moderate libertarian and yet Bill Clinton was the most libertarian of the presidents in my lifetime. Like most libertarians, I am independent but lean towards fiscally conservative Republicans. Scott Brown, current Senator from Massachusetts is a good one for example but I wouldn’t piss on a lot of the current federally elected Republicans if they were on fire.

Let me slip into some commentary here. It is extremely condescending to moderate libertarians to ask us what ‘Libertopia’ or ‘Libertaria’ would be like in the same way it would be to ask what ‘Liberalville’, ‘Progresstopia’, or "Conservastan’ would be like to people that os labels o describe themselves. We don’t expect to found a new planet or even country based on our beliefs. We just hope to shape the one we live in now to include the most freedom for the most people possible and especially ourselves.

Moderate libertarianism is a philosophy against authoritarianism on the political compass and there is no one view that moderate libertarians hold that isn’t shared by another political philosophy. The only difference is libertarians aren’t organized enough almost by definition to make a clear political movement out of it.

A moderate libertarian in the U.S. would tend to support fiscally responsible government leaders first and foremost but also organizations like the NRA (usually considered conservative) as well as some work the American Civil Liberties Union does (usually considered liberal). Moderate libertarians are very socially liberal but don’t tend to identify with liberal activists for causes they support because we believe the government shouldn’t be involved in those issues in the first place.

I’m not far from a “moderate libertarian” myself, and plead guilty to condescending questions about Libertopia. Out of curiosity, shagnasty, how do you align with, say, Ron Paul? (On the recently linked-to quiz I think I had Paul at 20% compared with 95% for Obama and 5% for Romney.)

But I sincerely suggest you guys change your tag! Call yourselves “moderate libertarians” if you wish, but not “libertarians.” That label has been taken over by several kinds of idiots. Some think the Federal Reserve Bank is the work of the Illuminati. Some want to give your kids whooping cough for fear that Big Government’s vaccines are intended to sterilize. Some think food and drug inspection should be privatised. And, yes, for many “libertarians” the overriding philosophy is Dog-eat-dog capitalism in its most brutal form (though, of course, with present-day property owners having a big headstart).

Because of bad connotations, progressive Americans don’t call themselves socialists; and neocons don’t call themselves imperialists. I don’t think you sane guys should call yourselves “libertarians.”

In another thread, I mentioned flood control as an example of useful government. A “libertarian” respondent seemed not to understand that rice farms are deliberately located where there is ample water, that trading lowland for high land merely passes the problem, and that small-time villagers saving up for fertilizer are not in a position to call their Chicago broker and “hedge” against excessive rainfall, and most importantly that society’s interest is best served by preventing flood, not “pricing products accordingly.” You can read his comment and my response here.

Libertarianism is a principle, but it’s not shackles or a religion. In my view, to be a libertarian, you just have to support liberty unless there is overwhelming evidence in support of restricting that liberty. And when it is restricted, it must be done in accordance with the rule of law, rather than targeted at whatever group of people we don’t happen to like right now, or implemented as a federal law when the Constitution has reserved the issue in question to the states.

LIbertarians don’t necessary stand with anarchists, so much as against the “there oughta be a law” crowd, who support using the law to get at people they don’t like, or activities they don’t like, even though those activities aren’t actually doing any harm.

I guess we have to define the terms. I consider myself a moderate libertarian. I generally think that less government is better, but don’t go crazy and say that the highways should be privately owned.

In almost every situation, I believe that the government solution is usually the worst and that the free hand of the market can do a better job. On social issues, I’m pretty conservative. I’m pro-life for example, because in my view abortion is murder and that is one of the most basic things a government should prevent. I don’t really care what people do in their private lives, so I am typically against drug laws, seat belt laws, gun control, sodomy laws, fireworks restrictions, etc.

When people come into the public square, then it is a legitimate government interest to control smoking weed (or drinking booze) in public, issue concealed carry licenses, require fireworks permits, or make a legislative determination of marriage.

Some would say that I am a typical conservative Republican, but I don’t identify with many of those hard core right-wingers.

I hold exactly the opposite view, and, in part, on libertarian grounds. I worry about a government that has the power to intrude so deeply into private decisions.

I don’t want to highjack the thread! What I do want is to find out of there is a process, other than the U.S. constitutional process of majority rule as mitigated by limits on government, that can make this decision. What process would a libertarian state follow in choosing a pro-choice or pro-life stance? Or, say, a circumcision vs. no-circumcision stance? The government pretty much must choose one or the other; there isn’t a lot of middle ground for a compromise.

Would the majority simply vote on it?

Would courts exist to throw out bad laws?

How are the members of the courts selected?

Our system is ugly, messy, often smelly, inefficient, very often corrupt, and, right now, dominated by money. What can libertarians offer in terms of very specific reforms, to move in the direction of a better system, even if only by small steps? Or must a libertarian system be implemented in whole and not piecemeal?

I think Penn and Teller would count as moderate libertarians. They call themselves libertarians, but they seem a lot more balanced and intelligent than most libertarians I hear from.

That’s more-or-less how I am, and there’s actually a good number of friends I have who are more Libertarian-Democrat than Liberal-Democrat. While self-identified libertarians do tend to vote Republican, there are a good number (anywhere from 30-40% according to Cato) that vote for the Democratic candidate in presidential elections.

I am unabashedly libertarian on social issues. That’s the main reason I probably will never vote Republican. For fiscal issues, I can honestly go either way. I lean a bit liberal in my fiscal philosophy, but my own fiscal life has been self-sufficient: I’ve run my own business for most my working life, I save for my own retirement, I pay for my own health insurance, business insurance, I pay the extra self-employment tax at the end of the year, etc. So I’d do fine in a more strict libertarian fiscal model. That’s how I live my fiscal life now. However, I do believe in the government providing social services, especially universal healthcare (preferably, single payer.) So, because of my libertarian social views and my somewhat liberal, but can-go-either-way fiscal views, I vote Democrat.

I don’t know about Teller, but Penn is a capital-L Libertarian. He is “balanced and intelligent,” but he’s not kinda-sorta-semi-libertarian, he’s a party member.