Libertarians in favor of anti-trust now?

I saw this article today, and I think that the level of irony could wipe out anemia across the nation if it could be harvested. As someone who used to identify as a libertarian, I’ve read a quite a bit of literature and participated in arguments about the ideology, and one thing that’s consistent in my encounters is a deep belief in the power of the free market to determine ‘correct’ outcomes and an extreme aversion to government interference in a market, plus a belief that government interference is equivalent to using force against people.

But my impression from reading the article is that the Libertarian Party is now making an argument that political parties are competing in the election market, and that the (non-government) Commission on Presidential Debates is successful but refuses to allow the LP on their shows. The LP claims that this is a violation of anti-trust laws, and that the government should step in and tell the CPD that they have to allow the LP into their debates. Even though the LP bitterly hates anti-trust laws and claims that government determining market outcomes is an initiation of force like shooting people in the head. Am I missing something here?

(The Green party doesn’t have any deep ideological opposition to anti-trust laws that I know of, so I don’t feel that there’s anything odd about their position. )

As far as I know, they always were. The take I’ve gotten in the past is that, basically, monopolies are formed because of government involvement, and that they wouldn’t be there but for that involvement. Now, that might or might not be true, but that’s the stance of most actual libertarians I know.

I have no idea what the actual stance of the Libertarian Party is on this, however, so maybe I have the wrong impression.

I am not a Libertarian. But I imagine the justification could be something like, “We think the laws are stupid and wrong, but we would put ourselves at a disadvantage if we did not exploit them fully. We’d be foolish to cede this tool to our opponents.” Sorta like a baseball manager who might hate the Designated Hitter rule would still send the best DH he could up to the plate. Maybe you give up some ideological purity for practical gains.

Didn’t Ayn Rand accept Social Security? I suppose the reasoning was similar, although I admit my ignorance of her biography.

The point of free markets is competition. Paradoxically, a free market leads to a lack of competition through collusion, monopolies, and corruption. So you need a government to institute policies that preserve competition. This nuance is lost to capitalists of many stripes, including libertarians.

And socialists and left winger types fail to understand that, often, collusion, monopolies and corruption comes from the government, and that it’s this that leads to less free markets and a stifling of competition. :stuck_out_tongue: The nuance is often lost on them, however, since they are all clueless about economics…and their mommies dress them funny.

Have we finished painting with broad brushes, or did you want to keep going with this theme?

The LP platform from 1992 to 2004 included a specific call to repeal all anti-trust laws:

The current one doesn’t have that direct statement (at least from a cursory search), but seems to have fewer definite positions. So they definitely were completely and utterly opposed to anti-trust laws in the past, and don’t seem to have really abrogated that position, they’ve just made the platform shorter and less specific.

I don’t know your friends, but it’s not exactly uncommon for people to support the idea of “Libertarian” without looking deeply into what the LP, major Libertarian-allied candidates, and major Libertarian publications actually say. It’s what I did back when I was one :slight_smile:

The Commission on Presidential Debates is a monstrosity, even if I would not use the words “anti-trust” to describe why. As a libertarian, I believe that the use of power by a government to compel people to do what the government wants them to do is by default invalid, and if you want that use of power to be valid the government has to fulfill certain requirements. One of those requirements is free and fair elections, because a government which does not exist to serve the people should not be granted extraordinary power over the people. The CPD exists for the specific purpose of preventing free elections - it is an organisation controlled by the Democrats and the Republicans, created to make sure that nobody but the Democrats or the Republicans gets their voice heard. The actions of the Democrats and the Republicans are not as extreme as the various shitholes that only allow one party to participate in elections, but it’s cut from the same cloth.

Libertarians would probably seek to differentiate between a market selling goods (and services) versus a platform for electoral participation.

Absolutist libertarians were consider this lawsuit nonsense, as the Commission on Presidential Debates is a private entity, free to act as it pleases.

The lawsuit is being brought on specifically anti-trust grounds. As a Libertarian, are you in favor of having anti-trust laws, or do you think that the LP was wrong to have the repeal of them as part of their platform for all of those years? If you are in favor of anti-trust laws, then you personally aren’t guilty of the hypocrisy I’m talking about, but then it seems you have significant differences with conventional Libertarianism.

What specifically does the CPD do that prevents free and fair elections? As far as I know, they host what they call the Presidential debates, and the Democrats and Republicans choose to go to their debates and choose not to go to any others. There are no laws forcing this to happen or forbidding anyone else from holding debates, so there is no government force being used against anyone. Why is a private company creating a TV show and deciding who they want on it preventing free and fair elections, when the LP is perfectly free to create their own, competing debates, which all candidates can decide to attend or not?

This is one of the reasons why I have a hard time taking Libertarians seriously; they talk a big talk about ‘liberty’, free association, and free markets, but can’t take the heat when they can’t compete.

Aren’t the anti-anti-trust Libertarians in the GOP now? That’s where they have the pull to influence policy. Presumably the Libertarian Party is now left with the pro-competition Libertarians.

Edit: Oh, wow, the LP were anti-anti-trust as recently as 2004? I did not expect that.

I am a small-L libertarian - I am not an American, so I am obviously not a member of the Libertarian party. And even if I was, why the fuck do you people throw these idiotic accusations of hypocrisy by proxy at the political philosophy that is by definition least inclined to following a central authority?

Libertarians are not anarchists, and do believe in opposing fraud. The CPD fraudulently represents its Presidential debates as a service conducted by a neutral third party when it is really part of a conspiracy between the two major parties to subvert the proper and democratic election process.

What role did government have in establishing CPD?

CPB’s role is no secret. I thought Libertarians want to treat adults as adults.

Nothing’s stopping the Libertarian Party and Crackposts’R’Us from banding together and advertising the BBCPR (Biggerest and Betterest Commision for Public Rants). The Free Market will choose BBCPR if that’s what is Best for Society.

I have made no accusations of ‘hypocrisy by proxy,’ and it doesn’t appear that anyone has in this thread. I have said that I believe the LP is acting hypocritically based on its stated beliefs, and that libertarians who have similar beliefs are hypocritical if they support this lawsuit. There’s no ‘by proxy’, if you say ‘anti trust laws are bad and should be abolished’ but support using said laws when things aren’t going your way, you’re not being consistent with your beliefs.

The problem here is that the lawsuit doesn’t allege fraud, so this accusation about the CPD isn’t relevant. The LP is suing on the basis that the CPD is violating antitrust laws and being anticompetitive, not that they are fraudulently labeling themselves. I would not find the LP suing them on the basis of fraud nearly as absurd (though, given libertarian’s general opposition to things like FDA labeling requirements and inspections plus laws limiting advertising in general, it could be interesting). I’m also not really sure what remedy for fraud you’d be happy wit here, usually it would be something like ‘change the name or add a disclaimer, pay the other side’s legal fees, maybe a fine’.

Further, even if they are fraudulent, I’m not clear on the leap of logic that goes from a private organization fraudulently advertising its TV programs to your claim that it is ‘monstrous’ and prevents the US from holding free and fair elections. If you really believe that a single private company’s advertisement for a show is capable of completely destroying any claim of a country to have a legitimate government, then in practice you’re saying that no legitimate government can exist, because it’s trivially easy for that to happen, especially in a country with free speech protections.

FYI, a number of libertarians, including some prominent libertarian writers and speakers, identify as anarcho-capitalists, and argue that AC is derived from the non-aggression principle. You can say that they are not True Libertarians, but unless you can explain why in a convincing manner, you’re just diving deep into no-true scotsman territory. It’s not really relevant here, but…

If you just go by “Libertarian Party” you miss a lot of people who identify as Libertarian. It also sucks that because of our political lexicon we can’t just use the term “liberal” or “classic liberal” as it more encompasses what I think people intend to talk about. Small c fiscal conservatives, a group that sometimes overlaps with those who are called libertarians, tend to be fine with government involvement to correct what are called “market failures.”

If you see American libertarians as largely having their economic thought shaped by the Austrian school of economics (and this is accurate, in my opinion) you’ll note that within the Austrian school there is disagreement over the role of governments. With some camps being more interventionist and some being almost anarchist in being against all intervention. So I guess it’s not too surprising you see a similar range of beliefs among “Libertarians.”

Sounds about right.

Another funny one about libs is when they are shocked and outraged at some government overreach, whether it’s bombing foreigners, police brutality, NSA shenanigans, torture, the revolving door, etc. I mean, isn’t that the entire point? What did they expect? If you’re constantly shocked, shouldn’t you change your model? I don’t tend to see similar shock over corporate malfeasance on the other side so much. Maybe when they get boned on their health insurance.

Or how about the libs who point out how corrupt the Wall St. bailouts were, then turn around and defend the Detroit bailouts. Let them go bust? That’s the ravings of a madman!

One problem with libertarianism is that it’s self defeating. They already handed over the keys and the guns. It’s like a political version of “just the head.”

Another issue is this belief about separating governments and private enterprise. If huge, intrusive governments didn’t exist, rich people would have to invent them. They’ve been using governments as their shield and sword for thousands of years, across cultures. Free markets are for the little people, or third worlders. It’ll take more than tweaking the tax code, ending the EPA, or changing debate policy arcana like in the OP to fix that. The ancaps and libertarian socialists* ride around on moon beams all day, but in some ways they seem more realistic re: that fundamental problem.

    • or whatever they call themselves nowadays, the bottom up stateless commune hippies, the workers should run the mill types