Deregulation Dems can believe in:

From Kausfiles:

The administration has rolled back transparency rules that require unions to more extensively report their finances, executive compensation and potential conflicts of interest every year. The Labor Department said “it would not be a good use of resources” to require this.

The Obama administration’s first proposed budget calls for cutting the budget of the Labor Department’s Office of Labor-Management Standards, which investigates unions on behalf of workers, to $41 million, down from $45 million last year.

I predict that in 10 years both the US and world economies will less statist than today.  In the US, expect far more privatization of state and local services, infrastructure, etc.  And of course at the world level the neoliberalism revolution is only in its early stages.  In the most important election since the crisis began, Indian voters strongly endorsed market reforms, ousting the communists from their coalition government.  The Indian stock market rose more than 17% yesterday.  BTW, India has roughly the population of North America, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. . . combined.

And then there is China.

We are entering a golden age for libertarianism.  The glass is one quarter full, and on track to be half full in 3 or 4 decades.  (And I don’t want any grouchy Ron Paul supporters telling me the glass is still 3/4 empty.)



7 Responses to “Deregulation Dems can believe in:”

  1. Gravatar of Dilip Dilip
    19. May 2009 at 10:02

    It is funny you are linking to a France based website to comment on India based developments 🙂 I’d recommend the following sites if you are really interested in keeping track of what is happening in my home country: (I am not going to type in the URL to these sites because too many links in a comment are typically treated as spam by blog engines! You can easily find them via Google though)

    IBNLive (in association with CNN)
    NDTV (in association with MSNBC)
    The Hindustan Times
    The Indian Express
    The Hindu

    The last 3 are pretty well respected English language dailies.

  2. Gravatar of Bob Murphy Bob Murphy
    19. May 2009 at 15:02

    Are you claiming the union thing is a move toward libertarianism? I’m not challenging you, I just want to clarify what you’re saying.

    What if they slashed $5 million of the budget and stopped reporting the budget to the public? Would you say that was more ambiguous?

    (I’m not being a wiseguy here, I’m just wondering what your definition of a move toward libertarianism is.)

  3. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    19. May 2009 at 17:01

    Thanks Dilip, It’s sad that Westerners have so little interest in India. As I said, the recent election was far more important than our election last fall. It affects far more people, and the stakes are much higher for each person.

    Bob, I started out with a light-hearted jab at Dems who claim they oppose “all this deregulation” and then ended up with a very serious post showing Dems that they actually are not statists:

    1. They want less regulations of unions
    2. The privatization occurring at state and local levels is often done by Democratic politicians
    3. The move away from statism in India and China (far and away the most important trend in recent world history), is broadly supported by Democratic economists.

    The notion that libertarians should cheer up was based on the latter two items; I agree that Obama’s union moves are not really pro-market. Again, that was a weak attempt at humor. Sometimes when I start a post I have no idea where it will end up. Thus it may seem incoherent. It’s not your fault if you were confused, I often take contrarian positions.

  4. Gravatar of Joe Calhoun Joe Calhoun
    20. May 2009 at 12:37


    I think you are right when looking at things on a global scale, but I am very worried about the US. Whatever is happening on the local and state levels is being swamped by what is happening on the national level. When the majority is no longer responsible for funding government, how will a libertarian get elected at the national level? We are approaching the tyranny of the majority.

    One ray of hope is my daughter’s generation. She’s 19, just finished freshman year at San Francisco Art Institute and very libertarian. She’s a little out of place in SF, but in general her generation is quite libertarian in their thinking. Unfortunately, they don’t vote in large numbers so they don’t have much influence in elections yet.

    I’m an optimist by nature, so I think there will be a backlash against statism in a few years just as there was after the 70s. But how bad will things get before that happens? What passes for economic understanding in DC is truly frightening and the damage they do in the interim could be enormous.

  5. Gravatar of johnleemk johnleemk
    20. May 2009 at 17:25

    I am still very annoyed by what I think is the extremely artificial dichotomy between libertarianism and statism in the US. In most other countries, classical liberalism has evolved into less radically anarchist-influenced ideas of government. The Lib Dems in the UK are a favourite example of mine — most Americans would not know what to make of a party that supports states’ rights, opposes the PATRIOT Act, supports voucher schools, supports human rights, opposes government regulation of markets, and supports the welfare state. To Americans, this is an incoherent hodgepodge of left and right, but it’s a perfectly sensible ideology almost anywhere else, to the point that it has been co-opted by a variety of political parties. Voucher schools, for instance, are a political third rail in Sweden (you touch them, you’re dead). New Zealand’s pro-market policies were adopted by one party, but have been maintained by successor governments.

    What I am afraid of for the US is that Americans will keep falling into this false choice between a social safety net and statism, and no social safety net and liberty. It’s quite possible to support both social safety nets and liberty as going hand-in-hand.

    I love Scott’s point about how other countries have discarded the overly-statist parts of their governance while maintaining their social safety nets through liberalisation of government services. They’ve learned from experience. It seems as if Americans are bent on also going through the school of hard knocks here, instead of taking the obvious route, which is to support both stronger social safety nets and less government regulation.

    The heart of classical liberalism/libertarianism is the tenet of equal opportunity. Everyone should have the chance to be all they can be. The American form of libertarianism emphasises negative liberty but ignores the positive liberty aspect of this, while the American form of progressivism does precisely the opposite. Meanwhile, the rest of the world moves ahead by combining both into a coherent way of thinking about human freedom.

  6. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    20. May 2009 at 18:05

    Joe, Because of my blog I haven’t had much time to read the news. On the rare occasions I do, I also get pessimistic. We are coming to a fork in the road, and have to decide how much we want to spend on government. I hope that when liberals see the cost, they will look for creative solutions that don’t simply involve more big government. What keeps me optimistic is when I see experiments succeeding in other countries, such as the Swedish voucher program mentioned in the next post. Our health care costs 15% of GDP—there is no way we go to British style single-payer, we can’t afford it. We will need to get the private sector involved in any move toward universal coverage–Singapore is an interesting example of such a system. But it is a constant battle. The one area where I feel libertarians have lost for good is paternalism. I find that I simply have a different view of human dignity than most people I talk to. Most people have no trouble with policies that treat adults like children. So I have resigned myself to the coming “Brave New World.” I suppose richer, safer societies are simply more risk averse. But in the broader area of economics and incentives, I believe that we can learn from our errors, and that we will.

    johnleemk, I find it hard to even imagine living in a country (say Poland) where my views almost completely line up with one party. I know lots of people like that in the US, mostly liberal academics who agree with the Republicans on absolutely nothing. I wish we had a parliamentary system with something like the German Free Democratic party. But we are stuck with the libertarians. I vote for them, but only in the expectation that they will moderate their views if they got closer to power.

    Your comment also has implications for Joe’s comment. Some may wonder why I discuss tiny countries like Denmark, Iceland, Estonia, Singapore, etc. But these models may matter more than people think. Why did China start to move away from communism? Wasn’t it partly in response to some relatively small but successful ethnic Chinese-economies in their backyard? (Singapore, HK, Taiwan.) Small models can influence large countries.

    You might be interested in Brink Lindsey’s attempt to build bridges between liberals and libertarians. He is a very thoughtful guy, and I believe he coined the term “liberaltarian.”

  7. Gravatar of Kudos to Canada and Clinton « Entitled to an Opinion Kudos to Canada and Clinton « Entitled to an Opinion
    23. May 2009 at 16:29

    […] U.S. The U.S last accomplished such a feat under Clinton. Come back, Bill! I see no evidence for Scott Sumner’s contention that the U.S is headed for less statism over the next decade, though it might be a bit more […]

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