What America Would Look Like If Libertarians Got Their Way

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/what-america-would-look-if-libertarians-got-their-way

What if you cut all benefits? What if all of public life were a giant competition? What libertarianism would look like in real life.

By RJ Eskow
December 25, 2013

These four libertarian/conservative dystopias are offered, as Rod Serling used to say in “The Twilight Zone,” “for your consideration.”

The “Libertarian/Conservative”

I’ve qualified my previous writings on libertarianism with disclaimers explaining that I’m addressing a specific, popular subset of libertarian thought. But I’ve still run afoul of dozens of people who say, “I’m a libertarian and I don’t think those things.” I’ve still received comments like those from David Brin, who correctly notes that I’m not addressing libertarians like Friedrich Hayek in my criticism.

True. But Hayek ain’t in the saddle these days. Ayn Rand is leading the posse, to the extent any intellectual figure is. But I’ll put my disclaimer upfront this time: I acknowledge that, as libertarian-friendly writer John Danaher puts it, “’libertarianism’ has come to denote a broad, often fractious, group of political theories.”

I suppose it’s only fitting that a philosophy celebrating competing markets would, to a certain extent, be a set of competing markets itself.

But it seems even clearer that a “libertarian” in today’s political environment is almost always someone who ascribes to certain core philosophies: He abhors government, hates taxation, and is hostile to collective action on behalf of the less fortunate. Name any prominent modern libertarian—Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan, Ron Paul, Peter Thiel, Rand Paul—and they are likely to fit this description.

These figures represent a singular and increasingly dominant libertarian vision. To avoid future confusion, I’ll give their brand of thought an admittedly imperfect name: “libertarian/conservative.” It is that vision, and their future, which I address here—and it’s a frightening future.

1. What if you cut all benefits?

You’ve heard it from Sen. Rand Paul and other conservatives this winter: unemployment benefits increase unemployment. It’s an enormously destructive idea, though absurd on its face. It’s like the argument that hospitals create sick people; after all, there are so many of them there.

We usually consider such thinking “primitive” in modern societies.

Continue reading at:   http://www.alternet.org/what-america-would-look-if-libertarians-got-their-way

Capitalism, Ecology and the Official Invisibility of Women

From Truth Out:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/20849-capitalism-ecology-and-the-official-invisibility-of-women

By Chris Williams
Sunday, 29 December 2013

When it comes to the world economy, what you “see” is not usually what you get – especially when it comes to gender. Capitalism has fueled a world in which women are rendered invisible and saddled with the majority of labor. They are responsible for two-thirds of all working hours, produce 50 percent to 90 percent of the world’s food  and 100 percent of the world’s children. Yet, for all this, they receive only 10 percent of the world’s income and own less than 1 percent of the world’s property. As a result, women make up 70 percent of the world’s poor.

Moreover, gender violence is more of a threat to women’s health than the sum of traffic accidents and malaria. Often, when women are “seen,” they are seen as simply bodies, to be manipulated in ways that lead to profit. In a very real sense, as people, women are invisible.

Stephen Lewis, the former UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, wrote in his 2006 book, Race Against Time, that the World Bank, the UN and other international organizations repeatedly emphasize the need for greater and more effective action to counter gender inequality to achieve sustainability and other economic goals – but continue to work contrary to that type of action. Lewis wrote, “There is no greater emblem of international hypocrisy than the promise of women’s rights.”

More recently, Elizabeth Arend, programs coordinator at Gender Action, has documented the “alarming gap” between the World Bank’s “rhetoric and reality.” Apart from ignoring issues of unequal access to land, credit, technical inputs, education, decision-making power and the extra demands of child care and other domestic commitments, “the bank’s declining support for rural agriculture disproportionately harms poor women, who constitute the majority of small-scale farmers and play a critical role in growing, processing and preparing food.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/20849-capitalism-ecology-and-the-official-invisibility-of-women

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