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This Libertarian Site Is Taking a Firm Position - On Sidewalk Lemonade Stands

Reason writer Scott Shackford is not happy about the "petty local officials who shut down kids' front-yard lemonade stands because the little moppets don't have the right permits."

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The Massive Monopolies of Google, Facebook and Amazon, and Their Role in Destroying Privacy, Producing Inequality and Undermining Democracy

Most of us are active on Facebook, use many of Google’s assets (search, YouTube, calendar) and get Amazon products dropped at our doorsteps. But have we ever stopped to think about the enormous impact these three companies have had on our lives and our society?

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Capitalism’s Invisible Hand Doesn’t Generate Public Good

If you came into a windfall, would you be more enthusiastic about buying yourself something big or giving to charity? If honest, most of us would admit that buying ourselves something big would be the more motivating prospect. Direct benefit to ourselves is generally more motivating than distributed benefit to others.

Apply this to large institutions and you’re confronted with a fundamental feature of capitalism. In a competition between for-profit and non-profit campaigns, the for-profits have a motivational advantage. They’re buying themselves something big. Their campaigns reward directly. Wealthy individuals and corporations serving self-interest will generally prevail against non-profit campaigns in the public interest. A self-funding campaign beats a charity-funded campaign almost every time.

Libertarians recognize this. It's why they say that for-profits are so efficient. But efficient at what? Not promoting general welfare.

Capitalism’s invisible hand does not promote general welfare. Leading economist Paul Samuelson describes his dawning recognition of this: “All of my teachers believed there was something to Adam Smith’s invisible hand—that each person pursuing their self-interest would, by some miraculous action of the invisible hand, be led to contrive in some vague sense the best interest of all. However, none of them could explain properly what the truth and falsity was in that position. I would say that if I had been a bright student in 1894 and read Pareto’s Italian journal article, I would have understood what I now understand to be the germ of truth in the invisible hand argument. All it refers to is the avoidance of deadweight loss.”

The point here is that Smith’s invisible hand does nothing to achieve ethical maximization. Pareto optimality (the thesis of the Pareto’s Italian journal article) is simply the condition in which there’s no more room for a better deal between any buyer and seller. Everyone is getting the best deal possible given their resources, and there’s therefore, no “deadweight loss,” no one paying too much or too little for anything given available supply and demand.

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Libertarians Need to Choose: More Freedom or Less Government? You Can't Have Both

I'm glad to pay my tax dollars for government services that enable me to be left alone to live the life I want without other people spoiling my party or me spoiling theirs. Libertarians think more freedom results from less government. That's BS. Government is the only organization that can enforce freedom. 

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Gary Johnson Melts Down as Even His Running Mate Sounds Like He Might Vote for Hillary Clinton

Bill Weld is Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson's VP pick. But lately, rather than focusing on getting Johnson elected, the former Massachusetts governor seems to be more focused on preventing a Trump presidency. After all, desperate times call for desperate measures, and now even Johnson's VP nominee sounds skeptical about casting his vote for a third party.

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Watch: Thom Hartmann Delivers a Brutal and Painfully Accurate Takedown of the Libertarian Party for the Ages

With the major party candidates' negative ratings at historic highs, millions of Americans are looking to third-party candidates, with libertarian Gary Johnson polling highest among third-party candidates currently. But do libertarians and progressives really see eye to eye on the big issues, as Johnson would like Bernie Sanders supporters to think?

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Ayn Rand's Demented Mind Is Best Understood by Her Idea of the 'Happy Ending' in Her Bestseller 'Atlas Shrugged'

Over the past year, I've been reading and reviewing the third and final section of Ayn Rand's epic celebration of I've-got-mine-so-screw-youism, Atlas Shrugged. (See parts one and two.) Like the first two parts, it has important lessons for liberals and progressives to learn from.

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How Trump Brought the Republican Establishment to Its Knees

We keep hearing that the Republican Party is on track to suffer an epic split over the presumed nomination of Donald Trump. But what exactly does this mean? What happens once the 2016 election is over?

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Oh God, Please Not Libertarianism

This article first appeared at Current Affairs, a bimonthly print magazine of culture, politics, and the absurd. Click here to visit their home page.

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Even the Father of Modern Libertarianism Criticized the Kind of Austerity That's Crushing Greece

Chicago School economist Milton Friedman, an avowed anti-government crusader and founding father of the modern right-wing libertarian movement, warned against the austerity programs that are so popular today.

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Why Libertarians Should Love Bernie

The rise of Bernie Sanders feels familiar to me. When I was a libertarian-leaning Republican, I was a delegate for Ron Paul in the 2008 Nevada State Convention. Paul’s supporters were passionate if a bit nutty, but change seemed, if only for a moment, possible. The problem was that the ideology behind the candidate was bankrupt. The experience was the beginning of the end of my affiliation with simplistic libertarian blather and GOP politics altogether, but Paul’s rise was driven by the same frustration and anger that is now propelling Sanders.

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