Alternatives to Austerity, and a Left/Libertarian Alliance Revisited

When Thomas Friedman proposed that Americans needed to get used to making some sacrifices if we want to get the deficit under control, I wrote:

What’s the underlying cause of the debt crisis? Certainly Americans buy a lot of crap we don’t need, and on credit too. But consider:

The decline in real wages in the US
-Obama only proposes to raise taxes on those making over $250,000 a year
-The bailout, at tax payer expense, bailed out the wealthy
The wealthy routinely avoid paying taxes
-That 23% of the federal budget goes to defense spending (much of which goes to unaccountable private firms)

Who should we be asking to make some sacrifices?

Joseph Stiglitz offers a plan to reduce the U.S deficit he calls an alternative to austerity. Summarized:

  1. Increase “high-return” public investments, even if it increases the deficit in the short term. I assume he means infrastructure.
  2. Cut military expenditures. He doesn’t say how much.
  3. Eliminate corporate welfare.
  4. Slightly increase taxes for the top 1% of earners – by about 5%.

Stiglitz concludes with a dismal note:

There’s only one problem: it wouldn’t benefit those at the top, or the corporate and other special interests that have come to dominate America’s policymaking. Its compelling logic is precisely why there is little chance that such a reasonable proposal would ever be adopted.

This sounds about right to me, apart from the lack of specifics in some areas. It’s got me thinking, though – what essentials can the leftists and libertarians agree to? Could something like this be agreed upon:

  1. Fix public infrastructure, even if it increases the deficit
  2. Cut corporate welfare
  3. End tax loop-holes for the rich
  4. Reduce defense spending by at least 50%

Could we then agree to disagree about social welfare, tax cuts for everyone except the rich and tax increases for the rich? Would libertarians agree to increase public spending on infrastructure? Would the left be willing to put aside tax increases for the rich, or environmental regulations for the time being?

I’ve been cynical about the potential for a left/libertarian alliance since libertarians nearly universally supported Ron Paul in 2007. But now that Paul is trying to form a left/right alliance himself, perhaps it’s an idea whose time has come.

A libertarian perspective on Obama’s first 40 hours in office

Radley Balko on Obama’s first 40 hours:

# Obama rescinded Bush’s 2001 executive order allowing former presidents, vice presidents, and their heirs to claim executive privilege in determining which of their records get released to the public. Even better, he’s requiring the signature of both his White House counsel and the attorney general before he can classify a document under executive privilege.
# Issued a memorandum to all executive agencies asking them to come up with a new plan for open government and complying with FOIA requests. He is also instructing three top officials, including the U.S. attorney general, to come up with a new policy on open government. The new policy would replace the existing policy, infamously set by a 2001 memo from John Ashcroft that instructed federal agencies to essentially to take every measure they can to refuse FOIA requests.
# Put a freeze on the salaries of top White House aides.
# Suspended the military trials at Gitmo, and is expected to issue an order closing Gitmo as soon as today.

Full Story: The Agitator

© 2024 Technoccult

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑