Paul Krugman has put together what is perhaps the worst argument against libertarianism I have ever seen. In his blog for the New York Times, he quotes Milton Friedman who stated that tort law could be used to protect the environment and consumers against unsafe products. Namely, if people are hurt by a product or their property is damaged by, say an oil spill, they can sue said company. Property rights will act as a disincentive to reckless corporate behavior and be more effective than government regulation.
Krugman then brings up an article that discusses how Senator Lisa Murkowski blocked a bill that would have raised the maximum liability for oil companies after a spill from $75 million to $10 billion. What does Krugman conclude from this?
“…don’t say that we just need better politicians. If libertarianism requires incorruptible politicians to work, it’s not serious.”
You can’t make up this kind of stupid. You could just as easily say the exact same thing about a welfare state supporting liberal. Hey, our government transfers a lot of money from the lower class and middle class to the rich in the form of subsidies, bailouts, inflation, no-bid contracts, monopoly privileges, industry specific tariffs, overbearing intellectual property laws, burdensome regulations that limit competition, etc. And don’t say a big government welfare state could work, but “we just need better politicians.” If liberalism requires incorruptible politicians to work, it’s not serious.
It’s certainly quite strange that Krugman would pick the extremely un-libertarian policy of a government cap on tort liability (a regulation) to take a shot at libertarianism. After all, it’s the exact opposite of what Milton Friedman would have supported. And Senator Murkowski isn’t even a libertarian, she’s a Republican who voted for farm subsidies, increasing the minimum wage and SCHIP. She also supports the Patriot Act and the Iraq War. What exactly about her is libertarian?
And Paul Krugman won the Nobel Prize in Economics? Good lord, I wouldn’t even give him a gold star for attendance.