define('FS_METHOD', 'direct'); define('FS_CHMOD_DIR', 02775); define('FS_CHMOD_FILE', 0664); Approaches to Gov't - God, Guns & Guts

Approaches to Gov’t

Schools of Thought in Classical Liberalism

What is “classical liberalism?” Is it a specific set of beliefs, a philosophy, an economic theory, or something else? In this series, Dr. Nigel Ashford explores what classical liberalism — sometimes called “libertarianism” — actually means. Dr. Ashford looks at 5 different schools of classical liberalism/ libertarianism, and examines how they are similar and how they are different. Dr. Ashford hopes that as you explore this series, you will think deeply about your own beliefs and political philosophy, and draw your own conclusions.

How should we assess the merits of a law or government program? According to Milton Friedman and the members of the “Chicago School,” we need to look at empirical evidence and see the consequences of laws. Many laws are well-intended, but do they actually have good outcomes? The Chicago School admits that markets do fail sometimes fails. But, they contend that government also fails, and that usually government failure is far greater than market failure. Dr. Ashford takes a close look at the Chicago school.

Government grows and grows. Why? Is there any way to limit government? Dr. Ashford explores the intellectual school known as “public choice.” Public choice theorists believe that politicians are self-interested, meaning they have a vested interest in growing government beyond its proper, limited size. This means that small, concentrated groups (like industry lobbying associations) yield tremendous power over the politics. This leads to subsidies and tax breaks for politically favored industries.

What is the “Austrian School” of economics? When people refer to the Austrians, they are usually referring to the ideas of Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises. In this video, Professor Nigel Ashford outlines the basic beliefs of these two prominent economists. While the two agree that government should be limited, they also disagree on many points.

Do all people have natural rights? Philosophers Ayn Rand and Robert Nozick think so. Dr. Nigel Ashford examines the “natural rights” school of thought, in particular the theories of Rand and Nozick. Nozick and Rand both argue that government should never infringe upon our natural rights, and that government exists only to protect these natural rights. They also find that capitalism is the only moral economic system because it is based on voluntary exchange, not coercion.

Do we even need a government? Some anarchist philosophers and economists don’t think so. Dr. Nigel Ashford takes a look at two anarcho-capitalist thinkers, Murray Rothbard and David Friedman. Rothbard criticizes the state for its use of coercion, and Friedman criticizes it for its inefficiency. Both argue that there are free-market alternatives to all government services.

What do you think the role of government should be? Are you in favor of anarchy or monarchy? Do you believe there are public goods like defense that the government should provide, or should there be no state at all? Should the government provide a minimal welfare state, or even control the entire economy? What conclusions have you come to?

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