Jim Henley: Hoisted from Crooked Timber comments:
Markets and Freedom: Common Mistakes — Crooked Timber: They haven’t just been winning, they have been fleecing us and s#*tting on those poorer than themselves in the process.
This is a pretty common trope among even pretty mainstream libertarians, and the mood affiliation is instructive.
The only wealth inequality that enrages them is between those who have relatively little and those who have even less.
As Patrick points out, the only barriers to trade they decry are the ones that provide some measure of protection to the relatively disadvantaged.
The only method of ameliorating the condition of some poor people they can countenance is the one that lowers costs to rich people.
When I say relatively common, I have seen it expressed by a poster on one of the GMU blogs (by one of the indistinguishable troika of Caplan, Tabarrok and Hanson), by Will Wilkinson (IIRC), and as recently as the MR threads on this topic, where a commenter opined that so long as American workers refused to support open borders they deserved no rights or consideration whatsoever.
I should add that I think this outrage isn’t fake exactly, just convenient. I’m sure Michael Jordan really believed, when psyching himself up for games, that the opponents he insisted had insulted him but hadn’t really had insulted him.
It is very satisfying for libertarians – and I am afraid I know this with certainty – to super-identify with a group of poor people who really would be helped by libertarian policies. Frex, ending the wicked folly that is the War on Drugs really would benefit poor people and people of color enormously. So you can let yourself really feel the injustice of the drug war, because it aligns with your beliefs. But you end up fetishizing that outrage. It becomes a talisman against charges that you are heartless toward the poor, or people of color, because of your political-economic priors. What comes to matter is the performance of the stance – exactly the accusation of “political correctness” right-wingers make against liberals and leftists.
The whole time you really are against the War on Drugs, or nativism. But you love the fact of your opposition too much for your own sake.