Brian Leiter, who often mocks the ignorant and semiliterate invocations of philosophical ideas that bounce around the media, links
approvingly [see his response in comments] to the following claim that manages to lower my already-low estimation of Elliot Spitzer’s intelligence.
The worldviews of Obama and Romney are really proxies for the theoretical debate about Keynesian economics vs. the more libertarian views of Frederick Hayek. Obama’s support for a government stimulus and expenditures to invest are traditional Keynesian; Romney’s shrink-government-at-all-costs view is akin to the hands-off approach of Hayek and the Chicago school. Keynes won, as well he should have. Likewise, John Rawls’ view of a government that is concerned about the well-being of the last well off member of society is akin to Obama’s interest in a progressive income tax where the wealthier pay more, and ensuring access to health care and food stamps for those who are needy. Romney’s statements about the 47 percent—even if one credits that he is more compassionate than those words might suggest—are more akin to the libertarian world of Nozick, where one eats what one kills, and if there are shortfalls, private charity not government should fill the void. When the choice was made, Rawls won over Nozick. As well he should have.
Wow. Where does one even begin?
Rawls’ “property-owning democracy” is not the American-style tax-and-redistribute welfare state, even if the latter were greatly expanded.
“One eats what one kills,” apart from being a singularly bizarre way to talk about someone with Nozick’s views on animal rights. is not even loosely a reasonable way to talk about Nozick’s views on cooperation in the market.
Rawls endorsed the inviolability of the basic liberties and the lexical priority of liberty; and Nozick, using different language, agreed with both thoughts. Their views on individual human liberty found not the faintest echo in a presidential election between two candidates competing to see who could expand the security state and the police powers brought to bear on the drug war the fastest.
The Chicago School does not oppose countercyclical stimulus.
A difference after ten years between government spending at 20.25% of GDP and government spending at 23.75% of GDP is not the difference between Nozick and Rawls on fundamental philosophical questions.
A projected federal government that spends 20.25% of GDP after ten years is not a “shrink-government-at-all-costs” view.
An inability to specify any actual spending cuts besides PBS is not a “shrink-government-at-all-costs” view.
Proposed expansions of defense spending above the current astronomical levels are not a “shrink-government-at-all-costs” view.
Romney’s comments on the 47% were in part a complaint that not enough people pay taxes. That is not a view one could easily associate with Nozick.