Bryan Caplan  

So Crowded No One Will Go?

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This Friday, June 17, the Mercatus Center will be hosting French libertarian sensation Sabine Herold. The time: 12:00. The place: Mercatus Board Room, 4th Floor. Sabine's the talk of D.C., so my guess is that this will be a rare standing-room only seminar. Here's what people are saying about her:

Bruce Bartlett:

Herold is a 21-year-old college student who became the unlikely leader of a libertarian revolt in France when she spoke out against striking public sector unions. Protesting government plans to make them work 40 years to receive full pensions, as private-sector workers do, rather than 37 as they do now, the unions have severely crippled transportation and caused great hardship for ordinary people throughout France...

The next thing Herold knew, she was the leader of a national movement. On June 15, she addressed a crowd of 18,000 in Paris with the same message. Beautiful, articulate, and willing to say things that no national leader has been willing to say in France in decades, Herold became a heroine to the oppressed middle class. Squeezed on all sides by taxes, high unemployment, slow growth, and an unresponsive political class, all they needed was a leader when she burst on the scene.


Andrew Schwartz:

Sabine Herold is the editor and spokeswoman for Liberté j'écris ton nom (Liberty, I Write Your Name), a think tank and activist organization at the forefront of a new and growing pro-liberty movement in France.

Herold and Liberté j'écris ton nom came to prominence last summer when the organization led two anti-government-union rallies in Paris, the second of which attracted a phenomenal eighty thousand protesters.

A passionate speaker and essayist, Herold promotes liberty from a moral, ethical point of view — namely, from the standpoint of individual responsibility and the right of every individual to make his or her own decisions.

And here's Herold herself:

I think one of the problems in France is that libertarians are only focused on economic issues. That is not the most important thing. Of course, I think it's really important to be economically libertarian. But what is really the basis of a free society is the idea that people should be free to decide for themselves in any area — that means economically, but also in social issues, moral issues, or any issue. The economy is important but it's not the whole of it.

Also, economics is something that is very boring for many people. I think if you want to touch many people, you should not speak in an economic way — you should tell them about values.

She has a point. Perhaps that's why she addresses crowds of 80,000 and I primarily lecture to captive audiences of undergraduates.


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COMMENTS (4 to date)
James writes:

It's always tempting for libertarian economists to present the economic arguments for libertarianism because they seem so persuasive to an economist while moral arguments seem prone to fail due to lack of agreement regarding what moral behavior consists of. David Friedman, among others, gives almost exactly this reason to support the practice of advocating libertarianism by looking at issues in terms of economic efficiency rather than in terms of morality. I've always found this approach wanting because the general public sees economic efficiency in about the same way that a moral skeptic sees ethics. One advantage of moral arguments for libertarianism rather than economic arguments is that the only necessary common premise is that the moral skeptic is wrong. Whatever the ethics of the non-libertarian, one need only point out that within the non-libertarian's own ethical system, state actors, if judged by the same moral standard applied to non state actors, are behaving immorally.

Chuckrock writes:

Herold's comment on economics is really freaking confusing coming from a Frenchwoman. She says that French libertarians should not focus on economics but on pluralism.

But when it comes to being able to "live in one's own way," France is a really libertarian country.

It's only when it comes to regulations, tarriffs, subsidies, restraints on innovation and opportunity, taxes, etc. that the French are decidedly off course.

So what's a French libertarian supposed to focus on? Sexual liberation? It is to laugh.

Sabine, if you are reading this, please answer me.

Paul N writes:

Bryan, if you were as hot as Sabine, I'm sure you'd get at least 10,000.

Steve O'Keefe writes:

Just like an economist to turn a crowd of 18,000 into a crowd of 80,000. Is that hyperinflation?

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