three links towards a political philosophy

New ideas are clearly needed if your choices at the voting booth are Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. That pairing, considered inevitable by the pundit class at the outset of the 2016 primary season, resulted in the populist "FU" we are currently living through. That's not really an "idea," though, it's mostly been chaos.

What are some alternatives to neoliberalism-as-usual administered by bland technocrats? (The word neoliberalism is vague and overused but for now let's define it as the status quo of corporate faux-market-based ideas practiced by government, which has the practical effect of siphoning cash from the general public into the private sector.)

At one extreme is the right/libertarian idea of a pure government-by-market. This Ayn Randian vision is neatly dismantled in a satirical interview on the Naked Capitalism blog, "Journey into a Libertarian Future, Part I," originally posted in 2011 and reposted this week, which envisions law enforcement run along the market principles of Obamacare. Instead of government hiring cops, think insurance companies.

On the left we're seeing a raging battle between what Benjamin Studebaker, in a thoughtful post, calls "materialism" -- offering the voter actual tangible benefits such as medicare-for-all and free college -- and "idealism," which means changing voters' ideas about race and identity before any practical solutions are attempted. Studebaker makes a good case for the former, but one might wonder what his modern welfare state is going to look like. A government that relies on algorithms to administer benefits, as seen in Denmark and described in this Foreign Policy magazine article, could be hellish.

That welfare dystopia is precisely what the libertarian critique in the first link (shorn of its satire) is concerned about. But government-by-algorithm isn't really left-distributionist so much as a public-private partnership between government and Big Tech, with "algorithms" deciding whose benefits get cut off. The flaw in the Foreign Policy article is not asking who is selling this tech to Denmark. It seems unlikely that the bureaucrats have their own homegrown programmers; probably they'd be relying on Silicon Valley tech entrepeneurs, whose politics are actually neoliberal-masquerading-as-libertarian. So we're back to the Obamacare model, with algorithms rather then insurance supplied by the private sector. More information is clearly needed on how this would all work.