By Ludwig Von
As a gay person who considers himself a right-wing libertarian, the “problem” of time preferences among gays (as mentioned by Hans Hermann-Hoppe) has come up a few times, enough for it to bother me enough to present some counter-arguments.
I’ll let Hoppe put it in his own words, and for the record, I fully support his right to say such things in a university setting:
“In March of 2004, during a 75-minute lecture in my Money and Banking class on time preference, interest, and capital, I presented numerous examples designed to illustrate the concept of time preference (or in the terminology of the sociologist Edward Banfield of “present- and future-orientation”). As one brief example, I referred to homosexuals as a group which, because they typically do not have children, tend to have a higher degree of time preference and are more present-oriented. I also noted–as have many other scholars–that J.M Keynes, whose economic theories were the subject of some upcoming lectures, had been a homosexual and that this might be useful to know when considering his short-run economic policy recommendation and his famous dictum “in the long run we are all dead.”
First of all, I don’t think the failure to have children is evidence of short-term time preference. A person whose outlook on the future is limited to the next generation, in my mind, has an exceedingly short time preference.
While I certainly disagree with Keynes’ advocacy of a focus on short-term economic policy in some situations (although to be fair, Keynes did advocate saving during times of prosperity… taking the side the ant rather than the grasshopper in the fable), look at his life. Many parents are content to make enough to look after their children and would not become such a prominent economist. Also, Keynes was apparently a bisexual. Many bisexuals do have children.
I will defer the knowledgeable economists such as Hayek who regarded Keynes as a brilliant man, just one who happened to be wrong about a lot of things. Also, it seems that some of his current alleged followers present a rather distorted view of what the man actually stood for.
If you didn’t notice, Hoppe described his perspective on the situation for the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Mises himself seems to have been a heterosexual, but he had no children of his own either. In his forties, he married a widow who had two children.
Ayn Rand, a contemporary of Mises, was another apparent heterosexual who chose not to have children. Neither Frederic Bastiat nor Murray Rothbard had children. Rand and Rothbard did get married though…not to each other of course, but that probably would have been entertaining.
These are not individuals who did not have regard for wider society or for making contributions toward the future. I would imagine that the pursuit of their life’s work would have produced at least mildly resentful and possibly neglected children.
I do wonder whether for Hoppe this observation is really about having children, or about the fact that gays have icky sex and can be promiscuous.
In his LvMI entry, Hoppe claims that his comments were not related to homophobia. Well, it certainly should make homosexuals feel better that his desire to expel them from his “libertarian social order” is not based on homophobia, right? If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, here is the quote from his Democracy book:
“There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and expelled from society. Likewise, in a covenant founded for the purpose of protecting family and kin, there can be no tolerance toward those habitually promoting lifestyles incompatible with this goal. They – the advocates of alternative, non-family and kin-centered lifestyles such as, for instance, individual hedonism, parasitism, nature-environment worship, homosexuality, or communism – will have to be physically removed from society, too, if one is to maintain a libertarian order.”
I believe that scientists, intellectuals, and the like often choose not to have children because they know they wouldn’t be able to parent very well or if they would, it would detract from their work. Certainly there are some homosexuals who happen to be in that category, but I also wonder if there aren’t some who are attracted to academic and other time-intensive intellectual pursuits because they have no designs on having a traditional family to begin with.
I don’t intend to dwell on the topic, but if it is not self-evident that there have been many homosexuals who made huge contributions to shaping society, here is a list from Lambda.org: http://www.lambda.org/famous.htm
Some were bisexuals, of course, and some probably never even had gay sex; but regardless, these were not people who would be considered traditional heterosexuals.
Also, as with the examples mentioned above, even those of no apparent orientation toward the same sex who become intellectual heavyweights or otherwise significant contributors to society often forgo having children as well. I don’t see the significance, other than trying to appeal to right-wing troglodytes, of the gender of the people with whom individuals have child-less relations.
I also believe that while homosexuals often do not pass their genes on directly, there is a role to play in promoting ones own family gene pool for homosexuals and others who do not produce children. In many cultures, it is considered improper, especially for women, to move out and live on their own before becoming married. One of my grandparents lived with his parents and an aunt who (as far as I know) never moved out. But I don’t imagine that with the six children in that house that she was without the opportunity to support and protect the future generation. It’s just a less obvious and direct way than producing a child oneself.