Why I’m a Libertarian
Or should I say, “liberal-tarian.” See, I’ve got a touch of the bleeding heart. Well…it’s more than a touch. But I’m a libertarian for feel-goody reasons and logical ones, I swear!
A multitude of things drew me to libertarianism: the emphasis on logic, on individual and personal responsibility (it’s “we the people” not “we the states” or “we the union”), and the general minimalist approach to government. What kept me around was the diversity of ideas and the acceptance that my weird mish-mash of ultra social-liberalism and fiscal-conservatism somehow had a place in today’s political discourse. I liked that there were people with whom I could debate and disagree, who seemed to actually be interested in not just what I thought, but why I thought it and how I was backing up those opinions.
It’s sometimes hard to explain to my friends how it’s possible that I align with the same party as say, Glenn Beck, when his ideas about how America should be and mine are very, very different. If you talk to most libertarians, they’ll disagree with me sharply. But I believe the core libertarian tenant is equal opportunity to success, and that’s why I am a libertarian. For example…
…I’m not against entitlements. I mean, I am against public entitlements in theory, but not in our country’s present state. I think if you break down a lot of entitlements into specifics most people aren’t against them – nobody thinks Grandma should die from not being able to afford her heart pills after retiring at age 70, nobody thinks children should be left hungry, nobody thinks someone should be homeless because they’ve been laid off and are actively seeking work. Living off welfare is actually very difficult – and yes, there’s people who game the system and live large, but it’s very rare. I do think welfare should be a more private matter, but I recognize that presently those networks are not in place and that in a way we have built a dependence on public welfare and cut out a lot of private welfare that existed beforehand. The system is going to have to be massively overhauled and gradually phased out, cutting off entitlements suddenly at this point would be disastrous.
…I’m pro-freed market, but anti big business (and pro death tax). In theory I understand why Burger is an anarcho-capitalist, but I really don’t believe our present business climate would allow for that. And I understand where Elizabeth is coming from when she talks about wage negotiation and benefits, but I know realistically there’s more blue collar non-negotiable wage jobs out there than there are white collar ones. I’m not in favor of replacing the tyranny of large government with the tyranny of big business, and if I had to pick which of the two right now is more “evil,” I’d lean towards big business (though really that’s like picking between being kicked in the gut or punched in the face). For a minimal interference freed market to run and not turn in to effective slavery you need generous employers. We have illustrated consistently since the industrial revolution that we do not have that.
…I think the best solution to minimize government is to radically reform education. The biggest block to freedom, in my opinion, is the lack of equality of opportunity due to inconsistency in educational standards and an adherence to a failing and outdated way of thinking about education. The problem is (mostly) not teachers, it is how we force them to teach. The sad fact of the matter is if you’re born into a poorly performing school district (typically low-income rural and urban areas), you will receive a sub-par education and will likely have children into that same situation. Being born into a cycle of poverty is *technically* overcome-able, but it sure as hell isn’t equal opportunity at success. If we want self-sufficient, responsible society that can act logically, we have to teach that, we can’t just throw up our hands and say, “sorry kids, you were born into a bad situation so now we’re not going to give you any tools to help yourself out of it and spend the rest of your life belittling you for not being as good as someone born into opportunity.” The quality of basic education has to improve. It has to. It’s the basis for everything.
I believe that one day we can have a society with minimal government interference in our personal and business lives, but I believe we have to change government and change ourselves to get there.
And that’s why I’m a libertarian.