Believe it or not, I’ve had some friends who are Libertarians.
Yeah I know — hard to believe I had friends — harder to believe they would be right-wing nut jobs.
But I like Libertarians. Most of them apply rational thought to politics. It’s hard to argue with “personal responsiblity” or that government generally sucks and can quickly take a turn into totalitarianism. There are plenty of examples to show both those ideas are “true.”
They lose me when they start talking about taxes as “theft.” You know, “the Government prints the money, so why can’t it just print more” for the few things the government needs…
That’s just crazy shit right there.
Alas, that’s a small point.
Where Libertarianism really breaks down for me is in it’s logical conclusions.
Free Agents Who Can’t Play
If everyone is a free agent and must be responsible for his/her own welfare, what do you do with people who can’t?
You know, people, who either through mental or physical issues or disease or addiction, simply cannot function or feed themselves.
A Libertarian “Utopia” would be filled with beggars in the streets. The poor, the sick, and the lame would be thrown to the mercy of the charities and the churches.
Americans everywhere would be stepping over bodies and human shit like it was Calcutta or San Francisco. (Yeah, see even with government programs to house and feed the poor — shit happens.)
Ask a Libertarian, and in an amazing example of double-speak, they will say the poor are “created” by government programs.
Point to a Nonexistent Past
They point to a pre-20th Century past filled with “prosperity and freedom” before the income tax, the New Deal and getting off the Gold Standard.
But these people need to read some books on life for most people in the 15th-18th centuries. It was a travesty of disease, starvation and base survival. Most of the wealth in America before the Civil War was funded by slavery. It was the country’s largest financial asset and dwarfed the value of all the railroads, land and other businesses combined. http://eh.net/encyclopedia/the-economics-of-the-civil-war/
Lest ye think it only drove the southern economy, it was the engine that drove New York and London banks, New England manufacturing and US trade throughout the world.
Well, everybody else was OK right? Not really. Slaveholders made a decent case that immigrant and/or factory workers in the north (Irish, Italians, Eastern Europeans and Jews mostly) actually had a lower standard of living than the slaves. Freedom isn’t really free when you can’t afford to eat.
Why don’t all of us know about the degrading lives of Americans? Because history is written by the victors and the wealthy. We turn the Jane Austin tales of upper middle class twitdom into an endless series of chick flicks. We forget the stories of The Jungle, and the life and death struggle of most people.
The other logical conclusion Libertarians miss is the power of the collective. They point to self-initiative as the sole driver of progress, of the economy, and the country. That has a grain of truth. But all great things in human history have been done by large groups of humans. No one built the pryamids alone. The great wall of China was not created by a single contractor.
Only with some government mandates or action can we have a mail system, clean drinking water, electricity, or the internet for everyone. Sure some of that is delivered by private companies and “utlities,” but no private group will give those services away to the poor unless there’s something telling them they have to.
A person working alone, has a hard time just getting rid of their own shit. But a society (through taxes and government) can build sewer systems.
A true historical pattern for Libertarianism is not 18th Century America. It’s 10th Century Europe and Feudalism. Think Road Warrior.
Individual power without a strong central government leads to warlordism. Anyone with the wealth to raise an army will raid its neighbors at the earliest hint of a bad harvest.
If Libertarians had it all their way, we’d all be huddled with our relatives paying homage to “the man” who could pay the soldiers and build big enough walls to keep us safe from our corn-stealing cousins in the other county.
Of course any political philosophy taken to its extremes ends in some horrific nightmare. We need Libertarians to play a contrarian role for people in power. But we can’t let them re-write history or brainwash our children into believing that corporate greed is good.
So go on my Libertarian friends with your rational arguments and your beliefs in individuals. But don’t get too crazy with government is theft and corporations will never hurt you bullshit. When the Libertarians rule the world, I don’t want to be the one who has to clean the alligator shit out of the moat.