July 18, 2018

More anti-libertarian nonsense: Libertarians are heartless

TAMPA, March 28, 2013 – This week’s anti-libertarian nonsense is “libertarians are heartless.”

There are many variations on this theme. Libertarians oppose government-run education so they must not want poor people to get an education. They oppose government-run healthcare so they must want poor, sick people to die. They oppose government-subsidized housing so they must want poor people to be homeless, too (if they aren’t already). Libertarians are selfish, amoral…You get it.

Libertarians also oppose state religions, but no one claims libertarians are against religion. I wonder why? It seems to follow.

The people who make these claims don’t understand what libertarianism is and don’t really understand the nature of government or their relationship to it, either.

Libertarians do not object to you helping the poor. They merely object to you forcing someone else to help the poor.

Libertarianism answers only one question: When is violence or threatening violence justified? The libertarian answer is only in self-defense. That includes defending your life from an immediate attack upon it or defending yourself against a previous theft of property or other crime.

This is where libertarians face reality and their opponents don’t. Libertarians understand all government action is violent action. That’s not because people in the government aren’t doing it right. It’s because that is what government is designed to be. Violence is its raison d’etre.

The philosophical justification for government in a free society is security. Because humans will sometimes invade the life, liberty or property of their neighbors (whether next door or in another country), there has to be some adequate means to force the perpetrator to cease his criminal activity and make restitution to his victim.

Government is supposedly the answer. Government is the pooled capacity for violence of everyone in the community. That’s all it is. That’s why Thomas Paine based his entire treatise Common Sense on one fundamental assumption:

“Society in every state is a blessing but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one;”

Why an evil? Because it is an institution of violence, nothing more. This is a foundational American idea. It is the reason for the entire Bill of Rights. Government must not be allowed to suppress speech because offensive speech does not justify violence. Government may not prohibit the keeping and bearing of arms because merely possessing arms does not justify violence against the possessor.

When intolerable? When it is used to initiate force, rather than respond to it. If one individual steals from another, the victim has a natural right to point a gun at the thief and demand his property back. In society, the individual supposedly delegates this power and the government points the gun at the thief for him. Almost no one would consider this unjust.

But what if no crime has been committed? Suppose I knocked on your door and demanded money from you at gunpoint. Would you drop the charges against me if you found out I had taken your money and paid some anonymous stranger’s medical bills? Do you believe that is the best way for human beings to solve the problem that the stranger can’t afford to pay them?

Almost no one would answer either of those questions “yes.” Yet, there is absolutely no substantive difference between that scenario and a government-run healthcare program (or education, or housing…). The only superficial difference is a government official is holding the gun. But most Americans can’t see it and will actually argue with you that it isn’t there.

There is an easy way to find out. Simply refuse to cooperate. Deduct the amount you owe for Medicare from your tax return next month and include a note waiving any benefits from the program. Or deduct the amount of your property taxes that underwrite public education and Medicaid (which is most of the bill) and indicate you waive the right to utilize either.

What will happen next? You will get some “reminders” about the oversight in the mail, followed by increasingly threatening letters. Sooner or later, someone in a black robe will write on a piece of paper. Then, men with guns will show up at your door. Don’t believe me? Test my theory.

So what do libertarians really say that is supposedly selfish or amoral? That initiating force against people is wrong. Period. You are free to help other people who need it, but you cannot force your neighbors to do so under a threat of violence if they don’t. You may build schools and hospitals for the poor and ask for contributions for anyone you wish. You just can’t pull out a gun if they decline to participate.

At one time, Americans believed so strongly in this principle that they seceded from their country and formed a new one based upon it. Imagine if they reestablished it again.

Libertarianism anyone?

 

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Libertarians vs. Conservatives on the welfare state

TAMPA, October 26, 2012 – Many people think of libertarianism as a subset of conservatism, but that’s not true. Libertarianism and conservatism are completely separate philosophies with distinct and separate philosophical traditions. The philosophical differences result in very different positions on issues, from domestic to foreign policy. Their differences on the welfare state provide a perfect example.

Most Americans believe that President Obama and the liberals believe in wealth redistribution and that Republicans/conservatives are against it. That just doesn’t line up with the facts.

While Republicans make general statements against the welfare state, they actually support 95% of the actual spending. A key plank of the Romney/Ryan campaign is “preserving and protecting Social Security and Medicare.” That’s more than half of welfare spending alone. They also support government subsidization of housing, agriculture, energy and other “job-creating” programs. They are willing to support corporate welfare if they believe it will be good for the overall economy.

The only criticisms Republicans generally make are for social safety nets like TANF. This illustrates a key difference between conservatives and libertarians on welfare.

Libertarians object to the welfare state on this basis: Any taxes collected from citizens are collected under a threat of violence. You pay or you get kidnapped at best, killed resisting at worst. Therefore, libertarians object to using the taxing power to take money from one person or group and give it to another. When individuals do this, it is called “armed robbery.” For libertarians, it is no different when the government does it. It is the crime itself that libertarians object to.

Conservatives see it differently. They don’t object to the crime itself. Rather, they formulate their positions based upon who will receive the benefits. Redistribution to certain types of people is acceptable, to others it is not. That is why they will excoriate the “welfare queen,” whose impact upon the budget is minimal, while fully supporting Social Security and Medicare, which will eventually bankrupt the entire government.

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…

Romney and Republicans live in a dream world

TAMPA, September 20, 2012 – Just when you thought that nothing interesting could come out of this presidential election, Mitt Romney shocked the world. He did the last thing that any rational person could expect.

He told the truth. Of course, his poll numbers immediately plummeted.

“47 percent of Americans pay no income tax. So, our message of low taxes doesn’t connect,” said Romney.

What isn’t true is what most Republican voters believe. They believe that electing Romney as president or more Republicans in Congress will result in spending cuts that will justify lower income taxes.

Republicans live in a dream world where the $85 billion Food Stamp program or the $9.6 billion Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program causes $1.3 trillion deficits (that’s one thousand three hundred billion). If only those lazy people would get off welfare and get a job, we’d have that $9.6 billion back and…

While portraying Obama as a socialist for supposedly driving more people into government dependence, Republicans openly campaign for “preserving and protecting” Social Security and Medicare, as if those trillion dollar programs ($1.23 trillion combined in 2011) are somehow different from TANF (a.k.a. “welfare”).

Continue at Communities@ Washington Times…

>Is the Freedom Movement Really Ready for Freedom?

>Ron Paul’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination has ignited a revolution. For the first time in a century, a real movement against the entrenched system in Washington has arisen, and it is a movement of capable people who don’t just complain – they get things done. After a complete debacle for the neo-cons in Nevada, the Republican Party has actually had to mobilize itself in several states to prevent Ron Paul supporters from taking over state conventions and voting in their own delegates. They have resorted to breaking their own rules to prevent a party takeover. This is a sign that their political days are numbered.

Almost universally, Ron Paul supporters oppose the Iraq war. Whether conservative, liberal, moderate, or independent, Ron Paul has brought together a coalition that recognizes that the United States government had no right to invade Iraq. Regardless of their positions on other issues, people of all parties in this movement deserve high marks for taking a stand against the Iraq war.

Similarly, we are almost universally in agreement in our opposition to the expansion of executive powers, especially insofar as they have allowed the government to compromise our privacy and to threaten habeas corpus. These are direct attacks on our lives, and we have been right to defend ourselves against them. It is truly the good fight, and we will win.

So, we are certainly united in what we are against, but are we united in what we are for? Are we all really for free markets, for truly limited government, and for individual liberty? Do we all really understand what that means, and what responsibility that places upon us? Are we really ready to live in a truly free country?

Certainly the first inclination is to answer “yes” to all of the above. However, I wonder if the majority of the freedom movement is really ready for life without big government.

Are we ready to live without Medicare and Medicaid, and depend on the free market to determine the distribution of medical care? Supporting the programs means taking the money for them at gunpoint from our fellow citizens, so the moral question is easily answered. Sound economic theory as well as historical evidence indicates that the poor and elderly would have more access and higher quality care without these programs. Are we ready to trust the free market and private charities with medical care for the poor and elderly?

Are we ready to live life without a “safety net?” Like medical care, the benefits of traditional welfare are also funded by the coercive extortion of money. Similar appeals to economic theory and history prove that the poor would be less numerous and would again experience an improving quality of life without these programs. However, are we ready to admit that no one has the right to even the basic necessities of life?

Are we ready to take full responsibility to support ourselves for our entire lives? Despite the government’s official fairy tale, there is no “trust fund” for social security. The money collected from taxpayers today goes directly to pay today’s beneficiaries. While the program actually runs a surplus (although it will soon become insolvent), the government spends 100% of that surplus on other budget items, as it always has. At the end of the day, social security is just another government redistribution program funded by extorted money. Any financial analysis would show that the money collected from working Americans for social security would be better invested almost anywhere else. Are we ready to admit that no one has the right to retirement benefits, and enter our golden years without social security?

Here is one that even I have trouble overriding my own programming on. Are we ready to get government completely out of education? Are we ready to admit that, like medical care or any other good or service that is produced by somebody else, that no one has a right to education? Are we ready to trust the free market for this as well?

To the average American, the questions I have asked would sound like complete lunacy. However, to someone who understands and accepts the principles of liberty and wishes to live by them, I argue that the answer to every one of those questions must be “yes.” Reason, history, and economics all tell us that these programs are immoral and destructive, not only to society as a whole, but even to the recipients of the benefits. Only our conditioned fear tells us that we cannot live without them. Are we ready to overcome that fear?

There are certainly many more intrusions by the federal government into our private lives, but I have chosen these programs because this is where the money is. Despite what we are led to believe, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars amount to only 5% of the $3 trillion budget. Ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would eliminate less than half of this year’s deficit. The entire military budget makes up only 20%, and some of that would still be necessary even if we brought our troops home from all 130 countries that they are stationed in.

By contrast, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Welfare, and the Department of Education combine for over 55% of our $3 trillion budget (The Department of Education is only 2%, but after that no other expenditure has a significant percentage at all). Without them, there would be no deficit. Without these programs we could eliminate the income tax and begin paying down the national debt at the same time. The financial benefits to our country would be staggering.
I am interested in the answers that CDR members would give to the questions I’ve posed. Can you answer every one of them yes? If not, I would like to hear your arguments supporting why you cannot, and specifically how you would reconcile the programs with the principles of individual liberty, property rights, and the proper limits of government. In a free society, how does government derive the right to seize the funding for these programs from its citizens? Can we ever really be free while they exist?

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