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Thursday, February 15, 2018

No, libertarians are not libertines

Big government conservatives are getting overconfident from the success of President Trump. They shouldn't be

I always swore I'd slug the next guy who puts “No” or “Yes” in the title of their article. Well, I'm a libertarian, so I hate rules, and I'm going to break this one. Call it a mini-rebellion.

A recent spate of libertarian-bashing articles by big-government conservatives reveals a disturbing trend: they're becoming overconfident about the libertarian-conservative alliance that brought them into power. No doubt this is due to the amazing success of President Trump. So they're doing what they always do when they get overconfident: throw all their allies under the bus so they can start losing elections again.

I understand the appeal of tradition, but this is one tradition they'd be better off dropping.

In one recent article the author calls libertarians libertines, drug users, and basement dwellers, and practically accuses them of advocating statutory rape. The author bases this on the assumption that the Libertarian Party, or LP, which is full of weirdos, represents libertarians.

It does not. It's an embarrassment in much the same way the Republican party is an embarrassment to conservatives. I wanted to crawl under a rock when that candidate claiming to be libertarian stripped naked during the libertarian debates. Yet the libertarian-conservative alliance is what gave us the Tea Party Congress. Many people claiming to be conservatives are actually libertarians in disguise. Trump's rejection of PC—which libertarians loathe—helped him get elected.

Big-government conservatives are not strong enough to sustain a majority on their own. If they succeed in undermining the alliance, the Dems will get back in power, and the slide toward socialism will resume.

A quick libertarianism primer

To get the whole enchilada, read David Boaz's outstanding book (reviewed here) or visit Cato. Libertarianism is the philosophy of the founding fathers of this country. One shared belief is the non-aggression principle or NAP. Essentially it says: Don't hurt people and don't take their stuff. It's just a principle, not a religion. Lots of people don't understand that, like this guy who comes up with bizarre scenarios he thinks make it unworkable.

The NAP is the fundamental idea that every person has the right to make their own choices with regard to their own lives. Freedom does not include the freedom to kill people or to wipe out their culture, so libertarianism, if properly understood, would abhor abortion and cherish the nation-state, or at least prefer it to international socialism.

As for gay marriage, the libertarian viewpoint has never been fully articulated. On the one hand, all other things being equal, people ought to be able to marry their toy dinosaur if they want. On the other hand, raising children is a big deal, and children need healthy role models for both sexes in order to be psychologically healthy.

That's the weakness of the traditionalist viewpoint. These things just whiz past them: states had been letting gay couples adopt children for years. Maybe I missed it, but I don't remember many conservatives complaining until the institution of marriage was in danger. Then they argued in favor of preserving it because it's a tradition. It hardly qualifies as an argument. Horse, meet barn door.

How about drugs? Conservatives like to accuse libertarians of using drugs because they favor legalization. Maybe some do, but drug use is not a libertarian principle. To use a drug, whether it's that miserable green stuff or those oxycodone tabs (or whatever they were—I didn't have my PDR with me) my doctor kept trying to push onto me when I was in the hospital, would be to surrender your freedom and individuality to a frickin' chemical.

Yet it seems odd that certain combinations of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen are legal to possess and others aren't. Maybe such things should be covered by contract law: you're free to harm yourself if you must, but if you create a hazard to others, you're responsible for any harm your actions cause. Of course, just as there are people who happily surrender their freedom to the goobs, there are some who willingly surrender their freedom to a chemical substance. So there again, some compassionate libertarianism may be necessary. Hey, we may be sneaker-wearing anti-government anarchists with bad fashion sense, but we're not fanatics.


Neither Democrats nor Republicans really want to shrink the government. Both become drunk with power when they get a majority, and start building empires in different ways. Both want to mold society to their liking. Libertarians believe that society must be free to grow on its own, to develop spontaneous order. It's the only survival path for America.

As the saying goes, what cannot go on must eventually stop. Within a few decades, interest on our $20T debt will become the largest item in the budget. Our tax money will be thrown away to pay the interest on things politicians bought with money they didn't have.

It's a pit bull waiting for the day the Fed raises interest rates to fight inflation. Then it will bite us. First, infrastructure, research, space, and defense will be cut. Then benefits. They'll start with those least able to fight back: the aged and the sick. When it gets to the point where further cuts would provoke rioting and civil unrest, the government will start confiscating wealth. They'll come for your retirement accounts, then your savings accounts, and then help themselves to your credit cards.

There's no point in denying this: left-wing economists like Piketty openly advocate it, and of course it's part and parcel of socialism. Even that won't be enough, though, because it's in the nature of statists to elevate the rights of the state above the rights of the individual. They'll complain we're being greedy and unpatriotic for not giving up our savings. Eventually, our adversaries will displace the dollar as the world's reserve currency, and the party that the Dems and Reps have been throwing will be over. Our cake will be baked.

Oh, and then there's the rejectionism. Never Trumpers and Pro-Trumpers are still accusing each other of not being true conservatives. Others want to throw out all the atheists. Still others hate the alt-right. This sort of thing has been going on ever since NR threw out the Birchers.

Maybe libertarians should be grateful. Our ranks are swelling, not just from former libs repelled by their totalitarian thinking, but also from all the people the conservatives throw under the bus.

It is said that a government that is strong enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you own. The truth is much worse: a government that gives you something always takes away something of equal or greater value in exchange. What it takes today is your freedom, but in the end it will take the money, too.

In his famous essay “Why I Am Not a Conservative” Hayek famously rejected the label ‘conservative’ as being merely a slower road to socialism. Even so, libertarians and conservatives both want to return to our founding principles, albeit for different reasons. That makes them natural allies. Don't jeopardize that alliance by bashing those goofballs in the Libertarian Party. If they represented us, we would have voted for them.

feb 15 2018, 4:57 am

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