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Forum Post: Libertarians are our natural allies

Posted 11 years ago on Oct. 6, 2011, 7:13 p.m. EST by MerchantofLight (46) from Chicago, IL
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Libertarians are our natural allies! We just have trouble understanding them because they're arguments have been so often used by republicans for nefarious ends. The Libertarian position is based on a truly noble quest, to protect the people from their government.

People in power, when they see an opportunity to enrich themselves or their friends, often seize it without concern for morality, their constituents or the state. For this reason, Libertarians hold all state intervention suspect, because the state does not play by the rules... it writes the rules. Thus, when the government gets involved with one enterprise or another, Libertarians does not see the purported good to be done, but rather the ample opportunity for mischief opened by such interventions.

The only recourse the private sector has is in the courts and the constitution, and judges at the highest levels have consistently failed to enforce the constitution. Further, even those who are caught red handed in such debacles rarely face justice. For every Blagojevich there are half a dozen Henry Paulsons who commit vast theft of public funds while enjoying the protection of the political mantle.

These are all valid complaints. Yet they bear a striking resemblance to another old argument that keeps getting dragged out; the notion that social welfare is bad because people abuse it. We are all aware that some, perhaps even the majority of welfare recipients abuse the system. Yet I, for one, am content to let them suckle away at the system so that those who truly do need it, those who are truly trying and truly down on their luck, can eat.

It should be noted that Libertarians have other, bigger, and perhaps quite valid problems with social welfare. But the argument in question remains the same "baby with the bathwater" question we've visited again and again.



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[-] 1 points by sylvain (7) 11 years ago

wrong wrong wrong. There is a reason that libertarians are so often associated with the right. They want limited government, even more so than most rights. I would hope that this movement remains at least somewhat focused and does not become an anarchist movement. I love that this movement has this often vague General Assembly. I am a believer in cognitive shortcuts to associate the masses with a movement, i.e., giving folks something to associate with. This movement is at least challenging the status quo by using a assembly and not having one cause. This is, and always will be a challenge, but it is a start of something new. Libertarians do not want a government. I don't often enjoy saying someone is completely incorrect, but you are on this one. There must be a government in order to get the distribution equalized. Leaving everyone to fend for themselves, like the libertarians want, will not fix this problem. I think we need a stronger government, but one that is completely unique. No form of current form of government is going to fix whats wrong now because this is a unique situation. Forget the current establishment and continue to create a new one!

[-] 1 points by MikeInOhio (13) 11 years ago

Is it the governments job to equalize incomes? I don't think so. That has been tried in many places (mostly socialist and communist countries) and it simply doesn't work. How can you and I have the same income when you do more work than I? That builds resentment and ultimately undermines the system.

You say you fear that the movement will become "anarchist". I consider redistribution of incomes to be rather extreme. And the fact of the matter is, it simply isn't in the cards.

[-] 1 points by MerchantofLight (46) from Chicago, IL 11 years ago

You're absolutely right, if you and I have the same income when I do more work then you, I have a right to be pissed. Thus everyone who has done an honest day's work in their lives has a right to be pissed at Wall Street traders. The ability to earn capital without labor is what has tainted our system, and Im not talking about the poor at the bottom, but the fabulously wealthy at the top, who perform no labor, but allow their money to work for them

[-] 1 points by MikeInOhio (13) 11 years ago

But you are assuming that the Wall Streeters don't actually do any productive work. Of course they do. They move capital to where it can best be used. I have many friends who have worked on Wall St and I can tell you they are all very smart, well-educated, well-meaning people. Not everyone on Wall St. makes an extreme salary and none of my friends are fabulously wealthy. They work hard and get paid what their firms think they are worth. If Wall St were to disappear overnight you would see a massive slowdown in the economy, business failures, etc. I'm sorry, but there is no way to sugar-coat it.

[-] 1 points by MerchantofLight (46) from Chicago, IL 11 years ago

a valid point

[-] 1 points by sylvain (7) 11 years ago

Why have a government then, at all? If we adopted a libertarian approach today then the folks with money would simply get stronger because they would be the only ones that could afford to live their lives. I do believe in government and I would surely believe that why should and could help in equalizing incomes. I am saying all forms of current government are wrong. A new one is needed. No current forms could have guessed that there would have been this many people in the world and this many similar issues. We need new approaches and I truly believe that a government can be created to protect the masses. I for one would not want to be left on my own right now to simply fend for myself. Oh and I did not say I believed that the government should be responsible for distribution of income. There must be a government in order to make this happen, but it's not the governments responsibility for that. There is a difference.

[-] 1 points by MerchantofLight (46) from Chicago, IL 11 years ago

I agree with your critiques. If you continue reading below you'll find I respond to many of them.

[-] 1 points by mgiddin1 (1057) from Linthicum, MD 11 years ago

Thank you for this post. As a libertarian I'm feeling a little beat up and excluded on this forum.

I have been called a right wing radical, and several people keep lumping me in with the Tea Party - which by the way, should not be denigrated either. While it is true the official Tea Party has been co-opted by the right, there are many Americans that agree with the original ideals of the Tea Party (limited government and a return to Constitutionalism).

The truth is that the democratic and republican parties have both been hijacked by corporate interests.

And you are correct when you say that I have a high level of distrust in our federal government. I would like to see states and municipalities have much more power. They are closer to the people, more responsive, more tailored, and easier to control.

That is why I have a real problem with liberal-leaning folk who want to make the federal government ever more powerful because they see it as the only bastion of strong-arm regulation that will save us from the evil corporations.

Why don't liberals see the danger of the alphabet agencies?? Can anyone answer this question for me?

[-] 1 points by MyHeartSpits (448) 11 years ago

Agreed, they are our allies, but I bet not many of them are on Wall Street with us... True libertarians are like the original Tea Partiers, before they got co-opted by corporate interests - against big, corrupt government (just like Occupy).

[-] 1 points by PJ63 (48) from St Paul, MN 11 years ago

I have voted libritarian for the last 20 years. Republicans have been trying to take it over and change it. I think I am going to vote for Yogi Bear in the next election. Both of the Wall Street parties are shaking in their boots, and that is how it should be. The government should fear the people, not the other way around.

[-] 1 points by leftistperson (95) 11 years ago

Do the Libertarians agree with the nationalization (take over) of the big Wall Street banks that already received trillions of dollars in bailout money?

Do they agree that those banks should become government-owned banks, just like the Bank of North Dakota?

[-] 1 points by MikeInOhio (13) 11 years ago

No, absolutely not. Libertarians (like myself) would have allowed the banks to fail. Bad banks with shady practices will fail, well-run banks will thrive.

[-] 1 points by Flsupport (578) 11 years ago

I do not believe the majority abuse the system. At this time, with so many in need, I bet you would be suprised at how few abuse the system. But the anti welfare stand is not the only libertarian view I do not support. The libertarian non interferance policy sounds good, until big corporations abuse it (and they are more likely to abuse than welfare recipients). The whole idea that we dont need an EPA is great until the corporations pollute our water and air.

The point is that there are problems with the Libertarian "party line" that I can't support because I think a government by the people should help....well....the people.

[-] 1 points by MerchantofLight (46) from Chicago, IL 11 years ago

History has shown that Libertarians are right to distrust the government, and be forever vigilant of its activities. But the notion that the government, like a thief caught stealing, should therefore have its hands cut off is draconian at best, and social suicide at worst.

Our complex society requires a dynamic central government to maintain cohesion, to defend ourselves and our interests, and, some might say, to function at all. I am not of the camp that people must have their hands held to function. But I am of the opinion that the weak should have refuge and protection from the strong. That is why the government must be strong, so that it may be a bulwark for the people against mighty foes.

The main people who see a bully in the government are those in a position to be bullies themselves. This is not to say that every business owner is a bully. However, such people are usually in a position of power over the people they employ, and the environment they work in, and thus they must be regulated.

Yet now our argument has come full circle, and we begin to see why Libertarians gets so furious with Liberals. For if the mom and pop shop needs to be regulated for the limited power it might exert over a tiny niche of the country, how much moreso should the federal government be regulated, given its incredible power to influence the lives of not just Americans, but the world.

The only real regulation we have on our government is the constitution. The limits it places on federal power have been largely ignored, on increasingly tenuous grounds.

Thus anyone in favor of federal regulation of the private sector should logically also be in favor of regulation of the federation, in the form of the constitution. Strict adherence to the constitution, might, under some interpretations result in a deregulation of the private sector.

[-] 1 points by MerchantofLight (46) from Chicago, IL 11 years ago

The argument hinges on the necessary and proper clause of our constitution. And this hinge historically provides the central axis of American Politics.

If this is so, then we must think very hard about what are the truly necessary and proper functions of the federal government. And amid this debate, programs get cut.

Personally, I continue to believe that the main function of the central government is to protect ALL its citizens, from hostile forces without, from economic catastrophe and natural disaster, and from one another. And when I say from each other, I don't just mean protecting citizens from murderers or minorities from lynch mobs, but also protecting the poor from the exploitation of the rich, and the rich from the jealousy of the poor.

Yet, at the same time, we as citizens must be able to protect ourselves from our government, should it overstep its bounds. And thus the circle comes round again. For the our only shield against government is our constitution. If we stretch the constitution too far, it loses its ability to protect the people from the government. Yet if we interpret it too restrictively, we deny the government the power to protect the people from everything else.

Thus Libertarians represent one extreme of this argument, the rest of American politics lies somewhere at the other end of the divide. Of course the answers to our problems do not lie at one extreme or the other, but in balance, the most noble feature of our otherwise dolorous political system.

What is tragic is that we only seem able to accomplish this equilibrium by constant surges toward one extreme or another. Those who note that the clearest path lies somewhere between these, and that this zig zagging approach is terribly inefficient, are drowned out by more strident ideologues at the extremes.

What I think drives Libertarians insane is that our parties have strayed from the central divide which has typified American politics from the infancy of the republic. This sort of straying is not unusual. The democrats who were once all about protecting people from the government, now focus on the government protecting the people, a full 180. The republicans, who took up the restrictive interpretation mantle, have now largely abandoned it. Republicans want big government too, when it helps them make a profit. They only refer back to the restriction of government when it comes to protecting their own interests. It is for this reason that I believe Libertarians join Liberals in their disdain for the hypocrisy of a party that insists on privatizing profits, but has no problem socializing losses.

[-] 1 points by MerchantofLight (46) from Chicago, IL 11 years ago

Thus we have lost the counter swing on this important debate. Instead of choosing between big government or small government, the people are left to choose between big government that tries (however ineptly) to help them, or big government that tries (terrifyingly effectively) to screw them. Those are our choices. Unless someone picks up the mantle and pulls our country back the other way, we will smother ourselves with government. I think this is the central Libertarian argument.

The problem is complicated still further by the fact that the country, indeed the world, is changing at a rate that rapidly outpaces the complacent teeter totter approach to equilibrium American politics. Growing social unrest against a backdrop of economic uncertainty is enough to make any politician take shelter in the herd. The stakes of today's political decisions have rarely been higher, a fact which only exacerbates the problem, and forces the divide still wider.

Yet if the two parties do not abandon their polarizing fanatic support of their extreme positions and come to a compromise soon, they will doom us all. And in that department, the conservatives are far more guilty than the liberals in recent months. They have taken advantage of the liberal spirit of compromise to conduct a savage attack on the liberal agenda, while making no concessions of their own. At the same time, liberals must come to grips with the fact that their solutions can do more harm than good in many cases (see public schools).

Yet even if these two parties were to reach a compromise, the balance on the central axis of American politics, the necessary and proper clause, will remain skewed heavily toward ever bigger government. It is this basic truth that lit the fire that got the tea party boiling. It is sad that this earnest concern has been so easily twisted and manipulated to serve the traditional Republican ends of shirking social responsibility.

A legitimate surge away from big government would also have removed the protective wing our government holds over corporations. It would have undermined the ability of special interests to create legislation. Most importantly (for Libertarians at least) it would have dismantled the corrupt system of currency manipulation known as the federal reserve.

So, if you're wondering why Libertarians are so pissed off all the time, its easy to understand. They've noted that the country has veered off its central axis and no one is even talking about it seriously. If their positions sound extreme it is because the necessary course correction, the essential counter swing is so vast as to shock the sensibilities of those inured to a system of politics that has long abandoned the true spirit of the argument, and only summons up the constitution to serve ends far different from the intentions of those who drafted it.