THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 167, April 1, 2002
Eel Douche, Eh?
Why Libertarians Aren't Leading to Change
by Lew Glendenning
Special to TLE
The 20th Century can be characterized as 'The Age of Ideology', of Words over Substance.
Libertarians adopt the whole Zeitgeist of the 19th and 20th centuries, and largely appear as just another bunch of Progressives: "follow our ideology, and everything will be better". The average person throughout the world is, thank God, finally immune to this, although not to the basic argument of compassion: "government should help people".
So, the socialists/totalitarians continue to win the votes of ordinary, non- and anti-ideological people, with disastrous consequences.
Libertarians have to begin presenting themselves as the "Party of Common Sense", one that rejects the fundamental tenants upon which the Oligopoly relies to justify itself. We must tie the argument directly to each individual's circumstances, and point out how the opposition has vested interests in their positions.
If you can't provide the rationale for these examples, you are spending too much time reading philosophy, and not enough time studying reality:
0) We lost World War I. WWI is still killing more people every year in the US than it did at the height of trench warfare. Everyone over the age of 50 will lose at least 50 years of lifespan because of our intervention in WWI.
1) Medicine only became scientific in the 20th century. Not until the early 1900s was it generally accepted that more patients died with treatments than with no treatment. This was nearly 100 years after the scientific method was accepted and 20+ years after statistics were invented. Likewise, the 21st century will be the time that people finally accept that most government 'treatments' result in loss of wealth and life, and government finally becomes scientific. This is a good example of how vested interests can curb the debate so that questions affecting our lives are not even considered.
2) Economists have a much worse record for predictions than the weatherman. This is to be expected, as the economy is much more complex than the weather. They continue to prescribe economic policies, without any ability to predict the short-term, local consequences of their policies, much less the long-term global consequences. Serious economists and historians have concluded that economic policy created and prolonged the Great Depression and many of the recessions since then. Would you want the weatherman to control the weather?
3) The idea that we can improve the future by passing a law is fantasy. No one who has managed anything more complex than a lemonade stand, e.g. a household or small business, believes that they can improve their operation by writing policies. The world is far too complex to write an operations manual for it. (For you engineers, laws and regulations are attempts to program for an open environment.) Every law and regulation carves off a slice of the GDP and gives it to lawyers, lobbyists and bureaucrats.
4) The leading direct-cause of death in the US is the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA’s regulations greatly increase the cost of developing new drugs and slow down the development. Every death attributed to smoking over the last 50 years, for example, is directly due to the FDA’s regulations: Only in the last few years has the FDA permitted the obvious solution to nicotine addiction: nicotine inhalers. The FDA only recently realized what every smoker knows, that nicotine aids brain function.
Thousands of people die every year because the FDA’s regulations deny them possibly-lifesaving medicines. Compare progress in treatments for AIDS, where a pressure group forced changes to the FDA’s standard procedures (and indeed, the accelerated trials killed a few individuals), with progress in treatment of cancer or heart disease.
5) The real measure of the cost of government is the opportunity cost. Every law, every regulation, every policy prevents a possible future, almost all of which are much better than any government can design for us. Freedom means the possibilities of futures where the FDA doesn’t kill our relatives, where the Federal Reserve doesn’t kill our businesses and put us out of a job, where we use our own money to control our future.
6) The US Constitution is the highest technology of government ever developed. It is the definition of good government, not an impediment to it. Almost all of the changes since the beginning of our Republic have been in the direction of worse government technology. Almost all of the problems in our society, economy and national security can be traced directly to violations of the Constitution.
More fundamentally, we must attack the entire Newtonian 'clockwork universe' view that our Oligarchs depend upon. We must attach ourselves to the modern understanding of a world constructed of interacting, chaotic, complex systems. The universe in which we live is a world in which we have very little ability to predict, in which individuals must constantly work to control their fates, and in which 'one size fits all' solutions are deadly.
I am a humanist. The relative number of dead babies is my measure of civilization, of the worth of people and ideas. By my measures, the Libertarian Party, and the people obsessing on the nuances of the non- aggression principle in this publication, are completely useless.
If we Libertarians want to have an effect, we need to get seriously radical and begin connecting with individuals in the real world. People who can actually do things, not just debate.
Instead, as the finishing touches are being put on our police state and long after it has become clear that our own government is killing and impoverishing us at an astonishing rate, supposedly radical publications such as this one debate minor philosophical points.
I will only continue reading this publication if it begins focusing on radical measures to change the terms of the political debate.
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