L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 229, June 29, 2003
Mr. Ed is Back!
Why I'm a Libertarian
Special to TLE
Despite his philosophical failings, the campaign slogan of 1996 and 2000 Libertarian Presidential Candidate Harry Browne's was totally correct:
Government doesn't work.
It doesn't keep our cities safe; it doesn't educate our children; and it doesn't care for our sick. It just doesn't.
It would be nice to imagine a world in which it didbut it doesn't. It never has, it never will, and no amount of pushing, cajoling, or tinkering will change that fact.
Post-September 11, it should be tragically apparent to even the dimmest bulb that government is utterly ineffectual at protecting anything, least of all human lives. Indeed, it was immoral government edict that both incited the September 11 terrorists and made it possible for them to murder thousands of individual.
Anyone in 2003 who still clings to the notion that government can solve their problems for them is simply sticking their fingers in their ears, closing their eyes, and chanting, "Government will solve my problems, government will solve my problems, government will solve my problems!" at the top of their lungsin obvious denial of objective reality.
Government doesn't work. It's time to finally accept this and find something else that does. Fortunately, that something already exists. It's working fantastically, considering the constraints under which it operatesspecifically the active opposition of virtually every elected official in the country.
That something? Individual liberty.
Without millions of elected officials and bureaucrats actively working to subvert your liberty, we'd be far more prosperous than we can imagine. Consider:
Regardless of how wealthy or poor you are, regardless of your marginal tax rate, government at all levels stealsthat's right, steals, there's no other accurate termforty-seven percent of your money? Through direct taxation (income tax, property tax), indirect taxation (sales tax), and hidden taxation (gasoline tax, "sin" tax, etc), you must work until nearly the end of June just to satisfy government's demands.
What do your various governments do with that money? No matter who you are, it's not what you want done with it.
If you're a Liberal (correct terminology: socialist), the Conservatives squandered it on too much defense, the rich, or stopping a noble social project. If you're Conservative (correct terminology: fascist), the Liberals squandered it on some hair-brained junk science project or a crucifix in urine or on keeping the poor dependent on government.
Only the anarcho-capitalist libertarians have it right: government stole the money and used it to justify their own existence while in the process harming everyone.
How many people think they get value received from their government? The number is so tiny as to be statistically insignificant. By its very nature, government cannot give value received. It cannot even approximate value received.
What would you do with twice the spending money you currently have? Start a business? Invest? Put your kids through college? Give to your favorite charity? Stay home and raise your children while your spouse works?
If I could spend all the money I made, I'd do all that and moreand what's more, only a tiny, statistically insignificant percentage of individuals in the United States would be poor.
"But," you say, "you're particularly generous! Not everyone will be like you and we'll have people starving in the street!
To that, I say, "Rubbish! Americans are the most generous and prosperous people in the world! Each of us currently shells out half of our earnings to Unconstitutional government 'charities' that perform little or no charity work. Imagine if each of us gave one percent of our gross income to our church or other true charity. There wouldn't be a poor person left!"
The real objection to voluntarily donating money private charities money rather than seeing it stolen by government functionaries is that it would force all the millions of parasites currently in government employ to actually go out and work for a living.
All our social and political ills would get solved overnight. All those who currently have power on the strength of an all-powerful (but inept) central government would have to find real work for a change.
And that frightens the hell out of them.
Want to know why we're starting to see terrorist activities on American soil? Why more than fifty percent of respondents in a recent Gallup poll believe that governments present an immediate threat to American freedom? Why the Militia Movement has become so popular and is now gearing itself to defend Americans against tyrannical government intrusion?
Because governmentsparticularly the United States Federal governmentdo pose an immediate threat to the freedoms we've always enjoyed.
As this threat becomes more and more obvious, the lunatic fringe begins to react in unpredictable ways. The average person reacts to the Federal government's bloody murder of the Weaver family and the immolation of the Branch Davidians with shock, disgust, and fear. Those who know the facts in these cases clamor for justice.
A lunatic reacts by filling a truck full of fuel oil and fertilizer and blowing up a Federal building.
As the Federal government commits more atrocities and crushes more American freedoms under its tyrannical boot, we'll see more lunatic terrorism by the unbalanced.
This is not to condone bloodshed, but to state a fact: some people are a little crazy.
Take, for example, some of the homeless people you see muttering to themselves on street corners in Chicago, where I lived the majority of the 1990s. They're obviously suffering from some grade of mental illness; if you just leave them alone, they're fairly harmless. Intrude too far into their private world, and some of them will react violently.
That's what's happening right now. The Federal government has started to push people. Some of the ones who should be left alone are reacting violently.
The rest of us simply wonder when our turn to be pushed will come and how we'll react when it happens.
In general, Americans just want to be left the hell alone to live our lives as it pleases us. When we're allowed to do so (as was the case prior to the early part of the 20th century), you find that we're fairly peaceful. We have their vices and ills, but as Utopia is not one of the options, we cope and survive as well as they can.
The American Federal government was clearly and specifically formed with severe restrictions on what it could do. During the 20th century, the major political parties quietly colluded to ignore these restrictions. Now, at the dawn of the 21st century, the FedGov is now involved in activities that are so obviously and undeniably beyond the scope of its power that no American is truly able to be left alone to live as it pleases him or her.
In the shadow of Bloody Tuesday, the FedGov has actively begun its conversion of the country into a banana republic police state.
At the very least, fifty percent of what we earn is confiscated by governments. If you think there's no link between economic liberty and personal liberty, then you're a fool. Our would-be slaveholders (government functionaries at all levels) tell us they're doing it for the best of reasons: "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few," we are told.
In reality, they could care less about anyone's needs but their own. Beyond a local level, government functionaries do not get into the game for any reason other than to increase their personal power.
If you doubt this, ask yourself one question: what happened to all the lofty goals of the Republican "revolutionaries" of 1994?
Subverted to the cause of increasing their personal power, that's what.
The root of any government is raw, naked forceand some people will never submit.
The government will be forced to kill themand the FedGov has already brutally murdered at least two sets of dissidents. Never mind that most of us wouldn't want Randy Weaver or the Branch Davidians as neighbors. There's no evidence that they were hurting anyone, they were just politically threatening.
Their murders had the full support of both the Democratic and Republican Parties. This should tell you everything you need to know about the supposed "differences" between them. When push comes to shove, there is no difference.
I'm a philosophical libertarian. I believe that no human being has the rightunder any circumstancesto initiate force against another human being, nor to threaten or delegate its initiation.
That includes individuals in government. In fact, it most especially includes individuals in government. Indeed, the moment you cede control of any kind to government is the moment you'd headed down the path to tyranny.
There are individuals who believe government can be limited, that by prescribing strict bounds for it, the individuals drawn to it will never seek additional power. While this is an interesting notion, in all of human history, government power has never been permanently curbed.
Having "a little government" is precisely identical to being "a little pregnant." At first, it doesn't show. After a while, it gets a little bigger. Ultimately, it causes a lot of unavoidable painand never really goes away for the rest of your life.
Government in this country has become like the parasitic 35-year-old son living in his parents' basement. They can ignore him, they can pretend he doesn't exist, but ultimately it's clear that the only thing he's doing is sucking away their money and providing precious little in return.
What do you do with such a government? The same thing you do with a recalcitrant child: you kick it out. Except in the case of government, there's no reason to ever check on its progress from time to time.
No human being has the rightunder any circumstancesto initiate force against another human being, nor to threaten or delegate its initiation. The moment an individual grasps this concept is the moment he begins the process of kicking out the parasitic child.