The Limits of Libertarianism
Posted on July 29, 2011I like to call myself a Libertarian, but I am really not.
I don't really want government to disappear. While I read The Fountainhead in college, and I admit I have found it to be influential in my life, I think Ayn Rand was a little kooky and her objectivism philosophy is unworkable in the real world.
My brother, the Tea Partier is a Libertarian. He wants government to shrink dramatically. He wants police forces to be shrunk, he wants teacher's pensions cut, he wants most regulatory bodies eliminated. He finds government to be oppressive and he wants it to be gone.
He also believes that for the last forty-five years, America has been living a lie. He hates the military industrial complex, he hates the Federal Reserve, he wants to go back to a Gold Standard. He thinks we should never
have gone into Iraq and believes that the Soviet Union would have fallen without the Reagan buildup, and he believes that the banking system in this country is essentially corrupt.
He also finds Michele Bachmann to be appealing and he appreciates what Joe Walsh is doing in stopping the debt limit extension.
While he likes John Boehner, he thinks he is a traditional Republican, and he believes that the traditional, big business Republican party should go the way of the dodo bird.
My brother would fit in nicely with the Tea Party in Washington, and while I love my brother, he is profoundly wrong about the role of government in our society.
Getting rid of government would be a disaster for this country and the world.
Going back to the Gold Standard and getting rid of the Federal Reserve would immediately put us into a deep depression.
Sharply cutting back our national defenses would make us extraordinarily vulnerable to terrorist attacks and make each one of us less secure.
Pulling back from the rest of the globe would make the world much less stable, and increase the likelihood of major and catastrophic conflicts.
Getting rid of regulators of food safety and drug safety would increase the chances of accidental deaths for countless Americans.
Getting rid of Medicare and Social Security would immediately put millions of elderly Americans into poverty.
I call myself a Libertarian because I want smarter government that expands freedoms. I think we should regulate the sale of pot, and get more tax money. I think we should regulate Internet poker and then get the tax revenue. That means more government, not less.
A well-run government promotes commercial activity, provides stability to the market place, protects intellectual property, punishes bad actors and corruption, and pays its bills.
Libertarians, especially Tea Party libertarians, fundamentally disagree with Republicans about the role of government. That doesn't make them bad people. But it does mean that the Tea Party can't coexist within the GOP and with establishment Republicans. The differences between the two are not trivial and they can't be ignored for very much longer.