Tag Archives: TANSTAAFL

Libertarianism & Me, Part I

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The Richest Man in Bedford Falls Owner of half of the town

As some of you may know I recently attended my 50th High School Reunion. Some of you are now saying “Just what does this have to do with Libertarianism?” Just this, it give you a time frame as the U.S. Libertarian Party was formed in 1971 and I was a student in college working on my degree in Political Science.

The next year, being an election year, the campus was flooded with fliers for this ‘new & exciting’ party. I was curious, both because of the party’s name ‘Libertarian’ and because of it’s logo that uses TANSTAAFAL which is from one of my favorite SF Novels of the time.

Unfortunately for both me and libertarianism the more I found out about both the party and it’s ideology the more disenchanted I became. What first got me was the illogic of it’s fundamental political and economic principles. Often as not two or more of the the principles are in diametric opposition. Next was the basic hypocrisy of the party saying it was new. In fact only the “formal” political party was new. The name and political philosophies date back to the 1780’s.

So, where to start? Well, first is that there are really several ‘flavors’ of Libertarianism that can be broadly divided into “Conservative” Libertarianism and “Progressive or Scocialist” Liberalism. An as you might expect they hate each other with a passion. The funny thing is they are really mostly identical with the major difference being which “Liberties” they are fighting for. What is truly sad is that Libertarianism could be a great Political/Economic philosophy if it was so caught up with it’s desire to be totally right.

So where to start? There is so much to cover and so little space-time. How about the idea of “That government than governs lest governs best.”? A grand old American Political ideal, but in the hands of many followers of Libertarianism it is morphed into the desire to have a government so small that it can’t hurt the individual. The only problem with this is that when the government is that small it is too small to protect the individual. I’ve heard many Libertarians say “that’s ok. They should stand on their on two feet and protect themselves.” Well and good for those big enough and strong enough but what about the small and weak? If you are wondering what I’m thinking about try watching some of the great John Wayne ‘Rio’ movies. You know the ones where the local land baron has the town under it’s thumb? I like the ones where John Wayne is the town marshal who is waiting for the US Deputy Marshal to come thru. Why? Because if the local land Barron messes with a US Marshal he is going to have the whole US government down on his head.

This whole political philosophy is based on the great american myth of the self reliant “frontiersman” who relied on no one but himself. This almost never, if ever happened. America was settled by groups, be they individual family, or just by groups like the 49ers of California. I have always like the statement “Men conquered the West, Women settled it.” While we can and should always depend on ourselves we also need help from time to time. This is more true when dealing with those who don’t follow the rules. Like the bullies we all saw in school, I never saw one by themselves. They always had the groupies (minions) around them and they always seem to get them to do the actual bullying.

I can see I have a lot more to say so I think breaking this up into multiple posts. So BBFN.