Libertarians, Socialism and a Political Duopoly

libertarian“Where I depart from most of my Libertarian brethren is that I am not a purist. I believe that before libertarian principles can be enacted, that we must have a basic framework whereby food, shelter, clothing are rights, not privileges… and that health care and education are accessible to everyone. Only then can the marketplace fairly reflect quality of one’s character and intellect, rather than fortune of birth. The Premise of an individuals right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness cannot come at the expense of the same rights of the populace… who without an opportunity have no such avenue to seek their expression. I understand that my thinking is not utopian, and that there are valid counter-arguments to made”  – Rich Woods


My friend, Lee Moore, of ‘A-News,’ posted the above quote a few days ago as his status on his Facebook page. This sparked a conversation on his page that consisted of the usual fanfare when Libertarianism is brought up. I am not sure which topic generates more debate. Libertarianism, Vegetarianism, Spanking your kids, vaccinating your kids or circumcising your kids.

Either way, I broached the subject with a few of my Libertarian friends, and others who are lamenting our existence in what they call a ‘duopoly.’ I agree with Mr. Woods, which means that in most definitions of the word, I am not a Libertarian. There are those, however, who are adamant about being Libertarian that also agree with Mr. Woods.

The part of the quote that I agree with emphatically is that we must have a basic framework in place to allow for food, shelter, healthcare and education as rights, not privileges, before libertarian principles can be enacted.

Woods makes an excellent point about the Constitution allowing for the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but not at the expense of the same rights of the general population. Yes, opportunity is what drives the private sector, and the opportunity to pursue these rights are useless if people cannot realize them.

Words Of Contention…

I’ve heard from many people who identify as Libertarian make all sorts of comments regarding their belief that taxes are tantamount to armed robbery, that those who are subsisting from social welfare programs and social security should be left to fend for themselves, etc. I realize these are extremist opinions among Libertarians, but the fact that the mindset exists whereas what amounts to Social Darwinism seems perfectly OK is very disturbing.

Consider, however, how disappointing it is when an individual who has at least attended college, has stayed out of trouble with the law and otherwise has made good effort to advance themselves, ends up in dire straits due to illness, accident or other catastrophe.

As well, consider how disappointing it is that this same individual is mired down with astronomical healthcare costs, or is under constant threat of losing their job because of illness or the illness of their dependents.

Nobody should fear losing their job, and as a result possibly their homes and/or vehicles to the repossessor’s hook, for getting sick.

There is a lot about Libertarianism that I find positive. However, my points of view on single payer healthcare, housing issues, education and social welfare programs are not popular with just about all of the Libertarians that I’ve discussed these subjects with. The conversations generally end up less than polite, ending with the Libertarian accusing me of being a Socialist, as if that is something bad.

A Digression About Our Duopoly…

It should be noted that I actually liked Gary Johnson, but I did not vote for him. Not because I have a penchant for supporting our two-party system, but there was more in the ‘con‘ column than the ‘pro’ column.

The problem of our duopoly will not go away until enough people are willing to take the risk and vote for a third-party candidate that they reason represents their world view. I don’t see this happening any time soon, as many people are afraid that voting for a third-party means a vote in favor of a candidate they do not like.

This may be true in cases where there are close elections, but given how the electoral college works, and the proclivity for party affiliation to be less important on the local level of politics, I think it can be done.

There is much that needs to happen, however. A lot of it is related to campaign financing, which I also find very disturbing. The amount of money that was spent in this Presidential election is obscene.

I would hope that in my children’s lifetime they will see more than representatives of the Republican or Democratic parties in the final running, or at least as serious contenders. While I am not a registered Democrat, for now I am supporting the party because their platform most closely aligns with my own world view. Plus, I think Obama has done a decent job.

I still have reservations about a few things regarding our military exercises, the President’s obstinacy regarding marijuana, why Gitmo is still open, the annoying references to God and some pandering that I find a little unsettling. Overall, having researched the two major party candidates, and the three who ended up on the ballots from other parties, I made my decision.

Final Thoughts On Libertarians…

I have run across too many people who call themselves Libertarians who do not espouse the tenet of ‘freedom and liberty for all.’ Somehow, ‘Freedom‘ has been redefined as ‘You are on your own,’ and ‘Liberty‘ has been redefined as ‘We can do what we want.’ Now, before you start to bitch about broad brushing all Libertarians, remember I have taken great care to use words like ‘some,’ ‘many,‘ etc.

This is a travesty, to me, and as is with Mr. Woods, my reasoning that healthcare, food and shelter should be a right, and not a privilege, is where I usually end up parting ways with my friends who identify as Libertarian

About that socialism thing? We live in a communal society, and there are occasions when the village needs to get involved, so to speak.

  6 comments for “Libertarians, Socialism and a Political Duopoly

  1. Mequa
    November 12, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    I think this forum reply I had speaks well about the alliance of Libertarians and Social Darwinists.

    Debating with a Right-Libertarian social Darwinist stance on healthcare. Critiques of the view expressed below are welcome:

    My post:
    “I was born with a congenital heart defect and needed a pacemaker fitted at age 14, and am on daily medication for life.”

    His reply (spelling and grammar left intact):
    “You and people like you would not be sterilized or shot or anything, you just should not get any State medical treatment(nobody should), only if your family was able and willing to pay for your medical bills. If not chances are you’d be dead by now and nobody would care.

    Might sound harsh by why da FUK! should I pay for your medical situation with my money I worked hard for? Maybe because I am taxed to the tilt I cannot afford to have more children of my own. Maybe if I wasn’t forced to pay your faking medical bills I could bring more healthy children into the world. Why da fuk should I pay?!

    It’s a loose-loose situation you subsidize the bad at the expense of the good. Humanity will pay for this sooner or later…”

  2. November 12, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    I really don’t know what it means to say “I’m an X!” or “I’m a Y!” unless you have a clear, agreed-upon definition of what being an X means, especially in relationship to what being a Y means. Are there universally-accepted definitions for such terms as liberal, conservative, libertarian, or whatever? I think not. In fact, I see a lot of comments by people who have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to characterizing the viewpoints of people who advocate a particular position about a particular topic (such as government-subsidized health care).

    Folks have different opinions about many topics (as evidenced by ‘Mequa’, and possibly other commenters here). Is it possible that anyone actually would accept ALL the terms of a definition of X or Y? Probably only if they created the definition themselves!! At the current time, many folks seem to delight in vilifying or ridiculing anyone who believes in X or Y, even as some of us (e.g., Al Stefanelli) advocate their right to have contrary opinions, even if we believe they’re wrong, deluded, or ignorant.

    Furthermore, is there something terribly important or valuable to being a member of a particular tribe? I have opinions about a lot of topics, but I don’t much care to be pigeonholed by someone who thinks some of my opinions make me an “X” or a “Y”. They don’t know me and I guess I have no interest in knowing them.

    If my state had actually allowed me to cast a vote for a candidate other than a Republican or Democrat, I would have done so. Unfortunately, the backward politics of my state (Oklahoma) meant I was denied that right. If I had been allowed to vote for a Libertarian candidate, it wouldn’t necessarily mean I claim to be a Libertarian!

  3. November 12, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    funny how antidarwinists were the ones who constructed social darwinism. but thats a different laughing space. i want to laugh at the idiot who so rudely replied to Mequa. i want to laugh…and “reach for my pistol.” to use a quote from someone who also wasn’t very nice. i do try to be nice. some folk flat make it impossible. these poor low on the maslow hierarchy of needs, hardscrable, dog eating curs…for instance. i think the founders of capitalism chiefly mr smith) as well as our republic ( with no exceptions perhaps) are with me in being revolted

  4. November 12, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    sorry for the interrupt.. jefferson et all wouod stand on my sude of this divide. oh how libertarianism has suffered because of that poor writer, that cult seeking wretch from russia. i mean of course ayn “you gotta smoke the same brand of ciggarette as i do” rand. i know that before her, the concept had room for we SOCIAL LIBERTARIANS. now we are considered an impossible beast. a contradiction. true believers have problems that way. other gods…other interpretations of god under the same name. hoffstadter so right on! true believers…grrrrr ( reaching for my pistol again)

    so we have this constirution saying we come togather to make a place to be free and do so collectively ( hear them gasp? the “c” word. one of them anyway. what about ” more perfect union?” how does each man who would be an island square himself to that?

  5. Mequa
    November 13, 2012 at 1:42 am

    waltinseattle, Ayn Rand was a child of her time, her devotion to capitalism was not surprising given how she escaped from the Soviet Union to what seemed to be a much more successful system in the States. The biggest problem I see with her thought is how – while taken as objective truth – it is as black and white as any fundamentalist believer, no form of compromise can ever be accepted – even when necessary to save lives. Coming from the UK, the NHS seems better than a paid alternative, but this would be unacceptable to an ‘Objectivist’.

    While I can agree with Rand in that I think rational self-interest is important, along with the need to further one’s own survival, happiness and well-being (I’m quite classical Epicurean in this respect), I don’t think happiness can be determined in a crassly materialistic way or measured in dollars. Neither can human worth be measured in dollars.

    I also think some compromise is needed with capitalism when it comes to issues such as life-saving healthcare and medical scans. Leaving people to the mercy (and greed) of insurance companies leads to people either dying or racking up huge debt due to circumstances entirely beyond their control. To give people a chance at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, there needs to be a safety net for when people would otherwise not have a chance. (This can also fund genetic testing to help detect and prevent hereditary diseases on a voluntary basis.)

  6. Karmakin
    November 17, 2012 at 12:50 am

    Well…the core difference here is a focus on positive rights vs. negative rights. The problem with the (Big-L) Libertarian movement in America is that they are almost entirely focused on negative rights, that is, preventing government from interfering, instead of positive rights, which is maximizing the realistic freedom for each individual.

    Healthcare really is the best example, as the focus on private, employer based health insurance is a massive realistic obstacle to labor movement and entrepreneurship.

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