“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.