Libertarianism is growing, and fast. This is an ideology that promotes free markets without government intervention, at least minimally. Some believe we should have a military, police, fire departments, court systems, and not much more. Basically they say that they want to eliminate the use of force by anybody vs. another person, especially the government.
This is an interesting concept. Force is defined quite broadly. Taxes, schools, and libraries are force, because someone doesn’t approve. We never got together and agreed to pay taxes, it kind of just comes with the territory of being a citizen, and using all these services around you, even though you have no choice.
I have a friend on FB who is a Ron Paul libertarian, but a very informed person who I agree with on many issues. We always get stuck on healthcare, taxes, pollution, etc. That’s where most far left/far right people get stuck arguing.
He thinks that markets can provide better solutions than government. I just think I’m being more pragmatic and using whatever works for society, but for him, government ‘force’ (also known as ‘men with guns’) is bad even if it results in a good outcome, because someone’s rights have been violated.
This can be taken to quite an extreme logical conclusion. Putting a traffic light in the road violates my ‘right’ to drive where I want, when I want, without barriers put in my way that I didn’t agree to or even have a say in. But the point is that it’s a win for most people and the greater society, making traffic more efficient and safe for people to cross the street. We just have to decide if violating an individual’s ‘right’ to not pay for or use public services is more important than the needs of society at large.
The Koch brothers are right in the middle of this. They have poured huge sums of money into electing politicians that will enact their agenda of low taxes, low regulation, cutting spending, and small government. As far as I know, they don’t believe in public education. In other words, free public schools for some, while they pay millions in taxes to pay for them, are a violation of their individual right to ‘keep the fruits of their labor.’
That’s libertarianism in a nutshell. Privatize everything because our faith, not facts, say that markets are always better. If you can’t afford school, healthcare, (fire departments and police?), a public defender, libraries, roads, etc, etc, that’s either too bad or we should rely on charity to fill the gap. ‘Gap’ doesn’t seem like the right word. ‘Crevasse’, ‘canyon’, or ‘gulf’ would be more appropriate.
The idea behind this is that more ‘freedom’ would result. But they never answer, ‘freedom for whom?’ and ‘freedom from what’? This ideology seems to have great benefits for the well-off and powerful, but not for the rest of us. I would guess that most people receive more in government benefits (whether or not they use them, like libraries, is another question) than they pay for. This is living in a highly unequal society. If we had a perfectly equal society (impossibly) then everyone would pay the same taxes for the same services. Since we don’t, and we use the only moral system of taxation available (progressive taxation, although how progressive is always hotly contested), some will pay more than others and some will receive more than others.
The well-off are in their position because of society, not just individual actions as Ms. Rand would tell you. Wal-mart transports its goods on public roads. It uses containerization technology, bar code scanning, the internet, aviation technology, and others. Its workers were educated (poorly or not) at public schools that we helped pay for.
On the flip side, they could be much more profitable without some of these ‘onerous regulations’: the minimum wage, food safety laws, unionization laws, child labor laws, etc. If we believe in trickle-down economics (the idea that if we stuff wealthy peoples’ pockets enough, some crumbs might fall down to us, the little people), we should eliminate all barriers to profit, wealth, and employment, and see what happens. Sometimes I think the only way people will recognize this system of corporate feudalism for what it is, is to watch it burn to the f*cking ground.
However, in recent years, the rich have become the beneficiaries of gov’t largesse while the rest of us are ‘forced’ to pay for it. Strange how many of us believe the myth that the rich subsidize us. It’s the other way around.