Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Wretched Selfishness of the Jeffersonian

One gigantic lie, that must be dispelled once and for all, a lie you hear from the left AND the right, is that libertarians are vile, selfish, and greedy. While I cannot offer testimony to the character and motives of all libertarians, I can put an end to this argument once and for all. This argument is put forth by many different types of people, whether they be socialists, mercantilists, or the self-righteous.

It is not uncommon for we Christian libertarians to be confronted by an argument such as "I just wonder where your Christian heart and charity are-- we're talking about children, the elderly, the ill and disabled, and the incredibly poor being left behind, stranded and dying. Where does Jesus say that we all only have to take responsibility for ourselves and don't have to help others in times of disaster and danger?" Such a question leaves me shaking my head. The questioner is trying to use my religion against me. Worse still, the questioner is suggesting that I should seek to impose my religious beliefs regarding virtues that all people should possess, charity, and compassion, on other people, people that may not share my religious beliefs. Those posing questions like this would certainly not want me opposing gay marriage, or fighting for prayer in public schools as many who share my religious beliefs do. But, if my beliefs suit their cause, then magically its ok for me to impose my beliefs on others. This shows the question for what it is. A ruse, an attempt to fool me into supporting big, inefficient government, and the continuing slavery of the US citizen. There are two primary components to this issue, the first is the practical, and the second is the philosophical or ideological. Luckily for libertarians, our ideology is practical, as we pride ourselves on consistency.

First, let us cover the practical. Lets look at a very basic comparison of the Red Cross (as our model charity) and the Federal Government. The Red Cross makes use of volunteers. The feds don't. The Red Cross is staffed by many people who care so much about the cause, they are working for nothing. The Feds are not, they are staffed by people who want to go home on time at the end of every day, people who are more concerned about their vacation time and retirement than anything else. The average federal employee is not a bad person, but they are not motivated by some altruistic desire to do good, and are certainly not going to be more efficient and more effective than those who are. The Red Cross is able to work with its regular staff size and take more volunteers when needed, keeping its non-time of emergency staff smaller and cheaper than it must be during crises, the feds have to employ their people year round, emergency or not, keeping their costs higher. Now lets look at accountability. We will keep the Red Cross, the feds, and throw in state government as our examples. If a charity like the Red Cross messes up, people can stop giving money and support. The Red Cross would then have to regain the trust of those supporting it. If not enough people agree with you about the failure of the charity, you are still free not to support what you believe to be an organization no longer worth supporting. This is very effective market based accountability. If a state or local government fails or is inefficient, the citizens of the state or locality are able to rally their neighbors and ensure under threat of politicians losing their jobs, the failures will be corrected. If unable to convince enough fellow citizens, one can file a great sign of protest by moving to another locality or even state, denying the corrupt, failed, or inefficient government one's money and support. If, however, the problem is in the federal government, the individual has no recourse. Congressional oversight of executive agencies will almost always degenerate into partisan bickering and posturing as corrupt parties posture and exploit tragedy and government failure for their own gain. The only recourse for the individual is to leave the country. Those desiring efficient and effective assistance for those in need are not the ones we want leaving the country. Those are the people that made this country great, and made it one of the most desired destinations for immigrants all over the world. One can research this issue, and argue it forever, I have yet to meet even a socialist that argues government is more efficient or effective than private alternatives. Their argument is always that if the federal government doesn't do it, nobody will. They are proven wrong time and time again as the private response to the tsunami earlier this year and to the recent hurricane shows.

Let us now address the ideological reasons we oppose the socialist nanny-state into which our country has been morphing. First, lets discuss the Constitution, and the powers specifically assigned to the federal government, ALL other powers reserved to the states. Article 1 section 8 specifically lays out the powers granted to the congress. To summarize, the powers of congress are limited to practical things necessary for defending the states from foreign attack, and centralizing certain things like printing of money. Redistribution of wealth is not listed. Corporate and individual welfare are not listed. Criminalization of victimless crimes is not listed. Enslaving the US citizen is not listed. The powers reserved to the federal government represent a contract, that we agree to, not because we like the federal government, but because they are best suited to handle things like national defense. For the fruits of one man's labor to be taken from him, under the threat of imprisonment, to use for things that are beyond the scope of the contract that is the constitution is nothing short of modern slavery. The producer does not benefit from the extra-constitutional uses of his stolen labor. He is not justly compensated for this thievery. He works harder and harder, and is rewarded by having the money for which he exchanges his labor taken by those who believe they know better than he how to spend his money. Your money, and my money, are taken under the threat of imprisonment and spent by those in the political elite, be they socialists or mercantilists, Democrats, or Republicans, to fund artists, pay for someone's college education, create anti-tobacco public service campaigns, subsidize tobacco farmers as well as other farmers, etc. This is inefficient and corrupt at best, modern slavery at worst. It is unacceptable to think that I, who believe abortion is murder, subsidize abortion against my will through the stolen fruits of my labor. It is horrendous that the labor confiscated from the peacenik goes to support our government's drive for empire. It is unconscionable that our government tramples the constitution and our basic God given rights so blatantly, and we, the citizens of the several states sit by and do nothing. Until we break the monopoly of our two faced single party system, we will remain enslaved to this system. The only way to stop the abuses and corruption perpetrated by our government, at any level, is to take from it the power it uses against us. The founders of the United States understood this. That is why our country was setup as it was. If you want to support some cause or some person, do it, and I will respect your sincerity. I will and do support those causes I believe in and those charities I believe provide value. If you take my money against my will, to support your cause, I call you a thief and a scoundrel. You disgust me, and are no better than the slave owning plantation owner of early America. If you believe your cause is just and worthy of support, give speeches, write letters, do a telethon. Rob me, as you have since I became a taxpayer, and know I despise you. I do not respect you or your cause. The ends do not justify the means, and if your means are vile thievery and enslavement of the "working-man", you dishonor your cause and lay bare to the world your lack of dignity and the absence of respect you have for your fellow man.

In conclusion, it is not the libertarian, who opposes confiscation of his property for the use of some other person's idea of the greater good, that is vile, cruel, greedy, or selfish. It is the thieves and looters, who use our money and property against our will for things not allowed by the Constitution, that are vile, evil, cruel, greedy creatures. They use any means at their disposal, moral or not, to achieve their ends. And we, those who produce, are then told we are the wicked ones. This must be rejected. We must not allow those looters to frame the discussion, as they will not only steal from us, but paint us as greedy despicable people. It is long past time to confront this argument at every turn. We must remind our fellow citizens that they too are being stolen from to support causes they do not agree with and cannot tolerate. The way to stop this is not to change what our stolen money is used to support, but to take from the government the power to spend and steal that money at all. We must hold our government to its pledge to protect and enforce the constitution, and we must remove from power those politicians that do not work to limit government, but seek to use it as a tool to advance their own unconstitutional and immoral causes and agendas