Christian: n,

A person who believes in Jesus Christ, God incarnate who came to Earth and became flesh to die on the cross, sinless for our redemption.

libertarian: n,

"A person who believes that no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being, or to advocate or delegate its initiation. Those who act consistently with this principle are libertarians, whether they realize it or not. Those who fail to act consistently with it are not libertarians, regardless of what they may claim."

-- L. Neil Smith

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Pragmatic Libertarian

When discussing libertarianism I'm almost always faced with the Yeahbuts. I'll say something like, "Taxation is theft," and the reply will be, "Yeah, but how will 'we' pay for ...?" "We don't need the State." "Yeah, but who'll protect us from ...?" This can be frustrating for several reasons. People have been conditioned to see the state as the correction to naturally occurring problems. The fact is that most of these perceived problems were relatively small and isolated before we handed the responsibility for them over to the state. Many of the problems would not even exist if it weren't for the state's intervention and the rest have grown exponentially because of the state's mismanagement. Economic calculation through central planning requires a knowledge of the subjective valuation of literally billions of transactions every day and that's just not possible.

I used to concern myself more with these details. They are important considerations. However to me, the "How would we" question is subordinate to the "Do we have the right to" question and who is "we" anyway?

The thief can always find justification for theft. Look how much better off "we" are because of the state, sounds just like a thief saying look how much better off I am now that I have your stuff. I do not doubt that using the state to suspend the laws of economics has its rewards, but I also believe there is also a price paid that "we" tend to ignore. Bastiat refers to these in What is Seen and What is Not Seen . None of the rationalization or justification prevents the state's actions from being what they are. They are violations of individuals' rights. I've gotten past how wonderful the world could be if people would just get out of the way of the state. If I had my choice between my subjective idea of Utopia created by theft, murder, slavery and fraud or being less well off without, I would choose the latter. But of course, even that choice has been stolen from me. I personally believe we'd be better off, not worse but that's less important to me than the ability to live my life without violating the negative rights of anyone else.

Thou shalt not steal. I think God had a good reason for not having an amendment process on that one which would allow you to use the force of the state toward that end.

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