I posted this in another thread, and a couple of people said it should be an OP
I have maintained for years that libertarians can only maintain their ideology through ignorance of history, economics, politics and the real world. Real world problems needing practical solutions. In the US, that was the reason for such things as the EPA, the FDA, the SEC, Social Security and so on -- all set up to deal with real problems. Are they perfect? Of course not, this is the real world, after all.
Libertarianism is superficially appealing, but it does not stand up to even the slightest scrutiny. Here are some quotations from the platform of the New Jersey Libertarian Party:
Whoever wrote this does not know why government got into social welfare. It was because in too many cases, "family, religious institution, community, or private charity" was unable to do what was necessary.
In other words, go back to the bad old days of the 12-hour work day, child labor, and Dotheboys Hall. The person who wrote this obviously does not give a damn about others, nor does he know why the laws he rails against were passed. For example, when then-President Theodore Roosevelt read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, he sent a couple of men to Chicago to see if Sinclair was exaggerating about conditions in the meat packing industry. They reported that, if anything, Sinclair understated things. The Pure Food and Drug Act followed shortly afterwards.
Sounds good in theory, but let me give a specific example. In the 1920s, on the boundary between Geneva and St Charles, Illinois, there was a factory which produced watches with radium dials. The company went out of business in the 1930s, and the factory was demolished. About 25 years ago, it was discovered that the soil around the old factory was polluted with radioactive compounds, which were leeching into the groundwater. Now, who is to clean up this pollution? The company which caused it no longer exists. The people who currently live near there simply can't afford it.
So if I decide to put a hog farm on my suburban property -- currently forbidden by zoning laws -- there is no way to stop me. Once more, the person who wrote this is unable to think through what his idiotic declaration actually means.
So the street passing in front of my house should become a toll road?
So if I beat my wife and children, the government cannot stop me. The next paragraph says "We call for the repeal of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991"
So ten-year-olds should be treated as adults. Bring back the days of hanging children as pickpockets.
A great example of libertarian ignorance of history. Public schools were started so that everyone could get an education. Apparently, the libertarian who wrote this thinks that having an educated populace is A Bad Thing.
So if a privately owned hospital wants to deny you treatment because you're gay, that's fine with them. "No dogs or Jews allowed." "No n*ggers will be served." Libertarians claim they believe racism is bad, but also believe that having the government do something about it is worse. In other words, they actually support racism.
Libertarians claim that the sort of discrimination would disappear when the people practicing the discrimination understood that it was not profitable, it would disappear. The appropriate term for this is "wishful thinking".
Before passage of the Clean Water Act and creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Cuyahoga River in Ohio used to catch on fire because of pollution. It wasn't corporations or the free market that cleaned up the Cuyahoga, it was the government. So their pretense that government "has a terrible track record when it comes to environmental protection" is a lie. Libertarians saying that corporations would act to clean up their own pollution is simply more evidence that libertarians prefer fantasy over reality.
Here is one of my favorite bits:
If they really mean what this seems to say, then seeking documentary evidence of criminal acts would be impossible, since a suspect would have absolute veto power over any searches. Libertarians claim to oppose fraud, but the person who wrote that -- and the members of the party who passed that platform -- clearly do not mean it when they say it.
The late Iain Banks defined libertarianism as "A simple-minded right-wing ideology ideally suited to those unable or unwilling to see past their own sociopathic self-regard."
see how it can be changed without tens of millions of Americans suddenly learning to think and to empathize with others.
It was in San Francisco in the late 80's, early 90's.
I thought they were fascinating. And I thought (and still do) that many of the points they made were valid. The ones that I knew at the time, and this was before Libertarianism became fashionable, were all sort of uber-nerds. I got the sense that their Libertarianism was based on the fact that they were always the smart kids in the class who got held back by the fact that they were smarter than their teachers, and they resented that. And so it was time for their revenge. Revenge of the Nerds, as it were.
(as a quick aside, I have a friend who was an actor who played one of the main characters in the movie of that same name. And he's a Libertarian. He voted for Romney. Whaddya gonna do? You can't agree with all of your friends about everything.)
I'm VERY libertarian in my personal dealings, and VERY socialist in my view of government. On the whole, I would say that I'm a "Balance-atarian." Too much government is a bad thing, (central planning, as an example) just like too much corporate power is a bad thing.
Like the people I mentioned above, since then, most Libertarians I've talked to don't seem to understand how the real world actually works. They don't seem to understand that forces need to be balanced, and if you give the individual or the corporation all the power they want, things will get out of balance.
The problem we find ourselves in today is that Corporatia has bought and paid for Government. There is no balance. And the genius of it is that Corporatia, through its propaganda networks, has convinced way too many people that it is government that is causing the imbalance. I don't know exactly how we fix things, but Libertarianism sure ain't the answer.
They want the right to do anything they please but no one should have the right to do anything that impacts them.
A couple years ago there was a big libertarian-riling deal here in North Idaho: we've got areas up here where there are rows of hobby farms. Some guy who lived in one of those areas had a pack of large dogs on his land. The dogs were acting like...well, a pack of dogs...and disturbing his neighbors' horses with their constant barking. Eventually it got bad enough that the neighbors got a judge to order the dog owner to either control or reduce the pack so as to keep from stressing out the horses.
A few weeks after this happened came the North Idaho Fair and Goat Roping Contest. The Democratic Party has a fair booth that I work every year. I was in the booth registering voters just as fast as I could, and one of our libertarians came up to complain about how it's so terrible that The Government should have been allowed to tell this guy to get rid of his dogs. You should be able to do anything you want on your property. No one should be able to tell anyone how to use his land.
At this point I was just disgusted with the guy, so I asked him: you know that guy who owns the portable asphalt plant and can't find anywhere in the county that will let him set it up? If he bought the land next to yours and started making asphalt, would that be okay with you? All of a sudden the situation was different: no one should be allowed to do that by his land.
"Then what makes your nose more important than their horses?"
If my selfish acts bother you, that's acceptable. If your selfish acts bother me, that's not acceptable. The name for this is Special Pleading.
Libertarianism is built on the basic assumption that it is wrong to give an damn about anyone except yourself. The High Priestess of libertarianism, Ayn Rand, wrote a book, The Virtue of Selfishness, that argues that point. I started reading it. On the first or second page, she has a "definition" of altruism that no actual altruist would accept -- acts which benefit others are good, acts which benefit the altruist are bad. The first part of this definition is so simplistic as to be laughable -- if my good would harm others, then it is not good. The second is also simplistic, since any altruist would say that an act which benefits the altruist and does not harm others is at worst morally neutral and is probably good.
Since she began her argument with the Straw Man fallacy, I saw no reason to continue.
Her novel, The Fountainhead, says that personal pique is an acceptable reason to destroy other people's property. Of course, her fans refuse to admit this, but self-deception lies at the heart of her ideology.
Adam Smith wrote, "All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind". Substitute the world "libertarians" for "the masters of mankind" and you have the libertarian ethos in a nutshell. Or, to put that in other words, the libertarian ethos is "I've got mine, screw you."
Their views on the environmental are clearly delusional. Everyone does not act in their own best interests, or understand their own best interests. That is the idealism behind their fantasy world.
Excellent post. K&R
Simply put, it's the principle that you should never take a fence down until you know why it was put up.
From G. K. Chesterton's 1929 book, The Thing:
In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, I dont see the use of this; let us clear it away. To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: If you dont see the use of it, I certainly wont let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.
If you don't know why a law was passed or governmental agency was established, then you should not call for its destruction. It probably was put in place for a good reason, which may still exist and need to be dealt with.