Why is it that some folks -- the Left most visibly, but that may only be because they think they're slinging mud -- believe that libertarians (small-l and capital-L alike) are some kind of hyper-GOP?
Is it Barry Goldwater and Ron Paul? --Lovely men in many ways, but alas, neither one anywhere near their party's mainstream. In fact, despite radically different ways of talking about what government ought to do and what appear to be very different philosophies, the actual actions of Democrats and Republicans are remarkably similar. When big businesses start to tank, Congress and the President bail 'em out. Oh, with a little pro forma bickering, to be sure; with a different collection of pretty phrases to justify it -- but George W. Bush bailed out banks and Barack Obama bailed out the big carmakers, Congress colluding (and public opinion running against it, to a greater or lesser degree) in both instances.
In so doing, both men showed me that there is no place for me in their party. Business -- what Marx dubbed "capitalism" -- is about both reward and risk; the U.S., especially the post-FDR U. S., has removed the second part for the biggest companies. Unsurprisingly, many of those companies are deeply entangled with government. Result? Two parties, one rule.
Then there's that favorite canard, used (almost reflexively by MSNBC commentators) against Republicans and libertarians alike: "They're against regulation," most often with "...that keeps us safe," added. I guess Ronald Reagan started it -- even though his "unregulation" efforts were largely cosmetic and there's no evidence they reduced safety. I don't know if this opposition to regulation is actually true of Republicans: the EPA was a creation of Richard Nixon's administration, after all. It's not true of me -- I'm quite fond of ANSI and even more so of Underwriter's Laboratories, not to mention all their competitors. Oh, if things went my way, you'd probably want to keep your subscription to Consumer Reports up-to-date, to be sure; but what all these groups have in common is, they're private organizations who rely on end-user trust to stay afloat and work by consensus and sharing information; while this doesn't guarantee perfect immunity to regulatory capture, it is considerably better than a government regulator that operates with the force of law and, these days, is likely to have its own SWAT team. Once one of Uncle Sam's regulators has gotten into bed with some industry or group, they rarely get back out. The regulatory burden undergoes cancerous growth and the field of endeavor invariably tilts to favor larger and larger players (case in point: in most cities and towns, the local radio stations are now owned by one or two enormous companies, headquartered in some distant city).
Or take civil rights -- civil rights for everybody who refrains from initiating fraud or force against others. I'm in favor of it. The GOP wants to decide which couples can get married; the Dems favor quotas that resemble a bad James Watt punchline. Me, I favor people minding their own darn business and letting their fellow citizens mind theirs; I favor businesses hiring the competent, the skilled and talented;* I favor naming and/or shaming racists and haters for the very simple reason that they are always outnumbered, not, perhaps, so much by folks who have in their heart a deep lovingkindness for each and every person but by the vast majority of us who don't care about your skin color, religion, national origin or choice of adult partners, as long as you keep your lawn picked up and aren't too noisy when we are trying to sleep.
For that matter, I think we ought to help out the downtrodden; I just don't think it's effective to go about it by letting a government agency take our money at what amounts to gunpoint and skim off most of it to pay for nice people in nice suits in nice offices before applying one red cent to a poor child diggin' dinner outta dumpsters. We need lower taxes -- and a lot more charities with collection plates.
Alas, I am out of time and nowhere near the end of the list. I wanted to at least try. I get tired of being accused of being a superRepublician or a weak-kneed dupe of Democrats. I ain't neither. I'm me. I'm a libertarian and I wish hoi polloi had a slightly broader streak of not-meddling. But the majority of voters out there don't and the pols they vote into office are even worse that way.
* Interestingly, the behind-the-scenes parts of business I work in has small margin for fools and doesn't pay terribly well compared to the work; you get people who do it because they're good at it and they like it -- and you get a workplace slightly more diverse than an After-School Special. Ain't that many folks who both can do what we do and who will do it; it's a "level field" for anyone who makes the grade.
6 months ago