An open letter to friends and family who are certainly not shocked to discover I’m a libertarian, which used to be called classically liberal. That doesn’t mean what a lot of you apparently think it does.
Let’s break it down, shall we? Because quite frankly, I’m getting a little tired of being told what I believe and what I stand for. There are LOT of strawman arguments out there. Spoiler alert: Not every classical liberal is the same, though the majority of classical liberals I know think along roughly these same lines:
- I believe a country should take care of its weakest members. A country cannot call itself civilized when its children, disabled, sick, and elderly are neglected. Period. This should not be the main job of government because such care is something for which we are better off being personally responsible whenever possible. We are better humans when we volunteer and give our OWN money instead of someone else’s.
- I believe healthcare is not right, nor a privilege. Healthcare is a commodity. A commodity that is supplied by human beings who cannot and should not be forced to work more than they are physically and psychologically able. I believe healthcare should be far cheaper than it is, and that everyone should have access to it. I’m opposed to paying higher taxes in the name of making that happen because I don’t believe the government regulation is the best solution to healthcare access. We did not have a free market system of healthcare before Obamacare and we have not attempted to do so in the United States in the 20th century. Singapore has a system that has far more market freedom in the United states currently has. And healthcare is far more accessible to the poor there.
- I believe education should be affordable and accessible to everyone. It doesn’t necessarily have to be free but at the end of the day, there is no excuse for students graduating college saddled with five- or six-figure debt. I believe this is best achieved by not subsidizing loans which do not reduce price of education but increases it.
- I don’t believe your money should be taken from you and given to people who don’t want to work. I believe that people on the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder should be a given opportunities to climb up it and make their own lives better. Stopping the war on drugs, removing petty fines and fees that are most often leveraged on the poor, changing restrictions on inexpensive housing, removing some restrictions on who gets to provide healthcare, and not creating incentives for people to be nonproductive would go a long way toward alleviating chronic dependency.
- I’m not willing to pay higher taxes, because I want to use that money to voluntarily contribute to causes that I feel are important. (See #1) That includes helping those who are disadvantaged. I might also help people by using that capital to start a business and employing some other people; starting them on the ladder towards wealth.
- I believe companies should pay their employees according to the value that they bring to the business. People who work in low-paying jobs should have the opportunity to move up in the world, and not be trying to support themselves living on flipping burgers. That is no way to spend a life. I support people learning the skills to get or create a better job.
- I am not anti-Christian, or anti-Muslim or any other religion. I have no desire to stop Christians from being Christians, to close churches, to ban the Bible, to forbid prayer in school, etc. All I ask is that people of other religions recognize my right to live according to my beliefs, as long as those beliefs do not infringe on the civil rights of my fellow citizens.
- I don’t believe LGBT people should have more rights than you. I just believe they should have the same rights as you.
- I don’t believe illegal immigrants should come to America and have the world at their feet, especially since THIS ISN’T WHAT THEY DO (spoiler: undocumented immigrants are ineligible for all those programs they’re supposed to be abusing, and if they’re “stealing” your job it’s because your employer is hiring illegally). I’m not opposed to deporting people who are here illegally, but it seems like there must be more humane ways to handle undocumented immigration than our current practices (i.e., detaining children, splitting up families, ending DACA, etc). I would like to hear some more creative solutions.
- I don’t believe the government should regulate everything, if fact I think a freer market would do a better job of handling environmental destruction, tainted food/water, unsafe materials in consumable goods, medical equipment, especially in the age of the internet where any individual business will be publicly assessed.
I trust that people trying to make money are motivated to have their customers return again and again, which means they will will be responsible about the safety of their product. If they should fail in this or become careless, I should have the right to sue for full damages, that amount to not be restricted by law, and government should be there to act as a referee.
- I believe our current administration is authoritarian, but not more so than administrations going back to Coolidge. Some have been more socially authoritarian, and some have been more fiscally authoritarian.
- I believe systemic racism and misogyny in our society needs to be addressed, but not at the expense of civil liberties. Convincing people to behave in a more civil way cannot be done by chastising them. This only creates ill will and resentment.
- I believe we have enough gun laws. There are currently thousands of gun laws, and even at the the federal level, many are unenforced. We do not need more. The world is not a safe place and when otherwise law-abiding people are penalized for owning firearms, this in no way makes the world a better place. Nor does it save children’s lives
- I believe in good manners. If someone wants to be referred to by a pronoun that is counter-intuitive for me, I will set aside my feelings and do my best to accommodate. I will not call people names and say please and thank you, and offer appropriate honorifics no matter someone’s skin color, gender, or religious preferences. I think that making manners a matter of law is an efficient way to make good manners meaningless, and to make people resentful.
- I believe in voluntary funding of sustainable energy. Governments are not better at picking winners or losers than are individuals, and individuals should make those choices of how to invest for themselves, not be forced to do so at gunpoint.
- I believe that women should not be treated as a separate class of human. They should be paid the same as men who do the same work, should be free from abuse, and have the right to decide if they wish to carry a child in their body for 9 months.
I think that about covers it. Bottom line is that I’m a liberatarian because I think we all – rich and poor, whatever one’s skin color, ethnicity, or gender – thrive and do best when we have the freedom to associate with each other as we choose and to make contracts and agreements without the interference and financial skimming of governments.