Libertarians. I can’t stand them. Even worse, I think they serve no useful purpose in our political system and really put a big drag on everything; and yes, that does presume that mainstream Republicans serve a purpose. The libertarian position sounds good, but that’s it. It’s just useless sloganeering and toughguy talk, with no real basis in reality. And there are two basic types of libertarians: Pie-in-the-sky jokers who haven’t thought any of it through passed the toughguy talk, and relatively intelligent Republicans who enjoy bashing libs but hate having to defend their own party. Both categories are dangerous in their own way, though the second is the more dangerous of the two. And both are entirely fake positions that are easy to defend, just as long as they can keep the topic on rhetoric and theory; and away from the thorns of reality.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m fairly libertarian on many issues; almost all of them pertaining to individual rights. I support gun ownership, with reasonable limitations. I support personal liberties and freedom. And I think that people should be allowed to enjoy themselves, just as long as they’re not preventing others from enjoying themselves. And, of course, I’m pro-choice, which should be one of those bigtime libertarian platforms; though too often it isn’t. All of these positions are completely reasonable, and millions who would never call themselves “libertarian” fully believe these things. And to me, this is what libertarianism is really all about: The Rights of Individuals.
And to state this more clearly: I think that liberty isn’t just about doing whatever the hell you want. Taken to its natural extreme, nobody believes that. It’s about us having the freedom to do what we want, without unnecessarily infringing upon other people’s freedom. But overall, freedom and liberty must be equal for all, and that to be called a “libertarian” must mean that we support freedom for everyone. And if one person has a freedom to do something, then everyone else must have that freedom too.
But those who call themselves “libertarians”, particularly of the Republican variety, aren’t in agreement with that. More often than not, they’re mainly in support of business rights. In particular, Big Business. And here’s the thing: More often than not, individual rights are in direct conflict with business rights. I’m not at all sure how libertarians haven’t figured that one out, but it’s so obvious as to be ridiculous. And because Big Business is nothing but a collection of individuals, the libertarian position is often that of granting special rights to certain individuals, over the rights of other individuals; with the distinguishing factor being whether the individual is acting on their own behalf, versus that of their business. And when stated like that, it’s obviously a big absurdity. These libertarians believe that some people have more liberty than other people.
For example, I can’t see how environmental regulation isn’t a libertarian issue. The air and water that these businesses are polluting is not their air and water. It belongs to all of us. So why do they get to just take it, ruin it, and not expect repercussions? These companies do it because it lowers costs, and that’s fine, I guess. But I don’t see why they’re not expected to clean it up, or to pay for what they’re using. To make it the way it was before they took it. I’m not allowed to go to Mr. Libertarian’s shack and start fucking up his weed-filled yard. So why are businesses allowed to do that to us?
Especially as it’s not just our stuff. They’re fucking us up. They get to dirty our air, our water, and thus, increase our medical expenses and shorten our lives; and I’m not allowed to do anything about it? I’m just supposed to suck it up and act as if this is some natural process? It’s considered some huge burden to expect them to undo damage they did to things they didn’t even own? That’s bullshit. Environmental policy is clearly an issue that should appeal to libertarians; assuming they knew what the hell they were talking about. Because again, we’re talking about some individuals (business owners/managers) being given special rights to take and abuse public resources that belong to all individuals. How is that liberty?
And unions. Why are libertarian-types so angry at unions and the advances that unions gave us? Honestly, are these businesses dealing with us on a one-on-one basis? When I negotiate the terms of my job, it’s my economic and strategic strength against the one guy that I’m negotiating with? No. I’m negotiating with the entire company. A company with resources so vast that I might work there for thirty years without ever seeing the owners of the company; and without ever knowing the extent of their resources. So why is it that I’m not allowed to do the same? Why can’t I group together with the guys I’m working with, and use our vast strength to negotiate my position?
They have no problems with this for corporations. For those who don’t know, corporations are totally a form of socialism, allowing folks to group together their resources so they can do things that they couldn’t do by themselves. And that’s what socialism is all about. Grouping resources together to do things that you can’t do as individuals. And that’s what unions are all about. And so why is it that libertarians totally defend the concept of corporations, while totally attacking the concept of unions? One is based upon economic strength, and the other is based upon labor strength; but essentially, they’re the same idea.
And so when unions help push for better working conditions, they’re not doing anything unholy or wrong. They’re using their strength in numbers in order to get what’s best for them. Similarly, a multi-national corporation uses its economic strength to get what’s best for them. And so rather than this being about rabble-rousers screwing up a natural system; this is about two powers fighting as equals. This isn’t against the laws of Supply & Demand; but just another demonstration of it. By limiting the Supply of workers, unions can better their position. That just makes sense.
And so how is this not a position that libertarian-types should hold dear? How is the freedom of gathering together one’s assets considered anti-freedom? And why is it that Big Business is allowed to do whatever the hell they want, while us “little guys” have to stay little? That’s not freedom. That’s bullshit. Again, they’re giving special rights to certain individuals over the rights of other individuals. How is that liberty?
Of the People, For the People
And finally, there is the issue of government itself. I don’t support the idea that government should get to intrude into my life and tell me how to live, outside of ensuring Life, Liberty, and Happiness to the other citizens. I shouldn’t be allowed to disturb the peace with loud music or murder people; but beyond that, the government shouldn’t tell me how to live. And as far as I can see, they don’t. Libertarian-types always go on and on about intrusive Big Brother government, but I’m just not seeing it. And if anything, it’s the Republicans who are more responsible for the Big Brother stuff. They’re the Law & Order party who wants to tap all our phones and watch over our internets. Not us. I’m not saying that no Democrat supports such things, but this clearly isn’t a liberal push.
And beyond that, I see government as a good thing. I’d rather we not have one, I suppose, but I can’t imagine how we could possibly get away with not having one. Because people will pollute things that aren’t theirs, and businesses will screw with individuals and make them work under bad conditions. To me, that’s what government is all about: Protecting people’s rights against other people’s intrusiveness. We’re all supposed to be equal here, and so some people shouldn’t be given rights that other people don’t have. And that’s one important function of government: Giving us all equal rights. And to me, that’s what liberty is all about.
And when you think about it, what is government but just a collection of individuals? Individuals doing collectively what they could not do for themselves. Just like a corporation or union. Of the people, for the people. That’s government.
And so our regulations are mostly designed to protect individuals against more powerful players. And so as far as the government protects individual rights against that of Big Business and other nefarious players, I see government as being a libertarian issue too. Because it’s largely to ensure personal liberties against the actions of more powerful individuals. Sure, libertarians like to pretend that people should get to do whatever the hell they want to. But that’s just stupid and could never be defended on a realistic basis.
And hell, even the SEC type stuff is totally necessary. Not as government intrusiveness against the free market system, but to protect the free market system. And I say that as a CPA who actually knows this stuff. I would never consider any of my clients to be crooked or dishonest, but I can tell you as a fact that each and every one of them would do many crooked and dishonest things if they could get away with it (not that I’d ever use those words to describe it to them). And oftentimes, the only thing keeping the numbers legit is to cite the law and to tell them that they’d get in trouble for doing these things. Again, these aren’t fundamentally dishonest people, but they want their financial statements showing huge profits and their tax returns showing huge losses. That’s just a natural inclination for people to have, and so we need something to stop it.
And without SEC and accounting regulations, you’d be a damn fool for ever considering investing in the markets. Any markets. No matter what company it was, or even how familiar you were with that company. You’d be a fool for investing in your own mother’s business, were it not for these regulations. And so the market system would be incredibly inefficient, if not completely dysfunctional, were it not for the regulations. Because it’s just too easy to screw with this shit. No matter how savvy or thorough you are, you can never ascertain that the numbers are truthful, without SEC and other regulations.
And beyond that, even honest people can have differences of opinion. And so it’s important that everyone’s using the same rules, including footnotes stating what the rules are, so you can make the difference of a good company and a bad one. And sure, we have our Enrons. But without these regulations, you’d have to assume that every company was far worse than Enron. Because even with the rules, there are differences of opinions; and without them, it would be impossible to understand a financial statement.
And that’s why the SEC was created. Not because some government bureaucrat wanted to screw with freedom; but because some individuals were ruining the system for other individuals. It was a natural outcome after the stock market manipulations that led to the Great Depression. And even now, those fancy IPO’s that were all the rage during the internet boom of the 90’s were regulated by laws written in the early 30’s. And these laws were completely necessary. Necessary to preserve the market system and allow it to function properly. Because without them, individuals certainly will be crooked about what they’re offering and the Risk Factor of any stock would be far too much. And in such context, a libertarian should only support such a law.
And it goes on and on. Overall, most government rules are designed to protect individuals against bad people. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Laws don’t design themselves out of nothing. In most all cases, laws are reactive, and were created for specific issues. And while we might no longer remember why these laws were created, there most certainly were reasons for them. And most all of these laws were to protect individuals, because they’re the ones who need protecting the most.
So to me, it is the liberals who are the true libertarians. Not some batty cabin-dweller who thinks he has a right to invent his own laws and take any freedoms he wants (and thus, denying others their freedoms). And certainly not the two-faced Republican libertarians who insist that they deserve the title because they once said that Bush’s breath didn’t smell like roses; and who insist that they don’t need to defend their party. If this is just about silly labels, I guess we can let them have it. But if we are talking about the true defenders of liberty and freedom, we have to be talking about liberals.