A female perspective on the libertarian movement

Eureka! We can see today (thanks to a tip from Brandon Middleton) why libertarianism has not caught on. We are self-absorbed asses who care more about ourselves than the public good. Or, at least, that is what John Bice of MSU would have one believe. Although he comes to some rather “out there” conclusions, perhaps Mr. Bice’s article can be a tool for us selfish libertarians. His misinformed opinion of us is likely representative of unhappy voters in the two major camps. I think it is time to start spreading some truth.

Bice: “For example, the Libertarian Party opposes ‘any government attempts to regulate private discrimination’ in employment, housing, and privately owned businesses. The right to trade includes the right not to trade – for any reasons whatsoever. Translation: Personal liberty includes the right to create “whites only” establishments, the right to deny jobs, mortgages, apartments or services of any kind to any minority group or person.”

Me: He has us on the first point, but screws up the translation. Any business, regardless of political affiliation, which discriminates against a group based on ethnicity, is simply looking for a business loss to offset his tax liability. If you want to turn a profit, you provide a product that is desired. When I conjure the image of a bigot, I view a person without spending power-knowledge or dollars. A true businessman is concerned about two colors- black and red.

And speaking of taxation, Mr. Bice gives this example:

“David Holcberg, from the Ayn Rand Institute, demonstrated libertarian hatred of taxes in a column on tsunami aid, “The United States government should not give any money to help the tsunami victims. Every dollar the government hands out as foreign aid has to be extorted from an American taxpayer first. Pacifists are undoubtedly horrified that portions of their taxes fund military spending. Does this lack of unanimous approval mean we shouldn’t have a military? One libertarian solution to this inconsistency requires a heavily armed citizenry to provide all national defense needs, no taxes required.”

Goodie! Taxes and guns- one stone. I was a single mom for a while. I know first hand what people do not pay in, and then get out. EIC, baby. Hardly fair to the people who work their asses off and pay and pay and pay. As a single mom (many years ago), I would get every dime I paid in, plus some because I had kids. But I married someone with greater earning potential than I, so now; our tax rate is higher than Cheney’s. As for the citizen militia, libertarians have studied history-we know what it takes to keep a monarchy government- in check. It takes a people with the means to revolt. Neither Bice nor I could write our drivel without the American Revolution. (I think that one of us needs to revisit the history books. David McCullough’s 1776 is a good starting point.)

Bice: Libertarians believe “all drugs should be legalized.”

Me: Decriminalized. People are free to learn from their mistakes without some hyped up morality charge on their records.

Bice: People don’t exist in isolation; individual actions impact others in innumerable ways. For example, cheaply constructed homes are often destroyed during hurricanes, generating dangerous flying debris that threatens the lives and property of responsible homeowners. Furthermore, studies have shown that adequate building codes can prevent billions of dollars in hurricane damage.

Me: Years of regulation did not help NOLA. In fact, NOLA is flapping like a hooked fish on the floor of the boat, because of regulation.

Bice: Jefferson’s advocacy of universal and free public education, supported through taxation, demonstrated that he didn’t believe defending personal liberty required the elimination of taxes or government services. Libertarians, however, see the Jeffersonian legacy of free public education as just another government program to be eradicated.

Me: Parents want to choose where we spend our tax dollars. Whether we choose to spend in a different district, on home schooling, or private instruction, we should be the decision makers.

Bice: Libertarian freedom is a harsh mistress.

Me: Harsh mistress? Demanding is probably a better description. Maybe the best damn experience he will ever have. He should consider leaving that saggy, wrinkled ideology that he has been married to for so long. If not on moral principal, for his children.

30 Comments
  1. Awesomely put. To be fair though, I would like to see the public education system at least completely wiped out. It has turned out nothing but morons for the majority (NCLB comes to mind here), with a few shinging examples of intelligence and the ability to think for oneself and not just toe the party line.

  2. Well, at least we are getting some attention… (I was first drawn to the LP by bad press, and then found out for myself what it really stood for)

  3. My take: libertarianism is what happens when you accept that life is not fair, and not everybody is a nice guy. You can both benefit and be harmed by that fact, depending on what you make of it.

  4. The elephant in the room for statists like Bice is the 8 trillion dollar debt. Libertarians need only refer to it when advocating reduction/elimination of gov’t. The harshest mistress will be the toll it takes on future generations. Let the I-Pods ring.

  5. I think Bice forgets that segregation was LEGISLATED as an official policy of government. No ones beliefs, good or bad can be regulated by law, but the system of discrimination in Mississippi and other states was actually an institution of law.

    Today discrimination still exists, althought to a much lesser degree. Other tools are used to discriminate in housing and business, like credit reports, whether your smoke or not, whether you own a pet how people are in your family, all of these sanctioned by law.

    Curious report on a Jackson TV Station today refering to unliscnced contractors who, oh by the way, charge 10 to 20 thousand dollars LESS than “legal” contractors. It was of coarse a negative report.

    Frank

  6. There seems to be alot of misconceptions about libertarianism. That’s why I think it’s important to spend as much time outside of our comfort zone (blogs like this) and hang around places where we can possibly make a difference…

    Here’s the thread I started at the Maher forums. It’s got 134 responses so far. Help keep this on top of the discussion list by adding your thoughts.
    http://boards.billmaher.com/showthread.php?t=42289

  7. If you really want to go outside the comfort zone, Mike Huben’s Critiques of Libertarianism is a good resource. His points are less of a caricature than Mr. Bice’s (which read like Republican campaign talking points) and it’s crucial to develop good answers to them.

    Yours truly,
    Nick

    …opposition researcher…

  8. Fortunately, Julian Sanchez from Reason magazine already took a crack at a rebuttal of Mike Huben’s critiques.

    http://www.juliansanchez.com/rebut.html

    While much can be learned from both the critiques and Julian’s rebuttal, I think the GENERAL public’s problems with libertarianism can be answered by the average libertarian without having to delve knee deep into the detailed analysis of papers such as these. Sure, if you have the time, by all means go through them. It could only be beneficial.

    But if you read the thread on the Maher forum I posted to, you’ll see the people’s qualms with libertarianism are alot simpler than that of Mike Huben’s.

  9. A sort of “unschooling” worked very well for some of our country’s most respected historical figures. Again, that is the choice of the parent.

  10. For a republic, an educated electorate is essential. I worry that a lot of poor people would fail to gain an education in the absence of state supported public education. (Many still fail to gain an education anyway, but that is another issue) It will be impossible to convince the electorate that libertarianism is in their rational self interest if they have never been taught to be rational. The ignorant mobs we see on televison around the world show what can happen when people who have never been trained to think for themselves are led by evil men. We need liberal democracy, not mob rule.

  11. We need a truly educated republic, not 300 million people trained to follow the state in whatever misguided endeavors it undertakes.

    Unfortunately, state sponsored education simply doesn’t work, the way it’s been implemented here in the last 50 years. You can see the results of this in any newspaper almost any day.

    It’s time we get back to solutions that DO work.

  12. Actually this “unschooling” may be the most libertarian option available. A child recognizing self-ownership. And, you must consider that Franklin, Washington and many other thinkers in history had little or no formal education.

  13. via http://www.thebrokenwindow.blogspot.com,

    http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/01/27/gutierrez.unschooing/index.html

    Nailah’s day starts about 11 a.m., her typical wake-up time. She studies Chinese, reading, writing, piano and martial arts. But there’s no set schedule. She works on what she wants, when she wants. She’ll even watch some TV — science documentaries are a favorite — until her day comes to an end about 2 a.m. Seems like education to me.

  14. I saw this interview with Charles Murray a while back. He was on Booktv…

    In Depth: Charles Murray (need realplayer)
    http://209.144.51.202/indepth/index.asp?segid=5375&schedID=331

    He covers alot in this 3 hr. interview, but he does talk about our educational system as well. I can’t remember everything that he said, but I do recall him talking about how vocational schools, and other forms of education could be beneficial for a certain portion of students…and that we overly stress the traditional “college directly after high school model”. I don’t have Realplayer here at work, but I’ll scan through it when I get home to get the exact spot he discusses this.

  15. I was misquoted.

    I said only: “The United States government should not give any money to help the tsunami victims. Every dollar the government hands out as foreign aid has to be extorted from an American taxpayer first.”

    The rest of the quote (starting with “Pacifists”) is NOT from me.

  16. You know, I find it infinitely amazing that everyone whom counters the L(l)ibertarian viewpoint regarding social engineering “automatically” seems to assume that we therefore do not encourage charity or healthcare or the like.

    At the end of the day, I think the statement “Private parties do it better” is rather important here. A majority of what I read of Mr. Bice’s comments could very readily be countered — very effectively — with the following thoughts:

    1) Private charities generally (no facts to back this from me) do far better in getting dollars donated to the needy.

    2) Anti-imperialism is not isolationism. We are the sole nation with military bases on foreign soil. We are the only nation in the world remaining for whom the statement “The Sun Never Sets” may apply. If government pulls back, multinational corporations will still interact.

    3) Even the Libertarian party is not an “absolutist” organization. It only works so well as personal responsibility is a reality.

  17. To counter your counterpoints:

    * In areas where prejudice is popular, companies which do not practice it will lose business to those which do.

    * After 1775 militia proved almost completely ineffective in every war it was used in- fleeing at the first clash of arms. A well-trained, well-disciplined and well-equipped standing force is necessary to win battles and wars.

    * Prior to public education only the wealthiest could afford formal education. Poor people were lucky to get a few months of paid school- just barely enough to reach a level which today would be called “functionally illiterate.” Church run Sunday schools indoctrinated without educating.

    * The voting public, in general, is not ready for universal drug legalization, abolition of entitlements and public education, or disbanding of the armed forces. We have to appeal to the voters if we are to preserve freedom. Ignoring them, “educating” them, and calling them stupid for not agreeing with us will keep the LP ineffective.

  18. In areas where prejudice is popular, companies which do not practice it will lose business to those which do.

    Probably not, but they will gain the business of those previously discriminated against, and that of their families, friends and neighbors.

    Companies are in business to make money. If refusing to provide goods and services to would-be customers of a different skin tone, religion or sexual orientation is popular in a given area, the popularity indicates a significant number of people are discriminated against. Transacting with those people would increase one’s customer base.

    Having been without the goods or service for quite some time, the new buyers demand would likely generate more than enough revenue that that lost by the bigots your silly concept insists would go elsewhere due to the popularity of discrimination.

  19. You would do well to recall that the bus companies in the segregated South didn’t refuse service to Blacks. On the contrary, they were dealt a huge blow by the Black boycott.

    Bigotry was popular then and there; discriminatory refusal of service was not.

  20. After 1775 militia proved almost completely ineffective in every war it was used in- fleeing at the first clash of arms. A well-trained, well-disciplined and well-equipped standing force is necessary to win battles and wars.

    You must think it odd that the Continental Army, victorious against the greatest military force on earth, lacked all of those requirements.

  21. Prior to public education only the wealthiest could afford formal education.

    You clearly favor formality in education over quality. Does it really matter that one attends a certain school, is taught via a particular system of learning, or is the end result of a quality education more important that the way it was administered?

    So brilliant was the self-educated Frederick Douglas that most who heard him speak were certain he had never been a slave. Formal education is over rated. Other forms of education, despite their superiority, are dismissed out of hand.

  22. The voting public, in general, is not ready for universal drug legalization, abolition of entitlements and public education, or disbanding of the armed forces.

    Disbanding the armed forces is not a platform issue. Drug legalization couldn’t possibly do half the harm prohibition has and the majority of people would agree were they shown the evidence. The same holds true for the parasitic nature of entitlements and the colossal failure of public education.

    The excuse that people aren’t ready for this or that gives no credence to the banditry that takes the property of some and gifts it to others. It is just another thinly veiled attempt to justify the criminal actions of the State.

  23. If the number of people who will boycott a business for serving unpopular minorities is greater than the total of those minorities, serving them is a bad business decision- even more so if the bigoted majority employs violence and terror.

    The Continental Army of mid-1776, which was predominantly militia, was routed out of New York in a series of battles which nearly destroyed it. The major victories of the war, with two exceptions, were won entirely by disciplined, regular soldiers. (The exceptions are Bennington, where a mass militia assembly vastly outnumbered Burgoyne’s cavalry and wiped it out, and Guildford Court House, where Daniel Morgan used his militia’s headlong flight to lure a British force to its destruction… by Continental regulars.)

    Finally, if you are going to push for political changes which the people do not want and will not support, you’re doomed to perpetual failure. That’s not excusing the state- that’s REALITY.

  24. When I was in high school, I was a democrat. then I learned Democrats are socialists and became a Republican. Then in college I discovered that conservatism as we know it has also been hijacked, by fascists (Mussolini called fascism “corporatism”). Then I finally grew up and became a libertarian.

    There is a name for libertarians who understand the definition of a Limited Republic and want to make it so; they are called Constitutionalists.

    There is yet another name for libertarians who believe in the Constitution to the point that they are willing to defend it against all enemies, *foreign and domestic* – they are called the Militia.

    I liked what was posted about libertarianism being a “harsh mistress” Amen! “I prefer liberty with danger to peace with slavery” (Jean-Jacques Rousseau) …I wouldn’t have it any other way!

    Sic Semper Tyrannis!