Freedom Quiz: How Libertarian Are You?

OC RegisterThe Orange County Register has a great topical libertarian quiz, saying they “developed these questions to highlight aspects of ‘small l’ libertarianism, the freedom philosophy that animates our pages. We believe in limited government, respect for the individual, self-responsibility, free markets, free trade and property rights.” A sampling of the questions (via The Agitator):

4. You discover the handyman who has been doing odd jobs around the neighborhood, including some construction projects, does not have a state contractor’s license. Do you:

a) Call the state licensing board and demand that he be put out of business immediately?

b) Offer to study and take the written part of the exam for him so he doesn’t get into trouble?

c) Rejoice that someone is finding a way around the state’s occupational licensing laws, which function mainly to reduce competition and raise prices for consumers while offering little if any real protection for consumers?

If consumers believe they need an accreditation process for a profession, it could be accomplished privately, like an underwriter’s laboratory for products or the college accreditation panels.

Not surprisingly, I answered “C” to all the questions, making me “a flaming libertarian.” Heh, you’d think they’d choose their adjectives better in Cali.

Stephen VanDyke

I've published HoT along with about 300+ friends since 2002. We're all Americans who are snarky and love our country. I'm a libertarian that registered Republican because I like to win elections. That's pretty much it.

  1. It’s too bad they don’t allow people to actually get graded via HTML forms… I’d like to see the answer breakdown from the people taking the quiz…

  2. Yesterday I wrote the Orange County Register thanking them for the quiz and pointed them to Carl’s online quiz with half the questions but twice the answer choices. He has posted results.

    –from another “flaming libertarian”

  3. I take real exception to question #2. I think a fine would have sufficed and that Martha’s treatment was unduly harsh, but her crime wasn’t “greed” it was FRAUD. Believing that she committed a crime does not make one a commie. And as for #3, the small coffee shop owner’s actions are entirely libertarian, so long as he doesn’t try to use force. i.e. rallying support from locals who agree not to patronize the Starbucks. In #9, the person is potentially damaging YOUR property, or at least its value. Hence, the value of limited zoning restrictions and community-based rules. I voluntarily live in a subdivision that has rules. I could have chosen to live elsewhere. If I bought a home for a view and then my neighbor purposefully obsctructed the view, I think I would have legal grounds for a suit.

  4. for starters, there was no real libertarian answer to the war and immigration questions.

  5. 15. Our government seems to get in a lot of wars without a declaration of war by Congress, as the U.S.Constitution demands. You conclude that:

    suggested libertarian answer

    c) Congress needs to re-assert itself and insist that only it can declare war.

    Real answer: the US government has no moral right to exist, and thus has no moral right to engage in wars, regardless of what its crime commission declares.

  6. 20. A person I suspect is an illegal immigrant does my landscaping. Should I ”¦

    suggested libertarian answer

    c) Treat the individual as you would wish to be treated and support policies that would increase immigration quotas that are justified by market demand rather than arbitrary political decisions. Work to reduce the size of the welfare state, which is the real problem. Support border stations that would check for infectious disease and links to terror organizations. Support private programs that would encourage citizenship and assimilation?

    Real answer: The regime’s border has no validity whatsoever. Thus, the term “illegal immigrant” is meaningless. The only boundaries which have any validity whatsoever are individual property lines. If the person doing my landscaping is on my property by my invitation, he is there legally. If he is told to leave and doesn’t, he’s trespassing. The regime does not own my property and should have no say at all.

  7. Another question where a libertarian answer is missing:

    14. The automobile is:

    suggested libertarian answer

    c) A wonderful product of a free market, a reflection of individualism and freedom. Car and fuel taxes pay for more than their share of expenses related to transportation. We need more roads, preferably toll roads, to ease congestion, not crowded (or underused!) and overpriced transit systems.

    Real answer: heavily subsidized by government highway projects, wars and corporate welfare on behalf of petroleum company interests, and by heavy regulation which makes private transit systems impossible to operate or unprofitable.

  8. Paulie — your first two answers are the *ANARCHIST* answer. Not the libertarian. “Government has no moral right to exist” my right nut, man. *s*

    If you wanna get into it with me further — email:

  9. Paulie ”” your first two answers are the *ANARCHIST* answer. Not the libertarian.

    paul) I’m both. Their quiz has no room for my viewpoint.

  10. I agree with paulie for the most part, but the “global warming” question was the real ball-buster. There simply wasn’t a “libertarian” answer to it, and “c” was the worst answer of all because it masqueraded both as “libertarian” and as an answer.

  11. Paulie — that’s fine, and dandy. The quiz is indeed flawed on a lot of levels.

    Just keep in mind that libertarianism and anarchism, while related, aren’t *quite* the same beastie, and we’ll do fine with each other. :)

  12. TLK – absolutely correct on that one too.

    Ian C – possibly veering off topic, but how is non-initition of coercion/force compatible with forcible monopoly government?

  13. paulie,

    You wrote – “Real answer: the US government has no moral right to exist, and thus has no moral right to engage in wars…”

    That’s quite a first principle. How can you honestly answer any question about the US government other than by saying it has no right to exist?

    And to say you’re both anarchist and libertarian is either dishonest, or uses a definition of libertarian with which I’m not familiar.

  14. DW,

    Sorry you’re unamiliar with the definition.

    The definition is non-initiation of force and fraud.

    Any monopoly government is by definition an initiation of force. Even if it does not exist on stolen tax money (although of course it does), it has to put any agency provideing the same services it does out of existence by force – an initiation of force – or it ceases to be a government as the term is defined, and becomes just another company/collective.

    As for your question, I don’t understand it. What other answer am I supposed to provide regarding an illegitimate enterprise?

    What other nswer can I provide about the mafia, for example?

  15. The open borders is what gives me the most pause, I have been thinking about that.

    If the 3 “Natural Rights” are Life Liberty and Property, wiht certain exceptions, I have the right to decide who, how and for what purpose anyone enters my property, this would imply that the citizens of the US enmasse have the same “natural right of property”

    So you can have Open borders or the Natural right of Property, but not both.

    Do open border Libertarian advocates also support the right of anyone homeless to enter their homes without permission and sleep in maybe a spare bedroom?

  16. Paulie

    Do you believe it is appropriate to initiate a violent revolution to establish the society you envision?

  17. Morally, it would be responsive force, not initiation of force, so it would be jutifiable.

    Practically, it would be very unlikely that a violent revolution would make us more free (more likely less free) until enough people are persuaded that we are right; at which point a violent revolution would not be necessary.

    It’s more likely that once enough people disobey the regime that it loses a critical mass of credibility that it fades away. Remember the failed counter-coup that led to the dissolution of the USSR? The troops stopped taking orders from their commanders.

  18. DK,

    the problem with your argument is the notion that there is some kind of group property right to a “United states”.

    This does not follow from individual property rights.

    However, what does follow from this supposed group property right, if it were true, is that the group can excercise all the rights of property owners.

    As a property owner, you can decide whether or not to allow drugs, guns, etc, on your property. Do you think the people of the US as a whole can legitimately make such determintions for everyone in the country?

    You can decide to charge the people living there rent. Can the US regime legitimately charge all of us rent?

  19. I was a trusting believer until my handyman found where I kept my check book and forged $22,000 in checks. I’ve learned a lesson in self-defense at home.
    Maybe some else can learn from my lesson without having to go through that themselves. That might be the libertarian slant.

  20. Paulie

    So if I am reading you correctly, pacifism is the answer. You propose anarchists “persuade” nonbelievers to accept the absence of order. How much absence of order is acceptable? You would accept violence if you thought enough people would back it to the point of being successful, correct?

    If there is a complete absence of government, does anything fill the vacuum or will we be living in utopia where we can depend on the goodness and kindness of our fellow man allow us to coexist?

    I believe you have read too many novels and books written by utopian free love, if it feels good, flower power 1960’s hippies or are you one of them that still believes in that lost cause? Remember, most of them now have the power and are not true to their youthful ideals, they are the ones running the corrupt government and businesses setting up the ultimate collapse of this country which I predict will occur during my children’s life time.

  21. Stephen Van Dyke

    I took the exam and did really well. Some of the choices are loaded including some “C” is the correct libertarian answer. It is not as black and white as the designer of the quiz would have us believe.

    Sorry about the spelling of your last name but that is how it was spelled when you were born.

  22. Stephen Van Dyke

    I refuse to allow the government and big business decide how they will now spell my name. They are all trying to push the last name as one word. I fight it out with them all the time. I may be more libertarian than you by standing my ground on the spelling instead of just letting it happen.

  23. Julian,

    what were your non-C answers and why? Which questions do you feel did not include your answer as one of the options?

  24. Julian Van Dyke: I pick my battles, and it’s not that important to me to have the space my last name (I’ll quickly correct an uncapitalized D though). Besides, it’s not like other immigrants had it any better.

    I can only imagine the bull-headed Russian demanding they spell his name as Машенька.

  25. paulie: I was curious if anyone would notice that… a cut and paste from some Russian site, but I forgot to masculinize it. Sad that I got all my Russian language quirks knowledge from reading Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.

  26. Paulie — “I certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals.” Guess what, Paulie? That works both ways. Can’t have your cake and eat it too. How do you work that? “From each, what he consumes.” This is the mandate a minimal state would operate under.

    The problem that nigh-unto all anarchists fail to realize in their pipe-dreams is that for any anarchy to work requires amongst other things an agrarian society with specific culturally unifying ideologies. (Read: Fundamentalism.)

    Fundamentalism is the greatest bane to liberty. A viable anarchy-state, being fundamentalist in nature, is the enemy of freedom.

    Doubt me? Look at Somalia.

  27. I look at Somalia, and sure enough, Islamic extremists have recently seized Mogadishu and proclaimed terrorist law, er Sharia law.

  28. Ian,

    Sorry, Mogadishu isn’t all of Somalia, just one city. But thanks for playing.


    I was just thinking how to masculinize “Mashenka”.


    Perhaps that would be prior to the opetion….

  29. Ian, further: why would the example of Somalia show that anarchism must always have an agrarian society or fundamentalism? Seems to be rather far-fetched extrapolation. Does communism require a large land mass and heavy drinking?

    As for your “from each…” I don’t quite understand it, but it sounds vaguely Marxist. Are we tlking about the “social contract”?

    Care to sign?

  30. Paulie — Sharia law by definition isn’t anarchy.

    I’m talking about the tribal law/custom which holds in Somalia — under which being a lesbian equates to a death sentence, amongst other loverly little gems of freedom. THAT is what I meant by fundamentalist ideology holding sway. Sure, there’s no government — but there’s also no freedom to deviate from the norm. And that’s anarchy every time.

    As to my statement about From each, equal return for that which they consume — it’s actually antithetical to Marxist thought. A total reversal.

    Marxism: “To each what they need. From each, what they are able to produce.”

    Ianism (Nobody’s quote but mine thus far): “From each the cost of what they pay for.”

    If you want to call that a social contract, feel free. And if you’re one of those blithering idiots who thinks the social contract model is invalidated because it’s an unwritten contract, well — try looking a little further at it. Legal contracts /= Social.


  31. All the “social contract” states, in significant terms, can be summed up as follows:

    Societies, being aggregates of individuals, will always have some form of modus operandi. The sum total of individuals agree to operate under this modus operandi in return for the benefits of being part of the aggregate.

    Those whom wish to not be part of the aggregate must excuse themselves from the society. Those whom merely feel overly burdened or having too great an onus put upon them must first acknowledge that they are PART OF THE SOCIETY — and thus have certain obligations to at least put forth equal value to that which they consume from everybody else.

    This is the “no free lunch” principle, a former hallmark of free-thinking.

    So — the social contract: I am one individual in a collection of individuals. The way that collection operates, applies to me. Since I’m here for my benefit, it must benefit me. And I must at least not cost it more than I take.

    (ending next)

  32. (final)

    Paulie — I can explain further the necessity of any viable anarchy being an agrarian society in a forum that’s not quite so restricted; again, if you wish to take this further, e-mail me.

    You can also IM me if you wish: Yahoo: vizier_tae. Msn: I will be available through IM in 10 hours.

  33. “The voluntary support of laws, formed by persons of their own choice, distinguishes peculiarly the minds capable of self-government.

    The contrary spirit is anarchy, which of necessity produces despotism.”
    –Thomas Jefferson


    since you dont believe in anything the LP has to participate in to be a political party, why do you care what the fuck it does?

  34. I have to retract, partially, my own statements… I finally remembered where I got the line I was using.

    And, it’s: “TANSTAAFL” — R.A.H.
    (That is, “’t N.o S.uch T.hing A.s A F.ree L.unch” — Robert Ansun Heinlein.)

    He was a god amongst leches/peers.

  35. IanC, it may be possible to have anarchy in a technological polyglot society, but we have no record of such to date. Based upon recorded history to date, elimination of all government often leads to MORE initiation of force. On more fortunate occasions it has lead to a new government arising that is better than the previous one.

    Anarchists who condemn non-anarchist libertarians are being asses. They are doing the equivalent of the environmental extremists who say “don’t burn coal, oil or uranium” without providing a viable alternative.

    Realize this. There is NO system which eliminates the initiation of force. The question we should be asking as libertarians is which system MINIMIZES the initiation of force. It might well be some type of anarchy, but this remains to be demonstrated.

  36. Carl — I’ll try to put this succinctly:

    Under anarchistic regimes, it becomes impossible to regulate in any sufficient manner food production, and material distribution. By definition, no two hundred people are going to work together in such a limited role as specialization requires. Keep in mind that anarchism = zero centralization (Somalia isn’t really an anarchy, but that’s besides the point as it approximates one sufficiently)

    Without the organization permitted by the *existance* of centralized correspondance & managerial organization, you can’t have cities. There will be all sort of arguments against these statements, but they hold inevitably true — in a viable anarchy.

    Interpersonal independance requires that each man care solely for himself. At the *most* you will see the reversion of tribal government. (That is what has happened in Somalia.)

    This is a degradation of society, and is the inevitable result of any anarchy-state.

  37. IanC: I think what most anarcho-capitalists mean by anarchy is really competitive government. The Anglo Saxons had competing thanes to choose from for protection. The Romans had patrons. The ancient Hebrews had their extended families. Some early American colonies approximated anarchy.

    Such societies did have sufficient uniformity so as to know what the law is. Mob rule, impromptu juries, etc. worked in such a situation. Pulling off such a feat is far more challenging in a polyglot society. I know of no instance of success. (I will credit Lew Rockwell and company for including many hardcore Christian writers. A truly fundamentalist society needs less government because they have the Old Testament to fall back on for law. Whether ye consider this a libertarian solution is another story.)

    With a polyglot society, methinks some type of elections are needed to determine the default laws to use where there is no contract.

  38. Carl — then I do believe you an I are on the same page there. That just feels weird in a libertarian discussion forum.


  39. A few years ago I attended a great talk by Randy Barnett, author of “Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty,” on “Anarchy is not Chaos” (sponsoring student group since defunct). He suggested that anarchy was simply the absence of a single central government and proposed a system of competing governments. It sure was mind-expanding to think about it.

    But realistic, given the current society and political climate? I don’t think so. I would be happy with a return to constitutionally limited government within my lifetime.

    Many of these comments illustrate the tendency of libertarians to debate ideology over combining efforts to elect Libertarians.

    All aboard the freedom train!

  40. oh, man, i got to the bttom of the comments, and i have forgotten what we were talking about…..

    oh yeah, libertarian quiz. I mean, you want to argue about the questions on the quiz, yu must realize that orange county california is full of stuck up rich fuck limousine liberals who have no idea about personal responsibility, or hard work, or accountability. I personally dont give creedance to much of anything that comes out of the mouths of most californians. (go ahead, get offended, dont hurt me none)

    Having read this quiz, i fel that i have a better idea of what liberal extremists see libertarianism as, and i got little else from it.