Evolution of an Anarcho-Capitalist

My first recollection of being cognizant of politics is when I was eight or nine years old. At the time, Watergate was brewing, and I was aware of it. In August of 1974, I had to ask my mother, "Why did President Nixon resign?"

I don't recall the answer, certainly not like I do Mom's response to the blurted dinner-table query "What's an orgasm?" which was to choke on her pot roast and quickly change the subject.

My first recollection of being interested in politics was Election Night 1976. Forced to retire by a draconian curfew, I had to wait until Wednesday morning to hear the disappointing news that Jimmy Carter had edged Gerald Ford. I'm not sure why, at the tender age of 11, I considered myself a Republican. My parents were no influence in that area. I suppose I was already suspicious of the class warfare-waging, tax-and-spend Democrats.

I continued to follow the American political scene throughout my teens, seething at the opposition to Reagan's tax cut. One side was telling me (a future taxpayer) that they were entitled to 70% of a successful person's income, while the other side said they could get by with only 28%. Believing that taxes were necessary, I preferred Reagan's tax cut and was firmly in the GOP's camp. And so when I was finally permitted to vote, I cast ballots for Reagan and Bush (twice).

Concerned that government grew ever larger and more intrusive even when Republicans occupied the Oval Office, I was assured by GOP politicians and their spokesmen in the media that if only they could gain control of Congress, by God they could reduce the size and scope of the federal government.

That chance came in 1994, when a stunned nation learned that for the first time in some 40 years, the party of Lincoln would control both bodies of the legislative branch. They vowed to reduce federal spending, taxes, and regulation. Of course, none of this happened. GOP apologists next claimed that it wasn't enough to control Congress, what with Bill Clinton brandishing his veto pen. No, they would need a Republican in the White House to sign their "revolutionary" policies into law. Inexplicably, they nominated Bob Dole, thus ensuring another four years of Clinton and another four years of making excuses.

It was at that point that I came to the full realization that the Republicans, once in power, were just as wicked and corrupt as the Democrats. The two-party system that had been exalted my entire life was really a one-party looting band. So for most of Clinton's second term, the Impeachment Term, if you will, I didn't have much interest in what was happening in Washington. I suppose I was disenchanted and pessimistic about the prospects of having anyone in D.C. representing my values.

Then late one Sunday night I happened upon a talk radio show hosted by Harry Browne. At the time, I didn't know who he was; I was unaware that he had run for President in 1996. But the substance of his comments caught my attention. He was talking about the ineptitude of government, not from a partisan, party-politics viewpoint, but from the viewpoint of freedom versus both parties. When he started talking about the wisdom of eliminating the income tax and the Social Security tax, my ears really perked up. Here was someone saying what I was thinking! I'd never heard anyone talk that bluntly about the evils of government.

A couple months later, Browne announced that he would regretfully have to give up his radio show because he was going to run for president as the Libertarian Party standard-bearer. I had finally found a candidate who would speak up on behalf of men who yearn to be free. Yes, I was a Libertarian, which I confirmed by taking, and acing, the Advocates For Self-Government's World's Smallest Political Quiz.

Once again, I was drawn in to politics, though I knew Browne had no chance to win. Still, it would be invigorating to follow a campaign from a new perspective. While doing so, I attempted to expand my Libertarian horizons by seeking information from the Libertarian Party, Browne's campaign, and Browne's convincing book Why Government Doesn't Work.

Browne and the LP had a goal of receiving over one million votes, which seemed quite possible. He had received nearly a half-million votes in 1996 when his media exposure was far more limited (he was still virtually ignored by the major media). But when the election was perceived to be a toss-up between Bush and Gore, enough Libertarians, or at least enough people who wanted to vote for Browne, fell for the "lesser of two evils" deception: "If I vote for Gush, Bore might win. I can't have that." The result was that less than 400,000 people voted for my third-party candidate.

I decided that if so many voters with whom I was supposedly aligned philosophically could throw their votes away in fear of Gush topping Bore, that there was no advantage to me in being a "big L" Libertarian. But I was still a "small l" libertarian.

I was eager for more knowledge about individual liberty, limited government and free-market economics. I had been reading Reason Online for several months when I followed a link to mises.org. I had heard of Ludwig von Mises, but didn't know he was considered the preeminent 20th Century economist of the Austrian school, with which I was not familiar. I began reading the daily articles and other resources on the site. I eventually followed a link to LewRockwell.com, where I found numerous illuminating articles on the Attempted Coup 2000. I was amazed at the variety and depth of viewpoints on the election fiasco and many other topics.

After the Supreme Court installed Bush, and Gore finally left the stage, I continued to pursue my education in liberty. I learned about men like Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, Henry Hazlitt, F.A. Hayek, Frederic Bastiat and others, and I sought out their work. I learned of the folly of the central banking system, the burden borne by all free men as a result of onerous regulations enforced by overzealous bureaucrats, the loss of property ownership and jobs in the interest of saving the spotted owl or the suckerfish, and the indisputable superiority of the free market over the socialism of the government-run economy.

Just four years ago I voted for Bob Dole, and today I am reading Human Action and The Road to Serfdom and The Law. I have become such a partisan of liberty, my philosophy has evolved so dramatically and rapidly, that I now believe everyone would be better off in an anarcho-capitalist society where the free market of voluntary exchange obviates the need for a coercive state apparatus. Sure, millions of bureaucrats and various government functionaries would have to find real jobs, but those jobs would be plentiful in a truly free marketplace, and anyone who wanted to work would have ample opportunity.

If I can undergo such a metamorphosis, anyone can. One merely needs to have an open mind and be willing to question conventional wisdom. One may need to proactively seek information beyond that which is disseminated by the state-worshiping media. But the information is available, and the facts are compelling: an America with truly free markets, individual liberty, and severely emasculated (if not abolished) government will be the key to harmony at home and peace abroad.

August 3, 2001