Libertarians are usually on the defensive because their principles seem so extreme and some of their views so radical. This is true whether the opponent or critic of libertarianism is a liberal, a conservative, a Democrat, a Republican, a centrist, a populist, a socialist, a moderate, or a progressive. All are united in their attacks on libertarians in many areas.
But it is these groups who ought to be on the defensive. They all believe that it is appropriate for government at some level
(1) to arrest, fine, imprison, or otherwise punish people for engaging in entirely private, peaceful, voluntary, and consensual actions that do not aggress against the person or property of others,
(2) to fund education, research, cultural, and construction projects,
(3) to regulate, oversee, and sometimes prohibit commercial activity between willing buyers and willing sellers, and
(4) to take people’s resources against their will, by force if necessary, and transfer or redistribute them to other citizens or foreigners as the government sees fit.
Libertarianism is a philosophy of liberty, property, and peace. As I have written elsewhere about libertarianism: King James, His Bible,... Best Price: $14.39 Buy New $19.95 (as of 10:15 EDT - Details)
Libertarianism is the philosophy which says that people should be free from individual, societal, or government interference to live their lives any way they desire, pursue their own happiness, accumulate as much wealth as they can, assess their own risk, make their own choices, engage in commerce with anyone who is willing to reciprocate, participate in any economic activity for their profit, and spend the fruits of their labor as they see fit as long as their actions are peaceful, their associations are voluntary, their interactions are consensual, and they don’t violate the personal or property rights of others.
Libertarianism respects personal privacy, financial privacy, free thought, individual responsibility, freedom of conscience, free exchange, free markets, and private property.
Libertarianism celebrates individual liberty, personal freedom, peaceful activity, voluntary interaction, laissez faire, free enterprise, free assembly, free association, free speech, and free expression.
The creed of libertarianism is the non-aggression axiom: everyone should be free from aggression against his person and property as long as he respects the person and property of others. As long as people don’t infringe upon the rights of others by committing, or threatening to commit, acts of fraud, theft, aggression, or violence against their person or property, the government should just leave them alone. But because the government is the greatest violator of personal and property rights, libertarians oppose and seek to limit, by peaceful means, the intervention, regulation, and control of the government.
Instead of being on the defensive and making excuses for or backing away from libertarian principles (like the recent Libertarian Party presidential ticket), libertarians should boldly say: Of course I support this and that! Of course, I oppose thus and so! Of course, I’m a libertarian.
Of course, I support medical marijuana! It is not the business of government to decide what medical treatments are appropriate. The government should not have anything to do with the practice of medicine.
Of course, I oppose gun-control laws! If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. Criminals who want to commit armed robbery or murder are not deterred by gun-control laws. There should be a free market in guns just like any other product.
Of course, I oppose public education! It is not the job of the government to educate anyone’s children or force anyone to pay for the education of anyone else’s children. All schools, vouchers, grants, and loans should be private.
Of course, I support the legalization of all drugs! Vices are not crimes. Every crime needs a tangible victim with measurable damages. It is not the job of the government to prohibit or control what a man wants to smoke, snort, swallow, inject or otherwise ingest into his body.
Of course, I oppose Medicare and Medicaid! It is not the job of the government to provide or pay for health care or health insurance. And it is immoral to force some Americans to pay for the health care of other Americans.
Of course, I oppose all foreign aid! No country should receive foreign aid for any reason. What the government gives in foreign aid must first be taken from Americans. No American is ever asked if he wants a portion of his taxes to go to some particular country. If individual Americans want a particular country to be supported, then they should write a check. War, Christianity, and... Best Price: $4.95 Buy New $9.95 (as of 09:55 EDT - Details)
Of course, I support all tax deductions and credits! Reducing tax deductions and credits increases government revenue just like raising tax rates. It is always better when Americans are allowed to keep more money in their pockets and out of the hands of Uncle Sam.
Of course, I oppose refundable tax credits like the Earned Income Credit! Refundable tax credits are a form of welfare. No one is entitled to receive a tax refund of money that someone else paid in.
Of course, I oppose the U.S. military providing disaster relief! It is the sole purpose of the military to defend the country. It is never the purpose of the military to provide disaster relief, even in the United States.
Of course, I support the right of people to sell their organs! If there is anything that a man owns free and clear it is his own body. Everyone has the natural right to sell his organs to the highest bidder while he is alive or after he is dead.
Of course, I oppose food stamps! It is not the job of government to feed anyone. All food aid should be undertaken by private organizations.
Of course, I oppose all minimum wage laws! It is not the job of the government to set a minimum price for labor any more than it is the job of the government to set a minimum price for bananas.
Of course, I support free trade! Government-managed trade is nothing but Soviet-style central planning. It is not the job of the government to “protect” industries at the expense of American consumers or calculate the “trade deficit.” Individuals and businesses have the natural right to export goods to or import goods from any country they choose.
Of course, I oppose government unemployment compensation! It is not the job of the government to pay people to not work. Unemployment insurance should be provided by the private sector just like auto, life, and fire insurance.
Of course, I oppose all anti-discrimination laws! These laws are an attack on private property, freedom of association, freedom of contract, and freedom of thought. In a free society, any individual, business, employer, or organization would have the right to discriminate against anyone for any reason.
Of course, I support ticket scalping! Ticket scalpers perform a valuable service for event hosts and patrons. What could possibly be wrong with an exchange of tickets for cash between a willing buyer and a willing seller, as long as their activity does not violate the property rights of the owner of the ground where they make their exchange?
Of course, I oppose welfare payments! It is immoral to take money from those who work and give it to those who don’t—even when the government does it. All charity should be private and voluntary.
Of course, I oppose occupational licensing! Why should anyone have to get permission from the government to open a business, engage in commerce, work in certain occupations, have a particular vocation, or provide a service to willing customers? Why does anyone need permission from the government to work? All occupational certification could and should be done by the private sector.
Of course, I support these things! Of course, I oppose these things! Of course, I’m a libertarian! “Libertarians,” as economist Robert Higgs has said, “should never concede the moral high ground to those who insist on coercively interfering with freedom.”