Friday, October 19, 2012

LINOs: Libertarians In Name Only


Self-described libertarians often like the sound of it.  Who doesn't like liberty?  And the identification puts distance between them and pro-Establishment neo-cons.

During the last half of the Bush II era, many conservatives started identifying as libertarians, partly in response to Bush's pseudo-conservatism and partly because of the Left's false (but effective) identification of Bush's Big Government policies with essential conservatism.

So many self-described libertarians who do so because they realize (at least superficially) that the Democrats are cronyist spendthrifts, like the idea of the government letting you do anything you want with regards to sex and drugs, and/or think that being Republican means exalting money and wealth -- fold under any realy test of getting the government out of their lives.

Cut what?!  How will anyone have healthcare without national healthcare?  No Federal Reserve?  Are you nuts?  No mandatory unionism?  How else are we going to have guaranteed jobs no matter how shitty a job we do?   Which benefit?  Hey! I like that free(?)bie!  I want government to stay out of my business but I want them to take care of me as much as possible!

Between 2003 and 2008 I used to see a quote (usually attributed to Ben Franklin) make the rounds frequently:

"People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both."
Liberals only found this quote compelling when there was an Evil Republican  in highest office offering security  for freedom in the sense of the Patriot Act.  But Progressivism's replacement of malleable civil rights (in which Big Government interprets your rights in what it thinks are in your best interests) for inalienable natural rights over the last century is something that should be viewed with as much suspicion.  In the early 20th century Progressives had a lot of good things to say about the fascist and communist experiments in Europe before and after they went noticeably awry.  Progressivism is ultimately a progressive trade of freedom for increased security, with the goal of us all living comfortable utopian lives with an elite group of policy experts maintaining this utopia with rules.

Libertarianism (and to a high degree, fiscal conservatism) is ostensibly about the very opposite of this.  People make their own security through freedom of contract, with government (at the lowest level possible) only helping to enforce these contracts with some minimal restrictions from statutory law.  People can voluntarily make their own bad (or good) policies instead of government forcing bad policy on everyone.

Many LINOs like to talk about liberty because it makes them feel like mavericks that aren't stooges for some establishment, when they quail at they thought of central federal government not having divine power to "giveth and taketh away." What they usually mean is that they want a federal government to have the power to protect them from the restrictions of local social mores (involving sex or drugs or infanticide, etc.) while promising to take care of them "cradle to grave."  Freedom, baby, yeah.  That's freedom.  Dream on, happy Eloi, and fear not the Morlocks.  Free love, free abortions (much cheaper than incarcerating those future criminals), free condoms.   (They'll have to teach your kids about all this in the name of libertinism, er, responsibility.)

Most liberals tend to think that the only spending we can afford to cut is defense.  (Without the federal government doing most of the collecting and providing, how would the states manage???) The answer instead is to progressively control any goods that change hands so that everyone is taken care of.  This power grab must continue until the federal government guarantees that no one goes unsupported.  If controlling more and more of the economy until all businesses effectively become subsidiaries of the Great Federal Charity Corporation (that takes care of us, its employees/beneficiaries) is what it takes to do this, then so be it.  Even if it is setting the stage for a mob demand for fascism (think Occupy Wall Street times 100).

True libertarians often disagree on defense spending, but they tend to think that the Ryan Plan is not nearly as austere as it needs to be, while liberals cry foul over less than 1% of spending cuts.  True libertarians know that to make the federal government mind its own business, you need to do less business with the federal government.  Pseudo-libertarians, on the other hand, are easily swayed by "fair share" rhetoric to empower the IRS to know the changing values of all your significant assets.  After all, most of them don't save enough capital to employ a single person or to fund a risky business venture for years without it making an immediate profit.  Why not give up a significant liberty (for everyone) that isn't doing me any immediate good?  It doesn't affect me.  (JFK would disagree--his thoughts on a "rising tide"--oh never mind, all you need to know is that he was a nice guy who got shot.)

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