Open letter to the Libertarians

I was going to post this as a comment in Miguel’s post, but I decided instead to make a post of my own.

Dear Libertarians,

I used to be one of you.  Really, I was.  That was my crazy college politics.  I didn’t go socialist, I went Libertarian.

As I got older and more learned, and I talked with Libertarians I realized I couldn’t be one of you anymore.

Sorry.

There are large parts of the Libertarian platform that I totally agree with.  There are some aspects of Libertarianism that, while it sounds great as a thought experiment, is totally impractical.  Then there are some parts that are amoral or even immoral ideological horseshit.

It is in those last two that I left Libertarianism.

I will concede all the Libertarian points on individual rights. Any regular readers of this blog should know my feelings on that.

I’m going to focus this post on the impractical and immoral aspects.

The first big issue I had with Libertarians  is the “holocaust question.”  It is the hypothetical, “if you knew about the holocaust in 1937, what would you have done about it.”  I get a lot of Libertarians who answer “that was not our problem, that was for the Germans and German Jews to sort out.”

That is pure evil.

I agree that we should not be in the business of nation building, but if we can’t protect targeted minorities from extermination, e.g., the Jews in Germany, the Copts in Egypt, the Yzidi in Iraq and Syria, we cannot call ourselves a moral nation in any way.  I cannot stand idly by and watch a minority be persecuted and say “that’s not my problem.”

We can have all sorts of discussions on how to address these humanitarian crises, but if you are of the side of “they didn’t attack us so we’re not going to intervene in a genocide” the conversation is over and your soul is garbage.

That immorality leads us to the next stage of Libertarianism, “the Laetrile question.”  For those of you who are unaware, laetrile was the trade name of a compound called amygdalin.  It was sold as a side effect free cure for breast cancer.  Thousands of women died using it rather than getting chemo.

I have talked to many Libertarians who address laetrile with the answer “if those women are so dumb that they would take a hoax drug, let them die.”

I understand the free market idea that if a product doesn’t work, it will get a bad reputation and people won’t buy it anymore.  That’s fine… when people are rational actors and the cost of people discovering it doesn’t work isn’t dying of a treatable condition.

I’ve had cancer.  When you get that diagnosis, it scares you.  Women who were faced with the suffering of chemo and mastectomies chose laetrile out of fear.  They were not rational actors, they were panic buyers and were taken advantage of.  It is the same reason I disagree with John Stossel on anti-profiteering laws.   After a hurricane, jacking up the price of water or other necessities to take advantage of panicky people is wrong.

The free market works well over the long term when people can compare and contrast prices and services and supply and demand can react to the market.  When there is a sudden upset in the market, like a natural disaster or something that causes a person to panic, the free market breaks down.

I apply this same principle to monopolies and trusts.  Without competition, there is no free market.

Regulations to stop unscrupulous people from taking advantage of the frightened and panicking, selling fake cancer drugs to terrified women or water for $100/gal after a hurricane, are worthwhile as they add stability to society.  I agree with Alexander Hamilton, America works best with a mostly free market, keeping the fraud, monopolies, and hucksters at bay.

If you are fine with letting the holocaust happen because it’s not our problem and you are fine with traveling medicine shows selling bottled morphine and piss as “Dr. McGillicutty’s universal cure-all” because the free market allows it, we’re done here.

If on the other hand, some of what I say makes sense, some regulations are good, some intervention in foreign affairs is a benefit to humanity, welcome to the world of Small Government Conservatism.

We really could use you in the Republican Party to push back against the GOP establishment that has forgotten our small government principles.

I promise you, you will do more good being a Republican pushing the party internally than being a Libertarian and being associated with the kooks who want nothing more than to smoke tax free pot while the world burns.

Think about it.

Signed

J. Kb

16 Replies to “Open letter to the Libertarians”

  1. Agree with everything you said. The other thing I would add is the Libertarian Party’s approach to national security. I.e. we only need a military to defend our borders, we should not be the “World’s Policeman.” That idea worked for us in the 19th century, not so much in the 20th and 21st centuries. There are people out there who want to kill us because of who and what we are. With modern weapons and long range delivery systems those weapons can be delivered in minutes or hours. Burying our collective heads in the sand will only get our behinds kicked.

    1. Also to consider is that as America has become the world’s dominant hegemon, to withdraw from that role would leave a void that is either going to be filled by the Russians or the Chinese. The Russians are no good and Chinese government is pure evil. Like it or not, we are stuck in this position as long as we stay together as a nation. Libertarians don’t consider this, and the ones that do shrug and say simply “I don’t care”.

  2. i’ve ofter called myself a conservative with libetarian leanings. I think I like the sound of Small Government Conservatism just a little better.

    I agree with you mostly, and have stated it like this: society is too freaking stupid to be allowed to play unsupervised.

  3. My disagreement with the Libertarians is more practical than philosophical. They simply don’t strike me as a political organization that wants to WIN. At the end of the day, if you don’t get the bigger number on election day, nothing you think or feel or want to accomplish really matters. Thus, if you’re not acting like you want to get the bigger of the two numbers, you’re not a political party: you’re doing political cosplay.
    The Democrats and Republicans are running political campaigns like they intend to get the big number and make the policy decisions. The Libertarians act like the entire purpose of the campaign is to get together with like minded people and take pride in how enlightened and intelligent everyone in the room is. I’m not ever gonna back a dilettante over someone who means business.

    (The out-of-the-closet contempt for Christian voters doesn’t help, either.)

  4. Libertarianism reminds me of the line that Atlas Shrugged is a book that seems awesome when you’re 16 and should be seen as totally stupid by age 26. I’m all for individual liberty, but I recognize the need to control rapacious businessmen and provide common services.

    1. Funny I read it around that age and it seemed to make a lot of sense to me… Then again there were no Earth shattering ideas presented to me in that novel either.

      Have you read it?

  5. As far as military shit goes, I’m relatively isolationist. Foreign adventurism is a no-go. If we go, it has to mean something. An impending genocide is one of those times.

    Anyways, full disclosure, I’m still registered LP, and I agree with most of the tenets of the party. I also feel that the LP can work with the Republicans and gain some traction and help the GOP get on track. I think Austin Petersen hit the nail on the head with his tactics. He also dropped support for open borders, that sort of thing.

    But yeah, while I lean LP, I do disagree with them on some key planks, most notably the border issue. Fences make good neighbors, in my opinion.

    1. America used to enjoy the safeguards which two oceans offered. Given the advent of technology that is no longer the case. Now I think the whole world as a buffer zone to keep bad actors off our shores.

  6. What do you think of relativism as a scientific principle? Clearly you do not favor it as a philosophical principle.

    If I were asked to boil libertarian ideology down to one word it would be relativism.

  7. While snake oil vendors are a problem, the “solution” we have in place today is not exactly a good thing. What we have is a bloated bureaucracy that takes many years to approve a drug, and often delays or even rejects drugs because they have not met an amazingly rigorous standard of proof.
    It is reasonable to demand solid evidence of safety. But is it acceptable to demand a proof of effectiveness, taking years and many deaths in the meantime, for approval?

  8. Libertarians aren’t seeking moral approval from armed robbers. You can hold whatever opinion you choose, but as soon as you point a gun at Americans to “draft” them into your war, or to pay “taxes” to support your war, then you belong in a prison with the Nazis. Who did the very same thing. Why didn’t the German Jews make their own guns and fight their own defensive war? As an educated, mechanically skilled, relatively well-off group numbering in the millions they were in a great position to fight. If they had simply disobeyed as a group nothing would have happened to them, just like when Americans disobeyed additional gun registration in Connecticut in 2014 and California in 2018 without consequence.

    Libertarians aren’t seeking moral approval from people who don’t understand economics and will starve people as a consequence. After a hurricane, jacking up the price of water or other necessities which have become more scarce or harder to deliver is the only reliable way to get those necessities to people. If the price is mandated not to increase, then stuff will be sold out and there will be none available. This is not an improvement. The free market is the best mechanism to react quickly to supply damage from natural disasters, and further ration what is available. You can hold whatever opinion you choose, but as soon as you point a gun at Americans to “mandate” them not to change prices, then you belong in a prison with the Nazis. Who did the very same thing.

    People who knowingly sell fake medicine belong in prison.

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    1. A little political catechism:

      Q-What is the measure of a political party?
      A- The elections it wins.
      Q- How does a political party win elections?
      A- By convincing people to vote for their candidate.
      Q- Does calling people Nazis because they disagree with you on policy issues convince them to vote your way?
      A- Nope.

  9. I disagree with you on the “$100 per gallon water after a hurricane” complaint.
    There are two ways for this to go:
    1 pass a law mandating that water be sold for prehurricane prices. Since it is a disaster area, few people are willing to truck water into the area. Water becomes scarce, so many people do without. Eventually, there is no water available at any price. It takes weeks for supplies to return to normal.
    2 allow the market to set the price of water. The price of water climbs. It eventually reaches a price that people from outside the disaster area find makes it worthwhile to risk trucking the water into the disaster area. Sure, prices are higher, but there is water available for those willing to pay for it. The people who have to pay for it are the people who didn’t bother top prepare, despite the fact that they were warned a week before that a storm was coming. Paying $100 a gallon for water is what happens when you fail to plan for what you know is coming.

  10. I have to disagree with you on some of what you posted. Some people with libertarian leanings may not agree with the Libertarian Party platform on certain issues. However, there is a distinction to be made between simple disagreement and wanting to use force of law to enact policies that infringe upon the freedom of choice that an individual has.

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