It’s not that we don’t need any government, laws or leaders, but we do need to be clear on what powers can safely be delegated for a common good and those that need to be left in the hands of either state, local authorities or individuals.
What attracts me to libertarian ideas are precisely the distinctions made between the powers and choices within each individual’s reach and the powers and choices better left to a shared authority. Knowing and exercising the power of your choices is very freeing and teaches us directly the consequences of our actions which encourages us to participate more consciously in the choices we make. As well, libertarians, more than any other political point of view, always consider the ramifications of the incentives that laws and regulations unknowingly create.
Arguments are sometimes made for more government intrusion in our decisions falsely claiming that our need for governing the realm of the common good, i.e., building roads, having a national postal system and national defense, justifies or proves that government intrusion in and of itself is an effective way of, fill in the blank, providing us with everything. Unfortunately these offers for common goods come to us from politicians competing for our votes. It would be okay if the Feds stick to the enumerated powers, such as the building of roads, regulating the postal service and national defense, but every generation takes on more and more regulation, much of which is simply a corrective of prior regulation that has become dysfunctional, or served some previous political cause that is now obsolete.
A system in which political leaders compete for career status in which they regulate their own good fortune, offers incentives to seek re-election rather than to legislate for the common good. If power, especially over others, often leads to corruption, as history rightly shows us, than isn’t it obvious that any protected class of people, whether it be the media, big business, or politicians are equally susceptible to some degree of corruption?
I see my life as an ongoing struggle between the discernment of what powers and choices are within my reach and what must be delegated to some other authority or rule of law. Certain aspects of our lives are clearly easier when we agree to a collective form of management. Rules of the road, operation of utilities, abiding by contracts for employment, marriage, and property, promote a common good while still respecting an individual’s need to fail and succeed through his own efforts.
Success and failure are important ways in which we learn to self-correct. Healthcare is an example of an aspect of our lives that benefits from personal knowledge and skill in life-style choices. Even when genetics deals us a bad hand, our choices can still affect our quality of life. Issues of health will always be ambiguous though. There is a fine line between what is ours to control what happens to us in spite of our best efforts to do the right thing.
I would never wish to promote any policy that denies the unfortunate among us the ability to seek medical help when some devastating illness befalls them. We fail to recognize that government subsidies to pharmaceutical and agricultural industries are working against the government subsidies given to insurance and healthcare providers. These policies support an ongoing conflict of interest borne of government policy seeking to choose favorites because it gets politicians re-elected. This is both deceptive and wrong and the reason why some of us so clearly see that a nationalized health care policy will not make us healthier. We need a serious overhaul of the relationship between the medical community and the regulations that are causing price increases and making care scarce and inefficient.
So, I wonder what happened to the 60’s generation who used to say:
Speak out, you got to speak out against
The madness, you got to speak your mind,
If you dare.
But don’t try to get yourself elected.
If you do you had better cut your hair.
Did they simply settle for becoming that very same corrupt power they railed against back in the 60’s? Do they settle now in the belief that they are still fighting the man, railing against the evil republicans as the obstacle to really changing the status quo? The elite among them, many who comfortably achieved 1% status economically, infiltrated the media, and our institutions of education and government, have a lot of explaining to do.