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The original intent of the founders has been perverted. The founders of the USA were a contentious lot, who hardly agreed on any one thing, let alone libertarian notions. It is well documented that the Constitution and Bill of Rights are compromises amongst them: few agreed wholeheartedly with any particular part. Thus, looking to the founders for "original intent" is silly: it will vary amongst them. Not to mention that "original intent" (or original understanding) is just as open to interpretation as the Constitution itself because while there is lots of explicit data, it is from many contradictory sources. For example, Judge Bork presents notably non-libertarian versions of original intent.
I think the best way to interpret the constitution is the way the founders explicitly specified in the Constitution: look to the courts, especially the Supreme Court. The Constitution leaves the method of its interpretation by the court entirely to the court to decide. This begs the question of how to judge the interpretive philosophies of the possible justices, but libertarians seldom get that far.
"The interpretation of the laws is the proper and peculiar province of the courts. A constitution is, in fact, and must be regarded by the judges, as a fundamental law. It therefore belongs to them to ascertain its meaning, as well as the meaning of any particular act proceeding from the legislative body." Federalist No. 78.
There is no reason short of worship of the founders to presume that the Supreme Court is less capable than the founders. Indeed, many libertarians from outside the US find the authority of the founders unconvincing. One writes: "As a Canadian, I don't give a _damn_ what the `founders' intended. I hate it when a net.opponent trots out some bit of tired U.S. history as a most holy of holies, not to be questioned."
Jefferson himself said this plainly: "Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the Covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment... laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind... as that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, institutions must advance also, to keep pace with the times.... We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain forever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."
The US Government ignores the plain meaning of the constitution. Often this is presented as "The US wouldn't be so bad if the government followed the Constitution."
"Plain meaning" is a matter of opinion. A plain meaning one century can well be reversed in another, depending on popular usage, historical context, etc. Well intentioned people can disagree on "plain meaning" endlessly, as we see in any non-unanimous court decision. For practical purposes, the meaning MUST be decided one way or another.
Libertarian claims of "plain meaning" are often clearly shaped by their beliefs. Where this occurs, it's pretty obvious that their claims to "plain meaning" are not "common sense".
The Declaration Of Independence says... The Declaration Of Independence is a rhetorical document, without legal standing in the USA. That status was a deliberate decision of the founders, not an accident. If it is purported to reflect the intent of the founders, then we can only conclude that they changed their minds when writing the Articles of Confederation and then the Constitution.
Nor should it be mistaken for a philosophical treatise: that was not its purpose. If a libertarian would like to defend it as philosophy, he should rely on sound argument, not reverence for the founders.
Libertarians are defenders of freedom and rights. The foremost defenders of our freedoms and rights, which libertarians prefer you overlook, are our governments. National defense, police, courts, registries of deeds, public defenders, the Constitution and the Bill Of Rights, etc. all are government efforts that work towards defending freedoms and rights.
Libertarians frequently try to present themselves as the group to join to defend your freedom and rights. Lots of other organizations (many of which you would not want to be associated with, such as Scientologists) also fight for freedom and rights. I prefer the ACLU. (Indeed, if you wish to act effectively, the ACLU is the way to go: they advertise that they take on 6,000 cases a year free of charge, and claim involvement in 80% of landmark Supreme Court cases since 1920.)
It would be foolish to oppose libertarians on such a mom-and-apple-pie issue as freedom and rights: better to point out that there are EFFECTIVE alternatives with a historical track record, something libertarianism lacks.
Nor might we need or want to accept the versions of "freedom" and "rights" that libertarians propose. To paraphrase Anatole France: "How noble libertarianism, in its majestic equality, that both rich and poor are equally prohibited from peeing in the privately owned streets (without paying), sleeping under the privately owned bridges (without paying), and coercing bread from its rightful owners!"
Taxation is theft. Two simple rebuttals to this take widely different approaches.
The first is that property is theft. The notion behind property is that A declares something to be property, and threatens anybody who still wants to use it. Where does A get the right to forcibly stop others from using it? Arguments about "mixing of labor" with the resource as a basis for ownership boil down to "first-come-first-served". This criticism is even accepted by some libertarians, and is favorably viewed by David Friedman. This justifies property taxes or extraction taxes on land or extractable resources if you presume that the government is a holder in trust for natural resources. (However, most people who question the creation of property would agree that after the creation of property, a person is entitled to his earnings. Thus the second argument)
The second is that taxation is part of a social contract. Essentially, tax is payment in exchange for services from government. This kind of argument is suitable for defending almost any tax as part of a contract. Many libertarians accept social contract (for example, essentially all minarchists must to insist on a monopoly of government.) Of course they differ as to what should be IN the contract.
If you don't pay your taxes, men with guns will show up at your house, initiate force and put you in jail. This is not initiation of force. It is enforcement of contract, in this case an explicit social contract. Many libertarians make a big deal of "men with guns" enforcing laws, yet try to overlook the fact that "men with guns" are the basis of enforcement of any complete social system. Even if libertarians reduced all law to "don't commit fraud or initiate force", they would still enforce with guns.
Social Contract? I never signed no steenking social contract. That argument and some of the following libertarian arguments are commonly quoted from Lysander Spooner.
The constitution and the laws are our written contracts with the government.
There are several explicit means by which people make the social contract with government. The commonest is when your parents choose your residency and/or citizenship after your birth. In that case, your parents or guardians are contracting for you, exercising their power of custody. No further explicit action is required on your part to continue the agreement, and you may end it at any time by departing and renouncing your citizenship.
Immigrants, residents, and visitors contract through the oath of citizenship (swearing to uphold the laws and constitution), residency permits, and visas. Citizens reaffirm it in whole or part when they take political office, join the armed forces, etc. This contract has a fairly common form: once entered into, it is implicitly continued until explicitly revoked. Many other contracts have this form: some leases, most utility services (such as phone and electricity), etc.
Some libertarians make a big deal about needing to actually sign a contract. Take them to a restaurant and see if they think it ethical to walk out without paying because they didn't sign anything. Even if it is a restaurant with a minimum charge and they haven't ordered anything. The restaurant gets to set the price and the method of contract so that even your presence creates a debt. What is a libertarian going to do about that? Create a regulation?
The social contract is like no other because it can be "unilaterally" modified. Not true. Consider the purchase of a condominium. You have a contract with the condominium association, agreeing to pay the fees they levy for the services they provide and obey the rules that they create. You have an equal vote with the other residents on the budget and the rules. If you don't like the budget or rules that are enacted, you can vote with your feet or persuade everyone to change them.
There are numerous other common sorts of contracts that allow changes by one or both sides without negotiation. Gas, electric, oil, water, phone, and other utility services normally have contracts where at most they need to notify you in advance when they change their rates. Insurance companies raise their rates, and your only input is either pay the new rates or "vote with your feet". (The exception is when rates are supervised by government regulatory agencies.)
Other misc. claims denying the social contract. One commonly cited Spooner argument is that the social contract is like no other, and thus not a contract. That's a nonsequitur. A unique feature or combination of features doesn't disqualify something from being a contract.
Some complain that the social contract is fundamentally unjust because it doesn't treat people equally, that people are taxed unequally or receive services unequally. So? Like insurance, rates can vary from individual to individual, and services received may be more or less than premiums paid.
Some complain "Any contract where the enforcing agency is one of the contractors is hardly fair." But the U.S. Constitution is a contract between SEVERAL parties: the three branches of the government, the states, and citizens. It's a multilateral contract where every party is subject to enforcement by one or more of the other parties, and every party is involved in enforcement for at least one other. This pattern of checks and balances was specifically designed to deal with precisely this fairness issue.
Why should I be coerced to leave if I don't like the social contract? Why leave an apartment if you change your mind about the lease? You do not own the apartment, just as you do not own the nation. At most, you may own some property within the apartment, just as you may own some property within the nation.
Do Cubans under Castro agree to their social contract? If you define contracts as voluntary, then you probably wouldn't say the Cuban government operates by social contract, since most people who wanted to emigrate have not been permitted to.
Most libertarians have a peculiar definition of voluntary: contractual agreement makes all requirements of the contract "voluntary", no matter how unexpected they are, no matter how long the contract lasts for, no matter if the contractee changes his mind. However, they're seldom willing to view our social contract in that manner.
Our social contract in the USA is one of the nice, voluntary contracts that libertarians should like. Even better, because you can terminate it by leaving at any time. There is no US government obstacle to emigration from the US.
Isn't that "love it or leave it"? Nope. This is a distinction that seems too subtle for a lot of libertarians: the difference between having a choice and having to leave.
For example, let's say you live in a condominium, and are very fond of it. As long as you can move out, you have a choice. No matter how firmly you intend to stay. No matter how much you prefer your current condo. No matter how good or bad your current condo is for you, you still have a choice.
This is analogous to living in a nation. You choose which one to live in, and you can change. You may not be able to improve some things about it all by yourself, because it is not entirely yours.
You have at least 4 choices. 1) Tolerate the social contract, and perhaps try to amend it. 2) Leave it by emigrating. 3) Violate it. 4) Revolt.
Why should we be coerced to accept the social contract? Why can't we be left alone? You are not coerced to accept US government services any more than you are coerced to rent or purchase a place to live. If pretty much all territory is owned by governments, and pretty much all houses and apartments are owned, well, did you want them to grow on trees? There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.
We can't emigrate because there is no libertarian nation. Yes, you can emigrate, just as you could buy a different car even though your favorite company doesn't produce cars which let you travel at the speed of sound and get 2000 mpg. Even if nobody produces EXACTLY what you want, you can choose any car the market produces or you create yourself.
There are roughly 200 nations to which you could emigrate. They are the product of an anarcho-capitalist free market: there is no over-government dictating to those sovereign nations. Indeed, the only difference between the anarchy of nations and libertopia is that anarcho-capitalists are wishing for a smaller granularity. These nations have found that it is most cost-efficient to defend themselves territorially.
If any other market provided 200 choices, libertarians would declare that the sacred workings of the market blessed whatever choices were offered. The point is that choices do exist: it's up to libertarians to show that there is something wrong with the market of nations in a way they would accept being applied to markets within nations.
Libertaria is a combination of values that just doesn't exist: the government equivalent of a really posh residence for very little money. You can find nations which have much lower taxes, etc.: just don't expect them to be first class.
And the reason these combinations don't exist is probably simple: the free market of government services essentially guarantees that there is no such thing as the free lunch libertarians want. It's not competitive.
Extortion by the state is no different than extortion by the Mafia. This is a prize piece of libertarian rhetoric, because it slides in the accusation that taxation is extortion. This analogy initially seems strong, because both are territorial. However, libertarians consider contractual rental of land by owners (which is also fundamentally territorial) ethical, and consider coercion of squatters by those owners ethical. The key difference is who owns what. The Mafia doesn't own anything to contract about. The landowner owns the land (in a limited sense.) And the US government owns rights to govern its territory. (These rights are a form of property, much as mineral rights are a form of property. Let's not confuse them with rights of individuals.) Thus, the social contract can be required by the territorial property holder: the USA.
There's no such thing as rights to govern territory! You'd have to ignore an awful lot of history to claim this sort of PROPERTY didn't exist. The US government can demonstrate ownership of such rights through treaty, purchase, bequeathment by the original colonies and some other states, and conquest. The EXACT same sources as all other forms of land ownership in the US. Also note that governance rights are merely a subset of the rights that anarcho-libertarians would want landowners to have. For example, insistence on contractual obedience to regulations and acceptance of punishment for violations.
Why should I be told what to do with my property? That infringes on my rights of ownership. This question comes up rather often, since absolute ownership of property is fundamental to most flavors of libertarianism. Such propertarianism fuels daydreams of being able to force the rest of the world to swirl around the immovable rock of your property. For example, there were trespass lawsuits filed against airlines for flying over property.
A good answer is: what makes you so sure it is yours?
Of course it's my property. I paid money and hold the deed. What do you hold the deed to? Property as recognized by a government. As such, you can address infringement of your rights through the legal system. However your property as recognized by the legal system is limited.
This isn't too surprising, since limitations created by private transactions are also common. For example, property is often sold without water rights or timber rights. Property is commonly sold with easements: for example a neighbor may have the right to cross to reach the road. And property may be sold with limitations to its usage: for example, the Adirondack State Park was bequeathed to the people of New York State with the stipulation that it remain forever wild.
Most government limitations on property are analogous, and you bought property that was already under those limitations. Just as it would be wrong to deny the validity of an easement sold by the previous owner, it is wrong to deny the validity of the current system of limited ownership of property. For example, a clear statement of such an "easement" is in the Fourth Amendment, which essentially says that the government can enter your property with a valid search warrant and not be trespassing.
There are many existing limitations such as government rights to tax and to zone property, limitations to ownership of navigable waters, how far property extends to the water, etc. And sometimes new limitations are specified, such as non-ownership of airspace above property.
New limitations on use of property are a taking, and should be compensated. Some new limitations can be viewed as merely making specific that what was claimed was never really owned. For example, where was ownership of airspace above property ever explicitly granted in our system of property? Where were polluters ever explicitly granted the right to dump wastes into air or water that they do not have a title to?
Other limitations (such as rezoning to eliminate undesirable business or protecting wetlands from development) might be viewed as control of negative externalities. Most libertarians would recognize the right of a mall owner to write his leases so that he could terminate them if the renters cause externalities: why shouldn't communities have this right to self-governance as well?
Think how much wealthier we'd be if we didn't pay taxes. This is a classic example of libertarians not looking at the complete equation for at least two reasons. (1) If taxes are eliminated, you'll need to purchase services that were formerly provided by government. (2) If taxes are eliminated, the economics of wages have changed, and wages will change as well.
Here's a really ludicrous (but real) example of (1): "With taxation gone, not only will we have twice as much money to spend, but it will go twice as far, since those who produce goods and services won't have to pay taxes, either. In one stroke we'll be effectively four times as rich. Let's figure that deregulation will cut prices, once again, by half. Now our actual purchasing power, already quadrupled by deTAXification, is doubled again. We now have eight times our former wealth!" (L. Neil Smith)
And here's an example of (2): "I'm self-employed. My pay would absolutely, positively go up 15+% tomorrow if I wasn't paying FICA/Medicare." But only briefly. Standard microeconomic theory applies just as well to someone selling labor as to someone selling widgits. If FICA disappeared, your competitors in the market to sell labor would be attracted to the higher wages and would sell more labor. This increase in supply of labor would drive down your wage from the 15% increase. You'd earn more (per hour). But less than 15% more.
We lived in a fairly libertarian society in the US 150 years ago. A classic libertarian roll-back-the-clock argument, that sounds good at first because none of us directly remembers it. Libertarians do usually remember and criticize some of the more prominent non-libertarian features of that period, such as unequal protection under the law for blacks and women. However, they seem to overlook a lot of other important things.
Yes, the Federal government had a much lighter hand then. However, state and local governments had a much greater influence. There is not one class of positive duty or obligation in the US today that did not exist 200 years ago at state or federal level.
All the biggies were there except income tax. The equivalent of income tax was property tax (on all possessions) or head tax by many states. There was involuntary conscription, eminent domain, etc. As a matter of fact, things got much better when powers of states were interpreted to be restricted by the US constitution (much later.) Powers such as state religious authority.
Also, society was organized quite differently before the industrial revolution spread to the US. Our "nation of shopkeepers" was actually a nation of farmers. The means of production were controlled primarily by the workers (who were the owners of the farms and shops.) Government of that era would be as out-of-place today as the tarriffs and scientific knowledge of that era.
"Might Makes Right" is the principle behind statism. No, "Might makes ability to make something", Right or Wrong. You can't even try for Right until you have Might to back it up in the real world. That's the reason that some real governments have survived and all utopian governments that have tried to abolish force have failed.
However, government is not alone in requiring might. All property is based on might as well. Nobody is beholden to your notions of what constitutes your property. Property is just as "involuntary" as the social contract. There is no moral obligation for anyone to respect your property: only a practical one.
Recognition that the fundamental nature of property is based on force is essential to recognition that there are costs and benefits to the principle of property. It is not as negative a "right" as libertarians like to portray it.
I want self-government, not other-government. "Self government" is libertarian newspeak for "everybody ought to be able to live as if they are the only human in the universe, if only they believe in the power of libertarianism." It's a utopian ideal like those of some Marxists and born-agains that would essentially require some sort of human perfection to work.
More explicitly, "self government" is the peculiar notion that other people ought not to be able to regulate your behavior. Much as we would like to be free of such regulation, most people also want to be able to regulate the behavior of others for practical reasons. Some libertarians claim that they want the first so much, that they will be willing to forgo the second. Most other people feel that both are necessary (and that it would be hypocritical or stupid to want just one.)
Why shouldn't we adopt libertarian government now? Because there are no working examples of libertarian cities, states, or nations.
Innumerable other ideologies have put their money where their mouths are, if not their lives. Examples include most nations that have had Marxist revolutions, Israel, many of the American colonies, a huge number of religious and utopian communities, etc.
Yet libertarians want us to risk what many of them consider the best nation in the world with their untested beliefs. It's not even sensible to convert here first for the claimed economic benefits of libertarianism: there would be less marginal benefit to converting the USA to a libertarian system than most other nations. Let libertarians bear the risk and cost of their own experiment.
Let libertarians point to successful libertarian programs to seek our endorsement. For example, narcotic decriminalization in the Netherlands has been a success. So has legalized prostitution in Nevada and Germany (and probably other places.) Privatization of some municipal services has been successful in some communities. But these are extremely small scale compared to the total libertarian agenda, and do not rule out emergent problems and instabilities of a full scale libertarian system.
There's a conspiracy to prevent a working libertarian experiment. Right. Uh huh. [Read: sarcasm.]
Libertarians sometimes cite the Minerva project (armed squatting on a Tongan island) and an attempted overthrow of the government of Suriname. If libertarians are too inept to compete internationally through diplomacy, politics, bribery, or force of arms, it hardly takes a conspiracy to explain that they lost. That's what sovereignty takes.
A working libertarian experiment could be easily county sized. A tiny religious sect was able to buy control of Antelope, Oregon and relocate there a few years ago: the vastly more numerous libertarians could do much more. Privatize the roads, schools, libraries, police. Abolish property taxes, zoning, anything not required by the state. Then show the benefits. Yes, the state will prevent you from achieving some libertarian goals: do what you can to show how you can improve things. You shouldn't have to go 100% libertarian to show marked benefits according to most libertarian claims.
An event is explained by the issue at hand. This is really a class of argument, "post hoc, ergo propter hoc", that is made all too often by arguers of all stripes. The claims made with this sort of argument by libertarians are innumerable. Counter examples and other issues that plainly had influence are usually extremely easy to find. Here are some real claims actually made in a.p.l.
For example: "The automotive recession started in October 1989, which was the start of the requirement that some cars of each manufacturer be fitted with air bags... Perhaps the reason that car sales have gone down is that many consumers are not willing to pay for a car with air bags."
For example: "There are as many military reasons why the draft is bad as there are moral ones. Witness our success using a volunteer army versus a conscripted one."
It would be possible to collect libertarian examples of the other classes of fallacies of argument, but this frequent one can serve as the exemplar. This particular one comes up a lot because of the lure of testing theory with reality.
Haven't you read "Libertarianism in One Lesson"? Every belief system has its evangelistic writings, designed to help convince or draw in new members. The Campus Crusade for Christ uses "Evidence That Demands A Verdict", Scientology uses "Dianetics", and libertarians use "Libertarianism in One Lesson".
All of these books are very convincing-- in the absence of counterargument. However, they are easily rebutted by skeptics because they MUST omit the exceptions to their point of view to be convincing.
If I may cite a convert: "Libertarians like me believe in a simple morality-- everyone should be free to do what they like, so long as they don't initiate use of force... If you're not familiar with this morality, I urge you to read "Libertarianism in One Lesson", by David Bergland. I was personally shocked to find that things could be so neatly axiomatized, and what's even more remarkable is that in the empirical world, societies seem to me to be punished in an eye for an eye fashion from their deviation from this simple morality. We are deviating quite a bit and suffering accordingly... in my view this is why economic growth is stagnating, the inner cities are dying..."
Any time I read how simple it is to understand the world through system X, I know I'm dealing with a convert from evangelistic writings. They blithely assert that their explanations show the true cause of current problems. And the key to showing them to be wrong, is to show that there's more complexity to the world than is encompassed by their simplistic explanations.
Have you read "No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority"? "No Treason" is a lengthy rant that doesn't take longer than the first paragraph to begin its egregious errors.
For example, in the first paragraph: "It [The Constitution] purports, at most, to be only a contract between persons living eighty years ago." Thus he focuses his attention on the Preamble, and evidently ignores Article VII, which says EXACTLY who contracted for the Constitution:
"The ratification of the conventions of nine States shall be sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the same. Done in Convention, by the unanimous consent of the States present, the seventeenth day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the twelfth. In Witness whereof, we have hereunto subscribed our names." [signatories FOR STATES omitted.]
He's wrong on this simple matter of fact: the constitution says who contracted with whom. But then he goes on to make a big deal about the people of that era being dead, as if contracts between organizations lapse when their office holders depart.
The rest of his "analysis" is equally shoddy, and consists largely of calling government a collection of thieves and murderers at least 75 times. David Friedman, in "The Machinery of Freedom", says Spooner "attacks the contract theory of government like a lawyer arguing a case": but REAL presentations of cases have to cope with counterarguments, and can't depend so heavily on invalid presumptions which are easily shot full of holes.
Libertarians oppose the initiation of force. How noble. And I'm sure that in a real libertarian society, everybody would hold to this morality as much as Christians turn the other cheek. [ :-( For the sarcasm-impaired.]
"Initiation of force" is another libertarian newspeak term that does not mean what the uninitiated might think. Libertarians except defense of property and prosecution of fraud, and call them retaliatory force. But retaliation can be the initiation of force: I don't need force to commit theft or fraud. This is a bit of rhetorical sleight of hand that libs like to play so that they can pretend they are different than government. You know: break a law (like not paying your taxes) and MEN WITH GUNS initiate force. Sorry, but you've gotta play fair: it can't be initiation for government and retaliation for you.
Like most other non-pacifistic belief systems, libertarians want to initiate force for what they identify as their interests and call it righteous retaliation, and use the big lie technique to define everything else as evil "initiation of force". They support the initial force that has already taken place in the formation of the system of property, and wish to continue to use force to perpetuate it and make it more rigid.
The National Libertarian Party membership form has "the pledge" on it: "I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals." It's quite amusing to hear how much libertarians disagree over what it means: whether it is or isn't ok to overthrow the US because it has "initiated force" and they would be "retaliating".
Beyond this perceived class interest, libertarian dislike of "initiation of force" isn't much different than anyone else's. It may be humanitarian, defensive, etc.
Dred Scott and the Fugitive Slave Laws were examples of government enforcement of slavery. No. There's a subtle distinction: they were enforcement of property rights of slaveowners. It was entirely the owners' assertion that he was property that the government was acting upon. If the owner had at any time freed him, he would not have been a slave.
Libertarians would love to lay slavery at the feet of government precisely because slavery is a sin of capitalism. The US government NEVER enslaved the blacks. The US government never said "you must now own this slave" or "you've never been a slave before, but you are one now." US slavery was initiated by capitalists.
The US government was NOT in the business of proclaiming people free or slaves: that was a private sector responsibility until that Evil Statist Lincoln stole that sacred private right for the State. Until that time, only private, capitalist owners had the right to declare whether a black person was free or slave.
The World's Smallest Political Quiz. [Nolan Test] This libertarian quiz asks a set of leading questions to tempt you to proclaim yourself a libertarian. The big trick is that if you answer yes to each question, you are a macho SELF GOVERNOR: there is an unspoken sneer to those who would answer anything else. It is an ideological litmus test.
The most obvious criticism of this quiz is that it tries to graph the range of politics onto only 2 axes, as if they were the only two that mattered, rather than the two libertarians want the most change in. For example, if socialists were to create such a test, they would use a different set of axes.
The second obvious criticism is typical of polls taken to show false levels of support: the questions are worded to elicit the desired response. This is called framing bias. For example, on a socialist test, you might see a question such as "Do you believe people should help each other?" Libertarians would answer "yes" to this question; the problem is the "but"s that are filtered out by the question format.
Many libertarians use this as an "outreach" (read: evangelism) tool. By making it easy to get high scores on both axes, subjects can be told that they are already a libertarian and just didn't know it. This is the same sort of suckering that cold readers and other frauds use.
The Libertarian Party: America's third largest political party. Wow, third! That sounds impressive until you realize that the Libertarian Party is about one percent of the size of the other two. Funny how they don't mention that in their slogan. I guess they should get a new slogan. Let's have a new slogan contest for the Libertarian Party!
A party a lot smaller than the Communists used to be? The party that can't get as many votes as any one-shot third party? The party that's elected fewer to national office than the Socialists? The party whose symbol is a big government statue. The party with the oxymoronic name? The party of Pat Paulson, uh, I mean Don Imus, uh, I mean Howard Stern! America's Third Most Comical Political Party? Preschool for hyperactive Republicans? Join in! Submit your slogan today!
Almost as comical is the Libertarian Party's '94 election results. They now have even fewer elected dogcatchers and other important officials. Most notable, their loss of 2 out of 4 state reps in New Hampshire.
Interestingly, many of the elected libertarian officials run as stealth candidates, not declaring their party or real ideology. Like creationists and fundamentalists trying to pack school boards, they often conceal their beliefs to gain positions.
You're a Statist! Don't be surprised if you receive some ad-hominem abuse from libertarian evangelists when you don't accept their arguments. It's no different than if a communist called you bourgeois or a Bircher called you a commie lover. Sometimes they'll go overboard and even accuse you of mental disease, at which time you can point out to them the fine company they keep: Stalin, Hitler, etc.
Why do you spend so much time trying to debunk? As I told creationists who wondered why I bothered, it's interesting to me to study unusual beliefs for the same reason it's interesting for doctors to study pathologies. You don't have to catch a disease to be able to understand it, fight it, or vaccinate against it.
"It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong."--Voltaire
As for the rest, it has yet to be conclusively decided that the legitimate functions of government cannot be financed through non-coercive means -- lotteries, contract insurance, bequeathments, donations, entry and exit fees for visitors, and other methods I haven't the creativity to imagine.
However, let us for the sake of argument presume that even with all the above methods there may still be a shortfall. In my personal opinion (and some Libertarians somewhere will undoubtedly disagree with me, but then I am not strictly speaking a Libertarian: rather a Laissez-faire Capitalist) the fairest tax would be one on imported finished goods.
For example, if I needed a pot, I would have several options available to me which don't involve being taxed. I could buy a domestically made pot and pay no tax. I could buy a used imported pot, rent a pot, borrow a pot, make my own pot, or do without a pot and use a bowl instead, and pay no tax. Or I could buy a new imported pot knowing full well that some of the price of that pot would go towards paying for the cops, the courts, and the military.
In any event, seeing that it is indisputably the fact that taxes are currently used for almost any hare-brained scheme some congressman manages to attach to a bill as a "rider", we have a long, LONG way to go before we are at a point where we must decide the least intrusive way of financing the real functions of government. Financing methods are the smallest of the many stumbling blocks on the road to minimal government.
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