Skip to comments.There Ought Not to Be a Law
Posted on 08/15/2012 3:42:27 AM PDT by Kaslin
Im a libertarian in part because I see a false choice offered by the political left and right: government control of the economy -- or government control of our personal lives.
People on both sides think of themselves as freedom lovers. The left thinks government can lessen income inequality. The right thinks government can make Americans more virtuous. I say were best off if neither side attempts to advance its agenda via government.
Let both argue about things like drug use and poverty, but let no one be coerced by government unless he steals or attacks someone. Beyond the small amount needed to fund a highly limited government, let no one forcibly take other peoples money. When in doubt, leave it out -- or rather, leave it to the market and other voluntary institutions.
But this is not how most people think. Most people see a world full of problems that can be solved by laws. They assume its just the laziness, stupidity or indifference of politicians that keeps them from solving our problems. But government is force -- and inefficient.
Thats why I argue in No, They Cant: Why Government Fails -- but Individuals Succeed that its better if government didnt try to address most of lifes problems.
People tend to believe that government can! When problems arise, they say, There ought to be a law!
Even the collapse of the Soviet Union, caused by the appalling results of central planning, didnt shock the world into abandoning big government. Europe began talking about some sort of market socialism. Politicians in the United States dreamt of a third way between capitalism and socialism, and of managed capitalism -- where politicians often replace the invisible hand.
George W. Bush ran for president promising a lean government, but he decided to create a $50 billion per year prescription drug entitlement and build a new bureaucracy called No Child Left Behind. Under Bush, Republicans doubled discretionary spending (the greatest increase since LBJ), expanded the drug war and hired 90,000 new regulators.
Bushs increases in regulation didnt mollify the medias demand for still more.
Then came Barack Obama and spending big enough to bankrupt all our children. That fueled the tea party and the 2010 elections.
The tea party gave me hope, but I was fooled again. Within months, the new fiscally conservative Republicans voted to preserve farm subsidies, vowed to protect Medicare and cringed when Romneys future veep choice, Rep. Paul Ryan, proposed his mild deficit plan.
It is unfortunate that the United States, founded partly on libertarian principles, cannot admit that government has gotten too big. East Asian countries embraced markets and flourished. Sweden and Germany liberalized their labor markets and saw their economies improve.
But we keep passing new rules.
The enemy here is human intuition. Amid the dazzling bounty of the marketplace, its easy to take the benefits of markets for granted. I can go to a foreign country and stick a piece of plastic in the wall, and cash will come out. I can give that same piece of plastic to a stranger who doesnt even speak my language -- and hell rent me a car for a week. When I get home, Visa or MasterCard will send me the accounting -- correct to the penny. We take such things for granted.
Government, by contrast, cant even count votes accurately.
Yet whenever there are problems, people turn to government. Despite the central planners long record of failure, few of us like to think that the government which sits atop us, taking credit for everything, could really be all that rotten.
The great 20th-century libertarian H.L. Mencken lamented, A government at bottom is nothing more than a group of men, and as a practical matter most of them are inferior men. ... Yet these nonentities, by the intellectual laziness of men in general ... are generally obeyed as a matter of duty (and) assumed to have a kind of wisdom that is superior to ordinary wisdom.
There is nothing government can do that we cannot do better as free individuals -- and as groups of individuals working freely together.
Without big government, our possibilities are limitless.
>> The left thinks government can lessen income inequality. The right thinks government can make Americans more virtuous.
WTF are you smoking, Stossel?
The Right generally has contempt for govt save the Military. It’s the Left that ascribes virtue to govt; Socialism, Communism. Got it?
Insofar as by lessening dependence by Americans on government, not through use OF government.
That is correct
all law attempts to make or keep people vituous. It all depends on what your idea of what virtue is.
(this guy is an idiot)
Stossel is a shallow, pompous a**
The right thinks government can make Americans more virtuous.
No. The right thinks that there should be reasonable protections against those who choose to be unvirtuous.
He may be right but that is why Libertarians only get the votes of the 2% or less that don’t want to impose one view or the other on the neigborhood.
The biggest problem on both sides is that our elected officials view themselves as our LEADERS instead of our REPRESENTATIVES. They truly believe that they are chosen to direct the common people through their legislation. The sad part is we enable them.
The only solution to this overreach that I can think of is term limits. No more lifelong politicians that can be bought off. No more luxuriating on our dime. Get the people in there that will get in and represent their electorate (do their job) and then get out and go back to their REAL jobs.
You’re right. All the political disagreement is about whose world view gets legislated.
“The right thinks government can make Americans more virtuous”
That’s the straw man argument that the left uses, and some, not all, libertarians to show the left that they are not conservatives, which, for the most part, they are.
Another solution: every law must be (after something like 20 years) renewed by Congress or it goes bye-bye. This way only the most needed laws will remain and the fat will be chucked. No more never ending government programs. Also Congress will only have time to renew what is necessary if they want enough time to get to anything new. End result: a huge culling of legislation restoring freedoms and enormous amounts of money being saved.
Apparently some of the posters below believe that the proper role of government is to define virtues and enforce them as well.
I suspect that the founders were smoking whatever Stossel is smoking too, since they believed that the role of government was to protect the rights of free people and left it up to the people, with guidance from God, to find virtue and live virtuous lives.
( The left thinks government can lessen income inequality. The right thinks government can make Americans more virtuous.)
Misses the mark by a country mile.
The left is not interested in income inequality. They simply use this as a means for power and control.
The right doesn’t want the Government to make people more virtuous, they simply want the Government to stop forcing perversion to be acceptable.
WTF are you smoking, Stossel?
Eggs-zactly. Besides - WHO the hell wants to be virtuous?
Only a libertarian could make such a ridiculous statement!
He's not right, and it's holier-than-thou claptrap like this from the Libertarians that make them doomed to be an asterisk.
This is the blindness of the libertarians. They pretend the left has no social agenda to impose upon Americans with their power; only an oppressive economic agenda. Marxists have a culture of amorality and death to impose upon the nation. Imposing atheism on the public is imposing a government beleif structure on the public. Western ethics not allowed or punished.
This is why libertarians are useless. You have to have a moral society to have an economically free society. Marxist culture requires a police state to keep the order at the animal farm and socialism to feed the animals who are too dysfunctional to feed themselves. Atheism guarentees economic Marxism. Fools.