Libertarians have a pretty sweet political platform: freedom. No nannying regulators telling you that you can’t open a store without a million permits. No licensing regimes meant to protect established businesses. No SWAT teams bursting into people’s homes and shooting dogs all because of raw milk. No ruinous taxes to pay for people who won’t work. On the surface, libertarianism has a lot going for it. But look beyond the surface, and you’ll see that it’s hollow.
Here are some hard questions that libertarians need to answer.
1) How do you plan to handle immigration from non-libertarian countries (i.e., all of them, including European countries)? Free trade requires the free movement of labor — that is, of people.
2) What is your stance on freedom of association? Now what is your stance on anti-discrimination law? Do they contradict?
3) Is the non-aggression principle a real principle or just an excuse to run from conflict?
4) How do you plan to tackle income inequality? While we can’t expect everyone to have the exact same income, this does matter for social peace.
5) How do you handle a falling birth rate and aging population? It’s hard to have any type of society with no people in it.
6) How do you handle hostile foreign powers? A rich country with a weak armed force is a tempting target, and World War I shows that trade does not create peace.
7) How will you tackle technological unemployment, since the robots much loved by libertarians would put a lot of people out of work?
8) Would you encourage strong family structures? A society of strong families would cut against the grain of libertarianism, but breaking families up would increase state power.
9) In education, how would you handle differences in innate ability among people? Not everyone can be the next Elon Musk or Peter Thiel — in fact, most people can’t.
10) How will you handle pollution? Forget global warming; no one wants mercury and weird hormones in their fish.
These are just a few of the questions that libertarians would have to answer truthfully. If they want to be a serious political force, they have to answer questions that may get them attacked as bigots. It does no one any good to use libertarian philosophy to avoid taking a stand.