Hard Questions for Libertarians

Do libertarians use "principle" to avoid conflict?

Do libertarians use “principle” to avoid conflict?

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.

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8 Responses to Hard Questions for Libertarians

  1. Roxtopus says:

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    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.
    * Despite being libertarian, I’m all in for strict immigration. Yes, people should be free! … But their backgrounds shouldn’t be left unchecked. I have no problem with legal immigrants, especially if they work (legally).

    ____
    2) What is your stance on freedom of association? Now what is your stance on anti-discrimination law? Do they contradict?
    * The Freedom of Association is both an individual right and a collective right.

    * I’m against any form of REAL discrimination.

    * No. Not at all. There is a big difference between “We prefer a Christian/Muslim/Jewis/etc… white/black/asian/etc… person because it’s more suitable for our company’s image!” vs “We don’t serve niggers/fags/etc.”

    ____
    3) Is the non-aggression principle a real principle or just an excuse to run from conflict?
    * http://www.libertarianism.org/blog/six-reasons-libertarians-should-reject-non-aggression-principle
    ^ This discribes my opinion on the Non-Agression Principle perfectly.

    ____
    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.
    * The sad truth is that we can’t ever truly solve that problem. Not even socialism/communism solved it perfectly, there will always be people that are more or less wealthy. However, I think it’s best to create jobs for people with a fair pay so that they at least can take care for themselves.

    ____
    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.
    * I don’t see a problem with the falling birth rate (for now). However, the aging population gives younger people an opportunity to work in the healthcare/medical/medicine/etc… sect.

    ____
    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.
    * If the armed force is weak; Encourage people to join the military. I remember very well how back in the days where I lived in the Netherlands we had ads to encourage young people to join the marines. So why not? If a country is being a threat, we should be still able to protect ourselves!

    ____
    7) How will you tackle technological unemployment, since the robots much loved by libertarians would put a lot of people out of work?
    * I don’t think they don’t have to “steal our jobs”: Robots still need to get maintained and they can break. However, I also don’t think it’s good to rely too much on robots. It even can be potentially dangerous (they can glitch for example) and it may dumb us down. I think robots are good to help us, to make our job more safe: Not to literally take over our job!!

    ____
    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.
    * I don’t. As a person who comes from an abusive family, I don’t consider it as a good thing to shove this ideal to everybody. I personally think people should have to think independently; If they love and can trust their family, they can rely on their family (and be happy with them). If their family is toxic, they really shouldn’t.

    ____
    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.
    * I want schools to actually give their students more attention and to focus on their talents. As a person with dyscalculi, I have been a victim of this… I used to think I was really stupid. I think I would’ve been better if school focused more on my talents rather than focusing on what I’m not good at.

    Like, you shouldn’t tell a fish to climb a tree… you should let a fish enjoy their own talents! Let them swiiiim!

    ____
    10) How will you handle pollution? Forget global warming; no one wants mercury and weird hormones in their fish.
    * I really like the idea of those cars that work on electricity! On the weird fish thing: I like the Netherland’s law on food, I think they’re pretty strict(?). Like, every food products need to have a label that discribes what’s inside the product. I currently live in Thailand, and I sometimes I just don’t know what’s inside my food… ?

    • phunctor says:

      1) We all have a share in our commons; our culture, infrastructure, our nation as a going concern. You don’t get to give away my share to make yourself feel good. The minimum price to sponsor an immigrant therefore may not dilute the inheritance of existing citizens.

      Discriminate rationally between source cultures and regions based on historical costs and benefits of prior immigrants. Choose those who most benefit us.

      2) Natural limits apply. If I and my associates too much alarm our neighbors, we should expect unstable relations. My stand on freedom of association is otherwise “none of your business”. This puts me at loggerheads with civil wrongs from the Public Accommodations Act forward. I can live with that.

      3) Natural limits apply. If my neighbors too much alarm me and my associates, they should expect unstable relations. Almost all of how they live is none of my business. However, if they espouse an ideology that demonizes me and mine I will be make it my business. I’m under no obligation to ignore threats.

      4) If you attempt to take by force that which is mine, I will kill you. I will deal with the most cost-effective providers of goods and services. Outlawry for fraud, which is pretty much like for force except you get a running start.

      5) I don’t actually see a viable solution without a hard reset. To quote Lucifer’s Hammer “feminism died in the first 100 milliseconds”.

      A social arrangement exists as a historical soliton – it propagates itself, maintaining its identity – or it does not. So new citizens must either be produced or recruited. For an arrangement to propagate itself there’s an upper bound to the recruitment rate. We’ve done the experiment, and the preliminary results strongly suggest feminist cultures won’t propagate themselves.

      6) You don’t. You get picked off by an organized polity while trying to avoid a draft in your own.

      7) Unemployment? I have openings for a number of retainers.

      8) Strong family structures – see 5 above. If the libertarian utopia even exists, that’s been handled. Somehow.

      9) Education would be funded by the educator acquiring rights to a negotiated percentage of the educated’s future earnings. Not all that different than the current arrangement, but with feedback loops that optimize rather than pessimize resource allocations.

      10) Pollution would be treated as assault or fraud against the commons. But I’m not sanguine, given rational ignorance, that libertarianism has a solution for the problem of externalities.

      10) Pollution..

      • Rawle Nyanzi says:

        I just read your comment. These are very strident answers; through these, one can see the flaws in the purely libertarian approach.

        • phunctor says:

          This is what post-peak-PC looks like, and thank God for that!

          Yes, my positions are… strident. But are they incoherent or factually unsupported? If they are coherent and factually supported, are they morally unacceptable? Who gets to decide, and why? Do we compare them to Utopian ideals or to things in the real world? Does the “real world” exist or (as postmodernists self-deconstructively aver) is there no Truth, only Power?

          I don’t see how you can make a serious attempt at libertarianism without these or similar positions, plus solutions to the unsolved problems.

          The unsolved problems are why I’m not a libertarian.

          • Rawle Nyanzi says:

            This is what post-peak-PC looks like, and thank God for that!
            Yes, my positions are… strident.

            I agree with the stridency; I’m not faulting you for that. Better that than wishy-washy safe space crap.

            The unsolved problems are why I’m not a libertarian.

            Likewise. Libertarianism as understood now has few answers for the questions I posed above. The standard “Free trade, do what thou wilt” stuff doesn’t hold up in the real world.

  2. Voidraithe says:

    Ok, here I go but I’m not a typical Libertarian. I represent only myself.

    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.

    Screen those wanting entry very VERY closely. Implement a waiting period to be sure that immigrants are integrating (usually not a problem). Write a 5000 word essay on why you want to live in [current nation] official language only.

    Ok the last one was kind of joking.

    Temporary Visa if movement of Labor requires it. There would have to be constantly changing numbers of immigrants allowed based off need.

    2) What is your stance on freedom of association? Now what is your stance on anti-discrimination law? Do they contradict?

    I’m a fan of people associating as they wish. Private businesses: Bake the cakes you want. Make it clear you do not serve [x] people, just know you are turning away money. Government jobs: Do it or you’re fired. You have been contracted to do this job for ALL citizens.

    3) Is the non-aggression principle a real principle or just an excuse to run from conflict?

    I see it like this: we won’t start fights. We will definitely defend ourselves.

    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.

    Tackle it yourself. Get a better education, find a better job.

    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.

    Automation

    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.

    Have an strong Armed Force but certainly diplomacy as well. Keep dialogue open talk out concerns.

    7) How will you tackle technological unemployment, since the robots mucyh loved by libertarians would put a lot of people out of work?

    See question 5 solving itself

    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.

    Yes, proven time and time again that intact families are better for children. Less crime, less drug use, fewer gangs …

    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.

    Never thought of this one. Off the cuff here: advanced and remedial classes. Education should also include aptitude testing and encourage going for classes and courses you like and are good at. Lots of people I know were talked out of taking a trade (Electrician, etc.) to take University and were unhappy.

    10) How will you handle pollution? Forget global warming; no one wants mercury and weird hormones in their fish.

    On this really I really can only see yes, Government Regulations (gasp) working.

    What about Abortion? I feel a Safe, Legal and Rare approach is the best. I would like to see: By any other means. However I’m a man and MGTOW so really don’t care.

  3. Antisocial Justice says:

    Great questions! I have libertarian leanings, but don’t consider transitioning to a fully Libertarian Utopia with its own institutions and political culture realistic right now. I’ll pretend to be a proper libertarian to answer these questions though.

    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.

    Libertarianism generally still sees a place for the State, just in a much reduced capacity. Border screening and security are commonly accepted as legitimate State functions. “Self-radicalized” homegrown terrorism is a much more difficult problem to deal with while preserving individual liberties.

    On the economic dimension of this question, it comes down to what incentives are provided to potential immigrants. Without welfare (I think this is also a traditional libertarian position), population inflows will depend on whether potential migrants are able to contribute economically to this Libertarian Utopia. An alternative approach is to apply the principles of free movement of labor just to citizens of the country and control immigration in a more traditional manner.

    2) What is your stance on freedom of association? Now what is your stance on anti-discrimination law? Do they contradict?

    The usual argument is that anti-discrimination laws don’t really address underlying bigotry, that bigotry is bad business and would be outcompeted by firms that properly address the market. The exception would be monopolies, including the State – though I’d rather a more universal approach than via “protected characteristics”.

    3) Is the non-aggression principle a real principle or just an excuse to run from conflict?

    Can it be both? You can tell I’m not a real libertarian because I had to look this one up 😛 It seems the NAP is about not harming others rather than not defending oneself…

    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.

    What the standard of living is like for most of society (including low-income members) and how fulfilled they feel seems more important than income inequality per se (there’s also a distinction between income and wealth). While some libertarians support Basic Income Guarantee as better than the current complex welfare system, in the Libertarian Utopia you’d argue that a job available within a dynamic market economy is better than any form of welfare.

    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.

    This demographic shift has been correlated with becoming a rich country, so don’t become rich? :^) This phenomenon seems to occur regardless of the political system – other than Communist countries not becoming rich :^) Some countries have made up for this with migration, others with automation. One explanation has been that in poor countries a child is an asset, while in rich countries one is a huge financial drain. One might argue that because the State is confiscating less of your income in the Libertarian Utopia, it’s easy to have more kids.

    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.

    Libertarians generally agree on the need for the State for national defense, though presumably they would prefer a much more efficient and accountable organization than the current behemoth Department of Defense.

    7) How will you tackle technological unemployment, since the robots much loved by libertarians would put a lot of people out of work?

    I’m not sure how different economic dislocation caused by robots will be, relative to changes brought on in technology in the past, or even by recent shift of manufacturing (especially high-volume) to China and elsewhere in Asia. Right now, a robot doesn’t have the flexibility and contextual judgement of humans, future jobs will probably revolve around those skills – perhaps including programming robots and fixing them. Lower labor costs due to robots would reduce prices and make different industries viable. Then again, the population may shrink due to the falling birthrate and so you wouldn’t need so many jobs in the first place :^)

    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.

    I think the libertarian answer would be that as long as the State isn’t mandating anything, people are free to have as weak or strong family structures as they like.

    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.

    This is more about the education system than the political system per se. I think libertarians would move claim their system promotes more individual choice and customization rather than a top-down, one-size-fits-all system mandated by the State.

    10) How will you handle pollution? Forget global warming; no one wants mercury and weird hormones in their fish.

    I don’t know the proper libertarian position for this, but I’ll try 😛 Even with a strong domineering State you can still get really bad pollution (eg China), and regulation and regulators are able to fail spectacularly (eg Flint water crisis, EPA’s mistake with the Gold King Mine), and can be very difficult to hold government agencies and individuals accountable. Maybe the libertarian approach is for class action lawsuits, and rival companies monitoring each other because they can sue for treble damages (like RICO), thereby decentralizing environmental protection.

    • Rawle Nyanzi says:

      I’m posting this to say that I read your comment (I read the others before yours as well.) Interesting answers you gave; all of them sound like some thought was put into them.

      I guess the key is to beware of those who would call you a bigot due to the positions you take on these issues, and I feel that most libertarians are afraid of the charge so they don’t say outright what public policies they’d like to see.

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