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Posted by on Oct 28, 2014 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 11 comments

So, You Call Yourself a Libertarian?

 

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Calling oneself a Libertarian has become politically fashionable nowadays.

And why wouldn’t it be?

Based on the Latin word liber, which means free, Libertarian philosophy “upholds liberty as its principal objective.  Libertarians seek to maximize autonomy and freedom of choice, emphasizing political freedom, voluntary association, and the primacy of individual judgment.”  [See Footnote 1]

More freedom.  That sounds great.  Who wouldn’t be for that?

Other reasons to self-identify as a Libertarian are equally as persuasive.  Breaking the two-party system’s tyrannical stranglehold on the political system is long overdue.  The two major parties have broken the public trust.  They have wrecked faith in government.  Both parties deserve total abandonment.  Fact is, America desperately needs more third-parties — and a fourth party, and a fifth party….ad infinitum. 

Another reason why Libertarianism is so attractive is the movement’s unshakable endorsement of individual rights on social issues.  Many Americans find the strict religious-based moral codes sanctioned by the Republican Party and the “Nanny State” controls of the Democratic Party to be detestable.  This is particularly appealing to many of us within the poker and gambling industry, since the Libertarian Party would likely be our best friend.  [See Footnote 2]

The trouble comes when we look beyond the glossy exterior.  When we peak under the hood, Libertarianism begins to look a lot like the lemon sitting out on the used car lot, with a $189 paint job.

Before former presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (and his son, Sen. Rand Paul) became the faces of contemporary Libertarianism, this movement had a much uglier mask.  Consider the 1980 Libertarian Party presidential ticket.  Only a generation ago, a man named David Koch was the Vice Presidential candidate on the national Libertarian ticket.  If that name sounds familiar, it should.  David Koch is one of the nefarious Koch Brothers (of Koch Industries).  He’s been appraised by Forbes as the ninth richest man in the world, eclipsing even Sheldon Adelson.  [See Footnote 3]

Koch likes to spend his money to make lots more money.  But at who’s expense?  He and his brothers are now bankrolling the American conservative movement.  The are the fat wallet behind blistering attacks on the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), blockading efforts to increase the federal minimum wage, and all sorts of other issues which supposedly threaten the obscene profits of giant corporations and big business.  Even though their money now goes mostly towards Republican candidates — a far more pragmatic approach since third parties have virtually no shot of getting elected anywhere — the basic political philosophy remains very much grounded in the pronouncements David Koch ran on as a Vice Presidential candidate 34 years ago.

Let’s examine what the Koch Brothers (who are now the Republican Party’s biggest benefactors) really want for America.  Let’s take a closer look at the actual 1980 Libertarian Party Platform, which reveals what’s beneath the mask of mainstream thinking.

The 1980 Libertarian Party Platform includes the following passages:

•   “We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission.”
•   “We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”
•“   We oppose any compulsory insurance or tax-supported plan to provide health services, including those which finance abortion services.”
•“   We also favor the deregulation of the medical insurance industry.”
•“   We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system.
•“   We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service.
•   “We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.”
•   “We support repeal of all law which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws.”
•   “We advocate the complete separation of education and State.  Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”
•   “We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws.”
•   “We support the repeal of all taxes on the income or property of private schools, whether profit or non-profit.”
•   “We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.”
•   “We support abolition of the Department of Energy.”
•   “We call for the dissolution of….the Department of Transportation.”
•   “We demand the return of America’s railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatization of the public roads and national highway system.”
•   “We specifically oppose laws requiring an individual to buy or use so-called “self-protection” equipment such as safety belts, air bags, or crash helmets.”
•   “We advocate the abolition of the Federal Aviation Administration.”
•   “We advocate the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration.”
•   “We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children.”
•   “We oppose all government welfare, relief projects, and ‘aid to the poor’ programs.”
•   “We call for the privatization of the inland waterways, and of the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households.”
•   “We call for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”
•   “We call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
.

Here’s the cliff notes.  The Libertarian Party once stood for (and still supports, at least in theory) the dismantling of just about every program or federal agency created to help working people in America.  At one time, David Koch and his Libertarian movement wanted to demolish all the triumphs championed by Theodore Roosevelt during the Progressive Era, Franklin D. Roosevelt during the New Deal, and Lyndon B. Johnson during the Great Society.  When the curtain gets pulled back, here’s the ugly side of conservatism now being funded by David Koch.

None of this stuff is made up.  I didn’t take anything out of context.  It’s all there in black and white.  [See Footnote 4]

So, do you still call yourself a “Libertarian?”

Eliminating government programs, ending taxation, suspending laws and restrictions, and allowing for more individual freedom sounds great on the surface.  But what would such a society really look like?  Here’s a frightening glimpse of a real Libertarian dystopia:

 

 

FOOTNOTES: 

[1]  That’s the definition from the Encyclopedia Britannica.

[2]  Another appealing facet of Libertarianism is the party’s strong leaning toward global isolationism.  Libertarians steadfastly opposed recent wars and occupations, and advocate disengaging from overseas conflicts.

[3]  Read more about David Koch HERE.

[4]  To his great credit, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Socialist-Vermont) has written and spoken publicly about the 1980 Libertarian Party Platform, suggesting this is what the Koch Brothers really want for America.  Read more HERE.

 

11 Comments

  1. If you want to slam the Koch brothers, just do it. Pulling out a 34 year old L Party platform looks like you have no real proof. Did you take a look at the Democrat Platform from 1860. I don’t think that proves the Ds are pro-slavery.

    Also, someone who says they are libertarian are not necessary members or even agree with the Libertarian Party. I’m a libertarian, but I think the many in the Libertarian party are kooks.

    • Libertarianism has two components, one is social, the other economic. Many Democrats and Progressives would agree with the social branch which supports legalizing drugs, gambling and sex work with the standard three-way system: legalize, regulate, tax the profits. Honest Libertarians also support a woman’s right to make decisions about her body, gay marriage and openly available birth control. Note that Rand Paul denies these freedoms to choose when it comes to women and abortion.
      It is the economic component that is truly horrific. And you don’t have to go back to the middle of the 19th century here. Take a look at that article by Bernie Sanders that Nolan cited. The pure Libertarian line hasn’t changed.

    • Nolan Replies:

      Thanks for posting a comment.

      I fail to see a comparison between a party platform written 154 years ago where all the architects of the draft were in the grave by the turn of the last century, as opposed to a platform which was in fact accepted as the views of the party for a candidate who just so happens to still be living, remains very much politically active, and is now one of the major donors to the conservative movement.

      Where’s the conservative repudiation of this man’s history, beliefs, and designs on political power? Why are conservatives so afraid of criticizing horrible people like David Koch (and Sheldon Adelson)?

      — Nolan

  2. Nolan really? You’re way better than this.

    Koch does not represent the libertarian party. He is (or perhaps was) a member. To attribute his crimes to the party and members of the party is quite a leap even for a far-lefty such as yourself.

    Also, in reading that 1980 Libertarian party platform, I agree with about 90% of it. The other 10% I’d have to investigate a bit more.

    So yeah, I AM a Libertarian. And damn proud of it.

    • Nolan Replies:

      No, I’m not “way better than this.”

      I can crawl into the gutter and slug it out in a street fight with anyone on the right. Since the sewer (or the church) is where mainstream conservatism stands at the moment, I’ll have to continue getting my hands dirty.

      Thanks though, for the comment and for reading. I’m flattered to have a reader who diametrically opposes everything I stand for.

      — Nolan

    • what 90% do you agree with and what 10% don’t you, it is a wide reaching reply..thanks.

  3. This is the first of a multi-part response…

    LP 1980 Part 8 : “We support repeal of all law which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws.”

    By increasing the price of something (labor), less people will buy it (less people work) – supply and demand. If a business finds that their costs are too high, they may look for replacements (especially in “unskilled labor”). Take a look at the “Momentum Machine” link provided below for an example. When people are replaced “their hourly wages drop to zero.” Employers “cut back on hours”, “hire fewer new inexperienced workers”, “replace many low-skill workers with fewer high-skilled workers”, or go out of business. Several studies are included in the last link provided. Raising the minimum wage is a temporary solution that has negative long-term effects.

    If a wage is too low, workers potentially won’t take it and the business will die. Likewise, if a business pays low wages for workers, the business will not have the best workers and die. Companies that pay high wages will get the best workers and succeed as a company. When the free-market system is impeded by government, some of the free-market ideas may break down. This is of no fault to the free-market system.

    The minimum wage should be $0.00 (ideal). A step in the right direction is not increasing the minimum wage. An even better step in the right direction is decreasing it. The ideal solution is to have no minimum wage, and, instead, have the free market determine labor wages.

    Income isn’t static. People who start at minimum wage do not end up at the same place. In fact, only 5% of people who were in the bottom 20% income bracket in 1975 were still in that category in 1991. Nearly six times as many of them were now in the top 20% in 1991 (Thomas Sowell based on PSID research).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_contract
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frédéric_Bastiat
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_broken_window
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supply_and_demand
    http://www.businessinsider.com/momentum-machines-burger-robot-2014-8
    http://www.creators.com/opinion/thomas-sowell/dangerous-demagoguery-part-ii.html
    http://psidonline.isr.umich.edu/
    http://econpapers.repec.org/paper/fipfedfap/97-06.htm
    http://blog.skepticallibertarian.com/2013/02/25/remedial-economics-and-the-minimum-wage-for-presidents/

    • Income isn’t static. People who start at minimum wage do not end up at the same place. In fact, only 5% of people who were in the bottom 20% income bracket in 1975 were still in that category in 1991. Nearly six times as many of them were now in the top 20% in 1991 (Thomas Sowell based on PSID research).

      Interesting statistic that reeks of something bad. So according to your math the 5% went to six times, which equals 30%, so the then of the 5% nearly six times of them of them are now in the top 20%? That is over 16 years…how many were college students that went on to college degrees? how many were people who have passed on? This statistic is totally irrelevant and biased and part of the right wing attempt to keep control of the money abolish the middle class, because God knows you don’t want people with an income and standing up for America to vote, they just create hate and lies…why don’t we just elect Savage as president.

  4. LP 1980 Part 5: “We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system.”

    I believe that most problems have an ideal solution, as well as a gradual solution. For example, the Social Security program should be abolished. Ideally, it would be gone tomorrow. I understand there are realities and not everything can be ideal tomorrow. A solution to move towards the ideal goals would be for the government to stop collecting Social Security taxes and pay out what is owed to the people who paid into it. This will require the government to take a hit due to the way they’ve run the program (deficit). This is an entirely different problem, but one that I think illustrates the difference between ideals and realities. Ideally (pun intended), the realities would move in the proper ideal direction.

    Another proposed Social Security system is to make it optional. This way, people are not forced to pay into a system they do not want to pay into. The Social Security system has the funding mechanics of a pyramid or Ponzi scheme. In fact, the “Trust Fund” set up for the Social Security system is on track to run out by 2033.

    Retirement planning is the responsibility of the individual, not the government. The proper source of help for the poor is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Security_debate_in_the_United_States
    http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/TRSUM/index.html
    http://www.lp.org/platform

    • Henry Ford, no socialist and certainly no bleeding heart, proudly said he was and always would pay his workers top dollar. “But,” said the free-market gurus, “that will cut into your profits.”

      “Ah,” said Ford, “but I want all my people to be able to buy the Fords they are making.”

      It’s bloody obvious and so simple than even simpletons should be able to grasp it. When working class people have more money they spend it. Every $1.00 in welfare or unemployment insurance generates $1.10 – $1.20 increase in the GDP (you can look it up). When the wealthy have more money they put in in stocks and bonds. It does nothing for the economy — and it sure as hell doesn’t create jobs!

      Every city or state that has increased its minimum wage has boosted its economy. Then there’s Kansas … (you can look it up)

      The industrialized countries with the highest standard of living, the best health stats, the lowest crime rates, the highest quality of life are all ones with strong central governments, high base wage rates and, yes, progressive income tax rates that go up dramatically with income.

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