Do you have too much Freedom?

February 28, 2001 12:50 PM   Subscribe

Do you have too much Freedom?
Might be interesting to all except for the ideology sales pitch at the end. Here is where the warning that it is a Harry Browne/Libertarian penned article goes. George Bush is a Communitarian?
posted by thirteen (20 comments total)
I found the link by following a different link. Now I have explored the rest of the site a little better, and it leaves me a kind of cold. Whatever you do, don't click on the Gypsy Smith cartoon banner ad, they were so stiff I was gagging in fear.
posted by thirteen at 1:00 PM on February 28, 2001

Lets all be one big happy borg family. :) FUD
posted by johndoezdallaz at 1:02 PM on February 28, 2001

I like the social programs of the libertarians, but I fail to see how privatizing roads will somehow increase "freedom." And I also don't see how getting rid of public libraries and schools would be a good thing for democracy.
posted by Doug at 1:27 PM on February 28, 2001

Sounds lovely, but it does seem that dismantling the current system wholesale would be financially, socially, and perhaps morally catastrophic. I try to read _Liberty_ on a fairly regular basis, and I always come away from it with the same thought: a solid dose of pragmatism might come in handy. _How_ are we supposed to do this?

posted by thomas j wise at 1:42 PM on February 28, 2001

I really don't want to waste time debunking libertarianism (which could be equated with discovering fire : ), but I can't resist with quotes like this;

"Health care will be much more accessible and much less expensive. Insurance will be available to virtually everyone, at much lower cost than is the case today. Charity hospitals and free clinics will proliferate. Hospital stays will be far less expensive, and most doctors will make house calls."

Harry! That is amazing! But how do you know this to be true?

"(How do I know this would be the case? Because that's the way it was in America before the federal government took over health care in the 1960s.)"

Wow Harry! Thanks for clearing that up with invalid logic statements and vague blaming!
haha...oh man.
I work with a libertarian. He spends a lot of time trying to convince people that "wealth can be created from nothing" and "industry will not pollute as much if we take away the regulations the government impose".

Some days it is funny, others scary.

Although I do like the theory that since no one knows who owns firearms, crime will go down. I wonder if there is any truth buried in there. Anyone have any theories as to why this would or would not be true? I mean, the penal system is obviously not a deterrent to crime. Would an armed populace be better?
posted by das_2099 at 1:47 PM on February 28, 2001

i think you could make an informed case that an armed populace would help out the crime rate (i might not agree, but you could back it up decently), but it still doesn't answer my fundamental question about gun control, which is how do we keep guns out of the hands of children? be it a four year old who happens into his parents' gun cabinet or one of the kids from columbine, kids should not have access to guns. would columbine have happened if all the students had been prepared to whip out their guns and retaliate? i don't really want to know. guns are one issue on which i don't think that "decriminalizing" them would take away the appeal (as opposed to drugs). guns aren't really a matter of "moderation", either... there is no moderate point between shooting someone and not shooting someone. either someone is killed or they're not.
posted by pikachulolita at 1:56 PM on February 28, 2001

This guy's points don't stand up to any sort of scrutiny. If anyone cares, here are some instant rebuttals:

You will pay no income tax... [the govenment would] get by on today's tariffs and excise taxes - Jacking up tariffs enough to support a government anywhere near big enough to run the US will destroy free trade.

Your annual take-home pay should be thousands of dollars larger than it is now. - This "additional" income will be swallowed by inflation.

You no longer will be forced to pay 15 percent of your income to a fraudulent retirement scheme like Social Security. - The money goes to support people too old to work to support themselves. Browne is advocating leaving them in the cold.

In the absence of drug laws... - Well, that part would be nice.

your neighborhood will be much safer because criminals will have no way to know which residents are armed - This has been demonstrated to be completely wrong. Guns are used more when there are more of them around.

Charity hospitals and free clinics will proliferate - This is a fantasy. If there's more of them it's because there will be more sick people on the streets.

More freedom is good. But freedom and government are not opposites. We need better government, not less of it.
posted by Loudmax at 2:04 PM on February 28, 2001

"Lefties want to solve the world with a big government. The right-wing want to solve it with big market"

I disagree with some Libertarian ideals of a hands-off government as I have seen companies limit the market through price fixing and OEM agreements - both of which I don't consider to be a free market. My ideal free market is a blind market, mute to competitors.

> Jacking up tariffs enough to support a government
> anywhere near big enough to run the US will destroy
> free trade.

They have done the math - have you? Lets see your figures.

> The money goes to support people too old to work
> to support themselves. Browne is advocating leaving
> them in the cold.

I'm not sure about the American scheme but here only about 60% of the money set aside for the elderly goes to them. It's not swallowed in paperwork but rather used elsewhere.

> This is a fantasy. If there's more of them it's
> because there will be more sick people on the streets.


I won't bother with this one.

OT: In America I don't see the point of restricting guns to the populace. My friends who live there own several guns and can get more easily (and illegally) and they're not criminals (well I guess they are but you know what I mean). In New Zealand guns aren't everywhere so restricting home ownership makes more sense.

posted by holloway at 2:12 PM on February 28, 2001

This comment jumps a bit to the side of the main issue but does address itself to the notion of getting more religion and less govt involved in parts of our lives. Last evening, Rev Moon (Moonies) spoke at the Univ of Bridgeport, which he owns through a front group, and invited many clergy there to discuss family values. (Note: his family has one heck of a poor track record, with arrests, abuse, drugs etc and mass marriages). There were sessions held to discuss how clergy could get hold of the new faith-based money. Of course it should be pointed out that Rev Moon himself served time for tax evasion (felon time), and that his organization has given very substantial sums to the former president Bush, for speaking all over the globe.
As for Browne: in his best-selling book some 20 years ago he said one ought not bother to involve oneself in politics and opt out, go it alone. Then he decided to be a candidate for presidency. A spokesperson wrote me to say he had since the book altered his views!
Why not privatize defense and do away with a public standing army?
posted by Postroad at 2:15 PM on February 28, 2001

Damn, I had a good post until it was eaten.

To sum up: I think that the point of thirteen's post (a damn good one if I say so myself) was not necessarily to provoke a argument for or against libertariansim, but to ask the more important question of whether Bush is a communitarian.

My answer: I don't know, but I don't think that Bush knows either. I will say this, he sure knows how to talk the talk. Central to communitarianism are the devolution of social programs from the federal to the local level as well as from government to non-government organizations, the encouragement of communities to form a moral basis, the strengthening of ties between disparate groups and organizations, and the call for increased social responsibility.

Bush talks about these things, and his advocacy for a office of faith-based organizations seems to lend action to his professed ideals. However, he seems to mistake his own ideals and preferences for what communities should be doing and thinking. Also, his ties to special interests (most especially oil and energy) as well as his reluctance to put controls on political contributions contradict communitarianism's call for government freedom from vested interests.

Browne seems to equate communitarianism with increased government control, when in fact it really calls for community responsibility to take the place of government regulation. However, when government takes a smaller role, there also needs to be a concurrent ensuring of a safety net for those who need help.
posted by Avogadro at 3:09 PM on February 28, 2001

The money goes to support people too old to work to support themselves. Browne is advocating leaving them in the cold.

Well, I haven't read this article, but during Browne's presidential run, he actually advocated selling off all government land (which he claimed was worth 6-7 trillion dollars) and using that money to fund social security commitments already made by the government.

Really, he has a point... if everyone saved 14.5% of their income their entire lives, most people would have a tremendously larger amount of money upon retirement than Social Security would ever provide them. There is the benefit of providing for those who haven't been able to save, but that cost is much lower than general payments to every single person.

There are lots of problems with Social Security, not the least of which is that social security is, quite disgustingly, a regressive tax (well, it's flat if you make less than 67,000 or so a year, which most people do, but it places a disproportionate burden on the lowest-income earners). I don't agree with the distance Browne would like to go to get rid of it, but major changes need to be made.
posted by daveadams at 3:52 PM on February 28, 2001

The biggest problem with Social Security:

As far as I understand it, my grandfather will recieve a check from social security this month. He was born poor, and lived a lot of his life in the lower middle class (I was born in the Boston ghetto of Dorchester), but by retirement was the executive of a New England oil consortium, and drove a crisp new Mercedes.

So why, then, is government money (i.e. my money) going to his retirement? I'm all for giving those who are poor in retirement enough money to live on, but this is an example of waste. In addition, social programmes like SS discourage saving, which discourages investment and thus economic growth, and thus a better retirement.

Actually, income tax does the same thing.

Income tax should be removed entirely, as well as sales tax. We should tax property, the largest estates (perhaps those over $5 million would be a better limit), international trade, and also acquire money thru green taxes. The Tobin Tax should be implemented to pay for international task force work such as the UN, WHO, etc..

I'm not a libertarian; officially I'm a "slightly libertarian moderate", according to Issues 2000 quiz. I believe that libertarianism is the best choice, though.

Libertarianism DOES NOT STOP YOU FROM FORMING *voluntary* COMMUNIST/RELIGIOUS/WHATEVER COMMUNITIES. You could, right now, set up a co-operative town of 30,000 with communist ideals in America right now. Capitalism doens't stop you from doing so. However, communism does stop capitalism. In the same vein, Bush's commutarianism stops individual liberty; it's not the government's job to tell me my religion, what charity I want to give to, etc..

I can think of an interesting experiment: Lower the Income Tax by a few percent. Then add a "voluntary" line to the Income Tax form, where you can specify what program you want to help. The govt. would note that the program's federal funding would not be connected to the voluntary giving; any such giving would be *additional*. Then we'll see how many communitarians and socialists will walk the walk, rather than call for other people to walk the walk.

"Ando el camino, sin ayuda del vecino", I think, is a phrase that communitarians and socialists need to look at closely.


posted by Kevs at 8:10 PM on February 28, 2001

“‘Ando el camino, sin ayuda del vecino,’ I think, is a phrase that communitarians and socialists need to look at closely.”

I’m looking very closely, but it’s definitely not English. Sorry.
posted by gleemax at 10:52 PM on February 28, 2001

- Many people will be destitute in retirement because they don't have the discipline to save and they'll be on their own and it'll be too bad: they can go to hell.

- The number of drug addicts will increase, unproductive members of society who scrape and beg to get by.

- Your neighborhood will be much more dangerous because there will be more guns and, as a bonus, fewer police.

- Health care will be much less accessible and much more expensive. Health will be much worse, as it was before regulation in the 60s.

- Rich people will live in 'gated' (read 'fortress') communities with Gibson-esque (Virtual Light) security guards.
posted by Sean Meade at 8:28 AM on March 1, 2001

They have done the math - have you? Lets see your figures.

I'm sure they've done their math. But bear in mind that this is economics, the dismal science. I'm sure they can get the figures to show what they want them to. The point is that pretty much all economists agree that tariffs hurt markets by protecting innefficient producers. They should be dismantled, not raised to cover the costs of the federal government.

Nobody should count on Social Security for their retirement. Putting money aside will always be better than waiting on the government for a handout. I'm not saying society should support everyone who doesn't support themself. But we can't let old people rot away either. For some people, Social Security is all that's left.

posted by Loudmax at 9:58 AM on March 1, 2001

Avogadro called it correctly. I already know the general opinion of Libertarianism on this board, and thus my poorly worded warning. I had never heard the word "Communitarian" before and thought it was worth discussing. Since I am all about "celebrating individual freedom" it is a scary word to me.

I also did not mean to post "interesting to ALL" but rather, interesting to some.
posted by thirteen at 10:17 AM on March 1, 2001

Jello Biafra said it best..

A Libertarian is just a conservative who smokes pot..

posted by Leonard at 11:17 AM on March 1, 2001

Jello is an idiot.
posted by thirteen at 11:21 AM on March 1, 2001

"A libertarian is just an atheist conservative" might be slightly closer to the truth, at least in my case... since I've never smoked pot (or tobacco for that matter -- nor even been drunk).
posted by kindall at 12:06 PM on March 1, 2001

The Republican party would be a hundred times better if it wasn't Church-affiliated. How the hell'd that happen? I'm pretty sure it hasn't always been so.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:19 PM on March 1, 2001

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