Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 570, May 16, 2010

"Prepare for the future by getting to it"

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by Sean Gangol

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Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

There are many people who refer to themselves as libertarians, even though their philosophies actually fall short of a true libertarian. Not to say that all libertarians are always in agreement with each other. I have heard libertarians disagree on various issues, such as, immigration, taxation and the death penalty.

When it comes to the issue of immigration, I have always held more of a moderate position, while most libertarians believe in unrestricted immigration. This is based on the freedom of movement concept. There are more nationalistic libertarians, who believe that the boarders should be closed off and that immigration should be more restricted.

Many libertarians oppose capital punishment because they see it as a violation of the Zero Aggression Principle. They believe that the power to put somebody to death is too much for any government to posses. Of course we have L. Neil Smith, who believes that the death penalty should be reserved for government officials who lie to the American people. I am also a moderate on this issue as well. However, I do believe that putting government officials to death for lying is a little extreme. Now I could get behind a good old fashion flogging in public for crooked officials (LOL).

Another issue that libertarians are divided on is taxation. Even though the income tax is almost universally despised among libertarians, there is some debate on what should replace it. There are some libertarian leaning conservatives like Neil Boontz and Ron Paul who support the idea of a 20% sales tax, also known as the Flat Tax. There are more hardcore libertarians who don't believe in any form of taxation. They think that it is the problem of government officials to figure out how to sustain themselves financially. The most interesting idea that I have heard on the subject was in book titled A Government without Taxes. It proposes the creation of a government that runs on stock that people would invest in for certain services like defense. I don't know which idea seems the most feasible, but the last idea seems like it would make for an interesting experiment.

There is also a group of people who call themselves libertarians, but they usually fall short because of their pro-war stance. These people have also been referred to as Neo-libertarians. Talk radio host Neal Bootnz and former host, Larry Elder are the two who come to mind. They don't seem to understand that the idea of a pro-war libertarian is an oxymoron. It is one thing to take up arms for the sake of defending the nation from a foreign enemy, but it is another thing to invade a country, simply because we hate their leaders or because we think they may have weapons of mass destructions and will do things with them that are naughty. The only reason why we should ever go to war is if we are attacked or if we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the nation is a direct threat to our security.

I once emailed Larry Elder and asked him how he could possibly call himself a libertarian, while supporting the war in Iraq. I reminded him that the war was a violation of the Zero Aggression Principle. He responded by emailing a link to an article about how certain people refer to themselves as libertarians, only because their views aren't aligned with the right or left. Basically these people are moderates that call themselves libertarians. If I am not mistaken Elder now refers to himself as a Republitarian.

Both Elder and Boontz are pro-Second Amendment; they both oppose the War on Drugs, as well as entitlement programs of any form. Their economic beliefs for the most part are libertarian, as well as their beliefs on homosexuality and abortion. With the exception of Boontz's aversion to smoking, both men oppose nanny state policies, yet they can't seem to shake their lust for war.

I do have a certain amount of respect for these men, especially Larry Elder. I have always respected him for the fact that he doesn't feel like he has to tow the Democratic Party's tagline, just because he happens to be a black man. I love his no nonsense attitude when it comes to black entitlement and personal responsibility. I have enjoyed all three of his books, Ten Things You Can't Say in America, Showdown and Stupid Black Men. I also thought that his pro-Second Amendment documentary Michael and Me was excellent.

My only real issue with Elder is his pro-war stance. What he and many other neolibertarians don't seem to understand is that war is one of the greatest threats to a free society. Aside from being a drain on the economy and sending thousands, possibly millions of young men and women to their deaths, history has shown that wars also aid in the slow disintegration of our liberties.

To be fair, I had at one time gone through my own Neo-libertarian stage. There was a time when I thought that military action was the solution to everything. This is partly due to what I call the "Patriot Fever", which I caught after 9-11. I supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without realizing the consequences. I also did further research on the consequences of the previous wars before I realized that war is one of the greatest threats to individual liberty.

One of the most devastating wars in American history was the War Between the States. This was a war where we saw the expansion and abuse of presidential power. We also saw atrocities committed against Southern civilians, which were supported by Honest Abe himself. It was a war where freedom was gained with the eventual destruction of slavery, but it would create another form of involuntary servitude called the draft.

Liberty was also lost when Woodrow Wilson not only dragged us into a war that didn't actually concern us, but for creating a Gestapo like force to make sure that all Americans were loyal to the war effort. FDR showed that he was no champion of freedom when he placed citizens of Japanese, German and Italian descent in internment camps during the Second World War.

There are people who would argue that good things have come out of war, like America's independence and the defeat of Hitler. True, we did win our independence through a force of arms, but that was after everything else failed. Yes, we stopped Hitler from taking over the world, but if we hadn't intervened in the first war and helped emasculate Germany, Hitler would have been nothing more then an obscure artist.

As much as I respect people like Larry Elder and Neal Boontz, I can't bring myself to call these men libertarians. Granted these men are closer then others who have called themselves libertarians, such as Bill Maher, who supports gun control, socialized healthcare and has allied himself with PETA. He doesn't resemble a libertarian in any shape or form. The Neo-libertarians seem to go wrong when they forget the real costs of war. Even in philosophical wars like the War on Drugs, the War on Terror and even the War on Poverty, liberty is one of the first causalities.

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