Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 748, December 8, 2013

Negotiating with Obama is like playing chess
with a pigeon.The pigeon knocks over all the
pieces, shits on the board and then struts
around like it won the game."—Vladimir Putin

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by Sean Gangol

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Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

Whenever I talk to people about libertarianism, they usually dismiss it right off because of all the misconceptions that are floating about. They seem to have no understanding of what libertarianism is actually. This is largely thanks to all the years of government schooling, as well as the falsehoods perpetrated by the lamestream media. Usually their objections are based on falsehoods that are repeated often in government school textbooks and by talking heads who don't know Jack about libertarianism.

They seem to believe the myth that the free market was a gigantic cesspool that was letter cleansed by the purity of government. This is largely based on a work of fiction created by Upton Sinclair, even though it was largely debunked by two different investigations performed under two different branches of government. They also seem to have the cartoon image of the greedy "Robber Barons” who supposedly created monopolies so they could line their wallets, while the poor became poorer. Never mind that they actually found ways to produce cheaper goods, which gave the poor greater access to them.

That is why there are so many people who believe that the government is the end all solution to everything. They have become so accustomed to having the government interfere in their daily lives that they can't imagine life without it. That is why people make straw man arguments against libertarianism. Well, that and intellectual laziness also plays a strong part in it. The same intellectual laziness that I have seen in many creationists who constantly attack evolution without even bothering to open a science book to find out what they are arguing against.

Here's one of my favorite arguments:

Well since you're against any form of welfare or wealth distribution, then you must be some rich fat cat who hates the poor.

While I can't speak for the financial situation of all libertarians, I can definitely say that I am not among those who spend their mornings taking laps in an Olympic sized pool full of hundred dollar bills. For that matter I wouldn't have enough money for Demi Moore to roll around naked in it like she did in "Indecent Proposal” (maybe if I had it all in singles or quarters). You have to wonder if they thought people just lied down in ditches and starved to death before welfare was created. Despite living in a country that gives more in donations than any other nation, we sure seem to have little faith in our fellow man if we believe that government force is the only way to help those who are less fortunate. As for wealth distribution, I have to resort to my favorite expression by Ludwig von Mises "The government can't make you any richer, but it sure can make you poorer.”

The only time that the government has ever created wealth or prosperity is when it finally got out of the way.

Here's another one of my favorites:

How can you trust corporations? We need government to protect us from these evil fat cats

This is a common misconception that is often repeated by the Occupy crowd. Corporations are actually the polar opposite of what free markets are all about. Corporations get their support through government subsidiaries and they usually encourage the government to pass regulations that make it harder for the smaller companies to compete. This is also known as crony capitalism. Since the government is in league with these fat cats, I wouldn't count on these same bureaucratic cronies offering us much protection.

Many people (especially those on the left) seem to have a misunderstanding about the demographic of the libertarian movement. Often I have heard people refer to libertarians as homophobic bible-thumping fanatics, which is something I find puzzling because most of the libertarians that I have heard of are just as skeptical of religion as they are of government. It's not to say that we don't have religious libertarians, but I find it odd that anybody would mistake us for Christian fundamentalists. I find it even more amusing that overly conservative zealots like to refer to libertarians as amoral heathens. So which one is it?

Not too long ago I saw a YouTube video that was shown in a PSA form that showed a young couple going to a public beach. The narrator of the video says, "Does it bother you that this beach was paid for by socialism? Just imagine what a paradise it would be without government.” Then they showed clips of how Somalia is fairing without government. Seriously, Somalia? That's your biggest argument against libertarianism? It turns out that the maker of this video wasn't the only one who has made this comparison. Left-wing commentator, Rachel Maddow has also referred to Somalia as libertarianism in action. Frankly, I don't know how you compare a country that has two tribal governments who are trying to take control by massacring each other with an ideology that forbids the initiation of force. Actually I think I do know the answer to the question. Willful ignorance.

Unfortunately there are people who will believe that the government is needed for everything from building roads to regulating the market to providing free healthcare. Yet the government really isn't good at any of these things. It's amazing how people act so shocked about Obamacare being a total disaster. That is except for the people who actually know the true nature of government. They can't even do the basics right. Anyone who has ever been to the DMV or the post office, has had a glimpse of how the government runs things. Seriously, did these people actually walk into one these places and decide that this is how our healthcare should be run? Did they actually come in and think "you know, I think these same arrogant, lazy, apathetic bureaucrats should run our healthcare.” Contrary to what these people think, we do want things like roads, post offices and quality healthcare. We just want them done right.

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