Misconceptions

I’m a bit grouchy because I filed my tax return today. *grumble*

Libertarian.jpg

I’m guessing the people that have drowned in the pool are analogous to… the people who have been denied some form of (tax funded) service and have died as result because the lifeguard (the libertarian) on duty was unwilling to help because… its not his problem? Maybe I’m interpreting this wrong… but I think this is the gist of it.

That’s a pretty monstrous indictment of libertarianism.

Part of me (and likely a lot of libertarians) would argue that these people should likely not have been in the water if they couldn’t swim… and that there is a certain lack of personal ownership on display here. We could likely agree that a real libertarian would never have taken up the mantle of lifeguard in the first place nor assumed the responsibility and authority that this position requires. (Nor would he foist that responsibility on anyone else) A libertarian swimming pool would likely make it abundantly clear, that swimming here is done at your own risk.

I think this is quite an ‘academic’ interpretation of libertarianism. And while I agree with it on some sort of theoretical level… I also worry that there is this idea that libertarians are happy to let others die or suffer because they feel inconvenienced by having to help people.

Ergo… libertarians are sociopaths.

I worry that if you believe this that you have a very dim view of humanity in general. Are people are only rescued because there is a shared ‘pool’ of resources available to hire lifeguards? That seems a little dark to me. Besides couldn’t we assign some kind of incremental blame to the other bathers that felt their tax paid for that lifeguard… and therefore they shouldn’t have to intervene… because its not their ‘job’. What culpability to the they share?

I dislike the idea of assigning liability. Or indeed virtue based on contribution. I.e. Are people who pay more tax more virtuous than those that pay less? I think this is ethically quite a slippery slope…

A building is on fire. Ten firemen rush in and save ten people. That fire department is funded by ten tax payers. Three of the tax payers fund 90% of the fire department. How do we assign an empirical level of ‘goodness’ to this endeavor. Is it assigned to firefighters? Or to the donors based on contribution. After all without one the other wouldn’t exist… and likely vice versa.

Of course in a libertarian society we wouldn’t have fire-stations (or libraries or roads)… because libertarians are crazy people. Or another even worse, capitalist fire-stations that would only save you… if you had the money to pay.

I don’t think any of that is true. I think any libertarian would undoubtedly get behind community based endeavors (that benefit their community) where there is an egalitarian (and potentially voluntary) system of contribution that is completely transparent.

The counter argument is that poorer communities wouldn’t have the funds available to be able to affect their community positively. Assuming of course people had the desire to improve their community. Having government assigning collective resources keeps our baser nature in check… without which we would all be killing pigs and dropping rocks on the fat kid… of course… this administrative class also gives them leeway for the maladministration of some of this money.

I’d like to say this interpretation is not true. But Libertarianism is a difficult thing to test. The stumbling block is always the ‘people’ element in a nice theory. I think libertarians are by nature, quite optimistic about humans wanting to build a Utopian society and generally being quite charitable. They’ve believe that without a tax burden the onus of responsibility falls squarely on the individual… and that we would ‘rise’ to the occasion.

OMG. Are you insane? That would never happen. It would all just be chaos and bloodshed. We need to be led… and told how to behave… and have laws that force us to be genteel and civil towards each other.

Yeah… you may be right. I also think that libertarianism is a process (of several generations) and that eventually humanism will win. I will be long dead before this happens, but I think the progress towards smaller government, a flat tax rate and more transparency in how taxpayer money is spent is likely a step in the right direction.