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The limited government dilemma

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Published : July 14th, 2021
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Category : Editorials

Libertarians call for a free society but few, if any, bother to define what this means or explain how to achieve it.Is a free society one with a limited government?If so, how do we keep it limited?Who gets to define the limitations?How many people today even want a limited government?Not many, or libertarianism would be more popular.

The path to this limited government ideal is cleared by unlearning the fallacies government schools have taught us.  But if the unlearning is consistent, the result will be to wipe government as we know it out of the picture altogether.  Not even libertarians want that.  Why else would there be a Libertarian Party?  Someone has to oversee this limited government to make sure it doesn’t meddle unnecessarily in our lives, and libertarians of the Libertarian Party are presumably most fit for the job. 

Libertarians are stuck with an inconsistent premise.  Their sacred nonaggression principle seemingly must coexist with an agency of aggression, allowing some people to dictate to others in the form of laws, orders, or decrees.  

For libertarian authors, this isn’t necessarily a bad deal.  They get to expose the state’s countless evils, and other limited-government libertarians love reading about them, even if it darkens their day.  And it’s not just libertarians who soak it up — regular people, who run their lives on common sense, recognize criminality when they see it without having read Murray Rothbard.  

The situation for libertarians reminds me of eager researchers devoting their lives to finding a cure for cancer.  A cure would be wonderful, but it would also end research funding.  If anarchy is the cure for the state, what would libertarians write about if it’s gone?  (On the issue of cancer research, see Bill Sardi’s We Already Know How to Cure Cancer.)

Suppose, though, that anarchy isn’t the ultimate political horror?  What if “anarchy” serves as cover for a free market and a free society generally?  What is it about the free market that it can provide almost all, but not quite all, of society’s needs?  Is it possible that’s a myth—or worse, a hoax?  

Let’s look at a few examples.

Why can’t free men (and women) decide on their own to institute courts and advertise their benefits to the public?  Why can’t others do the same and attempt to persuade the public their courts are better?  And wouldn’t it be possible that some people would prefer the courts of A over the courts of B?  And couldn’t they contract with others to agree on which courts to use in cases of dispute?  

Who among us would feel safe without a means of protecting ourselves from foreign invaders?  Would this not be an incentive for companies to offer defense services, and knowing they have competition, to open up their operations for public inspection?  

What would happen to the needy under a free market?  Would they be left to perish in a so-called dog-eat-dog world?  Other people, acutely aware of their own vulnerability, have proven to be charitable even in an age when government has grabbed the welfare reins.  In days before the welfare state, charity was the pride of the semi-free society we once had.  

Would income disparity exist under a free market government?  Absolutely, just as disparities exist among people in all areas of life.  But the fortunes made by some would depend largely on their ability to satisfy customers, not on their nonexistent political connections.  Under coercive government Burton Folsom’s political entrepreneurs (the real Robber Barons) thrive at the public’s expense.  

When you hear “anarchy,” think “free market” and remember all the blessings it has brought us — and when you hear “government” think of war, the IRS, its response to 9-11, the war on drugs, Critical Race Theory, the decimation of the dollar, the Deep State, spying, the covid hoax, stolen elections, and the rest of its contributions to our lives.  

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George Ford Smith is the author of nine books, includingThe Flight of the Barbarous Relic,Eyes of Fire: Thomas Paine and the American RevolutionandThe Fall of Tyranny, the Rise of LibertyHe is also a filmmaker whose works include Do Not Consent- Think OUTSIDE the voting booth, Last Day, and Risky Pinch Hitter.

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George F. Smith is the author of The Flight of the Barbarous Relic, a novel about a renegade Fed chairman and the editor of Barbarous
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