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The Value of Libertarianism: the Libertarian Philosophy

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Libertarianism is not as popular as modern liberalism or modern conservatism, nor is the Libertarian Party as popular as the Democrats or the Republicans. Society is exposed to the two main parties and their platforms much more than to the ideas of liberty. Perhaps in the future the people will be exposed to what I would say is a more liberating and moral option. If I were to personally define libertarianism, I would say it is a philosophy and/or consistent ideology advocating for liberty and minimal government intervention in the lives of the citizens, economically, socially and politically.

Specifically over the last decade, the world has seen an unexpected shift toward a more libertarian mindset, and this shift is especially prevalent among the younger generations of America. So the question that raises is why? And the answer that I see is perhaps more obvious than it may seem: libertarianism among younger people has stemmed from a rejection of social conservatism. Currently around half of America considers themselves conservatives, the range of the definition of conservatism being very broad. The mainstream conservative has right wing views while strongly heralding traditional values. Many of these conservatives hold traditional values that have been passed down to them from previous generations, which the present generation simply is not adhering to as strongly. Through shifting and progress of society, younger people are becoming more accepting of social changes that were not traditionally accepted in previous generations. However, though the people of this generation seem to be rejecting social conservatism, they still hold true to right wing beliefs, especially economically. They understand the dangers of large government, and reject erroneous socialist philosophies. This evolves into what we see in many Libertarians today: socially more liberal and fiscally conservative. They may believe and personally adhere to traditional principle, but refuse to instill their personal beliefs through the law. They hold strongly to the constitution, capitalism, and the founding philosophies of small government.

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The Libertarian philosophy on the federal government rests on a simple argument: it merely has the power to perform its express duties as per Article 1, Section 8. The vast majority of federal bureaus and agencies are unconstitutional, and federal agencies should be reduced to merely a defense department, a department of justice, a department of state, a department of the treasury, and a few intelligence and immigration enforcement departments. Other than this, there is no constitutional authority for any of the other federal agencies, and so they should all be eliminated. When it comes to federalism and the relationship between states and the federal government, all functions of the federal government belong to the states or the private sector. This means, among other things, that it supports abolishing all welfare and entitlement programs, federal infrastructure programs, and federal economic and environmental regulations. Although as I am a conservative personally, I believe it is the job of the states and individuals to be proper stewards of the environment, not the federal government. In this regard, I also believe that all federally owned land, such as public parks, should be handed over to the states or sold to private entities. I believe that the necessary and proper clause and the commerce clause of the constitution ought to be interpreted narrowly, such that the vast majority of legal authority is delegated to the states.

Libertarians disagree with the idea that taxation is a necessity for a modern society as a result of the social contract, comparing it to theft. Income tax is quite literally the fine one pays for the “crime” of being useful and productive. Through social democracy we’ve twisted ourselves into the idea that the majority can democratically take from a minority. We’ve started to view the wealthier as pawns and mechanisms by which we can extract wealth, rather than individuals with individual rights as we have. The level of spending the Federal government currently takes part in exceeds anything envisioned by the founding fathers. The necessary amount of taxation should not include an overwhelming expensive defense budget nor unnecessary federal programs.

Advocates of a government regulated economy seem to forget the variables of opportunity cost and utility when dealing with economics. Opportunity cost is what you lose when you chose one option or transaction over another. Our lives revolve around opportunity cost. We are constantly determining the best choices in our lives, weighing the costs and benefits. Utility is the amount of satisfaction or happiness gained from a certain transaction or trade. When we successfully weigh opportunity cost we increase our utility, meaning a successful decision has been made. It ensures a balance in the economy and maintains economic equilibrium. This is why a free market is so important. It leads to a flourishing economy where people are not spoon fed utility by the government, which has no regard for opportunity cost, as all their money comes from taxes, but rather every individual determines their own opportunity cost and works toward increasing their own utility, therefore strengthening the economy as a whole. 

Free market capitalism punishes a corporation that does not succeed in the competition or is unable to sufficiently use its financial resources. The market is the deciding factor for failing companies and are held accountable by the people who support them with their dollars. However, the government- through bail outs- uphold the power of monopoly-like corporations, no matter the effect it would have on the economy. This can be seen in the economic recession of 2008. The federal government would interfere in the economy by passing The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, enacted to find a solution to the mortgage crisis, authorizing the United States Secretary of the Treasury to spend up to $700 billion to purchase assets and supply cash directly to banks. This sort of action by an authoritarian federal government essentially means you don’t have to be accountable to customers and stock holders, no matter how inferior your product is and no matter how inefficient you are, we’ll keep you in business by taking the common man’s tax dollars. A free market system can only work if there is limited government. It’s this philosophical and political notion that produced the wealthiest nation in history. The ambition and the voluntary effort of citizens, not the government, drives the economy. People must shape their own destiny.

Liberty is essential to the life and pursuit of happiness of individuals. The expansion of federal government creates increased regulation, economic intervention, and involvement in the private lives of individuals. Libertarians aim to preserve this simple value: of having all authority out of your life, business, and refrain from committing theft -or “taxation”. The induvial’s rights must be persevered as long as they do not cause harm upon someone else, known as the Non-Aggression Pact (NAP). If anyone were to violate the terms of the NAP, they would suffer consequences such as jail time or a fine. The non-involvement of an authoritarian government is necessary to preserve the values of America, maintain a successful economy, and protect the vulnerable minority. I believe in as minimal a federal government as outlined in the constitution, and I believe that all powers not expressly granted to the federal government, belong to the states. In the words of Thomas Paine, “government, in its best form, is a necessary evil; and in its worst form, an intolerable one.”

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