Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What it feels like to be a libertarian

ABC reporter John Stossel has just offered his take on what it feels like to be a libertarian in today's world. Since I fancy myself a libertarian and because I am feeling lazy, I offer up his thoughts, which actually rest quite a bit on Georgetown Professor John Hasnas:

I share the Founders’ vision of limited government and the ability of people to voluntarily join with others to help their communities and themselves. I don’t agree with the conservatives who want government to play the role of morals policemen, and I don’t agree with the nanny state liberals. I’m a libertarian.


Georgetown University Professor John Hasnas has this take on what it feels like to be a libertarian these days:

It feels bad. Being a libertarian means living with an almost unendurable level of frustration. It means being subject to unending scorn and derision despite being inevitably proven correct by events.

Imagine spending two decades warning that government policy is leading to a major economic collapse, and then, when the collapse comes, watching the world conclude that markets do not work.

Imagine continually explaining that markets function because they have a built in corrective mechanism; that periodic contractions are necessary to weed out unproductive ventures; that continually loosening credit to avoid such corrections just puts off the day of reckoning and inevitably leads to a larger recession; that this is precisely what the government did during the 1920's that led to the great depression; and then, when the recession hits, seeing it offered as proof of the failure of laissez-faire capitalism.

Yup. It often feels bad. But so what? It’s our job to fight for freedom.

I agree with Stossel's conclusion and also recommend that you read Professor Hasnas entire take. It is insightful and depressing, especially the conclusion:
If you’d like a taste of what it feels like to be a libertarian, try telling people that the incoming Obama Administration is advocating precisely those aspects of FDR’s New Deal that prolonged the great depression for a decade; that propping up failed and failing ventures with government money in order to save jobs in the present merely shifts resources from relatively more to relatively less productive uses, impedes the corrective process, undermines the economic growth necessary for recovery, and increases unemployment in the long term; and that any "economic" stimulus package will inexorably be made to serve political rather than economic ends, and see what kind of reaction you get. And trust me, it won’t feel any better five or ten years from now when everything you have just said has been proven true and Obama, like FDR, is nonetheless revered as the savior of the country.
Given his declining poll numbers, I am hopeful that President Obama won't ultimately be revered as the savior of our country, but only time will tell.

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