Community Voices features opinion pieces from a wide variety of authors and perspectives. (Submission Guidelines)

Libertarian proposals rely on voluntary, entrepreneurial solutions

Politics is a strange world. On the street we pass by others from all walks of life. People of various races, all ages, many cultural backgrounds, different religions, and those who are wealthy and poor. We say “hi” if we want to, but mostly just go about our own way. We all get along.

But in the political arena, that sensibility somehow disappears. We become preoccupied with each other’s lives. We debate about whom someone else might be marrying, whether they might earn too much or not enough, or what type of plant they might be smoking. The politicians are eager to exploit our differences, splitting us into groups and dividing us against each other. The strife in our society comes about when some attempt to use the force of government to control others. Naturally, those who would be controlled aren’t too fond and try to fight back. This is the source of all of today’s political rancor.

What if politics could be more like how we already conduct ourselves in our daily lives?

‘Live and let live’ credo

This “live and let live” credo is the foundation of the Libertarian philosophy. You should have broad discretion to live your own life however you choose, and to earn or spend your own money how you choose, so long as you don’t infringe upon the equal right of others to do the same. Libertarians support liberty in four key areas: personal freedom of lifestyle, strong defense of all civil liberties, a free and open marketplace for entrepreneurs and consumers, and a return to international peace.

The Libertarian Party of Minnesota has been discussing issues as diverse as police accountability, fire safety codes, new solutions to poverty and the ongoing war in Iraq. In nearly every case, we’re proposing ideas that many have never heard before. All rely on voluntary, entrepreneurial solutions rather than the coercive force of government laws, taxes and mandates.

Here’s one example of a Libertarian solution. Light rail remains a controversial issue today. Those who support it press hard for government to build it. Others won’t use it and oppose their taxes being used for this purpose. One group will win. The other will lose.

It doesn’t need to be that way. In an open marketplace, light rail wouldn’t be built by politicians, but by entrepreneurs. The entrepreneur would decide if there’s enough demand to build a light rail system, obtain their own financing to build it, and set a price which covers their costs but is still affordable to customers. Libertarians would not hand out taxpayer funds to build it, nor offer bailouts if the venture should fail, but since risk must be balanced by reward, the entrepreneurs would be able to keep the profits gained by building something that provides value to others. Those who like the rail service and find the prices reasonable can become customers. Those who don’t like it can refrain from using it and wouldn’t be forced to pay for it through taxation. When all those involved participate voluntarily, everyone wins. There are no losers.

Active in all 50 states

S.L. Malleck

The Libertarian Party is a grassroots organization, now active in all 50 states, built by ordinary people who understand that working within either of the Two Big Old parties is no longer an option. We don’t receive funding from any special interest groups or wealthy benefactors; all of our funding comes from our individual members and supporters. Our leadership consists of activists who came from both the GOP and DFL, as well as former independents, who now realize that the Libertarian Party offers the best path to helping every individual have maximum choice and opportunity in their lives.

A chance for the public to learn more is around the corner. Our state convention on Saturday, April 25, features numerous speakers and workshops discussing our solutions, along with plenty of time to socialize and have fun. It will be held in Maple Grove, and the public is welcome. We believe it’s time for a new party, a new message, and a new approach. If you’re ready for an alternative, our website has more information about our convention.  Live Free!

S.L. Malleck is the vice chair of the Libertarian Party of Minnesota.

WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?

If you’re interested in joining the discussion, add your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a letter or a longer-form Community Voices commentary. (For more information about Community Voices, email Susan Albright at salbright@minnpost.com.)

Comments (49)

  1. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 04/22/2015 - 08:41 am.

    Beautiful concept

    But the reality is something different. If we could rely on “entrepreneurial solutions,” those solutions would already exist. However, the problem with most of the things that big bad government “coerces” people into is that they’re problems that have no profitable solutions. That is, the market works just fine–it doesn’t bother with unprofitable solutions. The difficulty with the rose colored live and let live attitude is that it pretends that humans are not humans, but rather some generally rational, socially intelligent, and benevolent creature (we really aren’t), and that we don’t owe anything more to society than what we immediately perceive to be taken from it. The truth isn’t as obvious as most libertarians believe–we all owe far more to society than we immediately perceive. It’s a bit of a butterfly effect, but there are all kinds of things that happened, are happening, and will happen as a result of a civil society that allow you to not only profit when you ARE being entrepreneurial, but even survive. So, big bad government coerces you into getting an immunization, eh? Well, thanks to big bad government, your parents probably didn’t contract small pox or polio and so survived intact for long enough for you to be born healthy enough to reach adulthood. And big bad government coerced you to pay taxes so we can build and maintain (roughly) the roads that carry goods, services, and people allow you to purchase food conveniently, sell your wares if you so choose, and visit your relatives, regardless of whether you were born wealthy enough to pay tolls that surely would exist if we left the roads up to entrepreneurial solutions.

    Honestly, I don’t get angry with libertarians. For the most part, I find the concept quaint and naive and it’s hard to be mad at the truly naive. Maybe when we’ve evolved a bit more, hopefully in a more logical, socially intelligent, and benevolent direction, libertarianism will make sense as a governmental policy. Now…not so much.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/22/2015 - 10:34 am.

      You mentioned

      managing public health crises and roads. I would add national defense and the courts. If we stopped there we’d all be better off. But we don’t.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/22/2015 - 08:47 am.

    The Libertarian pledge

    I agree with most of the principles of the LP, especially free-market economics and constitutionally-limited government, but like most conservatives would say, you lose me with the Libertarian pledge.

    For readers who are unaware, to join the LP, you must take the following pledge:
    “I hereby certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals.” That sounds noble, and in addition to embracing certain lifestyle issues, I’m sure that’s how you manage to attract members of the liberal party to the LP.

    But the other political movement in this country that waves the Gadsden flag is the Tea Party movement, most of whom are military veterans, most of whom have no difficulty adopting a philosophy of peace through strength versus peace through retreat. We’re seeing the results of this lack of leadership and reluctance to use force in the current chaos that is the middle-east.

    It’s why most conservatives and Tea Partiers vote republican and not LP. I like Rand Paul. But it’ll be interesting to see how he navigates this issue in the GOP primary.

  3. Submitted by Ed Kohler on 04/22/2015 - 08:48 am.

    There are some significant societal problems that selfishness doesn’t solve. A good example is dealing with pollution, which may explain why the Koch brothers invest so much money trying to convince people that we’re all better off if they can pollute without consequence.

  4. Submitted by Ken Jopp on 04/22/2015 - 10:06 am.

    Calling All Free-Market Purists:

    There’s something appealing about libertarian rhetoric, but I have yet to hear libertarians advocate for stripping government of its authority to create legal fictions, such as corporations, holding companies, LLPs, trusts, nonprofits, foundations, etc., etc. Each entity of this sort represents governmental interference in the marketplace.

    In a real free-market system, none of these designations would be necessary. But each is sought, because each involves government bestowing advantages on the enterprise. Tax advantages. Liability advantages. And so on. It’s no longer a level playing field when, between two competing enterprises, one gets a corporate charter and the other doesn’t. And the difference is independent of market conditions, but is a matter of government sticking its nose in.

    So, c’mon you free-market purists. Tell us how you yearn to rid the market of these governmental Frankensteins.

    • Submitted by matt johansen on 04/22/2015 - 12:35 pm.

      Challenge accepted

      You are correct, most of these are government creations and would have no place in a free market. The limiting of liability has created no end of moral hazard.
      Would there still be groups of individuals with a shared common purpose that would be formed? I think so. Contract law would provide for shielding individuals of personal liabilty for a commercial action, for example a bond offering would stipulate that purchasers of the bonds would only be entitled to the “corporate assets” and not individual “stockholders”. But this would not limit the liabilty of that entity/shareholders for non-contractual issues, so if the group owns a oil freighter and the captain they hired slams into a bridge after three martini’s the owners may end up losing their houses. The free market solution to these issues is insurance which is a very effective tool for keeping the actions of individuals and groups in check.
      As for tax avoidance structures, in the most free market, taxation would not be an issue. As you suggested these are non-free market creations, built to exploit a non-free market.
      To go one further, I suggest that monoplies created by government interventions should be eliminated as well – to include patents, copyrights and all other “intellectual property” constructs. Again this is an example where has government has aided in rigging the game to protect a few at the expense of all.

      • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 04/24/2015 - 08:10 am.

        Intellecutal property

        Is specifically provided for in the Constitution. Article I, Section 8, Clause 8: “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”
        All hail the Constitution!

        Honestly, this is just one small example of why I believe that libertarianism is selfishness wrapped in naivete.

  5. Submitted by matt johansen on 04/22/2015 - 11:48 am.

    Are those really Libertarian failings?

    Vaccines? If the government did not require or even subsidize vaccines would you, as a personal choice, vaccinate your child? Most people would. The market for dog vaccinations proves that vaccines are routinely chosen, as does continued tetnaus shots, etc.

    Roads and infrastructure are created by the market all the time. Every apartment complex, mobile home park, shopping mall, large industrial complex shows that this is done. Would you buy a house that had no street access? Developers would include the streets in any project to make it saleable. True it is hard to envision what a complete free market solution would look like now, but that doesn’t mean it would not obtain if the market were actually free. Envisioning a gasoline distribution system in 1880 would have been a challenge as well.

    The Koch Brothers and pollution: Long ago government stripped property owners of the right to defend their properties against degradation from polluters. This was done in order to protect polluters, who at the time, were considered as benefiting society more than the harm of their pollution. Antonik v. Chamberlain (1947…by no means the first action of this kind) is classic case where the government denied residents of Akron the ability to stop a private airport from harming their property with noise pollution – an excerpt of the decision:
    “In our business of judging in this case, while sitting as a court of equity, we must not only weigh the conflict of interests between the airport owner and the nearby landowners, but we must further recognize the public policy of the generation in which we live. We must recognize that the establishment of an airport … is of great concern to the public, and if such an airport is abated, or its establishment prevented, the consequences will be not only a serious injury to the owner of the port property but may be a serious loss of a valuable asset to the entire community”
    Legislatures and courts have stripped people of the ability to go after polluters in class action suits all in the name of “Public Interest”. In a free market, where government does not strip property owners of their rights in favor of the rich or well connected the cost of remediating all unwanted degradation or acquiring all property (or easements to pollute) harmed by pollution would quckly exceed the costs of appropriate controls. The Koch Family benefits far more from government policy than their pseudo-libertarian positions would ever allow.

    Is a libertarian world a Utopia? Not by any means. But neither is the one we have. Given the constant wars of agression, committed by government, imprisonment and killing of “nonviolent criminals”, committed by government, protection of the strong, wealthy and connected at the expense of the rest of society, commited by government, I will gladly accept the chance that little Johnnie next door didn’t get his Polio vaccine.

    • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 04/22/2015 - 01:20 pm.

      Government is US

      You speak of things being “committed by government” as if there were not individuals and groups, working to dominate the levers of power located in government, in order to create a system by which they personally benefit,…

      or by which they assuage their insecurity over the things in which they “truly believe” by forcing everyone else to act as if they believed those same things.

      Government does not act nor does it even exist except that it is a product of the people who make up that government.

      The evils of government are the SAME evils that infect individual humans, and the groups they form. At least at this point, we still have some measure of control, through elections, over what our government is doing.

      If we strip the levers of economic power OUT of government, as “libertarians” seem so desperate to do, we then are left with a de facto system wherein the biggest bullies run everything.

      Under such circumstances, we would not find peace and prosperity, but life similar to that under the various bullies who would take charge in various localities – the warlords of the rural Afghanistan or Pakistan, or life as it’s currently lived in Somalia, or Libya.

      That Libertarians cannot see the end to which their fantasy view of the universe, completely devoid of any understanding of the nature of humans and human societies would take us,…

      it a testament to their own glaring psychological dysfunction-induced blind spots.

      The evil found in “libertarianism” is not in it’s theoretical ideology, but in it’s complete, stubborn, dysfunctional blindness to the completely-predictable end to which it takes us,…

      and, even moreso, in it’s complete blindness to the reality that it IS blinded from seeing that inevitable result.

      “There are NONE so blind as those who WILL not see.”

      • Submitted by matt johansen on 04/22/2015 - 02:32 pm.

        It is more about looking closely

        So what is the difference between “individuals and groups, working to dominate the levers of power located in government, in order to create a system by which they personally benefit” and ” the various bullies who would take charge in various localities”? Your solution to the bully problem is to give the bully a monopoly on violence plus the ability to extract whatever resources they deem necessary from those that they prey upon? Not much of a solution.

        I openly stated that a libertarian society is not utopia so your claim of a “fantasy view” seems to be based on a canned reaction than a response to what was actually written.

        Your belief of the biggest bullies taking charge is contradicted by the entirety of modern civilization where prosperity has blossomed because of human cooperation. Division of labor and mutually beneficial exchange is what allows mankind to have achieved what it has.

        Your belief that government power is held in check by a vote only works if the vote allows you to reject the government in total. When the bully is allowed to take resources from me and use them to kill others that have not agressed against me, or anyone in “my country” I cannot say no. When the bully is allowed to take resources from me to imprison a person who has hurt no other person because the bully does not agree with the a private transaction I cannot say no. I just get to choose if the bully wears a red tie or a blue tie. That is no check on power.

        The inevitable result is easily seen and it does not contain freedom. The state will continue to dominate. More Hitlers will rise and fall. Drones will kill until they are replaced by a new more selective weapon. Fortunes will rise and fall but the pockets that they rise in will continue to be far fewer than the pockets that suffer the fall. The natural world will continue to be abused in order to reap those fortunes as quickly as possible. Offer me one bit of evidence to contradict that as being the most likely outcome. Until that inevitable result changes I have no choice but to ask if there is another way. My faint sliver of hope is that when that end comes there is a chance to say “No, I object to this. I shall not support this injustice” without being killed or sent to prison.
        Wave your flag all you want, shrug your shoulders when the bully steps on the neck of another human being and take comfort in your power at the ballot box. I have a tough time with that one and there are more than a few of us that cannot stand by and watch the slaughter. Isaiah’s Remnant still exists.

        • Submitted by Matt Haas on 04/23/2015 - 12:52 am.

          Fatal flaw in your analogy

          Your right to object to the actions of the nongovernmental bully in your example extends only as long as you are carrying the bigger gun. Sounds base to be sure, but its the reality of the situation. You state that the propsperity of the modern age has come about through human cooperation. What exactly constitutes your “modern age” ? Outside the last couple hundred years, and even then only in a few locales human society has functioned almost exclusively on the end product of Libertarianism’s thought experiment, the strongest amass the most arms, declare themselves ruler, and hold sway over the rest. How exactly do you think any person, or any family, becomes royalty? That one day the populace wakes up and says, “Hey, you seem like a good guy, wanna be king?” The fundamental flaw in the Libertarian ideal is the notion that everyone is going to behave in the way they must, or that in some magical way people who cheat the system will always be exposed. If either these fail to occur, your entire vision falls apart. Its one thing to say the current system is flawed, its quite another to propose its replacement with one whose failings are so much worse, and so easily predictable.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/26/2015 - 10:35 am.

          Close examination is no friend to Libertarians

          The incoherent nature of Libertarian thought is on full display here:

          “Your belief of the biggest bullies taking charge is contradicted by the entirety of modern civilization where prosperity has blossomed because of human cooperation.”

          “When the bully is allowed to take resources from me and use them to kill others that have not agressed against me, or anyone in “my country” I cannot say no. ”

          Basically Libertarian’s see the government not just the only bully on the block, but the only possible bully on the block. The bizarre nature of this belief is nowhere better revealed than the Libertarian opposition to civil rights legislation.

          Basically, Libertarian’s would classify the Civil War as an act of governmental bullying that ended slavery in the South. The incoherent nature of this mentality is obvious. The civil rights legislation that ended Jim Crow “bullied” the South into ending discrimination. This is how Libertarians convert Martin Luther King into a “bully” while absolving the KKK as freedom lovers who simply want the right to serve whom they want in their own restaurants. So the black people who sat peacefully at a lunch counter are bullies… not the people who beat, humiliated, and berated them for hours. Libertarians would also convert the Pinkerton’s who routinely clubbed workers to death as “freedom fighters” while casting Labor Right legislation and Roosevelt as bullies. This is beyond absurd.

          The “cooperation” has brought prosperity to our nation didn’t emerge from the likes of the KKK or the Pinkerton’s. Jim Crow wasn’t a penultimate example of civilization or cooperation. Civilized cooperation manifested itself in the creation of liberal democratic governments that have been extending liberty and rights, although imperfectly, to an expanding demographic for over 200 years. Can government’s act like bullies? Sure. But that doesn’t mean our liberal democracies are product of tyrannical impulses or pathway’s to totalitarian regimes. On the contrary. The Libertarian critique literally turn history and human experience on it’s head.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 04/22/2015 - 01:31 pm.

      Examples

      I could have gone on to provide an exhaustive list, but it doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to do it on one’s own. But, I’ll go into some depth on roads and vaccines.

      Most vaccines are not very profitable and return on investment is a LONG term proposition, a situation that makes little sense for for-profit businesses. http://www.who.int/immunization/programmes_systems/financing/analyses/en/briefcase_vacproduction.pdf
      Without some pretty hefty breaks and requirements for public good, most vaccines would not enter the market at all. The reason is that most vaccines require a decent amount of input to produce while having little individual value to the public in the way of price. That is, if vaccines were sold at market price, your child might be vaccinated but lots of others won’t be. If there were epidemics on the order we’ve seen in the past (e.g., smallpox, polio, flu, etc.), the world economy would be crippled. Looking back at the 1918 flu, where 20 million DIED (died, not just sick), even if your one kid survived (which is actually reduced because vaccines are not foolproof–it’s all about exposure and susceptibility), your ability to function as an individual in society would be significantly impacted. Even for diseases with a lower death toll–say measles–the economic impact and physical impact on individuals that get sick and parents who can’t work because of a sick child are pretty high. Live and let live does not work for vaccines. Here’s a bit more information on the economic impact of the flu: http://www.who.int/influenza_vaccines_plan/resources/ARTICLE_Economic_Impact_of_Pandemic_Influenza_in_the_US.pdf

      Regarding roads…sure, few people would purchase a home without road access. However, there is little profitability in simply building a road. A community might pool resources to put a road in the neighborhood. It has little value until it connects to other things, though. If I want to leave my little neighborhood to get to work or to a store, I have to access other roads. What if I can’t afford the inevitable tolls those other roads have? I walk? I suppose I should have worked closer to home since those neighborhood funded sidewalks also end at the edge of my neighborhood and my work is 20 miles away. That being said, I’m not too bad off financially, so I could probably make it work. How about the poor? Truly poor? Do they get any access? I would imagine that some right of way must be had. Who decides what the right of way is?

      If you want to know what a tiny, powerless government looks like, head to Libya. Or Somalia. I don’t want to live there. You probably don’t either. Let’s not pretend that we can make that work here. We’re not so civilized that a broader rule of law isn’t necessary.

      Fortunately, the Constitution wasn’t set up to foster a libertarian form of government. The federal government was intended to be strong but flexible, not necessarily limited. It was designed to be locally and nationally representative, not weak or necessarily small. It was fashioned to create a federal government that met the basic needs of its states and citizens. It was specifically set up to insert itself in all kinds of individual affairs, from contracts to inventions to interstate commerce. It set up a Congress and gave it powers to make federal laws within the framework of the Constitution, which makes it obvious that the Constitution itself was not complete or there would have been no need for a Congress. Thus, the Constitution itself does not support a minimalist government.

  6. Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 04/22/2015 - 01:16 pm.

    Welcome to Fantasy Island!

    Libertarians talk a good game, but if you ever want to test their supposed principles against reality, please try to find evidence of any vociferous libertarian opposition to the original Patriot Act, for starters.

    Roads are another great farce. Imagine if a road network were a collection of segments owned, protected, and maintained by individual landowners, and that these segments were paid for with tolling. Welcome to stopping every 40 feet! Oh, and paying whatever price the owner who monopolizes that segment wishes to charge. And if one needs any evidence of the utter absurdity of this arrangement, merely walk down any sidewalk in the winter in Minnesota and witness how well people “self-regulate” with regards to maintaining a clear pathway. Now just think about that extended to a much larger surface of roadway.

    Or one could of course look at any number of phenomena, like Tragedy of the Commons or market failures, and this notion of people somehow self-regulating is totally out of touch with the reality of how humans actually behave individually and in society.

    Libertarians act smugly from the comfort of knowing that nowhere on Earth will their notions come into being in a civilized society. This gives them free reign to take potshots from the sideline and taking advantage of the real societies we live in and using their flimsy ideology to take advantage of that society (eg, decrying regulation). And of course the benefits that accrue from fighting against civilized society then further fund the propagation of their ideas.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 04/22/2015 - 01:53 pm.

      Well put, Jay.

      Libertarian philosophy sounds great when you’re a college sophomore, sitting around the dorm, passing a joint and pontificating about life. Eventually however, most of us grow up and figure out that like it on not, we live in a society…and that society functions better when we think a little less about ourselves and show a little more empathy towards others. In my view, most libertarians are little more than social Darwinists with a cynical, cold philosophy towards life and their fellow inhabitants.

      • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/22/2015 - 02:23 pm.

        Ironically

        Most libertarians I know served their country and risked their lives for their fellow citizens while white male liberals did not.

        • Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 04/22/2015 - 02:51 pm.

          Unsubstantiated anecdotes often provide psychological comfort

          Of course, they are not to be confused with objective data.

        • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 04/22/2015 - 03:20 pm.

          How Many is That?

          Three, Four, Five, Six?

          It’s easy to draw false conclusions from a very limited sample, especially when you’re the type of person whom MOST of the people around you realize raising an issues about the things in which you “truly believe” is a completely wasted effort.

          Under those circumstances, it’s easy to take silence for consent while failing to realize that very few of the people you know have enough respect for you to raise any objections when you’re busy pontificating.

        • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 04/24/2015 - 08:13 am.

          All the libertarians I know

          never did a moment’s service in the armed forces or any other noble pursuit (one did a stint in a wine club, though). They’re also white males. Interesting.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/24/2015 - 10:49 am.

          Echoing Ms. Kahler

          I know several libertarians, and none of them spent so much as an hour in the military. The idea of “serving their country” in any capacity is actually laughable to them.

  7. Submitted by joe smith on 04/22/2015 - 02:07 pm.

    Nothing gets the blood boiling for DFL’ers and big Govt folks like a discussion about libertarian policy. To think that someone would do a study to see if light rail will be in demand enough to pay for itself, before it is built, is foreign to some. Build it with public money, fund it with public money and man it with public employees a Big Govt dream project. Poor little libertarians just can’t understand that concept, must be idiots. My favorite is libertarians are not fit for civilized society. So much for the free exchange of ideas.

    • Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 04/22/2015 - 02:49 pm.

      Is the St. Croix Crossing paying for itself?

      I must have missed your and other “libertarian” vociferous opposition to government spending that $640 million. I did note, however, Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann’s strong push for it.

      Every year in the US, there is more than a $100 billion gap between total user revenues from surface transportation and expenditures on surface transportation infrastructure.

      It’s such an odd coincidence that libertarians are funded by two oil billionaires together worth more than Bill Gates and somehow magically fight quality mass transit on supposed principles of “paying for itself” while turning a blind eye to massively wasteful, unfunded surface transportation infrastructure that makes those two billionaires more fabulously wealthy with each passing day.

      Such an odd coincidence. And so very “principled”.

      • Submitted by joe smith on 04/22/2015 - 03:21 pm.

        St. Croix Crossing is another Pork project. DFL’ers haven’t cornered the market on bad investments, the GOP have many projects that can’t be justified also. GOP has Koch brothers DFL’ers have George Soros, call it even. It should not be about who’s worse at wasting tax dollars, it should be about changing it.

        • Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 04/22/2015 - 03:38 pm.

          You dodged the request

          Please show evidence that you personally have called out this project to the extent you call out public transit projects. Also demonstrate other “libertarians” doing likewise.

          The meek “condemnation” of the GOP and constant engagement in false equivalence (no, Kochs are not equivalent to Soros, eg, in terms of resources) is just further proof that libertarianism is usually just a fashionable outfit for people who are actually just standard right-wingers.

  8. Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 04/22/2015 - 02:17 pm.

    Government share of the economy by income, 2013

    18.5%: High-income OECD members
    18.3%: High-income economies
    15.3%: Upper-middle-income economies
    11.4%: Lower-middle-income economies
    10.2%: Low-income economies

    Sources:
    http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NE.CON.GOVT.ZS
    http://econ.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/DATASTATISTICS/0,,contentMDK:20421402~menuPK:64133156~pagePK:64133150~piPK:64133175~theSitePK:239419,00.html

  9. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/22/2015 - 02:19 pm.

    It’s instructive

    that the defenders of big government all point to roads. After that their arguments kind of taper off.

    Contrary to Ms.Kahler’s claims, the Founding Fathers believed the government that governs best governs least. Specifically, the 10th Amendment expresses the principle of federalism, and states that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    Quite obviously, the purpose of the Constitution is to define the limits of government. Our friends on the Left believe it defines the limits of the people.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 04/22/2015 - 03:48 pm.

      Neither/nor, either/or

      It’s important to note that the word used in the first part is “nor” not “or”, while the word used in the second part is “or” not “and”. That is, the powers reserved to the states or the people are those powers that are BOTH not delegated to the US AND those not prohibited to the US by the states. In other words, unless a power is /specifically surrendered/ in the Constitution to the states or the people, it is retained federally.

      Also worth mentioning that the 10th Amendment does not automatically skip state authority to go directly to individual authority, which is what the libertarian stance appears to hold. In other words, while libertarians want all government out of our personal (profitable) lives, the Constitution does not provide for such a government even if one were to read the 10th Amendment with an “or” in the first clause rather than a “nor.”

    • Submitted by jason myron on 04/22/2015 - 03:51 pm.

      Yawn…

      The Founding Fathers have been dead for over two hundred years, nor were they oracles They could not possibly have envisioned the country growing into fifty states, populated with 320 million people and tethered to a diverse global economy rather than the simple agrarian one of their era.
      This is 2015.. contemporary challenges need to be met with contemporary ideas, not some misty eyed melancholy of what this country was 200+ years ago. Those that cling to that past make no more sense than people who disregard modern medicine.

  10. Submitted by Eric Snyder on 04/22/2015 - 02:59 pm.

    A sophomoric philosophy for a superficial culture

    On the surface the libertarian sales pitch sounds good. Who doesn’t want freedom? Who can’t identify some anecdote of government overreach, some tale of bureaucratic bungling, some regulation that was improperly implemented or that was counterproductive? What about the harm-maximizing (as one critic put it) war on drugs? And, hey, I’m a live and let live kind of person (whatever that means). How ‘bout we take all these valid observations and deduce that government is really at the root of almost all our problems?

    There are numerous severe problems with libertarianism, however—too many to cover in one submission to MinnPost. Which is why you should visit the best site on the net for critiques of libertarianism:
    http://critiques.us/index.php?title=Critiques_Of_Libertarianism

    For a decent summary of some of the main problems of libertarianism, visit:
    http://critiques.us/index.php?title=The_Short,_Simple_Dismissal_Of_Libertarianism

    In brief, libertarianism:

    —Erroneously identifies liberty as the primary value, when it must in reality be a combination of values in balance with each other: Liberty and restraint, liberty and human development, liberty and eco-sanity, liberty and equality, liberty and human well-being, etc.
    —It artificially cordons off all sources of power and their potential for abuse and focuses only on government—confirmation bias is baked into the cognitive cake of libertarianism.
    —It ignores how government can ensure and enhance liberty.
    —It tends to ignore how liberty can work at cross-purposes with itself.
    —Historically it has opportunistically allied itself with racists and Holocaust deniers, which readily demonstrates the inadequacy of its narrow definition of freedom.
    —It ignores numerous “free market” de-regulation debacles and disasters. Remember, it’s only government that is the problem.
    —It adopts anti-science postures like climate change denialism or denies that smoking can cause cancer and resists any government efforts to regulate tobacco or reduce smoking.
    —It has opposed efforts by the World Health Organization to eradicate disease and reduce smoking.
    —In contests between the freedom of individuals and communities against corporate power, libertarianism typically favors the latter.
    —Libertarianism has cult-like characteristics.

    And the list goes on.

    • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 04/22/2015 - 03:55 pm.

      A Lot of Which Can Be Summe Up

      by the adolescent lament,…

      “You’re not the boss of me.”

      What’s puzzling is that they apply this to government while completely ignoring the desire and constant work on the part of the 1%ers and above to be the boss of EVERYONE.

      How easily some of are duped into never growing up.

      • Submitted by Eric Snyder on 04/22/2015 - 04:06 pm.

        exactly

        Take the kind of philosophical illiteracy that is impressed by Ayn Rand and an ego looking for validation of its imagined superiority, a touch or a ton of inadequate socialization, a preference for simplicity and black and white thinking, and you’ve got a decent recipe for a future in libertarianism.

  11. Submitted by Rich Crose on 04/22/2015 - 03:18 pm.

    Duluth Lake Walk

    The next time someone argues for a free market America, I’d like to take them for a stroll on the Duluth Lake Walk. It’s beautiful. The whole city enjoys the lake shore and its beauty brings tourists from around the world.

    Then we’ll go look in the museum and see what the area looked like when the free-marketers were in control. The shore where you just walked is heaped with piles of trash, rundown buildings, rusting machinery, broken down vehicles. There are bars and brothels and sunken barges. They were free marketers making money and polluting the shores without government interference… until they all went out of business. All that was left was their junk on the shore.

    The free marketer who put them all out of business lived out of state and didn’t care what he left behind. It took 50 years and the government spent billions of dollars to clean up the mess.

    Short term, yeah, those business men made a little money. Long term, not so much.

  12. Submitted by Theo Kozel on 04/22/2015 - 04:47 pm.

    The Founding Fathers

    When the Founding Fathers created the largest government institution in the world at that time, the US Postal service, and set it up in such a way that effectively subsidized newspaper delivery to provide low cost access to public affairs to all Americans, they quite effectively rejected the market society ethos upon which libertarianism is based.

    A market society is one where all things are measured by profitability. A market economy is one where profitability is one interest among others. The fantasy presented by libertarians in their specious appeals to authority when they invoke the Founding Fathers is wholly false- they were not adherents in word or deed to a market society.

    In our market economy but not market society, we as a nation have from the very beginning accepted institutions and infrastructure that do not generate profit but indeed incur losses. We do this to provide services that are not profitable by nature and therefore could not be provided by private institutions operating solely to generate profit. It was a service of the U.S. Post Office that Americans even in remote and unprofitable locations would still receive mail because that was perceived as beneficial to our democracy. The Founding Fathers as a matter of historical fact accepted huge economic costs (aka, negative profitability) for gains of another nature (to our civic well being).

    So even if Light Rail, for example, did not generate indirect benefits, it is an utter falsehood to state that the Founding Fathers would have rejected it due to its direct unprofitability. That ‘even if’ is crucial, because I do not accept the notion that when factoring in indirect benefits that LRT is less profitable than the huge public investment in private automobile infrastructure. Looking at the direct cost/benefits of LRT is a dishonest filtering of the conversation at hand.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/24/2015 - 11:13 am.

      The Founding Fathers

      The Constitution is a political document that provide a blue print for a liberal democratic government. It’s not an economic. The Constitution says nothing about markets free or otherwise nor does it establish or attempt to establish capitalism as the primary form of economy.

      This libertarian idea that somehow the founding fathers “believed” that profit and selfish self interest were essential “American” priorities is just another example of Libertarian fantasy pretending to be history. There’s simply no basis for it. The capitalism libertarians embrace so enthusiastically today didn’t even exist when the founding fathers were alive.

  13. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/24/2015 - 10:13 am.

    Intellectual incoherence pretending to ideology

    Libertarianism is essentially incoherent on a lot of basic levels.

    To begin with, it’s counter-historical and relies a bizarre fantasy of oppression. The libertarian narrative claims that we are losing our freedoms and liberties when in fact we are extending freedom and liberty to previously disenfranchised people. This is chauvinism pretending to be freedom fighting. The idea that “liberty” is a finite entity and that we cannot extend liberty to others without losing it ourselves is an incoherent concept of liberty. In fact the more liberties we extend to more people the more freedom we enjoy as a society. The history of liberal democracies is one of expanding liberties, not encroaching oppression.

    The libertarian concept of government is incoherent because it essentially rejects democracy while claiming to achieve the liberty democracy delivers. Democracy establishes a process and system whereby people can govern themselves according to rules established by the majority, while protecting individual rights of individuals from oppression by the majority. A democratic government actually protects and affirms individual liberties, consider civil rights, property rights, and anti discrimination enforcement for instance. Privacy rights would be another good example. The libertarian declares that any submission to the majority is a loss of individual liberty thereby converting democratic governments into agent of oppression rather than freedom. Libertarian’s have a romantic fantasy of democracy but on a very basic level they don’t actually believe in democracy because they it requires that individuals sometimes submit to the will of the majority, and libertarians classify that as oppression.

    Libertarian economics is likewise incoherent for a variety of reasons. The miasma of libertarian confusion and fantasy regarding economics is too thick to delve into here suffice to say that no successful economy on the planet subscribes to libertarian principles, nor has any economy produced an affluent society applying libertarian principles. Rather, libertarian economics and principles tend to convert Randian (as in Ayn Rand) fantasy into nightmares looking rather like Somalia.

    The only other viable alternative to Somalia ironically is totalitarian regimes. Libertarians rely heavily on Heyek and other Chicago School/Free Market principles which supposedly liberate individuals from socialized economies. The irony is that the biggest practitioners of Libertarian/Heyek inspired economics in the 20th century have been the dictatorships of Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Libertarian’s bristle at the observation that their agenda pushes society in the direction of dictatorships or Bangladesh and Somalia, but their inability to follow their own reasoning to it’s logical conclusions simply underscores the incoherent nature of their ideology.

    Philosophically Libertarianism is a mishmash collection of bad ideas pretending to be objective observations. The cult of selfishness is little more than sociopathic ego-centrism pretending to be a path to enlightenment. The primary pathology’s of libertarianism are: Machiavellianism and Social Darwinism, i.e. the survival of the fittest. For those of you following this at home the best example of a nation and society that enshrined these principles is Nazi Germany, not Colonial America. The notion that altruism is an illusory product of enlightened self interest is literally a product of Nazi propaganda that has long since been discredited in the social sciences. So unless you think that Nazi Germany, Pinochet’s Chile, and Somalia, were/are an oasis of individual liberty, libertarianism is an incoherent promise. Not only does libertarianism fail to deliver individual liberty, it actually ends up promoting oppression more often than not.

    I repeat: the libertarian inability to follow their own reasoning to it’s logical conclusion…

  14. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/24/2015 - 11:04 am.

    Anarchism vs. Libertariansim

    By the way, the difference between an Anarchist and a Libertarian is essentially the belief in altruism. Anarchist believe that the oppression of the state would be displaced by the a society or community that’s free of coercion, because altruism is a real and dominant human trait. For Anarchists individuals will value their community and willingly make sacrifices for the good of the community as much if not more so for themselves. The closest example of such a community would probably be some of the North American Indian tribes, and some other tribal society around the world.

    Anarchists and others can point to numerous examples of altruistic behavior, instances where individuals make extreme sacrifices on the behalf of others.

    Libertarians don’t believe in genuine altruism. They believe individuals pursuing purely selfish personal agendas will manifest the best outcomes for society and that true altruism is an illusion.

    Libertarians cannot point to any example of a libertarian society other than failed states, Monarchy’s, or dictatorships. Libertarian and Social Darwinist attempts to explain altruistic behavior as an expression of selfishness become rather tortured affairs. For instance Social Darwinists attempts to explain why a soldier would jump on a hand grenade instead of shoving someone else on top of the hand grenade get quite convoluted and ultimately fail to provide a convincing explanation. You end up describing altruism rather than explaining it away.

  15. Submitted by Tim McCarthy on 04/24/2015 - 11:43 am.

    Free movment of labor…

    The free movement of labor is a core concept of a free market. Do libertarians thus support allowing any and all to immigrate here? Everyone?

  16. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 04/24/2015 - 04:46 pm.

    There are many countries where businesses have a free rein

    with no environmental laws, no labor laws, no minimum wage laws, no mandated benefits, and minimal taxes. They are all in the Third World, and they are not pleasant places for the 99% to live. Coming in with a middle class North American income puts a person into the 1% in those countries, which is why there are websites telling libertarian types that they can come in and start a business and not have to worry about those pesky laws. However, all the services that come from governments (just saying “government” is a right-wing turn of phrase) have to be bought on the private sector. This includes not only education and health care and consumer goods, but also cases of clean water and your own generator to tide you over the frequent electrical outages–if there is a public power supply to begin with, and watch out for the crime rate, so you’ll need to hire guards. Honduras, with one of the weakest governments in the hemisphere, has the highest murder rate in the world, 20 times larger than that of the the U.S. and twice as high as that of the much-maligned Venezuela. You can hire servants for next to nothing, though, as the websites claim.

    In contrast, the countries that consistently rank high in quality of life, such as the Scandinavian countries, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, have a lot of regulations on business, high taxes, and generous social welfare provisions. I know someone from one of these countries who is a staunch libertarian. He benefited from having to pay no tuition for his university education, and he has never seen a doctor bill, but now he’s against all that stuff because people of other races are moving into his country, and he doesn’t like paying taxes for benefits for people he doesn’t like. Fortunately, the other people I know from that country think he’s a bit nuts.

    The libertarians I know are, as someone else mentioned, all white males from relatively affluent backgrounds. I suppose they assume that they would automatically rise to the 1% level in a libertarian society and get to lord it over the peasants.

    Many years ago, members of the Libertarian Party talked about taking over a small state (New Hampshire was the one most frequently mentioned) and creating their own little utopia. I wish they had done it, because it would have been fun to watch them devolve into feuding tribes.

  17. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 04/24/2015 - 09:15 pm.

    WOW!

    Only 1 small thought compared to the tons of intelligence just shared: I’m actually a little libertarian, especially the sophomore pot smoking part: Here is the problem: Assuming everything is as the libertarian point of view is perfect in the libertarian utopia: You have an accident and are laying in the ditch injured:
    1. Why should anyone stop to assist? Shouldn’t you pay them first?
    2. Suppose you need an ambulance, shouldn’t you pay for that ambulance first?
    3. Suppose you need emergency treatment, how do us folks at the hospital know we are going to get paid?

    In short, society speaking, from a libertarian perspective, we are all better off “financially” just letting your carcass rot on the side of the road like road kill. Your dead how are we going to get paid, you are a rotting corpse and being a libertarian do not want the tax payer to pick up the bill for scrapping you off the road, transporting your broken body or putting your broken butt back together again!
    Curios: How this could be addressed before I vote the liberation/conservative line?

    • Submitted by Ted Hathaway on 04/25/2015 - 08:43 am.

      Who cares about you?

      Libertarianism and free market fundamentalist capitalism are perfectly matched for each other. In both systems there is no society view or anything beyond the individual (or maybe the family, as Margaret Thatcher put it). Even your moralsl are something you bring to the table, not the system (as Warren Buffet observed). If you don’t happen to have any morals, no problem, as long as it’s not against the law or you don’t get caught. Capitalism doesn’t solve any problems except those that concern the market and the process of making money. It is indifferent to all else, even if that means the destruction of all else. Libertarianism and its solipsistic worldview projects a similar indifference to societal problems, in this case anything beyond the individual. Malleck’s summation of the libertarian’s relationship with their fellow humans – “We say “hi” if we want to, but mostly just go about our own way. We all get along” – might work on a suburban cul de sac, but probably nowhere else. This is not a utopian vision. It is one of towering, callous indifference.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/25/2015 - 08:44 am.

      Dennis

      1, 2, 3, … exactly. In libertarian universe you get the “liberty” and “freedom”… you can afford. Again, it’s chauvinism masquerading as revolution.

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 04/26/2015 - 09:54 am.

        Thanks Paul

        As I always say: from 30,000 feet everything looks and smells perfect, at 10,000 feet things don’t look quite right, at 1,000 feet you see the streets are littered with dead bodies and the stench is pretty nasty, at 100 feet you determine they look like friends neighbors, at 1 foot you determine its your family!

  18. Submitted by Ted Hathaway on 04/24/2015 - 09:19 pm.

    Campaign Literature on MinnPost?

    Since when did MinnPost allow political advertising? This is not only a promo piece for the party, but even includes information on upcoming party events. I guess the Libertarians not only want to “Live free” (whatever that means) but want to “Advertise free” as well.

Leave a Reply