“Peak Libertarianism?” No, Thom Hartmann is Just a Sore Winner

“We have now reached peak Libertarianism,” Thom Hartmann informs us at CounterPunch, “and this bizarre experiment that has been promoted by the billionaire class for over 40 years is literally killing us.”

That claim is so bizarre on its face that it’s easy to dismiss. On the other hand, even the craziest claims can fool people if nobody takes the time to debunk them.

Even in its most watered-down, weak-tea form, Libertarianism calls for “smaller government.” That’s not its real focal point (opposing aggression is), but let’s give Hartmann the maximum benefit of doubt here and have a look at American government since 1980.

As of 1980, the US government’s total spending came to a little less than $600 billion. As of 2019, that number was nearly $5 trillion. Even adjusting for inflation, the US government spends about three times what it spent 40 years ago (that number will be WAY up for this year due to COVID-19 “relief” and “stimulus” spending).

Of course, spending isn’t the only indicator of size of government. There’s also regulation.  As of 1980, according to George Washington University’s Regulatory Studies Center, about 100 new pages were added to the Code of Federal Regulations each year. After trending generally upward for 39 years,  that number has exceeded 180 new pages each year since 2016. As for total pages published in the Federal Register, that’s gone up and down, but is about the same now (70,000 pages or so) as it was in 1980.

Perhaps Hartmann is thinking of something like the number of cops out there enforcing laws? I couldn’t easily find numbers going back to 1980, but from 1992 to 2012, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of full-time law enforcement officers went up from fewer than 800,000 to more than a million, from 3.05 cops per thousand US residents to 3.43 cops per thousand.

Or maybe it’s the “social safety net” Hartmann has in mind?

Social Security outlays are way up in both nominal and wage-adjusted dollars since 1980, and steady as a percentage of GDP.

As of 1980, about 21 million Americans received average monthly benefits of $34.47 through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (when I was a kid, we called it “food stamps”). As of 2019, more than 35 million Americans received average monthly SNAP benefits of $129.83. SNAP benefit growth has out-paced inflation and the number of beneficiaries has out-paced population growth.

The actual numbers say America hasn’t moved so much as a whisker in the direction of “peak Libertarianism” over the last 40 years. Rather, it’s continued steadily down the road toward “peak Hartmannism” ever since LBJ’s Great Society, with relatively few bumps in that road since FDR’s New Deal.

Faux-“progressive,” actually reactionary, Hartmann  desperately wants to fob the blame off on Libertarians for the consequences of 85 years of failed policies he still supports.

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Falsifying Liberty

I believe liberty to be worthwhile, to say the least. I also believe it is objectively superior to any alternative. This means I should try to falsify this hypothesis to myself. If I can’t think of ways which– if they held up– would prove my belief is based on a falsehood if it is, my belief is worthless.

How could liberty be falsified? If I could find one example where liberty– freedom tempered with responsibility– fails, that would do it. So far I keep coming up empty.

People have given me lots of examples where they imagine liberty fails: drugs, sex, “immigration“, etc. (and even the post office!) In every case, they weren’t thinking their position through very well or were trying to argue against liberty by artificially keeping The State a part of the scenario.

Sure, some people neglect their responsibility. This simply means humans are flawed and since they can’t always be responsible for themselves they certainly shouldn’t ever be put in charge of others.

Sometimes, people want to argue that because exercising your liberty in some essential ways is illegal, it can’t work even if it weren’t illegal. They imagine this rights-violation shows that liberty would fail even if the artificial barriers they refuse to reconsider weren’t there. The “we can’t get rid of government border controls because of democracy and welfare” people fall into this category.

That’s just dumb. If you want to argue against freedom of movement, you’ve got to at least discuss it without the artificial constraints of keeping other Big Government programs propped up to make sure liberty fails the way you want it to fail. And if you can get rid of one facet of tyranny you can get rid of the others– don’t pretend otherwise.

Yes, I am biased. I am pro-liberty and I am against theft, aggression, and slavery. I think I am able to consider all claims, however, I don’t need to wake up each day and decide anew whether I would be within my rights to go next door and start slaughtering people so I can take their stuff. You can ponder that question with each new day if you believe it’s necessary, but I’m done with it. No one has the right to archate and nothing can change that fact.

If, in the course of pondering this question yet again, you come to a different conclusion for reasons no one has presented before, try to convince me you aren’t just wallowing in statist superstition. Maybe you’re on to something and have discovered a way to falsify liberty, but I wouldn’t bet money on it.

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Respecting Liberty Will Still Work

The world’s a bit crazy. Not as bad here as in other places, but we see the effects of those crazy paces even here.

Pandemics, riots, gangs of trespassers setting up their own governments … what’s next? A volcano spewing out zombies?

Whatever happens next, you can rest assured that respecting liberty will still work. It always does. It would even work against the volcano zombie invasion.

No matter how crazy the world gets, you don’t have to be crazy with it.

Aren’t you glad to know we had the cure for COVID-19 the whole time? Who knew all it would take to solve the pandemic were riots? Oh, sure, some has-beens are trying to keep the pandemic panic alive. Few people are still listening to them. Their 15 minutes of fame was over before they were ready. Maybe they’ll be happy if the virus comes back for round two this fall.

Speaking of riots, don’t confuse the riots with the peaceful protests. They aren’t the same thing and didn’t involve the same people. They only happened alongside the protests because parasites saw their chance to make trouble and latched onto an important issue. It seems to have ended when the protesters realized most of us were already on their side, but the rioters were driving away support.

Then the rioters became squatters taking over property they didn’t own. Much of the national mainstream media misidentified them as “anarchists.” Will they be calling horses “dolphins” next? It would be as inaccurate.

They aren’t the only ones who think of socialistic nihilists as “anarchists.” This is what they’ve been taught. Yet, anarchy only means you accept no human master. It doesn’t mean chaos, theft, destruction, or aggression. Those who seek to misinform you never define things correctly when a scary lie works better for their purposes.

How can you know the squatters aren’t anarchists? They set up a political government in the stolen territory — this is not “anarchist” by definition. Anarchists wouldn’t set up political institutions, nor do ethical anarchists steal property from others. I know this from personal experience.

What’s a person to do?

Liberty, which is freedom tempered with responsibility, could solve all these problems to the extent they can be solved. Exercise your freedom to do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t violate the equal and identical rights of any other person. There’s no better way to live among others.

Try it and I think you’ll agree.

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Hate Speech, Property Destruction, Demonization, & Natural Rights (27m) – Episode 298

Episode 298 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following entries to r/shitstatistssay: zarthrag writes, “Hate, and any of its manifestations is against the NAP. Hate speech isn’t just speech, it’s a form of aggression”; ShambhalaOrangeJuice writes, “People have a right to destroy chain buildings… because that is a part of the establishment which has oppressed them without respite”; CTR555 writes, “As far as I’m concerned, there are two types of people in America: people who vote for the Democratic nominee, and bad people”; and JimJam28 writes, “I don’t believe there is a ‘creator’ who endowed us with rights. There are no rights in nature. We decide as a society what rights should exist and how to properly protect those rights.”

Listen to Episode 298 (27m, mp3, 64kbps)

Subscribe via RSS here, or in any podcast app by searching for “everything voluntary”. Support the podcast at Patreon.com/evc.

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Consumer Liberty & Accomplices to Aggression (14m) – Episode 296

Episode 296 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following topics: an article he wrote in September 2010 titled, “Free to Choose an Unlicensed Practitioner” and an article he wrote in July 2018 titled, “Libertarians Shouldn’t Be Accomplices of Aggression“.

Listen to Episode 296 (14m, mp3, 64kbps)

Subscribe via RSS here, or in any podcast app by searching for “everything voluntary”. Support the podcast at Patreon.com/evc.

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“China Lied, People Died?” Look Who’s Talking!

“The costs of the pandemic keep piling up,” writes Marc Thiessen at the Washington Post. “Somebody has to pay for this unprecedented damage. That somebody should be the government of China.”

And why, pray tell, should China’s government be punished? For “intentionally lying to the world about the danger of the virus, and proactively impeding a global response that might have prevented a worldwide contagion.”

Sounds fair, doesn’t it? If a government lies and people die as a result, that government and its functionaries should be held responsible, right? Good enough for me.

But sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, so if we’re having Peking Duck this week, I’d like to know when Thiessen plans to cough up his share of US government’s tab.

As a speechwriter for US president George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in the first decade of this century, Thiessen was directly responsible for pushing lies that resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Humanity is still paying a steep price for fairy tales about weapons of mass destruction and cries of wolf that “the smoking gun could be a mushroom cloud” — fairy tales and cries of wolf that Thiessen helped draft and craft.

In fact, he’s got a lot of nerve pretending that he’s even on the same moral level as Chinese government actors who may have lied about COVID-19, let alone in a position to lecture them.

Those Chinese actors were, at worst, trying to save face for their regime, and at best trying to keep themselves out of jail (the Chinese Communist Party has a reputation for harsh treatment of people who embarrass it).

Thiessen was shilling for an unprovoked war of aggression in Iraq by his regime, and he could have quit that job any time he chose without fear of being dragged off for “re-education.”

Governments collectively, and the people who comprise them individually, lie. A lot. About all kinds of different things and for all kinds of different reasons. And often, as a result, people die. I’m all for holding them accountable, but accountability starts  at home.

Let’s be honest about what’s going on here: Republican flacks like Thiessen are trying to shift blame away from their party’s own policy failures by re-premising the same old anti-China campaign they’ve been waging for years.

Don’t forget to tip your server, Marc.

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