If you follow any libertarian outlet on the Internet, you’ll notice that there are numerous strands of libertarianism. I will not detail all of them, but they all share something in common: a very limited or nonexistent government and absolute rights to person and property. I would probably most closely identify as a minarchist. As a result of the multitudes of libertarian beliefs, I have decided to begin structuring my own libertarian perspective.
Although I find Murray Rothbard’s “For a New Liberty” and other works to be fascinating, I realize the reality of the “situation” of our world: bordered nation-states claiming land by means of government force. I also recognize that a huge majority of the country (75% is my guess) find it difficult to grasp privatized roads. Thus, we libertarians find ourselves at an end-road: compromise or be ostracized. In many ways, the latter has been rampant outside of our circle of thought.
Let us assume that we are transplanted on the earth one day and must began cooperatively living together. What is the role of government in the lives’ of individuals? Let us erase our memories of the U.S. government because it has become rife with corruption. However, this does not mean a government cannot successfully perform certain functions.
The first, and most important, role of a government is to protect the rights of property and person from aggression by others. This does not mean the government has the right to infringe upon the rights of person and property. A government is the vehicle through which we can enforce private agreements, adjudicate criminals, and arbitrate civil proceedings. I believe privatizing the police would be a great idea. However, the likelihood of that happening is slim to none. If government didn’t wage wars on poverty, drugs, and terror, I believe a government police would function much more soundly. However, should an individual wish to conduct their affairs outside of the government institution, they are free to do so.
As a supporter of property rights, I believe you are free to exchange goods and services, your labor, and any legitimately acquired property for whatever you feel is a fair exchange. Furthermore, what you do with legitimately acquired property, including a business, should never be interfered with by threats of government violence. If you decide it is best for you, then, by all means, work for $1 per hour and use that day’s pay to buy (legal) crystal meth over the counter. While the statist may find that appalling, nowhere does it say smoke meth and murder someone. Murder is a crime of person. At the same time, I believe that no one, even a government, has the right to use force and take $.30 from your dollar. This brings up the question of taxes, which will be discussed later.
Government should also provide a national defense. The key word here is “defense”. In today’s era of interventionism, we often bomb first and ask questions later. We should bring all the troops home and cut the military budget by at least half. I could stand a military base on each continent as our contribution to global security, but even that’s pushing it. The taxpayers should not be financially burdened to spread democracy and protect the world. Even so, government institutions are not very competent at either of those things.
Free market capitalism has been the most manipulated and abused economic theory of the 21st century. Austrian trade theory has been overrun by Keynesian economics. This is not because Keynesian theory is more sound or efficient, but it offers further justification for government power grabs and profit. To be candid, Keynesian theory is much easier to spread through the economically illiterate masses. America has never had free market capitalism. The closest we have been, historically, would be the period of post-Civil War until the creation of the Federal Reserve and Federal Income Tax in 1913. Even then, due to various civil and human rights abuses legitimized by the government, America was not a truly free market economy.
With the growth of Keynesian theory, we have seen economic development wildly change courses with a series of booms and busts. In short, these fluctuations are due to federal government’s reckless monetary policy of borrow, spend, and print. We need to return to a commodity based money, such as gold, and move off of the fiat currency system. The American economy will most likely continue to recover from these busts due to its massive size and global interests. However, the bubbles will become larger and the crashes more painful. As politicians continue to overregulate the economy, the recoveries will become slower and leave more people behind. Austrian trade theory is too complex for this blog post, but it does recognize a business cycle of boom and bust. Unlike Keynesian theory, the remedy is much more laissez-faire and does not involve recklessly printing money for government spending.
As I previously state, I believe you have an absolute right to legitimately acquired property, including your income. No one, especially a government, has the right to point a gun to your head and take it for their own personal ventures. Make no mistake, the government of today does just that. That said, we obviously will need to fund the aforementioned basic functions of government. I do not possess the qualifications to present a detailed budget and tax rate, so I am left with speculation. The government should be as decentralized as possible, which means nearly abolishing the federal government.
I hear a lot of libertarians talk about “taxation is theft or slavery” and I tend to agree. However, I do think there is a line in the proverbial sand. We currently have enormous tax rates, many of which are underhanded such as the lottery, and an incomprehensible tax code that requires you to hire a translator. In my opinion, you should be able to pay taxes on the back of a post card size form. I would concede to paying no more than 5% of my total annual income to all levels of government. Taxes and funding a limited government are complex topics that I plan to discuss further in future posts.
While conceiving this post, I wanted to build a foundation from which I could expand on how I subjectively see the relationship between government and man. I have already addressed privatizing police and detailed other subjects, but there is more to be discussed in this complex world. Thus, we will continue this intellectual journey by further detailing these aspects of how I view a libertarian existence.
My views do not guarantee a world free of danger, but nor can any amount of government.