Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Put On Your Sweater...
As I amply demonstrated in my post, the 5 Rules of Government Growth (http://chicago-freedom-forum.blogspot.com/2009/03/libertarianism-as-means-not-end.html) the inherent nature of the modern state is to continuously and pathologically grow, consuming an ever larger share of economic output. Under moderate conservatism, the growth slows, but continues its pathological trajectory. And under "progressives" like Obama, government growth accelerates , hastening the arrival of economic ruin.
The only logical response, the only medicine for this disease is a strong, commitment to reducing the size of the state: libertarianism. Please note that this does not necessarily refer to party affiliation, rather it refers to a commitment to advancing economic and social liberty.
Inevitably most people respond "but, but the end goal of libertarians is to strip the meat as well as the fat, leaving us with a bare bones government and an unfettered free market..." This concern is equivalent to someone worrying about putting on a sweater during a snow storm, because they might get heat stroke. In this day and age, the size and the scope of the interventionist state has grown so large that we are a million miles away from the dangers of an excessively small government.
Another fundamental flaw in t he vision of those who are so concerned about the growth of libertarianism is that even IF libertarian end goals were as dastardly as "progressives" believe them to be, in the context of a pluralist democracy, very few will never be realized. Partisans of economic and social freedom would face a constant, uphill battle against powerful lobbyists and well entrenched special interests that have profited from state intervention. Policy by policy and concept by concept, libertarians would have to fight against endemic economic ignorance and nearly a century of marxist brainwashing.
Facing such an uphill battle, libertarian minded individuals would have to carefully choose their battles and focus on combating the very worst and wasteful government programs. In a pluralistic system with so many mindless statists, libertarians would rarely achieve total victory in a battle against any given policy or program; in almost every case they would have to settle for a compromise. So, rather than enacting radical change, the probably outcome would be a healthy influence on a dangerously bloated body politic.
For example, most libertarians would want to eliminate the unconstitutional federal department of education. But, given the power of teacher's unions and the extreme statism that permeates society, they would have to settle on expanding the reach of voucher programs to liberate more students from failed public schools and eliminating costly and foolish federal programs like "No Child Left Behind." And the chance of convincing the public of the net gain of legalizing all drugs would be nil, so libertarians would focus on decriminalizing marijuana.
For strategic reasons, if not for basic pragmatism, libertarians would never dream of going against the few programs or policies that had not been a total disaster, like child labor laws. They would realize that not only would their chances of success be zero, but in their failed attempt they would lose their credibility and their hard won political gains.
So, when you are freezing in the middle of the winter, put on a warm sweater and don't worry too much about heat stroke. Obama's $3.5 trillion dollar budget, our $11.13 trillion dollar national debt and the 20,466 pages of regulation in the federal register would lead me to believe that for the time being, a "bare bones government" and "unfettered capitalism" are the least of our worries.