My Objections to Libertarianism
I originally posted something similar in another thread, but that thread had already died off so I didn't get any responses.
The purpose of this thread is to outline my understanding of what Libertarians support and why I object to it.
People will either point out that I'm attacking a strawman and correct my understanding, or perhaps just debate my points.
Either way it should be interesting.
My understanding of Libertarianism.
They're looking for a huge reduction in government and in regulation on business.
I think some go as far as to wipe away almost all laws except that those that protect property rights and those that prevent violence and coercion. Some go as far as to say that this should be done through private companies rather than through state organisation. They're usually against state run healthcare, welfare and believe that even standards (e.g. fire safety standards that a landlord is required to meet in order to rent out a house) should be enforced by private companies rather than through state governed law. Maybe these are just the extremes I've come across but this is the general impression I have gotten. Feel free to correct me where you disagree.
My objections to Libertarianism.
1) For a person to have a fighting chance of making it in the world, they need the right start.
This person needs a stable upbringing with education, healthcare, nutrition and a reasonably stress free atmostphere. People brought up below the poverty line do not have this. Libertarianism appears to leave disadvantaged people to rot rather than provide what they need for a fair opportunity. I have heard others point out that they would still donate to charity, just out of choice rather than being coerced. My objections to that argument would be:
a) Most charities campaign for a change in government law or policy in order to provide stable long term benefits. e.g. Shelter Charities themselves are not long term solutions.
b) The law provides systems in an automatic way that doesn't require each individual to think and make the decision to do something. Instead, everyone automatically pays a subscription and it's sorted out by the system.
2) Opportunities are limited. Career status is pyramidal and there will always be people at the bottom.
It's not a case of, "anyone who works hard can make it" - there will always be people at the bottom. These people need atleast a minimal standard of living; a wage that will cover the necessities with a little left over for minimal luxuries. This is generally called a "living wage" - the minimum wage required to provide a person with the means to live a healthy, rounded life. This would give them a comfortable base to perhaps try and improve their lot should they decide they want to improve their life further. Libertarianism seems to accept that people at the bottom of the pile should only get what their company can get away with paying them.
3) Without state laws, how will cheating and corruption be prevented?
Libertarianism seems to claim that if we let business just run then it will manage itself. Like any activity in life, people can "cheat" in business and play dirty. Those with money and power can use this to manipulate those with less power into accepting unfair deals. Fairness requires laws and regulations to prevent such cheating and foul play. If laws are to be enforced by private companies, what safeguards would there be to stop these profit-driven entities from putting earnings above principles?
These are my objections to libertarianism as it is commonly presented to me.
I get the impression that many right wing libertarians want to promote the freedom of the businessman above the freedoms of working people.
That said, I may just have misunderstood certain points or I may have mistaken more radical views for being mainstream.
If anyone would like to discuss my points I'd be interested to hear.