My Objections to Libertarianism

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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.

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Eloise wrote:EXC wrote:And

Eloise wrote:

EXC wrote:

And where does the money come from to pay the living wage. Eloise will tell you how greedy capitalists pigs are so we know it's not coming out of their pockets.

LOL EXC, you know I don't say that shit.

But its what you think, right?

Eloise wrote:

But I will tell you that it won't come from the pockets of the rich because the mechanism for cash to get into the liquid economy is spending and the rich don't spend. 

What is your theory on what they do with their money? They bury it in their mattress and then die with a fortune they never spend? They pass it on to children that spend it? Or do they invest it? One argument for maintaining a class of rich people is that they are the only ones that can invest in new businesses. So if Wal-Mart is making massive profits while paying the workers low wages other rich can use their capital and come in an compete. Maybe you should ask the some rich investors to give you money to start a health insurance company since you believe they all make massive profits. Why would they not give you the money?

Eloise wrote:

If the upper tier were required to spend their money, as opposed to bartering publicity, advertising, contracts etc in exchange for goods and services, then capitalism could assure us all a living wage.

Advertising products that suck works because people are morons. If we focused on teaching people critical thinking skill instead of making schools play time, this would not be a problem.

Eloise wrote:

But that's not how capitalism works, the entities of capitalism benefit (on an individual level) most by milking the system which sustains it. 

The problem is we allow some capitalist to create monopolies. The biggest reason for this is we allow them buy up natural resources and use them at few low cost. There is also an endless supply of unskilled labor they can pay low wages to thanks to no limits on children, uncontrolled immigration and a failed education system that continues to suck money.

Eloise wrote:

In other words, you get more rich by not spending, so it's in the interests of a capitalist entity to not spend - yet spending is the lifeblood of a capitalist system, to not spend ultimately means death to the system - ergo capitalism is self defeating.

If all they people did was spend, who would invest. I work in an industry where my salary must be paid for many years before a product that can be sold can be made. Who else is going to pay my salary except a rich investor? There has to be a balance between investment and consumption in an economy.

Eloise wrote:

It's got nothing really to do with the individual personalities of the capitalists. It's just a crud system, and I don't understand where you libertarians get the idea that you can build a viable society from it. 

I get called a communist, a libertarian and a conservative. I'd prefer to just be a rationalist. The fundamental problem is we live on a planet with limited natural resources while having an genetic imperative to spread our seed and overpopulate the planet. I don't see how your system or any of the main political/economic systems address this. We have competition and so we have winners and losers. In a socialist/communist system, the party leaders will slant the rules to favor themselves and their cronies same as capitalists do now.

Even if your theories are correct that everyone could be paid a living wage, population increases would stress the environment so much that we'd be back to many people living in poverty, waves of immigrants would come in to take jobs below minimum wage, and business would move to where they can get cheap labor. So I don't understand why you can't support help for the poor being tied to mandatory birth control and mandatory job training that works.

Taxation is the price we pay for failing to build a civilized society. The higher the tax level, the greater the failure. A centrally planned totalitarian state represents a complete defeat for the civilized world, while a totally voluntary society represents its ultimate success. --Mark Skousen

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Strafio wrote:So if I wanted

Strafio wrote:

So if I wanted an introduction to economics, what would you recommend to a newbie like me?
I currently have this introduction book that seems to be a very technical and politic-free introduction aimed at someone like me.


id HIGHLY recommend this book:


gjx (not verified)
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Strafio's objections to Libertarianism

Hi Strafio,

   Your understanding is not inaccurate, just shallow. You focus on policy-prescriptions as though this is how society must confront its problems.

Frankly, the first relief from tyranny Libertarianism offers is precisely that it DOES NOT prescribe solutions to the things people see as problems. It rejects imposing any group's goals on the whole of society - or at least those that must be coerced. Instead the operative principle is that humans will naturally engage in just those cooperative actions that arise organically from the first principles of free action and are self-sustaining in a free market.

Are you now envisioning a lawless and chaotic anarchy? That's not an unusual first reaction; you should examine your reasons for thinking this.
Could it be that you have no respect for the moral fiber or intelligence of your fellow Man? Probably not. Most likely your imagination is just too weak to guess how a complex marketplace will develop a spontaneous order. In a sense, this typical failure of imagination proves the hopelessness of the prescriptive-law approach itself. Why should you believe that our benevolent overlords have any better imaginations?  And suppose they did, how do you KNOW one idea is better than another without the side-by-side competition typical of free markets?

The key definition here is that the solutions you seek to personal or social problems are each Goods. Law is a Good; it takes energy and patience to develop wisely, it takes scientific thought to discover natural law, and myriad dispute resolutions to negotiate the conventions of common law.  But like all Goods, more can be provided more efficiently by a free market than by any arbitrarily restricted market or by a central planner. Regional political law is merely an experiment to approximate a true marketplace for laws - it works better where people are free to move to the jurisdiction that best suits their needs and temperament. But political law and majority rule are not well-formed market outcomes. Votes are not scarce resources; the political economy is entirely artificial. We should not be trusting it with Goods as important as Law and Security.  Some societies trusted it with basic human needs such as groceries and they lived on breadlines...

 The next time you're stumped by a deep policy question like "Who would coin the Money in a libertarian country?" don't give up and appeal to some Intelligent Designer to write a bill before Congress - that's just more Magic MumboJumbo.  Instead ask, how would real live Free Humans handle this left to their own devices?  If you're a great thinker you'll save the world.  If you're only an average thinker, you will learn something profound about the rates of declining marginal utility of different goods. If you're a numbskull you'll just say "Clearly we need Legal Tender from a Federal Reserve Bank"  after all that's how cavemen did it, right?

I urge you to turn your "objections" into research projects for the day when True Freedom arrives.  Empires don't last forever, the real world is actually an anarchy except for the known constants of Human and Physical nature.  Base your philosophy on those and you won't go wrong.