Tag Archives: libertarian

The Free State Project

In Atlas Shrugged, Galt’s Gultch was a valley in Colorado where John Galt’s strikers fled to live in freedom, away from an increasingly oppressive, socialistic government. In the real world, The Free State Project is trying to turn New Hampshire into such a place. The idea is simple: move enough libertarians to a state where they can influence politics. Many libertarians exist throughout the country, but compared to Republicans or Democrats, they represent a small share of the vote, and so are fairly helpless to affect laws since most people blindly vote with their party instead of their beliefs. But, if libertarians were concentrated somewhere, that place could become a real life Galt’s Gultch. Also, a modern version of Plymouth Colony or Utah with libertarians instead of Puritans or Mormons.

I hereby state my solemn intent to move to the state of New Hampshire. Once there, I will exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of civil government is the protection of life, liberty, and property. — The Free State Project Statement of Intent

The project was started in 2001 by a Yale lecturer (then Ph.D. student) named Jason Sorens and, in 2003, after a systematic review of states with low populations and low spending by Democrats and Republicans, its members picked New Hampshire as their new free state. (Wyoming came in second and shortly after, a competing, Free State Wyoming organization, was started.) Besides New Hampshire’s “live free or die” motto, the group picked it because:

… it has the lowest state and local tax burden in the continental U.S., the second-lowest level of dependence on federal spending in the U.S., a citizen legislature where state house representatives have not raised their $100 per year salary since 1889, the lowest crime levels in the U.S., a dynamic economy with plenty of jobs and investment, and a culture of individual responsibility indicated by, for example, an absence of seatbelt and helmet requirements for adults.

They estimated that 20,000 libertarians would be enough to influence politics, and started a pledge: if you sign, you agree to move to New Hampshire within five years after 20,000 total signatures are collected. As of late 2012, there are some 13,000 signatures — slow progress for a decade. But, that hasn’t deterred about 1100 project members to already make the move, run for office, organize an annual festival called PorcFest and a conference called The New Hampshire Liberty Forum, and even start a charity.

The 2010 documentary Libertopia is about the Free State Project:

From Wikipedia, The Guardian and NPR

Libertarianism

 

From Being Libertarian

Why The Entitlement State Is Morally Wrong

An obviously Libertarian blog on Forbes called The Objectivist has a very interesting article in response to all of the discussion over the past few months over how we’re going to pay for the various entitlements (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid), whose costs have been skyrocketing and, by all predictions, will continue to get worse. The interesting thing about the article is the angle it takes to attack entitlements, namely that they’re not morally sound due to the very premise they’re based on:

A person’s need entitles him to other people’s wealth.

Before moving forward, it’s worth pointing out the fine line between Libertarians and Democrats that puts them on opposite sides of the entitlement issue. Democrats believe the premise above because they find it morally untenable to let people in need die in the streets. The fine line is that while Libertarians agree, they also find it morally untenable to forcefully take money from Steve Jobs for Octomom‘s benefit. Libertarians have no issue with Marx’s motto “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” as long as it’s all voluntary. In other words, two wrongs don’t make a right. And The Objectivist article does a great job at explaining that position.

Indentured Servitude

“No system that treats you as other people’s servant can be called moral.” The crux of the matter is the concept that we have to work some part of the time for the benefit of others. Volunteering your time and giving to charity are great ways to help others — but forcing people to do so is slavery. And just like Republicans try to legislate morality via sex and drug laws, Democrats try to legislate morality via entitlement laws  — which, ironically, are immoral.

Indenture certificate

 

Mediocracy

Back when Social Security was started in the 1930s, it was shameful to be “on the dole,” so Social Security was portrayed as insurance: you get back when you’re old what you pay in when you’re young. How much the program is like insurance is another topic, but the main problem with it is that it’s involuntary: the state decides how are you are to use a percentage of your money. And not just that it will go toward your retirement, but how it will be invested until retirement. Which is great if you plan poorly and/or make poor investments, but awful if you’re great at financial planning. The result is that everyone is required to use an at-best mediocre retirement fund, just because it will help the people with no retirements funds, or really poor ones.

The Social Security of comedians

 

Awkwardness

Social safety nets do not have to be government-sponsored. There have always been and always will be charities, whether in the form in families, churches or non-profits. There are plenty of willing contributors, and there is no need to resort to forced charity via entitlement programs. Imagine a world in which the government had Bill Gates’ money instead of the Gates Foundation.

So why do we have entitlement programs? Pride. Most people only try to get help from charities when things are very very bad; when they’re about to end up in the street or their kids go hungry. But they’ll apply for government help a lot more easily. Unemployment, medicaid, food stamps: it’s become pretty common to use those programs if you’re down on your luck, but asking a church for a donation because you lost your job is a huge hit to your pride.

The government, on the other hand, is a faceless behemoth; so we support unemployment insurance, just in case we ever end up without a job, but also because if that really annoying friend Gill loses his job again, he won’t come to ask you for money. Gill doesn’t have to feel the shame of asking for money, and you don’t have to deal with Gill: win/win! Yes Virginia, the real reason we have entitlement programs is to help us avoid awkward situations.

Gil Gunderson from The Simpsons

 

Punishment For The Innocent

Depriving one group of their freedom because of another group’s choices is immoral. Entitlements deprive people of the freedom of deciding what they would do with their money. Taxes in general do this, but at least everyone gets the same benefit from non-entitlement government services like the military and police. Entitlement programs are different because they target a specific group: if there is a group of people who plan for retirement (let’s call them Greens) and a group that doesn’t (Reds), Social Security targets the latter.

So the Greens lose some of their freedom, because maybe they would’ve invested their Social Security withholding in Apple in 1999, and the Reds lose their freedom because maybe they would’ve invested their withholding in a trip to Cabo. But no one wants the Reds to be allowed to make stupid choices like that, so because they may make bonehead decisions, we all (but especially the Greens) have to deal with Social Security, which is slightly better than having an investment fund in your mattress. It’s like when a teacher punishes the whole class because she didn’t see which kid threw a pencil at her.

Lover's Beach, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico

 

The article closes by pointing out that it’s definitely not shameful to be on the dole anymore:

The entitlement state was never needed to ensure that the unable got fed. It is and always has been geared, not to the unable, but to the unwilling: to that entitlement mentality that expects payment “according to his needs.” And by rewarding that mentality, we foster that mentality.

From Forbes

Majority Of Americans Might Now Be Libertarian

The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits. -Thomas Jefferson

The above quote is a decent summary of Libertarian values, and according to a poll that CNN has been conducting annually since 1993, the number of Americans that agree with those values hit a high in 2011. Even though they might not know it, and even though they definitely do not vote for the Libertarian Party, 63% of those polled believe in more economic freedom and 50% believe in more social freedom — both questions being measurements of Libertarianism and both figures being all-time highs for the poll. The figures are not correlated to each other, but if the 50% and the 63% overlap completely, then it would constitute a majority of Americans.

The questions are framed to suss out belief, as opposed to party affiliation: Republicans want no regulation of Wall Street, but want to keep marijuana illegal; Democrats want the opposite; Libertarians want both no regulation and to see pot legalized, and Fascists want no one to have any fun. So generally speaking, Republicans believe in economic freedom but not social freedom, Democrats believe in social but not economic freedom. Libertarians believe in both, and Fascists believe in no freedom. (If you’re curious about what you really are, politicalcompass.org has a test you can take).

The questions the poll asked which gauge Libertarianism are:

1. Some people think the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Others think that government should do more to solve our country’s problems. Which comes closer to your own view?

2. Some people think the government should promote traditional values in our society. Others think the government should not favor any particular set of values. Which comes closer to your own view?

The CNN Poll (PDF), via The New York Times

 

Atlas Shrugged: The First Movie

Apparently the 50-year old Libertarian Bible, Atlas Shrugged, has been turned into a movie trilogy. The first installment fittingly comes out this Friday, April 15th, on what would normally be Tax Day (it’s April 18th this year). The next two installments will be released on the next two Tax Days.

 

 

Via NPR