Thursday, November 8, 2012

Why I'm Not a Libertarian

I've never given much thought to libertarianism before this election cycle. To me "libertarian" was what someone claimed to be when they were too embarrassed with the Republican Party to continue to associate with it. But it's been pretty hard to ignore lately because it's popularity has really taken off. It's understandable that people would want an alternative to the two-party system, but this is one political party that I just cannot get behind.

What bugs me the most about libertarians is how they're convinced that they are out-of-the-box thinkers and you (if you're a Republican or Democrat) are just intellectually shallow and a follower of the masses.

Give me a fucking break.

Let's get something straight, libertarians: you're not the cure-all for what is wrong with the two-party system. You're a welcome addition to the political discourse, but let's face it, you're not what the country wants. Stop being so butt-hurt that more people aren't jumping on your bandwagon. It's not because we're dumb, it's not because we don't challenge ourselves intellectually, it's because we don't want what you're selling. That's life. I'd like to see a more progressive socialist (yes, I said it) party in this country, but it doesn't appear to be what the people want. I don't go around crying about it and insulting everyone who disagrees with me on that.

Now, that is my emotional objection to libertarianism. It's pretty much the same reaction most people have to other political parties. Democrats think Republicans are stupid, which makes Republicans mad. And Republicans think Democrats are stupid in return, which makes us mad. Nothing new there.

But I also have a philosophical objection to libertarianism. I like government regulation. Really, I do. I like knowing that the food I buy has to meet certain standards. I like knowing that the medications I take have been through testing. I like knowing that my doctor has to be licensed, that my CPA had to take the CPA exams, that my car has to meet certain safety standards.

And I like restrictions on what you can and can't do in your business. I like the Family Medical Leave Act assuring qualified employees that they're not going to lose their job if they need to take leave to have a baby or have surgery. I like the Fair Labor Standards Act assuring qualified employees that their employer can't work them to death without paying overtime. I like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act putting the fear of litigation in employers' hearts to keep them from discriminating against employees. I like the Environmental Protection Act checking corporations from destroying the earth in the pursuit of profits.

And I like unions, because we can talk about the freedom of contract until we're blue in the face, but we all know that one blue-collar worker has zero negotiating power all on her own. I like the Patent Act and the Copyright Act assuring creators that someone with more money can't come along and steal their creations. Fuck, I like affirmative action, even quotas.

Why? Because I don't trust those with economic power to look out for what is best for the collective whole. That's what is at the heart of my objection to libertarianism. Libertarians are kidding themselves that a lack of government involvement is better for everyone. It's not. It's better for those who have the upper hand. For the privileged among us. Maybe, just maybe, if everyone started off at the same level, libertarianism would make sense. But we don't start off at the same level, and I don't see how removing governmental regulation is going to help anyone other than the rich people already in power.