A Response to ‘Why Libertarianism Is Immoral’

This piece is a  response to Michael Beauharnois’ post, Why Libertarianism Is Immoral. In his post, Michael lays out four reasons why libertarianism is a dangerous and immoral political theory for Christians to hold.

The first objection of the piece to libertarianism is that “Feeding people once or twice a week is not a ministry”. The piece goes on to explain that in order to help the poor, we not only need to give them food, clothing, and shelter, but we also need to train them to become productive members of society on their own. On its face, there’s nothing wrong with focusing on helping the poor not only through immediately charitable works, and more long-term through helping them into a stable financial position, The piece goes on though, claiming that “When all people focus on is money, such as what the libertarian economic worldview suggests, it should not come as a shock when the poor start asking for free money”. This is not the case at all. Libertarianism is a moral theory first, and an economic one second. The axiom on which all of libertarianism rests is not “capitalism and profits above all else” but instead is the non-agression principle, that any and all initiation of force is illegitimate. The only time violence is justified is in response to direct attack upon person or property. It is certainly true that the vast majority of libertarians are committed to the Austrian school of economics, but this does not mean that the system is in any way a Randian egoist economic system, where all anyone cares about is their own immediate self-interest and happiness.

Michael also objects to large corporations such as McDonalds and others for not paying their workers enough, using bad ingredients in their food, and generally being big corporate bad guys. He says that he does this to show that not all government regulation is a bad thing. However, this does not undo the libertarian philosophy in any way. The freedom philosophy does not leave anyone helpless to do anything against businesses which they don’t like, in fact it does quite the opposite. In a free society a man is free to take his business elsewhere if he dislikes a business, and provided he does not use slander or libel, he is free to use ostracism to push the business which he dislikes into practices more in line with his values.

The second objection is that libertarians “do not understand how human nature REALLY works”. He says that libertarians “view capitalism as some form of a god” and he claims that laissez-faire capitalism was responsible for the great depression, and that the depression was not solved until WWII kicked production up in the country. This is not the case at all, however. Each major crash of the market, up to and since the great depression has been directly caused by a boom and bust cycle created by easy money and credit lent out by the state. The author goes on to claim that one of the major ideas of libertarianism is that of private property and ownership, which is absolutely true. His error comes when he claims that George W. Bush is the poster-boy of the idea of private property rights. However, this is far from the case. Bush oversaw two major busts in the American economy, and in both instances turned towards Keynesian interventionism. Under Bush, annual federal spending increased by over $1.1 trillion during his tenure and an additional $1 trillion in 2009. Even as a percentage of GDP, federal spending increased from 18.5 percent in 2001 to 21 percent in 2008 (Hoover, Bush And Great Depressions). The author claims that the great depression of 2008 was caused primarily by libertarian philosophy and economic ideas. This could not be further from the case, as the Bush administration was one of the most meddlesome in the market economy in the history of the United States. 

In the same objection, the author goes on to lampoon trickle down economics. There is no major reason to object to his dislike of this system, but trickle down economics are the opposite of libertarianism, dependent upon government intervention and crony capitalism more than they are on genuine free market interaction.

The next objection is that “libertarians do not understand what a ‘free market’ really is” This is, of course, ludicrous, Even more ludicrous is the claim that the market, left to its own devices, would become a series of oligarchies and monopolies. This gets into an area then where the author fails to grasp both human nature and what government truly is. First, government is nothing if not a monopoly on the legal use of force. Government exists by maintaining the claim to be the final arbiter of all conflict in a given geographical location, and it maintains this claim by means of force and nothing but force. If it did not, it would not be government.

If we are worried about monopolies, we should be concerned about state monopolies. In a free society, if and when a given company gains a massive share (or even all of) the market, they may very well begin to raise their prices in response to their lack of competition, but if people choose freely to pay those prices, no wrong has been done, no force initiated. More likely though, a competitor will emerge to offer the same service at a lower price, thereby bringing balance and harmony back into the market. With government, when a government gets out of control, there is nothing to stop it but government, and has been shown time and again throughout history, when a government is responsible for limiting itself, it doesn’t. The author goes on to claim that Monsanto suing small-time farmers is an example of libertarianism, but this could not be further from the truth. Using the force of the state (or any other force) to extract your neighbor’s property is not libertarianism, it is theft, plain and simple.

The last main objection in the piece is “A Refusal to Own up to the Damage You Have Done Has Caused an Opposite Reaction.” The claim is that some people have become so disillusioned with libertarian philosophy that they now accept communism or various forms of collectivist systems. This does not undo libertarianism in any way. People rejecting a philosophy does not make a philosophy bad, and people misunderstanding a philosophy and massively over-correcting in the opposite direction is no fault of the philosophy either. It may be, that like the author of the original piece, these people grossly misunderstand libertarian theory, and that’s a sad thing, but it is not the undoing of the philosophy. Even Jesus’ teaching was rejected, and people killed him for it, but that does not mean that what Jesus taught was wrong. What makes a philosophy good or bad is whether or not it aligns with reality, and the freedom philosophy aligns with both the testimony of nature regarding private property and personal rights, as well as the testimony of scripture.

In his conclusion, the author claims that he is in favor of peaceful means to correcting the problems which he attributes to libertarianism, but he then turns right around and claims that the peaceful means necessary to correct the faults of the freedom philosophy is the state, an agent not of peace, but strictly of force. This is grossly inconsistent and shows the author’s lack of understanding as to what is peaceful (free trade), and what is not (government intervention). As mentioned above, there are myriad ways to deal with businesses whose practices we dislike in a free society, but when it comes to the state, there are no options, only violence.

Libertarianism is a system which advocates the free and voluntary interaction of all peoples, and rejects as immoral the initiation of force in all forms, nothing more, nothing less. This is grounded in the belief that a man has a right to his own body, as well as to his property. Libertarianism does not advocate crony capitalism, it does not advocate the down-trodding of the poor, and it does not advocate the use of force except for as a response to the initiation of force. This philosophy is in line both with the plain teaching of scripture, and natural revelation. The theory is not immoral, but rather reflects the peaceful nature of human interaction which Christ requires of us.

Why Chewing Gum Should Be Illegal

no chewing gums sign

The use of chewing gum has long been a controversial topic, and the debate over its merit and uses is not likely to end soon. While the pro chewing gum lobby currently holds the upper hand, it is of vital importance that the sale, purchase, and use of chewing gum should be made illegal at the federal level and in all fifty states. Here are five reason why chewing gum should be illegal:

1) Chewing gum can be extremely addictive. While some pro-gum lobbyists may claim that chewing gum has certain mental health benefits we all know that even if these benefits are real, the potential of becoming addicted to chewing gum is far more dangerous to make the possible benefits worthwhile. People would be liable to destroy their lives through incessant chewing of gum, and even if it didn’t wreak havoc on their personal health, their finances would suffer terrible.

2) Chewing gum is a gateway to any number of other bad habits. It always starts off with just one stick of Wrigley’s Doublemint, and degenerates into something worse. When the gum chewer runs out of his stash, he is liable to move onto trying to chew other things to satisfy his appetite, such as his fingernails, or (in some extreme cases) table legs. It doesn’t stop there though. Chewing gum with sugar in it can also lead to a dangerous sugar addiction, fed by candy, soda, and other foods, ultimately leading to horrific tooth decay, obesity, and even type 2 diabetes.

3) Chewing gum makes you rude and stupid. There’s a reason why chewing gum is often associated with rude and airheaded people. Chewing gum in public is extremely rude, and this one infraction leads to the degeneration of all other sorts of manners and common decency. We also can tell based off observing the flighty and unintelligent behavior of many gum chewers that there is a causal link between the two. Remember, correlation always equals causation, and that remains true in this scenario.

4) Chewing gum is bad for society. Even if gum chewers only chewed in the privacy of their own homes, their behavior still makes the rest of society confused and uncomfortable. If we cannot maintain the solidarity of society against gum chewing, how can we do more important things like fighting the war on obesity, or making sure that Burger King doesn’t run off to Canada?

5) Making gum chewing illegal is good for the economy. All the money that people spend on gum could be spent on more important and useful things, like cell phones, or coffee. Even if that money doesn’t immediately flow back into the economy, think of all the jobs that could be created and maintained in the prison system if chewing gum were illegal. Even though we know making things illegal is a sure way to keep 99% of the population from doing them, the other 1% will keep on, and when they are inevitably caught, they can be shipped off to prison. If chewing gum were legal, there would less prisoners, and there would be less jobs for prison guards.

By locking up these immoral, stupid gum chewers, we can ensure that they don’t harm society, that they don’t pick up other bad habits, and that their rudeness and stupidity will only affect their fellow gum chewers, all while providing a living for prison guards, and the police that bring the gum chewers to justice. If it means a loss of freedom for the gum chewer, so be it. The greater good is always worth it, plus we know that this will ultimately help gum chewers and dealers to turn their lives around towards more productive pursuits, like alcohol consumption.

Disclaimer: This piece is poorly written satire. It is not the conviction of the author that the state should legislate what people may or may not put in their bodies. This post is used to point out the flaws in the logic of those in favor of legislating the medical or recreational use of drugs.

Why I Don’t Salute The Flag

When I go to sporting events, I always avoid the national anthem. I hate the music, the singing is always terrible, and I find it generally distasteful. Aside from that, I desperately want to avoid the awkwardness of being expected to remove my hat and salute the flag, because I won’t.

I won’t salute the flag because of what it represents. It is certainly legitimate to render honor where it is due, but there is no honor due to this flag and what it stands for.

The flag of the United States of America is a piece of cloth representative of an oppressive state, one which has murdered thousands of people in unjust wars. The flag represents a state that actively protects and funds those who murder innocents. It represents a state which regularly prosecutes (persecutes) persons who commit victimless “crimes”.

CrimeCommittedFlowChart
A great, simple flowchart to understand whether a crime has been committed.

 

The flag represents a state which performs massive surveillance that violates personal security, and claims the right to conscript me into any war they wish, making me their slave. The flag represents an empire more murderous than any state in the history of the world.

The flag does not represent some ethereal, platonic ideal of freedom, justice, or opportunity, long since lost in history. It represents the historic and current actions of the state, and all it has done and continues to do to harm, rob, and kill people around the world. Because of all this, I refuse to salute the flag of the United States of America, and I always will.

Episode 34: “Christianity & Libertarianism” with Campbell Sproul

I did an interview thing.

RE2: The Resurrection and The Revolution Podcast - Exploring Christianity & Politics

episode34

Campbell Sproul joins us to discuss theology and politics:

02:18 – Present and future plans.
03:54 – The journey of becoming a libertarian.
06:50 – What was it like growing up in the Sproul family?
08:45 – Responding to Al Mohler’s comments about whether a Christian should be a libertarian.
15:32 – Responding to Al Mohler’s comments regarding government legislation of morality
19:34 – The Left/Right Paradigm
22:13 – Romans 13 and submission to authority
26:15 – Critical thinking among Christians
28:59 – Church authority vs government authority
30:30 – Thoughts on education
37:12 – Theological exposure & shifts
38:26 – Is professional sports a distraction & divisive?
42:43 – Thoughts on eschatology & the future

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Common Core Isn’t The Problem

kids-saying-pledgeComplaining about common core, school choice, standardized testing, or any other common government education concern misses the main problem which we ought to be focused on, that is that the government is providing education in the first place. The problem with a program like common core education is not that it’s an overly centralized/standardized government education program, it’s that it’s a government education program. The surest way for an authoritarian state to maintain its grip on its power is for it to control the education of the people. Remove common core, and you have only removed one of the 10,000 government flies in the soup of education. School choice? Same problem.

Choosing which state run Prussian factory model school your child goes to doesn’t substantially improve their education in any way, and it does even less to loosen the grip of the state. The problem is not what is being taught, or in which district it’s being taught. The problem is that the state is the one doing the teaching, and this must not be. It is not a legitimate function of any state to educate, no matter what they teach, how they teach, or how they acquire the funds to do the teaching. In America it just so happens that they choose the most asinine things to teach, in the most asinine ways, and acquire the necessary funds to do so in the most immoral way possible. It’s certainly fair to complain about that, but not at the expense of the larger problem.

The issue with universal compulsory education is not, and never has been the content. The first universal compulsory education program ever implemented in America was run by Calvinist puritans. It doesn’t matter what content you’re teaching, when you use force to ensure that it is taught, it is immoral. Jackbooted thuggery doesn’t cease to be Jackbooted thuggery when you use that thuggery to teach Christianity any more than it does when you use it to teach the tenets of Islam. If government schools taught eight hours per day of bible lessons, it would still be wrong.

Great ideas do not need the arm of the state to ensure that they are heard and implemented. There is no greater communal good that trumps the right of any individual man, and that remains true in the realm of education. Common Core as a curriculum is intellectually bankrupt, but Common Core isn’t the problem, state run education is the problem. Cut the state off from the education game, remove their monopoly on teaching, and you will have a better education market, making for a better overall education for anyone looking for it.