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Sunday, August 11, 2013

6 Idiotic Arguments Used Against Libertarians

1. If libertarians had their way, there'd be no roads/fire department/schools, etc.

All those services are provided almost entirely by local governments. In contrast, libertarians in the US focus most of their criticism on the Federal government. Their main complaints are the income tax, the War on Drugs, excessive spending, the proliferation of laws, the Federal Reserve, and the idea of the US as the "world's policeman".

This is a classic strawman argument- pretend that libertarians would do away with roads and schools, then point and laugh.

Most libertarians want nothing more than for the Federal government to return to the limited role it played for most of US history. Did the US have roads, schools, and so on back in those days? Why, yes it did.

2. Move to Somalia if you want no government!

Ah, the "love it or leave it" argument coupled again with the strawman that libertarians oppose all government and the false dichotomy of either accepting the status quo or fleeing. Three, count 'em, three fallacies crammed into an 8-word sentence!

Could I just as easily flip this around and tell the social conservatives to move to an Amish town and tell the liberals to go to Sweden? I prefer limited government, thank you very much, so you assholes can take a hike to any one of the many authoritarian shit holes covering the planet.

It's also fun to point out that Somalia under the warlords has a better quality of life than many of the countries in Africa with central governments.

3. Butbutbut slavery!

Pray tell:

Who passed laws allowing people to own slaves?
Which groups throughout history have used the most slaves?
Didn't the Supreme Court rule in 1857 that slaves had no rights?
Didn't Congress authorize law enforcement to hunt down and capture escaped slaves?


Pray tell:

Weren't most of those children doing dangerous, back-breaking farm work for no pay before the factory jobs existed?

When modern day so-called sweat-shops are shut down, don't many of the former child workers end up destitute or in prostitution?

Should children who do odd jobs for cash be punished for breaking labor and minimum wage laws?


Pray tell:

Don't government programs often have destructive, unintended consequences?

Doesn't the Coase theorem provide an adequate solution to this problem?

Spoiler: to prevent the tragedy of the commons, let them be someone's property. Price the externalities, and they diminish to something acceptable to all.


There have been many memorable and eloquent proponents of liberty: Bastiat, Mill, Spooner, Sowell, Friedman to name but a few. But for some reason, Ayn Rand is the only one who ever comes up. I guess there was a meeting where Rand was declared the Empress of Libertarians.

The probability of Rand being mentioned in any argument about libertarian politics approaches 100% as the argument progresses. For my own part, I do not care for her novels because they violate the Twain rule of dialogue:

They require that when the personages of a tale deal in conversation, the talk shall sound like human talk, and be talk such as human beings would be likely to talk in the given circumstances, and have a discoverable meaning, also a discoverable purpose, and a show of relevancy, and remain in the neighborhood of the subject at hand, and be interesting to the reader, and help out the tale, and stop when the people cannot think of anything more to say. But this requirement has been ignored from the beginning of  [Atlas Shrugged] to the end of it.

Indeed, the characters in that novel do not talk; they give sermons and speeches to each other. The book ends with a speech that would last about 3 hours if read out loud. Generally speaking, people do not listen to speeches that long unless they are held at gun-point.

I accept the criticism that her novels are ham-fisted and melodramatic. So what? A work of fiction cannot prove or disprove an idea.

It would be a refreshing bit of intellectual honesty if critics would bother to read up on the works of other pro-liberty thinkers. That might spare the embarrassment of having their feeble arguments demolished as Mr. Molyneux does so handily in the video below.


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