15 BS Facts about Libertarians
by Ethan Glover, Sun, Jan 04, 2015 - (Edited) Wed, Jan 10, 2018
1. Libertarians Ignore the Issue of Public Goods
Want to confuse a libertarian? Make his head explode? Ask him who would build the roads.
Still think roads, street lamps, and even defense are a problem for libertarians? You haven't talked to many libertarians.
Some people think that a privatized world implies going out and buying private security or street lamps.
One quick reality check will show that these things can exist in a way not much different from now. Gas tax currently pays for roads. Yet, businesses can fund the roads that connect you to them. For housing areas, funding can come from similar upkeep agreements that apartment dwellers use.
Defense funds can come from an insurance style organization. You don't need a bodyguard; you just need a professional to call when you need them. It's no different from calling the cable guy.
The libertarian argument is that public goods work better and in a more efficient way on the free market due to competition. Otherwise known as choice.
Libertarians do not support forced monopolies.
2. Somalia Is a Sore Spot
Some people think libertarians are sensitive about Somalia as a subject. They think Somalia is the ultimate argument against the philosophy.
Yet, libertarians have pointed out that Somalia was better off under anarchy (PDF) than a dictatorship. In fact, Somalia gives modern proof to how libertarianism works.
Many people who argue on social networks (the worst place to have a real discussion) pass memes on the subject back and forth. "Hey Libertarians, why don't you move to Somalia?" "Hey statists, why don't you move to North Korea?"
Neither of these arguments have any value. Somalia is under the rule of a dictatorship once again, and has never been a good place because of such influence. North Korea has nothing to do with what mainstream Americans support or want.
Somalia, for most libertarians, isn't a difficult issue. It's an example of how libertarianism can make a place better than it is. It also highlights the fact that its beliefs don't mean instant utopia, but rather need time to build on.
3. Libertarians Don't Support Equality
The idea that libertarians think women belong out of the workplace and in the kitchen is embarrassing to those who make the claim. In fact, libertarians are more for equality than even the most hardcore liberals are.
Most people want to allow gay people to get a permit from the government to get married. Libertarians want to get rid of marriage licenses for all. Libertarians want marriage to be between those who are getting married. Not between a man, a woman, and their government.
EO laws make companies hire an X percentage of females and people with non-white skin. Libertarians propose hiring people based on merit. When a white person doesn't get a job because the person he or she is competing with is black, is that not racism?
We as a culture should be pressuring companies to make decisions based on merit. The government can do nothing but make laws, and laws often have the opposite effect. Libertarians support companies with equal opportunity. They don't support childish and often racist EO laws.
4. Libertarians Believe in a Dog-Eat-Dog Society
This myth comes from the Ayn Rand objectivist sect of libertarianism. People believe libertarians have no hearts. That libertarians think anyone who can't make a buck for someone else should starve to death in the streets.
In fact, libertarians seem to be the only ones making a real consideration towards the poor. Most people say others should pay more taxes to pay for poverty. They put no effort into understanding where that money goes. Most tax money gets lost in government bureaucracy.
Yes, food stamps and welfare support many in poverty, but in the long term is it helping, or does it make things worse? Cultures in poor communities have come to demean anybody who looks to get a job and work for "the man." Living on the backs of others has become so easy, many people would never think of working.
Libertarians look to systems like the Mormon welfare system. Mormons, by their beliefs, never take government help. Instead, they look to the community when they're in a bad spot and the community helps them find work.
This isn't possible for everyone. Libertarians argue that with government out of the way, there is more room for private systems. Systems that can better find solutions by competing side by side. (It's tough to compare two systems that exist at different times.)
Libertarians believe in charity and helping others. Not robin hooding.
5. Libertarians Believe Companies Can Regulate Themselves
Many people conflate the term "free market" with large corporations. Libertarians say the free market can regulate itself. They don't say individual companies should regulate themselves.
A libertarian might use the internet as an example. There are many scams on the internet that will never go away just because of some regulation. Yet, what keeps most people away from these scams is by developing trust in respected companies.
eBay and Amazon both have famous rating systems that people depend on to make sure they're getting what they want. Sites like Consumer Reports and ePinions provide independent, unbiased reviews.
The placement of an Underwriters Laboratory logo is a sign of a safe and well-inspected product.
Government institutions like the FCC, AMA, USDA and others are slow moving. They illegalize safe and beneficial products because of arguments made by lobbyists. Independent organizations do not pander to corporate spokespersons. They have proven they can exist in their own right by providing a valuable service.
6. Libertarians Believe Individuals Exist in a Vacuum
Many people confuse individualism with isolationism. Libertarian individualism comes from the fact that every person makes decisions. That they make their own cost-benefit analyses for themselves.
The takeaway from individualism is that there are no single laws that can help or benefit everyone. Raising taxes on everyone to help the poor sounds good, but on a universal basis, it has detrimental effects. For those on the lower bounds of their income class, a raise in taxes means they drop a class. A raise in taxes means a raise in poverty.
Just about every poor person has access to government benefits. This means every unemployed alcoholic and drug addict can take advantage of taxpayers.
Libertarians argue that solutions need to be as localized as possible. It is better to take things on a case-by-case basis within communities. Individualism isn't about ignoring the effects people have on each other. It's about respecting differences between people. It's about considering those differences before enacting policy that effects everyone.
7. Libertarians Believe All People Are Good
Some think libertarians don't support government because they think all people are good. Thus, police and laws aren't necessary. Or, people will donate to charity without incentive to replace taxes, just because they're nice.
This belief shows that some people aren't listening to libertarian ideas. It is because not all people are good that libertarians wish to remove or cut government. There is no such thing as a benevolent person thus there is no such thing as a benevolent organization.
Most only want the government to handle important services like charity, utilities, and defense. This means a greater opportunity that only bad people can control these things. In fact, studies have shown that positions of power attract sociopaths.
It seems as though it is everyone but libertarians believe all people are good. At the least, they believe all politicians who give themselves a particular label are good.
8. Libertarians Believe Everyone Knows Their Own Best Interests
Libertarians may be individualists, but they're not blind individualists. They're capable of making decisions on a case-by-case basis and don't try to universalize every idea. As other beliefs do.
When it comes to children and the mentally disabled, there is no one answer. Should a child be able to run away to live on his own? A simple no doesn't suffice. How old is he/she? Why did they run away? Is he/she capable of supporting them self? Is there a better alternative for that individual?
Libertarians don't believe every person knows their own best interests. At the same time, they don't believe they know everyone else's best interests.
9. Libertarians Are Only Rational and Have No Emotion
On some days, it's difficult to look through the news. There's always ten police abuses, or a family losing their home to civil forfeiture. There's another hundred innocent people in the Middle East dead due to a bomb from the United States.
One listen to a call-in show hosted by Stefan Molyneux will show you the emotions of libertarians if you don't think they exist.
Libertarians look at how Democrats and Republicans think and act. They see the most cold-hearted, emotionless, and disgusting ways of thinking imaginable.
Libertarians never hide behind the ‘greater good.' They realize that the greater good doesn't exist. Unlike most, libertarians are never willing to sacrifice others for the sake of policy. They are willing to study and find other ways that don't hurt anyone.
10. Libertarians Are Conservative
Ron Paul gets credit as the grandfather of the Tea Party. Shortly after its creation, it started to support people like Sarah Palin and Rand Paul. With its past connections to libertarians, people too often see this conservative group as libertarian.
Ron Paul ran as a Republican president, and most people can't understand why someone would do that if they're not a Republican. These factors have convinced people that libertarianism is the same as conservative/republicanism.
In reality, libertarians are liberal on social issues and conservative on economic issues. Libertarianism itself branches from classical liberalism. Today, there are many variations of the philosophy. There's anarcho-capitalism, neo-classical liberalism, left libertarianism, geolibertarianism and many others.
Libertarians are libertarians, and not all are the same.
11. Libertarians are Anarchists
Branching from number ten, there's also a belief that libertarians are all anarchists. It's true that there is only six months between an anarchist and a libertarian. Yet, there are major differences and disagreements between the two.
Government supporting libertarians (minarchists) don't believe that private defense can work. Thus, they support the government protecting life, liberty and property but nothing else.
Libertarian anarchists think this is nonsense. They point to the anarchist societies throughout history. Societies that were more peaceful than other countries. They argue that a monopoly on violence is an offense against the non-aggression principle.
12. All Libertarians are Young White Males
It's true that philosophies like libertarianism attracts the young white male culture. That doesn't mean it's all about greed and ego. I've already made this obvious.
Still, libertarianism plays host to many females and minorities who are its top influencers. Libertarians look up to Stephanie Murphy, Wendy McElroy, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, and many others.
Keep in mind that libertarians don't go out of their way to get minority members, just because they're minorities. The Democratic Party is especially famous for this. Libertarians don't support discriminating people to play the sex/race numbers game.
Young white males are one of the only groups that political groups don't target for their demographics. Demographic targeting has an effect on where many people place their loyalties. But not all.
13. Libertarians are Trendies Looking for an Alternative Lifestyle
Like the hippies of the 60's people believe libertarianism is for kids who just want to rebel. The problem with that theory is that libertarianism has hundreds of years of study to back it up.
Frederic Bastiat of the 19th century. Carl Menger and Ludwig von Mises of the 19th and 20th Century. Murray Rothbard of the 20th Century and many others. They have laid the path for libertarianism. Its ideas and philosophy has existed throughout civilized history.
Most libertarians I have talked to are serious about their study of it. Libertarianism isn't something you can follow by saying, "This is the law that will fix all our problems!" Libertarianism requires real thought and consideration. The burden of making things work is on people, not a benevolent government run by two party bickering.
Libertarians point out that things like free trade and private interactions are the norm in life.
14. Libertarians are Atheists
Religion has nothing to do with libertarianism. There's nothing hypocritical about having a religious belief and being a libertarian.
In fact, many libertarians have looked at the actions of Jesus and made a strong case for him being libertarian in modern terms. Libertarians are often the only group that doesn't stereotype against Muslims. They can tell the difference between religious and political beliefs.
From Muslims for Liberty to Libertarian Christians many groups provide support for the religious.
15. Libertarians Believe They're Infallible
When you have an answer for everything, some people will label you as arrogant. Especially if they don't see you as an expert in the particular field you're talking about.
Libertarians are arguably the most well-read group out there. That's not to say they're always smarter. It's just to say that they're more likely to study issues before responding.
That said, libertarians don't think they're infallible. In fact, their skepticism of their own philosophy and others causes them to seek out answers. Libertarianism is more open to different and varying answers than other philosophies. It's easier to give an individualized answer.
In short, it's easier for individual people to apply their specific knowledge to the philosophy. It's easier to provide solutions to problems they know how to solve. In turn, within the philosophy you will find more people sharing ideas. There are more people learning from one another rather than just repeating taglines.