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Being a Libertarian in Today's United States

By maxwell edison ·
In a recent discussion tangent, another TR member (thank you, vanessa@...) posted a link to a Libertarian Web site .....

http://www.theihs.org/category.php/142.html

.....that offered definitions and explanations of how different people viewed what it means to be a libertarian. I think it's a great Web site, and probably not a coincidence that it's sponsored by an organization hosted by George Mason University, home to one of my favorite "libertarian mentors", the distinguished professor of economics, Dr. Walter Williams. And George Mason, himself, for those who may not know, is probably the oft' forgotten "founding father"; his efforts were not only instrumental, but absolutely vital in writing and including what is probably considered the most important part of the U.S. Constitution, the first ten amendments, formally known as the Bill of Rights. George Mason's Virginia Declaration of Rights was the model for the U.S. Bill of Rights. He not only wrote the aforementioned document, but insisted its contents be included in the new United States Constitution. Without George Mason, who knows how the United States would have progressed?

(Note and disclaimer: An entire book could be written on the origins of any "Bill of Rights" document, and this is not intended to explore that avenue. Feel free, however, to include any information you think is missing and/or could be of interest. I will say this, however, as clarification and a disclaimer. George Mason modeled his Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776) on the English Bill of Rights (1689), which was modeled, in part, on the Magna Carta, and perhaps other historical documents as well. The difference, however, at least as I understand it, is that the English Bill of Rights suggested that such individual liberty is endowed to the people by the crown, while the United States Bill of Rights and Constitution suggested that such individual liberty is endowed to the people by the Creator, and that no "man-formed" government or monarchy could ever deny those rights. A person or government, in essence, can't take away that which it does not have the power or the authority to give.)

The definition that I believe is the closest to defining the true libertarian principle is this: "The libertarian, or 'classical liberal', perspective is that individual well-being, prosperity, and social harmony are fostered by 'as much liberty as possible' and 'as little government as necessary'." Obviously, the sentiment most debated and/or viewed differently is, as much as possible, and as little as necessary. I wonder if George Mason, himself, or Thomas Jefferson, or James Madison ever uttered such a sentiment? If they didn't say those exact words, their actions (and other words) certainly enforced and emulated them. (See quotes below.)

For the first 150 years of its existence, the United States of America dedicated itself to the principles of individual liberty. Even in considering the nation's historical shortcomings, such as slavery and the suppression of women's rights, the underlying principle of individual liberty was the driving force that instituted change. Unfortunately, today, while there are no slaves to individual "masters", we are all slaves, of sorts, to all the other masters. When the fruits of one's labor is taken, by force, only to be given to another who did not labor, that's tantamount to institutionalized slavery. In the very least, it's contrary to the basic principle of individual liberty.

Being a true libertarian in today's United States (and today's world, or so it seems) is like being the odd-man out. I've debated the issue on numerous occasions, and have heard things like, no man is an island, or other such sentiments. Or I've heard things like, what will happen if all taxes are abolished? But these retorts only show how being a libertarian is misunderstood. Of course, it goes without saying, greater things can be accomplished together rather than alone; but that's doesn't mean teamwork is synonymous with a collective. In fact, any "collective" society throughout history has either faltered or failed. And any "individualist" society throughout history has excelled -- until, that is, it became a collective. And, of course, no rational libertarian is advancing the abolition of all taxes, but only those that support social programs, not the ones that support the true functions of government and the defense of our nation. And then there's the "caring" argument. People advocate government give-away programs under the guise of "caring". These people don't really "care", however, but instead they only want to maintain the appearance of "caring", or they've been duped into such a false sense of "caring".

Any and all collective systems in the United States have either failed or are well on their way to failing. Do you believe, for example, for even a minute, that the current Social Security system is either fair or equitable (not to mention "right")? Have you considered that poverty, in both real numbers and percentages, was in a continual decline, every decade of the country's existence, until the "war on poverty" was created? Have you considered that government dependency only creates more government dependency, not less? A democracy (or republic) is doomed to fail, or so it is said, when the people figure out they can vote themselves favors from the public treasury. And one only has to look at all the "favors" Americans have voted themselves over the past six decades to see how individual liberty in America is doomed. I say it's high time we not only reject the growth of any and all "collective" systems in the United States, but turn them around and strive for their eventual elimination.

I sure do feel like the odd-man out, however, and resistance is indeed futile. I will be assimilated, whether I want to be or not. (So much for the concept of individual liberty.)

George Mason, we've failed to uphold the principles upon which our great nation was founded. We've failed to honor the sacrifices made by you, your family, and your countrymen. We've failed to continue the true spirit of the great experiment called the United States of America. And to paraphrase Yogi Berra, George Mason would be turning in his grave if he was alive today to see how we've ruined what he (and others) started. If I could ask you one question, Mr. Mason, it would be this. Is it too late to turn back now; and if not, how can we do it?

More questions:

Why are so many people so afraid to take full advantage of individual liberty?

Why are so many people determined to deny others their individual liberty?

By what right or authority does one person take the fruits of another's labor? (Any time you vote in favor of ANY social program, that is, in essence, exactly what you are doing.)

Who might be the current day "George Mason"?

Is it too late to turn back? If not, how could it be done?

And consider this. If a person stands up for such a principle, and absolutely refuses to "be assimilated" into the "collective", he will not only be considered an odd-ball, and he will not only have lost his individual liberty, but he will also lose his freedom, as he will be arrested and locked up. (So none dare do it, for fear of the government.)

How is it possible we've fallen so far?

Quotes:

When the government fears the people there is liberty; when the people fear the government there is tyranny. - Thomas Jefferson

"That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves." - Thomas Jefferson

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." - Thomas Jefferson

"To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical. - Thomas Jefferson

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Addendum - Addition to my original message

by maxwell edison In reply to Being a Libertarian in To ...

I strongly suspect, in fact I'm convinced (without proof), that the current immigration debate (the "silent debate") is tied into the probability of a total Social Security system collapse. Our illustrious elected officials don't dare touch the social security problems. For if they do, our equally illustrious voters will remove them from office (or not put them there to begin with).

I've heard estimates upwards of tens of millions of people being redefined from illegal to legal immigrant status. Am I the only one who suspects that this unprecedented allowance for immigration is for the sole purpose of shoring-up the eventual failure of Social Security? The "boomer generation", people who have paid the most but stand to gain the least, will be retiring in droves in the coming years. They (we) will all be expecting an equitable return on their (our) investment. (See note below.) It has to come from somewhere, lest it be denied as promised.

At its beginning, there were upwards of 35 people paying into the Social Security system for every one receiving from it. Today, the ratio is three (or four?) to one. Moreover, their approximate three percent tax was (is) nowhere close to the current fifteen percent SS tax rate. In the very near future, it will be two to one (and at what rate?). When will it be one to two? And who will pay for those people?

If I'm correct in my suspicion, that most politicians favor some sort of amnesty and legalization for those illegals who are already here for the purpose of adding to the tax-base (primarily for the support of Social Security), it will fix nothing, but rather only delay the inevitable.

This is a classic illustration of how a collective system is doomed to fail, and how an "individualist" system, although not perfect, is better than any other alternative.

Note: If I had a choice, I would accept today, a full Social Security refund, in the form of a one-time cash payment, of every dollar I paid into Social Security (plus the dollars paid by employers on my behalf), plus a very reasonable 5 percent annual rate of return, for the understanding that I would never receive ANY Social Security benefits for the rest of my life, regardless of how long that might be. Give me back what I paid, don't take any more, and we'll just call it even.

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Ok I'll bite

by StephenCairns In reply to Addendum - Addition to my ...

I liked your note. Very magnanimous. Reminds me of a Blues song "I never said I was a millionaire, what I said was I have spent more money than a millionaire. If I'd kept all the money I'd spent, I'd be a millionaire a long time ago" sorry cant remember where exactly thats from.

What you are suggesting sounds like utopia. A land where everyone is successfull and can stand on there own 2 feet. Truly the American Dream.

But I see no provision for people that can't. Lets ignore the people who won't work for a moment. ( there will always be some) But what about the people who can't?

lets have a really contrived example.
The sucessfull entrepreneur who has worked his way out of the orphanage built up a great company and then is hit by a car and has a stoke on the way to hospital(Paralysed, cant speak), his company goes bankrupt and so inexplicably does his insurance company, he finds his financial adviser has been a bit too entreprenerial and his investments go bad. He 's been too busy with his company to ever get married.
So where does that leave him in your ideology? (hey, I said it was contrived)

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There is no "provision for people that can't". . . . .

by maxwell edison In reply to Ok I'll bite

...and that's the premise on which we might disagree.

I don't see it as the role of government to "provide" for ALL people who either can't or choose not to provide for themselves.

Charities used to provide for people who can't, and kind souls made those charities possible. And necessity forced those others to provide for themselves, the ones who would otherwise choose not to if they didn't have to.

Your way forces others to be "charitable" on your terms. My way makes it a choice for people to be charitable on their own terms.

Your way gives people an excuse to not provide for themselves. My way compels people to provide for themselves.

What did James Mason, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison say on this issue? Go ahead, answer THAT question. What did they say about it? Were they right, or were they wrong? And why?

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Your premise

by mjwx In reply to There is no "provision fo ...

Relies on people choosing to be charitable. The Current US society doesn?t inspire me with confidence.

What happens if people choose not to be charitable? (You may wish to look at medieval Europe).

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You are ignorant. . . . . .

by maxwell edison In reply to Your premise

...of American society. You are not an American. If you think Americans are not charitable, you think incorrectly. You have probably never even been here. You weren't educated in the true sprit and intent of "America". You cannot possibly understand, unless you strive for the same things I do. In short, you are not part of the solution, but rather part of the problem.

America IS NOT a land bordered by two oceans. America is the principle that individual liberty should NEVER be compromised.

Bottom line: I don't care what kind of society you want for yourself in Australia. But this is not Australia. Moreover, you don't know or understand the first thing about me.

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I know about you

by mjwx In reply to You are ignorant. . . . . ...

by what I have read and it does not paint you as a charitable person, quiet the contrary. The American (US) society is not portrayed as one of selfless charity but one of indulgence which in itself is a selfish act (this I know from experience) for proof of this watch a popular American movie (I might suggest American Pie but I would not wish that kind of torture upon anyone, even you Max :) ).

As for a totally selfless culture to use as an example, I can?t provide one. I have a premise that humans are selfish animals.

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WHAT A JOKE!!!!!!!!

by maxwell edison In reply to I know about you

You are doing it AGAIN!

You have ADMITTED that you gain your knowledge of America and Americans through its MOVIES!

HAAAAAA HAAAAAAA HAAAAAAA!

What a JOKE!

You just proved your TOTAL ignorance, dude.

Oh yea, you're the guy who formed ALL your opinions about Vietnam on .... which movie was that? Apocolipse Now?

Ignorance epitomized = YOU.

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This IDIOT presents the movie, American Pie. . . .

by maxwell edison In reply to I know about you

...as his "proof" to what life in the United States is really like.

Oh my. I must stop laughing. I'll give myself a heart attack if I don't stop laughing.

Are ALL people in Australia this stupid?

Stop laughing, Max. Stop ..... Stop ..... Stop .....

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Max Message level reached

by mjwx In reply to I know about you

As Neil said "How Ironic".

Max, if you don?t like the way American society is portrayed by American media, do something about it. I for one would like to see far less "American Pie" type movies but people still keep watching them.

How have you tried to dissuade me of my ill opinion of US culture (there?s an oxymoron in there somewhere). By insults not by fact, you have not offered me any reason to believe differently. Time and time again you have posted selfish and self righteous comment (I have done the same) but then turned around and demanded we recognise you as a saint (I will admit to being as arse at times).

Now I know the difference between a people and a person. You are a person, not a very nice person but still a person, the USA population are a people. Many Americans here have given me good opinions of the US, JD, Mae, even TJ who after getting off on the wrong foot to begin with manages to come across as a sincere and genuine person. Whist I don?t necessarily agree with everyone here I can have a civil discussion with them (Deepsand and I have a disagreement on civil armament, heated but civil), you on the other hand seem to get off on winding people up. Maxwell Edison if that is your real name, you are little more than an enlightened troll and are quickly losing the enlightened part

If you want to convince me I'm wrong provide evidence I am quiet open minded, insults only prove me right and good sir, the burden of evidence is on you.

All this being said, I'll say again. I don?t hate Americans, I seriously dislike your president most Americans I have met are good people. I?d like to make it known that I see a distinction between Max and the US in general.

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You are just so WRONG in so many ways!

by Tig2 In reply to I know about you

Max has consistantly been exactly what he says he is. The meaning of "charitable" is not to carry someone along but rather to encourage someone to their own feet. Give a man a fish and you feed him one time. TEACH him to fish and you feed him forever. That there is some ill-conceived notion that "charity" can only be performed by doing FOR rather than doing WITH is outrageous.

When, in another thread, I mentioned that I have been fundraising for a cancer foundation, Max was right there at the table as we plotted something to sell for fundraising purposes. Did he send a check? None of your business! That is private information between myself and my supporters. What he PUBLICALLY chose to do was get behind an EFFORT. What Max has been saying is that he will HELP- not HANDOUT. I don't see any problem with that. He has also said that it must be a choice. I agree. I don't care to support certain types of charities. But I am FORCED to support them through taxation. I believe that I should have the right to direct my charitable donations to those efforts that I wish to give my support to.

Max's facility with language may cause someone without equal facility to see him as hard. That would be wrong as well. In my experience, he has always been willing to explain himself or further clarify IF HE IS ASKED. He will however give as good as he gets when attacked. And frankly, that looks like survival around here to me.

Finally, Hollywood has no true depiction of what it is to be an American. To use a REALLY bad movie as an example is, at best, laughable.

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