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Trusting people to do the right thing?

Posted By Harry Browne On 03/09/2001 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled

On Wednesday WorldNetDaily published a letter from a reader who said, “I can’t be a Libertarian because their philosophy is based on people doing the right thing and minding their own business.”

This is a common misconception. Actually, we Libertarians believe just the opposite.

That’s why we don’t want politicians running our lives. They rarely do the right thing, and they never mind their own business.

We don’t expect we’ll ever have a perfect world. We don’t assume all people to be nice, honest, efficient or benevolent — nor do we expect any one person to be these things at all times.

That’s why it’s important to be able to control your own life — so you at least have a chance to protect yourself against the meanness, dishonesty or inefficiency that some other people might want to inflict upon you. When politicians can use the force of government to control your life, you have little chance to protect yourself.

Conservatives and liberals expect perfection

Many conservatives and liberals suffer from a common malady. They recognize the tremendous harm government does in some areas, and yet they expect government to “do the right thing” if it’s something they’ve asked for.

Conservatives know the government can’t run a health-care system or make everyone wealthy. But some of them think that same government will somehow succeed in stamping out drugs and prostitution, in making the world safe for democracy, or in keeping your irresponsible neighbor in line.

And liberals know the government can’t force people to be moral, but they think that same government can somehow provide efficient health care, educate our children effectively, and lift the poor out of poverty.

Libertarians, on the other hand, know that government consistently fails to deliver on any of its promises. And so government is the last place we look for help.

Who protects you?

Does this mean we expect you to live unprotected from the people who won’t “do the right thing”? Of course not. We want you to have whatever protection you need.

In a Libertarian America, government will be so small, there will be no need for an income tax. Thus you’ll have the resources to acquire whatever you need to protect you from incompetence, double-dealing, or even violence. And if the assistance you hire doesn’t work, you can turn to someone who does a better job — unlike when politicians take your money, leave you helpless and force you to rely on them to do the right thing.

In a Libertarian America, no one will herd you into a fraudulent retirement scheme like Social Security. You will be free to choose how much of your earnings you’ll put into the most attractive place for your savings. And if you change your mind, you’ll be free to switch to something else. No one will be able to use someone else’s irresponsibility as an excuse to force you into a government program.

Every provision of the Bill of Rights will be honored. Your person and property will be safe from random searches and seizures by people who choose not to do the right thing. And your right to protect yourself, your family, and your home with a weapon will never be compromised in any way.

In a Libertarian America, your neighborhood will be safer because government will no longer foster a criminal black market in drugs (or anything else) that some people will buy regardless of their legality. The nightmare of Prohibition will finally be over. Some people may choose to do the wrong thing with their lives, but the government will no longer inflict their problems on you or your children.

Protection against your own mistakes

Even you won’t always make the right choices. But in a Libertarian society, you’ll be free to correct your mistakes. In a society run by politicians, you don’t have that opportunity — because the politicians don’t just control the people you’re afraid of, they control you as well.

It is because people won’t always “do the right thing” that we must prevent those people from using government to control your life.


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