green- socialist-libertarian home

From: "David Oakey"
Subject: Re: Is this Libertarian (+What's Wrong with It?)
Date: Fri, 26 Jul 1996 21:32:35 GMT


I'm a libertarian.

Here's some objections to having a libertarian state. I'm not saying they are good objections, but they are pretty good, and people really do make these objections.

1) Though charitable giving per capita would rise, it would not rise enough to compensate for the loss of government enforced aid.

2) It would not be able to defend itself from a determined foreign aggressor.

3) Valuable public projects would not be undertaken because they are not profitable enough to any one organization. This includes roads, military defense mentioned above, and charity as mentioned above. This line of argument usually uses words such as "free rider" and "public goods."

4) It would be more unstable than the current the long run it may possibly result in a more statist society than we have now. For this to be a good argument, the rate of increase of statism under the current government must be weighed against the chance of instability leading to a more statist government than we have now. I.e. if we do nothing we will get a more statist government anyhow, so the result after a libertarian government's proposed collapse would have to be worse than the result of continuing on the current government's course for the same amount of time.

5) In the absence of anti-trust regulation, companies would engage in practices that are unfair, and would thus be able to not only achieve monopolies, but also be able to benefit from their monopoly status by overcharging their customers. (It's important to state the objection this way, since people are afraid of monopolies because they might profit from overcharging, not just because they are the only one.)

6) Some goods can't be practically owned, so the natural balances of free market competition don't apply. As a result, those goods are spoiled by overuse. For example, the cleanliness of the air is impossible to own, and so companies would pollute freely. This class of objection usually brings up the phrase "Tragedy of the Commons."

7) How can the rights of those who can't defend or speak for themselves be ascertained? Do children get the same rights as adults? Do they have the same responsibilities? (An extension of this question is already heavily debated in the current world: do the unborn get the same rights as children?)

8) How do you determine ownership in questionable cases? For example, things that had formerly belonged to all. Or things that had been stolen goods long ago, and since then have changed hands many times. (Such as the continent of north america, stolen from the Indians.)

9) People have grown so used to their government aid that they could not make the adjustment to self responsibility.

10) The pain of the change would be to great. Think of the jobs lost in government contractors, bureaucracies, and the like.

Those are the objections I could think up just now. Note that 6 7 and 8 could be objections to any system, but are frequently raised against libertarianism without also asking if they are problems in the current system.

I guess I could add objection number 11) If there was a libertarian state, there wouldn't be enough of a government program I like.