Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Why I Am A Libertarian, Part 1

Since I've reconnected with a lot of old friends on Facebook, a lot of them have followed the links to this site asked the same question: "Ummm.....Allen, what the hell got into you?"

It's a long story. I'm going to start throwing up a post every couple of weeks about the things that have opened my eyes and that have attracted me to the Libertarian Party. Here goes.

I grew up on a rice farm.

When I was five years old, my Uncle I.G. got me a pair of rubber boots and a small shovel for Christmas. I was delighted. My father and uncle walked around in irrigated rice fields wearing their rubber boots and doing things with shovels. I felt like a man. I had the boots. I could move earth.

Three or four years later, when I was old enough to accomplish something with a shovel while wearing rubber boots, I wasn't nearly as pleased. I decided that getting my first boots and shovel probably wasn't a true coming of age moment.

But for almost 15 years, I had the privilege or riding around in a pickup, shoveling mud, repairing tractors, and listening to the anti-government rants of my father. I would give anything for recordings of those diatribes.

These were Daddy's most popular topics:

1) All government programs, products, or policies are grossly inferior to those produced by "real" people. This was especially true for the Federal government, which hadn't gotten anything right since Jefferson died. My father even called Daylight Savings Time by it's true name. Government Time (as opposed to God's Time). I swear this is true.
If Drew Baptist Church hadn't traitorously switched back and forth from God's Time to Government Time every year, my father probably wouldn't have reset his watch.

2) As long as government officials are elected based on how much money they can raise for campaigns, government will be inherently corrupt. Therefore government's power should be minimized. (Doh ! I understood this at age eight. Why can't other people figure it out?)

3) Jimmy Carter's head was filled with cotton, cow manure, wool, lust, peanut shells, Andrew Young's old underwear, and faulty circuits from Navy submarines.

4) U.S. News & World Report was the greatest periodical since The Apostle Paul put down the quill and was beheaded. When USN&WR appeared in our mailbox, Daddy would sometimes read the back page editorial, tear it out, and drive it to whichever tractor I was driving at the time. There were a few things he felt like I needed to know immediately. The general slant of these editorials is summarized nicely in points 1 through 3.

5) This is a bible passage from 1 Samuel, Chapter 8, verses 11-20, and I can't believe I haven't blogged it before. In this section, Israel has asked to have a King, since all the other kids got to have one. This is Samuel , speaking for God, about the pitfalls of having a strong ruler. (It's funny how God seldom spoke to large groups.) My old man could quote this backwards and forwards:

11 And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.
12 And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
13 And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
16 And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.
17 He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day.
19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;
20 That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.

Remember the good old days, when warnings that the government would take ONE TENTH !!! were terrifying?

Verse 16 would make a great motto for an employment agency, wouldn't it?

The next post in this series will be a Thomas Sowell-esque rant about government intentions vs. farmer incentives for terraced rice fields. It's more interesting than it sounds. I promise.


Anne Cleveland said...

Great Article!! Informative and entertaining.Despite the fact I!m almost twice as old as you are, reading some of the things your father said makes me wonder if we might not have had some of the same kin folks some-where back there in our blood-line and bread-line.
Anne Cleveland

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Thanks for the comment.
According to my Uncle Edwoil (that's not a typo), most of my paternal line came from a debtor's prison in Georgia.
It was something about being obligated to pay for the Royal bailout, the King's stimulus package, etc etc etc....

Matt S said...

so you're a libertarian because you grew up libertarian, but you did shed your childhood belief in god?

Atheists aren't completely rational after-all, I guess.
On the one hand, I do like some aspects of libertarianism, but on the other hand I feel like the free market treats the less fortunate as afterthoughts, creates and every-man-for-himself mentality, and doesn't answer the question of who will build the roads that everyone can use and how will the poor receive police and fire protection...

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Let me take these one at a time....

so you're a libertarian because you grew up libertarianNo, I grew up in a household of Yellow Dog Democrats who switched over to the Republicans. I'm planning on doing about 20 more posts about why I'm now a capital L Libertarian

but you did shed your childhood belief in god?I wouldn't say shed, just redefined. Instead of God as he, she, or it, I now think of God as All Of This.

Atheists aren't completely rational after-all, I guess.I don't know where that's coming from, but the Atheists I know have a rational bent that I'll admit to envying. Whenever I go that route, my daughter gets sick or I lose a job or there's some other crisis, and I retreat to the prayers I learned on my mother's knee.

On the one hand, I do like some aspects of libertarianism, but on the other hand I feel like the free market treats the less fortunate as afterthoughts,I respectfully disagree with the false dichotomy that you're setting up here. The advantage of a Free Market vs State Intervention, Government Planning, and Socialism? You have a lot fewer of the less fortunate.

creates and every-man-for-himself mentality, Absolutely right. Big Brother should NOT be watching you. No matter how much you yearn for the comforting lap of Nancy Pelosi, no matter how much you want to lean on the everlasting arms of the Obamessiah, no matter how badly you want to draw sustenance from the sagging man-breasts of Barney Frank, society is better when you drop those illusions. Pelosi, Obama and Frank, after all, will eventually run out of other people's money.

and doesn't answer the question of who will build the roads that everyone can useHey, the constitution says that the government can (and should) build roads. Ditto for providing for The Common Defense. It says nothing, though, about taking over General Motors and firing the CEO and replacing him with someone more to the liking of whoever programs Obama's teleprompter.

and how will the poor receive police and fire protection...I believe that police and fire fit nicely into the Provide For The Common Defense heading (you might be confusing the Libertarians with the Anarchists, although I have Libertarian friends who think EVERYTHING should be privatized.)

However, let me give you a for instance.... Thieves have broken into my home twice. The second time, they caught the people who did it. I'm supposed to be in on some kind of victim reimbursement plan.
Guess how much I've been paid back by the thieves?
Yep. Nothing.
Guess how much the parole officers, counselors, prison guards, judges, police officers, and other people making money off this transaction have been paid?

On the other hand, I have friends who live in gated communities. (That's one of my favorite euphemisms - gated communities. Three miles of wall and thirty yards of gate, but it's not called a Walled Community. It's "Gated".)

They pay for their own private police force to staff the gate and to drive around. They haven't suffered the indignity of two burglaries, or the added insult of no payback from the thieves.

Be honest.... which group would you rather have looking out for you?

TarrantLibertyGuy said...

Good article. As the veil of distance and time blows away via technolgical gadgetry (facebook, etc.), some of my friends ask they same questions.

You've answered them well, grasshopper. I always answer the question about the 'selfishness/no wlefare/everyone for themselves' aspect. And yes, there is that aspect to us.

It boils down to this. I own me (and my property that I got legally) and I don't own your or your property or franctional ownership of same. However, people don't starve in this type of environment. Consider Adam Smith's quote (paraphrased) "It's not because of the selfishness of the Butcher, Brewer and Baker you have your dinner, but rather their self interest brought it to you."

Also, generally speaking, because we care deeply about those who truly can't help themselves, we want people who need the help to actually get it. Stealing Billions in taxes to go to a multi-layered bureacracy doesn't do that. Taking individual contributions and organizations to a community level is where the rubber hits the road. People can ACTUALLY get the help they need. Think Shriners Hospitals or St. Jude Hospitals... but imagine if there were thousands all over America!!! Oh, what we could do that to help the poor in ways like this if there was no DHHS!!

For all of you concerned - Allen is doing great, well-liked, sane and hasn't been hording more than a normal amount of AR-15 Magazine clips. I must say, I am diappointed in his inability to get that rocket launcher....

TarrantLibertyGuy said...

By the way, I got USN&WR when I was a kid too. Glossy paper Fox News Channel.