I just had a somewhat enlightening exchange with Don Watkins
, a self-described libertarian and Objectivist whose site I found through Diana Hsieh
As I've said before, I like the fact that Libertarians seem to have a large representation on the net (mainly through blogs). I happen to agree with them more often than Republicans, and they often are able to articulate their views better. Objectivists/libertarians, in my opinion, raise the level of debate, in opposition to the way conservative pundits like Rush Limbaugh lower it.
Since reading NoodleFood (and the Volokh Conspiracy), I have changed my views on gun rights considerably. On this site, I have expressed gun control views, basically in line with liberal establishment, but I no longer adhere to those beliefs. That doesn't mean that I think all gun regulation is bad, quite the contrary. It means I am definitely against any kind of handgun ban, against any kind of trigger lock law, against laws that limit ownership by honest citizens. I'm for keeping guns out of places where they can do much harm (e.g. airports and airplanes, football stadiums, the NYC subway, schools), and any private space whose owner does not want them there (e.g. my house).
The other main difference between my views and the libertarian point of view is on taxes. I honestly could not see at all where they were coming from--what basic tenet led them to believe, as Don put it, that "Taxation is theft" and "The only way the government does anything is through robbery and force". But as I read more, I found that that follows quite logically from this (also a quote from my exchange with Don).
The government's only proper function is to protect, defend, and secure our fundamental rights. The government, all governments, are agencies of coercion. They are defined by the fact they can use force, unlike private businesses and individuals. That's okay, so long as they limit their function to protecting us from criminals, terrorists, and other nations. But once they start trying to use force to solve other problems, that's when they -- by necessity -- violate our rights. That's something they can never morally do. The ends never justify the means.
Ok, now that's something to think about. I'm for less government coercion and intrusion--I don't see taxes as coercion, since I gladly pay them, but I can see how one might. The other interesting response was when I asked how Libertarians would solve the problems that liberals want to solve with taxation and conservatives with borrowing (poverty, the environment, etc), I also pointed out that he benefits from the government helping the poor. Here's his response:
But if the benefits to me of helping the poor are clear then why would the government have to do it? Why wouldn't private charity be enough? Especially when you consider that the government has a poor track record of instituting programs which actually do what they are intended to do.
There are many things you and I can agree on. We don't want people to suffer from poverty. We don't want the environment to be ruined. We don't like unemployment, drugs, etc. Where we differ is that I don't think the job of the government is to solve problems. The government's only proper function is to protect, defend, and secure our fundamental rights.
Points worth listening to and addressing if you're a candidate trying to attract Libertarians.