Monday, June 10, 2013

Who wears the cloak of Libertarianism, and why?

Yesterday the Washington Post's E.J. Dionne Jr. wrote a column critiquing Libertarianism. Here's my two cents' worth:

Einstein said explanations should be as simple as possible--but no simpler.

That's the essence of the problem with Libertarianism: it's simpler than messy reality, like all shining ideological visions, and thus breaks down in the real world. Like small business accounting software that has no provision for bounced checks.

Government needs to be big enough to let a nation function effectively on the world stage, and to protect the little guy from the relentless drive of the rich and powerful to become ever richer and ever more powerful by making the rest of us ever poorer and weaker.

In 1790, with a nation of 4 million--90% farmers--with no foreign trade to speak of, and the medicine of the day unable to cure diseases, and old age care comprising your children, and communications traveled at the speed of a walking horse, the kind of government we needed was infinitely closer to the Libertarian ideal. Now it's impossible.

And even then it was impossible. Libertarians conveniently forget America's decade or so under the Articles of Confederation. That WAS a Libertarian government, and even with the limited needs for government that we had then it failed utterly. Jefferson was dead wrong. Madison and Hamilton were right. That's why we got our Constitution--the document that the Teahadis claim to worship when in fact they want to kill it and resurrect the Articles of Confederation.

The only reason the Libertarian dream still staggers around like a zombie on steroids is that it's being propped up by corporatists and Confederacy revanchists. Corporatists want a government too weak to regulate them and easy to capture (courtesy of the Citizens United decision). Aging undereducated Southern whites who still call the Civil War the "War of Northern Aggression" want their antebellum South back, where blacks knew "their place" and the federal gummint was unable to protect them.
These special interests talk Libertarianism to cloak what they really are...and want.

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