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I used to be a libertarian. I looked at the government, saw a lot of screwed up bureaucracy, and thought it might be best if we reduced government as much as possible. I was tired of my tax dollars going towards bloated congressman's salaries so they could stand around arguing about who should be able to get married, tired of tax dollars going to feed and house criminals who were now my responsibility because they were caught with a stupid joint.

I also care about people, so I was concerned that the incoherent woman next door to me would be starving outside on my porch, because after multiple conversations with her I was convinced she could not hold down a job.

My libertarian friends said "Americans are the most generous people in the world! If the government got its grubby hands out of our pockets, we'd give even more. The system would work out just fine!"

I was thinking about that this week when I read this sad tweet:

And the scores of replies from people who said that this system would work out GREAT! Cut out the middle man and bureaucrats, if you're sick just post up and see who thinks you're worth saving.

Friends I can debunk this pretty quickly: before social safety nets, we had that system. Rich people who felt sorry for poor people could help them if they wanted. Yay! Freedom! No income taxes, no forced contributions.

You know what? People fucking starved to death. LITERALLY. Kids starved. People got sick and couldn't pay doctors, so they died. The poor were thrown in debtor's prison because nobody felt sorry for them, so let them and their families rot. There weren't as many people becoming doctors, because only so many people could pay them. Energy was spent by individuals trying to grow their own food. We did our best to survive. Lots of people didn't.

It didn't work. We ran the test, it didn't work.

If you want to re-run the test, you are sentencing people to death.

That's what ended my stint as a libertarian.


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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 7th, 2017 02:46 am (UTC)
Multiple studies say that the richer a person is, the less empathy that person feels for poor people.

My personal feeling about libertarianism is that, as a friend says, corporations will sink to the lowest level of thuggery the law allows. They'd grind up children for food if they could. So, yes, let's have as little government as we can, down to the point where corporations are strong enough to harm people. If they're harming people, the government is not strong enough.
Right now, corporations are harming people, so our government is too small.
May. 7th, 2017 06:03 pm (UTC)
I like this take.
May. 7th, 2017 03:02 am (UTC)
May. 7th, 2017 10:58 am (UTC)
The people who say that the system works great are probably the same people who go on about being such good Christians yet follow none of the teachings of Christ. Take care of the poor? You've got to be kidding.

But they're kidding themselves if they think that without the government we'd all be perfectly fine. All you have to do is read about how things were less than a hundred years ago. Of course, most of those people don't read.
May. 7th, 2017 06:26 pm (UTC)
Exactly. Also, plenty of GoFundMe campaigns fail. Their success largely relies on a person's ability to appeal to people and use social media etc. which are skills not everybody has. It can never be an equal playing field.
May. 7th, 2017 11:42 pm (UTC)
I agree it's a horrible idea. The rich can always fundraise more than the poor (look at school PTAs)...
May. 9th, 2017 11:39 pm (UTC)
As a public policy grad student, I COMPLETELY agree with this. I can't actually stand the libertarian viewpoint because they don't usually appreciate the benefits they get from being part of a society, like the roads they drive on or the police that protect them (mostly, unless they're POC and then it can get tenuous). They just want less government, and I'm not convinced they think that all the way through.

(I realize I'm generalizing here, but that works for this post.)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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