I Wonder If I Am A Libertarian # 9

Key Concepts of Libertarianism


David Boaz

January 1, 1999


The key concepts of libertarianism have developed over many centuries. The first inklings of them can be found in ancient China, Greece, and Israel; they began to be developed into something resembling modern libertarian philosophy in the work of such seventeenth- and eighteenth-century thinkers as John Locke, David Hume, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine.

Natural Harmony of Interests. Libertarians believe that there is a natural harmony of interests among peaceful, productive people in a just society. One person’s individual plans — which may involve getting a job, starting a business, buying a house, and so on — may conflict with the plans of others, so the market makes many of us change our plans. But we all prosper from the operation of the free market, and there are no necessary conflicts between farmers and merchants, manufacturers and importers. Only when government begins to hand out rewards on the basis of political pressure do we find ourselves involved in group conflict, pushed to organize and contend with other groups for a piece of political power.

Like children fighting for parental attention.

End of quote.

This is a face-valid idea, if there ever was one.

When there are limited valuable resources animals (humans are animals) compete for them.

If there is no rule of law, those that can physically dominate others do so to get “the spoils of war”.

If there are prominent and powerfully enforced rules of law, a small and stingy government, and an active free market, people tend to compete peacefully within the market place. There, creative and hard-working individuals get rewarded, consumers get rewarded, the government gets rewarded (i.e., tax-base grows), and those who lose in the competition are encouraged to try other ideas that might be more successful in the competition.

Under these conditions, competition yields rewarding outcomes for almost everyone and provides corrective feedback to those who need to change their competitive strategies.

Only when the “government begins to hand out rewards on the basis of political pressure do we find ourselves involved in group conflict, pushed to organize and contend with other groups for a piece of political power”.

This is also true when political action groups rant, rage, and tantrum to our politicized legal system, for support of their preferred life-styles, rather appealing for changes in prevailing social attitudes and social acceptance for their so-called, self-proclaimed rights (abortion, Gay Marriage, legalized drugs, Gays in the military, etc.)

Psychology’s Law of Effect predicts that whatever behaviors a social/political or economic system rewards, will increase in rate of occurrence. If we reward greater magnitudes of some action (say political unrest and destructive protests), greater magnitudes of that behavior will increase in rate of occurrence. Our ignorance of this information is stunning. It should have been taught in our grade schools

There should be no surprise that when judicial and political systems begin to reward those who strongly compete for their favors, large segments of our population begin to flap, squawk and crap like a bunch of hungry seagulls fighting for a few precious morsels of food that are hand-tossed high into the air amongst them.

Do yourself a favor. Take some time and do a fun experiment; go feed the seagulls and you will see exactly what I mean.

VTM, 7/3/13

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