I have noticed lately a lot of discussion on social media regarding the underpinning of certain belief systems, or lack thereof. I credit this with an upsurge of the libertarian movement. This is a movement that I am proud to be part of, albeit on a very small scale. I don’t give speeches, I don’t have a youtube channel or facebook group. I merely go about my life trying to learn why people I know believe the way they do, and how they came to believe it. I challenge my own beliefs on a regular basis just to make sure. I ask myself questions, that I thought most people ask themselves when developing a political ideology and try to stay true to the answers to the best of my ability.
I haven’t always been a libertarian, in fact this is a fairly recent shift from conservative republican. It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, to admit to myself that what I believed for most of my life was wrong. I had what one might call an epiphany during George Bush’s second term. It was at that point I realized that there is no such thing as a good politician. Paraphrasing Milton Friedman, you can’t elect good politicians, you can only make it politically advantageous to make bad politicians do the right thing. I came across that quote years later, but it summed up what I felt perfectly.
The first person I heard that really changed how I thought about what it meant to believe in small government was Dr. Walter Williams. This was years before I stopped calling myself a republican, and I honestly thought what he was saying conformed nicely to what I believed at the time. He was guest hosting Rush Limbaugh’s radio show and explaining the difference between socialism and capitalism. He described socialism as being very pretty on the outside but very ugly on the inside. Everyone gives to a large federal government all they have and the government spreads it among the people according to what they need, so no one every goes hungry, or has need for charity. A beautiful concept to be sure…on the outside. When you dig a little problems pop up, like who decides what each person needs? What if an able person does not give as much as their ability would allow them? What motive does an able person have to produce more than he consumes? These questions have been answered time and time again in real socialist societies. It never ends well. Capitalism, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. Ugly on the outside but beautiful on the inside. Dr. Williams described capitalism as a system where in order to benefit from society, you must first prove that you have served society. This was a new concept for me. He made some understandable analogy whereby money became the proof of that service. The ugliness is apparent. What about people who can’t or won’t take care of themselves? What about those who can’t find a good paying job? The beauty comes from the fact that what you make is yours. Knowing there is no one there to catch you if you fall except for your friends and family provides incentive to get back up when you fall. Being self reliant is empowering. The concept of charity comes from capitalism. The concept to serve yourself first and give what you want to others as long as you don’t hurt yourself in the process is the best lesson anyone could learn.
This is my first attempt at a blog and I doubt many people will be reading this. I think I’ll treat it like a journal. A way to organize my thoughts. My plan for the future is to tackle such questions as what are human rights, and what do we really own? What should we really own? Hopefully by the end I’ll be better able to explain to people who don’t think about these things at all.