My friend and former State Assemblyman, Steve Baldwin, has written an article in Western Journalism titled The REAL Enemy of Freedom is Hiding in the Last Place You’d Expect to Find It. A critique of libertarianism.
I have great respect for Steve and think the two of us agree on far more than we disagree, but this caught me by surprise. As far as Republican legislators go, current and former, I would put him near the top in his understanding of the great ideas of the American Revolution and his ability to apply them to the pathologies we face today. He is also a much better hockey player than I.
Perhaps my greatest surprise is this statement “Libertarianism leads to less freedom, not more”. I am grateful for SDRostra and the forum it provides to sharpen each other with our ideas about government.
Steve takes aim at Fox commentator Lisa Kennedy, an individual whose name I am not familiar, and her libertarian stance on four issues — gay rights, drug legalization, trade and immigration.
I believe the tyranny we see in each of these areas to be caused by a lack of liberty not because of such. They are not caused by upholding natural rights. Just the opposite, they are the result of departing from such. The liberty philosophy upholds the idea that our nation was “conceived in liberty” and dedicated to the proposition “that all men are created equal.” It has been our neglect of these principles that has precipitated the tension we see.
Homosexuality is a character issue that cannot be addressed by government with any more success than Mosaic Law had reforming Israel. Where in the Constitution is the enumerated power to marry given to the state? I believe same-sex marriage is immoral but I also believe giving the state jurisdiction over a God-given right is immoral and inconsistent with Biblical Christianity.
From the Garden of Eden until 150 years ago, marriage was a covenant made before God. The state had nothing to do with it. Neither George and Martha Washington nor John and Abigail Adams needed a marriage license. Where did licensing originate? When an individual wished to marry someone of a different color. The state disapproved. Those wanting to do so were required to get approval – a license. Christians should be the first to recognize that we don’t need the state’s permission for something God instituted, which pre-existed the state.
In a free society no one would be compelled to recognize such a union as a marriage. No employer would be required to pay benefits to a same-sex significant other. No insurer would be required to write life insurance if the same-sex partner was a beneficiary. No landlord would be required to rent to two people of the same gender if he thought they were living immorally. In a free society, we would not be required to send our child to a school that taught ideas contrary to our values.
Perhaps we should consider incentives and our unjust tax code with its 1,138 benefits for married couples? We reap what we sow.
The issue facing florists and bakers is the departure from the free market principles libertarians passionately uphold. In a free market individuals are free to trade or not to trade their property with whom they wish. Government doesn’t have jurisdiction in this area nor do unjust SCOTUS decisions such as Wickard v. Filburn change the transcendent ethic each of us should be upholding, free trade.
The lesson conservatives (those who ‘conserve’ the status quo) should be learning from libertarians (those who conserve inalienable rights) is that the declining character of our nation can never be addressed by more law and external government. Nor is it consistent with Christianity to attempt to do so. The character of a nation decreases in direct correlation to the increase in external government. Character issues are best addressed by the other God-ordained governments (self, family and church) that have steadily been weakened by our failure to uphold libertarian ideas. The church is only given the Word and the Spirit to address our neighbor’s behavior yet we too often pick up the sword of the state. Christians are specifically forbidden from doing evil so that good may result.
I am not advocating for drugs. I think they are destructive. I also feel the Communist Manifesto is destructive but I wouldn’t want the government denying my freedom to read it. Not honoring my mother and father is destructive but I wouldn’t want the state enforcing that either. That being the case, what should the role of the state be? Can the government adequately address this? Has it been effective? Do we feel it is the government’s job to protect an individual from his own decisions? (See Reagan quote). Is not the freedom to make a good decision accompanied by the freedom to make a poor one?
When it comes to loss of freedom I see 15B taken from American families to finance the war on drugs and the overcrowding of our prisons with folks who haven’t harmed anyone. What is harmful is the empowering of drug cartels and gangs and the spreading thin of our law enforcement from crimes where we do need their protection. Thirteen percent of arrests in 2009 were for drug possession. This is like putting everyone in Hawaii and Alaska in prison.
What is harmful is the destruction our families and our character created by the growth of government. We are destroying the American family with big government and state education. We are destroying our economy with big government solutions to character issues. Is it any wonder so many are self-medicating and full of despair? Is it any wonder immigration from Mexico increases while U.S. empowered drug cartels distort Mexico’s economy?
There are two swift ways to end this drug war. Milton Friedman’s way or Mao’s.
If NAFTA and TPP upheld free trade and libertarian ideals the wording in these agreements would only be five words long; “all trade shall be free.” The departure from the natural right to freely trade has harmed our economy, making the immigrant a threat rather than the legislator who violated property rights, intervened in the economy and created the welfare system. While there may be a couple libertarian bending legislators voting on these trade deals there are a lot more Republicans doing so. If my memory serves me our Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter just voted to extend Export-Import Bank and violated the 10th Amendment, which would allow states to determine load weights on highways. If we wish to point fingers at congressmen for not upholding free trade let’s at least hold our standard locally, loudly and consistently and start with Duncan Hunter’s voting record.
I do compliment Steve on his reference to Rothbard and will stand by his side all day long if he wishes to uphold any of Murray’s positions.
Steve states libertarians believe in “the free movement of people.” Absolutely. How can a nation have free trade without the free movement of trade’s greatest resource, labor? What ethic allows Eric to encroach on the right of Steve to trade with Tom? Where is ‘immigration’ enumerated in the U.S. Constitution? I thought immigration was a state’s right issue? Citizenship is a federal issue but immigration isn’t.
Steve correctly states that the key to a prosperous and free society is the constitutional concept of sovereignty, but it is not sovereignty of the government that our Framers posited but sovereignty of the individual and sovereignty of the states. Only a nation that is in decline from imbibing socialistic ideas and warfare/welfarism is threatened by immigrants. The reason libertarians are not quick to build walls is for the same reason we do not put a hose on our neighbor’s door when our own house is on fire. Immigration is not the problem. The problem we face is a departure from the principles of individual liberty, free markets and constitutionally limited government that create prosperity and a demand for more labor. It’s unfortunate that while Reagan challenged Gorbachev to “tear down this wall,” that some of us are trying to build them.
Steve finishes with the statement “libertarianism needs to be judged by how it is carried out in the real world.” Really? Would he want our faith to be judged by that same standard? Remember the Crusades? The Inquisition? Slavery in the South? Let us judge ideas by how consistently they uphold our ideas, not their aberrations.
I take a position opposite from my esteemed friend. I stand with Lincoln and argue that we are a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal.” I still believe that to be true and remain dedicated to the libertarian ideas of individual liberty, free markets and limited government. Transcendent ideas not subject to time and place and remain our ‘north star’ in our pursuit of freedom.
Eric Andersen is a member of the Central Committee of the San Diego County Republican Party and current Chair and Co-Founder of the Republican Liberty Caucus of San Diego County. He is a Co-Founder of im2moro.com, former Rock Church Citizen of the Year and former Caucus Chair for the 71st Assembly District.