“Libertarianism = Socialism” ?

Let me start by saying that this is more just a thought at the moment, but I think that it’s just the logical way for things to work out in the end.

First, Libertarianism is the belief that there should be as little government intervention as possible to ensure, as Locke put it, “life, health, liberty or possessions”. This plays a very important part in the theory of this change because, well, you’ll find out. Now, most people have never heard of Locke, but he was heavily influential in the the developing of our Constitution and Declaration of Independence by way of the founding father reading his works. It is from his “life, health, liberty or possessions” that we get our “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, though he originally said it in a different context. In modern day libertarianism, he is one of those people that was supremely knowledgeable, he’s their equivalent of the GOP’s Reagan.

Essentially though, libertarianism is the idea that the least amount of government is best; let everything happen naturally. Let the market correct and regulate itself, let the people fend for themselves unless it’s in direct interference with their properties or life, and let the laws of nature take hold. The theory behind this is simply that the collective of people form the foundation of the government and can thus achieve certain results without the interference of a government in all the daily needs. It’s one of those aspirational things that we’re never going achieve except in a utopian period and place. But the thought behind it is that if people don’t like a certain aspect of a product, they just won’t purchase or use it and this would amount to their control over the producer of said product. Yet, one of the main problems with this thought is that information dissemination from these producers are unreliable and late at best and never available at worst; seeing as how we may not actually have the information available, it’d be kind of hard to make these decisions. But that ties itself into greed by the executive members working at a corporation on behalf of its owners to produce maximum revenue.

I would really like to get back to Locke stating that everyone has a right to life, health, liberty or possessions. It basically means that everyone has a right for those things to be protected against by others and that a reasonable and civilized society will form a government to produce this protection of their rights. The government is founded by the people and given its right to governance by the people, who can take it away at any time. Hence, the government should be afraid of the people and not the other way around. If everyone has a right to health, where does it start or end? We obviously have in place systems to carry out care for those people that’re unable to, though they may be poorly designed or used, but what determines this end? Then we must ask the same question of all of these, life, health, liberty, and possessions. Where does your right to liberty start and end? Where does your right to own start or end? Where does your right to liberty start and end? Does my right to health start when I have insurance, or does it start when I reach a certain age, or should I have it for the entirety of my life? When do I have a right to my life? The moment I’m born, the moment it’s taken from me (either by my own means or someone else’s), the moment of conception, or is it with me during my entire life? My point being that if I have a right to something, it is a right. It’s not conditional on these certain other criteria, at that point, it wouldn’t be a right. Just as driving a car isn’t a right, it’s something that’s allowed (through our own allowance of the government to do so) by the government. If I have a right to life, how can it not be possible to have the right to health? I’m not sure, but I believe the two correlate pretty well with each other; you normally succumb to some health issue before you fall.

One question I’ve thought about is how do we protect people from corporations if not by government? The theory of libertarianism obviously doesn’t work, so now what? Have everyone band together to create an organization that will inform the citizenry of the mishaps? This is one and the same with government, so that doesn’t work. The only reasonable answer is government. Governments are controlled by the people since they get their right to exist by the people. Herein is another dilemma; if corporations are people, how are we to assure that we, the real people, have our rights adequately respected and protected? Realistically, we can’t. Not as our government currently stands. I personally favor disallowing their right to be considered citizens, but then they still have at hand the ability to influence members of our government. How do we rectify this? Well, I can’t say for sure, but, I would think that maybe a reverse value added tax would do the trick. If the stores we purchased our wares from had to pay a tax on the difference between what they pay and what we pay, and the distributer has to pay the tax on the difference between what they pay and what they sell it for, all the way down the line to the production of raw materials, we could more or less keep their profits in check and entice them from time to time, if the need exists.

It was thought of before that workers, if the need arises, could unionize to protect their rights from the corporations. It’s been demonstrated time and time again that unions can do good in preserving those rights, but they can also completely kill whatever advantage a corporation has and fundamentally choke the corporation. Given that these are the same corporations that are employing people and sometimes abusing them, the employees SHOULD unionize. However, I believe that the way to protect both the workers and corporation is legally, that is, there should be laws about what unions can and can’t request, what companies can and can’t deny, and limitations. I would like to point out that at a certain time in our history, companies provided for their employees healthcare, pensions, life insurance, and in some cases, housing. Over the years, the companies of the U.S.S.R. provided their employees with housing, healthcare, and retirement funding. I believe, that to this day, there are still certain companies that do this. What if a company doesn’t want to have their employee’s maintain their rights? Well, as I said, the could entice them with my reverse VAT, or they could just tax the companies more, as kind of a penalty tax.

It could be argued that this isn’t capitalism, but I disagree. Capitalism is simply that the best overall product succeeds. If company A spends half as much than company B on R&D, but double on marketing, to certain people they’ll have the best product. It’s exactly the same as it is today. People can still purchase whatever they want to fit their needs. It’s more like capitalism in a sandbox. As long as certain basic things are met, you can go nuts, have fun, and do whatever the hell you want. Again, that’s really similar to what we have now.

One other issue that frequently comes up with libertarianism is the valuation of money. Our money used to be backed by gold and silver, and now it’s just accepted that your $20 is valued at $20 because that’s what it says because that’s what the government says it’s worth. The problem is that there’s nothing that backs the valuation of that bill, except there is. Let me explain, when you buy something, you’re trading the result of labor for a good or service. This good/service has to accept that your bill has a value to it, or else they would not be making any profit as they’d, by the very nature of the transaction, be giving you something for free. Basically, our money has valuation merely because it can be used to purchase something. The value of $20 may be different today than it is tomorrow, but, it would still fluctuate, even if it was backed on something, simply due to supply and demand. We can take our money today and buy gold. The amount of gold we can get with a set amount may vary depending on 2 different criteria, A) the cost of gold and/or B) the valuation of the set amount. If the valuation was set to the price of gold, what it would mean is that $1 of gold today is equal to say 1/8 of an ounce. In the future, with more money, it may be 1/16 of an ounce for the same dollar. This has to do with the cost of gold affecting the valuing of the dollar, so it basically boils down to now is that the value is what everyone (everyone being FOREX, stocks, bonds, futures, derivatives, etc.) decides the value is, not the government.

What my result boils down to is that libertarianism is socialism, if you look at the pure meanings of the words. You could argue that universal healthcare is bigger government and thus against the principle of libertarianism, but you could also argue that libertarianism says that the role of government is to provide protection for those rights, and if in doing so you need universal healthcare, so be it.

  1. #1 by Chadwick on December 20, 2009 - 4:25 PM

    I think I might have sent this to you, but if not; Matt Welch is the epitome of “glibertarianism,” also known as “fuck you, I’ve got mine.” Particularly, in this case, on the topic of healthcare.

    • #2 by Phillip on December 21, 2009 - 10:41 AM

      I believe you did. And his argument against didn’t quite pan out the way he thought it would.

      • #3 by Chadwick on December 21, 2009 - 10:56 AM

        Oh, they panned out just fine. He doesn’t think people who aren’t him should get government health care, because it might cost him money. Really, the poor people should just marry someone from France like he did if they want healthcare that bad.

        • #4 by Phillip on December 21, 2009 - 11:22 AM

          Given a choice between free health care and living with a non-French woman…I would seriously have to consider how bad I needed the health care.

          What I think should seriously be done is he should renounce one of his national citizenships. Here in the US, we do not officially recognize dual-citizenship, you’re either a US citizen alone, or you’re not a US citizen.

          • #5 by Chadwick on December 21, 2009 - 12:46 PM

            But then he’d be forced to give up his healthcare or have to actually pay for it! That would be completely unfair!

  2. #6 by Matt on December 21, 2009 - 6:44 AM

    “Well, I can’t say for sure, but, I would think that maybe a reverse value added tax would do the trick.”

    This would be awesome to implement!

    “Over the years, the companies of the U.S.S.R. provided their employees with housing, healthcare, and retirement funding.”

    Not a huge fan of large apartment buildings, but then again, if I can save my wages for a house, all the better.

    And I know companies are cutting out retirement benefits to newer employees, I think because they learned their lessons from the baby boomers, as in, these people can retire at 65 and then I promised to pay them till they die, which averages out to 20 or so years now and days.

    In the past, I think it was more personal to offer retirement pay as a thank you for 20+ years of service and making this company better, but now I think businesses don’t care as much because of the proliferation of technology. In the past, that employee with 20 some odd years of service might have been the only one who knew how to do something. And now, a machine might be doing it, or perhaps tech made the job easy enough for someone to walk in, have a day of training, and just start doing the job. Workers are becoming as easily replaceable as machines. Sure, maybe the 20 year might be more efficient at the job, but that efficiency comes at a higher cost to the employer because he might start requesting higher pay, benefits, etc. Whereas the new guy has no pull or say in the matter, he might just be thankful for a job.

    Going to end my little rant for now…

    • #7 by Phillip on December 21, 2009 - 11:19 AM

      I know after the fall of the U.S.S.R., some companies were still paying for their employees’ housing, but that’s also because their salaries alone just couldn’t cut it. But really, if you think about it here, you have families making 30k a year with 150k mortgages that’re paid off over 30 years. Personally, if it takes 30 years to pay something off, I’d rather not finance it since it’s not something I can afford.

      I know prior to the depression, people were literally working till they died, then everyone got onto this “hey, maybe we should save for our retirement” thing and that led to companies offering it as a perk. That said, I think that when it perks get overextended they can do more harm than good. People started relying on (and rightfully so, if they were assured that they’d have them) pensions and being offered pensions. We kind of gradually shifted from that and it may not have been noticeable, but looking at the beginning to what it is now there’s a clear difference.

      My gramps, several years back, had the option of converting his defined benefits pension over to a 401k. Lots of people took the “Employes’ Retiremenf Fund of the City of Milwaukee” offer because you could get more money for retirement that way. In any case, greed generally wins out.

      On one hand, I’m sort of glad that the salary of jobs that could be done by machine have come down, but on the other, it means that companies nor employees have any loyalty to each other. Any one can do unskilled labor, that’s why it’s unskilled. But when unskilled labor is making money hand over fist, there has to be something fundamentally wrong with the system. There is a greater pool of them than the college educated, and in certain cases they were making double what those with degrees were.

      But yeah, I agree with much of what you said. Except, sometimes, the U.S.S.R. didn’t use big apartment buildings. I remember hearing of at least 2 that used to give their employees houses. I would seriously like to see a reverse VAT. I could seriously see it bringing in more money, especially from those companies that’re trying to wiggle themselves out of paying taxes here.

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