Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Necessity and the Law

(This is the first is a series of posts on my personal beliefs. They will almost certainly come pretty fast - it's a lot easier to just write what I think than it is to try and articulate a position I do not really agree with.)

I have been a Republican since I was a teen. That's a fair chunk of time, as I am now on the cusp of the dreaded 'middle age'. But I was always a 'Republican except'. I like the notion of fiscal restraint that the right at least talked, and back then I mostly believed them. I found that their positions on a lot of social issues really didn't work for me, though. Long about a year ago, I discovered the term 'libertarian', and I was home!

Here was fiscal restraint without pushing beliefs onto people. Love at first sight.

Imagine my surprise when I found that many people view libertarians as crazy. What is not to like? Well, it turns out that whenever you create a group, the crazies show up. (I will introduce what I call 'Multiplication By Stupid' in my next post.)

So, I will define what I consider a basic rule of libertarianism as I understand it.

The first thing to understand is that it is not as simple as 'Government = Bad'. That's just mindless dogma. It is rejecting the notion that all things are properly addressed by the government. Some things are, but not everything.

I have a few rules that I use to assess a proposed law.

1. Is there really a problem? There must be an objectively definable problem, not just a hysterical reaction to something catching the public eye.

2. Will this law really address the problem? Politicians of all stripes love to push through their pet agendas by creating a link, however tenuous, to some current issue.

3. What are the other effects of the law? Far too often this is ignored. Fixing one problem by creating another is not progress.

4. Is this the least intrusive fix available? There are always multiple options available. Is this the best one, and does it stay out of my bedroom?

There is a subtle but real difference between the questions "What should I do?" and "What needs to be done?". Sometimes the correct answer is nothing; someone who asks the first question will rarely see that. (Last bit stolen shamelessly from Steven Brust)

3 comments:

TAO March 19, 2009 at 11:53 AM  

When you look at it you basically have anarchists, libertarians, conservatives, and right of center moderates all falling under the label Republicans.

Then you have left of center moderates, Progressives, liberals, socialists, and anarchists all falling under the label Democrats.

Up until 1980 we basically had politicans that hovered in the middle of the right of center or left of center on the political matrix.

Libertarians believe that government is bad and obviously believe that if man is left alone and to his own devices he will be a better person (can't help but see a relationship to this fallacy similar to the flower power children of the 1960's).

I am NOT a libertarian and have spurned the conservatives since their philosophy has been kidnapped by reactionaries, libertarians, and fascists.

I always assumed that the democrats got all the wild eyed crazies but over the last 10 years and especially since I started blogging I have to acknowledge that the extremes of both sides are full of some wild eyed folks.

Right now I think there is too much legislation that is targeted to benefit a group over another and government has become a benefit/punish manipulator rather than establishing general principles and regulation.

Its micro managing vs. pointing a general direction

dmarks March 19, 2009 at 6:24 PM  

Libertarians aren't crazy, even though Ron Paul is a racist, antisemite, and atrocious litterbug.

It's the Randists who are crazy.

OpenMindedRepublican March 19, 2009 at 9:59 PM  

TAO : There are indeed libertarians whose beliefs can be simplified to "government is bad".

There are also liberals who believe that the solution to every problem is government intervention.

I submit that the existence of these people does not preclude the possibility of more intelligent policy.

Coming up in the next couple days I will take the plunge and put out what I consider to be an appropriate use for government intervention. I suspect you will be surprised.

dmarks : I do not recall reading the suddenly prominent 'Atlas Shrugged'. I am pretty sure I haven't, since I do recall reading 'The Fountainhead' and being entirely unimpressed.

The objectivist philosophy reminds me of dianetics; some good ideas if you are willing to wade through the stupid to find them.

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