Monday, July 05, 2010

Peanut Butter, Tomatoes, and Libertarians...

It's almost Peanut Butter and Tomato sandwich time again. I pretty well live on them during the summer. A lot of people have an adverse reaction and make an awful face when I mention that fact. And to tell the truth, I probably had the same reaction the first time I heard about them.

It's not that I didn't like peanut butter, or tomatoes, or sandwiches, but the combination seemed a little odd. And if I would have based my decision on whether or not to try one on other peoples' opinions, I probably never would have got started on them.

And I would have missed out on a lot of great sandwiches.

I became aware of libertarian philosophy and the Libertarian Party about ten years ago. If I had based any of my decisions about libertarianism simply on other peoples' opinions, and what other people said about it, I probably would still be a Republican. Or a Democrat.

After all, I had always accepted that if something was bad for you, or immoral, then it should certainly be illegal. And conversely, if something was good for you, or moral, then there shouldn't be too much wrong with making it required. And if a certain charity was deemed worthy by the right people, government should be able to force other people to contribute to that charity.

I know that a lot of people still feel that way. Libertarians, however, believe that consenting adults should be able to make their own decisions about how they conduct their personal affairs. And as long as those consenting adults don't initiate force or fraud against another person, the government doesn't really have a dog in the hunt.

Some people will tell you that means Libertarians approve of immoral behavior. It doesn't mean that at all. It just means we don't think the government should be legislating morals. Or peaceful behavior. Between consenting adults. And it doesn't mean we can't advocate against that behavior. It just means we can't initiate force to control that behavior, or authorize the government to initiate that force on our behalf.

Libertarians are also strong advocates of private property rights. The right to own and control your own property is one of the cornerstones of a free society. And in a free society, sometimes people will make decisions about their property that we don't agree with. Just like sometimes people might eat something, or drink something, or smoke something that we don't think they should be eating or drinking or smoking. But if we are truly going to live in a free society, we don't get to outlaw peaceful behavior of consenting adults. No matter how much we disapprove of that behavior.

Libertarians believe in personal freedom and personal responsibility. Some conservatives will tell you that makes them too liberal. Some liberals will tell you that makes them too conservative. I, on the other hand, think it makes them just right.

As we approach this fall's election, a lot of different people are going to be telling you what Libertarians believe and don't believe. Some of those people will be wrong. I hope you take the time to find out for yourself.

And while you're at it, why not try one of those peanut butter and tomato sandwiches. Regardless of what anybody else says, I think you might like it.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Pami said...

Excellent analogy, Rex! That is one of the key points of the Libertarian Party that I really love - you can disagree about whether or not a person should or shouldn't do something, but we all absolutely agree that it's not the government's place to legislate it (as long as it doesn't negatively affect someone else).

And I also thought that my mom and I were the only ones who ate PB&T sandwiches. Haha! :)

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is more of a question. But what do you think of zoning regulations.
I mean, if your neighbor wants to build a rock crushing plant on his property...right next door to your expensive house, should he have that right just because he owns his lot.
Zoning regulations often regulate what types of buildings can be built on a piece of land, how the land may or may not be used, the size and construction materials of anything built on the property

5:02 AM  
Blogger Rex Bell said...

Anonymous, Thanks for the question. This has been my basic approach to zoning over the years. No doubt a rock crushing plant would affect property values and fall in this category:

http://dist54lib.blogspot.com/2006/07/on-property-rights-and-zoning.html

5:15 AM  

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