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Liberated from Libertarianism: Rand Paul Runs and Hides from ... Rand Paul

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Suppose you bought a house and had a fat mortgage outstanding on it. Now the guy who owns the plot next door decides to build an abattoir on his land. You can't live in your house anymore because of the nauseating, permeating, stink. You also can't sell it, because no one else wants to live there either. And you're still stuck paying the mortgage, probably plunging you into bankruptcy since you're now also paying rent to live somewhere else. Why did all this happen? Because you voted for that libertarian city council, and they threw out all the zoning laws on the books, preferring maximum freedom for use of private property instead. Aren't you thrilled about how that worked out?

So you pack all your belongings in your car and decide to drive away. But you turn around after going just a couple of miles, because everybody drives on any side of the road they want to, whenever they want to, and it's scary dangerous out there. Why? Because the libertarian state government you elected true to its principles eliminated all such driving laws as the restrictions on personal freedom they truly are.

So maybe you'll fly instead, eh? Oops. Sorry. That's just as frightening. The new libertarian federal government eliminated the FAA and all its restrictions on private carriers as an invasion of their corporate liberties. No red tape here anymore! No onerous regulations! Now each carrier can hire whomever it wants, at whatever salary, to do whatever amount of safety inspection it deems appropriate. Or none at all. No reason to worry, though. I'm sure a corporation would never cut corners in order to maximize profits, right?

Well, actually, never mind the flying off to a better place idea is moot anyhow. You see, there's no airport in your town. No private actors had either the resources or the motivation to build one. And since government is evil, they never did the job either. Which is also why you're about to lose you job, as well. With no ports, trains, highways, internet or other mass infrastructure, the US is about to become an economic actor more or less on the scale of Togo. Congratulations on that bright move, my libertarian friend! How does the freedom of chronic unemployment taste? Yummy, eh?

But, really, what do you care, anyhow? Your water is polluted because anyone can dump anything into it they want. Ditto with your filthy air. And global warming is about to take out all the living things on the planet, anyhow. We will be quite free to die, thanks to libertarianism.

Well, all is not lost. At least you can walk down to your local dining establishment and have a nice meal without having to fear the presence of darkies or queers in the same room with you. That pretty much makes it all worth it, no?


We could go on and on from here, but why bother? The point is made. The problem with libertarianism is that it is a child's candy store fantasy. Lots of sugar, no nutritional value. It's the Mel Gibson ("Freeeee-dom!!") of political ideologies. The ugly truth is that we hominids are social animals, not atomistic asteroids, each flying through space in our own little orbit. At the end of the day, the simultaneous great delight and awful curse of our humanness is, ultimately, each other.

That is not to say that individual liberty is not important. It is, and I no more favor libertarianism's opposite number, totalitarianism, than I do the lunacy of Ayn Rand, who spent her life (vastly over-)reacting to the Stalinism of her youth. I don't want to live in either of those worlds. It's just that it's naive and juvenile to believe that what is required here is anything other than some sort of difficult balance between the needs of the individual and those of society. That's the only solution that works.

One would think we might have learned this lesson of late. We've just come through an era of wholesale foolish deregulation in the name of setting free Americans and their productive capacities. The whole of our ethos of political economy these last three decades could easily be boiled down to a single bumper-sticker: "Government Bad, Industry Good". So now we might wanna ask ourselves, as Sarah Palin would put it (assuming she had a brain larger than a centipede's), "How's that whole deregulatey depressiony thing working out for you?"

Sorry, Mr. Paul. Just when we've seen precisely what happens when greedy individuals with all the morality of mafia hit men are allowed to do whatever they want by a government that is completely coopted by them on a good day, and utterly AWOL the rest of the time, you come talking to me about more "freedom' from government intrusion?!?! Are you joking?

Government, as imperfect and downright lethal as it can be when in the hands of those who use it for the wrong purposes, is the instrument and expression of the public will. It is the tool through which society conveys its values and seeks to achieve our mutual goals. And it is meant to be triumphant over private actors because societal needs (which, by the way, can, should and often do include government protecting individual liberties see, for example, "Rights, Bill of") are broadly more important than those of the individual.

It would be a mark of our (return to) political maturity if we could acknowledge that.

If that's too much to ask, though, I wonder if my libertarian friends would at least be willing to take ownership of the real implications of their own ideology.

I mean, if you guys are just going to practice deceit and hypocrisy, why bother taking over the Republican Party?

Those guys are already experts.

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David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York.  He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles (dmg@regressiveantidote.net), but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. His website is (more...)
 
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MoJo claims Rand and his father Ron Paul are both ... by Richmond Gardner on Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 8:54:12 PM
Hope that helps 911 truth... by BaronVonRothschild on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 10:52:09 AM
While many anarchists latch on to the Libertarian ... by Starbuck on Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 9:46:15 PM
"I don't believe in racism. I don't think there sh... by Kathy Stuart on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 10:43:15 AM
Individual rights would be WAY more protected in a... by BaronVonRothschild on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 10:51:16 AM
he would have run as a Republican.He would also be... by marko polo on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 6:21:18 AM
for the record, not all Libertarians believe in th... by BaronVonRothschild on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 10:44:29 AM
Unfortunately for we the people, the commerce clau... by MichaelOhio on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 12:26:04 PM
... by Phil DeGrave on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 10:13:27 AM
I scarecely know where to begin. I'm not a liberta... by BaronVonRothschild on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 10:40:12 AM
There's an obvious misunderstanding out there of w... by truthseeker7 on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 10:43:37 AM
Forcing racist business owners to not be racist pr... by BaronVonRothschild on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 10:56:45 AM
If there is one thing we know about Maddow, it is ... by Conspiracy Girl on Monday, May 24, 2010 at 9:38:01 AM
I have thought the same thing because he is his fa... by truthseeker7 on Monday, May 24, 2010 at 10:48:24 AM
"Equality" is a principal of which needs no append... by Randy Rinaldo on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 11:02:29 AM
could not or would not answer a simple question in... by Daniel Geery on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 11:04:43 AM
Here is a pretty good link of an interview with a ... by Bernard on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 11:24:22 AM
The problem with the interview was that Maddow had... by Conspiracy Girl on Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at 2:43:53 AM
Green exposes the hyposcrisy of Rand Paul and Libe... by MichaelOhio on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 11:50:57 AM
While he believes, in civil rights, he does'nt bel... by marko polo on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 12:10:31 PM
Imagine you're a black parent driving cross-countr... by Jim Arnold on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 12:37:24 PM
The State of Ohio provides public services. The Ci... by BaronVonRothschild on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 2:22:52 PM
So, do you think a community housing association s... by MichaelOhio on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 2:38:37 PM
I was actually hoping someone would make those arg... by Jim Arnold on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 2:42:44 PM
Uh, actually Southern industry and business began ... by BaronVonRothschild on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 5:22:29 PM
uh, actually - the point is, the Southern business... by Jim Arnold on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 8:24:30 PM
Business as usual is the "ORDER" in which an indiv... by Randy Rinaldo on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 11:35:10 PM
Perhaps Southern businesses would have continued t... by Conspiracy Girl on Monday, May 24, 2010 at 2:52:28 PM
So "we" are allowed to call the police if violence... by Randy Rinaldo on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 11:46:07 PM
that other racist miscreants will choose to use th... by Kathy Stuart on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 5:00:49 PM
I thought Paul handled the interview perfectly. In... by Craig Thomas on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 12:43:20 PM
I see you have the libertarians dancing on the hea... by Carol Crown on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 1:11:25 PM
Professor, I disagree with you about Sarah Palin. ... by Ankhorite on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 1:18:49 PM
I admit I haven't made a study of it but I do not ... by MITYOJAB on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 4:57:25 PM
Here, the operative word that strikes me is "juven... by Nancy S on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 5:43:40 PM
AND WE THE PEOPLE ARE FOOTING THE BILL,LIFE IS GRE... by MARGARET BASET on Monday, May 24, 2010 at 4:01:01 AM
Maddow did dance around the core issue a bit, whic... by Dick Thomson on Monday, May 24, 2010 at 6:59:29 AM
Keynesian economics is collapsing all around us. H... by Conspiracy Girl on Monday, May 24, 2010 at 8:43:42 AM
Keynes says "let corporations run wild and save th... by Dick Thomson on Monday, May 24, 2010 at 9:16:23 AM
How bizarre to see an article in a progressive pub... by Conspiracy Girl on Monday, May 24, 2010 at 8:29:13 AM
I don't want to attack a writer at OpEd News. Let'... by Matt Kjeldsen on Monday, May 24, 2010 at 10:01:29 AM
Requiring businesses to comply with the Civil Righ... by Jim Arnold on Monday, May 24, 2010 at 12:05:08 PM
Here's the deal Jim. Race pimping is the strategy... by Matt Kjeldsen on Monday, May 24, 2010 at 12:42:38 PM
Your definition of a "free" republic assumes the d... by Jim Arnold on Monday, May 24, 2010 at 2:05:27 PM
Sorry, but you are not free to not engage in comme... by Conspiracy Girl on Monday, May 24, 2010 at 6:23:31 PM
The government can shoot you in your bed as you sl... by Jim Arnold on Monday, May 24, 2010 at 8:14:00 PM
There are numerous places you can read about it, b... by Conspiracy Girl on Monday, May 24, 2010 at 9:42:39 PM
There are numerous places you can read about it, b... by Conspiracy Girl on Monday, May 24, 2010 at 10:31:25 PM
Thank you, Conspiracy Girl. Definitely sounds like... by Jim Arnold on Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at 7:22:08 AM
Sorry, but you are not free to not engage in comme... by Conspiracy Girl on Monday, May 24, 2010 at 10:32:31 PM
IT DOESEN;T MATTER WHO GET ELECTICED ONCE THEY GET... by MARGARET BASET on Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at 7:27:45 AM
since you continue to post more or less the same i... by BaronVonRothschild on Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 4:02:00 AM
You don't understand. It's your argument that busi... by Jim Arnold on Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 6:06:46 PM
Your view is fascinating... from the perspective o... by BaronVonRothschild on Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 11:20:52 AM
An exchange between private persons is an exchange... by Jim Arnold on Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 6:07:50 PM
Conspiracy Girl says it is all about individual ri... by Carol Crown on Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 9:08:20 AM
Carol, I think you have hit the nail on head: this... by BaronVonRothschild on Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 11:17:56 AM
How do you imagine business came to control the go... by Jim Arnold on Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 6:19:37 PM
It is indeed your fears that make you see the admi... by Carol Crown on Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 8:58:27 AM
For starters, I differ with so-called libertarian ... by BaronVonRothschild on Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 11:58:27 AM