Friday, February 27, 2015

Defining a libertarian

Law professor David Bernstein writes:
I doubt any two libertarians agree on the exact boundaries of libertarianism, but how’s this for a working definition:
“A libertarian is someone who generally opposes government interference with and regulation of civil society, even when the result of such government action would be to clamp down on things the individual in question personally dislikes, finds offensive, or morally disapproves of.”
Thus, for example, a libertarian who hates smoking opposes smoking bans in private restaurants, a libertarian who thinks homosexual sodomy is immoral nevertheless opposes sodomy laws, a libertarian who finds certain forms of “hate speech” offensive still opposes hate speech laws, a libertarian who believes in eating natural foods opposes bans or special taxes on processed foods, and a libertarian who thinks that all employers should pay a living wage nevertheless opposes living wage legislation. It doesn’t matter whether the libertarian holds these positions because he believes in natural rights, for utilitarian reasons, or because he thinks God wants us to live in a libertarian society.
I have had people tell me that they believe in parental rights, but when they disapprove of some parental behavior, then they want the govt to clamp down.

Likewise people will say that they are in favor of free speech, but when they are offended, they want a clamp down.

A right means that you can do what you want, regardless of disapproval. Of course there are some limits, as when something is objectively harmful. Your right to swing your fist ends at your neighbor's nose, for example.

It is distressing how few people today believe in parental rights. Here are some childhood vaccine law changes in the works, with most of them being Democrats trying to eliminate parental rights over the matter.

Much of the discussion is over the vaccine safety. Hardly anyone says that the vaccines are safe, but should not be required. In Europe, Japan, and other modern countries, parents voluntarily get vaccines for their kids without any legal requirement.

The current debate started when a foreign tourist spread measles at Disneyland. Most of those getting it were unvaccinated adults. Childhood vaccination of Americans has almost nothing to do with the outbreak. Nevertheless it is used as an excuse to deny parental rights.

Under California laws that allowed parents to opt-out very easily, about 97% of kids were vaccinated anyway. That is more than enuf for herd immunity, and it is not worthwhile to squeeze that last 3% into compliance. If you believe in freedom, then let people make their own decisions, even if you disagree.


kurt9 said...

I would say that's a reasonable description of a libertarian. People do lots of think I don't like. As long as it does me no harm, I have no problem with it. And, yes, an intrusive government is a much bigger threat to all of us that all of the myriad stupid things that people do that such a government is trying to prevent.

Keef said...

Yeah, I call myself a libertarian and would say that the posted definition is a pretty good one.

I also like using the non-aggression theory as a way to describe my political opinions.