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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Libertarianism is the Light Shining through the Statist Darkness


For years, liberals and conservatives have played this little game in which they imply that they hold opposing philosophies. Nothing could be further from the truth. There’s not a dime’s worth of difference, philosophically speaking, between a liberal and a conservative.

It would be difficult to find a more perfect example of this phenomenon than the Bush-Obama administrations. Despite repeated attacks by conservatives against Obama, what is always lacking is any showing by conservatives how Obama’s policies are different from those of his predecessor Bush.

In fact, Bush, McCain, Palin, Obama, and Biden could easily have run as interchangeable running mates, given that they all agreed on one important point: what the role of government should be in society.

Sure, there will always be differences in style or particular programs, just as there will be carping about how the president is mismanaging the economy or foreign affairs, but everyone knows that it’s all political posturing with the aim of ousting the incumbent and regaining power. Once that goal is achieved, the game starts over again, with the ousted party carping about how the incumbent is mismanaging the economy and foreign affairs.

Consider the following socialistic, interventionist, and imperialist programs, and ask yourself the following question: Which programs do Mr. Liberal Barack Obama and Mr. Conservative George W. Bush oppose?

Social Security
Food stamps
SBA loans
Foreign aid
Government-business partnerships
Economic regulations
Income taxation
Trade restrictions
Immigration controls
Public (i.e., government) schooling
The Federal Reserve
Paper money
Home loan assistance
Corporate bailouts
The drug war
Military invasions and foreign occupations
Foreign military bases
Enhanced interrogation techniques (i.e., torture)
Military tribunals
The military industrial complex

My hunch is that your answer is “none.” Sure, there are conservatives who oppose some of those things just as there are liberals who oppose some of them. And most conservatives and liberals call for “reform” and for ending “waste, fraud, and abuse” in government programs. But if you were to do a survey, the overwhelming majority of both liberals and conservatives would oppose a repeal of those programs.

Yet, it is those programs — and the statist philosophy underlying those programs — that are at the root of the problems facing our nation today. That’s where the out-of-control federal spending, ever-mounting debt, and ever-increasing infringements on economic liberty and civil liberties are coming from.

You see, liberals and conservatives believe that it is the primary role of the federal government to be a domestic provider and an international policeman.

What the statists don’t want to acknowledge is an important point, the ones that we libertarians must continue emphasizing and reemphasizing: the ever-deepening woes our nation is facing is due to the statism that both liberals and conservatives have foisted on our nation.

You see, the last thing statists want to do is take personal responsibility for the damage they have wrought to our nation with their statism. They want to blame America’s economic woes on such things as free enterprise, greed, big business, and bankers and America’s foreign-policy woes on hatred for America’s religious and cultural values.

And the reason they want to do this is so that people don’t start focusing on the real cause of America’s woes — the statism of liberals and conservatives. Because if people started focusing on the real cause, then they might well ask themselves an important question: Why not rid ourselves of the cause of our woes by ending, not reforming, all that liberal and conservative statism?

Take a look at that list of socialist, interventionist, and imperialist programs again. To understand how different libertarians are from conservatives and liberals, ask yourself the following question: How many of those things would libertarians oppose?

Answer: All of them. Sure, it’s possible to find libertarians here and there who favor one or another of these things, but the vast majority of libertarians would oppose all or almost all of them. And the reason for that is because of the philosophy that libertarians believe in: a philosophy of individual liberty, economic freedom, free markets, voluntary charity, a non-interventionist foreign policy, and a limited-government republic.

Statists — conservatives and liberals alike — place their faith in government and force and then refuse to acknowledge and take responsibility for all the bad things that their statist philosophy has produced.

Libertarians, on other hand, place their faith in freedom, themselves, others, and God, which is why their freedom philosophy inevitably produces prosperity, harmony, and morality.

Statism is on the ropes, all over the world. As the statists desperately try to cobble together “reforms” intended to make their statist philosophy work, any fixes they are able to come up with will be temporary only.

Ultimately, people will figure out that there is only one way out of the statist morass — libertarianism. We libertarians are the light shining through the statist darkness.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.