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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 Practical and Statism Isn’t


One of the things that amaze me about life is how so many people remain wedded to statism despite the inherent defectiveness and destructiveness of the statist paradigm. Why remain committed to something — why go into emotional hyper-drive over its failures — why spend a lifetime of coming up with reforms — when it’s obvious that the program can never work?

Oftentimes statists get upset at libertarians over what they perceive as our impracticalness. Whenever they’re faced with a new crisis in their statist programs, they say to us libertarians, “Show us your plan for immigration! Show us your plan for the drug war! Show us your plan for public schooling! Show us your plan for Medicare! Show us your plan for welfare.”

We libertarians respond, “We have no plans for any of those things because they are all inherently defective. We propose the dismantling or repeal of such programs, thereby letting freedom and the free market reign.” That causes the statists to get all uptight and exclaim, “Oh, you libertarians are so impractical!”

But what could be more practical than advocating a solution that works? Freedom and free markets do work. Isn’t it rational to support something that is workable, as compared to supporting something that is inherently defective?

Consider immigration controls. As I explained in my recent article “Immigration Socialism versus Freedom and the Free Market,” immigration controls are inherently defective because they are nothing more than a form of socialist central planning. There is no way that the central planner can ever have the necessary knowledge to centrally plan the complexities of an international labor market, much less a national one or even a local one. And the more the central planner tries to do so, with new reforms and interventions, the worse the crisis becomes.

Over the decades, I have seen spate after spate of “crises” involving both immigration and the drug war. Every five years or so, after some new reform has been enacted, people have gone into emotional hyper-drive over the immigration “crisis” or the drug-war “crisis.” No reform ever satisfies them, simply because no reform can ever prove effective given the inherent defectiveness of the program.

For example, many years ago the statists said, “If you’ll just make it illegal for American employers to hire illegal aliens, we’ll never need another reform again because there will be no jobs for them (which, of course, contradicted their claims that illegal aliens come to the United States for welfare).” So, the statists finally got their wish — they got a law enacted that converted anybody who hired illegal aliens into federal felons.

Did it solve the crisis? Of course not, just as I said it wouldn’t. Did they go back and repeal the intervention once they realized that it hadn’t worked? Of course not. When everyone went into immigration-crisis hyper-drive the next time, they just stacked more interventions on top of the previous ones.

Same with the drug war. Every episode of hyper-drive over the failure of the drug war to stamp out drugs has only been met with calls for new reforms. Mandatory-minimum sentences. Asset forfeitures. Bank reporting requirements. Violations of financial privacy. Cash-importation regulations. U.S. troops in Colombia. Extradition of drug lords. The latest is the harsh military crackdown in Mexico, something that the statists have long called for on the U.S. side of the border too, which has done nothing more than cause drug-war violence along the border to soar.

The answer to all this madness is obvious: freedom and the free market. It’s the only thing that will work and it’s the only thing that is based on moral principles. Open the borders to the free movements of goods, services, and people. Legalize all drugs, not just marijuana. Immediately, the immigration crisis and the drug-war crisis would evaporate.

No more deaths along the border. No more illegal trespasses of ranchers’ lands. No more transporting of immigrants in the backs of closed-up tractors-trailers. No more ID checks. No more raids on private businesses. No more drug cartels. No more drug-war assassinations. No more violations of civil liberties and financial privacy. Just peaceful and harmonious commerce among people, with each living his life and pursuing happiness in his own way.

How much more practical can you get than that? How much more moral can you get than that?

Instead, the statists keep our nation committed to statism, telling us the only acceptable proposals are those that maintain the existence of statist programs. We must operate within their paradigm of statism, they tell us, which means that our proposals must always be limited to reforming, not repealing, their statism.

But that is sheer nonsense! When a paradigm is inherently defective, the only right and rational course of action is to call for its replacement with a new paradigm, especially one that works. Freedom and the free market work. Statism doesn’t and can’t.

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.