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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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More on Libertarianism and the Tea Party


In response to my blog post of yesterday, entitled “Libertarianism and the Tea Party,” some Tea Party supporters posted comments on my Facebook page indicating that my “attack” on the Tea Party was unfounded.

My article, however, wasn’t an attack on the Tea Party. It was simply an observation about the Tea Party. The fact is while the Tea Party has come out strongly against out-of-control federal spending and debt, the overwhelming majority of Tea Party members have still not embraced libertarianism. If anyone disagrees with that assessment, please send me any op-eds or articles showing that Tea Party members are embracing libertarianism.

Now, that’s not to say that I’m unhappy with the Tea Party phenomenon. I think it’s exciting that lots of people appear to be waking up from the deep slumber that has long afflicted the American people. When people are no longer behaving as “my government, never wrong” automatons, that’s a very positive and encouraging sign.

My point is simply to point out that most Tea Party members have still not arrived at libertarianism. Instead, they’re still operating with the statist box under which we all were indoctrinated. That’s what distinguishes libertarians from Tea Party members — we have broken free of the box and now recognize it for what it is — statism, consisting of a combination of socialism, interventionism, and imperialism. That’s why we understand that economic liberty necessitates repeal, not reform, of statist programs. Tea Party members are still mired within the reform paradigm.

A genuine concern about federal spending and debt is simply not enough. While libertarians also oppose excessive federal spending and debt, we don’t simply call for tax cuts and reductions in federal spending to resolve the problem. We instead ask important moral and philosophical questions, such as:

What does it mean to be free in an economic sense?

What is the role of government in a free society?

Is it morally right for government to forcibly take money from one person to give it to another person?

Is it morally right for government to punish a person for ingesting harmful substances?

Is it morally right for government to bomb people in other countries in the hope of bringing them democracy?

Is it morally right that for government to engage in invasions, wars of aggression, occupations, assassinations, coups, embargoes, sanctions, torture, abuse, and other interventions in the affairs of other countries?

Notice that once a person arrives at the libertarian answer to such questions, the issue of out-of-control spending and debt resolves itself because the solution flows naturally from the answers to the questions.

Freedom entails engaging in any economic enterprise free of government control, entering into mutually beneficial transactions with anyone anywhere in the world, and accumulating unlimited amounts of wealth and deciding for one’s self what to do with it.

The role of government is to protect people’s freedom of choice, not control, manipulate, regulate, or punish it.

It is morally wrong for government to use its power to take money from people in order to give it to other people.

It is morally wrong for government to establish an overseas military empire and to intervene in the affairs of other nations, especially by wreaking death, maiming, and destruction in the name of freedom and democracy.

Thus, for libertarians, the solution to the woes that besiege our nation includes the following: Repeal, don’t reform, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, subsidies, grants, and every other coercive welfare-state transfer program. Abolish every single welfare-state, central-planning department and agency, including the Federal Reserve. Abolish the income tax and the IRS. Legalize all drugs. Dismantle America’s military empire, bring all the troops home from everywhere and discharge them, and dismantle the military-industrial complex.

Are Tea Party members calling for these solutions? Or are them simply calling for “reducing the size of government” by cutting taxes and spending or, even worse, simply getting rid of the “waste, fraud, and abuse” in government programs?

Will Tea Party members remain mired within the statist box and devote themselves to reforming and improving it, or will they instead recognize that the only solution to the woes that besiege our nation lies with libertarianism?

I think that the jury is still out on these questions. Let’s hope the Tea Party breaks through the statist scam and joins up with us libertarians to restore liberty to our land.

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.