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Hubris and Illegitimate Assumptions


Are libertarians pro-business or pro-labor? That’s one of the questions from the few moderates and centrists who are deciding to show some interest in libertarian philosophy. They know there’s something fundamentally wrong with what the big-government types say and do, and they want to see what else is out there. It’s a legitimate question, even if it stems from an illegitimate assumption.

The assumption is that libertarians, like everyone else, must lean one way or the other; and it’s based on the fact that the left/right bipolar mindset in the United States breaks things down that way: everyone has to favor either labor or management. But libertarians do neither. Libertarians favor liberty.

For any economy to work in a healthy manner — that is, to flourish for all parties, not just those in (or able to buy) political power — there must be voluntary cooperation between the buyer and seller and between the business owner and his or her employees. Such is the nature of a truly free-market system, a system freed from political influence, whether that influence be a president’s rhetorical blueprint for the economy or the tens of thousands of pages of regulations that government bureaucrats churn out every year.

Presidents must be incredibly egotistical to think they can actually run an economy for 300 million–plus people. Even with the help of a 535-member Congress, the job can’t be done. No government can run a healthy economy. To think so is just hubris on the part of politicians.

Those countries with the most government control over the economy have the least amount of wealth and poorest standards of living.

A free economy is not run by governments or industries or special-interest groups, including unions; it’s run by the myriad decisions those 300 million–plus people make every day, every hour, every second, 24/7.

How do those millions of people run the economy? They do it through voluntary associations and the freedom to act on personal choices: Where do you shop? What brands do you buy? Where do you invest your money? Do you invest at all? These are some of the choices people make every day about voluntary associations in the economy.

Businesses also need to be free to make choices about what to produce, how much of it, and how to market their goods.

That’s how producers and consumers get together, to voluntarily associate to buy and sell at prices that aren’t artificially inflated or deflated. Businesses and potential employees also meet on the field of voluntary association.

But the market isn’t free, and the economy is in bad shape. Republicans and Democrats together have put the country in debt to the current tune of more than $15 trillion, and the president wants to borrow trillions more.

Unemployment remains high despite rhetoric from Washington, and despite bailouts and stimulus programs.

The Left blames businesses and the wealthy for the state of the economy. They want more help for those on the lower end of the economic scale and want to punish the wealthy — those who invest and create businesses and employment opportunities — by raising their taxes.

It sounds intuitively right — charitable — until you realize it’s just more intervention that interferes with voluntary association. It’s not charity unless it’s voluntary (and unless it’s your own money).

The Right blames the Left for give-away programs and excessive spending. What they fail to see is that they spend almost the same amount. How big a difference would it be to spend, say, $8 trillion instead of $10 trillion over the next ten years? It would still add at least $6 trillion to the debt.

Both those two sides are into controlling the economy, controlling prices, job statuses, and people. Lobbyists from labor and industry buy political favor and influence for their clients, and the politicians sell that influence for votes and campaign contributions — despite their oath to the Constitution, which doesn’t permit favoritism.

It’s just more hubris and illegitimate assumptions by the political class that thinks it can legislate whatever it wants.

It’s frustrating that the mainstream media refuse to let the general public see a true alternative, the libertarian alternative, in the form of a free market based on the morality of liberty instead of the left/right split.

It doesn’t have to be labor versus management or business versus consumer. And in a free economy, it’s neither.

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    Rich Schwartzman is managing editor at Chadds Ford Live in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.