As some (or, perhaps, most) may know, I am a strongly convicted, true believing, Patrick Henry “Give me liberty or give me death” big-L Libertarian. I know full well that despite any flaws a small government free market economy brings, I would take all the bad in order to have the benefits our country has to which other industrialized countries do not, and I am not necessarily talking about money or wealth. As such, I often engage in various internet wars with liberals and neo-conservatives, whom I believe are true believers of the state, central planning, nationalist policies and deficit spending. To me, virtually every administration in my existence (and I am a venerable 33 years old) pays lip service to the people and freedom while our collectivist government does their bidding running in the complete opposite direction of freedom. Those who are supportive of any of those Presidents as a whole also probably genuinely feels their elected officials know how to spend our money better than we do. They have been wrong before, and they still are now. There has never been a single President in my lifetime whom I admired or downheartedly supported.
My favorite opponents to debate with, though, are the liberal side of the spectrum, and one of the main points they like to bring up with me are how the Scandinavian-socialist-lite countries constantly get high marks as the “best places to live” and the “happiest countries in the world.”
No, this is not a straw man. If you are a dyed-in-the-wool American liberal reading this, you know damn well you agree with that argument. It makes me wonder just how many of those who say those things have actually been over to those countries long enough to thoroughly have such convictions with confidence. Reason being, in those countries they embrace the concept of authoritarian rule “for the greater good.” They all have mutual support for allowing their wealth to be taken to a central pool, which is then doled out to others at the whims of a controlling body. Sounds good to some, right? But what may not be known to those Americans who believe in adapting those policies here in America, is the fact that when such a precedent is set, we then see just how far beyond some of those countries can go on just how the government can restrict, regulate, rule and punish. Perfect example is how lacking their respect of free speech is. In countries like Sweden, people can serve jail time for publishing articles that speak untruths, and can serve jail time for expressing publicly anything that is deemed offensive. The philosophy of “I disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it” does not apply there. Don’t get me wrong, I do not think these countries are either inferior or superior to the US, as they are beautiful countries with wonderful people and a fun culture, but I certainly am saying that they are not for me as a place for me to live, and I most certainly am not alone in thinking so.
Part of the reasons cited from some study groups whom claim Scandinavian countries are the happiest is because they have socialized health care, socialized education of all levels, and mandated paid 1-2 years of paid leave for working mothers and fathers. It’s nice to have such cushy lives at the cost of everyone else. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “A government which robs Peter to pay Paul, can always count on the support of Paul.” Everybody wants something for free, and if it comes at the cost of someone else with impunity from government, well…it sure is tempting to support such an attempt to rob from the people, isn’t it? Even if it’s for causes to which you may agree is a good one?
That temptation, right there, is the burden which libertarians resist while others cave. The libertarians recognize the benefits of socialized programs but also know the moral consequences that stem from it. You give someone else that much control, you then become a country to which becomes “the tyranny of the majority” and everyone – EVERYONE – is forced to conform to the obligations of such a system. Your rights go out the window. Not to say that the United States is some sort of beacon for rights. In fact many can state that the US has become a fine example in how government policy has ruined many things in what made America originally so great, and how respecting and observing civil rights have moved America forward from darker times when racist/sexist/homophobic policies set it back.
I would rather take the flaws which come with a true free market over the benefits of authoritarian collectivist programs and regulation. In a freer society many of the poor do have access to help from others, in fact in the US at least two-thirds of funding for medical research comes from voluntary private donations, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This is one of the reasons why the United States is considered to be such an economic leader in the world. It’s not because of their military, it’s because they have funding strength to contribute so much towards research and development, much more than hundreds of other countries around the world – and there was no need for a socialist re-distribution system to get there. It was done mostly through voluntary free assistance in a freer country. I find that strong evidence to throw in the face of those who feel that humanity would never have the capacity to help the poor and the needy. America is a screwed up country that does need fixing, for sure, but its virtue keeps its economy rolling despite the overspending of our collectivist government.