Saturday, April 1, 2000
@ home 2114 hrs
In crafting a response to Jenna‘s email touting Libertarianism as the only logical choice in America, I planned to use the Bolshevik Revolution as an example of a class society (which basic Libertarian reforms of our current system would create) becoming so distraught over the status quo (that of a small ruling elite and a large middle — or worse, poverty-stricken — class) that it must overthrow and replace it with a class-less system. Unfortunately for me, Russia before Lenin was ruled by a tsar, and no matter how much you may like to think Bill Gates is tsar of the United States and Steve Case his tsarina, this parallel will just not do. [Not to mention that, according to the historian Richard Pipes, the Revolution was not popularly supported.] Therefore, like morals and an asshole, I have only my own opinions and thoughts on basic Libertarian platform planks to tender.
First, let me concede that many Libertarian ideals are wonderful visions for our future. Freedom of choice (not homogenized choice, but true variety) is a great thing. To be able to choose for yourself whether or not to smoke pot (without fear of prosecution) would be a truly wonderful way to live. As a matter of fact, in many ways, the Internet as of today gives us a glimpse of the freedom to choose which I think is supported by Libertarianism. But, as with all political ideologies, there are pieces of the puzzle which I think need altering and/or complete removal from the platform.
1. No government-mandated minimum wage: In Japan, there is legislation in place which ensures that no company CEO’s wages are more than 10 times that of the lowest paid employee in the company. [At least I believe that is the ratio, I may be mistaken.] This is a great inspiration for company heads to keep all salaries high. Now take the United States, where CEOs and other top-dogs make millions a year while the lowly employee (who actually does the work) gets paid minimum wage — a wage which is virtually universally agreed upon as not being one which a family can live off. Libertarians would have it that even the minimum wage be abolished, therefore letting the market (read: company CEOs and other assorted top-dogs) decide what a job is worth. If this ever happened, I predict that, much like today but only at a greater pace, CEOs would raise their own pay (of course, a company can’t exist without them) while continuing to short-change their own employees.
2. No public education system: One of the basic ideas behind the institution of democracy in the United States is that a country must have educated and informed individuals participating in that system. Which leads to the logical step of creating a universal, free, public education system. I am one of the few who still believe a good education can be found in the public schools if one puts forth even a small amount of effort. This, too, is something the Liberts would like to take away; believing that market forces beyond those we currently experience will inspire people to take advantage of higher education opportunities. First, the price of education will dramatically increase (from the virtual no-cost of today’s public schools) leaving only those currently at the top of the socio-economic ladder able to afford the education to secure themselves and their children high-paying jobs. Second, the higher-ups of corporations would rather have uneducated millions dependent upon their current low-income jobs to survive in order to keep the higher-ups’ money machines grinding along. Case in point, the current trend of corporations moving their operations off-shore to exploit the poor and uneducated of other countries more efficiently.
3. Ideal of Government as Administrator rather than Interventionist: The country and world have grown too interconnected to rely solely upon localized community police forces (or, as the hardcore Libert would have it, no public police force) to “keep the peace.” A “law of the land” must be established and administered across the land fairly. Not to mention the inevitability of war and other international issues which need to be resolved on the national level rather than the oftentimes extremely dysfunctional localized processes and opinions. Case in point, Miami, Elian, and Castro’s Cuba. Disregard for international law may be worthwhile and profitable to a small segment of the nation’s population, but damaging to the majority. An interventionist government with final say over international issues regarding the nation is needed in order to adjudicate in favor of the majority and/or morally (discussed later) correct.
4. Notions of Morality: Here’s where I quote from Jenna’s email entitled, “Logic.” She begins by saying, “…our instincts and basic preset nature head straight for selfishness, violence, and destruction. What would we evolve into without parents/teachers to say, ‘No, no!’ If you think about it, it’s a major feat just to gain SOME semblance of a moral code.” And, “The more we restrict each other in the name of ‘protection’ (i.e. welfare, licensing, public school systems) the closer we come to a situation that is completely unlivable.” She goes on to say, “The only way to form a working society made up of such necessarily different individuals is to live by your own code as long as it does not interfere with someone else’s code.” Finishing with, “There is no decision to make. Either there is a whole and complete, workable society, or there is not. Period.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, I agree with individuals’ right to choose their own moral code, but I also believe there are some basic moral standards that can be legislated and that all people should be expected to live up to, such as the immorality of murder. But if we have no police force, who will enforce these standards? If we have no public school system, who will teach our children these basic laws of human decency? Parents? Are they doing it now? How many more children would be killing and stealing if it weren’t for the education and moral direction they receive at their public school?
All systems are flawed. And in no way do I mean to somehow support our current system. But never will I let our current system be replaced by one driven solely by economic forces without a fight. That is not a “whole and complete, workable society.”