Saturday, April 19, 2008

Let's Get Dressed And Dance Away The Night

Consternation at the embarrassing Reaganaut suckfest that is Samizdata today, where much anguished discussion is prompted by the following statement...

"A barrier to people accepting libertarianism is the notion that we'd let people starve in the streets."

This is, of course, absolute nonsense. I laugh at the mere suggestion that a libertarian government would let a load of starving people lie in the streets, bringing down house prices and annoying real people, when there are perfectly serviceable prisons about.

After all, every libertarian I've ever conversed with has been emphatic in their belief in the rule of law. It's encouraging to note that, on the day when the people are informed that there will be no more benefits or NHS and immediately descend on the houses of the libertarians in an orgy of looting and violence, the government of the day will consider the philosophical implications before it orders in the riot squads.

Or perhaps I'm wrong and, when the first baying mob eviscerates the first local businessman, the libertarians will call for even more liberty.

Good Reaganauts being what they are, there's also time for nostalgic stroll down memory lane with the well-worn notion that charitable donations will instantly fill the benefits gap. Let-Them-Tug-Their-Forelocks-And-Say-Please, Sir - I've always loved that one. I'd love to see it argued in a job centre... Although not at close enough quarters to be struck by the flying blood and teeth, of course.

Finally, we close with the assertion that the certain path to public starvation is Teh Commies, which is fair enough when we consider Russia and China, for instance. Still, it would probably have surprised large numbers of dead Irish and Indians to learn that they were the victims of rampant socialism... And when I read about those food riots this week, I don't recall the protesters demanding that a hammer be taken, Casino-style, to the dead hand of government.

Now, I may be exposing my honking ignorance, but bear with me here... This whole libertarianism thing, didn't we try that in the late nineteenth century? And, correct me if I'm wrong, didn't we have millions in the poorhouse and a majority of the public leading miserable lives?

If it didn't work in an era when the most lucrative occupation was invading other people's countries and ripping off everything that wasn't nailed down, is there a reason to believe it'll work today? Because if there is, I can't see it.

It's when I read this kind of thing that I suspect that Libertarianism = Hand's off my Lexus, filthy starving hippies.

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