There’s a good piece at Ace’s about this.
My quick two cents: The problem with Libertarianism is that it quickly devolves into a caricature. This is quite often Libertarians’ fault.
Not always, of course, but the problem with the caricature is that it’s quickly picked up on by the left, and the dumbasses who are responsible for the devolution in the first place have no answer for it.
For instance: How many times have you seen a leftist jump in with “hey, I thought you rightwingers were all about the right to free association?!?” when it comes to politically motivated witch hunts against people like Brandon Eich? Or “you rightwingers love the army and police. Well, guess what? Those are paid for by taxes!” (alternate version: “Using military force / supporting the police is Big Government, which I thought you rightwingers were against!”)
Put simply, government is a necessary evil.
The key word there is necessary.
One could, I suppose, make a nice, theoretical, philosophically tight case for things like subcontracting all police and military functions to private corporations. (Robert Nozick, I’m told, actually does make something like that case, if you want some heavy reading). But that’s not how the real world works. The real world is Hobbesian; the state of nature is so awful that anything, even the restrains of government, are preferable to it. The point of politics then becomes: To minimize the number of smaller, localized necessary evils that make up the big Necessary Evil of contractual government.
That’s the argument we should be having. Not this ridiculous inside-baseball crap about who is, or isn’t, a real conservative. Alas, it often comes down to that:
However, his [John Kasich, Republican Governor of Ohio] expansion of Medicaid did not sit well with many conservatives. And he has been rapped for proposing a “round of tax increases; including higher taxes on tobacco products, e-cigarette/vapor products, higher oil and gas severance tax, and a hike in the Commercial Activity Tax (CAT). ” (Anti-tax groups nevertheless praised him for income-tax cuts.) In short, he illustrates the difference between a fiscal conservative and a libertarian. In contrast to the sort of tea party candidates who wiped out in the Senate primaries, Kasich doesn’t see government as the enemy. As a governor he’s been expected to improve government, not dismantle it. At a time when reform conservatives are getting attention, he may be in keeping with the current Zeitgeist in the GOP.
There is nothing inherently anti-conservative about the statement “As a governor he’s been expected to improve government, not dismantle it.” Again: <i>necessary</i> evil. I want my government to be maximally efficient at its very, very, very (very very very) minimal responsibilities. But look at the proposed alternative: either improved government, or NO government.
This is not tenable. Nobody is proposing the outright dissolution of government. But that’s the caricature — as Jen Rubin, the GOP uber-hack who wrote that, would surely know — and you’ve got supposedly transitioning-to-libertarianism Drew M. agreeing with her.
Yes yes, I know — John Kasich is, in fact, a Democrat for all intents and purposes. So are most of the “establishment GOP.” And you won’t have to look too long in the Rotten Chestnuts archives to know my opinion of those assholes. But look: The alternatives aren’t “big government” and “no government.” That’s a cartoon position, which so many “libertarians” — cartoons themselves — are eager to perpetuate. “Efficient government” is, in fact, a good way of describing a stripped-down, minimalist state. It’s a good starting point for debate.
We’ve got to know what we’re talking about, in other words, before we can push for it. And many “libertarians” aren’t helping.