Whats better than a Government Shutdown for Libertarians?


Did libertarians enjoy the reduction of the government’s influence during the shutdown?

According to Scott Shackford, no.

Last week, the columnist for the libertarian magazine, Reason.com, wrote an article titled, “The Government Shutdown and Our Permission Society: Many private harms caused by the government shutdown are due to its own insistence on meddling in our lives.” Its clear to see that many private enterprises are negatively affected by the shutdown. According to Scott Shackford, the adverse affects on private commerce during the shutdown demonstrate the dangers of too much bureaucracy. 

Rather than feeling angry about the government shutdown, Shackford argues that people should be angry about, “having to jump through so many hoops in the first place.” Its no secret that “hoops” such as laws and regulations take their toll on the profitability and efficiency of businesses.  But without these regulations, businesses would threaten the collective good. For example, the degradation of the environment would be exacerbated by a libertarian economic system. At its core, regulation exists to protect and preserve the wellbeing of the public.

Libertarian ideology is based on upholding individual freedoms; therefore the Laissez- Faire market is the ideal economic system for libertarianism. Shackford’s argument that regulation hurts businesses and the economy is short- sighted because unregulated markets are more subject to market failures. Some economists argue that when the government does not intervene in the market failures, monopolies or oligopolies may result and stifle innovation (Bruce Domazlicky). For this reason, free markets do not always create the best market outcomes.

Little to my surprise, the quiz categorized my political viewpoints as “solid liberal.” Liberals promote active government involvement (of the environment, the poor, and the economy), support diversity, and engage in political activism.  As I read (and objected to) the opinions expressed in Scott Shackford’s article, my natural impulse was to disregard the piece, and move on to the next one. It is more comfortable to read the news when it validates what I think I already know.  In taking the time to analyze the author’s argument I gained a better understanding of libertarian economics through their application to the government shutdown. While my opinion didn’t waver as a result of reading the article, interpreting divergent opinions helped me to strengthen my own understanding of the purpose of the government and the meaning of the shutdown.

More on “Solid Liberals”

What They Believe:

  • Strongly pro-government and very liberal on a broad range of issues
  • Very supportive of regulation, environmental protection and government assistance to the poor
  • One of the most secular groups; 59% say that religion is not that important to them
  • Supportive of the country’s growing racial and ethnic diversity
  • Two-thirds disagree with the Tea Party

Who They Are:

  • Highly politically engaged
  • 75% are Democrats
  • Concentrated in the Northeast and West
  • 57% are female
  • Best educated of the groups: 49% hold at least a bachelor’s degree and 27% have post-graduate experience
  • A third regularly listen to NPR, about two-in-ten regularly watch The Daily Show and read The New York Times
  • 59% have a passport
  • 42% regularly buy organic foods
  • 21% are first or second generation Americans

The Conservative Perspective on the "Liberal Brain"

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7 comments on “Whats better than a Government Shutdown for Libertarians?

    • There are too many of these government critiques on Parks and Rec!
      Why government matters:

      Efficiency of government spending:

      Exaggerated libertarian ideology:

  1. I am sympathetic to some core ideas of libertariansim. The critiques of how accumulation of power can erode individual rights; the resistance to foreign wars; the celebration of individual liberty.

    But, to make a sweeping generalization, it seems in terms of politics, libertarians are so often aligned with the Republican party and very, very anti-liberty policies it espouses (drug war, gay marriage, abortion, subsidies for big business) that their own claims to independence are suspect.

    To be very un-pC: they are like the abused spouse who stays with the battering husband because, you know, next time he won’t, or he really, really does love her, etc.

    • I didn’t mention it in my post, but I do like certain aspects of libertarian ideology as well. In your post this morning, you were talking about the importance of information transparency; I think freedom of access to information and non- censorship are important. I also agree with the libertarian approach to war.

      There are major divides between republican and libertarian ideologies; do you think that they “join forces” because the libertarians lack power?

      Also, has libertarianism ever been employed as a guiding philosophy by a government?

  2. I really understand the anger over “jumping through too many hoops” that Shackford mentions in his article. I think these hoops/logistics is something that really frustrates the general public about our government. All of these logistics may in fact be one of the reasons that many people are not as informed as they should be. Although, I assume that simplifying our government would not be an easy undertaking.

  3. One obvious example of the jumping through hoops taking too long (other than for the gov. shutdown), is the length of time court trials and decisions take. Someone can be convicted of a crime, and not go to jail for years. I am sure that there are parts to this process that are not essential and could be taken out to save time. These steps could be removed to shorten this certain process.

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