By Daryl Luna, Editor of:
In Defense of the Constitution
With its laissez-faire approach to economics and “get the government out of my business” attitude, libertarianism often gets a bad rap as an ideology of unconcerned and uninvolved citizens. This could be true of some libertarians, but no truer than it is for people of all ideological stripes.
For the most part, libertarians are responsible members of society. In fact, they must be, because libertarianism necessitates responsibility. A free people must have personal responsibility, while slaves to Leviathan have no desire or need to be responsible.
Truly, with much freedom comes much responsibility. Therefore, in a society where the government does not provide all wants and needs from cradle to grave, individuals must provide for social needs. The difference is that what once would be provided through compulsion (i.e. taxes) would then be provided out of actual desire.
Either in a desire to economically benefit or in a desire to reach out and help others, the private sector would provide goods and services for society as a whole. The idea that government should direct and centrally plan this process is truly silly and misguided.
Of course, we already see this concept of private action at work. No mandate was issued to create your band’s favorite music, your favorite restaurant’s burger, or any host of other things solely produced for and by the private sector. The need was met without government intrusion.
Sadly, however, we also see government involved in a whole host of things not allowed by the Constitution—things that should be left to private individuals. Look no further than the multitude of government welfare programs for an example. We all know these programs kill incentives for responsibility.
The government is not the only entity capable of carrying out its programs and actions. It simply usurps the responsibility of individuals. It is not that the private sector cannot act; in fact it can do a much better job. It is just that the government has squeezed out the private sector's desire and/or ability to act. I assure you that if a problem exists and a solution is to be found, small business, not big government will provide it.
Being in a constitutional republic, I understand that we have agreed to allow the government to be active in some areas; they are specifically spelled out in the Constitution. However, no argument can be made to justify the size and scope of government we now possess—at least not according to the Constitution. And just because a policy is constitutional, that doesn't mean it's a good policy.
Sadly, throughout American history, we have had an inaccurate and unrealistic picture of the results we get from government. The state has saved us from ourselves, it contends, but this is untrue. Instead of bringing help, the government has brought dependency.
As F. A. Hayek notes, we have been marched down a road to serfdom which has changed both what we allow from our government and exactly how we feel about what government does. Regretfully, I see even those who claim to be libertarians justifying unwarranted government action. We have taken the bait, and that bait could be our ruin.
I continually see those who claim to be against "big government" endorse big government policies. We say we want freedom, but cry for more government control. We claim to be against large centralized government, but usher more of it into our lives.
Much of this would be solved if we merely took a closer look at the situation and realized that the private sector can and would act in absence of government intervention. In the absence of government, personal responsibility must flourish. Because libertarians desire a properly limited government, we are most in favor personal responsibility.
We don’t want the government taking care of the poor, sick, or hungry. We want to do that. We don’t want the government involved in industry. We’ll take care of that. We don’t want the government to expand beyond its proper role. We want our rights protected.
You can be irresponsible, but you cannot be so and be truly free. As for me, I’ll take liberty and personal responsibility. That is the heritage for which I’ll fight.