Sunday, February 06, 2005

The Libertarian view of war

David Freedman, an extreme libertarian (maybe even anarcho-capitalist), in his book "The Machinery of Freedom" described his view of war:
I do not like paying taxes, but I would rather pay them to Washington than to Moscow—the rates are lower. I would still regard the government as a criminal organization, but one which was, by a freak of fate, temporarily useful. It would be like a gang of bandits who, while occasionally robbing the villages in their territory, served to keep off other and more rapacious gangs. I do not approve of any government, but I will tolerate one so long as the only other choice is another, worse government.
9/11 has changed many libertarians, though. Many libertarians now fall under that amorphous category of "neocon"--they support proactive wars of freedom as necessary to protect their own freedom. And now, its not just a matter of who you would rather pay taxes to; it is, with the ever present possibility that nuclear arms might find their way into the hands of terrorists, a battle for the survival our nation as we know it. Many libertarians have, in a sense, gotten serious--possibly another reason why Bush won the election.

update: But to maintain this new libertarian base, and expand it, President Bush has to really push his "Ownership society" agenda. Many libertarians are deeply skeptical of President Bush because of the spending in his first term. I will be kind and say that this spending was a planned Keynesian measure to stimulate the economy and pull us out of an economic downturn. But many libertarians would take the decidedly less charitable view that--to mix three metaphors--President Bush was spending like a drunken bull in a candy store.

I guess he could always use the Homer Simpson defense, from the episode where he became the garbage commisioner:

Marge: How could you spend 4.6 million dollars in a month?

Homer: They let me sign checks with a stamp, Marge! A stamp!


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