Clint Eastwood once said that “I don’t see myself as conservative, but I’m not ultra-leftist. You build a philosophy of your own. I like the libertarian view, which is to leave everyone alone. Even as a kid, I was annoyed by people who wanted to tell everyone how to live.” That was also the basic belief of our Founding Fathers, who literally believed that the most important feature of government is to secure individual liberties. (The second most important is to keep us secure from foreign threats and from each other.) Therefore, government should set up police, military and judicial systems to keep us safe, enforce voluntary contracts and warranties, and provide a system that encourages accurate information to be placed in the marketplace so that we adults can make informed decisions. So of course the government will need to tax us for those necessary activities. But otherwise, government should basically leave us alone.
Inevitably there are always people who use their positions of wealth or power to tell us how to live. If that is done by persuasion, fine – but if is done by government power, it is not, unless our actions wrongly affect other adults to have the Liberty to live their lives as they choose. Creating a dependence upon government not only robs people of their self-esteem, it also robs them of their incentives and their drive to be successful. Yes, we should have a safety net below which people should not fall, not because we have to, but because that is who we are. But otherwise people’s needs should be met by the people themselves. (Of course, this can and will be augmented by the voluntary assistance of others.) This is the system that is in our nation’s genes (i.e. our Constitution), and this is what works. So once again philosophy and pragmatism are successfully combined in Liberty. Happy New Year!
Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President,
along with Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President
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