State of Mankind

A New Way Of Thinking

The Politics Of Responsibility

Let the good times roll!  We want to do whatever we want to do and the government can’t stop us!  There is no punishment for any choice I might make.

OK, I’ve read one too many blogs which claims Libertarians simply want to party it up without any consequences.  It’s time to end this misconception.  First, we must understand what is meant by the term ‘Libertarian’, next we need to understand how this fits into God’s plan, and finally we can understand the reason that I believe Libertarianism is the politics of responsibility.

What is meant when we say Libertarian?  There are many different stripes of people who call themselves Libertarians.  I use the term because it is the closest thing I have found in modern language to describe what was actually a 19th century Liberal.  Thomas Jefferson would be the classic example.  His famous quote is:

“But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god.  It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

By Jefferson’s standard, the usefulness of government is to insure people don’t steal property or physically oppress others.  It is to stay out of just about anything that can’t fit into such a standard.  If my neighbor chooses to smoke dope, but does me no harm, why should I be able to punish him with the law?  While each must be willing to pay his share for the protection of life, liberty, and property, extra social programs do pick our pockets arbitrarily and should therefore not be a part of government.  Jefferson:

“If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy.”

This brings up the question of what are the consequences for actions under such a system?  The short answer is natural consequences.  If my neighbor chooses to smoke dope, though he may not break my leg, he risks becoming unproductive which would result in loss of job, often followed by home, family, and many other real life consequences to such a decision.  Reality is the best teacher.  Anything more or less simply distorts reality.

This brings us to the next point.  Where does this stand in God’s plan?  (For those who may hold different beliefs, just bear with me, and feel free to share what you think.)  In The Millenial Messiah, starting on page 666 (how’s that for coincidence), Bruce R. McConkie describes the war in heaven:

“That war was a war of words; it was a conflict of ideologies; it was a rebellion against God and his laws.  Lucifer sought to dethrone God, to sit himself on the divine throne, and to save all men without reference to their works.  He sought to deny men their agency so they could not sin.  He offered a mortal life of carnality and sensuality, of evil and crime and murder, following which all men would be saved.”

Satan sought to remove the consequences from people’s actions.  He would save all without reference to their works, thus their works would be evil, but they would receive whatever reward he deemed salvation.  Now, let’s think this through in real life.  Once again, my proverbial neighbor who smokes dope.  If government supports him in his habit, perhaps by food stamps and other social safety net practices, is it not removing the consequences from his actions?  When government tries to teach our children the myth of safe sex, are they not trying to do the same?  When government overspends by a trillion (and more) dollars every year to prop up the economy, is it not removing consequences from actions?  Because our government doesn’t allow for consequences, does it not then make all kinds of laws and hire a police force to take away our choice?  Is this not the opposite of freedom?

This is why I believe Libertarianism is the politics of responsibility.  Under the Libertarian ideal, we may want far less laws, but we demand personal accountability for the results of decisions, not government bailouts.  Would this not breed a more responsible public?  Everyone needs help sometimes.  If this were the responsibility of neighbors, family, and church would we not be more charitable?  I’ve heard too many accusations that Libertarians are irresponsible or cruel.  I believe the exact opposite:  Libertarianism is the politics of responsibility and charity.

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