At issue | May 30 Herald-Leader news article, "Rhetoric vs. reality in Paul's platform; Candidate's political views resist a single label"
Libertarianism seems to be making a comeback with the all the noise about the Tea Party movement and the recent nomination of Republican candidate Rand Paul in the Kentucky Senate race. It sure sounds good to be able to do whatever you want without any laws or regulations. However, that is not true libertarianism.
My mother was born in France from Spanish immigrants. Being libertarian, her relatives had to escape Spain after the civil war. Once, in a fair organized by the Libertarian Party in exile, she asked her uncle for money to buy candies. However, upon arriving at the candy stand, she saw that there was no one manning it. After a while, she gave up and came back empty-handed.
When she told her uncle, he explained to her that there was no need for anyone to sell her the candies. All she had to do was to get what she wanted and leave the money on the counter.
This portrays the philosophy of a true libertarian system. It is not that there are no rules or laws and everybody does whatever they want. In a true libertarian system, everybody knows so well what they need to do that there is no need of any enforcement, public or private.
We can talk all day long about whether it is feasible or realistic to have such public awareness for a libertarian system to work. The problem is that the neo-Libertarians from the Tea Party want no regulations on big corporations but without them taking their quota of responsibility.
For instance, BP wants government to stay away from its operations and does not want all these pesky safety regulations that hurts their bottom line.
Would BP also want the government out of the way if a crowd of angry fishermen stormed its headquarters to hold their executives accountable for their wrongdoing?
In a true libertarian system, there would not be regulations on oil operations, but oil executives would not even dream of taking advantage of the lack of regulations. Clearly, we are not ready for such a system.
The same thing can be said about the financial and health care systems. Their corporate executives do not want the government to regulate but would they not want the government to protect their operations if the masses rose in anger to hold them accountable for their abuses? Perhaps this is the way a libertarian system is established. After a mob storms the headquarters of an abusive oil operation, future oil executives will know that their own lives might be on the line if they act irresponsibly.
I am not the one to advocate any kind of violence and we need to make sure we identify violence when we see it. Physical violence is easily recognized, but there are other kinds of violence that are no less hurtful. It is violence to dump millions of gallons of oil on the food and livelihood of thousands of fishermen.
There is clear violence, or the threat of it, when the police evict a family that cannot pay their "adjusted" ARM mortgage after it went up threefold.
Last, but not least, it is also violence when an insurance company makes up phony excuses to deny legitimate medical treatment to someone and ends up causing irreparable damage to the person's health. This is called structural violence and it is applied routinely against the working class.
The state has, and should have, police forces and other resources to stop and prevent physical violence — the only type of violence poor people are capable of doing. On the same token, the state must have ways to prevent and stop structural violence that the poor people often suffer.
You cannot ask to deregulate the wealthy while at the same time oppressing the poor.
We suffered corporate socialism when the government socialized the debt of the big banks while keeping hard-core capitalism on the poor. What the neo-Libertarians of the Tea Party propose is Corporate Libertarianism, where we allow a libertarian system for the corporate elites while forcing a police state for the working classes.
We should not be fooled by the superficial appearance of liberty in their speech. Neo-Libertarianism hurts the poor and hurts Kentuckians, leaving us vulnerable to abuses of the wealthy elites.
Borrowing from Jean-Jaques Rousseau: Between the weak and the powerful, it is freedom which oppresses and only law that liberates.