published Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Libertarianism

about Clay Bennett...

The son of a career army officer, Bennett led a nomadic life, attending ten different schools before graduating in 1980 from the University of North Alabama with degrees in Art and History. After brief stints as a staff artist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Fayetteville (NC) Times, he went on to serve as the editorial cartoonist for the St. Petersburg Times (1981-1994) and The Christian Science Monitor (1997-2007), before joining the staff of the ...

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nucanuck said...

Looks like a breath-holding self-sufficiency drill with the lifguard being an unneeded bureaucrat.

June 20, 2010 at 1:24 a.m.
Duford said...

Arguably, you'll find most libertarians cherish and respect the basic elements of the law found in the Constitution, while detesting what they believe to be bureaucratic trampling on basic rights to life, liberty, property, and contract law.

Which brings me to my point. If the lifeguard is an alleged libertarian, I'd say it's safe to assume he'll prudently honor the guidelines in the contract -- to which gross negligence as portrayed in the cartoon is probably not apart.

Clay, your underlying premise is wrong. Libertarians aren't careless -- we just think that unchecked, unrigorously-controlled government is an entirely immoral entity, not to mention entirely too inefficient to effectively deliver services that freely-associating men can do for far less and at a far better price, AND for a profit.

June 20, 2010 at 6:34 a.m.
sandyonsignal said...

"Government should stay out our lives" sounds better as a motto than actually put into practice. "Live and let live" and "YOYO: You"re On Your Own" is just cold-hearted capitalism. Governments have an important role to play in our well being. Libertarians are all for government help when it is themselves who are drowning, just no one else. You have captured it well, Clay.

June 20, 2010 at 6:56 a.m.
EaTn said...

I assume the Libertarian lifeguard's sunglasses are so dark that he can't see what's happening in the pool. If you wear very dark shades you can block out the realities of life around you.

June 20, 2010 at 7 a.m.
AndrewLohr said...

President Bush wasn't a Libertarian. President Obama isn't a Libertarian. Dead pelicans and a dead economy are the fault of big-government people, sir. Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof (Leviticus 25:10). Stand fast therefor in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free (Galatians 5:1). Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty, only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another (Galatians 5:12).
Big government built New Orleans below sea level in a hurricane zone. Katrina hit. Big government was a lousy lifeguard (the locals replaced a Democrat with Bobby Jindal, Republican; both big parties shared blame). A libertarian professor in Chattanooga, known as "Dr Doom" to his students, collected donations and drove a pickupfull of supplies down to the region.

June 20, 2010 at 7:07 a.m.
Shock said...

The cartoon is funny, but off base. Sandy, libertarians aren't selfish by creed or motto, and they're not against all government - just too much intrusive government.

When you have a two party system where one party is all about the government trying to fix the ills of society in a bloated and inefficient manner, and then the other party supporting government legislating your morals and freedoms, there's room for a party that doesn't like either scenario.

June 20, 2010 at 7:27 a.m.
rolando said...

But it isn't the "other party" that is legislating morals and freedoms, Shock. The first party does it all. [See "Freedom to Worship" violations and the slaughter of the innocents.]

The second party IN GENERAL tries to follow the Constitution. [I say "in general" because RINOs still infect it. There is certainly room for improvement.]


I was rather surprised to see this wasn't just another Bennett ho-hum attack on the TEA Party. The Libertarians must be gaining in the polls -- the Dems always run scared, don't they? With good reason they flee...

June 20, 2010 at 7:45 a.m.
Shock said...

Rolando,

Good point that the left has taken a disturbing trend lately of instituting laws that infringe on personal freedoms, although I was thinking more along the lines of banning salt, transfats, etc.

I still stick my assertions that social conservatives in the Republican party advocate government control of some aspects of our lives where they have no business (liquor laws, civil unions, gambling). Also, Republican support of the Patriot Act where the government had access to what we read in the library and no restrictions on listening to our private conversations got me pretty worked up.

June 20, 2010 at 8:11 a.m.
dougmusn said...

For AndrewLohr: Dead pelicans and a dead economy are not the fault of big-government. The "make government small enough to drown it in a bathtub" crowd had pushed for less and less government and oversight and that's what we all got. Lowering capital requirements for banks and the rise of shadow banking (burgeoning CDS's, increasing leverage) coupled with plain greed set the stage for an unsustainable housing bubble. Pelicans are dying again because of plain old greed. I challenge you to show me a government job listing for a roughneck. Offshore drilling rigs increased in number ten fold over the past ten years while MMS inspectors, arguably in the pockets of the oil companies (greed again), increased a whopping 13%. A greedy company drilled a bad well as we turned our back. We, ourselves are not pure as driven snow, either. An insatiable desire for cheap energy encourages companies to seek oil in more and more risky ways. This spill may have been inevitable. The siteing of New Orleans was originally done by the French. We rebuilt it at least once and the location was largely driven by the need for a transit point for shipment of goods from the Mississippi to the ocean-going vessels of the time. Government and commerce are equally bad actors in many of the decisions about New Orleans--the dredging which created the MRGO and Industrial Canal enhanced the erosion of protective wetlands and funneled the Katrina storm surge into insufficiently large and insufficiently maintained levees, sealing the fate of the Ninth Ward. Fundamentally, I believe we are only arguing about where we should put the line between individual and shared responsibilities. Libertarians move the line way over to the individual's side of the ledger. Most others would move the line toward public shared responsibility. I find it nice to have police, a public fire department, interstate highway system, Public Health Service and FAA. Governments, like individuals, can have bone-headed ideas--consider the value of civil defense crackers for use after a nuclear exhange or the governmental acknowledgment and support of slavery. Some challenges require the size and power of government for integration and completion.

June 20, 2010 at 8:17 a.m.
Clara said...

Is it that the Libertarians want freedom for themselves, but don't want anyone else to infringe on what they consider THEIR rights?

Seems to me many of our representatives are actually Libertarians.

June 20, 2010 at 8:32 a.m.
alprova said...

Any discussion about Libertarians would not be complete without mentioning the one issue that often defines them.

Ron Paul, who comes to mind out as the most prominent Libertarian in America, has repeatedly gone on record, calling for the decriminalization of all street drugs and for ending the war on drugs.

He and others have often made a good case for doing so, but have those who agree with those ideas really taken the time to think things through?

After all, if drugs were decriminalized and were allowed to be sold openly in a controlled market similar to the way we dispense alcohol, wouldn't that put our current "criminals" who supply and market illegal drugs out of business? Wouldn't it allow our prisons to be used to house more violent offenders?

"Absolutely," some might respond.

We as a nation, are still dealing with high casualty rates related to negligent acts committed after the consumption of alcohol. Despite all the laws in place to criminalize those who drink and drive, as well as other measures devised to convince those who imbibe alcohol to never drive a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol, a third of all deaths on our roads involve an impaired driver.

1.2 million people are arrested each year for driving while intoxicated. How many are not caught?

Given that after 80 years that alcohol has been legal, and that people continue to demonstrate irresponsible behavior after consuming a legal mind-altering substance, wouldn't it be more than careless to open the gates to people who would be equally irresponsible when using drugs?

I think this issue and other radical ideas have come to define Libertarians as people who do not take the time to look at things from all sides, before taking a stance.

Total freedom to do the things we want to do is great, until someone else's life or limb becomes endangered. There are simply too many reckless individuals out there to allow the kind of freedoms that they desire or demand, because too many before them have abused privileges that were once extended to them.

June 20, 2010 at 10 a.m.
Duford said...

What partisans like Mr. Bennett and many on here who do not understand the underlying principles of freedom -- aka Libertarianism -- would benefit greatly by expanding their understanding of it.

So allow me to suggest a few important pieces of literature to guide those who actually value intellectual pursuit.

Frederic Bastiat's "The Law" -- Written in the mid 19th century, a primer on what the nature of goverment has been, and what it's moral guidelines of operation and limitation should be.

Ayn Rand's "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" and "Atlas Shrugged" -- for me, personally both life-changing, and would do anyone with an open mind a good service as to understanding the underpinnings of a free society.

Tom Mullen's "A Return to Common Sense" -- a good primer on free-market thought, free-market economics, and natural rights.

And for those chomping at the bit to make this a partisan issue -- the continued disregard for our legal system, and continued erosion of our personal liberties not only continue with Obama, but have been exacerbated by nearly every administration and every presidency in our country's existence, both Republican and Democrat.

June 20, 2010 at 10:09 a.m.
SeaSmokie59er said...

So I guess we in the Coast Guard would be out of jobs. Good Luck!

June 20, 2010 at 10:31 a.m.
rustyhoundog said...

"...deliver services that freely-associating men can do for far less and at a far better price, AND for a profit."

Gee, we had such a system in this country at one time; it was called SLAVERY. The "freely associating men" provided really inexpensive services, such as building the nations capital using artisans they had enslaved. Libertarianism is a very thinly disguised appeal to elitist rule, otherwise know as unequal rights for all. Just read your Ayn Rand a little more closely.

June 20, 2010 at 11:40 a.m.
Shock said...

Alprova, are you fine with a two party system? I'm guessing you're a Democrat. Is every political plank in the platform one you support thoroughly? Is the party a perfect fit for you? Your broad statement saying that Libertarians are "people who do not take the time to look at things from all sides, before taking a stance" based on one idea the party espouses isn't especially fair.

One could say that Democrats, in so heavily subsidizing ethanol that food and other corn product prices escalated rapidly did not take the time to look at that issue from all sides. I certainly wouldn't use that one instance to characterize the entire party.

There is room for other parties in our political system to better represent the American people.

June 20, 2010 at 11:47 a.m.
Duford said...

Rusty,

I certainly agree with you that slavery was horrible, appealing to the most vile natures of man -- his desire to forcefully dominate others.

However, I implore you -- don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Ask yourself this -- what is a right? Is it self-evident? Does it require the forceful confiscation of others -- no matter what the status -- to support that right? Again, consult the books above to find out for yourself.

When you come to the conclusion, plainly look at the actions of this government and its current and prior administrations. Ask yourself, "Has the individual's life, liberty, and property been properly protected by our government?"

June 20, 2010 at 12:12 p.m.
alprova said...

Shock wrote: "Alprova, are you fine with a two party system?"


I'd prefer a one party system where people would work together at all times to find reasonable solutions to problems for all the people of this nation, rather than to bounce off each other like two Sumo wrestlers, each only concerned with displaying themselves to be the more powerful than the other.


"I'm guessing you're a Democrat."


I'm a registered Republican who has jumped the fence and currently in the Democratic camp.


"Is every political plank in the platform one you support thoroughly? Is the party a perfect fit for you?


No, and no again, and that was the case when I voted for Republicans.


"Your broad statement saying that Libertarians are "people who do not take the time to look at things from all sides, before taking a stance" based on one idea the party espouses isn't especially fair."


You're right. That wasn't fair. There are many planks that Libertarians endorse that I do find appealing, but their consistent stance on legalizing all drugs -- not some drugs, but all drugs, raises my eyebrow just a little and keeps me from looking at them as a serious alternative to the two parties already at odds with each other.


"One could say that Democrats, in so heavily subsidizing ethanol that food and other corn product prices escalated rapidly did not take the time to look at that issue from all sides. I certainly wouldn't use that one instance to characterize the entire party."


Fair enough.

Thank you for pointing that out so eloquently.


"There is room for other parties in our political system to better represent the American people."


There is certainly room for more parties, but what I fear would happen, as has been evidenced with the Tea-Party movement, and because the Libertarians have been around a lot longer, is that we are headed from two sides of an argument, to three or four sided arguments, with each side thinking that they are totally correct and unwilling to compromise with each other.

June 20, 2010 at 1:31 p.m.
ricardo said...

Those swimmers should know better than to go into a pool without knowing how to swim. Serves them right!

June 20, 2010 at 1:34 p.m.
TamsBeast said...

Is this cartoon an ad hominem attack, that the artist thinks libertarians are lazy and don't feel the need to return value to their employer for the the money they're paid? If we're going to go ad hominem (which is fun, but hardly an intellectual argument), engage in group-think, and assume that one's political beliefs inform one's work ethic, I'd propose that Democrats with their sense of entitlement are probably less motivated to do their jobs than libertarians. The lifeguard is probably actually a Democrat: “Why should I help you, that's what the government is for.” Silly, I know.

To meet ad hominem with ad hominem: perhaps this cartoon an admission of ignorance and a cry for help, for enlightenment? If so, I'm happy to oblige:

In a libertarian society, this lifeguard would be in a pantsload of trouble, perhaps even more so than in a legalist/statist society. In a libertarian society, he would be liable for compensation to the families or other representatives of the victims, as well as criminal charges, termination of employment and a loss of reputation. Negligent homicide is strictly forbidden by libertarianism.

Libertarianism is not and has never been “you're on your own”. There's nothing in libertarianism that prevents people from banding together for mutual satisfaction of needs. Just the opposite, libertarianism encourages peaceful social cooperation. Without the ability to direct the guns of government to do your bidding, problems have to be solved and needs met by voluntary cooperation.

It's my belief that libertarians have more respect for your life than authoritarians do. Who has more respect for you and your life: someone who demands that armed men force you to do what they want, or someone who tries to get what they want through persuasion and negotiation?

Libertarianism for the win.

June 20, 2010 at 2:04 p.m.
SCOTTYM said...

rustydog wrote,

"Gee, we had such a system in this country at one time; it was called SLAVERY. The "freely associating men" provided really inexpensive services, such as building the nations capital using artisans they had enslaved."

Which part of "freely associating men" do you not understand. By definition if one is enslaved they are not "freely associating". They are being forced to associate. This is so simple that only a leftist could misunderstand.

This is one of the biggest problems in this country right now. There are so many people wandering around who can not grasp simple, straightforward logic. The perception of reality has been so warped from being treated like a mushroom that we have people like rustydog who do not understand that "freely associated" and enslaved are polar opposites.

Has anyone here seen the movie "Idiocracy"? We are living it.

June 20, 2010 at 2:43 p.m.
Musicman375 said...

Some really great posts on here today... even from Al. Completely agree with you on not understanding why anyone would want to legalize all drugs.

Shock, I particularly thought your posts at 8:11 and 11:47 were spot on.

Scotty, I and at least one other person have mentioned that movie at some point in the past 2-3 months. It's a scary thought, but if you think about it... I see things that show me we are heading that way already. There's an abundance of idiocy on T.V. that wasn't there even a decade ago.

June 20, 2010 at 3:10 p.m.
Clara said...

SCOTTYM, Madly waving my arm. I saw "Idiocracy"

A daughter had me over. GREAT FUN and very thought-provoking, too.

June 20, 2010 at 3:44 p.m.
Ellen said...

A wonderful commentary. I believe in liberty, but there is a need for society to set limits.

June 20, 2010 at 3:59 p.m.
ricardo said...

A more interesting (and controversial) cartoon would show white swimmers having a good time in the water, and minority swimmers floating.

June 20, 2010 at 4:52 p.m.
Oz said...

Libertarians would have taught the people in the pool how to swim. Liberals would not. They would keep them in the shallow end of the pool and dependent upon the lifeguared for the rest of their life.

June 20, 2010 at 9:56 p.m.
rolando said...

Agreed, Shock. You, too, made good points re: conservative Repubs. But that is what being a "conservative" is all about. Liquor laws are about one thing -- taxes. Civil unions were [disgustingly] about politics. Gambling and blue laws were and are a pain in the backside.

What I have found out about Libertarians [and I am about half way to being one] is that y'all go a bit too far down the Individualism road. Minimal government does not mean NO government [anarchy]...it means just enough to maintain a society and protect it. In any case, "for the good of the many" ALWAYS takes a back seat to "the Individual"

Even so, Individualism is great so long as it is limited, otherwise we tend to become a Survival of The Fittest [read Strongest] society. But then, Individual Choice is a big thing...there are many such things with a certain appeal.

Appeal. Yeah, maybe that is what has the dems screaming and running for the doors.

June 20, 2010 at 10:32 p.m.
Oz said...

ricardo....congratulations on your 4:52 post. You hold the record for the stupidest post to ever be published in this forum.

June 20, 2010 at 10:40 p.m.
alprova said...

Oz wrote: "Libertarians would have taught the people in the pool how to swim. Liberals would not. They would keep them in the shallow end of the pool and dependent upon the lifeguared for the rest of their life."


Well, I don't know if Libertarians are those most qualified to instruct people how to swim, but we all know that Republicans would simply throw people into the pool and tell them to "either sink or swim."

Maybe the lifeguard is a Republican plant -- an operative who infiltrated the Libertarians, who is there to thwart the efforts by Libertarians to escalate their numbers.

June 21, 2010 at 5:57 a.m.
dao1980 said...

Whew! Its about time, it was getting crowded in this fence. Not enough resources to go around, and we were all trashing up the space trying to produce enough for everybody to have everything. Sure there will be a slightly smaller number in the generation after this scene, but they will all be strong swimmers!

June 21, 2010 at 9:24 a.m.
BobMKE said...

I never expected Clay to start panicing this soon about Jimmy Carter II and his Chicago Political machine. It is going to be a long summer before we shut him up in November.

June 21, 2010 at 7:43 p.m.

People, learn to survive in life without being totally dependant upon on others, in this case a lifeguard. It's not only foolish but can be deadly. Worse, you could cause the death of others around you.

Is that Libertarian or just plain ol' common sense?

June 21, 2010 at 8:19 p.m.
SCOTTYM said...

btg, "Is that Libertarian or just plain ol' common sense?"

Yes.

June 21, 2010 at 9:23 p.m.
Alfonso said...

You missed this one Clay... You have a wrong understanding of libertarian or anarchists.

June 21, 2010 at 10:08 p.m.
JohnnyRingo said...

Once again, a picture is worth a thousand comments. Clay Bennett has a gift that can pack a book's worth of words into the cover art.

Nice job again, Clay.

June 22, 2010 at 2:12 p.m.
Beau_Branson said...

False. Libertarians don't have to let others drown, they just have to refuse to threaten innocent third parties with acts of force in order to help. Commitment to non-violence doesn't mean you can't do what's in your own power to help.

July 5, 2010 at 11:26 p.m.
chuckarama said...

I know this is a bit hashed and dead already, but I think you've misunderstood libertarianism, particularly the Objectivist branch you seem to be implicating and sneering here.

A libertarian lifeguard, particularly an Objectivist Libertarian, would have gone into the lifeguard job fully conscious of his own personal value. A libertarian lifeguard would be a well paid and first-class professional because entering into a contract to risk one's life would require adequate compensation. No ill-trained pimple faced teenagers at a libertarian pool!

The same would follow for firefighters and police where they are needed.

But your beautiful altruistic romanticizing of lifeguards, firefighters, police etc, is overcooked as well. They are all trained not to risk their lives, if they can't engage safely. It is drilled into their heads that there is no need making a bad situation worse, by adding another victim (themselves) to the carnage, by racing into a dangerous situation. They are taught to assess and rationally attack the problem in the safest, least risky manner possible; they have many tools designed to limit risk in their jobs. Think of the red flotation devices and hooks hanging on the walls of the pool. Instructions are explicitly given to NOT commit self-sacrifice (suicide) to save another. They are instead contracted and paid to do the best they can, in bad situations, without getting themselves killed in the process. How self-sacrificing, altruistic is that kind of training?

No. Instead what lifeguards and others do for us is performed in a common sense, libertarian, manner already. Would you ask them to perform their jobs any other way? To throw themselves into the pool of drowning victims at any cost, even if it's their own life, for a $7/hr paycheck, to save perfect strangers? Why do you hate lifeguard's right to their own life above the lives of others?

Libertarians don't understand your self-sacrifice at any price, mentality. Not without a proper contract that appreciates the risks of the lifeguard, and especially not for strangers.

July 13, 2010 at 6:23 p.m.
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