While walking barefoot over burning coals and glass shards - also known as “reading comments on Facebook” - I found this post from a well-known Libertarian:
“As a Libertarian, I believe in limited government, more personal freedom. I have been called a statist by some in the party, because I don't take the" no government" stance. I think some government is necessary. In your opinion do you think there is such a thing as good government and how should government be limited?”
While not a unique question posed in many of today’s political debates, it’s the responses that never fail to amaze. Here are a few unexpurgated examples:
“I think that the folks who want there to be no government can have a place in the LP and the LPO if they are willing to go with incrementalism within the electoral process.”
(Compromise principles for Memberhip! We’re off to a great start….)
“Government is a business that serves the people. Protect us from outside aggression, Ensure fairness, Protect the weak, And create a public safety apparatus including roads and infrastructure. If the government ever forgets they work for the people. FIRE THEM!!! Vote for liberty.”
“I think anarchy may theoretically be the best system but we have never witnessed a mass society premised fully on voluntary funding.”
“Anarchy seems unlikely to result in a single stable voluntary no force system--unless people somehow all of the sudden are saints. People living as saints may have been possible when people lived in primitive collectivist societies but the transition from mechanical to organic solidarity seems to have developed a lot of complexity has created a different more complex world where people seem increasingly individualistic and competing notions of the good life and other value judgments exist.”
“Government is still a necessity. Unless we wish to return to the 1700's in regard to our ability to provide basic services to our communities. However, we have a right to expect ethical and competent leadership in government.”
(Actually…you have no such “right” at all…not even an expectation!)
“There must be a system to maintain order in a civil society. Government is a necessity for that.”
(Why? “Government” has been that failed “system” for all of recorded history)
There were many more pearls similar to the above. I stopped, however, because I developed a Charlie Horse in my eyebrows and a bloody chin from hitting desk.
There were so many misunderstandings, mis-applications, misrepresentations and “missed it by a mile” idealistic bumbling, I was compelled to channel my inner Napolitano: to effectively employ the Socratic method the judge uses in many of his excellent columns.
Taking advantage of the open forum that is Facebook, I thought I might finesse some critical thinking by announcing a Pop Quiz and posted the following:
Just where does the moral authority of "government" come from? Is it the "consent of the governed"? If there is consent, what need is there to be “governed”?
How does any entity form a command I am forced to obey without my consent and, ultimately, be thrown in jail? (capital offenses excepted)
If "Government is Force" (Geo.Washington), how does Force become moral when administered by Government? Why wouldn’t the same force have the same moral authority when exercised by an individual?
Was there ever a Government that was not imposed on people without force? Name it.
If "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" (Byron), how can "limited government" not mean "limited corruption”, “limited tyranny"?
What Government of any political persuasion has successfully and consistently preserved over time the natural rights of all its citizens?
Isn't self-governance the ultimate "limited" and moral government? If not, why not? If so, what need is there for "Government"?
How have Governments, here and/or abroad, been doing with that "Freedom and Justice for all" thingy in our lifetime? Preserved and upheld? Or eroding and corroding?
Extra Credit Question: When making dogmatic statements about the "purpose of government", "authority" and “State”, who empowers you to use inclusive terms like "we" and "us" and "society"? Without the voluntary agreement of the Individual, aren't those Statist/Collectivist terms that contradict Liberty?
The Pop Quiz was posted in the original thread 4 weeks ago. As of this writing, no one has commented further on the initial question or offered even partial answers or comments on the Quiz. Personally, I find this deafening silence remarkable! Here are these quick-on-the-draw, self-anointed pundits on “limited government” yet, when confronted with basic questions about the essence of the concept or the pragmatic application of it, they are struck mute or present convoluted gobbledygook only a Jabberwok could appreciate!
Should you feel so inclined, feel free to post in the Comment section below.