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Libertarianism vs. Socialism and Interventionism

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One of the amusing parts of all the crises facing our nation — immigration, the dollar, Social Security, healthcare, Iraq, drug war, terrorism, foreclosures, and the rest — is when a supporter of the socialism and interventionism exclaims in frustration and exasperation, “Well, what is the libertarian solution to these crises?”

They just don’t get it. Libertarianism doesn’t pretend to be a philosophy designed to fix the problems arising from socialism and interventionism. It is simply a philosophy of freedom, one that produces a prosperous, peaceful, and harmonious society.

Consider, for example, Iraq. Here, the U.S. government has attacked, invaded, and occupied a country that has never attacked the United States. It has killed hundreds of thousands of people in the process. It has destroyed the country. It has produced a state of perpetual chaos, mayhem, and violence. It is now purporting to “rebuild” the nation it has destroyed.

What’s the favorite refrain of the interventionists? “Well, what’s your plan for Iraq?”

Well, libertarians don’t have a plan for Iraq. Why? Again, because libertarianism doesn’t pretend to be a philosophy that makes interventionism work. Instead, it is a philosophy that holds that interventionism is incapable of working. It is a philosophy that holds that it is morally wrong to invade a country that hasn’t attacked our country and kill people in the process. It is also a philosophy that holds that central planning, including the government “rebuilding” of a country, is doomed to fail.

Now, in the mind of the interventionist, that makes libertarianism impractical. If libertarianism cannot fix the messes that interventionism produces, the interventionist reasons, what good is it?

Consider a domestic example — healthcare. When Medicare and Medicaid were proposed, libertarians warned that adopting such programs would have a disastrous effect on America’s free-market healthcare system. Healthcare spending would soar through the roof, libertarians said, and one intervention would inevitably lead to more interventions in order to fix the problems arising from previous interventions.

The socialists prevailed, and today everyone acknowledges that healthcare is an absolute mess. Healthcare costs have soared. As each decade has passed, the socialists have enacted intervention on top of intervention to deal with the ever-increasing mess. Today, some of the socialists are even calling for a complete government takeover of healthcare, just like in socialist Cuba.

What’s the libertarian solution to the socialist healthcare crisis? Again, libertarianism doesn’t pretend to be a philosophy that cleans up socialist messes. It is a philosophy that entails the framework for a free, peaceful, and prosperous society. In the area of healthcare, that would mean a complete separation of healthcare and the state. That is, no Medicare, no Medicaid, no state licensure, no government involvement at all.

Would that automatically clean up all the perversions, distortions, and messes produced by decades of healthcare socialism? Of course not. But it would provide the basis for a healthy and prosperous healthcare system in the future — one based on the principles of free enterprise rather than of socialism and interventionism.

Unfortunately, it is apparent that most Americans remain wedded to socialism and interventionism, both in domestic and foreign affairs. One can only wonder how long Americans will continue to bang their heads against socialist and interventionist walls before finally figuring out that that’s why they continue to suffer so many headaches.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.