Day 3 of our Libertarian Angle college tour was another great one, especially in terms of audience discussion. That was a lively one! The venue was the University of Georgia, and it was organized and hosted by the Young Americans for Liberty chapter on campus. Once again, we had a nice mixture of students and non-students, some of whom were obviously already very well versed in libertarianism (and passionate about it!) and others who were just getting introduced to libertarianism.
I began the one-half hour conversation with Sheldon by observing that some people erroneously think that libertarians are a subset of conservatism. The way I look at it, I said, was that on one side of the spectrum you have both conservatives and liberals and on the other side of the spectrum you have libertarians.
Sheldon responded by pointing out that conservatives really have no set of principles that guide their thinking. It’s just a hodgepodge of beliefs that look to government to take care of people with the welfare state and to keep people “safe” with the warfare state, with all of it a great big racket to enrich the political elite at the expense of the citizenry.
That generated a really astute comment from one of the students, who pointed out that the big difference between libertarians, on the one side, and conservatives and liberals on the other, is that conservatives and liberals use force to accomplish their ends while libertarians don’t.
That then launched a fascinating discussion into the nature of force, the meaning of freedom, and the role of government in a free society, including a lively discussion about which system would be better: one in which there is a government with limited powers or no government at all.
One of the big areas discussed was with respect to the poor. Libertarians want a society in which there is no taxation on income, no welfare state, and no economic regulations, including minimum wage laws. We hold that that type of society, through free enterprise and capital accumulation, would produce the most unbelievably prosperous society, one that would enable the poor to become independent and wealthy. Moreover, we hold that people can have confidence that most people will voluntarily help others in need, including aging parents and the poor.
One of the students pointed out that conservatives and liberals individually say, “I’m a good person and so I can be trusted with that type of freedom, but the problem is that no one else is.” So, the student pointed out, they resort to force by using government to seize wealth from those who have it and give it to others. They then suggest that such coercion automatically converts everyone into a good and caring person.
There was also an interesting discussion about healthcare and about how a free-market society generates all sorts of methods by which the poor get healthcare, including through mutual aid societies.
The evening wrapped up with a local businessman warning the students that America is headed in a very bad direction with its welfare-warfare state, especially considering federal spending, debt, and unfunded liabilities, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
That enabled me to wrap up the evening by explaining that nothing is inevitable. Ideas on liberty matter. They can transform people and societies. We can prevail in achieving a free society in the near term, I told the students, no matter how daunting the job might seem, especially with the idealism, passion, and determination exemplified by young libertarians. If statists could convert our society to statism, libertarians can convert our society to a free one, and it can be done now rather than at some distant time in the future. The key is to keep spreading ideas on liberty, which is what this tour is all about!
Thanks to the University of Georgia YAL chapter for all the work that went into putting this event together. We are very appreciative.
Now, it’s on to the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Tonight, Thursday, at 7-9 pm. Location: Public Health Research Center, Room 114.