The question has been raised whether or not there has ever been a libertarian society? If we go by the formal concepts offered by the Libertarian Party, probably not. But we need to define “what” a libertarian society is or should be. Which is what I’m going to try to do here.
Politically, a libertarian society should be politically representative of the people who make up the society. Elective democracies attempt this to a certain degree, the parliamentary form perhaps more than the US political form which is less representative in that it is effectively limited to only two major political parties. While parliamentary democracies can have proportional representation and have several relatively major parties. The parliamentary form in this case would likely to be considered more “democratic” than the three-part US form, which is divided between an executive (the President), a legislature (Congress, which is divided between a Senate and a House of Representatives), and a judicial, represented by the Supreme Court. Going by the writings of the US Founding Fathers, the objective was to create a government with a large number of “checks and balances” and with limitations upon voting and selection of both Senators and Representatives. As is known to any student of American history, we started out with a system where only those of wealth and property were allowed to vote. The common people did not have the right to vote at first. This came some decades later. Senators were “selected” by state governments, not the people. The electoral college was designed to alter the popular vote for President to one more representative of the individual states instead of being based upon population voting as such. This political system is called a “republic”, not a “democracy” in that while some representation was allowed to the people, this was not the deciding factor as to who was to run the government. In practice usually those who won election were either wealthy or famous.
The closest thing to true representative government was created in Greece over two thousand years ago in the City/State of Athens. There the citizens decided that electing representatives by vote tended to put into power those of wealth and power who used their position to “better themselves” while in office. (A lot like today’s politicians) So the citizens of Athens created a system of selection of representatives by lottery instead of voting. This considerably reduced the problem of political corruption at least, and as these “selected” representatives tended to more represent the average citizen, it did give a better and more representative government until Alexander the Great showed up and put an end to such things. If we were to do this today (there would naturally be a lot of opposition), we could start out with the House of Representatives with the Senate and the President serving as “controls” on the system until it proved itself to be workable.
Most likely these selected by lot representatives would not be in favor of some of the “far right” ideas that now circulate. Ideas that for the most part now tend to benefit the few at considerable cost to the many. A libertarian society is also a society where “liberty” is considered important, and taking away people’s liberty is something only allowed after considerable thought is given as to the consequences, both short-term and long-term. I’m really doubtful that a lot of what is being done now by the National Security Agency, Homeland Security, etc., would be allowed in any society that could be considered to be “libertarian”. Some level of “security” is doubtlessly needed, but it should be directed towards those whose previous activities have shown reason why they should be watched. We certainly do not need a “security apparatus” similar to that of Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, or East Germany when it was under Soviet control. Such things simply do not “belong” in any society that could be allowed to call itself “free”!
I have been in recent discussion with an individual who believes that we need “government” to protect us from racial, sexual, or any other sort of “discrimination”. That it should be the role of government to give every citizen “protection” from these things. Of course this would require a lot of “supervision” by government to carry out, and “government supervision” isn’t always the best way to do things as I think most of us have now figured out. Nor does “government” seem to have any good reasons for some laws such as drug laws, prescription laws, etc. Especially as these laws tend to be prone to abuse. In a free market economy, employers pay the level of wages that is required to obtain people to do the work required. If women, racial minorities are paid less, then it is likely that an employer who does “discriminate” either has good reasons to do so, or will soon lose out to the employer who can hire women, racial minorities for less money while obtaining the same level of work from them. Having a “cost advantage” of say 10 or 15% over an employer who discriminates would soon give the lower cost employer sufficient advantages that the higher cost employer would soon find it difficult to stay in business. So if women and racial minorities are as economically productive as are white males, then the employer who made it his practice to hire women and racial minorities would certainly have lower labor costs and would be more successful than the employer who paid more so that he could only have white males as employees. Discrimination in employment is always economically a mistake unless there is a solid economic reason to do so. As a matter of fact, employers always hire the lowest cost employee who can do the job. This is why so many American businesses have moved much of their production to China, as the Chinese do work “cheaper”. Cheaper enough that lower productively of their labor is overcome by the much lower labor costs employers incur hiring Chinese.
What about issues like health care, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid? Do we need the government to control things? Obviously health care is presently almost A to Z a government controlled monopoly as it is. So having government control of health care doesn’t seem to be a good way of going about it. The FDA allows the sale of drugs here in the USA that can’t be legally sold in Europe because of adverse side effects. So it doesn’t look like we get much “protection” from the government here. Social Security came about because of the Crash of 1929 which wiped out the value of most stocks upon which people had been depending for their retirement. However, the Crash did not affect bonds as much, and insurance companies sell annuities which function much as Social Security does. The only difference is that Social Security is supported through taxation upon the employee and the employer instead of money set aside by people when they are working for their own retirement. Currently if you use Vanguard’s index funds you can set up a retirement account based upon 50% stocks and 50% bonds that is likely to do better for you than Social Security does. Medicare is running increasingly into a deficit state because the cost of US “monopoly medicine” is so high. Elimination of the monopolistic laws that force up US health care costs would be a better solution. As it stands, I end up paying out about $1,000 extra a year because of prescription laws which allow my doctor to force me to make unnecessary office visits and have unnecessary lab tests. A “conservative” figure as if we had free trade in medical drugs, the cost would be much lower yet. Again, it doesn’t seem that “government” is the solution to this problem either! And without prescription laws, computer software would be practical that to a great degree would decrease the need to see primary care level doctors for many problems. Additionally hospital costs are now extremely high because government monopoly. Without government monopoly, we’d have hospitals operating at various cost levels based upon what was actually needed. Like back in 1948 when the hospital room rate here locally in Muskegon, Michigan was $10 a day. (About equal to $100 a day here in 2013) Of course back then they didn’t have all the “technology” they have today, but not everyone has need of this level of technology either! A lot of people would be just as well off with 1948′s level of technology as we still have large numbers of diseases that can be treated with “old style” technology. So only those who have diseases that need 2013 technology need to go to hospitals that offer it. This would certainly knock down our costs of health care by a whole lot. Then a lot of people who go to emergency rooms would be just as well served by “urgent care centers” that cost a lot less to operate. Put one of those in every Walmart and we’d save a hundred billion a year at least here. Again it does not appear that “government” is the solution as government is “responsible” for the current situation, where health care prices are certainly getting out of hand… As for the people on Medicaid, without prescription laws and using public computers with “Doctor on a disk” software would be just as able as anyone else to deal with most of their problems. Again, government creates professional monopolies, and professional monopolies are the reason we have to pay so much. Get government out of the picture, stop catering to the professions, and suddenly the cost of all of this gets a whole lot lower! For example, dentists today insist on “saving teeth” (far more profitable for the dentist as a tooth saved is a tooth which will need further service later on). But we could have para-professional dentists who did nothing but pull teeth for say $50 or so, which is a price that virtually anyone would be able to pay. Again, government is the source of the problem as Ronald Reagan said. When it comes to all the professions, government “protection” is why they pay so well. Without that “protection”, para-professionals would exist who would do the simpler jobs for far less money. This would also be a great opportunity for lots of people to make a living doing the more simple tasks that are now by government fiat limited to actual professionals. And their education would be much less costly if we got government out of the educational system too. We could use a system of certification to prove that a person was capable of doing a task instead of relying on diplomas from government run educational institutions at far higher cost!
Looking at all this, I think anyone will agree that perhaps libertarianism does make sense. That libertarians, unlike Democrats and Republicans, do have the “answer”!