Do we want to be effective or do we want ideological purity?

When I read some libertarian writings, I get the sense that being ideologically “pure” is considered more important than being effective by getting libertarians elected to office or if this cannot be done, at least getting oppressive laws and regulations changed or repealed.

It should be plain to any thinking person that a political movement cannot be effective unless it is able to actually influence events.  For example, the legalization of marijuana in Colorado is a good example of libertarian thinking actually being able to win a political victory over the wishes of those who are opposed to allowing people to make their own decisions regarding the use of marijuana. Obviously it took more than just libertarians to do it, but the fact that the law regarding the use of marijuana has been changed is proof that we can be politically effective. The expansion of the right to keep and bear arms by “shall issue” concealed weapon permits is a step towards greater personal protections. Much better of course would be to have a right to carry by any law abiding person, but that’s the next step. With time it will be proved that concealed carry does make us safer.

What should be understood is that we can’t change everything all at once.  As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. It is much the same with what we are attempting to do. However we do need to decide our priorities.  Some things might be nice, but there are other issues that should be primary.  Resolving the problem of health care might be one. Creating a viable practical means of remaking our immigration laws so that they benefit our long term national interests would be another. Currently the way things are going now is not going to be of long term benefit unless we are willing to do what is necessary to be selective as to those we invite as future new citizens. For those already here, we need to see to their education. We are no longer a society where unskilled labor is of much value. Especially since today businesses can move nearly anywhere in the world to access low cost labor that is happy to receive a rate of pay a tenth or less of what an American would get.

Our system of education is “inefficient” and wastes valuable money on things that have little if any relationship to creating economically productive citizens. We need to ask employers as to the sort of employees that they are seeking. And let that information determine the courses of study that our educational system should be developing.  An additional effort should be made to create a system of providing credentials outside of the conventional educational system. Allow people to demonstrate that they have obtained the necessary knowledge to be credentialed outside of the established educational system.  We have the means to do this today both through the existing public library system and to an increasing amount via the Internet. Sources such as “WebMD” do allow anyone with some knowledge to understand their own health issues, and in many cases, should we liberate the medical drug system from government monopoly, people would be able to take care of many of their simpler health care problems. In any case, the choice should be up to them. This is one of the very basic tenets of libertarian thinking.  That you are free to make such decisions for yourself.  Of course at the same time you are also assuming responsibility for yourself. Freedom and responsibility are the two sides of being a free individual…

We should understand here before I go any further that the fact that someone spent many years obtaining knowledge does not mean that they will have retained that knowledge.  In my own experience you retain only that knowledge that you happen to now use at least occasionally. One example of this I experience many years ago when I needed to do square roots in drafting lessons. While I’d had the math in high school, since finding square root is not something I had much use for afterwards, I’d forgotten how to do it some years later. (this was before we had pocket calculators) I ended up having to relearn how to do square root, but since we now have calculators that will do this, I’ve completely forgotten again how to do this with pencil and paper. Today of course teaching someone to do square root with pencil and paper today would make as much sense as teaching them how to chip flint arrowheads! Of course today if you are reading this on a computer, you can simply use “Google” which will give you the correct figure accurate enough for most use.  Pi for example is 3.14159265359 on “Google”.  The scientific calculator with Windows 7 however gives me a long figure of 3.141592653589793284626433832795, which should be accurate enough for even NASA rocket scientists. However we are still teaching children with methods that date back to the Bronze Age.  The Google Chromebooks aren’t all that expensive and certainly would equip any child with access to a range of knowledge that even the largest public library couldn’t match!  Parental supervision would be of course necessary for younger children. Twenty years ago I predicted that computers would be used as “educational machines”, but today’s machines are far in advance of what existed back then. In any case, the price of computers is now low enough that every child should have one if at all possible. Hopefully the necessary broadband service will be there to use.

The USA is spending more on “defense” than the next dozen countries put together.  We are spending roughly 1/2 of all money spent on “defense”.  We are less than 5% of the world’s population. The threat of the Soviet Union no longer exists.  What “foes” we have are not nations, but individuals who follow a religion that encourages them to violence against those who believe in other religions. Unfortunately we are by our actions making these people more and more into our enemies. Our drone warfare unfortunately kills more innocent people than it does actual terrorists.  We are creating for ourselves a future 9-11. Another attack carried out by fanatics who are willing to die if only they can kill Americans.


About muskegonlibertarian

77 year old retired owner of a security guard agency. Member of the Libertarian Party.
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